1. Access Points vs Content Libraries:
There are two emerging macro categories of products. One is doing much better (financially) than the other. The one I have labeled access points, are what we use to access content. Examples are Iphones, laptops, Kindles, Ipods, etc. Another form of access point (with a slightly different result field) would be Google. Through Google search, most users access the web.
Access points often take the form of hardware, and in that sense, they can be extremely successful financially.
The other category is Content Libraries.
Youtube, Facebook, Netflix, NYTimes.com, Wikipedia, Spotify, etc. In these different products lie a majority of the content people consume. People reach these libraries through their different access points.
There is also a sub-trend emerging within Content Libraries. User generated content libraries vs. premium content libraries. Premium content providers (often the premium content is intellectual property) can justify charging for access to their libraries. Though many of these products are struggling in the Internet age, some users WILL pay for this access online.
User-generated content libraries are harder to make financially relevant. Youtube is almost entirely an ad-driven platform. Wikipedia is free and survives on donations. As Facebook has shown us recently (through their failed IPO), there may not even be great inherent value in having a lot of users if the only income is advertising.
Conclusion: There is money in access points. There is also money (though not quite as much) in premium content libraries, though significantly less so. The real successes however, occur when a company controls both the access point as well as a premium content library associated with it. Itunes/Ipods and Kindle/Amazon-Publishing illustrate this very well.
2. The Shift back toward Silos:
Focused excellence. Focused excellence. Focused excellence. Multitasking is becoming passe. This can be seen by the continued failure of the mobile Facebook application (too much content, too little space, terrible interface), while mobile Twitter continues to flourish (it’s a very focused product).
Users want to pull out their Iphone, and through that, have access to a panel of focused, well built, simple apps through which any need can be met.
Conclusion: Make sure whatever you are building is simplistic, clean, works extremely well, and solves a clear problem.
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