Will Six Apart’s New Design Services Eat My Business Alive?

Well, the news is out. Six Apart made several big announcements tonight:

  1. They’ve acquired Apperceptive which will become Six Apart, New York.
  2. They’ve launched Six Apart Media, a massive blog-centric ad network.
  3. They’ve launched Six Apart Services, a branch of Six Apart officially dedicated to design, development and implementation of their platforms for customers.

What Does This Mean For You As A Customer?

Will Six Apart Services impact you directly? Probably not. Their services are geared toward large media companies and corporate customers; if you’re in one of those groups, you’re probably not reading this blog.

However, Six Apart Services will almost certainly have a noticeable effect on their products. A group of developers actually developing with the product and not just developing the product means that you will ultimately have a better product. Now that Six Apart has a dedicated team using Movable Type to do great things, we can expect to see their creative solutions and practical sensibilities folded into the core. Up until this point, Movable Type developers relied largely on feedback from consultants to guide the development of the product; now that they’re actually using it, I think we’ll start to see the idealism of a developer tempered with the pragmatism of a user. (This becomes especially apparent on issues like user interface and performance.)

Will Six Apart Media impact you directly? Yes, probably quite a bit. For those of you who just cashed your $20 Google AdSense check from last year, this news is especially good for you. This new ad network will be much more targeted than Google Ads, so they will obviously pay more and be more relevant. There’s also quite a lot of control over what ads get displayed on your site. Most importantly, Six Apart has some very powerful partnerships with companies like HP and Microsoft that should make the ads particularly successful.

What Does This Mean For Me As A Consultant?

Will Six Apart Media impact me directly? Doubtful. As a blogger, I’ll probably use it on my own site. But aside from recommended it to current clients, it probably wont impact me that much.

Will Six Apart Services affect me? Yes. Perhaps you’re thinking what I was initially thinking: if Six Apart starts offering the same type of service that I’m offering, aren’t they becoming competition? To answer that question, I think it’s important to consider a few things:

1. There’s plenty of work to go around. No really—talk to any Movable Type developer and you’ll probably find out that they’re schedule is full.
2. As Six Apart begins to showcase VIP websites that have been built with their products, the demand for similar sites will skyrocket. That means more work for consultants!
3. Six Apart cannot succeed by itself. Just like Apple or Microsoft, they need a well-learned and well-equipped group of developers using their products in creative ways. It’s not in their best interest to poach customers because their ultimate goal is to promote the product.
4. As Six Apart uses their own product, it’s also in their best interest to streamline the process of development and promote best practices and useful APIs with exhaustive documentation. In short, a better Movable Type is even more valuable to Six Apart than ever before.

The real key will be how they grow this community. If Six Apart finds itself constantly needing outside help, and these requests for work become more frequent, it would be extremely beneficial to set up some kind of a formal partnership to help make the whole process transparent and understandable for all involved. But from what I’ve heard from folks like Chris Alden and Anil Dash is that Six Apart wants to work with developers to help tackle these mega accounts.

So, while Six Apart has technically moved into the field of design and development, I see it going a long way toward adding greater legitimacy to the platform, which ultimately benefits independent contractors like myself.

Oh, and it’ll nice to have a Six Apart office within driving distance.

For more information on the acquisition and the launch of the new services, be sure to read Arvind’s article over at the Blog Herald.

Related Links:

  1. Is Six Apart Services Killing Smaller Movable Type Designers and Developers?
  2. Six Apart Drinks Your Milkshake
  3. Six Apart Launches Ad Network, Moves Into Services