Xmarks is a bookmark sync browser add-on that lets you synchronize all your bookmarks, passwords and other data over several computers, across almost all popular browsers. I am a Xmarks user myself and use it to sync my bookmarks across all the browsers that I use. Sadly, this awesome bookmark sync service will be shutting down service on January 10, 2011.
According to the blog post update on the official Xmarks blog, from today Xmarks will start sending notifications to its users (I still haven’t received one) that the service will be shut down in 90 days. The reasons for the shutdown are explained in detail in the blog post. It can be understood that the main reasons behind shutting down Xmarks are funds running out and Xmarks being unable to find a viable business model or a buyer.
Xmarks (founded in 2006 under the original name Foxmarks) started out as a Firefox plug-in that lets users sync their bookmarks on several computers. Later, Foxmarks rechristened as Xmarks, as it extended support for other browsers and added more functionality, such as browsing recommendations and password syncing.
Xmarks claims it serves around 2 million users across 5 million desktops, and still adding nearly 3,000 new accounts per day (their registration page is still online). You may be wondering, then why Xmarks is seeing the end of the road?
Well, when big players like Google, Opera and Mozilla starts providing sync service and with most of the features that Xmarks offers, free, it becomes really difficult for startups like Xmarks to survive.
A quote from Xmarks CTO and Co-founder Todd Agulnick:
“For four years we have offered the synchronization service for no charge, predicated on the hypothesis that a business model would emerge to support the free service. With that investment thesis thwarted, there is no way to pay expenses, primarily salary and hosting costs. Without the resources to keep the service going, we must shut it down.”
Its not like the Xmarks developers never tried. They tried various ways to make a profit out of its business, including a “smarter search” idea based on data gleaned from its anonymized collection of 100 million bookmarks. “If you were looking for the Web sites in a particular category, the results were shockingly complete and entirely spam-free,” Agulnick said. They also launched a 99-cent iPhone app to extend sync to Apple’s devices and had begun work on an equivalent for phones using Google’s Android OS. Though the iPhone app will continue to work with bookmarks cached on the phone, but the Android app will never be released.
It is really sad to say good-bye to such a good service. You can easily understand this even if you are not a Xmarks user, when you see comments by users willing to pay for the service, at the official announcement blog post.
If you are presently a Xmarks user, you should check Xmarks’ guide to alternatives for advice on the best way to keep your data.
Browser Sync Alternatives
While you may have to give up cross-browser sync when Xmarks goes away, there are a lot of good browser-specific sync options available:
|Browser||Sync Alternative||Xmarks Data Types Supported||Price|
|Mozilla Firefox||Firefox Sync|
|Bookmarks, passwords, history, tabs||Free|
|Google Chrome||Chrome Sync|
|Internet Explorer||Windows Live Essentials|
In that page we found two suggestions by Xmarks as its alternative for users who wants more than bookmark sync: Evernote and SugarSync. Xmarks seems to have tied up with the two to offer some exclusive plans for its users. SugarSync is offering free 2 GB storage space for all Xmarks users who signup through the link available here.