Thursday, September 30, 2010

Xmarks shutting down?

Perhaps the most important thing in your webworld is Bookmarks. If you are an avid internet user, with a bunch of computing devices to operate everyday, then you must be knowing Xmarks. To me, it is by far the most important Web browser extension. However, soon its going to be legacy, and fade out in the pages of web history.

imageWhat Xmarks does? it is a synchronization servcie, all FREE of cost that synchronizes your passwords and bookmarks across every computer you have. As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote, it could be just a little idea though, to a person like me, it’s a life-saver.

Xmarks simply works with all the major Web browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer, as well as all the major desktop operating systems like Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. No matter where you are, what computing device you are using, and how many, you could keep a common set of bookmarks and passwords everywhere.

Xmarks released a couple of FAQs on its blog about shutting down this service.

<from Xmarks and the website>

Why are you shutting down Xmarks?

We weren’t able to find a sustainable business model for Xmarks. The advertising you may have seen on generates only a small fraction of the revenue we need to cover our operational costs; we had been working hard to create search and discovery products that could take the company to profitability and beyond, but we didn’t generate enough consumer adoption or advertiser adoption of these new products.

The short answer is, time and money have run out, so we’ve made the difficult decision to shut our doors.

As Todd Agulnick, co-founder of Xmarks and CTO, said in a blog posting, “For four years we have offered the synchronization service for no charge, predicated on the hypothesis that a business model would emerge to support the free service. With that investment thesis thwarted, there is no way to pay expenses, primarily salary and hosting costs.”

Why not charge for it, or say, charge just for password synchronization or other high-end features? Agulnick wrote, “The prospects there are grim too: With the emergence of competent sync features built into Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, it’s hard to see users paying for a service that they can now get for free.”

Agulnick have also tried to sell Xmarks, but “Over the past three months, we have been remarkably close to striking a deal, only to have the potential buyer get cold feet.” Then, the money clock ran out” “Without the resources to keep the service going, we must shut it down. Our plan is to keep the service running for another 90+ days, after which the plug will be pulled.”

It’s a sobering moment. Here we have a great program that provides an extraordinarily popular service, Xmarks has over 22-million downloads for Firefox alone from a single Firefox site, and its developers can’t pay the bills for lack of a successful business plan.

As a conclusion, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote a somewhat significant theme:

“Twitter, and other popular services and programs that don’t have a business plan, should take note. Popular success doesn’t mean money in the bank. Sometimes it doesn’t even mean being able to keep a roof over your head.

I can only hope that someone will come along and invest in Xmarks and work out a real business plan for it. It would be a shame for this wonderful program and service to disappear.”

</from website>

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Atif Siddiqui - Technology Evangelist

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