Ask.com to shut down Bloglines

Bloglines, the venerable RSS reader, will cease to exist in a few weeks, according to its owner, Ask.com.

Users should export their syndicated feeds to another RSS reader, as Bloglines will be shut down on Oct. 1, Ask.com said Friday in a blog post. Ask.com has posted instructions on the Bloglines home page for exporting feeds to another RSS management service.

Ask.com, which acquired the service in 2005, had paid little attention to Bloglines in recent years, barely updating it, while rivals like Google Reader gained in popularity.

Simultaneously, social media services like microblogging site Twitter have encroached on the territory of RSS readers in general by becoming faster and more convenient options for receiving online content alerts.

"Today RSS is the enabling technology -- the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. As a result, RSS aggregator usage has slowed significantly, and Bloglines isn't the only service to feel the impact," reads Ask.com's announcement. An Ask.com spokeswoman declined to provide usage figures for Bloglines.

According to comScore, unique visitors to Bloglines rose from 427,000 in August of last year to 468,000 last month, fluctuating considerably during that timeframe and hitting a peak of 697,000 in February.

Most Web sites, including those from newspapers, magazines and other media outlets, now offer Twitter feeds to which readers can subscribe.

Likewise, Facebook and Twitter members can sign up to receive messages from their favorite stores, political organizations, restaurants and public figures.

"The reason why traditional feed readers like Bloglines are disappearing is because Twitter and Facebook are the new feed readers," said Jeremiah Owyang, an Altimeter Group analyst. "Expect traditional feed readers to continue to decline."

In addition to Bloglines' decreasing popularity, Ask.com was also motivated to shut down the service by its focus on the question-and-answer segment of the search engine market. The company sees a big opportunity in becoming a major provider of search Q&A services.

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