23 December 2009

MyBlogLog: A Perfect Example Of Missed Opportunities [Rant]

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Yesterday happened to end with a bad news as i was finishing reading my feeds for the day. Marshall Kirkpatrick over at the ReadWriteWeb posted about a unconfirmed but extremely likely to happen rumor:

Yahoo! Will Kill MyBlogLog Next Month.  

(Recommended to read along with this post)

That means that by the end of January of 2010. MyBlogLog will be no more. To add insult to the injury, It will close as the service reaches its fifth anniversary. How classy of Yahoo.   **See update 2

What was MyBlogLog?

When MyBlogLog started, it was actually only a visitor counter with stats geared for Blogs only. Hence the name.

Then a genius idea from someone in the startup came up with “Why don’t we make it a Blog Directory/ Blog Community Index too?”. From that it evolved into leveraging the network that consisted of your own blog readers into a Widget that showed who had just visited. It was a new play on the classic “Who is online now?” widgets from the early 2000’s that only show someone IP and from what country it is.

From that it evolved into a series of widgets that delivered activity streams and personal lifestreams and also served as Online ID Cards. All of this thanks to the data that MyBlogLog mined from the users and the data you could aggregate to MyBlogLog as it had also become a Online Activity Aggregator.

So you had that MyBlogLog got to be about:

  • Blog Stats
  • Blog Network Widget
  • Blog Directory
  • Blogger Directory
  • Blog Community Index
  • Online Acivity Aggregator
  • Lifestream Widget
  • Online ID Card Widget

 

It is obvious that even the MyBlogLog team didn’t knew how big it was what they had created or how big it could had been. They decided to sell to Yahoo for 10 million dollars and from the time it was bought in 2007, it was only measly updated during the first year of its acquisition. After that it was just left to rot until this day.

What it should had been?

Let say that even if Yahoo failed to recognize its incredibly potential, they had cared enough to keep it updated and tweak it so it could be the best of what it already was.

I.-The UI-UX

The first obvious problem of MyBlogLog is that it had a outdated look even when it was acquired and it was not very well organized.

MyBlogLog gave it a go and delivered a good enough organization once in Yahoo. But for some reason the look of the site was never pretty and instead it just looked dull and boring.

It needed a vibrant and clean look that also looked integrated with the Yahoo Brand. It never happened.

II.-The Widgets

They looked like crap in most cases, they were not very customizable or they came off as flamboyant.

I think this point was what really riled up many people as most hated the look and the poor customization that such great widgets had. A example is that even i decided to put up the original classic version of the Blog Network widget (Appatic Readers) instead of the last version they did. A lot of people also preferred to use modded versions of the classic widget instead.

They needed to look good and to be flexible, if they only had left people build truly customizable widgets that looked good. It would had captured a lot of more people.

III.-The Business Model

MyBlogLog always had a business model. it was not very good or ambitious enough. But it had one.  Never understood why they didn’t sold advertising at the site and why they never rethought their prices or blog stat packages even before the Yahoo acquisition.

The stats package they sold was expensive and the amount of stats you got from paying were a laugh even compared to StatCounter. They charged you by Blog, didn’t had a global yearly payment option for all your blogs (even if that meant only up to lets say 10 blogs). It never got good and was never updated by Yahoo either.

It should had been a lot better, It should had been Yahoo response to Google Analytics and if they had priced aggressively  by account instead of by Blog. I would not have wanted any other kind of analytics. Many would have agreed with me on that too.

IV.-The API

Unfortunately it came off late at a time where people was already having serious doubts of Yahoo commitment. Pretty much no one used it and there were never good examples to be inspired from when it was introduced.

It would had been used if Yahoo would had built some demos and added proper documentation and a development community worth a damn.

V.-Yahoo Integrated

It never happened. Why it was not better integrated with delicious, flicker, buzz or other Yahoo services is something everybody wondered on without getting a response from Yahoo.

If it had been integrated. Maybe Yahoo would have figured it out what they had bought.

What it could had been?

This is the big one. What MyBlogLog could had archived if they didn’t had sold out or if Yahoo would had the vision to execute the potential of it.

I.-Lijit before there was any Lijit or a Lijit Competitor.

I don’t know if Lijit was a inspired response to what they saw as the void of Blogger having a horrible blog search back then and if they were looking at what MyBlogLog and others were trying to do as a chance for success with their niche product.

That is something only Lijit Founder or CEO can reply to. Lijit obviously archived success and it is doing good enough. But they could have very well never existed or they would be in a never ending competition with MyBlogLog. If the latter had though of adding Blog Search Widgets to their staple prior to any though of Yahoo buying it.

II.-A Better Technorati

I got a rant reserved for Technorati very soon, But seriously.. how i wish MyBlogLog had done that. I cannot think of a reason why they didn’t leveraged their already in place Tagging System and Tag Tracking ways and competed with Technorati. It is a inexcusable thing in my mind.  It was actually what i first thought Yahoo had bought MyBlogLog for.

If they had gone and competed. Technorati would have either died off already or it had been acquired by someone that had done a better job with it.

III.-Wikio/Blogged

The only reason Wikio and Blogged exist, have survived  and i would actually recommend them is because both MyBlogLog and Technorati failed to fulfill their potential. Both saw that and acted. Good for them

IV.-Blog Ad Network

The second thing that crossed my mind when Yahoo acquired MyBlogLog. I seriously thought that they were going to turn it into the playground to  test their AdSense alternative and develop advertising services. Never happened.

But if MyBlogLog had turned itself into a Blog Ad Network, it would had been a great Blog Ads, Technorati Engage, AdBrite and BuySellAds alternative and potentially bigger than any of them.

V.-OneRiot before there was any OneRiot.

MyBlogLog already got the lifestream aggregation, Online ID data and Personal Activity Aggregator services in it. How hard it would had been to search for what they were ALREADY aggregating?

Exactly.

A social real-time search engine would had been a great step into the future for them too.

VI.-Facebook Connect before Facebook connect.

MyBlogLog already had the Online ID Data. They could have turned themselves into a Login ID. What is more tragic is that Yahoo could have bundled their ID with it too. Instead they went on that Solo but it didn’t turned into nothing but a late late late reaction.

VII.-Alternative Blog Comment System with Reputation Ranking and Social Messaging Integration.

Continuing with point VI, There was nothing that complicated with MyBlogLog launching a product of what you now know as JS-KIT Echo or Disqus. They already had everything that was needed.

What Startups Could Replace The Void Left By MyBlogLog?

Lets pretend it is already dead and closed. What other startups could step up and remake what MyBlogLog was and extend on what it should had been?

I.-Blog Catalog

Most obvious choice. They introduced a MyBlogLog like widget already long time ago, they are also a Blog and Blogger Directory.

I.-Lijit

Second most obvious choice. They got a Ad Network, they got blogrolls, they got blog search widgets. Adding a MyBlogLog like functionality would a actual natural evolution.

III.-Blogged

Got a Blog Directory and Blog Ranking Index.

IV.-Wikio

Blog Ranking Index

V.-Technorati

The last obvious one. They got blog search, tags, index, directory and ad network. Adding MyBlogLog like functionality would be a actual good way to revitalize Technorati. I leave it last because it is also in a bad stagnation state. So bad it could not survive 2010 either.

Conclusion

I know i abuse of the hypothetical's here and that the last two points in the “What it could had been” are a bit of a stretch. But that is why this is marked as a Rant after all.

But even if you disagree with most of what i have said. You cannot disagree with the main points with a straight face. MyBlogLog should had done better, Yahoo should have done better. Even at this point if Yahoo truly wanted it. They could easily do EVERYTHING i have listed above. But in their usual late stupidity, they will probably just kill it instead.

*Update* (23/12/09): Yahoo has responded to ReadWriteWeb with a blog post that says absolutely nothing, so stay tuned:  Update on MyBlogLog

*Update 2*(01/02/10) : So far Yahoo has not killed MyBlogLog yet, but has left it to rot instead. Will update if things change.

*Update 3*(24/05/11) : MyBlogLog is now Dead.

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