This week was pretty exciting for the WordPress community: Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, introduced Calypso, a project they’ve been working on for the past 20 months.
The greatest strength of WordPress, its backward compatibility, is also its greatest weakness. There’s a lot of junk code in the WordPress code that can’t be taken out without breaking the backward compatibility. Automattic is aware of it, and up until recently their official stance was that if the break from backward compatibility comes, it will be a purely business decision. Calypso is a brilliant way they sidestepped some of the issues and gave us a better WordPress experience, without causing further complication.
So what is Calypso anyway?
You can manage multiple websites from there, create and curate content, manage plugins and themes, etc. And the best part? It’s open source, and it’s free.
So, it’s similar to ManageWP? Are you guys in trouble?
No, not really. I’ll admit that this was also our initial reaction a few years ago when Matt emailed us that he’s building a management solution that we now know as Jetpack Manage. In the end, it ended up having a positive impact on the ManageWP growth. We also expect it happening again with Calypso, for two principal reasons – target audience and market share.
Calypso users are different from ManageWP users
When you take a look at Calypso, it’s clear that the target audience are WordPress.com users. Their users are content with letting Automattic handle the technical aspect for them, while they focus on the content. It’s similar with their self-hosted segment. WordPress has always been about democratizing publishing; WordPress.com, Calypso and Jetpack are built to cater to the needs of a regular person that wants to go online and wants her voice to be heard. This, along with an amazing community and open source philosophy, are why WordPress powers 25% of the Internet.
ManageWP users, on the other hand, are power users. Almost all of you either make a living off WordPress, or have a business that relies heavily on it. WordPress is your bread and butter, and you need a powerful set of tools to get the job done. So while Calypso’s value resonates with 80% of all WordPress users (easier way to manage WordPress, plus it’s free), ManageWP is all about getting things done. It needs to be, because the most valuable asset you’ve got as a WordPress professional, is time.
Imagine this scenario: Tesla Motors announces one day that they are revolutionizing transport by giving away passenger cars, for free. I’d take one in a heartbeat, and you would too. But if you run a shipping company, you’d still keep buying trucks for your business. If a truck delivers a 5 tons of bacon across country twice as fast as a Tesla car, you’ll easily offset the truck cost.
Our niche does not tolerate bad code just because it’s free. An average WordPress developer in the US earns $25/hour; if a free tool takes two hours longer to get the job done, you’re already down $50. Or, as one of our users put it bluntly:
I cannot afford a cheap solution.
Calypso will help take WordPress to the next level
Calypso should not be viewed as the final solution. It’s more of a glimpse of what future has in store for WordPress. REST API will allow us to overcome the current obstacles and start using WordPress in new and exciting ways. It will empower each and every one of us, and in turn it will drive up the WordPress market share. Matt Mullenweg hopes this is the key to the 50% market share.
This is fantastic news for everyone, including ManageWP. It means that you’ll have twice as much work, which directly translates into more profit for each and every WordPress professional on the market, including us.
This has already happened with Jetpack Manage. It helped educate the WordPress community about more efficient ways of managing websites. As their number increased, those that needed more than Jetpack Manage could offer quickly found ManageWP.
Are you concerned that Calypso might one day grow into ManageWP?
That’s the beauty of WordPress – the Foundation is not looking to put us under Automattic’s thumb; Matt and his team are actively encouraging the WordPress community, through open source policy, to keep building, innovating, making lives easier for everyone, and find their own place in the ecosystem.
We love them for it, and we’ll keep supporting the WordPress community any way we can. Or, as Frank Sinatra used to say:
The best is yet to come.