iThemes enters the WordPress site management sphere with Sync

iThemes has announced a new product today, called Sync. It’s a tool to manage WordPress website updates, including themes and plugins. Sync is free for up to 10 sites for all iThemes account holders. They will announce plans soon for non-account holders and people with more than ten sites.

Sync is the latest entry into what’s quickly becoming a crowded market. With competitors in ManageWP, InfiniteWP, WP Remote, and more, I wonder how Sync will fit in. By already being in the utility / safety space with BackupBuddy, it is a logical move for them.

However, core now supports some level of auto-updates, and considering many WordPress hosts also offer this functionality, I wonder if the number of providers are growing at the exact time it’s becoming less necessary to have an outside party handle such things. I think there will be a need for these services still for lower end hosting environments and site managers that have websites across multiple hosting platforms, but I wonder just how big that segment is.

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  1. Hey Brian, maybe so … but we’ve got a big roadmap past the features released today and most excited about the next steps. In other words, we’re not done.

    Also, for the bulk of our customers, this is going to save them some time and hassle … and that get that for free.

    By the way, you nailed it with the “utility / safety” space that we’ve been in for almost four years now with BackupBuddy. Watch for even more news with that in mind before the end of the year. 🙂

    1. I look forward to seeing how this (and all of your products) evolve! I know you guys have lots of smart folks and you steer a good ship, Cory. Keep rocking it 🙂

  2. You make some valid points Brian, but having the ability to perform certain tasks (updating plugins, posting to multiple blogs) becomes tremendously easier, and quicker, with management tools such as these. We both know there is much more to managing sites than updates.

    iThemes has done an excellent job with Backupbuddy – I can only see Sync being another great tool to add to their arsenal of products.

    On a semi-related note, one more thing I’d like to add: I think iThemes is building one of the most sustainable businesses in our ecosystem. It seems to me that every choice they make (and every product they release) is just the right thing to do. I’m happy to see them continue to grow, and I’m looking forward to getting to mess around with this new plugin.

    1. Alex, thanks for this … it’s comments like yours that keep us focused on what we’re doing. Can’t wait to hear your feedback and thoughts for next steps. 🙂

  3. It’s going to be wise to pick and choose a system that’s going to be in it for the long haul. With all these competitors entering this space there’s bound to be a few drop off.

    1. Devin, if I may put my two cents in to your comment, I agree and here’s one big thing in our category: We started in January 2008 and are still here innovating and growing, focusing on WordPress solutions that make people’s lives awesome. When your work is your passion like it is ours, you tend to keep focused on making sure it is sustainable. 🙂

  4. I’m not sure it really is such a crowded market, all the current players are different in important ways and it has the potential to be a massive market, the basic concept is so useful that anyone managing more than one or two sites should be using it. Also, there is one feature they all lack which would instantly change the whole game, so, the market is far from settled.

    I have noted elsewhere that WP Remote’s mistake is that they fail to effectively communicate their stand-out feature, inclusive backup storage, and why that might justify higher pricing than ManageWP.

    In the case of iThemes, and I hope Cory won’t mind me sharing this observation, their mistake is to release with so few features and no indication of pricing, blowing the momentum that a more filled-out launch would have given them.

    A public roadmap with no milestones just isn’t enough when you are entering a market whose established players already have sophisticated feature sets, iThemes should have held back until they had something at least vaguely comparable. Perhaps they perceive getting to market quickly as more important but, at this stage, I don’t see how waiting a couple more months would have hurt.

    Of course, iThemes has a big existing base of customers, that will help, but it would have been smart to explicitly leverage the massive reputation of BackupBuddy, perhaps calling this new service BackupBuddy Sync or BackupBuddy Meta and emphasising the ability to manage your backups restores and clones from one central dashboard. It strikes me that they are missing a really obvious and possibly vital branding opportunity.

    1. Donnacha, as always, you just put it out there and I appreciate that. So for what it’s worth I thought I’d respond to your comments.

      First, let me say this is a beachhead product and version for us. It’s meant to establish some ground, offer a sustainable service that helps our customers and add something of value to their iThemes membership (at no cost to them by the way), while showing what could be and hoping we get their support to continue building what they want.

      We purposefully planned and launched iThemes Sync with this laser-focused minimal yet valuable feature set in mind. We did that because although we have theories and ideas about the product, we don’t know exactly what people want (or value enough to pay for). And rather than spend extremely valuable dev time and energy for months until a release, we wanted to get something out now, rather than wait.

      Having done this for almost 6 years now, I would disagree that we’ve lost momentum. If anything we’ve gained it.

      The flood of requests that have come in since offering it to our customers have showed me that. So if you refresh the iThemes Sync roadmap which you saw as sparse initially (for a reason by the way), you’ll see those requests.

      And we’re just 2 days into this. So I’m encouraged by that.

      But all of these comments like yours are just assumptions … only time will tell.

      Of course, we get the fun job though. By continuing to listen to our customers and by iterating and shipping, we get to try to prove you wrong. 🙂

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