Just recently, Posterous went and did it: they shut down. Posterous, which I refer to as a “mini-blogging” platform – somewhere between the micro-blogging of Twitter, the company that bought it, and full-on, often longer-form content blogs (such as this one maintained using WordPress software), somehow lost its niche.
It could be any number of factors:
- Twitter bought it but then just didn’t see a use for the platform as we know it (which is different from saying the talent and technology behind Posterous was of no use);
- “Mini-blogging” had no niche: Facebook, Google Plus, and other niche networks such as Instagram and Pinterest served the need just as well, making Posterous irrelevant. Of course, competitors such as Tumblr still thrive as of this writing, which brings us to;
- Tumblr got the users, the views and the attention. Even if you liked Posterous better, it didn’t matter if the people stopped flocking there and went to Tumblr instead
- The utility of Posterous became superfluous. I used Posterous as a mobile posting platform, which then directed content to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or my blog. As it turned out, the mobile posting functions of those networks, and newer ones such as instagram, improved greatly. Posterous, not being a destination but rather a means of distribution, became irrelevant. Was that the case for most users? I’m not sure, but I am certain it was a factor.
Will other “in-between” platforms fail as the more popular networks gain more features, and the niche platforms get more spread? Perhaps. Perhaps Posterous just fell victim to its own success (its acquisition) and the popularity of its biggest remaining rival, Tumblr.
I do know that if you used Posterous as a primary content outlet, you might be screwed, unless you had a migration plan. Every platform carries that danger. The more you own the platform (like a WordPress blog), the easier to recover, but the dangers of depending on someone else’s platform to support your important content are once again on display. For your indispensable tool, obsolescence could be just around the corner (remember cassette tapes?).