2007: Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn't Live Without

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A year ago I wrote a post called “Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without” and listed thirteen startups whose products made a real impact in my life. Those were the products that I loved, and used every day. I enjoyed sorting through the hundreds of startups that we had written about, and picking just a handful that made a real impact on my life. It was so much fun, actually, that I’m updating the list this year.

Seven of the companies are still on the list. Six have dropped off to make room for new products, and I’ve added two more to round out the list to fifteen total products. Here’s the current list, in alphabetical order, of products I use every day and couldn’t live without:

800-Free-411

Jingle’s free 411 service has saved me a serious amount of cash this last year. They now account for over 3% of the U.S. market for information calls, and AT&T has announced that they are going to copy them. That’s good news for consumers, who have to pay up to $3.50 per 411 call today. Our coverage is here.

Amie Street

Amie Street, which launched in July, has a brilliant DRM-free music sales model. Bands upload music, which can then be downloaded for free by users. As songs become popular, the site starts to charge for it. They start at $0.01 and go up to $0.99. Users looking for popular new stuff go right to the more expensive songs. More adventurous types try out lots of new music. I’m somewhere in the middle. This free-market place to set the value of DRM-free digital music could be the future. Our coverage is here.

Ask City

Bloglines dropped off the list this year, but another Ask.com property, the recently launched Ask City, has been added. In our very subjective opinion Ask City has replaced Yahoo Maps as the best mapping product on the Internet. My favorite features are multipoint directions an the annotation tools that allow you to draw and write on a map before forwarding to friends. Ask City is less than a month old and it’s already one of our favorite apps. Our writeup is here.

BlueDot

BlueDot is a social bookmarking service that is similar to del.icio.us. I’ve started using it instead of del.icio.us becasue I like the interface better and it allows sharing of bookmarks just among friends, whereas with del.icio.us you have to choose between fully public and fully private bookmarks. The company launched in July and had an update in October.

Digg

Anyone who reads this blog knows my position on Digg, where users pick what news makes it to the home page. It’s the future of news, and the most disruptive force to mainstream media since blogs were born. Digg has to continue to battle spam while pleasing its most active users, which won’t be easy. But I use the Digg site every day. Our coverage of Digg is here.

Flickr

Flickr is our first holdover from last year’s list. In the last year we’ve seen a bunch of startups gunning for Flickr, but as of now it is still the photo tagging and sharing site that we use every day. The new geotagging feature is incredible. We’d like to see facial recognition, similar to what Ookles is doing, next. Our coverage of Flickr is here.

Flock

We’ve been fans of Flock since we first started covering it during the original Bar Camp in August 2005. It just feels like a complete ecosystem rather than the hodge podge of sometimes incompatible additional add-ons that you get with Firefox. If Flock didn’t exist I’d be a happy Firefox user, but it does, and I use it as my primary browser. The rumor is that they have a big new release coming very soon. Our coverage of Flock is here.

Gmail

Despite recent problems, I think Gmail is now at least as functional as most desktop email applications (like Outlook and Mac Mail), and darn close to perfect. The reason? Lots of storage, the ability to tag emails and the recent addition of POP access to other email accounts. All for the great price of – free.

NetNewsWire

I’ve used NewsGator’s NetNewsWire desktop feed reader from the moment I switched to a Mac in early 2006. It’s not free, but having fast and offline access to feeds was worth the $30 I paid for it. Bloglines dropped off the list because of NetNewsWire, although I expect to be moving over to Google Reader in the near future. Offline access is less important now that I have EVDO cellular access, and Google Reader made significant improvements to its product in its September upgrade.

Netvibes

Netvibes is another holdover from last year. We go there multiple times per day to get a quick overview of a few important feeds. The company continues to gain users at a torrid pace, and has plenty of money in the bank after a $15 million round earlier this year. My guess is Netvibes is fending off multiple acquisition offers at this point, and may not be an independent entity at the end of 2007. Our coverage of Netvibes is here.

Pandora

Pandora is yet another holdover from last year, and a company that we’ve covered since before its launch in 2005. My bet is that I’ve racked up more hours listening to music on Pandora than any other user – it’s almost always playing while I write. Millions of loyal users agree with me. Our coverage is here.

Skype

Skype may be the single biggest productivity booster since email. I use it as my primary instant messaging client, and of course for free on the fly calls almost daily. Skype is one of the Internet’s killer apps. Our coverage of Skype is here.

Techmeme

TechMeme is the blogosphere’s daily newspaper, and one of the sites we use most often in seeing how stories develop. Stuff on TechMeme hits the New York Times and other newspapers days later. My father is as addicted to Techmeme’s political sister site, Memorandum, as I am to the technology news area. Our coverage of TechMeme is here and here.

WordPress

We’ve been mostly happy customers of WordPress since TechCrunch started. It’s the most flexible blogging platform, and their Akismet comment spam blocking service has saved us from nearly 1 million spammy comments. We’d have to hire a full time person just to moderate comments and trackbacks if Akismet wasn’t as good as it is. Our coverage of WordPress is here.

YouTube

YouTube is far from being a young startup, having been acquired by Google for $1.65 billion earlier this year. And even though they sent us a cease & desist letter just two months ago, we remain YouTube addicts. Fire Engines! Bananas! Humanity is a beautiful thing. Earlier YouTube coverage is here.

Almost on the List

A few companies almost made the list as well – AllOfMP3, AllPeers, Last.fm, Meebo, Wikipedia and Zoho were right on the edge, as well as others. I just had to cut the list off somewhere.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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