Stephen Tual has just released an all-in-one blogging solution named Terapad. It claims to include a variety of features not typically found in your usual blogging solution, such as a gallery, forums, pay-pal store, RSS feeder, analytics program and much more. The solution is offered at $18/ month with a one-month free trial offer. Terapad is remotely hosted as well at this time.
Mr. Tual’s efforts are ambitious to say the least. The competition is not insignificant: remotely hosted blogging solutions include Blogger, which is owned by that other company you have heard of, Google. WordPress has recently entered the fray with its solution at WordPress.com. Did I mention both are free?
The problem is not how it works, because it does.
The problem I have with Terapad is a strategic and marketing one.
Terapad is marketed, if the sales copy is to be believed, at those people who are looking for a blogging solution, but dream of taking on Hackaday or Engadget. Well, certainly some of it is tongue-in-cheek; but the way its read makes me believe that it is marketed to people who a) read blogs b) are interested in creating their own blog and are therefore c) somewhat technically savvy.
The problem is that technically savvy people are individuals who want the greatest amount of flexibility in their solutions. They are the individuals who who don’t mind hosting their own solution; if anything goes wrong they can try and diagnose the problems because everything is happening in a space they control.
They are individuals who want to be able to have the option of being to extend or change the underlying code. One reason is to better enable their solution conform to what they want their blog to be.
Similarly, they’ll be the ones embracing the almost infinite variety of extensibility in the form of plugins, modules and extra bits of code that represent “features” on Terapad. WordPress, in particular, has its own ecosystem of open-source development that represents everything from extra themes (there are six which come with Terapad) to all manner of plugins that can fundamentally alter wordpress in many ways. The freedom to choose amongst these solutions is liberating. But the ability to edit, hack, and otherwise change these solutions is critical for anyone who wants the most control of their blog.
And is it worth the $18/ month? Clearly Terapad is marketing itself on convenience, but is it so convenient you’re willing to overlook how most hosting solutions (when you’re starting out) will probably cost 5-10/month (including a domain name), with the majority of blogging software being free — in addition to the extensions?
So, at the end of the day, there’s no question Mr. Tual has put a lot of effort into Terapad. It looks slick. It works. But is that enough?
To optimize his chances, I think that he’s currently marketing it to the wrong crowd. The problem, of course, is that if he does market to the technically naive — or just-savvy enough, the landscape is already crowded with some heavy weight competition; granted, they might not have the features that Terapad has, but on the other hand, it is tough to compete with a brand name and the price of “free”.
Having said that, one wonders if Terapad remains in its current form or evolves into another kind of animal altogether.
Well, time will tell … or the market will.
Tony Hung is a blogger over at DeepJiveInterests