What Problem Do Blog Classifieds Solve?

from the enlighten-me dept

There's been a lot of buzz in the blogworld about the launch of Edgeio, which appears to be a way of aggregating classified-type listings that people post on blogs. Part of the reason for all the buzz seems to be the association of Michael Arrington with Edgeio. Arrington runs the popular TechCrunch blog that covers all the various Web 2.0-style companies. In some ways, the popularity of this blog acts as a protectionary measure for Edgeio, since many people who work with various companies might not want to upset Arrington and not get covered on his site (which, honestly, is a pretty sweet marketing position to be in for Edgeio).

However, it's interesting to see that just days after Edgeio opened its doors, another, nearly identical, offering is opening up as well, called BlogBuy. It makes you wonder, what's special about Edgeio? Looking over the initial release, it certainly looked like you could hack together an Edgeio clone on top of something like Technorati without too much difficulty. In both cases, the companies try to let people post whatever classified-type information they want via feeds (which doesn't just mean blogs, of course, but most people focus on the blog aspect). It's an interesting way to try to get out from having all of that content "owned" in a central place by the likes of Craigslist -- but what hasn't been made clear is what problem these sites are actually solving. We hadn't heard of people complaining that Craigslist and eBay were too centralized. Also, the business model here seems to be to pay for better listings -- but that relies on unhappiness with Craigslist and eBay again -- something that isn't at all clear. In fact, given the usage patterns on both sites, it seems like people are pretty happy with both. Both have also gone out of their way to accommodate sellers. eBay, especially, has built up a tremendous infrastructure to support their sellers. So, while there's a lot of buzz about these offerings and how they somehow change the game, it's still not clear to us how that game is changed without fulfilling a need. In many ways, actually, it seems similar to the launch of Google base. The concept is interesting, and it could have some potential over time if a big enough community can be built up and additional services/features are added. However, initially... what problem is it solving?


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  1. identicon
    Keith Teare, 1 Mar 2006 @ 9:31am

    edgeio, hype and reality

    Thanks for discussing edgeio here Mike.
    You make a number of points. Let me try and address them.
    Your first:
    "Part of the reason for all the buzz seems to be the association of Michael Arrington with Edgeio. Arrington runs the popular TechCrunch blog that covers all the various Web 2.0-style companies. In some ways, the popularity of this blog acts as a protectionary measure for Edgeio, since many people who work with various companies might not want to upset Arrington and not get covered on his site (which, honestly, is a pretty sweet marketing position to be in for Edgeio)."
    I can't deny that Mike Arrington (my co-founder at edgeio) has made an almost unbelievable impact with TechCrunch, and that his involvement in edgeio benefits edgeio as a result. As you say it's a pretty sweet marketing position. But - and this is a big but - that is not and was not some kind of plot. Mike built TechCrunch over the last 8 months by hard work and his personality, combined with his enthusiasm for innovation, combning in a way that clearly pleases his 50-60,000 readers. edgeio was being built before that began, and since it started, as an entirely distinct effort. We can seperate them. Please try and do the same.
    And really, anybody who knows Mike will know that if they have criticism of edgeio it is in his nature to want to know and listen to it. Hey, the only way we get better is from making mistakes and having others point them out and correcting them. No criticism would equal no innovation. So, please, if you have specific criticisms (not you but your readers) please let us know. We NEED to know.
    Your second point
    "Looking over the initial release, it certainly looked like you could hack together an Edgeio clone on top of something like Technorati without too much difficulty. In both cases, the companies try to let people post whatever classified-type information they want via feeds (which doesn't just mean blogs, of course, but most people focus on the blog aspect). It's an interesting way to try to get out from having all of that content "owned" in a central place by the likes of Craigslist -- but what hasn't been made clear is what problem these sites are actually solving. We hadn't heard of people complaining that Craigslist and eBay were too centralized. Also, the business model here seems to be to pay for better listings -- but that relies on unhappiness with Craigslist and eBay again -- something that isn't at all clear. In fact, given the usage patterns on both sites, it seems like people are pretty happy with both. Both have also gone out of their way to accommodate sellers. eBay, especially, has built up a tremendous infrastructure to support their sellers. So, while there's a lot of buzz about these offerings and how they somehow change the game, it's still not clear to us how that game is changed without fulfilling a need."
    edgeio is intended first and foremost to leverafe existing behaviors to create a new experience, the ability to buy and sell via a blog. This should make a blog a viable platform for many more people than have them today. A blog as a storefront is clearly an innovation. But does it fulfill a need? Here is our list of needs we fulfill:
    1. The need for listings to be free. CraigsList and Ebay both charge listing fees for some or all sellers. The trend is for these fees to grow and for more sellers to be subject to them. In a world of centralized publishing a listing fee is a tax on a sale. If publishing can move to the edge we can make the fees redundant. The key to doing this is to provide centralized listings with distributed publishing. Thus fulfilling the need to remove listing fees.
    2. The need for small businesses to reduce their sales costs. Store fees and listing fees inhibit the entrepreneurial growth in the small business sector. Compare the number of Yahoo or EBay stores to the number of small businesses with web sites. There is a huge gap in the market where small businesses would like to sell online but can't. Turning a blog into a strefront (free with edgeio) can bring many more small businesses online. Incidentally, the reason edgeio covers a large part of the globe is because we believe this is an international need.
    3. The need for sellers in the 9/10ths of the world EBay and CraigsList doesn't cover to be able to be equal citizens in e-commerce. My Mom lives in Scarborough, UK. It isn't a place recognized by Craig or EBay. It is in the edgeio geobase, along with 3 million other towns anc cities. All these people now need os a palce to publish and edgeio.
    4. The need for better real-time search. edgeio indexes in real time. It provides great rss feeds for any query. Combining these 2 makes a real time alerting system for anything, anywhere. Try it, you'll like it.
    5. The need for better distribution by vendors. A store can only serve it's direct customers, but if the data can be taken from the store and dustributed around the network into new places (always pointing back to the original item) then the store can sell to more people. By seperating data from its original point of publishing and making it free, edgeio is facilitating more people seeing it.
    Mike, there are many more needs we fulfill, but maybe this is sufficient for this conversation to continue to the next level.
    Again, thanks for noticing us, and for giving me the opportunity to encourage criticism.
    We do agre eon one point. Hype isn't useful. But real product development, meeting needs is.
    Best regards
    Keith Teare
    founder/ceo/edgeio

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