December 04, 2008

Blogging's Future Is Both Consolidating and Expanding

By Rob Diana of Regular Geek (Twitter/FriendFeed)

In the microblogging space, there are several players. Twitter is currently king and looks to dominate for quite some time. There are other Twitter-like sites around as well, like Plurk,, Rejaw and others. has not grown significantly since their initial push, but Plurk has shown some interesting growth lately. Then there are some tools that are more than just Twitter-like. Tools like Pownce, Jaiku and Tumblr allow users to share files and other media as well as short bursts of text. Tumblr has seen some very good growth over the past year, but the same cannot be said for Pownce or Jaiku, and of course, Pownce, following its acquisition by Six Apart earlier this week, is on its way to being shut down.

Does this mean there is no future for microblogging besides Twitter? Definitely not. Plurk has shown that a simple differentiating feature (the timeline) could entice people, albeit a smaller audience, to use one service over another. Other services, like Yammer and Presently, are taking a chance on the corporate microblogging audience. Open standards could change the playing field as well. If people can reply to people on another service, then there is more room for smaller services to grow.

So what about the blog platforms? Blogger, WordPress and TypePad seem to be doing well. TypePad released a new comment system and WordPress purchased one in IntenseDebate. In addition, TypePad parent SixApart just bought Pownce and its developers. We all know that microblogging is not going to kill blogging any time soon, but things are definitely changing. It looks like the blogging platforms are looking to integrate more social features and more simple sharing of information similar to Twitter or Tumblr. Long form blogging is not dead, but there is room for shorter form information sharing. The blog platforms are making moves to make this process simpler.

The acquisitions of the recent weeks are just the beginning.

I have a feeling that we will quickly see Pownce features in TypePad or other SixApart platforms. It is also likely that some of the features of I Want Sandy end up as part of Twitter, or even a subscription based feature. SixApart could do that as well with the various media sharing capabilities of Pownce. We will be seeing more sites and founders being acquired for the talent or even just a set of features. There will be a lot of consolidation over the coming year, and that is a good thing. Choices and competition are good, but too many choices gets confusing.

More importantly, the features that are getting added could likely change the way we look at these services. What if Twitter had a subscription service that included features from I Want Sandy and even tighter integration with Remember The Milk? That would absolutely be something that people would pay for. If you have a blog, would you pay money for group management and file sharing capabilities? Granted, you can cobble together the same type of service with a few blog plugins or even various third party Twitter applications, but would you pay $5 per month for the simple and integrated features? I have a feeling that many people would, enough to fund monthly costs at the minimum.

We currently have the base services and platforms that the future will be built on. So start thinking about what you could build on top of Twitter the platform. Start thinking about the features that could be integrated into your blog platform to really make it into a community. What value can be provided on top of the basic services we have now?

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