Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poor Plaxo, living in LinkedIn’s shadow

Pity the also-rans in the online social networking space.
Many companies have tried, but few have succeeded in the sector. Even some social networking services that once were popular got eclipsed by rival services.
Friendster was hot for a time, but was surpassed by MySpace, which was lapped by Facebook, the current leader in the field. Yahoo has failed repeatedly in its attempts at social networking. Google has stumbled in the sector as well. AOL says it will sell or shut down its offering, Bebo, as soon as next month.
Then there’s Plaxo, which plays mostly in the professional social networking space. It’s been around since 2002 and is now owned by Comcast. But it’s been left in the dust by LinkedIn, which came up with a more useful service.
I’ve been a member of Plaxo for years, but don’t really know what to make of it. It borrows ideas from both professional and personal social networking services and the results are a mess.
Plaxo advertises itself as a “smart, socially connected address book” and “your address book for life.” But it adds personal sharing features like Facebook. The resulting service won’t satisfy either professional users or personal users. Plus, the layout and design of the site are ugly.
I use Yahoo Mail for my personal address book and LinkedIn as my professional Rolodex and don’t see a need for a third service to combine them.
So tonight I’m deleting my Plaxo account. One less web account to keep track of.

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