A Little Bit of

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-07-08 Print this article Print

Pluck"> Given that there are viable alternatives to IE for consumption of most sites, switching browsers is becoming more acceptable provided that IE remains available for forms-based Web apps, important personal tools such as banking, and multimedia sites common to increased broadband usage. At the height of this weeks paranoia, I ended up using IE on a Mac to pay a traffic fine that wouldnt work on Safari, Firefox or car (my wife lost the ticket). Still, many enterprises that rely on IE-specific intranet applications are reluctant to switch. Click here to read more.
Switching to Firefox proves reasonably seamless, with nice, quick auto-migration of bookmarks and favorites. But gone is my Google bar, or more strategically, its page-rank meter. Also my Subscribe in NewsGator button, my eSpell button and my Pluck button.
eSpell lets me spell-check my blog posts in the browser and the NewsGator button automatically sniffs out the resident RSS feed on a site. But Pluck, now theres a problem. Where NewsGator embeds itself in Outlook, Pluck commandeers IE. In effect, its a Safari RSS play a year early, creating a mail client-like, three-pane interface with search, RSS and Web sharing spaces. Plucks business model appears to be a hybrid of Google and Bloglines, a sort of Gmail-for-RSS concoction that depends on a blend of targeted search and community. For more collaboration coverage, check out Steve Gillmors Blogosphere. Before you go all Dick Cheney on me and suggest I go Pluck myself, let me tell you why a mix of RSS, IE, Google AdSense and social networking makes a lot of sense. First, its free, and free always wins. Next, theres absolutely no reason why advertising wont work in RSS, any more than it didnt work on the Web. As Doc Searls is fond of quoting Don Marti: Information doesnt want to be free; it wants to be $6.95. Furthermore, customers—or users, if you prefer—want to know just what business model is going to work. As were seeing with the trend to open-source key framework components in the Java space, people are more willing to invest in platforms that have a reasonable chance of surviving, driving innovation and encouraging loosely coupled partnering. Launching Pluck on IE may be the most counterintuitive—and clever—part of the strategy. Remember the law of disruptive technologies, where timing, combination and community play equal roles in adaptive evolution. The timing: Microsoft has painted itself into a corner with IE, moving all innovative development to Longhorn while fighting a losing battle against security breaches by turning off the very functionality that bought them market share. The combination: Marrying the browser with persistent storage provides a reasonable subset of NewsGators value proposition while removing Outlooks brain-dead restrictions on browser integration and search dynamics. Separating RSS from e-mail is a feature, not a bug. And the community: 94 percent market share aint all bad, for starters. Plucks OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) import lets you synchronize your subscription lists today, and your attention.xml metadata tomorrow. Next page: Setting up a contract between customer and service.

Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.com's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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