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?
You may be aware that I recently ran my annual Startup School in Melbourne.
During the event we ran a tweet stream of the ideas and soundbites coming from the forum. A lot of people followed the hashtag #melsus and said they got some great stuff from it. One person in particular Josh Moore, took it to the next level and pulled together a great PDF of the event via what appeared on line from it. Entirely his idea and work.
We both thought it was worth sharing here as a small entrepreneurs e-book made up of tweets and links in different categories.
PS: there are some pictures of me in it *red face*, which Josh saw fit to include…. and who am I to moderate his work?