The Ancestry blog announced today that the company would stop selling its desktop software program Family Tree Maker (FTM) as of the last day of this month. The company says it will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017.
Our subscription business and website, on the other hand, continue to grow and we are doubling down our efforts to make that experience even better for our Ancestry community.
If the past is any guide to the present, it will be a waste of time for the genealogical community to try to influence Ancestry to reverse course on this matter.
This behavior, while it may make business sense, does not enamor customers to trust Ancestry to be there for them in the long run. Ancestry has a history of buying or acquiring products and then abandoning them often with the loss of massive amounts of useful data lost in the process.
I was a user of FTM once upon a time. Then I moved to Family Origins. At the time I was thrilled because I thought this would mean Ancestry's marketing know how would increase the reach of Family Origins. WRONG. In retrospect it appears that Family Origins was acquired to get rid of competition for FTM. Family Origins was allowed to die a quiet death. Fortunately the programming team behind Family Origins came together soon after their non-competition clause of their sales contract expired and produced RootsMagic now in version 220.127.116.11.
This decision by Ancestry should not lead to the destruction of useful genealogical data as the corporation's previous decisions to withdraw access to MyFamily.com sites did a couple of years ago. Access to yDNA and mtDNA test data conducted by Ancestry and by Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) was also lost to the genealogical community and those who had contributed it when Ancestry decided to concentrate on autosomal DNA.
Taken by itself the decision announced today does not seem to be as damaging to the genealogy community as some of Ancestry's previous actions. However, it leaves this blogger wondering what if anything we should expect when Ancestry acquires former competitors such as Fold3, and Find A Grave? What should we expect from Ancestry's strategic alliances to make other databases available to its customer base?