Jetpack is being celebrated as a cool new tool that brings features of WordPress.com in to WordPress.org. That’s true. But I think recognizing it as this, solely, is burying the lede 1. Jetpack is also a bold new business move for Automattic, one which deserves some further unpacking.
Jetpack is now a direct line in to WordPress.org Dashboards for Automattic. When (not if) Automattic releases a new software as a service, a simple update to Jetpack will bring that news in front of a serious number of WordPress.org users. This is a big step for Automattic, since up to now their reach has been mostly within the walls of WordPress.com. Now Jetpack is not only available for anyone to use 2, but it will come preinstalled with one-click installs of WordPress with a number of hosting providers.
That means big numbers.
Like all the best business decisions, this one just so happens to also be a great thing to do.
I don’t mean to downplay what the Automattic folks have been saying about wanting to bring .com features to .org users. I believe they want that too; their altruism is, I believe, honest. But there is a very strong business component to this decision as well. Like all the best business decisions, this one just so happens to also be a great thing to do.
For the most part, I don’t think Automattic has done anything here that others couldn’t have done as well. Granted, few others would have the clout they do to structure a deal with hosting providers to put Jetpack in one-click WordPress installs. Aside from that, what they’ve done could be done by others. Whether others will follow suit with their own Jetpack-like plugins is yet to be seen.
In a large sense, what does Jetpack mean to the world of WordPress? There’s no way to know, not yet. Currently Jetpack provides plugins that were already available to .org users via individual plugins. Future updates to Jetpack will tell us more about where Automattic plans to go with it. Without a doubt, anything introduced via Jetpack will become a big competitor with other commercial plugins. We’ll just have to wait and see which businesses Automattic chooses to compete with.
2 Assuming your site is public, of course.