I have grown pretty frustrated with FeedBurner, the RSS Feed Service now owned by Google. Often, my posts have not gone out immediately. There are significant ‘outages’ where the service is just plain broken. And their Feed count reporting has become pretty screwy. So, I have switched to FeedBlitz, a new competing service. If you are getting my feeds via FeedBurner or have been using the now outdated www.creditwritedowns.com/feeds/posts/default (check the URL in your RSS reader), then use this new URL: www.creditwritedowns.com/feed. Anyone else, can stay with the feed they now have.
I could end my little blurb there, but I am REALLY frustrated with all of this and want to make this post a little rant about FeedBurner and the mother ship Google. You see, FeedBurner was a much more reliable and better tool before it was acquired by Google. I like Google’s services (News, Reader, Mail – they are all excellent. I especially like Google Checkout), but it is becoming increasingly evident that in many areas the company has too much power on the Internet with few reliable alternatives.
As for the RSS situation, I am not the only one complaining. Here are a few other complaints you should read:
- Feedburner Needs To Get It Together – TechCrunch, Jan 2009
- Google’s Detailed Response to FeedBurner Criticism – Mashable, Jan 2009
There are lots more complaints like that on the net. But, isn’t that to be expected for a large service like FeedBurner? Yes.
Nevertheless, there is more to it than that in FeedBurner’s case. Take a look at the video below by Dick Costolo, the founder of FeedBurner. It’s pretty hilarious, really. He’s wryly telling us that he and FeedBurner have been sidelined by Google ever since the service was acquired.
And there are plenty of reports out there that Google never really wanted to buy FeedBurner for good reasons to begin with. Plenty of people believe the company bought FeedBurner to eliminate its advertising network which competed with Google’s own Adsense network. Not exactly a competition-friendly move. And Feedburner has not exactly been winning awards for innovative, cutting-edge changes since it was acquired. Sounds to me like there hasn’t been much investment in the business.
As an aside, Google President of Display Advertising David Rosenblatt, formerly of DoubleClick, the large advertising netowrk which our regulators also allowed Google to buy, has just left the company. You can search for the news story on, what else, Google News if you like. Here’s one link.
So, I am off to FeedBlitz. Here is what FeedBlitz says about their service on their site:
What is the FeedBlitz RSS Service?
The FeedBlitz RSS service is a service that makes your RSS feeds better. It enhances feeds with branding, detailed metrics, browser and mobile friendly serving, integrated third party content, easy viral marketing tools and more. It’s fully supported by FeedBlitz, and integrates with the FeedBlitz RSS and blog to email service for one-stop subscriber management and communication.
Create your new, “Blitzed” version of your feed by going to RSS | New – If you need to upgrade your plan or start a 30-day free trial you will be prompted when necessary.
Is this an alternative to Google’s FeedBurner service?
Yes, for many bloggers and organizations, the new FeedBlitz service is a new choice they can consider as an alternative to FeedBurner. We have focused on building a service that allows RSS publishers much greater control over their feeds (content and branding), works better for SEO (search engine optimization), and for users who aren’t familiar with RSS, and will ultimately provide much richer reporting and metrics.
What are the key differences between FeedBlitz and FeedBurner RSS Services?
- FeedBlitz offers significantly more branding and graphic customization, at both whole feed and individual post level;
- Smart truncation retains links, images and other HTML tags on partial feeds and browser-friendly pages giving a richer user experience and greater SEO benefits;
- FeedBlitz automatically delivers a mobile-friendly version of your RSS feed;
- FeedBlitz has reinvigorated splices to integrate your content from new social media services like Twitter, FriendFeed, Last.fm and Disqus, as well as YouTube and others;
- FeedBlitz enables you to add a custom footer (such as a copyright notice) to each article in your feed no matter what blogging or RSS software you use;
- FeedBlitz offers simple, graphical flares and promotional widgets to better help broaden viral distribution of your articles;
- We believe our metrics give a better view into the circulation and reach of your content;
- FeedBlitz is a paid service, providing sustainability and funding support.
- FeedBlitz offers URL parameters to enable publishers to further tailor their feeds.
- FeedBlitz has live, contactable technical support.
It is that last line that is important. Customer Service. At Google it doesn’t exist. You see, the beauty of Google’s business model is that it is extremely scalable (meaning they can add a huge number of customers/users without needing to add an equivalent cost base or infrastructure. They accomplish this by automating processes, using computers and technology to do the job that otherwise humans would do. This has meant huge profits as Google has grown because their cost base has not grown nearly as much.
But, have you ever used one of Google’s Help Groups (their equivalent of customer service)? It is a nightmare. Try a search (using Google, of course, since that’s what the vast majority use) for “Google Groups” “No response” and you will see what I mean about the nightmare customer service.
So I got fed up and now I am on with FeedBlitz. But, this is not the only area where Google is proving the lie to its moniker, “Don’t be evil.” Take a look at what Former Bank of England MPC member cum blogger Willem Buiter has to say about Google.
Google is to privacy and respect for intellectual property rights what the Taliban are to women’s rights and civil liberties: a daunting threat that must be fought relentlessly by all those who value privacy and the right to exercise, within the limits of the law, control over the uses made by others of their intellectual property. The internet search engine company should be regulated rigorously, defanged and if necessary, broken up or put out of business. It would not be missed.
In a nutshell, Google promotes copyright theft and voyeurism and lays the foundations for corporate or even official Big Brotherism.
Google, with about 50 per cent of the global internet search market, is the latest in a distinguished line of IT abusive monopolists. The first was IBM, which was brought to heel partly by a forty-year long antitrust regulation (which ended in 1996) and partly by the rise of Microsoft.
Microsoft has been convicted of abuse of monopoly power on two continents, in the US as a result of a lawsuit launched by the US Federal Department of Justice and a fair number of States, and in the EU by the European Commission. Unfortunately, by the time the US judicial system got to the point of deciding on remedies, the Bush administration was in office. The Bush administration never saw a monopoly they did not like, so instead of the obvious remedy for the Microsoft problem – unbundling, that is, not permitting the same company to offer both the operating system and application programmes – they settled on a number of weak and rather easily circumvented limitations on Microsoft’s ability to abuse its market power. Fortunately, the European Commission took over after the US Department of Justice was neutered and imposed further, albeit still limited and inadequate, legal constraints on Microsoft’s ability to act as an abusive monopolist.
I believe that the combination of the restraining influence of the US Department of Justice, assorted US States and the European Commission Competition Directorate, under the able leadership of Neelie Kroes, have succeeded in shackling the Microsoft Leviathan to a sufficient degree to allow the survival of Apple, various commercial implementations of Linux and the continued use of a number of varieties of Unix for servers and workstations.
But the Microsoft Leviathan has now been joined or even replaced by Google’s Godzilla as the main threat to the freedom of the internet, and now also a growing threat to key intellectual property rights, especially copyright, and privacy.
Read his full piece at the link at the bottom. It is quite entertaining. So, that’s my beef here. Google is a great company, but one that has way too much power and it has started to abuse that power much as IBM and Microsoft before it. For me, it is axiomatic that this abuse will happen. It is not because Google is a bad company any more than Microsoft or IBM. They are simply looking to increase profit by taking advantage of all available opportunities using their people, technological prowess, and size.
But, when a company develops ‘size’ i.e. becomes too big, it starts to step on a lot of toes and it becomes a threat to competition. Unfortunately for those of us who love most of Google’s services, this is what has happened at Google.
By the way, feel free to subscribe to my new feed URL with, what else, Google Reader.