SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Six Apart, a blogging software pioneer that is the top blog supplier to businesses, is looking to help organizations create full-featured Web sites, blurring the lines between blogs and business sites.
“Blogging is evolving,” said Chris Alden, general manager of the professional business unit at Six Apart. “Maybe the era of pundit blogging is maturing: The adoption of blogging for personal business and productivity purposes is exploding.”
The 150-employee San Francisco-based company is introducing an upgrade to its software for business blogging, known as Movable Type 4, that allow businesses to create and manage thousands of blogs inside or outside their organizations.
In addition, the company is expanding TypePad, its hosted blogging software used by professional bloggers and publishers, to allow users not just to update blogs, but also to add more traditional Web pages for storing static information.
TypePad is working with Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer, its tool for publishing Web pages offline without an Internet connection. Once the user reconnects, the site is updated.
Blogs have given rise to a revolution in self-expression by providing simple tools for reading and writing on the Web.
They have caught on with office workers for publishing, marketing and internal communications, but have fallen short in meeting other organizational imperatives like security or integration with other commonly used business software tools.
This has led business users to mix blogs with competing Web publishing tools, including wikis for group database projects, collaboration suites from Microsoft or IBM and conventional content management systems.
To address these limitations, Movable Type 4 (MT 4) boasts more than 50 new editing and system management features. It offers business bloggers new content and media management tools that make uploading documents, photos and videos easy.
Users can also create standalone Web pages with fixed types of information — a use for which blogs, with chronologically updating pages, are less suited. MT 4 also provides design templates to give complex Web sites a unified thematic look.
“Six Apart is recognizing the difference between the ‘Hey! Listen to me!’ tone of consumer blogging and the ‘We need to settle down and get work done’ ethic needed in business,” said Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research business software analyst.
Six Apart already has a range of corporate customers using Movable Type — from publisher Washington Post Co. to software maker Oracle Corp., aerospace contractor Boeing Co., chip maker Intel Corp., advertising agency TBWA/Chiat Day, New York University and supermarket chain Whole Foods Markets Inc.
A Japanese version language of Movable Type is also widely used inside Japanese companies.
Six Apart says its blogging software has been used to create 18 million publicly available blogs. Technorati, a blog search site, said it tracks around 70 million public blogs worldwide in an April report.
However, tracking the use of Movable Type software inside businesses, government, education and non-profit organizations is impossible, because a single user can create thousands of blogs inside firewalls that no outsiders can see. So while analysts say blogs have proliferated within business, there are no widely accepted figures for the extent of this trend.
In addition, Six Apart said it had begun the Movable Type Open Source Project, an effort through which the company will encourage software developers to enhance and freely share the underlying code used to run its blogging software platform.
The open source version, which will be available in the third quarter, will be used to develop commercial versions of Movable Type which Six Apart will sell to organizations.
More details are at www.movabletype.org.