iLike Revisited: The Need for Feed
The folks at iLike are doing great things, adding great features all the time, keeping users informed via the iLike Team Blog. Service has been smooth and stable, the interface has been refined but remains sharp and clean, and the various ways I’m finding new music and connecting with friends and their tastes remain compelling.
But the more I lose myself in the world of “Web 2.0” social software, the more I think iLike is ceding serious ground to its competitors specifically, veteran social music site Last.fm and may never catch up.
And the key reason, in my opinion, is simple. Three letters, in fact: RSS.
Sure, iLike has its snazzy flash widget, positioned primarily as a tie into MySpace. But as MySpace becomes increasingly hostile to widgets (understandably hesitant to support businesses and services that seem to leech off the empire they’ve built), this focus seems unwise. And even though the widget code works on other platforms and websites (the embed code they provide for Blogger works almost anywhere, even if they don’t make that clear), there’s the problem of widget overload. If your site is pulling code from thirty different sites, it’ll take thirty minutes to load!
Now, Last.fm gives you code to feature your music habits on other websites, too. But they use static images at fixed URLs hosted on their server. This limits the problems related to serving up flash code on remote sites.
More importantly, though, Last.fm gives you RSS feeds, too. Lots of them.
What difference does it make? Plenty.
For a while, I was spending a lot more time poking around iLike that Last.fm. But you wouldn’t have known it from my blog, since I ended up posting my recently played tracks in my sidebar via Last.fm’s RSS feed rather than iLike’s widget. It’s simpler, cleaner, I can cache it locally, and I can format it however I like. No distracting bling to pull you away from my site, no load delays… just simple text links to the songs.
And Last.fm’s feeds allow you to play nicely with other web services and mashups. If you have a Mugshot, Last.fm’s RSS provides your music data. If you have a Jaiku, Last.fm’s RSS provides the songs sprinkled into your timeline.
In fact, as social networks multiply and specialize, services that manage and aggregate your profiles and presence across the web are becoming the next big thing. And with sites like Ziki and Profilactic mashing up your life, Last.fm is taking over the music space, the same way Flickr dominates photos.
C’mon. If Netflix can pump out RSS feeds for customers, the majority of whom probably don’t even know what RSS is, then iLike can do it for its web-savvy, social network happy users. Heck, its “Recently Played Songs” page is 90 percent there. It’d be a snap to take the code that builds that page to also build an RSS feed.
And they should… iLike yesterday.
Ryan is an iLike fan who asked nicely for feeds when the site launched in October. He also wishes iLike would pick up the idea Last.fm dropped: iScrobbler. It was much less intrusive than the Last.fm application, and the iLike sidebar.