Lauren and I were recently talking about the evolution of the social web. There had been some press about the kids today don’t use Facebook anymore. The articles use to be about how such-and-such was no longer cool. Now we’re starting to see a generation completely bypassing Facebook. They are not leaving it because they were never on it. Facebook is for grandparents!
So what’s the alternative? What’s next big thing? What’s the Facebook Killer? I’ve been out of the social media scene for a while now, but the shift seems to be away from the single solution and more toward multiple products for different needs. This is why Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr are popular. Each tool focuses on different things (strengthens?) as opposed to trying to do everything like Facebook.
We seem to be entering (or have entered) an era of specialization. The one-stop-shop is emptying out and users are heading to boutiques. I find myself doing this too. Not only do I use different tools to communicate with different audiences, but how I communicate differs as well. I use a different tone on Twitter than I do on Facebook or on this blog.
I’ve seen this with a family member also. The way she interacts with her friends on Instagram is very different than she does on Tumblr. Does medium shape the message? There is something more going on that just software features or limits like 140 characters. Each social media environment not only offers different functionality but also a different mood and interaction protocol. Each tool enables a different type of experience, even if it is with the same group of people.
What about other software? I think we’re starting to see this with production software as well. Photoshop and InDesign are core tools, obviously, but apps have emerged that enable you to do some tasks much easier. Instagram’s filters are more intuitive than Photoshop’s. Pic Stitch provides an easier way to assemble collages than InDesign. Pixelmato offers editing functions not found in PowerPoint.
Beyond form and function– FUN matters too. These apps are cool and intuitive. I look forward to using them, which is different than I how I feel about Adobe or Microsoft products.
The thing is, these apps are not trying to replace the originals, but rather, to augment capabilities. They are finding a niche (or problem) and filling it. But I’m seeing and hearing more and more of this type of thing from students and co-workers—supplemental software that enables them to do something different—something very specific.
Will we see a shift away from the one-stop-shop photo editor (or other software category) toward niche programs? Sure, photographers and designers need Adobe but what about amateurs? Could someone using Photoshop today get by with freemium tools? Need a new font or filter? Just 99 cents and it’s yours. If the web is your canvas do you need one premium utility or could you get the job done better with an assortment of specialized apps?
That’s the stuff Lauren and I talk about…