Mar 30, 2005 (10:03 AM EST)
Bloglines Adds Package Tracking

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

Bloglines on Wednesday said it has added package tracking to its web-based newsreader, enabling users to get updates on goods shipped by FedEx, United Parcel Service and the U.S. Postal Service.

The feature release is the first since Bloglines was acquired in February by Oakland, Calif.-based, search engine Ask Jeeves Inc.

The Bloglines service, which is available at no charge, lets subscribers aggregate all their favorite blogs and other information onto a single web page. The service gathers the information via RSS feeds. RSS, or rich site summary, is an extensible markup language format in which headlines and links to news, blogs and other content are made available to websites.

Bloglines added package tracking, including international shipments, to the service at the request of subscribers, Mark Fletcher, vice president and general manager of the service said.

"Users are our great source of ideas," Fletcher said.

The new feature is one of many Bloglines plans to add in the future, including local weather updates and stock-portfolio tracking. Bloglines's overall strategy is to get as much personalized information to subscribers as possible.

"The Internet is this vast repository for information, and for the most part, you still have to go out and get it," Fletcher said. "We're looking to have the service go out and do the work for you."

In the near future, Bloglines is looking to improve its search capabilities by integrating Ask Jeeves's technology into the service, Fletcher said. No timetable has been released.

"Currently, there's search on Bloglines.com, but it doesn't work as well as it should," Fletcher said.

Another potential area of integration between Ask Jeeves and Bloglines is online retail, experts say. RSS technology could be adapted to feed updates on products selected by consumers. A person interested in buying a digital camera, for example, could ask for an RSS feed on prices and new features over the next several weeks.

Before search engines can use RSS for this purpose, however, a number of business issues would need to be worked out. Distributors and creators of the content, for example, would have to come to agreement on ownership of the data and on a revenue-sharing plan.