The fundamental flaw I see with Edgio is that there is no edge. Well, there is but it’s not useable. Yes, you can publish on the edge but your data doesn’t make any sense while it exists as ‘microchunks’. It needs to be aggregated so as it can become massaged and become useable.
So in the end, how is something like Edgio any different to say Craig’s List. At the end of the day, Edgio will still end up with a central database of classifieds, the same as Craigs List or anyone else, the only difference being it that it doesn’t own those listings. Any other Edgio clone will be able to build exactly the same kind of system as Edgio if the ‘Listings’ tag does happen to take off.
But the other problem is, who uses a blog to post classifieds? No body. There is no critical mass behind Blog as classifieds. Craigs List has critical mass. It’s not broken. It works. So why would you bother posting something to you blog when you can get far better results posting it to Craigs List. And then let’s not even start on the spam issue, because that’s going to be one hell of a challenge for anyone to solve as Google Base has already shown.
All that said, I actually believe that at some point in the future, The Edge, is going to have a reputation for being a lot more than just the guitarist in U2. I just don’t think it’s going to unfold the way that Edgio thinks it might.
I think for edge economics to work, the following kind of events needs to unfold:
A) The structured blogging movement needs to get critical mass and it needs some nice, simple publishing tools to kick it off. The blogging platforms are the obvious targets here. Can someone tell me why Google doesn’t use Blogger as a front end to Google Base? WordPress should probably be heading down this path already. The company appears to have a business model based on consulting around the WordPress platform, so it could probably open up those opportunities significantly by making WordPress a publishing system for much more than just blog entries.
B) You then need at least one major organisation to provide an open, centralised database of all this XML data published by these new publishing tools, with some heavy duty anti-spamming systems in place, so that any developer can then pull out an aggregated XML feed and develop around it. Or else users can pull the XML straight into the RSS readers.
Technorati and Feedburner are both set-up to aggregate all these feeds and then republish, it’s just a question of whether they’ll open this data up enough to make it useable to developers. They should. It would take Technorati’s search engine into a realm that is much easier to monetise than it’s current niche, while it would appear a neat way for Feedburner to extends its feed-based advertising business.
C) People need to start publishing on the Edge. For this to happen there probably needs to be a whole bunch of companies like Edgio, who bare the pain of trying to convince people that publishing from the edge is a worthwhile exercise.
The real problem for Edgio and others who try and pioneer this space is that there doesn’t appear to be a lot of money to be made. You can probably embed some advertising into the RSS feeds but at the application level it once again becomes an AdSense style advertising play, which is why I can’t understand Google’s logic of magic Google Base, a closed repository.
If Google opened up Google Base for all and based it’s item types on structured blogging standards, it would push Edge economics towards critical mass, far more quickly than what any number of companies like Edgio can ever hope to achieve. In the end I think that Google will see it doesn’t need to own every search category because pretty much the only business model left when you take out paid-for listings is AdStyle advertising anyway.