So Dave Winer formally announced the Salon blogs deal. Essentially Salon is just acting as a host for Radio weblogs. Download Radio for free for the first 30 days, kick in $39.95 after 30 days if you want to continue.
It’s an interesting experiment, but one that I doubt will succeed for two reasons:
1. Salon isn’t going to be around for much longer. In fact while the deal makes sense from Winer’s point of view, what is Salon getting out of it? In the best case scenario, a lot of traffic for which they can’t sell advertisements (or just wait for all hell to break loose if they try to sell ads). I suppose this is not much worse than Salon’s other crackpot ideas, but I don’t see what the upside is for them, unless Winer’s footing the bandwidth costs and kicking back part of the $39.95 to buy Radio.
2. Radio isn’t a very good blogging tool. Before you pounce on me there, I paid my $39.95 to buy a license a copy of Radio and use it regularly — it is hands down the best product I know of to do RSS aggregation. I use it to track hundreds of RSS feeds and love it.
But the problem with using Radio to edit a blog is that the program ties you down to one machine. You can view your weblog anywhere you can find a computer with an Internet connection, but you’re pretty much stuck to updating the blog from a single machine. A few years ago I don’t think anyone would have cared. Today it feels like a real pain in the butt. Maybe I’m the only person who regularly uses three or four different machines.
Just by chance I ran across a weblog the other day where the author noted he was switching from Radio to Movable Type because of the inability to update anywhere.
It’s really a shame that all of the time and effort that was poured into Radio didn’t go into making Manila a kick-ass CMS. I wouldn’t have been interested in that either, but I bet Userland could have garnered a lot of of the folks who left Blogger for Movable Type (which is the other big switch I’ve noticed, with people finally getting fed up over Blogger and Blogger Pro’s limitations and downtime).