Monday, October 17, 2005
The Problems With Web 2.0, pt 1: Geeks vs Droids
Let's think for a sec about how Web 2.0 is vastly different in terms of marketing and branding than 1.0. Now, in 05, identity is about minimalism and being largely free of corporate hype, unlike during the bubble, when huge marketing budgets pushed big graphics and bigger marketing strategies.
Minimalism and lots of white space a la Google and Flickr (this, after all, was one of the primary rationales for the acq by Yahoo) are great at killing transaction costs and making interaction more efficient - they do create very real economic value.
But what Web 2.0 is not great at is, well, reaching out to non-geeks. Right now, hitting 1m users is a Big Deal. But if Web 2.0 really wants to transition to Media 2.0, this hurdle has to be crossed - because in media terms, 1m users is peanuts. Think of the reach of broadcast, cable, and radio networks.
Most Web 2.0 plays that you, me and the usual suspects gush about are pretty geeky. They're distinctly not services that the mass market feels comfortable using. Now, most of us, are, to some degree, culture snobs, so this is kind of secretly cool.
But make no mistake: it's a pretty big growth barrier. So how do we cross this barrier? Clearly, not through 1.0 style big marketing.
I think what smart players will do is look to drive growth through alliances which demonstrate viscerally to the mass market the very real power of a 2.0 value prop based on liquidity, plasticity, and networked users.
A textbook example lately is Technorati's Washington Post deal (which is not strictly marketing, but that's my point). It's killer. If you put other 2.0 services in this context (Memeorandum, del.icio.us, Jeteye, Indeed, etc, etc) for a sec, I think you'll see that there's huge room for 2.0 players to kick off similarly cool deals.
In fact, I'll go further, and venture that one of the reasons plays which are a lil bit older (SecondLife, LinkedIn, Friendster, etc) have plateaued is because of exactly this growth barrier.