A service that I’ve come to rely on to keep all of my browsers on all my machines in sync is throwing in the towel. Xmarks, a bookmark synching service that was originally called Foxmarks, couldn’t find a way to monetize its popular service and a potential buyout fell through. Xmarks users can expect an email shortly, letting them know that the service will be winding down within the next 90 days.
I’ve installed Xmarks on every machine that I’ve unboxed and I’m sad to see the service go away. But this incident’s got me thinking about free cloud services again. As Xmarks co-founder Todd Agulnick explained in a blog update, popularity does not equal sustainability. It’s also a good reminder that nothing in this world is free. Every service and line of code out there cost somebody time, money or both. I’m willing to pay for services that I use a lot and I think a lot of others are too. If a service is good enough, developers should charge for it, or risk following in Xmark’s unfortunate footsteps.
I will be replacing Xmarks with other services, such as Chrome’s built-in sync feature, but it’s not quite the same. Chrome requires a Gmail account and it only syncs bookmarks to other computers running Chrome. Google doesn’t exactly have an incentive to make it easier to use IE or Safari. I really liked being able to use any browser on any device and feeling at home thanks to Xmarks. Farewell Xmarks…
Which free or low-cost services do you take for granted that you’d miss dearly if they went up in smoke tomorrow?