Bookmark synchronisation service Xmarks is to close its doors at the start of next year, following a failure to turn the free service into a viable business.

The service, which launched back in 2006 as the FoxMarks plug-in for Firefox, allows users to store their history, bookmarks, saved passwords and opened tabs on a central server and push them out to multiple browsers - allowing anyone who has more than one PC to keep their browsing neat and tidy.

It's a popular service, with company co-founder and chief technical officer Todd Aguinick estimating that it has around two million users synchronising data from around five million desktops - and continues to grow at the rate of around 3,000 users per day.

Popular, however, doesn't mean profitable. Having failed to find a path to profitability themselves, the people behind Xmarks started looking for potential buyers earlier this year, hoping that more business-oriented heads could spot an opportunity that the techies had missed. Sadly, despite Aguinick saying that the company was recently "remarkably close to striking a deal" with an unidentified company, no buyer has come forward - leaving the company out of both money and options.

As a result, the Xmarks service is scheduled to shut down on 10 January, 2011. The team has compiled a list of alternatives for all major browsers, including Firefox Sync, Chrome Sync, Windows Live Essentials for Internet Explorer and the paid-for MobileMe service for Safari. However, only Firefox Sync offers the same depth of synchronisation in which Xmarks specialised.

Finishing his announcement, Aguinick stated that "I’d like to thank our investors, who stuck with us through uncertain times; my colleagues, who toiled long hours in search of a scalable business; our localisers, who made Xmarks available in 33 languages; and our users, for their unstinting support, and willingness to tell us quickly and candidly when we misstepped. You will all be missed."

Are any Xmarks users here sad to see the service go, or is it difficult to recommend a third-party system when most browsers have official synchronisation options these days? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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