Rick Bruner at Business Blog Consulting gives 'One (Percent) Reason Why Not to Switch From Email to RSS'.  The general gist is right - the debate should move away from RSS v Email and move to how RSS can become part of the marketing mix.

In the article, Rick reveals some research that sheds some light on the usage of RSS readers.

"One of the questions we asked was about various digital communications media and devices they use, including this choice:

I use a "news aggregator" to subscribe to websites (using "RSS" or another "XML" syndication language).

The response? Thirty-five people out of 2543 checked that option. That is 1.4% of the total, that five years after RSS has been available to the world."

It struck me that this last point (five years since the invention of RSS) might be used as evidence by nay-sayers to argue that RSS will never hit the masses.

So in a pre-emptive strike I thought I'd point out that it often takes a while for innovations to make prime time, especially those that might one day become ubiquitous...here are some examples:

When was email invented? 33 years ago.
"Ray Tomlinson gave society one of the greatest communication tools in history. He invented email back in 1971 -- essentially fostering global business communication and turning the Internet into a digital kitchen table for far-flung family members."

When was mobile telephony invented? 32 years ago.
"Dr Martin Cooper, a former general manager for the systems division at Motorola, is considered the inventor of the first modern portable handset. Cooper made the first call on a portable cell phone in April 1973. He made the call to his rival, Joel Engel, Bell Labs head of research."

When was TCP/IP invented? 30 years ago.
"In May, 1974, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) published a paper titled "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection." The paper's authors -- Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn -- described a protocol called "TCP" that incorporated both connection-oriented and datagram services."

When was HTTP invented? 14 years ago.
Tim Berners-Lee "Given the go-ahead to experiment by my boss, Mike Sendall, I wrote in 1990 a program called "WorlDwidEweb", a point and click hypertext editor which ran on the "NeXT" machine. This, together with the first Web server, I released to the High Energy Physics community at first, and to the hypertext and NeXT communities in the summer of 1991."

When was the browser invented? 14 years ago.
"The first browsers, invented simultaneously [to http], was text-only. Then Mosaic 1 (Nov '93) hit the market, and it supported images. This was such a huge step forward that it quickly took over the (rather small) browser market of its day."

When was XML invented? 8 years ago.
"The initial XML draft was presented in 1996 at a conference in Boston. The official W3C specification (XML 1.0) was presented in 1998."

When was IM and P2P invented? 8 years ago.
"In November 1996, only four months after the establishment of Mirabilis, the first version of the ICQ ("I Seek You") product was deployed over the Internet."

When was the RSS aggregator invented? 5 years ago
"The date of the first aggregator is roughly April-May 1999. It was UserLand's centralized service, called my.userland.com. The first use of RSS (it wasn't called RSS then) was in December 1997". (Contributed by Dave Winer for this posting with help from Scobes (who's RSS feed has just been added to My MSN!) Thanks!)

My point?  Don't write off RSS because it was invented 5 years ago and 'still' isn't at 'mass use'. If XML, IM and P2P (depending on how you define P2P) - are anything to go by (technologies that ride on the infrastructure that itself took decades to make prime time) RSS has another 3 years before it can be judged as 'having made it' or not.