Two very interesting pieces, and made more interesting when juxtaposed. One is a fascinating look back at Technology Review’s app-creation process and attendant drama. The other is about how those annoying Social Reader apps, after a moment in the sun, are being shunned by users.
The thesis of both seems to be that brands are stumbling in the dark to understand user/reader behavior. And just when they think they’ve found the light, after spending hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars, users look, shrug and move on.
From Jason Pontin, the EIC and publisher of Technology Review:
The ground of the Internet is constantly shifting, and brand and businesses have to keep up. It’s very expensive, frustrating and often fruitless to try, but keep up one must.
No one really knows the answers. No one really knows why some apps are successful and others aren’t. Or why communities spring up or fall away. Why sites run hot then cold. Engagement, sure. Great user experience, yes. Brand loyalty. Easy tools. Peer motivation. Curiosity. The urge to be heard. Bragging rights. Belonging. Good deals. FOMO, especially with social.
Like magazines before them, sites and apps, and programming languages, and CMSes, and devices (and on and on) heat up, run hot…but then — poof! Gone. Or at least diminished.
Truly, no one knows. Many people have theories, but that’s all they are, because this technology stuff is brand-new. But it’s important to note that it’s not a waste of time to theorize, build upon that theory (aka experiment), test it and learn from it. As a matter of fact, that’s all we can do: Learn, adapt and with any luck succeed.