I’m spending a lot of time reading articles these days about how the web marketplace is evolving. As a marketing consultant and business planner for our LA web design firm, I have to stay up on what is occurring in the expanding microcosm of the world in which I live.
The news stories that usually catch my eye are the ones that relate to how the major players in my industry, or that affect my industry are doing business. Most of the time, these processes and approaches lead me to be disappointed that I’ve joined a massive sandbox with one or two or three different companies throwing sand in one another’s eyes or drawing lines and daring the others to cross. Because my last visual interpretation of these events proved so popular, I’ve drawn another:
Okay, so maybe Mark and Eric and Larry don’t really throw sand at each other. But they kind of do….
Big companies all seem to view the market as it stands as being relatively fixed. No one really is looking to innovate in such a way that the marketplace online grows any larger. Instead, Google wants to build a social network. Which will probably be different in some respects, but not in most. And Facebook wants to build a search functionality for its social network. It will be different than Google in some respects, but not in most.
And everybody is slapping patents on everything- using broad terms and big law firms companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and more all hammer out creativity and innovation. Really Facebook, a patent on social search? And Microsoft, patents on software that makes content more readable? Yeesh.
All in all, we’ll continue to see some pretty mundane innovations come through the pipeline. I played with the Color social networking app and found it odd and obnoxious. I don’t have time to effectively manage or leverage my own Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare accounts, and I know most of my clients don’t either. Facebook was nice since it killed off Myspace. Twitter is pretty innovative. But I don’t want to be regurgitating again and again and again, the same data spelled a little differently in each of these avenues.
A master social network, perhaps a ‘god’ network, would be great, but everyone is drawing lines in the sandbox by limiting the portability of their data. Of course, I understand it from a business perspective, but why not try and find a way to get back out front Facebook? Why not design or develop a mobile application that makes you the front runner instead of the big fat rich old guy in the room? At one point, no one wanted to be Microsoft- the aging static behemoth. Then Apple came along and became the aging static behemoth in more attractive colors. Google’s getting a little bloated for my taste and seems to be losing its ability to really operate as the best search provider (which is why Bing continues to climb in market share). They keep focusing on making search more instantaneous and responsive but pollute search results with what they assume is relative info. I don’t want them making assumptions for me unless they know me well enough to do it accurately. Even my wife can’t instant predict my search query. We tried, actually, just to test the theory.
Please, for the sake of everyone, not just those of us working in web design or search engine optimization, someone be innovative. I don’t need Twitter with location specific pictures. I don’t need another mapping application with points of interest. I don’t need another site to visit to tell my friends what I did or am going to be doing. Most of them already know from Facebook, or from LinkedIn, or from Twitter, or blah.
Of course, the risk of innovation is that you’ll probably be sued.
I wonder if these companies really are large enough to control the user experience, rather then simply be a tool or conduit for it. Are the masses really as ignorant as these major corporations seem to think?
My prayer is that the next innovation will be intuitive and give the users back the control, and take it away from these incompetent, blundering elephants. Someone hurry up and introduce a creative mouse into the room, that way we can see what happens when the big guys are cleared out. (I made this analogy just to insert another picture).
Someday our dreams of a rapidly advancing social webspace will come. But then it will be slowed again when the children of innovation become the grandparents of mundane-ness. I just don’t understand why this takes so long. Our processing speeds are up, the capabilities of people around the globe to interact and share ideas is constantly increasing, and yet we have to play by the same rules that applied a decade ago.
I shouldn’t point all the blame at the big companies- the biggest corporation of them all, the US government should get a share of it. They control the patent office that is used as a tool for well financed firms, and they also keep sneaking further and further into our market. Either by getting Congress involved in web privacy law, or by building fake social network profiles to influence people’s opinions, our government is as corrupt and eager to throw sand as anyone.