Recently, there have been a significant number of posts about MyHeritage.com's Record Matches, most simply recording the facts as presented in the press releases. But I have had some time during the past week or so both to work with the new program and to think about the significance of this step by MyHeritage.com. It is apparent that through its recent acquisitions and a number of undisclosed partnerships, it has put together a wide ranging method of searching previously unrelated databases simultaneously. In my opinion, this is a significant step forward for the online genealogical community.
The MyHeritage.com program is centered around a free local computer-based application called Family Tree Builder 6.0. Roughly speaking, you enter your information into Family Tree Builder, either by keying in the information or through a GEDCOM file, and the program either creates and online family tree or syncs the information with your online MyHeritage.com Family Tree. You can store up to 500 names online free of charge including up to 250 MB of storage for attached photos and documents. Their Premium Plan adds up to 2,500 people and 500 MB of storage and their PremiumPlus Plan has unlimited people and storage. The Premium Plan is currently $6.25 a month billed annually and the PremiumPlus Plan is $9.95 a month billed annually or $119.40 a year.
The new Record Match feature is not free. MyHeritage.com with the Records Match looks like it will run an additional $6.35 per month billed annually or $76.20 for full access. Otherwise, you can purchase credits to download specific documents. Here is the explanation:
Record Matches are provided for free as an abbreviated summary. Viewing full records from some data collections is free (e.g. Ellis Island and Find-a-Grave). Viewing other records in full requires a new type of subscription, called a data subscription, which also provides unlimited access to MyHeritage SuperSearch. You can also view specific records by purchasing pay-as-you-go credits.Now, the first thing is how does this program compare to Ancestry.com? MyHeritage.com is obviously a very viable competitor, perhaps the first one Ancestry.com has ever had. These are some of the points I have noticed comparing the two programs.
Ancestry.com searches its own databases internally and returns records in its own collection.
MyHeritage.com seems to search records outside of its owned databases and therefore it is unpredictable what it will produce. This is not bad, this is very good.
Full access to Ancestry.com is more than $300 per year and you have to buy their program, Family Tree Maker at about %70 to $80. Ancestry.com has Family Tree Maker for both the PC and Mac.
Both subscriptions to MyHeritage.com are cheaper than the single Ancestry.com charge and their program is free. MyHeritage.com only has Family Tree Builder for the PC, but it is free.
Both companies seem to be aggressively seeking acquisitions and partnerships. However, Ancestry.com is presently reported to be for sale. Could MyHeritage.com buy Ancestry.com? It is not mentioned as one of the potential buyers at all. In any event, Ancestry.com's future is highly unpredictable whereas MyHeritage.com seems to be advancing very rapidly.
Ancestry.com is free in the FamilySearch Centers.
MyHeritage.com's online database WorldVitalRecords.com is also free at FamilySearch Centers.
Both programs, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com, allow you to attach images to your online family tree. When you upload your file to MyHeritage.com, the results online include the images already attached to your local file. In both programs, you can add additional photos, however, without the PremiumPlus Plan on MyHeritage.com, you are limited to the storage allowed.
How do they stack up with content? It is really too early to tell but my initial indications are that they are NOT duplicates to a great extent, so MyHeritage.com is a good alternative. If you have the resources (i.e. money) You may want to try both. I would note that neither program costs as much as one research trip across the country.
I also have the incentive now to use the MyHeritage.com program more aggressively than I have in the past. But I will not likely use Ancestry.com any less.
One dramatic difference between the two programs is the amount of personal contact with the owners and developers. Not one time in my years of research and writing has Ancestry.com or any of their representatives ever acknowledged my existence. They have never sent me anything about their company or had a representative talk to me. On the other hand, even the President and founder of MyHeritage.com has taken the time to call me personally on the telephone from Israel to talk. When they introduced this new Research Match program, I got an early look with several emails explaining the program and multiple calls from their U.S. representative making sure I got the emails and asking if I had any questions. MyHeritage.com's personal approach to marketing is outstanding and almost unique.
I do not wish to imply that I am in any way important enough, in any sense, to merit the attention of the huge Ancestry.com company. As a matter of fact, very few commercial entities out there in genealogy land acknowledge my existence. That is one reason why the approach taken by MyHeritage.com is so unique.
My guess is that corporate style and friendly but aggressive marketing puts MyHeritage.com way ahead of Ancestry.com and I would think that absent a corporate change from Ancestry.com they will ultimately lose out to the better marketing of MyHeritage.com and since I have given away my two TVs recently, I no longer see any Ancestry.com ads except on the Internet where they can be ignored.
As a final note, FamilySearch.org is in the process of implementing their online family tree program called appropriately (but not very originally) Family Tree. The FamilySearch Family Tree is unique in that it is a monolithic tree. When you add your information, you are not creating your "own" tree, but sharing that information with all other users. Further, FamilySearch Family Tree is entirely integrated, meaning there are no individual family trees with "personal" information. In a fundamental sense, what Family Search is trying to accomplish is totally different than either Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com and any resemblance between either Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com and FamilySearch Family Tree is superficial.
I will undoubtedly have more to say in the future.