This is really sad news.
It’s also a wake-up call.
It’s sad because Delicious is one of my favourite web applications. A searchable database of my favourite links, tagged by me in ways that make them much easier to find via the My Delicious button on my browser toolbar than if I had to find them from scratch on Google.
And Delicious is inherently social. Other people can search and access my links, and I can search and access theirs. Although, to be honest, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the social side of Delicious.
The fact that all my favourite links are in one place, the fact that I can access them from any internet connected device (particularly useful in client offices), and the fact that Delicious is fully integrated into my iPhone are more than enough reasons to place it in my top 5 most useful list.
The remote access thing has been particularly useful. On occasion I’ve used Delicious as an interesting alternative to Powerpoint. You decide on a bunch of links that you want to use to tell a particular story, or to make a particular point, and then give each link a unique tag relating to that presentation. Then it’s easy to call these edited links up on your own machine or your client’s and work through them. This approach has the added advantage of allowing you to be more flexible with the order of presentation than you can ever be with Powerpoint. And you can send a Delicious link to the same, uniquely tagged content so that the client can refer to it again at their leisure after the meeting.
But it looks like Yahoo is pulling the plug, or “sunsetting”, the Delicious service because it’s losing money.
And that’s a wake up call.
Like many people, I’ve come to rely on third party services and platforms such as Delicious, Evernote, flickr, Twitter et al. And this move by Yahoo shows just how fragile and non-permanent these platforms can be.
He argues that brands should focus their social efforts on encouraging people to, and rewarding people for, opting in at source (email, RSS) to an ongoing relationship. This is safer (see above), more robust, and affords more reliable and more complete access to a warm audience than any realtime social network. The opt-in-at-source approach involves more work than placing all of your attention on Facebook and Twitter. But in the light of the turn of events with Delicious it makes even more sense.
As for Yahoo, this hasn’t been a PR disaster on the scale of, say, Nestle. But I’d imagine (actually I know) that a lot of well connected, constructively opinionated, and prone-to-writing-and-sharing people are heavy users of Delicious. And the shit is already beginning to stick…
The latest news suggests that, rather than shutting Delicious down, Yahoo is looking to sell it. Well I don’t know how much revenue it would take to make Delicious a going commercial concern but I would have definitely paid at least $20/year for the security of my account and the same level of functionality that I currently enjoy. And maybe some cleverer people than me could think up some relevant premium account upgrade features that would further increase its earning potential. Good luck to them (Delicious).
Maybe someone with more reach and influence than I could crowdsource enough grass-roots interest and support to take Delicious off Yahoo’s hands and into public ownership. It’s the sort of service that would warrant the internet equivalent of nationalisation (internationalisation?). In fact I’ve just submitted this idea as a serious suggestion to Bud Caddell via his Bucket Brigade project. We’ll see…
In the meantime I was about to start looking for a suitable Delicious alternative when Phil Dearson saved me the hassle. Phil has had his finger on the digital pulse for so long that it must be going numb by now. And, as usual, he was one step ahead in checking out new technology and applications. In this case he was checking out trunk.ly.
At first glance Trunkly appears to do everything that Delicious does, and a little bit more. I say “appears to” because it’s early days and I’m hedging my bets in terms of an all-out product review. (Hence the “I think” in the title of this post.)
The “little bit more” isn’t actually that little on reflection. Once you’ve connected your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Trunkly profile the service will automatically save any links that you share. That is a cool feature.
And, very much like the WeTransfer service that I wrote about recently, the guys at Trunkly clearly know their UX onions. Signing up is a slick, reassuring and low friction process. And they’re clearly aware of the opportunity arising from the uncertainty surrounding Delicious right now. They have made it very easy to import links from Delicious. And they’ve made it easy to run your Trunkly account in parallel with Delicious. Once connected Trunkly will automatically update itself by synching with your Delicious account on a regular basis. Another cool feature.
Every now and again, whether it’s when your home (or office) broadband crashes, or whether it’s when a service that you’ve come to rely upon is taken away from you, you realise that this whole web and digital thing is hanging by various technological and commercial threads. There are lots of circumstances out there that are completely beyond your control.
Fortunately there tend to be clever, motivated people like the guys behind trunk.ly who are ready to tie the loose ends of those threads together and create something new, exciting and hopefully better.