WordPress 3.1 was released about 36 hours ago. I always like to take a peek at the WordPress download counter when a new release drops. Already there have been 380k downloads, and they are clicking up rapidly at about 200 per minute, or 3 downloads per second!
WordPress mobile apps have been on a tear. The Android app has passed 100,000 users – and it was released just three and a half months ago. Meanwhile, the Blackberry app is getting close to 100k as well (it just passed 90k users) and the iPhone app will hit 400k users very soon (it was first released almost 2 years ago). The most encouraging trend is the increase in the number of posts published from mobile apps to WordPress sites. In the case of WordPress.com, mobile posts now make up over 10% of total posts published every day, and that number will almost certainly continue to go up.
Now that’s a WordPress fan!
There’s a nice article about Matt and WordPress in USA Today and news that WordPress.com is one of the fastest growing large web sites in the world (#3 according to TechCrunch’s analysis).
Congratulations and huge thanks to the hundreds of people who have contributed to this release. It’s a milestone for WordPress with a new user interface and information architecture, and crucial new features like built-in upgrades and plug-in browsing.
Raanan gave a well received talk about virtual team collaboration at WordCamp Israel:
Polls like the one to the right are now a built-in part of WordPress.com, thanks to Automattic’s acquisition of leading poll and survey platform PollDaddy! Congratulations to the PollDaddy team of Lenny, Eoin, and Jonathan, who have built a great company with lots of users (including many WordPress bloggers) and partners, and they did it with a small team bootstrapping the company to profitability over the last two years. Lenny and Eoin are joining Automattic and will continue to run PollDaddy as a standalone platform that offers polls to any publisher on the web. As a matter of fact, the two have been witnessing team Automattic in action for the last couple of days, as we are holding one of our bi-annual company meetups – this time we are in the lovely Rocky Mountains in Colorado spending time together and working on group projects (you might see some of the fruits of our labor emerge next week).
Special thanks to Fergus for introducing me to Lenny, and to Mike and Barry for jetting over to Ireland to help move PollDaddy to Automattic’s infrastructure, integrate the service into WordPress.com and create a cool new PollDaddy plugin for WordPress.org bloggers. I met Lenny last Spring at the Web 2.0 conference and we got talking about the big demand for polls among WordPress publishers. We started working on a partnership, Matt went to visit PollDaddy in Ireland – here are his thoughts on the deal – and we decided that PollDaddy would make a great addition to Automattic’s family of services. Scott was advising PollDaddy and helped negotiate a deal, and voila, here we are with a great polling service as part of WordPress.
At the camp, I gave a short presentation on the state of WordPress consulting. As WordPress continues to grow (doubling in downloads, pageviews, etc every few months), so does demand for paid design and development services around WordPress projects. Bottom line: we need more WP consultants! I’ve gotten several emails asking for a copy of the presentation, so here are my slides (slightly cleaned up).
#1 piece of feedback I received: the Automattic list of WordPress consultants is great, but getting very long – make it look more like the WP plugin and theme directories with tags and search so people can find consultants more easily.
We launched an interesting new feature yesterday that shows related content below blog posts on WordPress.com. It’s powered by Sphere and offers additional navigation options to blog readers and free content promotion across our network of 3 million blogs to WordPress.com bloggers. Josh from Sphere describes it well:
This is really cool for WordPress because it’s one of the first examples of a network of their size and scope leveraging the power of their community to circulate content between blogs. It’s also great for individual bloggers, because it gives them the opportunity to highlight and syndicate their content, both internally on their own sites and across the broader WordPress platform.
WordPress is made available for free because investors and backers of the business are making the captial contribution to bring the consumer cost to $0.
That’s wrong and indicates a misunderstanding of the economic model that underpins a project like WordPress.
WordPress is made available for free because it is becoming increasingly obvious that a great way (the best way?) to create software is to give it away for free to drive maximum adoption and then charge for the add-on services that support that adoption in various ways.
This model has worked well for WordPress. WordPress has been thriving as an open source project that anyone can use and contribute to for free and build commercial businesses on top of if they so choose. As WordPress adoption has grown, commercial services have grown alongside it. There are now dozens if not hundreds of businesses that supply services like like WordPress hosting, spam filtering, template design, plugin development, ad serving, technical support, etc. Automattic is one of those businesses. We raised VC money two years ago ($1.1mm) and invested it to build out a number of services including the Akismet anti-spam service and the WordPress.com blog hosting service. Automattic does not require – as Rob seems to think – large infusions of VC money to stay in business. Quite the opposite, we’ve been profitable for over a year. But even if we weren’t, it would have no effect on the WordPress software itself. That’s one of the beauties of this model. Because paid commercial services like the ones provided by Automattic are separate from the free open source core software, Automattic could go out of business tomorrow and WordPress could continue on as a thriving open source project exactly as it does today, without any need for investors or backers to keep it afloat.
In the last couple of weeks, there has been significant news from two WordPress competitors. Drupal lead developer Dries Buytaert has raised VC money to start a commercial company called Acquia to support Drupal, and SixApart has released an open source version of their Movable Type software dubbed MTOS. I think both are good developments for the blogging and web publishing markets. They will make more high quality products – backed by viable companies – available to satisfy the accelerating growth and needs of these markets.
Most interestingly, this also means that three of the leading blogging/personal publishing platforms are all open source now.
I’m not sure how much the success of WordPress has influenced these two developments, but they do seem to validate the path that WordPress and Automattic have taken.
Corel has released a new beta of their WordPerfect Lightning product. Lightning is a lightweight document and image management app that now supports publishing to blogs:
Our first supported blog platform is WordPress, and I think it’s a great fit. WordPress’ reputation among serious bloggers is unparalleled, but more importantly, its open SDK and strong support for images makes it easy for users to blog pretty much whatever information they’ve collected in Lightning.
As an aside, this is a good example of self-serve business development enabled by open APIs. Corel simply decided that they wanted to support WordPress and used our open APIs to do it. No business development back and forth, no contracts, no friction. They just implemented it and contacted us a couple of days ago to give us a heads up.
Sometime next week, someone will create the one millionth blog on WordPress.com!
I hope you’ll join us this Monday to help celebrate this momentous occasion (and as if a million blogs wasn’t enough reason to rejoice, we can also toast the WordPress 2.2 release and the fourth anniversary of the first release of WordPress).
Please allow me to use this opportunity to brag a little about WordPress.com:
- Quantcast says WordPress.com is the #39 site in the US;
- Alexa says we are the #96 site in the world (our current audience reach puts us in some nice company: ahead of sites like Typepad and Digg, and coming up on Flickr and Photobucket);
- Google Trends says WordPress is the “most searched” of the blog platforms.
- It took us 17 months to get to one million blogs (BTW, this is just counting blogs Automattic hosts at WordPress.com, it’s not counting the millions of copies of WordPress downloaded from WordPress.org and hosted on third party web hosts); and
- Our 1 million blogs attracted an audience of 44 million readers last month, which seems like a healthy blog to reader ratio (i.e. lots of people are actually reading these blogs which is arguably more important than how many of them have been created).