RootsTech 2015

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fold3 -- getting rid of competitors

If you are a large multinational corporation and want to get rid of one of your bothersome competitors, you can simply buy them out. In the tradition of Standard Oil, Ancestry.com has done just that. Footnote.com was looking too much like a competitor with a really good interface and a lot of excellent content. So Footnote.com gets bought out and after a comfortably reasonable period of time, slips into obscurity. Quoting from a recent blog release from the new Fold3.com,
We understand that many of our users love the naturalization records, vital records, census records and city directories found on the site – and all of those we’ve produced will continue to be available on Fold3; but our parent, Ancestry.com, has a fantastic site with an enormous number of naturalization records, vital records, census records and city directories already available and many more being added constantly. We encourage everyone to visit the Ancestry.com site for records beyond what we have on Fold3.
The apology goes on to say,
There is a very, very large number of military records yet to be digitized and made available online and we are increasing our investment in content production to accelerate the pace of content growth on the site. By focusing on military records, we know we may disappoint some users who wanted to see another copy of US Census records produced or additional city directories, and so on; but we believe we are more likely to succeed at exceeding users’ expectations if we clearly communicate our focus and stick to it rather than trying to excel in creating an optimal user experience for dozens of different types of records.
I happen to think that this translates into -- we thought Footnote.com was too good of a competitor and so we are dumping them into obscurity. First we change the name, then we quietly limit their content so no one wants to look at the site anymore.  Oh, you protest! But Fold3 will have a fabulous military collection. Great if you ancestors happened to be in the military. But what happened to the National Archives?

As for my question about integration with FamilySearch, here is the answer from Fold3.com;
Other comments have related to whether or not existing partnerships or integration points would continue to function as they do currently, with the FamilySearch integration being mentioned in a couple comments for example. All existing links and integration points are still functioning as they did previously (although it will take some time for all of the text on various sites to be changed from Footnote.com to Fold3). We have no plans to remove any of the linkages between FamilySearch and Fold3 and are very happy with that integration and similar integration points with other sites.
RIP Footnote.com. Not one word about the National Archives, very interesting. Who is going to digitize all of the Indian Agency records, the immigration records, land records, and on and on and on?

3 comments:

  1. Since the purchase of footnote.com, adding to existing databases has pretty much stopped.

    The same thing happened with Border's bookstores about five years ago: they stopped replenishing stock of such items as books on international art, devoted a third to half of floorspace to music and videos, and added large sections devoted to knicknacks. One could find several hundred books on digital graphic design, dozens on collecting teddy bears and Barbie dolls, but just a few (literally 3 or 4) on art outside the milieu of single-artist tomes. Many shelves had big empty spaces and others were occupied with four or five books parked sideways. I stopped visiting and assume others did the same.

    The larger company has done the same with genealogy.com - no new databases for years, and many have been duplicated at ancestry.com. It would not be surprising if one day the website (with thousands of active message boards) just disappeared. It does still sell package subs including FTM software, but has always been difficult to navigate and customer support is now invisible.

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  2. Well said. I wonder if anyone will cover bets for how long Fold3, and etc., are around at all?

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  3. i can't get over having to deal with a private company to obtain a public record. i am quite willing to pay nara a fee, but it appears that the website has disappeared.

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