Friday, September 17, 2010

skip the new new

Why is it that all social networks all trying to become more robust versions of each other? Facebook and Google are like dogs chasing one another’s tails. Google bought Aardvark which allows users to ask questions and gain answers from the communities’ self-proclaimed experts. Now Facebook has Facebook questions. Where are the true originals?

Sam Altman, founder of Loopt, was interviewed by BusinessWeek about his competitor, Facebook Places:

“How will Facebook change the market?

This is going to be the best thing ever to happen in the history of Loopt. Facebook is going to educate lots and lots of people who have never heard of these services before. Given that Facebook takes the approach that it’s going to be the platform for the entire Web, we now have access to 100 times more data than we did before. If we could show you where 11 of your friends were before, now we can show you where 110 of your friends are. So Loopt will offer unique services on top of what Facebook is offering. It would be suicidal for anyone in this space not to integrate with Facebook, and I expect them all to do it. Then the question becomes which of us can build the most differentiated user value experience on top of this very basic data layer.”

I like how he sees the goliath of a competitor as the greatest opportunity for his company yet. Very smart sense of optimism.

So is it that these companies will make enough money riding one another’s coat tails? Is chasing the newest new thing not really worth the long struggle? Should they all just wait until enough consumers have adopted the new idea and follow by introducing their own souped up version?

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