I was commenting on Scoble’s piece re NewsGator’s marketing problem, and thought that I might as well post it here.
I have been using NewsGator for a while (and blogged about it), and am happy with it. This is mainly because I spend all my time in Outlook, and use LookOut extensively. If I was not using NewsGator, I would use FeedDemon, which has developed some interesting podcasting support, but falls short of automating the transfer of MP3 files to my phone – mainly because of the lack of folder replication in ActiveSync for SmartPhone (whereas it is exists for PocketPCs).
I also use Bloglines, mainly as an aggregator on the phone or on the go. I have tried NewsGator Mobile – thanks to Greg – but I prefer the way Bloglines organizes feeds and posts, and the user experience that it offers. I actually believe that many people using a application-based aggregator also use Bloglines, hence its perceived market unrivaled dominance.
My main requirement today is still to get my "Read Marks" and feed directory structure synchronized across the different instances and incarnations, of my aggregator. This is a given with a Web-based aggregator, but I like to have a copy of my feeds on my laptop and my Tablet PC. I caught up with Greg Reinacker at ETech and he confirmed that this functionality was coming. If this works fine, then that might lead me to replace Bloglines by NewsGator Online. What I am doing today is to "Mark All Read" my feeds once I have read everything through NewsGator. Laborious and happening less and less often.
Coming back to the question, what will it take for NewsGator to "prevail" in the consumer space ? Well, one way would be to add a bunch of cool functionality into the free NewsGator Online, but I am not sure that would lead to increased sales of its premium products. Bloglines is easy to use, well done, fast and cheap. Difficult to do better than that.
Focusing on the enterprise/commercial market, and offering a "Microsoft Exchange for Feeds" that offers consistent functionality on Outlook, web and mobile implementations might be NewsGator’s way.
As to other aggregators, I also met with Pito Salas at ETech for a long chat about BlogBridge (now that Robert mentioned it, it is out in the open :-). Their approach to back-end collaborative filtering is interesting, slightly different than Rojo’s (from what I can tell). Net net, most of them do the job fine.
At the end of the day, the biggest differentiator for me will be efficiency: allowing me to read my (soon) 200 feeds quickly and allowing me to avoid reading duplicate posts as much as possible. Steve Gillmor’s attention.xml will help with that, but I don’t want the reader to make decisions for me, I want suggestions (as to which posts I don’t need to read, as to which ones I should take a look at, etc.).