BlogHarbor and Domination of the Blogosphere

I’ve seen a number of articles recently (like this and this) about why Yahoo, MSN, Google et. al. will crush companies like Six Apart and services like our BlogHarbor and I think the idea is ludicrous.

Will those companies be bigger than us? Pretty likely. Have more customers? Sure. But there’s not a reason in the world to think that they would crush us as in put us out of business.

Remember back five years ago this month (wow – has it been that long?) when NTT bought Verio for $5.5 billion? That was supposed to be the beginning of the end for the small web hosting companies. A watershed event – the takeover of web hosting by the bigcos.

Well, it never happened. Today there are thousands of thriving web hosting businesses. And there are great and profitable web hosting companies that have been created just in the last few years, when conventional wisdom would have told you that this had already become a commodity business and that creating a new web hosting company was insanity.

If you think Yahoo, MSN, and Google will suddenly become industry leaders at:

  • Answering the phone when you want to know why your account isn’t working the way it should
  • Replying to your email where you asked about some CSS code you can’t get working on your blog
  • Helping you understand your billing options
  • Creating a custom solution for you that isn’t “on the menu”
  • Going the extra mile in helping you with an issue that is technically outside the “sphere of support”

then maybe you’re right, the bug guys will take over this industry. But I don’t think anyone would tell you that these are things that are viewed as the bigco’s strengths. When was the last time you called Google and asked them to explain to you why your site wasn’t ranked so well in their search engine? To help you fix your Blogger posting? Got a prompt reply from Microsoft about how to format a table on your MSN Spaces blog?

Why then, would you expect any of those companies to crush any company that can provide a comparable product or service with far better support?

You get what you pay for. There’s a reason that MSN Spaces, Yahoo 360, and Blogger are free: the companies that provide those services do not want to get into the support business. And web hosting – and its subset blog hosting – is inherently and primarily a support business, not a technology business. It’s much easier to create a scalable blogging platform than to support it. You only have to create it once, you’ll need to support it every day. Now that’s hard.

Hosting companies who understand this have nothing to fear from the big guys getting into blogging in a big way. Let them spend their marketing dollars convincing the public to get themselves and their businesses a blog. And when you or your family or friends or your business is feeling a little frustrated with the lack of support from your free blog provider, or are in need of something not on their menu (maybe a blog with a splash of domain name and a side order of email?), check us out: