Jetpack means more than features for dot org users

33 Comments

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.

1 Guilty.
2 Assuming your site is public, of course.

33 thoughts on “Jetpack means more than features for dot org users

  1. Aside from that, what they’ve done could be done by others.

    From the sound of things (chatter on twitter, mostly), that’s up for debate. Could someone else have gotten a similar plugin (one that arbitrarily requires a connection to outside servers) into the hosted WordPress.org plugin repository? I say arbitrarily because some of the functionality provided by Jetpack does not inherently require connecting to an outside server, although some of it does of course.

    • Don’t hold your breath for an answer on that one.

      Our Gravity Forms license key IS required for pieces of Gravity Forms functionality to work properly because it communicates with our site for a handful of things (especially in the upcoming 1.5 release). I’m pretty sure if we updated Gravity Forms to REQUIRE you to enter your license key before the plugin would function that we would get skewered by the WordPress fanboys. They would be up in arms over it, saying it isn’t right, etc.

      But that is exactly what what JetPack does. A piece of JetPack requires a WordPress.com to function but instead of allowing you to use everything but that piece, they cripple the entire plugin until you activate with WordPress.com.

      If it’s okay for them to do it, the precedence has been set. Everyone else should feel free to do the same.

    • I’m not sure whether someone could have done that or not. It sounds like there is no hard and fast rule in that situation. It seems like something that is dealt with on a case by case basis; that’s just my thought looking in from the outside.

  2. I think Jetpack is a cool feature… because instead of installing multiple plugins… just one does it all. So it loads up less… So cool feature.

    I want Automattic to lower the price of Vaultpress :( :(

    • Actually it loads the same amount. It just does it from one activation. The code is the same. It’s still really multiple plugins that are activated at once. So it doesn’t really load up less. It just means you are activating one, not many.

      Same goes for themes that integrate lots of functionality that would typically be found in a plugin. It’s still all PHP that is executed and requires resources and memory to function.

      So don’t think because it’s one plugin that it means it will be more efficient from a performance standpoint.

  3. Chip Bennet made me aware in a comment that the default JetPack menu location is against best practice at wp.org

    It is rare that a plugin would require the creation of a top-level menu. If the plugin introduces an entirely new concept or feature to WordPress, and needs many screens to do it, then that plugin may warrant a new top-level menu. Adding a top-level menu should only be considered if you really need multiple, related screens to make WordPress do something it was not originally designed to accomplish. Examples of new top-level menus might include job management or conference management.(

    Determining Location for New Menus
    So shouldn’t Automattic adhere to best practice as well? Lead by example and all that.

    • Lead by example, indeed.

      You know, it makes it really difficult for those of us on the Theme Review Team to hold third-party Theme Developers to best practices such as using add_theme_page() to add Theme Settings Pages to the “Appearance” men, rather than using add_menu_page() to add them as top-level menu entries, when Automattic puts their own menus in the top level, for no reason whatsoever, other than having that little icon appear in the second-most-important menu location (attached to the Dashboard icon).

      (By the way, I need to write a Two_Ts_in_Bennett_dangit() function…)

    • very true point,
      But I cant really hate them for it, I probably would be no different in their place, after all they invest fortunes into wordpress.org, so if that’s what they want in return, so be it.

      • I don’t hate on them for how JetPack works. I think it’s a brilliant move on their part. The plugin is well put together and looks very polished and is easy to use. That isn’t the real issue. The issue is allowing others to do the same as far as the WordPress.org repository is concerned.

  4. Pingback: Why Jetpack really packs a punch – the future of WordPress and why you may not like it much (if you’re a premium developer or service provider) | WordPress News at WPMU.org

  5. Pingback: Bridging the WordPress gap with Jetpack - pancake theorem

  6. If there ever was a time to push for similar plugins to be added to the repository it would now, developers should engage WP.ORG to make this happen or remove all plugins that do from the repository, it is that simple.

    What may not be as simple is how do WP.ORG defines or categorize these plugins, for one thing Jetpack differs a lot from plugins like Gravity forms that do not allow use without a paid key, trying to compare them is a bit of a stretch!

    I’m also really hard pressed to knock Automattic they have contributed far more to the WP.org community than all of the premium plugin / theme developers put together!

    I’m really hoping to see plugin developers follow suit and make their plugin more efficient, writing 100 plugins and selling /bundling them as “premium” is not a model I wish to see stay around! We have child themes why not child plugins see: (The plugabble plugin) http://wordpress.tv/2010/12/03/brandon-dove-the-pluggable-plugin/

    I am using Jetpack and really pleased if not relived.

    • Actually you are incorrect. Gravity Forms is functional without a paid key. It isn’t crippled. What you don’t get is support access, access to updates, or access to specific features that require interaction with our servers. So as far as that goes, Gravity Forms does far more without a key than Jetpack does if you don’t activate… which is nothing.

      Automattic has done a lot for WordPress. This is true, nobody can deny this.

      However, the commercial theme and plugin development community has done a lot also. Would I say Automattic has contributed far more? Well i’ll just say that if premium theme and plugin community did not exist, WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today.

      I would say that the premium theme and plugin market has contributed far more man hours and code back to the community than Automattic itself has. I’m not talking to the core WordPress code, but the sheer volume of WordPress themes and plugins that have been contributed to the community by the large number of commercial (or premium) theme and plugin developers that are out there. In sheer numbers, Automattic is outnumbered.

    • Thanks for the correction Carl, I could not tell from the gravity’s website. As I said before now is the time to engage WordPress into allowing more “jetpack” like plugins into the directory!

      “Well i’ll just say that if premium theme and plugin community did not exist, WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today

      Sorry but I cannot agree with you here, it seems that
      1. You are dismissing the huge contribution of the the free plugin and theme developers
      2. Ignoring the fact that the Automattic and WordPress relationship goes very deep.

      Factoring in those two things and the Premium dev contribution would come in a distant third, or fourth to the user community!

      I’m wondering why premium developers are not coming together as a collective and engaging WordPress leaders.

      • As a blog platform? Yes, I agree Automattic has made a bigger contribution.

        As a CMS platform used by businesses to power non-blog sites and business sites? I disagree. That is where the commercial market has really driven WordPress growth for using WordPress as a CMS.

        The success of NUMEROUS commercial theme and plugin developers, and we are talking about multi-million dollar businesses… and not just one, but many of the commercial developers are making big money just further proves my point.

        Most businesses and corporations using WordPress prefer to use paid plugins and themes precisely because they feel more comfortable knowing a business is backing that plugin or theme and that is important to them because if their business is relying on WordPress to power their web site they want to be sure they have someone to turn to when something with their plugin or theme goes wrong.

        I see the firsthand every day supporting our product. 99% of our customers are using premium themes, not free themes. The commercial market is a HUGE plus for WordPress as a platform and you cannot discount it’s success as directly impacting how much WordPress has grown over the last couple years.

        • I agree! Commercial users want the support and need the support so yes, you have done your part!

          Here’s the thing though the commercial market represent a fraction of the WP ecosystem, so when you guys make these claims you are going to get pushback from the rest of the community.

          JetPack, is and important step froward in the right direction and this is what is important for many!

  7. Another thing that in my opinion has been much underexposed so far, is that the “wordpress.com stats plugin”, now also bundled into this “Awesome jetpack plugin” is spyware.

    I am having a huge problem with the fact that they dont mention this, and even go so far as to completely hide this in the plugins code using some clever tricks. You wont find any link to quantcast in the plugin code.

    I wont get into the legal side of the thing as I am not a lawyer and different countries have different laws.
    Morally I think it is just plain wrong to secretly built 3rd party tracking code into the plugin.

    Automatic and Quantcast are gathering detailed stats from a huge number of sites that have this plugin installed , but without telling people about it, without asking permission, and even code the plugin in such way that you cant see this when you read through the code.

    Some links for reference:
    - http://blog.futtta.be/2010/12/15/wordpress-com-stats-trojan-horse-for-quantcast-tracking/
    - http://www.keptlight.com/index.php/2011/03/wordpress-stats-and-quantcast-connection/
    - http://spreerecht.de/datenschutz/2011-02/rechtswidrig-wordpress-com-stats-plugin-jetzt-mit-werbetrojanern
    (last link in german language, google translation link:
    http://translate.google.com/translate?&tl=en&u=http://spreerecht.de/datenschutz/2011-02/rechtswidrig-wordpress-com-stats-plugin-jetzt-mit-werbetrojanern)

    On the first link, at the bottom of the post (“update 20 january”) you will find a “DoNotTrack” plugin, that disables the spyware part of the “wordpress.com stats plugin”. Look carefully as it is easy to miss.
    (Direct link to the donottrack plugin: http://futtta.be/donottrack.zip)
    NB: If you usejs/css minify-ing on your site, make sure this plugin is loaded in the head section.

      • Yes that would be nice.

        shawn sandy, this chitchat about paid vs. free is in many cases nonsense because how do you know motivations for “FREE” contributions? Many authors might be all about free stuff but essentially they are targeting pro/paid versions – you just don’t know it yet. Others are doing it for 100% selfish reasons as in pumping up portfolio or use contributions in other business relationships. Some might know they are crap with coding but can somehow manage to pull minor thing off. Selling that would make them laugh of the week. Another bunch might have been motivated by using paid stuff. You can continue. Many grouping will be the result so I dont see how it make sense to debate who has the biggest d… I am fairly new to WP world but have already seen much free junk and much paid junk. Also plugins at .org site I would have expected attached to a post on a blackhat seo forum. Big world it is.

        Besides, when you look at .org or Automaticc they seem to have a sharp eye for input vs. output relationship don’t you think? And back to spyware claims ;)

  8. JetPack is WordPress competing in the premium plugin space – period. You get some great features with that plugin include some awesome video and audio shortcodes, the “after the deadline” plugins, sharedaddy, and more. At the bottom of the features page it has “coming soon” blurbs – meaning there are new features on the way. My prediction was the day this came out – that some of these would be “paid features”. People disagreed with me.

    Guess what, on the official Jetpack.me FAQ page it says the following: “Jetpack itself is, and always will be free. Some individual features that Jetpack provides will be free, but others in the future may require payment.”

    I love WordPress, and I love Automattic. But I have long said “WordPress is the only non-profit I know making a huge profit”. OR, is WordPress non-profit, and Automattic “for-profit”? I really don’t know. And I don’t beget them the opportunity to profit from their own creation(s).

    I do find it interesting in the comments here that JetPack does kind of violate something they’ve told plugin developers “not to do” in the past. But here again, whether their interests are self-serving or not – they run WordPress, and that’s that.

    I always wondered why they didn’t monetize WordPress more with better premium services and features, and they do make money on wordpress.com blogs from text posting, video blogging, storage, domain names, and more. Now with JetPack they can extend their reach into self-hosted WordPress web site for monetization, a place where (to date) nearly ALL the money has been made by third party premium theme and plugin developers, and a cottage industry of WordPress consultants (like myself).

    I would say at this point – what they want is a piece of that pie.

    • That is obviously what is going on, in your face too. I have never liked Automattic that much but don’t really see why I should have to since there are 1000 miles between the company and .org/self hosting – right? That is the setup and explanation you will get if you have some sort of problem with them. They “contribute” back etc. but you can chose to ignore. Seems like task has become more difficult. Everyone is happy :) If not now happiness will arrive later, you will be happy! Is that not the best one can hope for? what else to do? complain? god noooooo.

      Spyware claims are also something most can get used to. Shall not go to deep in to that but tracking is of course not the issue as such. That they don’t find it absolutely mandatory to inform about it is – or it should be. Those who make malware, those who design installation or sign-up routines meant to trick people, those who are doing the more aggressive marketing think the same way. As does many a site admin who “forget” to have a privacy/site policy explaining all the hidden affiliate links. That is the group Automattic joins when going Meh, who cares? We do as we see fit. Did we really forget? Oh well, how many will notice? heheh. Just words but not being clear and transparent about tracking is not really the way to go. In most cases it also tell a story about how a company view its customers.

  9. I learned a couple things in the last few days…

    Actually Jetpack is NOT in WordPress by default when you download the self-hosted version from WordPress.org.

    What’s happened here is is Automattic made some special deals with big web hosting companies, and they developed or partnered with a “1 Click Install” for WordPress (and other software) you’ll see in your web control panel (cpanel).

    For example last night I did a 1 click install on my Hostgator shared hosting account. On the default install of WordPress Jetpack is already installed AND ACTIVATED by default with the big splash banner saying “connect to WordPress.com now!”.

    Also within 5 minutes I got an email saying “for Peace of Mind use VaultPress” (the Automattic WP backup service), and it had a big VaultPress and Hostgator logo on it.

    So Jetpack is already being used by Automattic to position and sell premium services. The bundle just isn’t taking place in the official WordPress.org download of the software, they’ve made some special deals with various large web hosting companies to do this.

    A good point for debate I guess. Playing devil’s advocate – on the one hand doesn’t Automattic have the right to make special deals like this with web hosting companies (given the fact that any third party development company could do the sale to position and sell their premium services)?

    On the other hand, if the majority of new users go to the “one click install” of WordPress on their web host – they’re going to see Jetpack by default more than seasoned users (who don’t use that) – is it kind of an unfair advantage (or not)?

    • I don’t think many people were under the impression Jetpack was included with downloads from WP.org.

      Also, the activated and installed plugin with 1 click installs from partner hosts was known.

      Also within 5 minutes I got an email saying “for Peace of Mind use VaultPress” (the Automattic WP backup service), and it had a big VaultPress and Hostgator logo on it.

      That’s the only thing I haven’t heard, but it’s not surprising at all. I’ll bet VaultPress is one of the plugins that’s “coming soon” on the Jetpack homepage. It only makes sense.

      The point here is that Automattic is doing these things, and Automattic is the author of Jetpack. Automattic can do what it wants with third party hosts. It’s the host’s decision to partner with them. And Automattic is not WordPress.org.

      If Jetpack was bundled w/ WordPress on WordPress.org, it would be a different story. But it’s not.

  10. Very true. I guess that the only point of real contention left is that Akismet is an Automattic product. A paid product for anything but personal use. Is it (really) fair that it’s bundled by default in every WordPress.org download install?

    • Fair enough that Akismet is an Automattic product and bundled. But Akismet will be unbundled, probably not 3.2, but it’s in the works.

      Also, honestly, Akismet rocks as a free spam-prevention solution for the typical user. If I’m a typical user that doesn’t know better, I’m happy there is something there for me to prevent spam. I’m glad that when it unbundles, it’ll likely be in Jetpack, so there is a very visible place that people can go to quickly eliminate spam on their blog.

      And in the end, Automattic does a ton for the WordPress community, and I’m glad they are finding ways to monetize on both WordPress.org and WordPress.com. I just hope that transparency and honestly is always paramount, which I personally believe they strive for. I don’t buy much of the “Automattic just wants to make a buck” hype that is sometimes in the air. Every company makes the occasional mistake, and I think all in all they do far more good for WordPress.org than harm.

  11. @Brian: all in all I believe you’re right. I mean, everybody just wants to make a buck, and we all try to monetize our services. Automattic probably deserves to to this more than most, but then again they are third party developers just like the rest of us. Good to hear about the unbundling, that should pretty much throw any animosity or issues right out the window.

    • I am probably ever so sensitive but when I see wordpress.com references on frontpage of .org site, like “Featured plugins” I already think “bundling”. Call it what you like. Does not really fit the “community” talk I hear of .org vs. .com but of course “community” is really user base or potential customer base – or also that.

      I realize most are in the very same business as Automattic, directly or indirectly = they find it a tad difficult to get too critical towards business initiatives. Might even go “WOW”. When you look at their set up from an more neutral perspective, and is not having a good day, you can “I can see where this is going!” ;) I believe conditions are such that it is entirely up to Aumattic how they want to go about things. If they feel it would be cool to make more plugin or even theme bundles, pimp them via .org site then that is exactly what is going to happen.

    • Piwik is great and walk all over GA and WP stats stuff. They are considering doing hosted tracking so look out :)

      Tracking is all over the internet so I don’t think it is correct to say Automattic have done something “bad”. More like more of the same old. That they don’t feel a need to be open about tracking is bad though. And stupid. Of course they know about this, just don’t care enough. Horrible management.

      Except slightly hesitant Google major players on the internet are trying to beat each other in being most paranoid – “do not track” campaign for example. Not informing or being transparent is hardly the way to go.

  12. I hate to join the conversation late, but wanted to point out that in addition to WP Stats in Jetpack, Gravatar is a similar tracking mechanism that comes bundled with core and enabled by default.

Leave a Reply

Please note that WPCandy is a moderated community.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>