Home Has Bloglines dropped the ball?

Has Bloglines dropped the ball?

I’ve written a few times now about being disappointed with Bloglines
this year – and their lack of progress since they got bought by Ask Jeeves. Now Russell Beattie has come
out and said it too – and he got a response from
Bloglines chief Mark Fletcher
in the comments. Mark said (excerpted):

“You’re right in that we haven’t been rolling out new features
recently. We’ve been working hard on the back-end of the system. Every metric in
the system (# feeds, # articles, page views, etc) has more than doubled recently. Keeping
up with that growth is challenging to anybody. I’m very happy to say that
we’re actually crawling feeds more quickly and consistently now than we have in
many months. Is it perfect yet? No, but we’re definitely getting there, and of
course we’re not done yet.  […] As I hope you’ll agree, focusing on
scaling the system instead of new features is the correct strategy. That doesn’t
mean you’ll never see a new feature again. We’ll continue to out small
improvements as well until we complete the scaling work; next week, for example,
we’ll be adding horoscopes and lottery feeds to the system. We’re also
working on improving the UI and we have a great AJAX designer on the team now.”

While I have no issue with Bloglines focusing on the backend, the lack of new
functionality and features does leave them vulnerable to losing a lot of their core
readers and champions. They’re already no longer the market darling amongst bloggers. For
example I’ve now switched to Rojo and am pretty much championing them now, rather than
Bloglines (although I still have a picture of me wearing a Bloglines tee-shirt on my
About page!). And if you look at the comments in Russ’ post, you’ll see there are other
people who have become just as frustrated with Bloglines’ lack of progress.

The thing is, Mark Fletcher promised new functionality and features months ago. This
is what Mark wrote in my
own blog comments in May 2005

“…we have a number a projects underway here at Bloglines to improve the user
experience. It’s actually our number one priority. Not just new features like package
tracking, which was recently rolled out, or weather forecasts, which will be rolled out
next week. But improvements to the UI and better ways of dealing with information

Is it just that the UI experience is no longer number 1 priority and scaling the
system has become top priority instead? I suppose you can’t argue with that – the system
needs to be stable and meeting demand. But I really think they need to hurry up and
implement some 2005-era UI functionality. It should’ve been done at least 6 months ago
and they’re not doing themselves any favors by letting Rojo, Newsgator Online, Start.com and all
the other web-based RSS Aggregators overtake them in functionality.

Bloglines still dominates the market and ease-of-use remains their trump card, but how
long can they ride that wave? It’s frankly amazing I care enough to even write this – so
it’s obvious I still have some affection for Bloglines the product. It’s just sad to see
a product that was first to market by a long shot, fail to keep the momentum up as soon
as they get bought out.

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