opencaching vs opencaching
Well we are over two months in, and I have my predictions. I have written a few times about opencaching.com but not the opencaching.us site.
.com or .us what opencaching site has the longest legs?
Let me jump back to a few months ago. The opencaching.com site was launched. I thought this was a horrible name first of all. Using one that belonged to someone else. I had heard a while before that it was coming out and had been watching its home screen. Though I do not do much of anything with the other sites I was, like many of you, curious to see what it was like.
I was nervous. There was a large company whose profit is in the Billions, with thousands of employees, that could come after geocaching full boar. With resources that would dwarf that of the little 40 person (just a guess there) groundspeak. What would the future hold, how would it evolve. I thought the original Opencaching sites were doomed.
Birth of .com
Well the first week of December it exploded onto the scene. It was in the news, all the blogs, podcasts, and other sites rushed to find out what the new and most interesting thing. Many went over right away and cross listed some or all of their caches on the other site.
But in all that there were issues. Few cache types, nothing really new, the site was riddled with bugs. People seemed to jump on, look around and leave. Many tried to reserve names, only to find out they were taken, or Opencaching.com would not allow some characters, or spaces in names.
I was randomly assigned a different name., even though i asked for a specific name. Apparently the original was taken in the Garmin system. Then in the forums it defaulted to my real name. Oooops.
by the end of December 7ish thousand caches were listed. A good number, a number showing real growth and real potential. Except for one thing.
There were no new caches. Well there were. A friend going through the caches located only showed a small percentage of original caches. And that number has not changed.
I am betting that you are not aware that apparently there are more caches on Opencaching.us (500+) than there are original caches on all of Garmin's site (about 400ish). It is tricky how Garmin numbers its caches, but caches that are imported are given similar numbers, and if I just enter a cache, I get a unique number. I do not know how many opencaching.us caches are unique (flaw in my system).
that would mean they are about even, except many of Garmin's unique caches, were caches that were just entered in, without a corresponding GC code, which there is. So there are actually fewer than their numbering system shows.
Both sites are growing. Still the Garmin site is getting more unique caches each week than the .us site. But there are more than just that site. Skimming over all the caching sites I am seeing some 300ish new caches this month on opencaching sites. Garmin's site? about 40-50 new unique caches.
Many that were disgruntled, banned, or otherwise annoyed seemed to have found a home there. I know some that are annoyed that their forums are a never ending geocaching.com bashing session. I drop on in and read once and a while. Being a moderator in geocaching.com forums I see a some abusive behavior. It can get ugly at times.
The chart above shows the Google Insight chart for the past 90 days. One is sorted with three of the Opencaching sites lumped together, (US, Germany, and Poland). The other line is the one for Garmins opencaching.com. You can see the spike when it came out. Then it fades away. Why is that significant? Well no one is searching for it.
Loss of Sales
Another interesting thought. Looking at Its Not About the Numbers Blog he mentioned that 90% of those taking his survey are Garmin users. Of those nearly half expect say they will not be buying garmin next time. That is horrific for Garmin.
Garmin makes a lot of money on GPS units. Sales have been dropping, that means profits as well. Are they loosing money? Nope, but that does not bolster confidence that they are alienating their customer base.
What does the future hold? Wow. My prediction?
Well Garmins mess.
Garmin is a publicly held company. They never put their heart into it or they would not have released a product that was still deep in Alpha testing. Make no mistake, it was not in Beta testing. I have been a part of Beta testing over the years, this was not ready to be seen the first few weeks.
They have to show a profit, and a market. They appear to not have either, and in fact have alienated their market. Do I think that 50% of Garmin users will leave? Nope. but 25% is a big blow.
When someone goes to geocaching they need to see something new. They want the new caches. Not going to another site to see the same thing. Navicache, Terracache, and Opencaching sites all have something special, rugged caches, unique types of caches, scoring methods, or something. Garmin has created a poor window with 1 in 20 being unique, and you cannot tell what caches are unique, unless you decode their numbering system in GSAK and wade through the numbers.
So Garmin will trudge along. The war was lost in December. I think if a finished product had came out many would have jumped ship. It may just sit as a side project to keep some Garmin VP from loosing face, just pushing along, but it is in all essence doomed. Garmin has to pay for it, advertisers may not appear in force (why would competitors spend money there instead of Garmin).
They are pulling along. I think they are far more successful than the other sites Navicache, Terracache, and their future is brighter. The cache owners of those sites will hang on. The costs are not high there, no overwhelming programming costs. You many not see a lot of new widgets on the cache pages, but the sites run, and they experiment with cache types. Drawing people in. They are devoted and keep the sites alive.
Winner - the original opencaching sites
Looser - Garmin