Did Search kill Del.icio.us?

My geek friends are up in arms about Yahoo! shutting down Del.icio.us.

Apparently it falls into the category of “underperforming or off-strategy” products. The echo chambers are ablaze with calls to save it, or open the source code. Of course, my non-geek friends ask “What’s Delicious?” – and there’s the rub.

I’m not qualified to examine Yahoo!’s original business strategy for Del.icio.us, but one thing is pretty clear to me — the masses don’t use bookmarks; not even the browser toolbar kind, let alone a Cloud solution – sorry, I mean Web-based solution.

Remember this? (view comments oldest first). Meet the masses.

No, I haven’t conducted a study. I have no statistics. But, I have a decade of watching very closely how people use the Web; a decade of account managers asking me “What’s that URL again?” for the project they’ve been working on for two months; a decade of watching people google “Amazon” – this is how real people use the Internet.

I wrote some time ago about the Death of the Address Bar (Chrome is doing a good job of proving me right on some of my points). When it comes to bookmarks I think we can point the finger in a similar direction. It’s increasingly easy to be lazy and disorganised and totally get away with it. Successful products tap into this, hence its self-perpetuating nature.

My own bookmarks are limited. Often I only bookmark something after I’ve had to search for it a couple of times and found it took annoyingly longer than 10 seconds. But tagging 1,000+ URLs? That’s like your own mini-search engine, and one you can share with friends – Don’t get me wrong it was a brilliant idea – it’s just that I’ve never found I need it, and I think it’s fair to say that in the five years Yahoo! has had hold of it, they’ve not managed to convince the masses either. Perhaps they didn’t try hard enough, or perhaps they just didn’t have a clue what to do with it.

On the bright side, this opens up an opportunity for a young startup to fill the hole. If they can move it from early adopters to the mainstream in less than the seven years Del.icio.us lasted then they will deserve their riches!

By way of apology to Del.icio.us fans: here are some of your own blog posts.

  • Dis.gust.ed (Nice title Stuart)
  • Sour Taste (by Neil Perkin – includes “add to del.icio.us” button)
  • (I’ll add more, tweet me your links)