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NewsGator drops fees for news readers

The news readers NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, and NewsGator become available for free.

NewsGator is making its latest consumer news readers available for free.

The updated products are FeedDemon 2.6, NetNewsWire 3.1 for the Mac, NewsGator InBox 3.0 beta, NewsGator Online, and NewsGator Go for mobile gadgets. Premium subscriptions formerly cost $19.95 or $29.95 per product.

The tools synchronize content fed to the Web, as well as to desktop and handheld devices including the iPhone, BlackBerrys, and those running Windows Mobile.

Each account will include features that were formerly offered only in premium editions. Users who have paid for NewsGator products on or after December 9 can request a refund.

NewsGator aims for the move to help it better aggregate data about user behavior anonymously, precisely tracking the popularity of feeds and articles. Users who don't want their reading preferences tracked can opt out but may lose some synchronization features.

The company will cease its e-mail tech support, leaning instead on Web-based forums.

Over the past few years, I've tested various NewsGator offerings and found FeedDemon excellent for newshounds who manage thousands of feeds. However, after a while, NewsGator InBox, which I packed with nearly as many news feeds, tended to slow down Outlook.

The Denver-based NewsGator has raised some $30 million in outside funding, most recently with a fifth round of $12 million last month led by Vista Ventures. NewsGator has faced an uptick in competition from free news reader services such as the Web-based Google Reader.