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FlowReader, a personal web-based RSS feed which offers users the ability to integrate their Twitter timeline and Facebook news feed, went live yesterday in Prague. A few months ago, we did a post about Testomato, an automated error-testing service for websites. That service was developed by Devel Lab, which also developed comparison site Wikidi and is the developer behind this new successor to Google Reader. As we previously noted, Devel Lab is backed by Michal Illich with $50,000 (37,000 euro).
Those familiar with Google Reader will recognize the layout of the main page. It is a bit spartan at the moment, but on the left side of the page, users can access their Twitter timelines, Facebook news feeds, their Twitter interactions, and their RSS feeds. Users also have the option of posting to Facebook and Twitter from within the service if they wish. In a break from Google Reader, FlowReader offers users greater ability to customize the look of their feed by offering them the ability to read their news in a minimized, compact feed or to read it in an expanded format. Users can also save stories for later and share interesting articles through a variety of services.
According to Illich, the service had 860 users during the beta-testing period. He backed FlowReader himself with $50,000 (37,000 euro), but they plan to monetize the service going forward by operating with a “freemium” model. We do not have specifics, but Illich says that many features will be free and some will be offered for a small free. Although the service is web-based at launch, we are told that there are iOS and Android apps in the works. Further, while you can currently only add your RSS feeds, Twitter timelines, and Facebook news feeds, the team behind FlowReader is looking into offering integration with other social-media services. Users may eventually be able to add accounts for Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. In terms of competition, Illich says that they don’t consider traditional RSS feeds to be direct competitors as the team behind FlowReader is attempting to build a service which combines traditional and social content curation.
It would be quite an understatement to say that there was a bit of a public outcry when Google announced in March that it will be shutting down its popular RSS service Google Reader on July 1st. The news that the service was closing may have come as a shock and disappointed many, but was joy to the ears of the team at Feedly, which picked up more than 3 million users as a result of Google’s move. Digg is also preparing to launch its own service join a crowded field.
Timing matters a great deal and Feedly was a major beneficiary of Google’s decision to shutter the Reader service. Feedly was created in 2008, but really took off only after the closing of one of its competitors. FlowReader is a bit late to the game by releasing now, but can seemingly establish itself if it can manage to combine curated content from sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and others into one package. Although the site’s layout and the features are pretty basic, it will be a service to follow as they build it out over the coming months.
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