Are consumer web-based RSS readers dead?

That's the opinion being expressed by fellow ZDNet blogger Richard MacManus on his Read/Write Web blog following the announcement that Pluck, a venerable browser-based RSS aggregator and reader, will cease operations after the first of the year. Richard suggests that the entry of big players like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL/Netscape has doomed independent consumer readers like Pluck, Bloglines, and Rojo to extinction by acquisition or irrelevancy.

That's the opinion being expressed by fellow ZDNet blogger Richard MacManus on his Read/Write Web blog following the announcement that Pluck, a venerable browser-based RSS aggregator and reader, will cease operations after the first of the year. Richard suggests that the entry of big players like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL/Netscape has doomed independent consumer readers like Pluck, Bloglines, and Rojo to extinction by acquisition or irrelevancy.

Companies like NewsGator and Attensa have rounded out their offerings in two dimensions that protect their future - enterprise solutions and offline client apps and add-ins. While the long-term implications of Outlook 2007 native RSS remain to be seen on the add-in piece in these companies' portfolios, there's a lot of substance and value to the product approach taken by both companies. NewsGator, in particular, has a client application line for both Windows and Mac OS for those who prefer the option to read RSS when disconnected from the net.

But it's difficult for me to take issue with Richard's argument. I did not care much for the first version of Google Reader. The new version is a significant improvement and with integration into my Google personalized home page and, soon if rumors turn out to be true, Gmail, it's hard to see what value a standalone web reader can offer to offset the increasingly well done aggregation of service Google provides. The same thing, according to personal preference, can be argued for what Microsoft is providing with their Live services or Yahoo is providing with their web and mobile offerings.

Others chime in with their opinions. What do you think? Are consumer readers dead? Are you using an independent web-based reader? An integrated tool like NewsGator or Attensa? The new IE7/Outlook 2007/Vista RSS list?

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