Why does Apple hate RSS?

Last week I was setting up a new Mac and obviously the first thing I did was to upgrade the OS to Mountain Lion. No problems there. As one of the follow-up steps of the setup process, I tried to subscribe to this site’s RSS feed, something that worked extremely well with Snow Leopard’s Safari and Mail.

But oops—the RSS button didn’t show up. Yet it’s still there on a different Mac running Snow Leopard… Attempting to subscribe to one of Apple’s own many RSS feeds results in the following error message:

That’s very broken. One expects better from Apple.

A quick search revealed a very long discussion thread on Apple’s support site, with many people upset by an unannounced removal of a very useful feature. Apple being Apple, there is of course no official communication about the reasons for removal of RSS support, or whether the removal is permanent. In itself, this is not a big deal, but it is disappointing.

Yes, there are 3rd party RSS apps, but that increases clutter—not exactly in the spirit of Apple products, at least not in the traditional (call it Steve Jobsian) spirit. And most of those pooh-poohing RSS (and even suggesting Facebook and Twitter as replacements) appear to misunderstand the purpose and advantages of RSS—the ability to pick and choose sources and read them (or not) at one’s leisure, instead of being bombarded by unpredictable notifications.

With the latest Apple product developments in both software and hardware, there is the inevitable impression (never spoken by Apple, yet the message is clear) that Apple no longer cares about computer professionals. Call it the twitterization (or maybe rather twitification) of the Mac.

On the one hand, iOS is a great mobile operating system. I really like it on the iPhone and iPad. On the other hand… I really, really don’t want it on my Mac. Apple is understandably pouring more resources into iOS development than into Mac/OS X development, but is that really a reason to make OS X worse?

Windows is hardly an alternative (I’m looking at you, Windows 8) and Linux is a showcase of everything that’s wrong with UNIX, yet not with OS X. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next few years.

Perhaps with computers and the Internet becoming ubiquitous, there is no longer room for specialized products for professionals. Or perhaps something new will develop, for people who value productivity more than flashiness and “social media”. We shall see—undoubtedly there are interesting times ahead.

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