The demise of Six Apart?

With the explosive growth MSN Spaces has enjoyed in the last few months, will a relative lightweight like Six Apart survive on its own in the years to come?  This is the question The Blog Herald asks in its article titled "Blog slayer: Microsoft and the future of SixApart".  This touches on a post I published a few months ago which considered the possibility that Yahoo! would buy Six Apart as a way to enter the blog market. 

Microsoft does not enter markets to come second. Microsoft only enters markets with the intention of not only becoming the leading vendor, but the dominate vendor as well. In 5 months Microsoft has gone from 0 blogs to over 7 million blogs and counting. In the same period (29 Nov 04-26 Apr 05) SixApart’s LiveJournal increased their number of registered users by 1.7 million yet its active user count increased by only slightly over 300,000. A potential 1.4 million users stopped using LiveJournal during that period, and potentially went elsewhere. Given the fickle nature of the teen market, the core market that is targeted by both LiveJournal and Spaces, that looks more at popularity and the latest “in?? thing, it’s fair to presume that the growth in MSN Spaces, and the integration with the popular MSN Messenger, is not unrelated to the loss of active users from LiveJournal.

The continued growth of Spaces risks the long term future of LiveJournal. Any blog player that reaches in excess of 10 million users, as MSN Space’s is about to do, will surely reach a point of critical mass in its particular market where it becomes the dominate blog player of choice. Differentiation may work in niche markets, but in the teen market this is not the case. With more and more of their peers signing up, teens through out the English speaking world will be wanting a Spaces blog, just like they want an iPod or a mobile phone.

Even though Yahoo! has launched Yahoo! 360, might it still be a possibility?  The Blog Herald thinks so.

The future for SixApart is in its intellectual property, and its sale to a bigger player. And for this there are two, or maybe three likely suitors. Yahoo! is the obvious choice. Yahoo! has a history of buying companies in areas in which it lacks expertise and wishes to acquire additional users in a particular field (Broadcast.com and Geocities spring to mind). The time period for SixApart to remain attractive to Yahoo! is limited as Yahoo! continued to develop its own blogging platform. The last two potential suitors have the financial backing and brand exposure that would allow SixApart to continue to compete against the big 3.

As much as I love what Six Apart have done with MovableType, TypePad and now LiveJournal, there is no denying the threat Microsoft poses with Spaces.  True Six Apart offers a superior blogging experience with better technology and all that but there is a lot to be said for the numbers Microsoft carries and its growing momentum.  Personally, I would love to see Yahoo! buy Six Apart, it would really bring a few of my personal online services together nicely.

Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

  1. I’ve actually never heard of MS Spaces before! I guess I don’t hang out with that many teenage bloggers. Although I do know the creator of Tabulas, which is an extremely popular platform for Asian teen bloggers.

    I think Six Apart shot themselves in the foot with their pricing changes last summer. Not just the fact that they started to cost more (for some people) but the way they rolled it out alienated tons of users.

    I had already been looking at WordPress at that point, so the new pricing structure (which would have cost us on OrangePolitics because of course we have more than 3 authors) was all I needed to make me leave MovableTyle.

    I can imagine a worse fate for MT than a Yahoo buyout. They’ve done good work, I’d hate to see them go away.

  2. I’ve actually never heard of MS Spaces before! I guess I don’t hang out with that many teenage bloggers. Although I do know the creator of Tabulas, which is an extremely popular platform for Asian teen bloggers.

    I think Six Apart shot themselves in the foot with their pricing changes last summer. Not just the fact that they started to cost more (for some people) but the way they rolled it out alienated tons of users.

    I had already been looking at WordPress at that point, so the new pricing structure (which would have cost us on OrangePolitics because of course we have more than 3 authors) was all I needed to make me leave MovableTyle.

    I can imagine a worse fate for MT than a Yahoo buyout. They’ve done good work, I’d hate to see them go away.

  3. I’ve actually never heard of MS Spaces before! I guess I don’t hang out with that many teenage bloggers. Although I do know the creator of Tabulas, which is an extremely popular platform for Asian teen bloggers.

    I think Six Apart shot themselves in the foot with their pricing changes last summer. Not just the fact that they started to cost more (for some people) but the way they rolled it out alienated tons of users.

    I had already been looking at WordPress at that point, so the new pricing structure (which would have cost us on OrangePolitics because of course we have more than 3 authors) was all I needed to make me leave MovableTyle.

    I can imagine a worse fate for MT than a Yahoo buyout. They’ve done good work, I’d hate to see them go away.

  4. I've actually never heard of MS Spaces before! I guess I don't hang out with that many teenage bloggers. Although I do know the creator of Tabulas, which is an extremely popular platform for Asian teen bloggers.

    I think Six Apart shot themselves in the foot with their pricing changes last summer. Not just the fact that they started to cost more (for some people) but the way they rolled it out alienated tons of users.

    I had already been looking at WordPress at that point, so the new pricing structure (which would have cost us on OrangePolitics because of course we have more than 3 authors) was all I needed to make me leave MovableTyle.

    I can imagine a worse fate for MT than a Yahoo buyout. They've done good work, I'd hate to see them go away.

  5. I’ve got to agree with Ruby’s comments, SixApart did shoot themselves in the foot, and its public record that despite making some ammendments, they never apologised for what they did, and hence I’ve personally never forgotten, and changed to WordPress because of it. Interesting though that Spaces hasn’t been heard of yet by some, they’ve really targeted the teen market really well, particularly with the Messenger link-in. If they can do this in such a short time, as I state in the post, just wait till they tackle serious blogging. Microsoft is literally a web steamroller, and nearly everyone in their path are mere mice.

  6. I’ve got to agree with Ruby’s comments, SixApart did shoot themselves in the foot, and its public record that despite making some ammendments, they never apologised for what they did, and hence I’ve personally never forgotten, and changed to WordPress because of it. Interesting though that Spaces hasn’t been heard of yet by some, they’ve really targeted the teen market really well, particularly with the Messenger link-in. If they can do this in such a short time, as I state in the post, just wait till they tackle serious blogging. Microsoft is literally a web steamroller, and nearly everyone in their path are mere mice.

  7. I’ve got to agree with Ruby’s comments, SixApart did shoot themselves in the foot, and its public record that despite making some ammendments, they never apologised for what they did, and hence I’ve personally never forgotten, and changed to WordPress because of it. Interesting though that Spaces hasn’t been heard of yet by some, they’ve really targeted the teen market really well, particularly with the Messenger link-in. If they can do this in such a short time, as I state in the post, just wait till they tackle serious blogging. Microsoft is literally a web steamroller, and nearly everyone in their path are mere mice.

  8. I've got to agree with Ruby's comments, SixApart did shoot themselves in the foot, and its public record that despite making some ammendments, they never apologised for what they did, and hence I've personally never forgotten, and changed to WordPress because of it. Interesting though that Spaces hasn't been heard of yet by some, they've really targeted the teen market really well, particularly with the Messenger link-in. If they can do this in such a short time, as I state in the post, just wait till they tackle serious blogging. Microsoft is literally a web steamroller, and nearly everyone in their path are mere mice.

  9. If Ruby has not heard of MSN Spaces, then s/he needs to “get out more”.

    I learned about it by simply keeping up on the news (tech news to be specific), which is extremely easy to do here on the Internets®

    As far as MSN having a negative effect on LiveJournal, I’m sure it has, but too many people on LJ are too “cool” to flock to a Microsoft-run site.

    I don’t think SixApart has that much to worry about.

    I do admit msn spaces has some nice features. For one, they do have the ever-popular blogrolls, which LJ has yet to implement.

  10. If Ruby has not heard of MSN Spaces, then s/he needs to “get out more”.

    I learned about it by simply keeping up on the news (tech news to be specific), which is extremely easy to do here on the Internets®

    As far as MSN having a negative effect on LiveJournal, I’m sure it has, but too many people on LJ are too “cool” to flock to a Microsoft-run site.

    I don’t think SixApart has that much to worry about.

    I do admit msn spaces has some nice features. For one, they do have the ever-popular blogrolls, which LJ has yet to implement.

  11. If Ruby has not heard of MSN Spaces, then s/he needs to “get out more”.

    I learned about it by simply keeping up on the news (tech news to be specific), which is extremely easy to do here on the Internets®

    As far as MSN having a negative effect on LiveJournal, I’m sure it has, but too many people on LJ are too “cool” to flock to a Microsoft-run site.

    I don’t think SixApart has that much to worry about.

    I do admit msn spaces has some nice features. For one, they do have the ever-popular blogrolls, which LJ has yet to implement.

  12. If Ruby has not heard of MSN Spaces, then s/he needs to “get out more”.

    I learned about it by simply keeping up on the news (tech news to be specific), which is extremely easy to do here on the Internets®

    As far as MSN having a negative effect on LiveJournal, I'm sure it has, but too many people on LJ are too “cool” to flock to a Microsoft-run site.

    I don't think SixApart has that much to worry about.

    I do admit msn spaces has some nice features. For one, they do have the ever-popular blogrolls, which LJ has yet to implement.

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