Just a few days ago, sad news came that the loved bookmark sync tool Xmarks would be shut down on January 10th. Today, an interesting post on the company's blog may give hope to keeping the service alive.
CEO James Joaquin said that they were considering adding a subscription service and went on to say, "The overwhelming positive user support from all of you, combined with strong interest by companies looking to take over Xmarks, means that the service might just find a ninth life." For this service Xmarks knows that they need over $2 Million annually in order to keep the bookmark sync running. They are proposing that users pay $10, once a year to cover the costs of the operation.
The blog post also indicated it wasn't ever an intention to charge users, and when Xmarks gave users the option to donate a requested value of $7, less than 0.001% of users participated.
Joaquin also makes the point that "Free alternatives have significant market power." Why should someone put up money if there is an equally good service out there that is cheaper or free? Since the addition of bookmark sync being built into Firefox and Chrome, which allows you to sync for free, this creates an even tougher point for Xmarks to argue as to why users should use their service. Currently, the game-changing feature that Xmarks possess is cross-browser sync, which no other tool has.
To help gather data on whether this would be worth their while, Xmarks has set up a Pledgebank page for users to sign up and show their support. Their goal is to have 100,000 people pledge to paying $10-$20 per year for Xmarks Sync. As of this writing, they have 3,371 people who have pledged, with 96,629 more needed. Xmarks is running this until 15 October 2010 and will reach a decision soon after on whether to keep the service alive or not.