Paul Randal does a better job than I can on explaining why Twitter and Facebook are useful.
Twitter has my attention. It’s killing my personal blog. Even though my blog will post through to Twitter I just don’t seem to want to post a ton of short items to the blog. Plus there are all those cool Twitter apps. I have a ton more twitter followers than blog followers.
But I’m not planning on killing it just yet. This is a “cat blog” in the words of Seth Godin. It’s self indulgent, not really reader focused so I’ve never cared much about the number of subscribers. Every so often I have a deep thought that I have to get out and Twitter won’t cut it. But if you really want to follow me, the place to do it is on Twitter.
I keep hearing and reading about the next big thing, the next Microsoft, the next Google, the next Facebook and the next iPhone. What people don’t realize is that in many cases, there won’t be a next, at least in that category. I think people fall prey to the idea that there will be a next because of how some of these companies got where they are. Google was the last in a long line of “next” and “better” search engines. Anyone remember Lycos and Alta Vista? The fact is, Google is good enough for most people and everyone else is still playing catch up.
Facebook is also the last in a long line of social networking sites and while it may not quite be the final social network winner yet, given the number of users, it’s going to be tough to get a majority switch to something else. This is particularly true now that the demographic is so broad.
There is an empire effect here. At a certain size, there is one to dethrone the king. There is no next thing. What happens is that the landscape changes and the king come under fire from multiple fronts. A long line of empires led to the Greek empire and its eventual replacement by the Roman Empire. Who beat the Romans? No one and everyone. Rome collapsed under its own weight. It was besieged at the fringes by startup groups in areas where its power wasn’t as strong. Sound like Microsoft to anyone?
Linux will not dethrone Windows. Apple will not dethrone Windows. The web may, but it will be long and slow. The Palm Pre will not be an iPhone killer nor will the Blackberry storm. I don’t know what will be except that it won’t be a single phone.
The point of the post is this. If you’re trying to compete with one of these giants, pick niche and compete there. Maybe even pick a couple of niches. Don’t take on the iPhone with a single iPhone killer, take it one with 5 or 6 phones that do parts of the iPhone better, maybe a great video phone. Don’t take on Google head one, build a better portal or finance page than Google. Don’t take on Facebook face to face, target a social niche, like Linked In has done. It’s Facebook for professionals.
The king killer is a myth in many cases. The king is more likely to be marginalized than killed.
I confess to occasional iPhone envy until I remember my experiences with AT&T and the fact that I can’t (legally) tether the iPhone to use as a modem. So I thought I would drop a little story about how nice it was to have my Verizon xv6900 (HTC Touch) Windows Mobile phone with me this trip. To make a long story short, my flights got screwed up and I had to drive, unexpectedly, five hours from Atlanta to Mt. Airy, NC.
I started the trip up with a one hour conference call on a Bluetooth headset. Then I had about two hours of podcasts on my phone which I played through the car’s stereo with a connector cord I carry. The final two hours were spent with TV. I placed the phone low on the console and played episodes of the Dollhouse and 24 that I had recorded on my Media Center machine and moved to the Touch to watch on the plane. Before you freak out, I spent most of the time watching the road and listening while only occasionally glancing down.
For the drive back, I didn’t have any recorded TV episodes and only about 2 hours of new podcasts. My solution was to fire up the Slingbox and sling live episodes of Survivor and CSI while driving. The Slingbox did its typical sputtering for about a minute while it buffered the data and after that, it was just rock solid. I don’t recommend watching TV while driving but it sure did help pass the time. An hour of music played from the phone wrapped up the trip.
My VZ Navigator GPS application kept me from making any wrong turns and when I stopped for dinner I read an ebook on the phone with eReader. Admittedly, being prepared by actually having the Slingbox app, TV shows and podcasts didn’t hurt but as long as I had a connection I could compensate even when I didn’t have media on the device.
Oh, and I misplaced my stylus before my trip so all of this was accomplished via touch. I’ll wait while that sinks in…
With the upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1 the phone seems to be running better and syncing is much smoother. Bluetooth and Bluetooth stereo management is flawless. I think the only things I now envy about the iPhone are the capacitive digitizer, the accelerometer and parts of the interface. I certainly don’t envy the iTunes requirement or the AT&T lock in. All of the Verizon reps I’ve spoken to have actually been pleasant. (I’m not naïve, that’s just been my experience.)
So for now, I’m happy with the Touch. Time to go kill some Zombies on it with Zombie Buster!