Chuck Taylor and I are working on an early stage business idea. Wanting some help to move it forward, we submitted it as a proposal to Y Combinator. Per their instructions, the application included videos, which Y Combinator required to be submitted through Posterous. (A reason why they required the use of Posterous might be that Y Combinator funded Posterous…)
In the end, they didn’t select our application. (Oh well.)
Between my experience using Posterous, positive ink on ReadWriteWeb, and reading a few glowing articles and tweets, I’m left scratching my head. Posterous is OK, but I don’t understand why someone would use it instead of systems like WordPress or TypePad.
The first and most claimed attraction is that Posterous makes lifestreaming easy. You may not choose to digitally serialize your daily life, but some people do. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum — I tweet multiple times per day, and write on my blog about once per week, but I don’t care to store all of my life’s experiences in digital form.
When you visit Posterous’ site, you’re given the hook that “Posterous is the dead simple place to post everything. Just email us.” And that’s true. You just send them an e-mail, and you’re lifestreaming.
But wait, there’s more.
- To claim your Posterous page, you have to go through a little song and dance. It’s no harder than claiming a page on any other blogging service, but it’s more than “just email us.”
- To change your Posterous page’s theme from their default, you first have to login to your admin page. Same as any other blogging service.
- To change your password, ditto.
- To enable other contributors, add web analytics, or add a syndication feed, ditto.
- To change your profile or notification settings, ditto.
- To do anything other than post a simple article to your blog, ditto.
So yes, you can do everything by email! Assuming that you define “everything” as, “only write a simple post.” Doing anything else requires their admin interface.
That’s better than WordPress or TypePad, right?
Posterous does have a couple of advantages that might be noteworthy for some bloggers. It lets you set up a custom domain for free, while WordPress and TypePad charge a small fee for that. (OTOH, WordPress or TypePad could offer it for free by just flipping a bit in their billing system.) Posterous also lets you host videos for free (and transcode them into Flash (which, ahem, altered the audio-video sync in one of my video experiments)), while this is also not free in the other systems.
What about real-time updates? WordPress supports RSSCloud, while Posterous and TypePad support PubSubHubbub. Which protocol will win in the end, or whether they will coexist or merge, is anyone’s guess.
Free video hosting is easier to provide when you have few users. If you produce a lot of video, I think you’ll want the finer control provided by WordPress and TypePad. The custom domain hosting is nice, but the WordPress and TypePad domain fees are small. And both of these advantages are counter-balanced by all the other features not provided by Posterous.
I dunno. I think this mostly amounts to baloney marketing spin perception. TypePad and WordPress are perceived as more complicated than Posterous. But they’re only more complicated because they have boatloads more features and support. They’d be just as simple if you used only a small feature subset.
This is similar to the netbook ballyhoo. A netbook is just the equivalent of a five year-old laptop. Slower processor? Check. Smaller disk? Check. Less screen resolution? Check. So why not instead buy used laptops? True, their form-factor is bigger, and their warranties are expired; both of these have real negative value. But a netbook’s capabilities are simply that of older hardware. I’m sure many shoppers don’t realize this.
And so I wonder about Posterous. If you want a limited blogging service, why not just use WordPress and ignore most of the features?
I’m puzzled that Y Combinator decided that a simpler blogging interface was a viable business idea and worthy of investment. I’m also puzzled at why a blogger would use Posterous instead of just using the defaults in WordPress or TypePad. I want to believe there’s a paradigm shift here, but I don’t see it. What am I missing?