Umair Haque, the author of Black Swan, has written a wonderful piece where he looks at the issues around the initial release of GOOGLE Buzz and draws some conclusions.
Here's some snippets and comments:
1. Today's services (I think he means web) are built to 'fail fast and cheap'. In many ways today's web companies are as 'disposable' as razors; their applications can be built inexpensively, using freelance talent and rented infrastructure. If traffic comes, then the entrepreneurs have a company, if not, then...well, next.
2. The rise of social based applications, a new category, is leading to a resurgence of best of breed applications; not burdened by a melange of features that force design compromises that result in the type of mediocre products we see in so many desktop and server based applications. Mature computing environments inexorably lead down the integrated path (e.g. the desktop) where, best of breed companies, have been decimated by 'integrated' solutions. It will be interesting to watch the rapid evolution of Facebook as they seem to be on the vertical integration path. Google, which at one time, disparaged such integrated activities, has been singed with their 'falling off the wagon' Buzz integration with Gmail. Let's see how long it takes them to be again seduced by the 'leverage' temptress. Perhaps, having such a great depth of integration opportunities is what's hindered MSFT from being a great web company.
3. 'Thin value is not sustaining'- You get to this thought by clicking through to a previous post describing how phone operators make hundreds of millions of dollars by forcing 15 second greetings on mobile phones. It's a feature purely designed to make money while pissing off customers royally. Therefore, it's not sustainable and the profits become an equity destroying habit that creates an umbrella for disruptive competitors. 'Thick value' the type of utility or experience you can't get elsewhere that saves you time, money, or is just plain fun is the heart of just about any successful company. A couple, or a singular thing really matters to your site visitor (I really try to stay away from the drug induced term 'user'). Get it right by maximizing their utility. Smiles are incredibly viral
4. Be generous in your product design- Don't hesitate to give value to your visitors, even if that value is used beyond your site. Let them use their data or 'connections' elsewhere. Notable in practice today with the massive adoption of Facebook Connect.
5. Simplify- It wasn't so long ago that printing companies measured their revenue derived from computer software instruction manuals in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Now it's close to zero. Today, we have the '8 second rule'. If a site can't engage my daughter in 8 seconds, she's gone...