Xmarks is (well, I guess now I should say was) a synchronization service to keep browser bookmarks in sync across different computers running different browsers. The service started on a lark, blew up into a mini-phenomenon, grew into a stable service… and is now dying.Xmarks hit a perfect blend of utility and invisibility, but like so many other internet-based ventures, they had no way to monetize. The interesting thing about this is that they could have monetized themselves from the onset—the commenters themselves offer prices they will pay to subscribe—but it might be too late.
This blog post from the co-founder and CTO is a frank retelling of what it takes to search for new business models. It’s also a glimpse into one of the many things shaking the world’s economic values and methods to the core. That people are willing to create things like this for free while gambling on their usefulness strips value away from the market because it creates the perception among audiences that things should be free. The more I see things like this happen, the more I think maybe free is unfeasible.