Hipster, freshly minted from college, still bankrolled by mom and dad, has an original idea and decides to build a startup. Three months in has revelation that productivity is stalling because issue tracking software doesn’t fit personal preferences and decides to write one.
If your senior high school computer science final project wasn’t building an issue tracker or Twitter clone, then your high school either a) didn’t offer computer science classes or b) you were a jock and didn’t take computer science. The Twitter clone and issue tracker are examples of ubiquitous software projects that would likely be on the floppy disk included in my “Pascal for Dummies” text book.
Take Bug.ly for example, it is a relatively new entry into the world of issue trackers and one that is destined to remain a small project until it fails and the author moves on. Why? Because the market for issue trackers is saturated and his me-too implementation just can’t possibly improve in areas that matter enough to sway people away from the bigger players. Big players like Atlassian with 20,000 companies using their product and millions bankrolling their much larger team of developers who’ve been working on this product long before the Bug.ly guy decided to compete.
This brings me to App.net which I’ve written about before and is facing the same problem of trying to create a niche by solving a problem that just doesn’t cause enough pain for the majority of his market. Dalton claims that developers are frustrated with Facebook and Twitter’s ad revenue driven platforms that don’t do enough to cater toward developers. He is right, and there are plenty of examples of the pain that goes with trying to build on those platforms, but there just isn’t enough pain to support a completely new product like App.net.
App.net’s current appeal touches more on the anger in the developer community toward Twitter and Facebook and less on the need for another social platform. Once those two companies get their act together and improve their developer programs, the market will quickly loose interest in App.net.
Note: while I am giving App.net a bad wrap, I did contribute $50 to the program. I want to believe.