A few days ago I blogged about the serious advantages of embracing an open API. And just recently I’ve come across another great example of an startup using it to full advantage. The tiny idea, yet mobile app phenomenon Instagram has been mashup up by the uber rad Statigram. And I love it.
What Statigram does:
- It provides statistics on your instagram feed (hmm obvious)
- It shows who we interact with the most
- Timelines on our usage patterns and filters
- Churns your stats into really cool infographics ‘about us’
- Allows us to send private messages to followers
- Details on our tag patterns
- It even has photo printing capaibilities
… in fact, here’s a little photo essay of some of the cool stuff it does from my @sammartino instagram feed so you can get a good feel for it. There is no doubt in my mind that Statigram will end up being acquired by the API forefather assuming it continues its rapid growth trajectory.
Lately I’ve found myself checking my instagram feed more often than my twitter feed. I didn’t realise it at first. But I noticed it only when a few of my twitter friends commented on my lack of tweeting. Clearly I’m still using both, but increasingly instagram is what I give my small doses of available attention to. I remember the time when this happened to facebook, the time when I slowly started coming back to facebook less often, and starting giving my attention to twitter. And it is happening all over again for me.
It really does feel like there are only a few channels I can invest in at one time. Maybe it is Dunbar’s number is at work again?
If I had to understand why this is happening I’d just put it down to noise. When there are a lot of voices shouting at once, it is very difficult to hear what anyone is saying – the conversation is replaced with a hum of city noise, interspersed with the occasional siren or loud car horn. Instagram feels more intimate at the moment. It feels like twitter did when I first got there. I have so few people in my feed I can see everything. A few crew who have organically organised themselves to share some of their life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, and it feels like I have a greater sense of control that my other feeds. Sure, I have to take a photo of all my thoughts – but most thoughts we have can be augmented with a pic quite easily. In addition, this need for a picture reduces the amount of banal posts I see in my feed.
Increasingly I am convinced of one thing – as soon as ‘everyone’ arrives at a party, it’s time to find somewhere more interesting. And what this means for entrepreneurs, is that if your party is cool enough, people will eventually seek you out.
Today I sent this tweet which got quite a bit of comment:
There were over 400 video sharing websites when Youtube launched. Often it’s smarter to do it better, than build something new.
Immediately after the tweets started coming through about other businesses which entered the market late and taken a strong hold’.
The most recent example for me is Instagr.am
It’s ‘another’ photo sharing platform to add to the long list of mobile apps for doing just this, including but certainly not limited to Flickr, Twitpic, Yfrog, img.ly, Mobypicture…. I’m sure there are hundreds.
Next thing I knew all the photos being shared on my tweet stream had all converted to the Instagr.am format – so I had check it out. Turns out Instagr.am added a tiny twist which enabled it get busy with the ‘in’ crowd. By simply adding a filter feature, it made photo sharing a whole lot more fun. What filter does is transform the pic and stylise the look to give a retro feel, add few scratches and a white Polaroid frame and you’ve got the hottest new pic app on the entire web. It’s easy to use, and once again photo sharing has been reinvented.
So what’s the lesson here?
Design matters. In fact design is the thing that wins in the long run. Humans like things of beauty. It is coded in our DNA, we prefer the beautiful. Side note: beautiful is both usable and and nice to look at, it must have both.
Existing Market. Sometimes it’s easier to build a better version of something people are using, than to invent a new market. We don’t have to invest time convincing people it is worth participating. Rather, we just need to show them why we are superior. In an industry like we apps where the switching barriers are so low usability and design are often the catalysts for this to occur.
The question for startups is this: How do we sustain a leadership position against the next tiny twist?