Yesterday, Google announced that they are shutting down 8 more services including Google Reader. This is definitely a sad news since many people use it everyday and will have to find an alternative. With this news again people are speculating and worrying about the fate of Feedburner. Apparently, Feedburner is the last product in their basket that is related to RSS. Everything else, including the Adsense for Feeds has been shut down.
There are many reasons to believe that Feedburner may not be supported by Google for very long and may already be on its death bed. For example, when all other products got a new visual look, Feedburner remained untouched and still has the old look. The integration of Feedburner with social is poor. There has been no feature enhancements ever since. Google even let go of they Feedburner Japanese domain. Feedburner API was shut down long back. Everything you read about Feedburner indicates that Google doesn’t care about Feedburner. Also, it doesn’t make any money from it.
Even with all the evidence, I have reason to believe that Google will not shut down Feedburner, at least not for a very long time to come. So, anyone using Feedburner to distribute their feed need not worry. Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind why Feedburner will never go away.
1. RSS is not dead
In my opinion, RSS is doing just fine and is still one of the most popular way for people to distribute their content. It’s not about whether the web can do without RSS or not, but the fact that RSS is doing just fine. One must note that unlike Google reader, Feedburner is not a user-oriented service or software. It works behind the scenes. Google reader is dead not because people don’t want a reader but because it couldn’t compete with other similar services. As long as RSS is alive, there need to be services that could help distribute the feed.
2. Google Uses Feedburner Itself
Google extensively uses Feedburner for all it’s own blogs and other services with some of them having lakhs of readers. So, Google itself is the first user. This doesn’t directly mean that they will support Feedburner but definitely says that even if it has to be shut it will take a very long time.
3. Feedburner is also a feature
When you provide a blog hosting service such as Blogger (Blogspot) oriented towards individuals and hobby bloggers, you need to provide many easy to use features. One such feature is feed distribution via Feedburner. On Blogger, there are millions of blogs and if Google has to shut down Feedburner it will need an alternative Feed distribution feature. Why would Google do that? Moreover, Google makes good money from Blogger blogs from their Content Display Network ads. So, indirectly Feedburner supports its revenue.
4. Google Does No Evil
Do No Evil – is Google’s motto. Unfortunately, there is no other service as good as Feedburner to distribute RSS feeds. Especially their RSS to Email feature is a killer. And Google knows that it’s not easy for people to find an alternative. You may argue that people can shift to Mailchimp or Madmimi to distribute their feed by email, but how good are they? Both, and many other such services, are pricey, and lack basic features. Having used Mailchimp for one of my blogs, I can say that Mailchimp is very good, but still it’s got its own lacunes. For example, when someone subscribes but is unable to confirm their email, the unconfirmed email id is not available to the blogger. This is unfair because the user may not have been able to confirm their email for many reasons. In feedburner, this information is available as ‘Unverified email’. From a more philosophical perspective, I don’t not think Google is going to shut it down and get cursed by millions of people whose’s life depend on it. This is not true for many other services that Google decided to close.
5. Google can charge for Feedburner
This is an option Google needs to explore. What are the odds that you will be willing to pay Google for using Feedburner. For me, it’s a yes, and like me there will be thousands of people who would want to do that. So, Google already has a product for which people will be willing to pay. How they should price it, and what should be free and what not is a subject for another blog post, but the point is that with a little change in their business model for Feedburner, it can easily pay for keeping the service alive.
The Worst Case
The worst case scenario is that all that I said above is senseless and Google will close down Feedburner. Even in that case, I will suggest that you keep going with Feedburner till it is alive. Whenever Google makes the final word, it will give you atleast 4-6 months to move to another service. And that’s a long period to make a choice.