Friday, June 20, 2008

What’s wrong with Del.icio.us? Nothing. Really.

Julian Baldwin wrote a brief piece today in which he faulted Del.icio.us for a failure its innovate and announced he would be looking for something new.

After using the social bookmarking service for several weeks, I’ve realized the concept is excellent but someone other than Yahoo! will need to carry innovation forward in this market.

How does such a flexible service like del.icio.us go wrong? For starters, there are skeptics who question if tagging and social bookmarking is really worth the trouble for tracking your own information in the first place. Secondly, del.icio.us failed to release version 2.0 after nine months of anticipation, which prints the bold statement - we’re not leaders in this space - across their homepage. As users continue to wait, the likelihood of seeing updates soon is severly impaired by Joshua Schachter’s decision to resign from Yahoo!

It’s true, of course, that Del.icio.us is way, way late in releasing its highly anticipated 2.0 update and its visionary founder is headed out the door. But isn’t there more than just a “concept” here?

We’re talking about the market leader in social bookmarking. A site with more users and more saved bookmarks than all its competitors put together. It’s the only conventional bookmarking service that Facebook chose to include in launching its feed import feature (I don’t view StumbleUpon as a conventional social bookmarking site because it doesn’t resemble Del.icio.us clones like Furl, Mister Wong, Simpy and Blinklist). Importantly, Del.icio.us boasts the most sophisticated browser extension available for any social bookmarking service. It syncs your bookmarks across computers, makes them conveniently accessible (and fully searchable) within the browser, and keeps up with the sites you visit most. The brand new version works in both Firefox 3 and IE 7.

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Baldwin recommends that Del.icio.us users who care about bookmarking look to one of its competitors. But they don’t measure up very well. Sure, some of them have features that Del.icio.us lacks (e.g., screen captures, categories, groups); a lot of things I’d admittedly like to see in Delicious 2.0. But as I grew impatient for the update, I’ve tried out the other services and found them wanting.

image The best of them is Diigo, which has a ton of interesting features, including shared annotations (intriguing, I admit). But its toolbar doesn’t work with with Firefox 3 and the search feature in IE is slow and can search only by tag. Sure I’d like to see some of Diigo’s outstanding social features in Del.icio.us, but what I really need is superb integration with Firefox. Until someone can match Del.icio.us where it counts, they’re not going to lure me away.

Am I tired of waiting for new features? Hells yes. But there’s no where else to turn right now. And I’m not alone in thinking so. Remember: since the beginning, Del.icio.us has made it easy as pie to automatically transfer all your bookmarks to any new service you might find. And since there’s not a strong social presence on Del.icio.us, switching costs are essentially zero. And yet, no other service has gained significant market share. Why? because they aren’t as good.

Believe me, I’ve tried most of them. If there’s a failure to innovate, well, everyone’s failing.

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