There is so much crap online. There. I said it. And true, I am in my small, own way responsible for my share too. But, that’s besides the point I am trying to make here. Because, well, of course we would tend to believe that the – let’s not use the word ‘crap’ right here – not so good stuff online would filter itself out so that only the good will prevail. Survival of the fittest, isn’t it?
Now, people who are in the online-development world, or actually into development of any product, IT related or not, know that this is absolutely not true. The worst productions are sometimes so very successful while the best ones die a slow death. Which is too bad, because it halts any kind of natural progress.
Take a look at Craigslist for example, I really need to find the first person who mentions this as the best site for personals and private sales available. There is not a lot of control or safety regulations. But, by now it is widely used here in the US which makes it an excellent platform to work from.
Or Facebook. From a technical point of view I still don’t like Facebook a lot, but, on the other hand, I am there to be social, and a lot of people I know are on there too. So, in that perspective the goal is reached, but the means are not always the best ones available.
So, what is it actually that can make a project successful or not? Usually, on the internet the rule is if there is not a demand for something, people are not going to switch from one system to another. You can invent a wheel that runs a lot better, and is beautiful, but is still a wheel. You might have some adapters, of course, but people might not want to change their habits for something they don’t feel that they really need.
Of course, if you can create something that really attracts the issue of ‘demand’ and creates it’s own demand (Apple anyone?) you are playing in a no-competitors world for the time being. But, the other thing can be true too; there was no demand because, well, nobody was missing what you bring to the table.
It is a game of luck. I mentioned Apple who did this so very nice with both the iPod, iPhone and the iPad. There was a crowded market already, but they were able to really create a demand for theirproduct. Even though a lot of people don’t know it; tablets like the iPad have been around for a long time, but you never saw them anywhere because, well, no one was buying them.
So, you would expect that there should be one sort of demand (available or self-created) for your product and not a lot of competition ordemand for a better product than the competition that could create success. But even then it might not be successful at all. The market might request a lot, but now you have to get the products to the people. Marketing is a good start, but also an expensive one. And, keep in mind, marketing does not have to be all that. As I am learning right now is that a social network might actually be the best kind of marketing. Let your friends praise your product, and send it through to people they think might be interested in it.
And then it is the waiting game. There are a million others trying to push their product through, and only one or two will be really successful, if any is at all. But, take a good look again at the most popular products online right now. Keep in mind, they started out with a loyal fan-base; not because they were so good. Craigslist – never has been good, but has an audience that is not going anywhere, so it is a good product to sell your stuff on.
Facebook, eBay, Amazon but also newer systems. That is the good thing about these times. Some people mention that the time to become successful while writing programs in your attic is long over. Well, actually it isn’t. If you have your friends to help you out to be the start-audience, and built something that might not be perfect, but good enough in an area that none other is… you might be onto something there.