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Delicious, or as it used to be, was founded in 2003 by Jason Schachter. After growing in popularity relatively fast, it was purchased by Yahoo! in 2005.

For the following 3 years, nothing really changed at Delicious and it quickly became known more as a sensible bookmarking service than anything particularly cutting edge. Shadowed by the growth of Digg and the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, it was almost forgotten.

Then a few things happened.

First off, at the end of June 2008 an unhappy Schachter left Yahoo! due in part to the stalling of any forward progress for Delicious within Yahoo!. He was later hired by Google. Once gone, he revealed how disappointed he was with the whole experience:

“I wish I had not sold it to them. The cash and freedom do not even come close; I would rather work on a big, popular product.” — Ycombinator

Immediately after Schachter’s departure, in August 2008, Delicious was relaunched to some pretty positive feedback. It felt a bit like welcoming back a friend who’d been missing for 3 years. The new site was faster, cleaner and more intuitive than the old, allowing people to share bookmarks with each other and set up networks of friends within the site.

Its popularity as a bookmarking tool continued to grow, but the social features of the site were generally ignored in the face of much more exciting progress elsewhere, like Digg, StumbleUpon’s changes and the explosion of Twitter and Facebook. Techcrunch put it brilliantly: “it [was] where links go to die.”

Fast-forward about a year and an excited post from Mashable started rumors of quite a few cool Delicious updates to come:

  • Fresh Bookmarks – this was the big new feature that bumped ‘Popular Bookmarks’ off the front page. The idea was to allow newly popular content to reach more users more quickly, using Tweets and bookmarks as indicators. For marketers, this made Delicious more useful as a site to spread viral content- a bit more like Digg, reddit and Twitter.
  • Shareability – wrapped up in this new feature were better sharing tools. When you bookmark something, you are now presented with the option to Tweet  and email it as well
  • Search – the internal search became a lot more powerful and useful, particularly for heavy users of the site.

The purpose of these updates was obviously to bring Delicious into the real-time arena. Instead of just storing links, the service was now a potential space for hosting the conversation around that content.

The most interesting reaction to these updates came from Schachter himself:

Mashable focused on the Search updates, describing the new filters as  “sophisticated [and] user-friendly”. For marketers, the ability to dig deeper into seasonality, trends and what’s worked well for different sites in the past was particularly useful.

What’s Happening Right Now?

2010 has seen a few more updates that seek to satisfy requests from users. For example, you can now view just private or just public bookmarks, and there is greater choice and functionality when it comes to sharing content.

SearchEngineWatch made the observation that the new ‘browse my bookmarks’ feature moves Delicious even closer to the Stumble Upon model and questions whether this will be extended in the future to a general ‘browse bookmarks’ capability.

In the update release notes on the Delicious blog, the team asks for feedback on this particular new feature as well as mentioning that plans for 2010 include introducing the “ability to look up and connect to other friends that use Delicious”.

Time will tell whether Delicious’ updates help the service move from being the bookmarking tool of choice to something more social. The competition is certainly fierce and, although Delicious has a wide and loyal user base, they might have missed the boat.

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