Home Bloglines vs Google Reader – Who’s Really Winning?

Bloglines vs Google Reader – Who’s Really Winning?

Earlier this week Bloglines launched a beta re-design, ending about two years of design stagnation for the once dominant browser-based RSS Reader. During my conversation with new Bloglines GM Eric Engleman, we touched on the impact of Google Reader on this market. Has Google Reader in fact usurped Bloglines as the number 1 browser-based RSS Reader (which would also probably make them the leading RSS Reader overall)? That seems to be the opinion of a lot of tech people – and certainly Google Reader is a favorite of many early adopter types.

But based on current Hitwise data that Read/WriteWeb has gotten hold of, in fact Bloglines is still the market leader.

Most bloggers Feedburner data shows that “Google Feedfetcher” is ahead of Bloglines. However that isn’t a fair comparison, because Feedburner defines “Google Feedfetcher” as being both Google Reader and iGoogle (Google’s start page product). So here is data from Hitwise, supplied to us by Bloglines, which compares Bloglines with Google Reader alone:

Source: Hitwise (via Bloglines)

The above chart shows that Bloglines still leads, although Google Reader has made big gains since October 2006.

Bloglines was mostly on the way up from mid-2006 until about January 2007, when they began to drop. It’s only been August 2007 that Bloglines’ trend line has jumped up again. Meanwhile Google Reader has steadily been climbing since October 2006 – and it is not far behind Bloglines now, according to Hitwise data.

The above chart is similar to the one Hitwise posted in January 2007 on their blog (but see note at the bottom of this post):

Source: Hitwise blog, January 18, 2007

At that point, January 2007, Google Reader had begun to make inroads – but Bloglines was still significantly ahead. Now, at the end of August 2007, Bloglines is just a little ahead of Google Reader. Looks like Bloglines got their Beta re-design out in the nick of time!

Two-horse race

Bloglines GM Eric Engleman told Read/WriteWeb that “it’s a two-horse race [and] the race is on!” – meaning Bloglines and Google Reader. He expects the next 3 months to be a very interesting time to watch Bloglines and Google Reader. He says that Bloglines has a good plan “to get our product back out there to our fans and expand the feed reader marketplace past its current tech set.”

I suspect that other major players like Newsgator and Netvibes might quibble with the two-horse race scenario, but it is clear from the Hitwise data that Bloglines and Google Reader are the two main players right now. It will indeed be interesting to see whether Bloglines’ re-design and renewed focus will be able to stop the momentum that Google Reader has built up over the past year. Too little, too late? Bloglines will beg to differ, but it goes to show that a Web market leader can’t afford to drop the ball and stop innovating. It’s game on again!

Note: the traffic on our Aug 07 chart is based on visits to the Lifestyle – Blogs and Personal Websites category in Hitwise. The Jan 07 chart was based on All Categories.

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