A new beta service by Sidefeed, the maker of Fresh Reader, lead me to find out that RSS is not so popular in Japan. Except for the geeks, perhaps. Their new service is called Feed Icon 2.0 (RSSアイコン2.0). Basically, you type in the RSS feed of your weblog (or what ever), and it will generate a few lines of HTML. When pasted it and displayed on your weblog, it will show a nice looking feed icon, and when you click the link, it will show you a nice page, instead of XML jargons. A bit like what you see when you click the RSS icon of a feed generated through the FeedBurner.

The difference between the Japanese and English version is the variations of “add to … ” icons at the bottom. Some are common, like Bloglines, and some are not, like Hatena. For Japanese version, there are also links to pages explaining what RSS is, and Recomended RSS readers.

Althugh this looks like a FeedBurner clone without the extra bits, the idea of this service is somewhat different. According to the latest research, only 14.66% of Japanese internet users uses RSS readers. Out of those who do not use RSS readers, 3.59% said definitly want to use, and 32.86% interested to use in future. Basically, the survey says that only small fraction of Japanese internet users are using RSS readers, and out of those who are not, majority are saying they are not interested in using it in the future.

I am not sure whats the situation in US or the worldwide. I searched for it, but best I could find was RSS market share report by FeedBurner. Which is an interesting article, but not quite what I was looking for.

Going back to Sidefeed’s RSS Icon 2.0, by showing a page with explaining what the RSS is and RSS reader is, and how to add the feed to the RSS reader, more people might be interested in using RSS reader. Even if you are interested, when you click the feed icon and XML is shown, it is perhaps a bit scary page to look at for the internet begginers. It is user-friendly. You don’t need to register, so it is quick to generate. I think its a good service for Japan, but not so much for outside Japan, as there is already excellent FeedBurner. As for why its called “2.0”, I don’t know. I am thinking that they decided to go with the hot keyword of “Web2.0”. Which I think is a real shame, because Sidefeed has developed some good services in past, and suddenly came up with very un-original, uninspiring name.

Anyway, more interesting stuff…

RSS ? what the hell is that?

So, this latest reaserch. I always think that the sampling number for these aren’ enough, but 584 out of 1071 internet users aruond Japan has answered that they have no interests in using RSS reader. What does that really mean?

Of those 584 people, 69.01% expressed that there are no needs for using, 22.77% said don’t understand the features of RSS reader, 20.03% said it looks difficult to use, and 6.68% said don’t know how to install.

Looking at these results, perhaps we don’t feel comfortable with the style of: click the feed icon of your favourite blog, get the feed thorough the RSS reader, check the article in RSS reader. May be the majority of people are still comfortable by going to their favourite site via Favourites. Perhaps they would want to rely on informations and news supplied by Yahoo!, instead of read, analyse, and decide which site you want to follow. After all, Japan is a rare place in the world where Firefox is struggling, and Yahoo! is still the king.

There are so many Japanese people who shows nagative reaction to what we call yokomoji. The word litteraly means letters written in sideways, but as we write Japanese in sideways too now, it is better to be described as foreign words which are usually written in sideways: e.g. Latin, English, Spanish… Its “RSS? what the hell is that? I don’t understand”. And many just stops there.

Perhaps we are still looking for the best way to use the RSS feed, and the manner of using it might differ from culture to culture. After using FreshReader for few weeks, I am starting to feel that while accessing it from PC is a most productive way of going through the feed, the most useful way is however, the mobile phone. You can limit to just the texts, when accessing it from the mobile phone. So its quck and fast to go through, without getting stressed with its limited download speed. I am also using DoCoMo’s D902i, which has 2.8inch wide QVGA screen, which helps.

local culture fusing with the web culture ?

I am going to abruptly end this article. Yes I know. Its bad writing. I haven’t done enough research on the topic, and sort of going all over the place. But what I was thinking into is that, its going to be interesting to see how much Japanese culture will fuse into the web culture. Undoubtedly, the current web trends, services, cool stuff on the web, mainly comes from USA, or Western culture. The Japanese culture is really something on the other end of the stick. But the web culture is something that is global.

Where and Why is this going to ?

Something I am very interested.