Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Blogger suffers from Google Federalism?
The gaps in Blogger make the big time, with a post at Platform Wars being picked up on Scripting News. First Phil's assessment:
Is this simply extreme "federalism" in Google? Do they want to let each part explore for itself? Have they decided that, strategically, blog-hosting isn't something important to them? (Blogs elsewhere host AdSense.) Have they essentially decided to allow Blogger to atrophy and die? Are there no, actual, people at Google who really get (or have ideas for) blogging?
and Dave Winer's response:
They're fighting the tough battle, and not doing the fun stuff, adding features that make real users happy. It's kind of frozen in time. And it's not helping the blogging tools market develop, having a big free competitor in the middle of the market, removed the incentive for others to invest in new features.
Econ 101 notwithstanding, (I would think that a big free competitor would actually prompt innovation amongst pay services, so that they have something unique to offer the customer?) the splog war is sucking resources from the Blogger platform, but there are also missed opportunities for a more dynamic and integrated service going begging, & there's lots of "market research" out there (much of it discussed here or listed on the Blogger Hacks Wiki) about the features that users are looking for. I'm interested to see what's coming, as discussed by Aditya at The Last Word, and it should be obvious that I'm a big fan of the service and the format. Some upgrades would be great, although I don't want Blogger to put us out of business...just prod us to modify and innovate at a higher level!

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Posted at 6:04 PM by John.
4 Comments:
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Blogger Ramani said...
//I don't want Blogger to put us out of business...just prod us to modify and innovate at a higher level!//

Can't agree more. While they might come up with their version of categories etc to please the common man, they should still let users to change the template to whatever they want.

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Blogger Greg said...
Just on the business side of blogging innovation ...

I think it would be tough to get any kind of "business case" up at Google for blogging. Since they're so flush with money-making opportunities, the internal rate of return they require must be hundreds of percent. This means that some bright manager in the blogging area who puts up a proposal for them to innovate and double their money in six months will get shouted down by all the other projects offering multiples of that.

Sure, they could hire more talent to pick up these (comparatively) low-value projects, but then they might have to increase their workforce by a factor of ten, significantly changing their culture and threatening their over all strategy.

How could they make Blogger stratospherically profitable, to warrant diverting resources into it?

The obvious suggestion is AdSense on all the publishing pages (like Gmail), and mandatory ads in the Blogger toolbar (like, well, every other free host).

(They'd better have more than kick-arse categories and comment feeds if they ever do that!)

If it's so unprofitable, why have they just left it limping along, draining funds, but not really investing in innovation? Why not put it out of its misery?

Perhaps they take the view that Google's strategy is to make money from searching content. To that end, they need an ever-growing supply of hard-to-search yet compelling content. (This explains their Google Groups product.) Blogs in general (and Blogger in particular) also fill that niche, in effect ensuring an ongoing need for services like Google.

According to that view, Blogger should be run as cheaply as possible while ensuring the maximum amount of verbage per day is generated. They don't care whether that's hosted by themselves or competitors - market share isn't an issue as long as (searchable) content is created. Hence, no point in putting in new features to garner share from WordPress - they would rather capture people who think blogging is too hard/not for them.

Like any armchair tech analyst, I'll go out on a limb with some predictions:

* Very little market-share capturing innovation with "advanced" features for power-users.
* Instead, we'll see tinkering at the edges (mostly to make content easier to search)
* A focus on "user-experience" to get all those people who said "no" to blogging to start generating content.
* Any serious innovation will come later, in the form of integration with other products (Gmail, Google Calendar etc), based on linking your Google account with your Blogger one.

There - at least we can all have a laugh at this in six weeks when they present a radically re-engineered Blogger with all the bells and whistles.

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Blogger Aditya said...
"There - at least we can all have a laugh at this in six weeks when they present a radically re-engineered Blogger with all the bells and whistles."

Haha! I think you're right about that, as the rest of the comment. Google is trying to use every means necessary to highlight their one core competence, and they really don't care how much resources it might take. Although they are trying to minimise it to the barest minimum.

John, splogs will take only that much of space on the Blogger servers, and every platform will have their share of splogs. With the storage capacity of Blogger/Google (which increases everyday), splogs aren't really much of a problem. Especially since there are people at Mountain View removing them from time to time. Also, I wonder how much resource drain would simple categories be on their servers?

This format is amazing, and it certainly does work for Blogger, but ultimately, we must remember that Google holds the deck. If tomorrow they decide to shut down Blogger altogether, hehe! There's not a thing we can do about it! :-P

Here's hoping to the fact that it won't come to that! Thanks for the link! :)

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Blogger phil jones said...
Something I never understand with something like this. It would be so cheap to put a couple of cool designers on a retainer to come up with some cute new, good-looking templates every month, and add these to the system.

People love eye-candy, and even without changing the codebase, Google would create a sense of forward momentum for Blogger. Even better, engage with the Blogger Hacks community. Get people putting Yahoo widgets on blogger etc. etc.

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