901am reports that AOL is going to release Blogsmith, the Jason Calacanis designed blogging platform that powered the Weblogs Inc blogging network into fame and fortune, onto the world in 2007. But to who, and in what form? Cowboy states that MovableType (SixApart) and WordPress (Automattic) should be afraid. I don’t agree on the WP/ Automattic front, WP is free on the .org side, and the .com side is a model that continues to evolve and so far doesn’t quite fit the mold of an atypical company/ lets make lots of money plan. SixApart on the other hand, if only due to their exposure across the broad variety of blogging types (free, paid and DIY) may have reason to keep an eye on things, but the question then becomes: what things? Will AOL launch Blogsmith as a competitor in the free blogging space, up against Live Journal? Not likely, after all we already have AOL Blogs. Will it launch Blogsmith into the DIY category, with a licensing deal similar to SixApart with MovableType, or for free against WordPress and others. Free is unlikely, AOL hasn’t paid good money to own Blogsmith to offer a free in all forms product. Paid…well, how and why? The how is probably the main argument against such as strategy, although AOL has a user base from which to promote such as product, it’s a user base that is far more consumer oriented than business oriented, and it’s the business market that’s the pot at the end of the rainbow for paid DIY solutions. Secondly, AOL is limited in how it could and would promote such as service, Automattic and SixApart already have distribution deals with Yahoo, and given it’s affiliation with Google, Yahoo is most likely out of the picture, Google are unlikely to promote it, and neither is Microsoft. Of course there is some scope within the TimeWarner family, but surely this would be fairly limited in the larger scheme of things? or perhaps this may be enough?. The more likely scenario is AOL using Blogsmith to launch a paid and hosted solution, in direct competition to TypePad. We know Blogsmith scales well, after all it powers uber sites like Engadget, and one would presume that the backend would be fairly user friendly as well. AOL could also use Weblogs Inc., for promotion, both in name dropping (we power Engadget, we can power you), and directly as well, after all what better forum to advertise a paid hosted service than on the Weblogs Inc blogs themselves.
No matter which way they go, it will be interesting to watch.