Six Apart, how to build a weblog empire

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TypePad features and pricing have been published. As expected, this new ASP weblogging service from Six Apart comes in three flavors: Basic, Plus and Pro. The service will open as a preview release on Monday, August 4 at 11:59 pm (Pacific). Subscribers to the TypePad announce mailing-list will receive a 20% rebate on prices and the beta testers will receive the same rebate plus three free months and the ability to provide a 20% discount to 20 people who sign up for the preview release. As far as I understand, those 20% are valid until one stops using the service, and applicable only if one signs up during the preview release period (which duration is not known yet).

Movable Type users will easily find out that the equivalent TypePad service level is Pro. Currently, TypePad Pro offers several features that do not come out of the box from MT, but not necessarily the same level of flexibility. Six Apart has promised to upgrade MT along with TypePad, so power users who want to host their site on their own and the greatest amount of flexibility will be able to keep up with la crème of weblogging.

With TypePad, Six Apart gains a unique position on the weblog market, in that it gives them the broadest reach on the bloggosphere:

  • An ASP service: TypePad, targeting users from beginners to professionals who don't want to enter the arcane of finding a host and setting up a software and want to be up and running in no time.
  • A software: Movable Type, their flag ship product, which power users can download on their own server or host and tweak at will. MT helped Six Apart build a brand and attract a loyal community of users who in return have extended the product and pushed the envelope to make it one of the very best weblogging products. Six Apart has a real interest in continuing the distribution of MT as it is today (free for non commercial use, cheap for commercial use) to keep its power users community happy and prolific. Indeed, a very smart way of growing a brand and fueling research and development at the same time.
  • An enterprise version, announced for this summer: Movable Type Pro, that can be hosted behind a company firewall. This completes the picture by entering the intranet arena in which there are a lot of opportunities for such a software.

I am curious to see how competition will move. In particular, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • Google: Blogger + GoogleBox intranet appliance
  • Microsoft: embrace and extend with SharePoint and Office
  • Apple: .Mac must have a weblog feature to justify its widely contested high price. It's not far, but its web publishing feature is frankly dated ("old new economy") to me. They have tremendous potential in extending their iPhoto, iTunes and web applications concept in this direction.