When the news broke yesterday that many Yahoo services were being “sunset”, a lot of Delicious users were not amused. They had been using Delicious to save bookmarks for years, and now all of a sudden Yahoo decided to get rid of this much loved service.
Yahoo have since revealed that they will not shut the service down, and sell it instead, but the damage has been done. Why would anyone start using a service from them in the future if they are going to discontinue it any time on a whim?
Delicious has been neglected for a while now, but the initial product was good enough that people still found it useful. And let’s not forget that this was one of early Web 2.0 services and one of the pioneers in social bookmarking.
The future of Delicious
I’m glad that Delicious is not being shut down. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if whoever takes over Delicious is going to do a worse job than Yahoo. What if Delicious were changed so much that it would no longer be the product that so many of us love using? What if the next owners, like Yahoo, decided they’d had enough fun with the service and want to shut it down in the future?
The most important thing for Delicious to remain a popular service in the future is that it shouldn’t change too much. Look at what happened to Technorati after Blogcritics took over. It has been radically overhauled and looks nothing like the old Technorati. They have probably botched it worse than Yahoo have done with Deliciious. Where Delicious has only been neglected, Technorati seems mutilated.
Does Yahoo really not need Delicious?
Flickr and Delicious are the two services from Yahoo that people find genuinely useful, unlike their other services. Ask anyone why they use Yahoo mail, and they will tell you it’s because they have been using it for years and don’t want to change their email address.
Search is another one of Yahoo’s services for which I can hardly see a future. They use search technology and advertising from Microsoft, so what reason would someone have to use Yahoo search instead of Bing? Again, their survival in search depends on keeping existing users, not on adding new ones.
Now they decide to throw away a service that’s genuinely useful and is used by millions and suddenly all of those people have a reason to wonder if another service they use will share the same fate. Why would someone use Flickr if there was a chance that one day the site could be discontinued and content uploaded over years will no longer be available? I know it’s unlikely, but what if they decided that email was no longer in their “strategic interest”?
Delicious is one of Yahoo’s few services that people really love. They had to keep it not because they can make a lot of money out of it, but because it would earn them some fans and as Google would tell you, fans do a great job marketing your brand.
Alternatives to Delicious?
Within hours of the news that Yahoo is sunset-ing Delicious, there were dozens of articles suggesting alternatives. Pinboard.in and Diigo seem to be the popular choices. I’m not picking any of them, though. Delicious is unique and I don’t see anything that could replace it right away. That’s exactly why I was so disappointed by this news about Delicious.
I hope Delicious does find a good home outside Yahoo, and that whoever takes over does a better job than what Yahoo have done so far. As long as Delicious is online, I will most probably not switch to another service. It’s been an awesome bookmarking site and I don’t see any reason to leave just yet.
As for Yahoo, I can’t imagine where they are heading. In today’s internet, their only hope for survival is to somehow keep their existing users. They don’t seem to have any idea how to attract new users anyway. If they keep “sunset”-ing services like this, I don’t know how long it will be before it’s time for Yahoo’s sunset. I wish that doesn’t happen, for the sake of the Yahoo of the 90s that dominated internet.
Who do you think would be good owners for Delicious? Do you think Yahoo can get out of the mess they are in? Share your thoughts in the comments.