Read my previous post for a good preface to this one as it’ll help with the understanding.
The 80/20 rule for products are that 20% of the product users will be vocal and you won’t here from the other 80%. Sometimes, this is more like 95/5.
I’m going to liberally stretch this to be 80% of the owners of products don’t really care how they are built but want the product benefits. 20% of the product owners are the passionistas and want to know everything about them.
Example: Porsche just launched the Panamera 4S Hybrid. The Porsche forums (on line) are having serious chatter around this car – both the good and bad, but the majority of people will never see this chatter nor really care about it. 80% of Porsche buyers (maybe more) don’t care how the engine works or which hybrid system it employs, they want to drive the car from point A to B and have a great experience doing it.
This is very important for the world of digital media and technology, especially if you are building consumer applications. Let me explain.
As more and more people come access the Internet across the world, the digital passionistas who care about every technological nuance become less and less (diluted by the growth of the Internet). As this happens, the experience of the application of the technology needs to be more powerful than the actual technology itself. Again, please reference yesterday’s post for more on this.
Clay Shirky says it very well: Once the technology have sunk deep enough in the culture, the social effects built upon the technology require the technology but aren’t about the technology
One of the questions I ponder which is relevant to this is that IF the web is less and less about the technology and more about experiences, then how sustainable is any one experience when humans are naturally curious and are always on the lookout for additional experiences. Should companies on the web craft multiple experiences for consumers under different brands and connect them together? Think of the assets AOL has, this could be interesting. It’s not just about any one brand any more.
Another example: I like to vacation with my family. While we were in Aruba a year or two ago, we had an amazing time. Have we been back? Nope. We’ve picked other countries and states to visit because the world is so vast and we want to experience so much of it.
Back in December 2010, I wrote a post entitled, I Don’t Want to be Monogomous. The post talked about how I’d like to experience other phones and access devices but I’m locked into one mobile contract for one particular phone (iPhone 4). These types of experiences are extremely limited and might do more harm than good to consumers in the long run.
To get back to the general thesis of this post, we’re seeing big bets made recently in what I like to call “experience platforms powered by technology.” It’s not the technology itself that’s special, but rather the experiences that are built on top of the technology. I explain the Twitter ecosystem here and why it’s special. Facebook is fascinating too. Quora – unless it opens up to be a platform that provides value creation for more than one business entity, it’s not that fascinating as a platform.
In a world where digital is going to penetrate most of our media vehicles, crafting the user interface and experience (overall presentation layer) is going to be of utmost importance. Differentiating on features isn’t going to win, but differentiating on the experience that these features deliver is going to create lasting power with consumers. At kbs+p Ventures, this is one of our major thesis and we are on the look out of awesome innovators in this area.