Social Media Strategy

Does every new technology have to be a 'killer?'

March 2, 2010

Recently, there have been several devices, applications, technologies, etc. that have been released that were dubbed ‘killers’ in their category, and I wanted to take a moment to analyze this phenomenon.  Why must these new tools ‘kill’ the existing tools in order to be relevant?  Is this just a case of the media, tech bloggers, etc. gone awry with the hype?

Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid – ‘iPhone killers’
Facebook Titan – ‘Gmail killer’
Google Buzz – ‘Twitter killer’

and an oldie, but goodie: Facebook – ‘MySpace killer’

For a moment, let’s just imagine that you are one of the millions of happy people that are using the latter mentioned platforms.  Do you welcome the thought of your beloved technology, application, etc. being ‘killed’ by a new entrant to the market?  If you’re an iPhone user or developer, do you welcome the idea of that platform being trounced by a competitor? Or how about Gmail users?  Do you welcome the idea that Facebook Titan could roll in and crush Gmail?  In some cases, new entrants enhance the offering that exists and making things better for everyone, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Maybe I’m just growing weary of the constant barrage of new tools that seem to be trying to take down the market leaders that people are happily using currently instead of figuring out ways to incorporate them into their new offering.  On the other hand, I welcome tools that help aggregate the vast volume of information that’s floating around out on the social web.  Google has the potential to provide some real value here if they play nice.  I was encouraged by an article I read this morning on the Salmon Protocol that Google is developing currently that would allow comments to flow in real time between the original source out to aggregators, thereby reducing redundant data and allowing a more seamless experience for users.  Right on!  That sounds like a step in the right direction.  I’d love to see more of this kind of improvements to the social graph for everyone.

The reality is that companies don’t always have to kill off a ‘competitor’ to be successful, but they do have to offer something of value that doesn’t exist already.  It’s not enough to just build a ‘me-too’ app and pressure people into using it.  Frankly, that’s what Google Buzz felt like to many people due to the way it was released.  Looking back at some old rivalries such as Microsoft vs. Apple, which has been going on for decades, history teaches us that there is room for multiple profitable players in the market.  In fact, competition is the main driver of progress, so let’s celebrate this competitive spirit!

Think about it – do we really want any of the tools or applications that we use today to be killed off by a big monolithic corporation?  Personally, I like my iPhone, I like Facebook, I like Twitter, and I like MySpace (although I don’t use it as much anymore).  I’ll keep an open mind about any new technology, but I’m much more apt to be receptive if the new tools help me with the volume of social data I’m already processing and not try to pry me away onto another platform or service or abandon the tools that are working for me today.

What do you think?  Is this just media hype or are there underlying motives behind some of these moves?

photo credit: iStock Photo


  • Reply harryhallman March 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Of course it is hype! Everybody (we marketers) makes that claim so now no one believes it except the high priest and priestesses of technology and marketing. We the consumer will let you know when a device, application or technology is a “killer”.

    I’ll date myself with this, but I remember when Beta Tape was going to be the supreme consumer video tape format. VHs ended up the winner and it was going to close all the movie theaters. Hummm… can you say Avatar?

    Now I will date you. I know you remember when people said the Internet was a fad, it would never catch on. So we will always have the hypsters and detractors to yah or nah everything ( if you don’t believe that just look at congress), so take everything with a grain of sand and make up your own mind.

    Oh and have you seen that new self propelled Toyota? You don't even have to push the gas pedal. It is really a game killer- in all the wrond ways

  • Reply Brandon101 March 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    So true, Harry. Your point about the consumer being the ultimate authority is spot on.

    I too remember the Beta days. I actually have a funny story about Beta and the blizzard of 1993, but that's for another discussion. 🙂

    Thanks for the insight, and particularly the humor at the end. 😉

  • Reply Jimmy Gilmore March 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Would you believe I found your post on Google Buzz? Seems there is room for another technology, even if it isn't a Twitter killer.

  • Reply Brandon101 March 3, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Good to know Jimmy! I'm hoping to see integration into TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc. in the near future. Right now, it's an extra place to monitor for me, which definitely has its drawbacks. Are you finding value in Buzz?

  • Reply Jimmy Gilmore March 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Not a whole lot of value with it since I use so many email address for different purposes. But I do follow a couple of people on it and it has led me to see some things I missed on Twitter where I follow thousands.I believe it will become more valuable over time. There are a lot of smart people at Google and they make some great products. And, like you said, with Hootsuite integration I'd be following Buzz a lot more closely.So far I find the variable message length nice.

  • Reply Brandon101 March 4, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the personal insight on how you're using Buzz. I think you're right that it will become more valuable over time. Let's see how quickly the 3rd party apps add Buzz into their platforms. I think that will be key.

  • Reply Brandon101 March 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the personal insight on how you're using Buzz. I think you're right that it will become more valuable over time. Let's see how quickly the 3rd party apps add Buzz into their platforms. I think that will be key.

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