Still Waiting On The New Mobile RSS Paradigm

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I posted several months ago on TheFeature some thoughts on how RSS could change the way information’s distributed to mobile devices. There hasn’t been a lot of action in the space, but I’m holding to my original idea. I should probably also reiterate at this point I’m not talking about using RSS on mobile phones just to read standard web feeds, as there are plenty of applications today that will let you do just that (check out the free reader Free News built for us featuring our 14 favorite mobile blogs for a start). I’m talking about using RSS to deliver all kinds of information and content to mobile devices.

Russell pointed out how Bloglines can deliver weather reports, which is a good basic example of how my idea could work: an application on a phone pings an RSS feed every so often, and downloads any updates to the device. That way, the most current information’s sitting there on the device, and a user doesn’t have to go surfing for it. Plenty of the things that are now delivered via SMS or basic WAP services — sports scores, news, movie showtimes — could be delivered in this way. Macromedia’s Flashcast is built around a similar paradigm, based on Flash Lite.

In any case, I’ve been a little surprised not to see more happening in this area. If I thought of it, surely it couldn’t be that hard (though perhaps it’s just not a very good idea). But, I did see something this morning that might indicate things are starting to change: I was looking at Sony Ericsson’s site about one of the forthcoming Walkman phones, the W550i, when I noticed under its entertainment features “RSS Feeds”, saying “Use your phone to view up-to-the-minute news and other content from selected websites and blogs.”

Ok, that sounds more like the RSS I wasn’t talking about that the one that I was, but I still can’t think of a phone that’s got a pre-installed RSS reader, let alone a mass-market model. It opens up the possibility for carriers to embrace RSS for information delivery, but also for the same type of third parties that got into the SMS alerts game. The delivery mechanism seems pretty simple, now it’s just a question of getting information available in feeds.

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