Blog Post

The Secret to Success: Developers, Users, or Hype?

Google’s apparently thinking that by attracting developers they can give Android, their mobile phone platform, the best chance at success. Targeting developers, though, is not the only way to find success with new technology: some companies succeed by going directly after users while others ride on waves of hype.

Apple chose user-led success with the iPhone, spurning developers with a closed platform. Yes, there’s hype involved, but it seems secondary to Apple’s legendary reputation for giving users what they didn’t even know they wanted.

Maybe Facebook is an example of success-via-developers? Though they have attracted thousands of application builders to their platform, the applications themselves seem less magnetic for users than the ambient Facebook hype that draws people in.

Technology platform vendors need users, developers, and hype — that’s clear. But which is most important?

12 Responses to “The Secret to Success: Developers, Users, or Hype?”

  1. I think if you are early in the game then go for the users, you are new and different, they will like you (and don’t have too many choices either), and if you like you can get the developers after, if you have users they’ll be interested in you.

    But if you are late in the game, then you probably need to go after the developers (much harder but if possible, you need to get creative like Google and their prize!), so you can offer new and more exciting products (features) than the competition, create a hype and that way get users to come to you.

    The article says FB is an example of going after the developers. “Yes” and “No”. “No” because, they were the first one to open up so that was exciting for the developers, but they also had millions of users at that point. After iLike got around 3 million users only in one week, I think everyone wanted to develop for FB now. But “Yes”, because they were somewhat late in the game, specially compared to Myspace, so they had to open up and get the developers into it.

    Google, is late in the game for phones so they are going for the developers.

    But I think if you can get the developers in it, you win. It would be very hard for other companies to compete with you, you will always have a lot more exciting products … and once network effects kick in, its almost impossible to compete. Maybe a lesson from Microsoft…

  2. I believe that apple and google is inherently different. Apple is a designers approach to an electronic device. Apple tends to maintain an aura of exclusivity for its products and this strategy hinders the way of going all the way and giving the product in the hand of developers community. Apple works on charming the consumers.

    Google, by far tends to create and own only software, nothing else. That is precisely why I think they will never buy sprint. And in order to popularize their software, they have to go to the developer community, which is what they are doing. In order to create a mark in the tightly controlled telecom market, Google does need to take some extraordinary steps to popularize its software. This will then popularize Google services on that software, Android.

  3. Alexander van Elsas

    I think it is too soon to judge this initiative. We will have to wait and see. Personally, I like the idea of Android stirring things up a little in the mobile space. We really could use some improvements there. And if Android isn’t capable, maybe the pressure they put upon competition will start a race for new innnovations. We are still in the stone age of mobile internet considering the lack of user centric UI’s and useful applications.

  4. “the applications themselves seem less magnetic for users than the ambient Facebook hype that draws people in.”: I completely agree with this.

    When FB open platform, the rise in the traffic was due to large amount of developers joined but not from ppl apart from developers.

    Most of ppl join SNS in order to socialize, while other follow their friends, but NOT because of Widgets. After all how many of them use tools more 10. And FB Platform contains more redundant widgets that confuses users which one to use.

    In Web 2.0 era, most ppl create hype based on Alexa, Comsocre etc etc traffic graph.

    One should measure Web 2.0 product based on Value adding to Users such as Salesforce, Zoho, Amazon S3 and EC3 etc.

    Just by collecting user base and creating hype and start ads to make money does not work for long terms.

    Keep inspiring and innovating. :)

  5. Golly. That’s what I’ve been missing all along. Hype. I’ll just add about twice as much hype to my next project and it’ll be HUGE. That’s all it takes. Hype. You can buy it by the gallon on the Internet, I’m sure. Maybe at Amazon…

    Seriously. Even the Salt Lake City Tribune’s biz section intern would be embarrassed by writing this.