Are There Enough Spaces Users to Care When it Closes?
One of the bigger pieces of news at this week's TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco was Microsoft's announcement that it would be winding down its Windows Live Spaces blogging platform and helping Spaces users move to WordPress.com. BetaNews's Joe Wilcox has an interesting bit of followup: an internal Microsoft e-mail in which the (unidentified) authors say that they don't expect all that many Spaces users to make the transition, and express angst over the fact that WordPress.com runs on Linux rather than Microsoft technologies.
In an earlier post, Joe had thought that Microsoft was saying that there are thirty million Spaces bloggers who will be affected by the shutdown and WordPress.com opportunity. It was a logical assumption, and one made by plenty of other folks-on the Windows Live blog, Microsoft honcho Darmesh Mehta had referred to thirty million Spaces "customers" and said they "eagerly awaiting the next set of new blogging features." But he didn't define what a customer was.
As Joe points out in the new post, it turns out that the thirty million "customers" consist not just of bloggers but of blog readers. Spaces gets thirty million visitors a month, mostly from people who don't have blogs. There are only seven million active bloggers. And one of the e-mails Joe quotes estimates that only 300,000 of them will wind up on WordPress.com.
Oddly enough, if you were at TechCrunch Disrupt and listening carefully, you already knew that there weren't thirty million Spaces bloggers. When Mehta announced the news, he tossed around the thirty-million figure. But in response to a question, he clarified that there were only seven million active bloggers. (Here's proof: When I wrote about the news from my seat at the conference on Monday, I quoted the seven-million figure and didn't bother to mention the thirty-million one. (The latter number sounded like an exaggeration from the moment I heard it-if thirty million Spaces bloggers moved to WordPress.com, it would triple the number of WordPress.com blogs.)
I remain a tad confused, though. If there are seven million truly active Spaces bloggers and only 300,000 bother to move to WordPress.com, that leaves 6.7 million Spaces bloggers unaccounted for. Some will presumably opt for Blogger or Tumblr or something else other than WordPress.com. Others may be so intimidated by the idea of moving their sites that they'll give up blogging.
But doesn't it still sound strange that a Microsoft staffer believes that 96 percent of these theoretically active Spaces bloggers aren't going to take the most obvious route to continuing their blogs once Spaces is no more?