Google to make Blogger Pro free

· Products

According to Ev, Blogger Pro’s features will be folded into the free version of Blogger.
Ev: “Google has lots of computers and bandwidth. And Google believes blogs are important and good for the web.”
Susan Mernit asks these questions about the announcement:

  1. Is this the rich company Microsoft-like tactic of offering a free product that will undercut people trying to charge?
  2. Is this an expression of the belief, “We’re no longer in the product development business, the real money is in selling ads on this thing – and everywhere else in the universe for that matter?”
  3. Or is it a corporate branding issue – i.e., Google does not charge for premium services. It makes its money from search results and paid search and ad word placements. Therefore a product offered by Google should fit into those models.
  4. Or it it they’re so loaded they don’t give a %$%K ? ( I don’t believe that one.)

She thinks its No. 2.
After my hour on blogs and RSS yesterday at Seybold, one of the questions I got was about why Google may have bought Pyra and exactly this question of whether they were planning to monetize it somehow. I explained my theory that:

  • Google values the “memex” trails that bloggers leave as they provide custom indexes of the Web, filtered with a human perspective
  • And, with a BlogThis! button on Googlebar 2.0 and AdSense, Google is approaching a very tightly held content input, indexing, and retreival infrastructure with a financial component. A barrier to entry of even a small payment doesn’t help them.

Still, I wouldn’t rule out Susan’s explanation No. 1, despite Google’s “don’t be evil” dictum, (which Craig Newmark quoted yesterday in his personable and well received talk about what he’s learned from Craigslist and how it fosters a community of trust).