Following on from Christian Vidmar's prediction regarding OPML earlier this week...

"I agree with Alex Barnett :2006 will be a big year for OPML. The format is getting more and more traction, ideas start to flow and applications are just around the corner. On my side, I’m getting really excited about it. "

Christian goes on to describe some internesting scenarios inspired by the reading list idea by Dave Winer (inventor of OPML and RSS). A few others are picking this up and running with it.  I think we're touching the tip of the iceberg with these OPML-enabled scenarios (but you've got to start somewhere).

So why do I think 2006 is going to be a big year for OPML? Seven reasons I can think of:

7 reasons 2006 will be a big year for OPML

1. OPML will ride the RSS slipstream. 2005 has been arguably the year of RSS.  Since RSS is now 'out there' and a firmly established part of the internet, it won't take nearly as long for OPML to reach a tipping point compared to RSS in terms of time-to-critical-mass (RSS was invented in 1997, OPML in 2000). However, as we've learnt with RSS, in order for OPML to become a 'mass use' technology, it will need to become 'invisible' to the user.

2. Developers familiar with RSS will 'get' OPML in a snap. The number of developers familiar with RSS is growing and will continue to grow, therefore the number of developers that know how to leverage OPML will grow with it - RSS and OPML are very related.  Large software companies are playing with RSS, so they will collectively 'get' OPML quicker than they 'got' RSS.  Existing RSS-enabled and RSS-enhanced services and products can quickly enhance their offerings further by providing support for OPML.

3. RSS is getting to the point of ubiquity. Regardless of whether the users know they are using RSS or not, there appears to be a critical mass of RSS users. Getting to the situation where users to use OPML without them knowing they are using OPML doesn't seems to be a huge stretch of the imagination.

4. It looks like 2006 will be a healthy environment for start-up and internal project fundingThere has been a recent spate of RSS-related acquisitions and VC-backed RSS-enabled start-ups emerging cropping up. With a willing investment market hungry for new opportunities it is a good time for OPML-related start-ups to get a sympathetic ear from those looking to invest in emerging syndication technology and media markets.

5. There are two sides to the OPML coin: consumption and publishing. On the consumption side, there are more RSS readers you can shake a stick at - most already provide some form of OPML support and extending that support to enable some simple but high value scenarios won't take to much effort for the feed reader developers. New OMPL browsers are appearing too. On the publishing side, blogs have been the primary vehicle driving RSS. Adding additional OPML publishing support by the blogware developers to enable these new and interesting scenarios shouldn't seem like a huge stretch of the imagination.

6. There are some really useful scenarios that could be enabled by OPML. OPML is not in a situation where it is a solution looking for a problem to solve - some of scenarios outlined are genuinely useful and OPML makes these relatively easy to enable.

7. OPML is cool, is simple and it works :-)

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