Betting on the right horse at Six Apart?
Russ is launching a bet on how much Six Apart will sell out, taking About.com as an example to figure out that the NYT bought their blogs at $820,000 apiece. I think that the number of blogs is not the relevant metric here. For ad-driven and many other Internet business models, the traffic is. When what you're selling are ads (e.g. Google), what your clients want are eyeballs and what you show them are page views and click-through figures. I've seen one analyst opinion somewhere (can't find the link back) who estimated that the main reason Google was able to present improved traffic figures in 2004 was because they bought Blogger and aggregated its traffic to google.com.
Six Apart's acquisition of LiveJournal improves their position in the "We've got eyeballs" field, and that might be the other reason I was sniffing back in the time.
This leads me to the question: what's going on with Movable Type? MT doesn't fit in the eyeballs equation, and although it's still a leading product in its category, there have been months without any significant improvement apart from a few security fixes. Some long standing bugs (internationalization and UTF-8 issues notably) are not fixed and TrackBacks management remains an embarrassment. Nothing really exciting brews on the ProNet list and the word innovation has not even been murmured there for quite some time (actually only twice in the 4MB of archives I've just downloaded, and that's because of a quote of the only actual occurrence). The latest big news about MT was the redesign of movabletype.org. Nice to know it's entirely driven by MT, would you care to share how you did it? And would you care to share some clues about the product's future with paying customers? The more I venture with Movable Type on corporate blogging, the more I'm anxious about the issues I'm facing or foreseeing, and my last exchange with the MT luminaries (none of them from 6A I must admit) didn't help to reassure me on the fate of MT as a scalable blog farm (I thought I'd never use that word on my blog, but in this context it means that I don't wake up sweating in the middle of the night for the fear that tomorrow I'll have tens of requests for new blogs to process by hand, one by one).
Or is it time to forget about Movable Type and focus on TypePad? Indeed, this is the one that gets all the attention (e.g. WYSIWYG instead of WYSIFUC, drag-n-drop template customization, automatic and self-service user provisioning) and innovation, in particular its moblogging features. Not a hazard nor a mistake, mind you, as "connectable" mobile phones outsell PCs by an order of magnitude and most of the people who will connect to the internet for the first time in the near future will do so from a mobile device of some sorts. Droves of happy Nokia users will click on that "LifeBlog" button to share a picture with their friends or just archive it, and that will become a subscription option on all operators plans in no time. Six Apart has another business opportunity that they are well aware of and exploiting already.
If only they'd let me install TypePad behind my firewall...
Update: I received some good vibes from Six Apart telling me that I should be pleased by the forthcoming news about Movable Type (actually, I'll be pleased by deliverables). And today, Six Apart pointed to a third-party Lifeblog implementation for MT (ironically enough, this guy made the API because he was frustrated by the fact that MT lags behind TypePad, one of my main points in this post).