Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The minimal amount of data needed to lock in users

I recently upgraded to OS X Mountain Lion only to find that RSS support wasn't just moved out of Mail, but out of Safari too.  RSS bookmarks were the only reason I was still using Safari on a daily basis so this removal is forcing me to migrate them somewhere else and in the process stopping my daily usage of Safari.

Stepping back, I realized how crazy it was that I was using Safari to read RSS.  The last five years I have been working on WebKit and browsers, three of those years (until RIM legal killed it) were spent making my very own browser called Arora.  And yet through all those years I still kept using Safari because the switching cost of the RSS feeds were "too high" (I had a mac around with safari so why not just keep using it...).  I even started hacking on a desktop RSS reader at one point.  RSS feed's are not locked into Safari, the Export Bookmarks action is right there in the File menu* and Safari doesn't keep feed data for more then about a month so it wasn't even the rss history I cared about, just the urls.

Here is a case of the bare minimum of data locking and yet it was able to keep a user that writes browsers (including rss feed plugins), uses a different OS as his primary desktop for years.  In the past when I thought about data lock in I thought about databases, custom scripts, iCloud, but with this I realize that the bar is much lower.  It wasn't until they forcefully took away the feature that I sat up in a daze wondering what I was doing and went looking for an alternative and in the process am going to abandon the application entirely.

Now imagine you are a Windows user and suddenly all your apps don't work on the new Metro arm based laptops.  It is probably the needed kick in the pants to sit up and go checkout what those mac's, web applications, and ipads are all about.  Scary stuff for Microsoft.

* You would think with Safari RSS users suddenly not having their RSS feeds apps like NetNewsWire would provide a bookmarks import, but oddly they don't (as of yesterday when I checked with the current version).

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