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
    Michael Edwards, 28 Feb 2006 @ 9:21pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the comments. I agree in a general way that the classifieds market is full of competition. One thing I think you should keep in mind is that most people don't sell most of the junk they have in their garage. That means there is a huge latent market opportunity waiting to be exploited. No matter how big eBay or Craigslist are now, if everyone decided to sell their junk you would have an enormous amount of people and items looking for places to be.
    In the 90's, and even now the conventional wisdom was that A) You don't compete against ebay, and B) you don't compete against Amazon. A) was proven wrong by craigslist which is kind of the anti-ecommerce ecommerce site in a sense because they have totally eschewed the kind of crass comercialization and walmartization that makes the user experience unenjoyable on ebay and other sites. As far as B) is concerned, there should be no DVD only sites. Yet there are dozens of sites that sell dvds, something Amazon should clearly have the entire market for assuming that what we all believed was true. Consider also a site like Zappos.com which sells shoes and is on target to reach $600m revenue this year. Why isn't Amazon the one doing $600m in shoe-sales?
    There are market discontinuities between how these sites are written about and their true market performance -- zappos and craigslist should not exist under late 90's thinking.
    The biggest problem I have with ebay is that they try to own your reputation. How silly is it that you might spend years growing a used computer parts business only to find out that you are shackled to a single company by your feedback ratings? If I'm correct ebay has actually cease & desisted sites that have posted ebay ratings before because they did not want them to be transferable.
    One other thing to consider is how your business model shapes your company. If you're a marketplace like BlogBuy and you don't charge listing or transaction fees you are free to experiment in ways that would be very risky for eBay. There are ideas for features that we have that would most likely not show up on ebay simply because it would lose them business. Our focus is on the user and providing service to them in any way we can.
    We have a lot of work ahead of ourselves and these comments and criticisms help us focus on what's really important, so I thank you. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions (that goes for anyone).
    Michael Edwards
    Founder/CEO BlogBuy

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