Friday, December 31, 2010

Is cool overrated?

I'm digging out from under some old emails to myself, including this article from the Daily Beast about the symbiotic relationship developing between Twitter and big-name news organizations. But this is what really piqued my interest:

He [Twitter co-founder Biz Stone] is diplomatic when I ask whether Facebook’s moment has passed. “People could say, ‘Facebook’s not cool anymore. I think the Facebook guys would say, ‘Great, we’re not a fad anymore, we’re part of people’s lives.’ I don’t know that you want to be cool. That’s just a burden.”

I think Stone's analysis is dead-on, and I think that is where Facebook is heading. That's why it has that make-Facebook-your-homepage-feature, and why it has introduced a slew of tools to try to be the one-stop social networking stop. It's the same play that Google has made, trying to marry search with email with cloud computing, and why Google is so desperate to find a social networking tool to compete with Facebook.

Look at Apple. For a long time, it was the cool brand -- and headed toward oblivion. Yes, Apple is still cool, but that isn't what put it back on top again. A lot of Apple's success has to do with creating an indispensible device, the iPod, which has no real rivals when it comes to downloading and playing digital music. Certainly, paring down its personal computer product line, and enhancing the design of the Mac hardware and simplicity of the Mac OS, have played a big role. But I'm convinced that Mac's market share is growing because people fell in love with their iPods and iPhones, and figure they might as well own a computer as elegant and easy-to-use as these devices. The iPod has always had a cool factor, but that only carried it so far.

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