Feedsqueezer: Another Competitor for Google

by on January 24, 2009 · 10 comments

Those who criticize Google as a “monopoly” usually focus on the search and advertising markets.  Google may indeed have a huge lead in those markets, but it is by no means a “monopoly” in the strict sense of the word as the only (“mono-”) seller in that market.  

If the critics are concerned about about true “monopoly” or at least something close to it, perhaps they ought to focus on Feedburner, the free service Google acquired back in 2007.  If one takes a very narrow definition of the service Feedburner offers, one could argue that there is no real alternative to Feedburner.  But on the other hand:

I have a very simple solution. I use my own RSS feed I don’t need some other company providing a enhanced solution. I have never understood why people used feedburner at all.

Getting statistics from a feed is elementary. There are several services out their that provide podcast statistics.

Stupidity in giving someone else control over ones feed is something I will never get. I have no sympathy for those having feedburner issues.

Regardless, some leading bloggers have expressed outrage over Feedburner’s less-than-perfect reliability—see this recent rant by Michael Arrington.  But we call in the federales to “fix” the “problem”—if one properly apply that term to a free service beloved by (nearly all) bloggers everywhere just because it’s not absolutely, positively 100% reliable or instantaneous or simply because some people don’t like the idea of using yet another Google product, no matter how good it is—let’s see what Feedsqueezer, a soon-to-be-launched service, will offer.

Note:  The word “monopoly” is now commonly used to mean “control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.”  It’s not obvious what that would mean in the case of those Google services, that are both free to the user and not directly related to any price paid by, say an advertiser—as distinct from, say, Adwords or Adsense, where there are at least prices that might, in theory, be controlled.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    The word “monopoly” is now commonly used to mean ”control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.”

    I think where you said 'now commonly used' you meant 'now used by anyone who wants to be taken seriously.' Talking about single providers tips off anyone who is even vaguely serious that you're just fighting a straw man.

  • http://www.geeknewscentral.com Todd

    I think after people have gotten burned on giving up control of there feeds to a third party they may be a little smarter the second time around. After all why do you really need Feedburner?

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Touche. But I'd still argue that current use of the word “monopoly” is patently inconsistent with the word's literal meaning: monoplion right of exclusive sale, equiv. to mono- mono- + p?l(eîn) to sell + -ion n. suffix

    Historically, a monopoly (or “patent”) was a privilege conferred by government to be the sole authorized seller of something. One might accept the argument that market power allows certain companies to drive up prices, and perhaps even agree that the government should sometimes intervene to stop that, and still recognize that “market power” is not the same thing as “monopoly.” Call me old fashioned, but I side with Orwell: Unless we defend the precise meanings of words, we cannot be truly intellectually honest.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    If you want to start a blog about all the words now used inconsistently with their original Greek and Latin roots, feel free. Once you finish the entry on 'monopoly', you can move on to the tons of other words no longer used consistently with their roots- philosophy, democracy, republic all come to mind. I'm sure Latin teachers the country over will be thrilled by it. The rest of us will mostly be bored to tears ;)

    (Yes, I took two years of Latin, two semesters of antitrust, and lots in between…)

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    Unfortunately, Feedburner provides a lot of functionality that I've found shockingly difficult to find elsewhere- good statistics on the number of readers, for example, or very easy email subscriptions. You'd think things that important and relatively easy to do would be built into virtually every piece of blogging software. Instead they virtually all just rely on Feedburner instead.

    In principle, I do basically agree with Berin that the concern here is a little overblown, but of all things Feedburner may be closer to a 'sole provider' of some functionality than virtually any other Google service that I'm aware of, and because readers tend to subscribe directly to it it is also harder to move away from than most Google services- it isn't quite rip and replace without risking potentially losing many of your subscribers.

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