Why The Hell Should I Pay Feedly For These Basic Features?

Users of Feedly today got a surprise on their home pages: a limited-seat invite to the RSS reader service's upcoming Feedly Pro, which offers users new features for an annual subscription plan. But a quick look at those new features may leave many wondering why they should be part of a paid package at all.

It's been a bit of a tough spell since Google Reader was shut down last month. Finding a replacement service wasn't easy, because none of them filled all of the requirements I needed. In the end, Feedly suited my needs the best, though there were some issues, the biggest being a feature I really need: searching for individual articles.

For users with minimal RSS and Atom feeds, such a feature may not seem like a big deal, but I have enough feeds to generate anywhere from 800-1000 new articles per day, and there are times, when I am looking for news, that narrowing that content down with a targeted search is a lifesaver.

My newsreader of choice, Reeder for Mac and for iPad, had this feature, as well as the capability to share content directly in Twitter, Evernote, Facebook, Instapaper and a slew of other such services. But Reeder for Mac and iPad versions still don't talk to Feedly (though Reeder for iPhone now does), so I just used Feedly's native cloud interface.

Today's offer is straightforward: the first 5,000 users who sign up to Feedly Pro for $99 will get a lifetime subscription to the new service, which includes the aforementioned article search, https browsing, Evernote content sharing and premium support. After this limited-time offer, Feedly will charge $45 annually for the service, which will be publicly available "sometime in the fall."

Pay To Play

From a pure-math standpoint, jumping in now to this early offer makes sense, since you start getting more value for your money after a little over two years. But God help you if Feedly were ever bought and folded into another offering or shut down altogether.

Welcome to Feedly Pro Welcome to Feedly Pro

And then there's the features. The more I thought about it, the more I had to wonder if secure SSL browsing, Evernote connectivity and article searching was really worth paying money.

Putting aside my known issues with Evernote, if I wanted to use Feedly with Evernote now I could with a useful script from IFTTT. Secure browsing has some appeal, but if someone wants to see the articles I am reading, this won't be much of a deterrent. And article searching? That is such a basic function, charging for it seems egregious.

The premium support seems a little shaky, too. I would have to include a snippet of technical information that includes my user ID, browser user agent and plan type in every e-mail to the support team. Then there was this:

Please include as much context about the issue as possible, including screenshots. We are committed to answering all pro support requests within one business day.

Screenshots? From the get-go? And that one business day sentence isn't exactly a guarantee, either.

In the end, because I use newsreaders so much for work, I opted to sign up for the plan anyway. It will either get billed or be a deduction come tax time, and frankly the article search is too much of a necessity not to have.

But I have to wonder if this is the way cloud services are going to go now—requiring payment for features that were once considered to be pretty much a given. Cloud services have every right to generate revenue based on what they offer, but if they start nickel and diming us for every little feature, it will be a worrisome trend.