Having been a technology junkie for the past 20 years, it has occurred to me recently that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Everyone is looking for what comes next. Everyone is talking about the latest social this or that. Who's going to partner with or acquire another company to either dismantle or bolt on to their existing services. Hell, I watch this all (with increasing disembodiment) out of interest too. But what I'm coming to realize is that for the most part, it's all just more sound and fury, dancing around the simple reality that people are bored to death.
I'm not kidding.
Why is the new newsfeed functionality at Facebook so damn important? It's just a change, and most consusmers HATE change. I get it. Why does it matter that Instagram is now owned by Facebook? You'd think it really mattered when that's all people could talk about for a week when it got acquired for about a cool $1B. I say, WHO GIVES A CRAP?
Well, the guys who started Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger should care. Facebook shareholders should care. But who else? Instagram isn't a revolutionarily better app now that it has a huge, deep pocketed big brother (even if that big brother is half his IPO size now). It's still just Instagram. It's still alive as a company/app today because it's no longer a threat to Facebook, if it ever was one. The sad thing, Facebook doesn't seem realize the truth: it's fate is going to be just like that of Friendster and, what was it called (oh yeah, MySpace)?
People get bored easily. Especially with anything visual, such as the Internet. People get turned on by new stuff.
Want some proof? This is actually a little scary to me:
This past weekend, my 13 year old daughter said something to the effect of, "Dad, Facebook is so yesterday. I don't know anyone who even still uses it, except for old people. We're all using Pheed now. IT'S TOTALLY KILLER!"
No shit. The next generation who just got onto Facebook a year ago is totally dissing it, just as their grandparents are reluctantly learning to use a mouse and clicking through the Facebook accounts their now 40-something kids set up for them. Now, that all said, I don't think Facebook is going to share this fate in the same time frame as did the others given their deep pockets and growing advertising revenue base. I'm just saying, we've seen this before and we'll continue to do so in the future.
This brings me back to my original proposition: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
What I'm looking for is a GAME CHANGING technology that will fundamentally change the way people interact with information and brands, through the devices we're already increasingly dependent upon (and addicted to). I'm thinking that the audible interface to the web is in it's infancy. Think Soundhound, Shazam and AudioTag. I'm thinking about wearable tech. That shit's gonna be cool, even if it is geeky. I think it'll add usability, novelty and some massive growth prospects for device manufacturers. Investors will make hordes if they get in early. Late investors will be the sheep that get slaughtered when the IPO restrictions lift and everyone in early dumps and runs to the Cayman's.
It's just more change. More of the same... at the macro level anyway. For those out there who are sensing that this is something approaching depressing, know that there's a silver linking for this author anyway: I intend to be one of those guys who's in early on "what's next". I'm with AudioTag, We'll see what happens, but if my guess is right, we're about 30 months from some magical stuff in the market that makes this tech go mainstream.