Sam Sethi today starts a rumor in the blogosphere sure to spread like wildfire: Google is to buy FeedBurner. I have no information to confirm or deny the rumor, so instead I find myself pondering whether it’s a good thing.
Certainly it is likely to be for FeedBurner shareholders. But what about bloggers, podcasters, and social media readers?
RSS feeds will continue to take on increased significance — just as soon as we stop calling them that and make it easier and more advantageous to average Internet users to consume them. FeedBurner plays an important role in this ecosystem as they manage feeds for a significant number of bloggers … if not a majority of those who blog “seriously” (in other words, for business or professional reasons).
But is Google becoming a typical big company where innovative acquisitions go to die? Certainly Google will find value in FeedBurner from an advertising medium perspective, as Sam points out. But will they be as interested in FeedFlares? Will they continue to be creative about feed metrics?
Small companies can generally innovate more quickly than big companies, and we have certainly seen that with Google. There are benefits to the stability offered by a big company that tweaks and tests instead of radically innovating, but my feeling is that FeedBurner remains at the edge of the frontier and still needs that rapid innovation cycle that could be compromised under Google’s guardianship.
Definitely one worth watching to see how it plays out.