Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Do I hear a popping sound?

Being over at JavaOne there were three things that shouted over the base signal
  1. Web 2.0 - participation, Java + You, social networks
  2. SaaS and Cloud Computing
  3. Scripting languages
All the time I heard comments about numbers of users, community, eyeballs, sell the advertisements, "it doesn't matter if enterprises don't do it, it will happen anyway".

And it made me think back to 2000 and my first JavaOne, back then I saw a load of people doing .com stuff saying

"its about the community"
"Our revenue model is about advertising"
"Eyeballs is what counts"

and of course

"The traditional businesses are dead, it doesn't matter what they think"

Within a few short months there was the unmistakable sound of a great big 'POP' as these companies hit the wall like Danica Patrick hitting pit crew.

Now in 2008 I got exactly the same feeling I had back then "umm really?", what I saw then and now was some potentially useful technologies and a few great business ideas applying the technologies but lots of crap business ideas based purely on the technology. Web 2.0, SaaS and Cloud Computing are all things that could be useful and there will be some business models that come out of them but lots of the current ideas are just hype and nonsense.

The question with any technology is about its application to solve business and consumer problems. The technology remains the tool and the enabler but if the business idea is crap your only hope is hype and sell (which lets face it can be successful, but could you look in the mirror?).

The first internet revolution resulted in large scale companies, and a limited number of new additions, changing the way they work and interacted with customers and partners. I'd suggest that these next generations will be no different. If it doesn't change standard enterprises then its just fluff. Nice and interesting fluff maybe but not valuable fluff. The shifting of users from MySpace to Facebook and onwards shows the issue around basing a revenue model around fashion fads and communities, the cost of exit is low (and with things like Open Social getting lower) and the fad level is high. This makes it a high volume, short term environment rather than a long term sustainable element.

Some companies will come out of this bubble, but an awful lot will not. The good thing this time around is that the Web 2.0 and SaaS folks that I've met are much more personable than the majority of the "destroy the world" types in the .com era.

I'm not saying that Web 2.0, SaaS and cloud computing aren't decent changes in the way IT works, what I'm saying is that this isn't an over-throw of the old world order and it is hard to see the numbers living up to the hype.

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1 comment:

Daniel Spangler said...

Hi Steve, I tried posting this yesterday but it didn't go through for whatever reason. Anyway, I don't know if you remember me or not, but I used to work at netdecisions a while back. I've been reading your blog for about a month now and am really enjoying it. Here is another interesting article on this topic.