— aleatory

First Mover Advantage?

TechCrunch recently covered the phenomenol rise of FB photos over existing well established image stores such as Flickr.  First mover advantage was always a big draw in the first dot com rush, yet the debate around FMA and what is termed ‘fast second‘ is a mature one in other industries.  Size versus speed.  I wonder is the web conforming to a more balanced ratio in this regard?  A look around gives mixed signals -

  • Twitter  One of the hottest web properties today.  A resounding success thanks to FMA.  Just don’t mention the business plan.
  • Friendster  Big in the Asia-Pacific region (I’m not sure if that’s the web equivalent of stating a musician is “big in Germany”) but has fallen behind FB & MySpace in Western online society.  Imo FB’s rep for being a college student’s thing got it viralling and the API sealed it’s dominance in the long term.
  • iPhone App Store  Certainly got developers excited, but then wouldn’t the devs who like to be known as creatives already have iPhones in the first place?  The proliferation of announced app stores for the various mobile platforms since merely means the commoditisation of the idea and another wall around each silo.  First mover advantage will mean little in this regard.
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud  Amazon went at it full pelt – access to root, command line, the whole server OS.  A brave move.  Second out of the blocks was Google’s App Engine, offering a much more restricted/simplified Python-based service depending on how you look at things.  Crucially though it allows devs to play for free – that together with the “it’s Google” factor give it a much greater monthly pageview traffic than EC2′s homepage.  But it’s cpu cycles that measure the success here and EC2 already bears the hallmarks of an enterprise-ready app in a production environment with a standard SLA in place.  Too early to call then, but investors have been asking for more visibility on Amazon Web Services in general, so definitely a future battleground.

Has first mover advantage disappeared then from the web?  Although many breakthrough applications have been superceded by bigger and better alternatives with a far greater leverage, none are by any means rendered dead in the water because of it.  And neither are the fast seconds always some massive corporation throwing money at the latest buzzwords; Zooomr established itself by providing a slightly more interactive interface for what is in effect an online storage bucket.   So I guess the answer is “it depends”. 

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