Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Inform in limbo, News 2.0 deflates

Um... when did Inform.com turn off its public news aggregation service? I didn't notice that when it happened. It now appears to have turned into a private consultancy for mainstream media companies - Washington Post, New York Sun and NewsOK.com and VIBE.com being its reference clients. Its public service copped a fair hammering when it launched, and I suppose it makes sense to concentrate on where the money is. If you're going to act as outsourced product development for MSM companies, you might as well get paid by the hour while you're doing it, rather than wait for one of the giants to buy you out.

Looking around, a number of the companies listed in my Feature lists for News 2.0 post at the start of last year have changed their business models on the run, and some of them have stopped running entirely. Topix, which has been in the news recently, has shifted away from GooNews vanilla towards a hyperlocal strategy, not surprising because it was bought out by a consortium of local newspaper chains. NowPublic used to be all about video, but its front page is now a generic textual news aggregator. Daylife started out in January by looking schmick with eye candy everywhere, but their design seems to have been beaten down by user demands to fit the text-stuffed GN norm (also noteworthy: even after Mike Arrington dinged them for lacking RSS feeds at launch, they took eight weeks to add them). Findory and Bayosphere bit the dust, of course. Gabbr appears to be broken, none of its news links work. Backfence looks pretty rundown, like a small town where the train don't stop no more.

Paradoxically, it's the sites which haven't changed which look the best. Newsvine and Techmeme haven't iterated their design at all and they look fine to my eye, though it's a bit worrying that I still can't see any ads on Newsvine. I guess when you have funding you don't need to worry about revenue. Gather actually looks okay and has some ads, although whether it's worth the millions in VC is something only the investors will know.

News 2.0 has not had quite the crash that the naysayers had predicted, more of a slow deflation. Topix and Reddit are the current winners, I suppose, because they had a successful exit, plus NowPublic is pretty cosy with AP so they're on the right track [note: EDIT]. There is still time for some more victories, I bet.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Nowpublic get sold? Who acquired them?

Reddit had an exit too, to Conde Nast.

9:41 am, March 15, 2007  
Blogger b0wl0fud0n said...

Actually, Inform's public is still up as a demo. You can visit it directly at this url: http://inform.com/index.aspx

As for Daylife, it appears that they've redesigned the site as well as added a pretty cool way to visualize the news:
http://universe.daylife.com/

10:20 am, March 15, 2007  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Thanks for that b0wl0fud0n. Still looks way too generic.

That daylife visualisation goes too far, though. Is there some happy medium that can be found between vanilla GooNews and Flash-up-the-ass frippery?

4:39 pm, March 15, 2007  
Anonymous one of the aggregators above said...

Tell me what you want and I'll implement it.

8:32 am, March 16, 2007  
Blogger sidereal said...

I still can't see any ads on Newsvine.

Hmm. Possibly FM excludes delivery from Australian clients, since you're less likely to voraciously consume American loot. The ads have been running for quite a while.

I guess when you have funding you don't need to worry about revenue.

Heh. Now I know you're kidding.

3:31 pm, March 28, 2007  
Blogger ClearForest said...

If you'd like a part of the functionality that inform.com offers on its customer's sites you may want to take a look at http://gnosis.clearforest.com. Gnosis is a Firefox plug-in we've developed that analyzes the page you are reading on any web site and automatically generates links to a variety of news sources for people, places, organizations, etc that it locates. It's pretty cool - and it's agnostic about pointing you toward interesting and relevant content elsewhere on the web. And.. it's free.

1:55 am, April 05, 2007  

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