File Under: Browsers, Web Services

Xmarks Lives: LastPass Buys Downtrodden Bookmark Syncing Service

Just when we all thought we’d never see it again, the cross-browser bookmark syncing service Xmarks has received a life-saving injection.

The company has been acquired by LastPass, maker of a cross-browser password manager and form filler add-on. The deal was announced Thursday, and terms were not disclosed.

Xmarks will live on as a freemium service. The initial cross-browser syncing tool you’re already familiar with will be free, but users will be encouraged to upgrade to a paid subscription to unlock more advanced features. It’s the same model employed by LastPass for its own Premium version of its (otherwise free) password-syncing service.

Xmarks Premium will be offered for $1 per month ($12 per year) and it comes with some new features like apps for the iPhone and Android phones, and technical support. You will also be able to bundle the premium offerings from LastPass and Xmarks together for $20 per year.

There’s already an iPhone app for Xmarks, and the company just recently released an Android app, too. Xmarks says anyone currently using the iPhone app can continue to use it without upgrading to the premium service, but they will have to buy in to the $12 per year plan to get future upgrades.

It looked like curtains for Xmarks in September, when the company announced it would shut down its service in early 2011.

Apparently, there’s no money in a free bookmark syncing service, and the company was facing new competition from the cloud-based syncing systems being built into Firefox and Chrome. Even though Xmarks one-ups those built-in single-browser services by syncing bookmarks across all your browsers, it couldn’t stay afloat.

The service has some 4.5 million users, and there was an outcry when Xmarks announced the shutdown. Later, the company asked its fans if they would be willing to pay a subscription fee to keep Xmarks alive. Over 30,000 of them pledged to do so, and that was enough to attract the attention of LastPass.

The two companies will continue to operate under independent brands, though they may merge everything later.

So, it turns out this dark story of cloud computing had a silver lining after all.

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