Posts with tag "early adopters"

Adding social media to the mix isn’t a guaranteed love fest

Let's party and get to know each other Wherever you turn these days web companies are adding social media features. In some cases it is nothing more than rebranding an existing service with a Twitter enhanced name. In other case it is adding a box load of social media crap in an effort to drag in new users. Either way we are being left with the impression that everything we use on the web must be socialized in some fashion in order to succeed.

Even our standby giants of the web are feeling the early adopter driven flush of excitement as they borrow (or steal depending on your point of view) ideas from each other. Add Twitter sign-ons, add lifestream flows of endless crap, add Facebook circle jerk connections. Add anything that will make you look cutting edge and everything social media.

Stand proud Svetlana – you don’t need to be on the bandwagon

nothing to show for it all Within the tech blogosphere there is a whole sub culture of folks that are commonly referred to as the early adopters. These are the people who without a moments hesitation sign up for any new service in the Web 2.0 and social media world that comes along. They are the one’s who clamor on about things like Twitter and FriendFeed and .. well any other shiny new thing that comes along while the rest of the world looks on shaking their heads at all these strange people.

The other day Svetlana Gladkova wrote a heart felt post about how she just never got into this whole thing of downloading all these cool mobile apps for her phone. For Svetlana the fact is that her phone isn’t an extension of her computer the same way that many of the early adopter crowd feel it is. For her a mobile phone is just that – a phone (I’m with you on that one).

Silicon Valley has lost its sparkle

This post is written by Alexander van Elsas. Alexander writes daily on his social media weblog, and is a regular contributor to the WinExtra blog by Steven Hodson.

I read an interesting article in the New York Times the other day. Clair Cain Miller interviews Judy Estrin about her new book “Closing the Innovation Gap”.  In her book she discusses the problems Silicon Valley faces with respect to innovation. A quote from the article:

Ms. Estrin acknowledged that innovative ideas still appear all over Silicon Valley. But, she said, the technologies at the root of new products like Apple’s iPod or the Facebook social networking service were actually developed several decades ago. If entrepreneurs do not continue to develop groundbreaking technology, she said, the valley would be in dire straits in another decade. She compared the situation to a tree that appears to be growing well, but whose roots are rotting underground.

“In some ways, we have the problem that it looks like innovation is flourishing, but too much of it is short-term, incremental innovation,” she said.

The root cause for this lack of ground-breaking innovation, according to Judy, is that investors started focusing too much on the short term.

Ms. Estrin traces Silicon Valley’s troubles to the tech boom. She said that’s when entrepreneurs and venture capitalists started focusing more on starting companies to turn around and sell them and less on building successful companies for the long term.

She is right of course. It’s not just the innovation that halts. Silicon Valley unfortunately has become an industry. It used to be the exiting place where new  things happen. Over the years the Valley has become a trap for any one willing to fall into it. The speed of innovation is dropping fast. There are thousands of startups working on great ideas, but most of them seem to be small improvements or tiny nuances of things that already exist.

This is a pretty normal phenomenon. Someone or something starts the cycle with a great idea, starts killing “old-school” market leaders. And then others jump on that same bandwagon and an industry is born. But the industry that marks Silicon Valley is different from other “Innovators dilemma’s”. There is a web 2.0 industry, but I doubt there is an equally large market for it. There are a few large players that earn some revenues, but the rest is burning up venture capital.

And the crowd hanging around this industry, that would be us tech bloggers and early adopters, are providing the necessary fuel to this industry. Every self respecting startup buys his way into TechMeme and all of the main tech blog sites. They get the early adopter crowd on board, hungry as they are to try the next cool thing. Everyone gets all crazy over the latest video, social, desktop, air, aggregator thingies. Of course after screaming Hallelujah the startup sees an enormous spike in traffic and the aura of success has been created.  But after a while, when the excitement jumps to yet another great idea, the traffic that was there was simply created by that early adopter crowd. And it dies out again as the crowd moves on.

You would think that startups would learn from this and choose a different roll out strategy. But often it seems they don’t. And there seems to be a simple reason for it. Their business plan isn’t aimed at creating customer value. Their business plan is getting prepared for a take-over. It’s the only reason I can think of why venture capital is invested in business plans that aren’t aimed at customer value.

You can’t build an industry on that foundation. If a company’s sole purpose is to get investment after investment only to be sold to the highest bidder, then no real value is created, only destruction. And we already know who ends up paying for it (besides the customer). It is the old industry leaders, trying to become hip again, catching up with the Silicon Valley stars.  The sucker that ends up buying that for a whole lot of money didn’t really understand this new world in the first place and ended up buying something useless for a lot of money.

I believe that startups working on great ideas (and great ideas do not necessarily have to be innovative) should try something else for a change. Why not leave the early adopter crowd in Silicon Valley for what it is and focus on your real customer instead. You don’t always need a Valley early adopter. There are people in your target market that can act like early adopters too. The good thing is that you can concentrate on creating user value, instead of trying to be the next darling of an industry that seems to have lost its sparkle. It might not be the easy way, but it has a lot of advantages too. Getting into Silicon Valley and the heart of the early adopter crowd is relatively simple. Once in, getting out again, crossing the chasm towards your target market ends up being a wall most startups can’t break through. That’s the real trap of Silicon Valley. It’s attractive, but once you are in there, you might find that you’ll never get out again.

FriendFeed vs. Twitter & Why Twitter Isn’t Going Anywhere

Apples vs. oranges I’ve been watching this whole Twitter meltdown thing and the reactions to it around the blogosphere. As well I’ve been reading much of what is being written about FriendFeed becoming the replacement (again) for a failing Twitter. I have also written more than once here about both services but I have never believed that the two are in anyway serving the same type of purpose.

As Tris Hussey said in a post today

I like Twitter for its immediacy and brevity.  It’s just there and (when it worked) simply elegant.  I like FriendFeed as well, granted I haven’t been on it as much lately because I’ve been busy, but it’s different.

They are different and trying to compare the two is like trying to compare apples and oranges in the truest sense of the word. Even though the A-Lister crew who pumped up Twitter; and decried FriendFeed when it first started, are now shifting from being absentee members to repeating the same old argument that FriendFeed is Twitter’s replacement nothing could be further from the truth. Granted when people like Michael Arrington and Steve Gillmor start with the hype of how much better FriendFeed is over Twitter it is bound to have an effect – the question is who exactly are they speaking to and are they listening.

The attitude seems to be that FriendFeed will take the place of Twitter because of the conversation factor. The problem is that Twitter was never intended to be a conversation medium. It was meant to be a broadcast medium where you announced what you were doing, much how Brightkite is a location announcement service. It was the users though that drove it into new territory. The other consideration as far as Twitter is concerned is the platform used to develop it as many folks have questioned the scalability of it.

Regardless of the fact that people like Dave Winer have suggested that a decentralized version of the service would be the solution to all its woes, Twitter has become an integral part of the whole Web 2.0 fabric. We have joked many times about the Fail Whale as we wait The Great Fail Whale for it to come back online after its many crashes. We have bemoaned the taking down of various parts of the service which every time it happens have people talking more and more about how its days could be numbered.

As part of that discussion FriendFeed is always pointed to as being the successor but the numbers don’t necessarily support that supposition. Sure those of us that have been there for most of FriendFeed’s life see an influx of new follower requests but in no way does that suggest that people are leaving Twitter for FriendFeed. Much of the reason for this is that FriendFeed was never intended to be a Twitter clone just as I don’t necessarily believe that the commenting that happens on the service was intended either – that is why Twitter was included as a importable service.

Just as how as Dave Winer said in a post todayFact is, Twitter as it was conceived was never meant to live”; for which they are paying the price, the same thing could be said about FriendFeed. The only advantage is that FriendFeed has been developed from day one to deal with the types of problems that have literally crippled Twitter. Where Twitter has had to grow and develop as a platform with no real hindsight of how to deal with the problems that have plagued them especially since the users have taken it place it was never intended to FriendFeed on the other hand has had plenty of that hindsight. Right from the beginning FriendFeed has had developers with Google experience of scalability and they’ve been able to watch Twitter – both these things have given them an immense advantage.

Even more than that though is the fact that the users; even though at this early stage has plenty of cross-over, for the two services are different. While both have had the luxury of the early adopter crowd singing the praise of both that crowd is extremely fickle and in the end while they are great to have aren’t the target audience – especially with Twitter.Certainly Twitter may now have faded as the darling of the early adopter crowd but is interesting to note that even with all the problems people aren’t running to comparable services.

With FriendFeed, it is similar to Twitter in the fact they are building something that really wasn’t there before. Where Twitter is much like a subway train as it carries messages back and forth FriendFeed has become the Union Station of our online lives. Through it we can easily Your personal library watch what all the other people that matter to us are doing but in one centralized space. As Twitter hasn’t been designed to do anything more that share messages FriendFeed has been designed to be our personal library.

This is where the differences between the users of the systems will come into play. With Twitter users; both now and in the future, it is simply a matter of being able to talk aloud and have your friends hear you. It isn’t about creating a lifestream of data and nor is it about having an in depth conversation. This was the whole reason behind limiting the text to 140 characters. With FriendFeed though its users are collectors of information and are looking for conversation beyond short bursts of text that quickly pass by you.

There is no denying the fact that Twitter is having some really severe problems and that users are getting fed up. Getting fed up though does not equate leaving Twitter for a service that is doing something that you have absolutely no interest in. The only reason that the whole topic about people leaving Twitter is even coming up is that it is nearing the early adopter lifecycle of interest. Sure they might have stayed longer because of the time that they have invested in building up their network on the service but it almost seems that Twitter’s current problems are just a handy excuse for them to move on to the next shiny thing – in this case that being FriendFeed.

Those people who are only now coming into the Twitter stream to any degree aren’t being hobbled with the idolized attention that the early adopters heaped upon the service. For them this is a brand new ball game where the rules aren’t the same as it was for those that came before them. For these late adopters; the regular folk, Twitter will fill a need and during this time of transition Twitter will in fact have enough time to fix the problems they are having. Features that Twitter had while within the attention span of the early adopters but then were put in sleep mode for whatever reason will be something totally new for the late adopters when they are brought back online.

To assume that just because a very small segment of an already small segment of early adopters say that Twitter is dead in the water is wrong. It is wrong because Twitter as it moves to the mainstream is no longer for them. It has now become the playground for the rest of the internet travelers and chances are that once Twitter has fixed its problems a lot of those current naysayers will return even though chances are that Twitter will have changed in the meantime.

It is inevitable that parts of Twitter will change after all that is the way of development but it is equally true that FriendFeed will also change during its growth. That does not mean though that one will be better that the other or that one of the services will kill off the other. They both serve totally different needs. Yes we will have people who will use both but we will also have people who will use only one of them. That is the luxury of having personal choices that either or both of those services answer to and that is a good thing.