A Race for Useability

This is gonna be a post on my views of Web 2.0 innovation.

 Was reading Noah's post yesterday about his "doomsday prophesy" on Zooomr.com, an alleged Flickr.com copycat. Techcrunch recently featured pixrat.com , another online photo-sharing copycat  as well with many common Web 2.0 bells and whistles. The general grip was about the lack of innovative, revolutionary features in these copycats. Despite a lack of freshness in innovation, hype is surging not only in the Web 2.0 community but also in the corporate sector in the form of M&As from NewsCorp, building up towards a potentially cataclysmic consequence that could see the bursting of another Silicon Valley Bubble.

 Or will it? My opinion is the whole Web 2.0 frenzy was about useability. Making the machine-human interface friendlier so you, me and your grandma could learn to use the internet just like going to the grocery store. F*** the terminology like AJAX, geo-tagging, APIs, RSS, and all the other mambo-jumbo dished out as tech jargon. The names dun matter, what they all do is more important — making web-browsing simple and from my perspective here in Singapore, a lot of websites in the world are bloody hard to navigate that it seemed design was completely done without the user in mind. There is a huge gap between web design and web usage. This disparity fuelled the Web 2.0 boom and before we start projecting the demise of Web 2.0, lets take a look around the world and appreciate the scale of the problem. i.e. There's still a lot of websites out here that needs that Web 2.0 juice.

The whole Web 2.0 frenzy could be construed as a race for useability. Innovators and developers found a the problem and are racing in a quest for self-gratification or getting bought out (depends on who you speak to).

On the other hand, major media companies like NewsCorp who didn't really "get the web" are just buying new core competencies, and similarly engaging in a race for new channels to reach the same targetted users. The key metric of determining their targets is the useability again. Because useability generates high traffic and large communities, justifiying customer acquisition and mindshare as quantifiable business objectives for their acquisitions. Going beyond Newscorp, there are many other media companies who dun "get the web" yet too, and beyond those leeching off Apple iTunes or Google Video, we can be sure the Business Development guys at CBS, Viacom are cracking their heads thinking what and where to buy next just to catch up.

So here's a great opportunity for us: understand useability, develop something that simply works and we might just strike the jackpot. It could be photo-sharing ((a href="http://www.flickr.com">FLickr), news-reading (Digg/ NewsVine), music downloading (iTunes), video-viewing (Youtube), social networking (Facebook), personal finance (Billmonk) or just about any other damn thing in our mundane routine lives that can be solved way better by the web. 

Keep it Simple, Keep it Useable and money will come. True?


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