Realnames

RealNames. Lots of press about Realnames going out of business — for instance at Scripting News. Most of it very anti-Microsoft. I think The Register has it right tho. Actually maybe the tide is turning — Joel has it right too.

Realnames is dying because
a) it has very little utility for most end users. Search engines and autocomplete in the browser make it pretty easy to find things.
b) it has little utility and lots of cost for site developers. It doesn’t make it that much easier to find my site (see a) and it costs me money.
c) it has little utility for advertisers. They already have to put URLs and AOL keywords in their ads. Neither of these are going away. Why put in a 3rd that has less coverage than either of the prior two?

It is easy to point a finger at Microsoft and say they are to blame. But Microsoft did a deal with Realnames at a time when other large players did not — where was AOL? A merger of AOL keywords and Realnames might have made sense, by providing a common name across the internet and the AOL service.

Had the service been incredibly compelling I am sure lots of deals would have occured. But the bottom line is the service didn’t solve that many problems. I just did a quick check on google. Searching for “Ignition” — first several hits were relevant. Searching for “Ignition Venture” or “Ignition Seattle” — first hit was dead on our home page. When we set up our homepage I considered getting a Realname — but given the experience above, I couldn’t ever justify the cost. I think most people did the same math.