Movable Type vs. TypePad

It’s a coming of age for the blogging industry. We’ve got a full-blow business model issue developing at SixApart, the developer of both Movable Type and TypePad.

Jeff Jarvis has a good description of the issue up at Buzzmachine.

Jeff’s recommending that SixApart divest one of the businesses to resolve the conflict. That’s surely a solution, but it might be sub-optimal for the Company and its shareholders.

I agree completely with Jeff that competing with your customers is very problematic. SixApart needs to resolve that issue one way or the other.

But I don’t agree that a company can’t be in both the software and services business. It’s hard to do both well, particularly in a young company. But i’ve seen some that have been able to pull that off. And there’s a big benefit if you can. It would seem to me that much of the technology between Movable Type and TypePad is shared. And certainly the developing standards like TypeKey and TrackBack are more valuable if they are shared between both product and service.

So I would argue that the shareholders and customers of SixApart would benefit if the two offerings are kept under one roof, assuming the customer conflict is resolved.

One approach that SixApart could take is to just come out and say that they aren’t going to license the MovableType software enhancements going forward (starting with 3.0) to blog hosting service providers. That’s their perogative. If that’s what they are intending with their new pricing scheme for 3.0, then they should just come out and say it and life would be a lot easier.

There is a huge customer base for Movable Type outside of blog hosting service providers and they could easily service that customer base without the customer conflict issues.

That would be my recommendation if I was an investor and board member of SixApart. But I am not, this guy is.