Based on the rapid growth rate demonstrated by the leading services, Perseus expects the number of hosted blogs created to exceed 53.4 million by the end of 2005.
Segmentation of Key Blog Hosting Services
Perseus prepared a segmentation of the key blog hosts by analyzing the sites on two dimensions – momentum (new user accounts averaged over the life of the service) and longevity (length of time operational) – establishing four key segments: Leaders, Challengers, Upstarts and Niche Players.
The leaders (high momentum, long-time players) were BlogSpot, LiveJournal and Xanga, all launched in 1999. At the end of the first quarter of 2005, each had between 6.6 and 8.2 million accounts. The primary challenger (high momentum, new player) is MSN Spaces, which launched in North America in December 2004 and was closing in on 4.5 million accounts at the end of the first quarter.
Upstarts (moderate momentum, new players) included Six Apart’s TypePad and Greatest Journal among others. Niche players demonstrated longevity but little momentum.
Blogging Is A Feature, Too
One of the newer aspects of blogging is that it’s now an added feature being incorporated into other web applications. Social networking sites like the reinvented MySpace.com and teen sites like Bolt.com now offer blogging as a standard feature of their online accounts. Blogging appears to be used by just 4.7 percent of Bolt’s 4.5 million accounts and by a somewhat greater percentage of MySpace.com’s 12 million accounts. While neither service has been included in this study, they are testaments to the continued expansion and growth of web logs.
The Blogging Geyser
Accounts on blogging services have grown much faster than originally forecast. In fact, according to Jeffrey Henning, CTO of Perseus Development Corp. and author of the survey study, “Perseus published its first forecast of the hosted blogging industry at the worst possible time from a forecasting standpoint: October, 2003. This was right before the inflection point in account growth.” While there will no doubt be much debate about what was the external cause of the rapid acceleration, Henning added, “I would argue that Dave Winer’s first Bloggercon, in October 2000, backed as it was by Harvard, was the inflection point for the hosted blogging industry. The first Bloggercon attracted incredible attention from the mainstream media, propelling interest in the category and dramatically accelerating the account growth. This sudden growth was like a geyser: dramatic, unpredictable and trending vertical.”