Apple WWDC 2004: RSS is everywhere

Courtesy MacRumors’ coverage of the WWDC Keynote, it looks like Apple will be adding an integrated RSS aggregator and search capability to Safari in Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4). My first thought was, “Somebody buy Brent Simmons a drink.” Brent is at WWDC, and his company, Ranchero, has one big product, NetNewsWire, which is the current leading aggregator on Mac OS X.

But on second thought I’m not sure how much this will hurt Brent. It may even help him. I think the interesting scenario for Safari is less around aggregating feeds and more around ensuring that the feed doesn’t look like gobbledygook when you click the link. If Safari’s changes mean that the user experience for finding and subscribing to feeds improves for Joe User, then the whole RSS-sphere wins because it makes more people understand what RSS is about and adopt the technology. There will still be a market for power apps like NetNewsWire when people tire of reading feeds in their browser and want a more refined experience—and at that point they’ll understand the value and be able to make an informed decision about purchasing the product.

Put another way, this move by Apple broadens the potential base of RSS adopters to people like my kid sister and my mother-in-law, neither of whom would be likely to download a specialized RSS reader application voluntarily.