NetNewsWire creator Brent Simmons, FeedDemon creator Nick Bradbury and Newsgator's VP of Mobile and Data Walker Fenton will announce Wednesday at Apple's WWDC that it is spinning off from parent company Newsgator to create a new app called Glassboard.Private mobile content sharing for groups is something no one has really nailed yet, but feels like it could be a very big deal. Rising from the tragic ashes of the consumer RSS reader market, a new team that includes
Glassboard, which will open to the public next month, will allow iOS and Android users to share text, photos and in some cases location with small groups. It is built with Microsoft Azure as its back-end and will integrate with Microsoft's forthcoming Office 365. The team is being intentionally "agnostic" about its target market, saying it could be used by families, work teams or companies and their clients. These guys have built some incredible things in the past and it will be very interesting to see what they can bring to one of the biggest potential markets of the day.
Success in social software 1.0 does not always mean that subsequent projects will be winners, too. More than a year ago we wrote here about the latest creation of mega-successful social software entrepreneur Mark Fletcher, creator of Yahoo Groups and Newsgator competitor Bloglines. A year ago he launched a service called SnapGroups, which I said was well aimed at one of the key trends of our time: real-time group communication.
SnapGroups is now nowhere to be found: offline, no Tweets, no blog posts, nothing. It was a cool little service it just didn't seem to have wings. "It just never caught on," Fletcher told me today. "In hindsight, I maybe should have focused on mobile, but that space got crowded quick, so who knows." So it goes sometimes, even for some of the smartest and most innovative people online.
Glassboard will use a freemium model, will be available for consumers and enterprises and isn't talking about its business model yet.
Was this group's work on RSS readers a failure? Newsgator's CEO J.B. Holston says the company's RSS apps, most of which have now been sold-off to smaller companies that are enthusiastic about developing them further, may not have turned into Twitter but they did change the web and a lot of peoples' lives.
My take on it is this, and I'll try to say this without getting too upset about it: the lack of uptake of RSS reading software by consumers and businesses is among the turns of events in recent technology history that's most disparaging of the state of humanity. That a personalized, centralized repository for updates from dynamic streams of information delivered by free trusted sources of democratic publishing all over the world has had its tech-lunch eaten by mind-rotting casual Flash games on Facebook is as depressing as the way that public education dreams were dashed when the promise of television became its reality. It's like the psychedelic dreams of Harvard's Dr. Timothy Leary becoming the wretched, heartbreaking narcotic drama of the TV show The Wire. It's terrible. It's reason to pack it all up and go home.
But that's not what the team of RSS reader forefathers are doing. Instead they are getting the band back together again and tackling the next frontier. It will be exciting to see what they come up with.