Two weeks ago Xmarks announced it would shut off its servers in 90 days. As you can imagine, there are a lot of people who are not happy with the idea of Xmarks shutting down and many of them have spoken out and pledged to pay for the service if it can be saved. In a blog post, Xmarks says that the service may not be shutting down after all since there are multiple offers from companies to buy Xmarks:
The past ten days have been an amazing lesson in the power of community. Not in the “web 2.0 social graph” sense – I’m talking about old school community with users speaking up, speaking out and banding together. Thank you Xmarks users. You told the world it was simply unacceptable for our service to shut down and it worked. Thanks to your passion, Xmarks now has multiple offers from companies ready and willing to take over the service and keep making browser sync better and better!
I’ll be very happy if Xmarks is saved, but this fiasco is another example of how it can be risky to rely on free cloud services. When cloud services are built to be valuable enough to pay for everyone wins. The more paying users a service can attract, the more money it has to pay for servers, developers and other expenses. On the other hand, too many users for a service like Xmarks simply means more expenses. I like free stuff as much as the next guy, but I’m more than willing to pay a few bucks per month for services that I rely on.
As Warner Crocker pointed out, nothing is permanent in the cloud. I’ve already adjusted to the idea of living without Xmarks on my computers and I’ve realized it’s not in the end of the world. B0th Google Chrome and Firefox 4 have built-in synching. The Chrome and Firefox solutions don’t support cross browser synching, but the reality is that most people that use Xmarks only use Firefox. Users like me, who use Xmarks on multiple machines and several browsers, are a rarity.
I hope that whoever takes over Xmarks will be able to figure out how to make it self-sustaining and take the service to the next level.