RSS reader Feedly pushes preposterous pricing for Pro package -- $299!
It is now four months since Google Reader shut up shop. At the time, Google cited a declining interest in the product and many people were quick to suggest that RSS was a technology past its sell-by date used by very few. But this seems to be contradicted by the staggering number of Google Reader alternatives that popped up to cater for the large numbers of RSS fans who bemoaned the loss of Google's tool.
One tool that quickly gained a large following is Feedly. In fact, so many people switched to Feedly that servers were unable to cope, and the service briefly collapsed under the weight of its own popularity. This was a temporary blip and things were soon back up and running. I was one of thousands of people who made the jump -- in fact I had a period of crossover using Feedly and Google Reader simultaneously to help ease the transition -- and things went fairly well.
Moving from one service to another is never easy. Feedly is not a replica of Google Reader and works in a slightly different way -- there is a slight learning curve and adjustment period. Like Reader, it is web-based but has APIs that can be used to access feeds through third party apps. Great stuff. Best of all it was free. All was (relatively) well with the world.
Back in August, Feedly Pro was introduced. This did not so much introduce new features, rather strip them out of the free version and ask users to pay for them. Searching for instance: something that is key to managing any large amount of information -- precisely the reason RSS exists. $5 a month, or $45 a year, also gained subscribers SSL, easy integration with Evernote and "premium support". A limited number of people were also able to snap up a $99 lifetime subscription.
Then the lifetime option vanished. But now it's back! There's a difference though -- the price has gone up a little. If tripling can be counted as "a little" that is. $299 for a lifetime subscription. Let me repeat that:
$299 for a lifetime subscription.
Break this down and you'll find that you do not start to benefit from this until you have been a Feedly user for more than six and a half years. At this point it works out cheaper than having opted for a regular $45 a year subscription.
But who is going to be willing to stake nearly $300 and gamble that the company is still going to be active nearly seven years down the line. Google Reader and some of the alternatives that aimed to replace it just go to prove that nothing is forever. Six and a half years is an incredibly long time in the internet world -- anything could happen and $300 is a big investment in such a transient market. On Twitter, Feedly claims that the lifetime subscription option was re-introduced "as a response to businesses asking simpler payment" (sic) -- it seems rather like an exercise in generating a quick income to me.
What does going Pro get you these days? In addition to new sharing options, a say in what features are added to future versions and full article searching, a Pro account also gets you Speed Boost -- faster updates. Pay up and your feeds are refreshed 30 percent faster than those using a free account. Feedly Pro also speeds up the update frequency for "smaller sites" so those feeds with "fewer followers" are updated four times faster. Fewer than what is not made clear.
It has been suggested that RSS is only used by journalists, bloggers and the news-obsessed. This is only partly true, but even if it was the complete truth it would still mean that a very large number of people are still reliant -- or at least keen on using -- RSS feeds. The nature of my work means that I am keen on top of news, but even if I was in a different job, I would be equally news obsessed.
I am starting to feel as though Feedly has taken advantage of Google Reader refugees. The regular, free accounts that drew people in to start with are becoming more and more limited as well as slower. It smacks of bad practice and I'm loathed to continue using the service. I would rather use something free, but I would be willing to pay for something I deemed worthy. Feedly keeps moving the goalposts, though, and this does not fill me with confidence.
How do you feel about RSS? Do you still use it? Does Feedly's Pro subscription model represent good value to money to you?