Is domination of WordPress and FeedBurner good?

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FeedBurner and WordPress are the overwhelming dominators in their respective fields. They seem to offer decent services(that’s an understatement!). But as the saying goes, no domination is good.

Every day, we hear and read how great WordPress is, how cool FeedBurner services are, etc. They provide excellent services, and have huge communities backing their decisions. Say something against them, and you would suddenly find a few hundred ardent followers hurling curses at you.

However, I am worried with the fact that WordPress and FeedBurner are the only services in their respective niche with acceptable services and levels of fame.
Here are some of my worries more specifically:

  • They decide to make their services/software paid: There are millions of bloggers dependent on WordPress + FeedBurner. If these companies decide to take advantage of their virtual monopoly, this could create heart-break for those who cannot afford to pay. Even those who are willing to pay wouldn’t be very happy.
  • They decide to change their principles/strategies: The very reason why these companies got so popular is because they have embraced the user community and given us whole-hearted service. Some time down the road, if they think that they should concentrate on the niche of high-end bloggers only, normal bloggers would be left biting dust.

The above situations are worsened by the fact that it is not easy to switch from WordPress to a competing platform, and even worse, there is no real competition. That is where it gets tricky. Where do we go if it happens?

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Similarly, there is no easy way for those of us who trusted FeedBurner, to switch over to something else. Again, the fact that no real competition exists adds to the complexity of the problems.

Granted, the chances of WordPress being in such conditions is limited, thanks to the open-source nature and active participation of communities. However, FeedBurner has a slight chance of being so – it is owned by Google.

Cheer up! All is not gloomy – I was just painting the worst-case scenario. For the forseeable future, there appears to be no risk, as Google has been striving to make services free for customers, and not paid. Also, there are alternatives to WordPress, like the new kid on the block – Habari(review from Paul Stamatiou). Habari is not yet ready, but is an option should WordPress die off. But what about an alternative to FeedBurner? (any tips?)

Discussion

  1. @Karl: Yes, probably new services will come up once RSS becomes familiar to more people. Right now, it is limited to techies. I remember some survey which concluded that only ~5% of total internet users use RSS. That’s too low for comfort.

  2. I am sure more services like Feedburner will popup once rss becomes more familiar with people – so more free services will popup even if feedburner goes paid. Plus worrying does not solve problems :)

  3. @Deepak: Glad to see you back. So, when are you going to rack your big brain of yours and bring out all the other hacks? I am waiting…

    As for Blogger, there’s a big problem, and its that Google owns your blog. It can be deleted at any time, as was demonstrated by the case of iMessengr. I can’t imagine losing all my hours of hardwork(on my blog) to some stupid error by Google.

    Also, you seem to be unaware of the tweaks for WordPress. They’re easy, and there are guides for starting. Even I did some tweaks for speeding up the blog: http://www.techzilo.com/optimise-site-blog/

    Also, once you use WP, the superior extendability will grab your attention. There’s a plugin or hack for everything, and its open-source, so you hackers can use the backend code to come up with even more hacks. I remember Ramani once lamented that Blogger should add PHP support. And WP has it…

    Clear leader – Blogger? You’ve got to be kidding me. I have used Blogger a lot, especially New, and can now say comfortably that WordPress is ahead, though Blogger is catching up. As for hackers doing all to catch up, its because WordPress hackers laid out all the ground work(via plugins) much before Blogger did.

    As for hosting, you can start with a basic pack costing $2-$5, which can handle ~500 visitors per day. And when you hit the mark, buy bandwidth(as low as $0.5/GB. If you want details, IM me!

  4. It’s Deepak here, back after a long long time :)

    Somehow, I still love Blogger, probably because all my mods/hacks were made for Blogger. I’m still impressed by the idea of the amount of tweaking you can achieve in Blogger, literally for free.

    WordPress, on the other hand, comes with a cost. It is free. But as I once mentioned, it needs a web space to be running in its full glory, and web space doesn’t come for free. The wordpress.com version, as you know, doesn’t allow you to edit your templates or add custom plugins.

    But the very fact, that Blogger hackers are trying to achieve the level of functionality that WordPress offers, hints who is the clear leader!
    I respect WordPress. But I can’t use it. Not until I get out of my thrift and shell out some money to buy some web space for myself.

  5. @Sumesh: That’s why I use a redirect plugin – that redirects blog.shankarganesh.com/feed to my FB url. So if at all FB goes paid, I’ll redirect to some other tool similar to FB that’ll be launching then 😉

    About others, I don’t know 😛

  6. It wouldn’t affect me greatly tbh.

    WordPress can only change future versions, so whatever version of WP that I’m running at the time would continue to be mine to run on. That gives me loads of time to migrate to another platform. :)

    As for Feedburner, I use MyBrand, so my feed’s URL is on my own domain. If Feedburner disappeared tomorrow, the only thing I’d lose are my stats.

  7. @Leon: I too hope they won’t change. And I just pointed out the worst-case scenario(wait, haven’t I written that earlier in comments?). Ofcourse, FB and WP reached where they are, only through superior customer satisfaction.

  8. Never thought of that. Oh great! Now you’ve got me worried! Still, there’s no way they’d suddenly start charging. They’d lose their top rankings fast as they’d fall out of favour with customers.

  9. @Shankar: I am not too sure. For example, how would you change your feed from FB to another service, considering that you’ve used FB URL everywhere?

  10. I don’t think something of this kind will happen, even if it does, there will always be a way out 😀

  11. Yes, I was painting the worst-case scenario, and what our options would be then.

    As for MT, yeah, its getting better, but with Perl scripting, and ancient features even now, its going to take some time before they get on level terms with WP.

  12. 1. Google bought FeedBurner and I doubt they’ll start charging for it. So far, they’ve done the oposite, making premium features available for free. There are FeedBurner alternatives anyway.

    2. I doubt we’ll have a problem with WordPress going paid. Movable Type did that, and WordPress took over. The MT guys are finally seeing reason and starting a public version now, and they’re working like mad to keep up with WordPress. If WP went paid-only, MT would take over as the standard. They even allow you to import WP databases into MT. I’m not worried, the WP devs aren’t that stupid.

  13. @Benedict: There it goes 😉
    I’d have to disagree with you on WP. It maybe developed by community, but releases are from Automattic. That makes us more or less dependent. But as you and Arpit(see above) said, there are alternatives, and since it is open-source, we can make forks :)

  14. I may not fully agreeing here. May be there is a good chance that FeedBurner has a upper hand on monopoly since till date we don’t have any service to compete with them. With WordPress everything is different, WordPress by itself is a community developed. Even if they take it down, there are several other worthy alternatives available! Bloggers can sensible switch by then!

  15. I like to think of WordPress as the “slightly closed” open source blogging platform. Either way, I am not a programmer and I really don’t mind ;).

  16. @TonNet: I think you have a bit of confusion here. I did not talk about Google Reader, and FeedBurner is a feed provider and not reader. Yes, there’s space for all. Habari is revolutionary, and most people complain that it requires PHP5 and the like, which “they” say is not available on most hosts. A Habari developer tested that theory and busted it 😉

    @teeceo: Google empire is bad only in some areas. And yes, its a thought for another topic post 😀

  17. I don’t know, they are both great products and the cream does rise to the top:). Now on the other hand, the google empire is really bad but, thats a thought for another topic.

  18. Well, I am fond of both WordPress and Feebburner but still like Blogspot and GReader. No offense but we have plenty of space for everyone.

    What’s news to me even when I read almost daily Paul Stamatiou, is Habari. It sounds revolucionary. Let’s see what happen in the near future!

  19. @Owen: Right now, it is not much of a worry, though there is the problem you mentioned. If at all something bad happens, there’s Habari – and thank God there’s some alternative, albeit at a nascent stage. Hopefully, it will grow into a great platform.

    @Ashwini: Thanks, I am checking out FeedM8. However, I doubt there is any way to switch over subscribers easily – unlike WP posts which can be imported easily.

    @Arpit: From my experience, there is only as much chance of FB being crippled as there is a chance of WP being crippled – that’s Google’s strategy of “Don’t be evil”.

    @TipsoSaurus: We all hope so, and as I said in the end, this is just a worst case scenario.

  20. Don’t worry nothing of that sort will happen. Success of these services is there because they offered good features. Now, WordPress can’t get paid because they are making good from the paid services in wordpress.com & feedburner is going to make good with advertising options.

    And they know the power of keeping things free….they are not stupid to loose things by making their services paid.

  21. Well I donno about WordPress since it Opensource Even if they went paid people could easily create a fork. Then there is HABARI 😉 But Feedburner on the other hand has a monopoly

  22. Your fears may not be entirely unfounded. You can see some of what you’re talking about even in the WordPress code of today. The developers say that they test many things on WordPress.com before it makes it into the WordPress open source project. This leads to the conclusion that the commercial application (coincidentally operated by the people who hold all of the keys to the open source repository) drives the open source one at least to some degree.

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