The more I think about the Delicious acquisition by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the less sense it makes to me. Delicious was one of the staples of the Web 2.0 movement – a time where everybody was talking about sharing and tagging. In reality, however, Delicious didn’t just linger in Yahoo’s care without many updates because Yahoo didn’t care, Delicious’ concept of bookmark sharing simply wasn’t an idea that seemed very appealing to Yahoo’s mainstream audience and hence probably didn’t justify the expense of developing new features.
For most users, bookmarks live in the browser and thanks to built-in or third-party sync, the only problem Delicious solved for these users (having a central repository of your bookmarks) hasn’t been an issue for years now. If anything, apps like Instapaper, as Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram also notes, have jumped into this niche with features that actually solve a problem for their users.
Update: While I wrote this, Delicious’ own founder Joshua Schachter told CNN that he himself also thinks that the service’s time has passed.
Share More – Bookmark Less
It’s a strange phenomenon, though: On the one hand, we probably share more today than we ever did thanks to services like Twitter and Facebook. The thing there, though, is that these are share-it-and-forget-it services. We send a link to Twitter and Facebook – maybe have a short discussion about them with our friends – and move on. Need to find something again? Just Google it.
There still seem to be some niche users for Delicious (sharing links with students, colleagues etc.), but for the most part, there are plenty of other solutions for this now as well, especially when you want to curate content and not just share some bookmarks.
My personal feeling then, is that there really isn’t much use of services like Delicious on the Internet today – mainstream users never cared in the first place and advanced users have moved on to other, better tools. That, of course, doesn’t mean that Delicious’ new owners couldn’t turn the service around by making it useful once again. Pure bookmarking services, however, have outlived their usefulness.