RSS remains a popular choice for some power users on the Internet, but Ashley Harrison, CEO of Mediafed and Taptu, believes it needs to go in a new direction if RSS adoption is to grow. He noted that popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox no longer have built-in support for RSS.
"You can still get plugins, but there's still an obstacle to reading RSS," Harrison told AppleInsider, which is integrating Qrius at launch.
It's with those obstacles in mind that Mediafed today has launched its new Qrius platform, aimed at introducing RSS to the current social and mobile generation. Qrius will appear on websites next to the similar "Like" and "Tweet" buttons already used by Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
RSS, which is used to subscribe to a website and automatically receive updates, stands for "Rich Site Summary," but is often referred to as "Really Simple Syndication." The problem, Harrison said, is that RSS is not as consumer friendly as its "simple" moniker might suggest.
The goal is to make subscribing to RSS feeds a painless process for a first-time user. With Qrius, users will simply click the icon featured on any of their favorite news sites, then sign in to the service using an existing Facebook, Twitter or Google+ login.
In its first iteration, Qrius will automatically send subscribed content to Taptu ? a news reading platform also owned by Mediafed that offers content aggregation. Dedicated Taptu apps are available for iPhone and iPad, as well as Android, Nook and BlackBerry, while content can also be read from the HTML5-friendly Taptu.com website.
Taptu's iPad app.
In the near future, Qrius will offer compatibility with existing RSS readers and services, such as Google Reader. But Harrison said those weren't a priority for launch, because Qrius is aimed at those who do not already use RSS ? the other 90 percent.
Qrius is launching today with 50 publishers, and Harrison hopes that within the next six months, almost all who use Mediafed will adopt Qrius subscription buttons on their site. He believes publishers who already rely on Mediafed to monetize their RSS feeds (AppleInsider is one of them) will see the benefits.
"It makes a lot of sense for our publishers to be working with us, because we're going to drive more traffic and we're going to appeal to a bigger audience," he said.
Harrison is confident because RSS is already what he called a "tried and tested" formula. It's just that the barriers to entry currently keep RSS from reaching new audiences.
"No one wakes up in the morning and says, 'Hey, I must have a news reader,'" he said. "I mean, it doesn't happen."