Yahoo will close Geocities, the free web hosting service it paid $4bn for 10 years ago.
“Sorry, new Geocities accounts are no longer available,” read a message on the homepage on Friday.
In 1999, when Yahoo purchased Geocities, it was the third most visited site on the web behind AOL and Yahoo, with 19 million unique visitors in December 1998, according to a Comscore Media Metrix report. Now Geocities is slightly outdated in the current Web 2.0 era, giving users no way to integrate their sites with third-party applications.
The closure is also evidence that the revenue model for hosting free web sites is difficult to sustain, especially in the current economic climate.
Yahoo has encouraged Geocities members to start upgrading to the company’s subscription-based Web Hosting service, although it assured them in a statement that they will still be able to access their sites and Geocities services until “later this year”.
Subscription to the Web Hosting service - which offers a personalised domain name, email, site building tools and premium customer support – costs around $114 (£78) a year for a 12-month contract.
The announcement follows a similar decision by Google to shut down Page Creator in June 2009 and migrate users to Google Sites.
Competing web hosting sites, such as Jimdo, are vying for both Google and Yahoo customers. Jimdo offers both a free service, as well as a professional version called JimdoPro, which costs £60 a year.
“Come to Jimdo! We're hard at work on an easy way for Geocities users to migrate over to Jimdo accounts,” the company said in a statement today. “Yahoo hasn’t said when the last day is so jump ship while you can!”
Yahoo has promised to release more details about the Geocities date of closure and how users can save their site data soon.
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