For some time now, I've pushed the barrow that for blogs to take that next step, where they can perhaps evolve into sustainable, self-funding publishing vendors, the blog platforms must first evolve to enable blogs to provide readers with richer, deeper experiences.
That leaves Google as the odd-man out with Blogger. What we'd really like to see is for Google to allow Blogger users to snap in the same widgets that can be plugged into the Google personalised Homepage.
While the simplicity and ease-of-use of blogs are their greatest asset, it is also their biggest flaw. Let's face it, right now there is only so much you can do with a blog. To build a deeper, more involved website you still need to piece something together in a content management system or invest a bunch into developing a custom blog platform.
Why is this important? Because every publisher, from the global empires to your tiny blogger-come-media-magnate-wannabe needs a certain level of repeatable consistent traffic to sustain it.
Most blogs traffic patterns look like rollercoasters. They make spike when a story gets picked up in the blogosphere and linked to but then just as quickly it can fall back to near zero a couple of days later. That undermimes every rule of publishing which is based on being able to spend x amount on content to satisfy y number of readers who will be the basis on which to generate $z of revenue.
The peaks and troughs traffic model just can't be sustained. Even on purely a human capital basis, every blogger has to do deal with the reality that the post you've just spend hours lovingly crafting may end up being read by basically nobody. I don't care who you are or why you're blogging at some point you're going to say, I've got better things to do with my precious time.
Blogs need something more, something to convince at least your most loyal readers that they should drop by at least every couple of days to keep track of what's going on. These something more need to be low maintenance, because the one thing almost bloggers struggle with is their time.
I mentioned last week, Google Reader's ability to let users create their own RSS feed by simply tagging their favourite stories. That kind of thing is fantastic. Anything that enables a blogger to extend what is essentially their "brand"; ie their authority, expertise, contacts will assist blogs in increasing reader loyalty and building a more consistent traffic flow.
The other thing I think you're going to see is blogs becoming far more than just a blogging platform. We've already seen services like Edgeio that push the boundaries of how you can use blogs and I'm certain that we'll see more of that as information increasingly moves out to the edge. Some of the commerce widgets in the new TypePad offering are a fantastic example of this. Read my blog and while you're there, buy my eBay item!
As a point of disclosure, the company I've mentioned that I've been working with recently is about to launch a service that turns your blog into an application vehicle. We're pretty excited about its potential to really extend the way that people use blogs but more on that as we get ready to launch the beta.
P.S. If this sounds like a cool idea to you and you think you can help us by running an educated eye over the pre-beta gear send me an email at philipsim at gmail.com.