Over the last year as I’ve used a Blackberry at work and iPhone for personal use I realized I mostly do my RSS feed reading on my phones now while traveling. What this has primarily done, is taught me that the mobile web is going to become increasingly important in the future. I know, that wasn’t really that unique of a revelation. Perhaps a minor but more actionable revelation is that summary only RSS feeds just suck. They really do.
When I used to read feeds on my computer with a fast broadband connection it was nice to be able to scroll through 20 summaries quickly in my feed reader and then click through for the whole article if it seemed worthwhile. However, when reading on a mobile phone with a slower connection, I hate having to click through and wait for a page to load, then come back to the feed reader when finished. It makes the process much slower.
The arguments for summaries are that it makes people come visit your website where you can make money from ads, get the visitors for your web analytics, protect people from stealing your full content, and hit people with links to more content. The thing is, you can do that within your feeds in different ways. There are a few different RSS advertising providers like Yahoo Publisher Network, Feedburner, Text Link Ads Feedvertising, or Pheedo. There are also plugins to let you sell ads in your feed yourself.
Additionally, there are ways you can put links to your prominent content in your feeds, and you can also use feed analytics from Feedburner or others to track the visitors and usage. As for protecting your content, John Chow and others are putting notices in their feeds with links to their sites if it shows up on other sites.
I think people who use summary-only feeds are going to dramatically lose readership as people move to more feed reading over mobile devices. Just a warning….