Web 2.0 Lowers The Barriers

    November 3, 2006

Here’s a Web 2.0 story for you: I got an email pitch from a guy named Kevin the other day, letting me know about the Web-based classified ad service that he and his buddy Chad put together in their spare time. Called Listifieds.com, it’s based in the thriving metropolis of Bowling Green, Kentucky (which I remember primarily because it’s where John Prine says his grandmother taught school in the great old song Grampaw was a Carpenter).

Kevin says he and Chad at first planned to focus their service on Bowling Green exclusively, but then they got lots of positive feedback and decided to take it national. Of course, the first thing that came into my mind was how crowded the national classifieds market is, what with newspapers fighting to stay competitive, Craigslist dominating in dozens of major cities and newer entries such as Edgeio.com going after the Web business aggressively.

Is Kevin worried about any of this? Nope. He says “we realize it’s a crowded market but believe we can stand out with our combination of clean design, usability and feature list. We’re not looking to get rich off of it.” He figures they will sell featured listing spots and maybe banner ads to local businesses. In other words, putting together the site – in relative terms – probably didn’t take that long or cost that much, and scaling it larger probably won’t either (here’s a tip, Kevin: check out Amazon’s S3 and EC2 services if you start to get a lot bigger).

I asked Kevin in an email about Craigslist and eBay and Edgeio and others, and here is what he said (some sections clipped for space):
    “Clearly we don’t have the brand awareness, the marketing resources, or the money that these other sites have. But I also think the market is fragmented and in transition right now.

    I think craigslist isn’t that well known outside of the big cities it operates in. I think eBay is almost always associated with auctions, which some people don’t like I don’t put Edgeio in the same category as the other sites because I believe it has an identity crisis, isn’t that well known beyond the web 2.0 crowd, and in my personal opinion, it is confounding to use.

    In my opinion, we have the cleanest, clearest, easiest to use interface; We aren’t limited to big cities like craigslist; We have longer listing run times – up to 180 days for certain listing types; We offer plenty of photos and ways to describe your listing; We offer some nice tools rss feeds, listing alerts, saved listings, recently viewed listings, website widget.

    We think we have something good to offer, so we intend to give it a try and have fun doing it. If nothing else, we can say “our service is free too, why not list with us also?”

If I were being brutally honest, I would say Kevin and Chad’s service doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming a major force in classifieds nationwide. However, it could probably become a pretty good little business in some smaller regional markets, and there is nothing wrong with that at all – and Kevin and his friend should be congratulated for giving it a shot. What do they have to lose? That’s Web 2.0 in a nutshell.



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Mathew Ingram is a
technology writer and blogger for the Globe and Mail, a national
newspaper based in Toronto, and also writes about the Web and media at
www.mathewingram.com/work and www.mathewingram.com/media.