Is it too late for CNET Networks (NASDAQ:CNET) to be nimble again? This month's issue of Wired offers a pretty grim prognosis from TechCrunch mastermind Michael Arrington.

He believes he can take CNET down. "The goal is to have 15 to 20 sites 18 months from now," he explains in fleshing out his expansion strategy. He's looking to hire magnetic industry-proven bloggers in niche technology areas like music and software. If they prove to be a fraction as successful as Arrington has been in unearthing tomorrow's darlings in their respective specialties, TechCrunch will blossom.

"With 25 to 30 paid writers against CNET's huge cost base, they won't be able to compete," he says.

He's right, but not entirely right.

Everyone wants a blog? It's better than bad, it's good
CNET realizes that it's hard to compete against the pulse-driven masters of the blogosphere. CNET isn't going to scoop the unearthing habits of blog sites like TechCrunch, GigaOm, PaidContent.org, or Gawker's Valleywag.

Oh, it'll try. It rolled out the CNET Blog Network last month, a collection of 14 fresh new blogs scripted by seasoned industry vets. It certainly seems as if CNET and TechCrunch are eyeing the same blueprint here.

The difference here is that as nimble as TechCrunch can be -- and CNET may appear not to be -- Arrington was simply discussing his near-term expansion plans, while CNET was out launching the lifestyle blogs that covered everything from parenting to tee times with an emphasis on technology.

CNET isn't necessarily late to the party. It's had an active blogging community on ZDNet for some time now. It also has Crave and Webware specializing in consumer gadgets and cyberspace tech, respectively. Yes, the CNET overhead is heavy, but a lot of that bulk is producing the kind of media-rich slick video clips and studio-ready photography that those of us playing at home will never be able to match.

Besides, we can't dismiss CNET as a dinosaur because it's not getting its fingernails dirty to uncover breaking news. The foodies swapping restaurant reviews at Chow, the diehard gamers hankering for Halo 3 screenshots on GameSpot, or the couch potatoes hashing out Lost conspiracy theories on TV.com couldn't care less who was the first to break the GooTube story (it was Arrington, by the way).

Add it up, and CNET is a company reaching out to 144 million unique monthly users. They're sharing digital snapshots on Webshots. They're sharing programming tips on TechRepublic. They're scouring for free software updates on Download.com. When you're serving up more than 80 million daily page views, a growing site like TechCrunch is enough to show up on your radar, but not enough to take you down entirely.

Unclog the blog networks
If anything, it wouldn't surprise me to see the dot-com heavies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), or even CNET snap up the nascent blog networks like Gawker or TechCrunch.

Yes, it can happen. Weblogs was one of the first to try the blog ring approach, and it was ultimately acquired by Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). One can even go a few years deeper to About.com, the catch-all site with guru guides orchestrating the flow of niche information. About was originally gobbled up by Primedia (NYSE:PRM) seven years ago. It spearheads the online drive initiative at New York Times (NYSE:NYT) today.

So today's blueprints don't seem all that different from yesterday's blazing trails. CNET was around then. But it's around today. Unless it, too, becomes Yahoo! or Google buyout fodder, I have every reason to expect CNET to be as relevant -- if not more so -- in the future.

Some more related Foolishness:

CNET is an active recommendation in the Rule Breakers growth stock newsletter service. Yahoo! and Time Warner are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. A free 30-day trial of either newsletter will give you instant access to our investing knowledge.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of CNET but still misses the old MP3.com days. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.