Thursday, January 10, 2008

NetNewsWire 3.1

At long last, NetNewsWire 3.1 is available, and it’s free. NetNewsWire is one of my favorite applications, and it’s great that more people will have access to a quality desktop feed reader. Unfortunately, this move will probably have negative consequences for smaller but innovative competitors like Cyndicate and NewsLife. Paul Kafasis has a thoughtful post about this, saying:

If competing with a popular, well-designed product is tough, competing with a popular, well-designed product that happens to be free (while remaining fully-funded) is damned near impossible. And that’s unfortunate, because ultimately, it’s likely to lead to stagnation. The developers at NewsGator have done great work, but the more minds there are attacking a problem in different ways, the more great solutions we see. Look no further than the late nineties, when IE effectively killed Netscape. Web browsers stagnated shortly thereafter—Microsoft, with browser share at or above 90%, had little incentive to innovate, and smaller players just couldn’t break in.

The bigger picture is that, like e-mail and the Web, feeds are becoming essential and the software for accessing them is becoming free. If you check your Mint, you’ve probably seen that Google Reader is hugely popular. The numbers for “AppleSyndication” are also climbing, as Leopard’s Mail includes much nicer RSS features than Safari RSS in Tiger. Ultimately, NewsGator itself was (or would be) getting squeezed, and (like Netscape) decided to concentrate on its server business. Long term, I don’t think it’s a good sign for fans of desktop applications that the money is now coming from servers and ads.

Lastly, if you use NewsGator syncing (I don’t) and wish to avoid telling them which posts you’re reading, go to NetNewsWire’s preferences and uncheck “Include attention data when syncing” on the Account tab of the Syncing pane.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Wait, so even if syncing is turned off, NetNewsWire sends "attention" data to NewsGator by default? That really sucks. One of the big draws of desktop apps for me is that I don't want Google or whomever knowing everything about me (they already know much more than I wish they did, considering how many gmail users I correspond with).

Nick: Sorry if the last sentence was unclear. My understanding is that it only sends attention data if syncing is on.

The data is obviously only sent when you sync via Newsgator. Or at least you can only switch it off when using NewsGator as syncing hub.

After reading NetNewsWire's help, I see that my original post was incorrect. Information about which posts you're reading and flagging is always sent to NewsGator. The attention data preference only covers things such as which items were e-mailed, posted to a blog, etc.

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