Jun 7, 2007

[Google] About FeedBurner

FeedBurner logoThe Google acquisition of FeedBurner went from rumor to official news fairly quickly as announced on both the Official Google Blog and the Official FeedBurner Blog. Then again, Google has been acquiring a number of smaller companies over the past, well, years and FeedBurner is one of those with logical interconnections with Google's current business strategies.

I know it's almost a week late to write about, but my work-related activities have delayed a lot of my blogging. Despite that, I still feel strongly about discussing this particular merger.

I've been using FeedBurner for a number of months now and over time I've grown to really appreciate the service. At first I didn't quite see the point - my blogs already had RSS feeds so there was no real need for me to create a new one. But then I figured that if even TIME Magazine was using FeedBurner, there had to be more to it, right?

FeedBurner feels like a mini-Google in its own right. It does have an advertising platform much like Google AdSense, but instead of providing general ads for your site, they provide ads for your feeds, which means you can still get advertising revenue even when users rely on RSS readers like Google Reader to follow your blog as opposed to visiting the site directly. FeedBurner also provides statistics of page visitors and more important feed subscribers similar to how Google Analytics, but again the focus is on site feeds. The list goes on and on in this tone.

So the acquisition is pretty logical and I figure that it was only a matter of time before it happened. Now of course I'm sure this is creating an uproar with various groups depending on what they're protesting. Some will say Google is being evil with all these acquisitions as opposed to their company mission. Others will argue that this acquisition is bad news for FeedBurner and that they're become underdeveloped and marginalized and soon there will be nothing left.

Frankly, I feel this is going to be one of those acquisitions that will involve FeedBurner disappearing as a brand on the web. They have way too many overlaps with existing Google products that it doesn't make sense for them to remain an independent brand name similar to how YouTube survives today. Just look at how aggressive their integration timeline is - they expect to start migrating to Google servers by the 15th of this month. That's pretty tight!

Is this a bad thing? Not really, at least for me. The core technologies behind FeedBurner are still going to be publicly available and I'm certain that given their overlap with existing lines of business, this means the development of their product will continue and will be well funded as part of they larger products they will become integrated with. Not every Google acquisition has the potential benefit of being able to integrate seamlessly into existing products, thus become additional items on their current development road maps. The challenge for other acquisitions joining the Google family is figuring out where to put them and how to re-align their philosophies and development direction to match the overall Google plan.

So for now, I think it's going to be goodbye to the FeedBurner that we knew but at the end of the day we're all going to gain.

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