By Andrea MacLean
I spent the past two days at the APPNATION Conference in San Francisco for a social messaging app client, called CloudTalk. One of the most interesting parts of the conference, aside from the special people you meet at a trade show, was the closing keynote panel titled, “Postcards from the Edge.” Right about now, you’re probably asking, “How in the world did APPNATION get people to stick around for a closing keynote?” Well my friends, the answer is quite simple – they provided free beer!
But I digress. The panel wasn’t interesting because it focused on the future of mobile technology and where this obsessive connectivity is headed. (We all know where it’s headed – future generations will be born with touch screens, QWERTY keyboards and app stores integrated into their central nervous systems and it will mean the end of humanity, obviously.) Nor was it enthralling thanks to the ranting of one panelist who shall go unnamed. What was really fascinating was the conversation and set of questions generated from the participating audience and one in particular – “What is the most overhyped mobile technology in existence or on the horizon?” Oh my, quelle scandale.
Let’s skip the obvious “Google killer,” “app wall,” “Internet of things” silliness and my personal disdain for the “check-in” (I don’t care if you’re shopping at Macy’s or getting your naughty on in a bar) and get right to the drama. One audience member bravely skipped up to the microphone thinking, I’m sure, how she was about to blow our minds with her amazing and thought-provoking question and said “What’s going to happen to Groupon with the launch of Facebook Deals? ” She then proceeded to talk about how Groupon was overvalued and should’ve taken the $6 billion acquisition offer. Eeek! Gasp! Not so much, peeps.
This seemingly provocative pseudo question, in my opinion, is right up there with the infamous “Google killer” declaration that we saw every time a new search engine launched and claimed to be on the verge of eating Google’s lunch. Now in all fairness, it was usually the media that created this hype and continues to do so very irresponsibly, I might add. Asking this type of question, however, doesn’t help us find the next cool technology, it sets the next cool technology and even current cool technology up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations. The ravenous panelists proceeded to take this poor unsuspecting young lady down a peg or two by launching into an interesting POV about why Facebook Deals will not kill Groupon, at least not right away.
Groupon seems like such a brilliantly simple idea you might think that Facebook could easily replicate it and do even better with its humongous user base and social reach – and the fact it seems like such an obvious next step for Facebook. To do what Groupon does, however, you need to have regional and national sales and marketing teams (among many other things, which I won’t bore you with now)that are out there every day building relationships with local businesses and on-boarding them one baby step at a time, holding their hands the whole way and showing them the value of their participation each and every time. Facebook just isn’t built to do that yet, and Groupon is way ahead of the game.
So, before you jump on the bandwagon of Groupon death harbingers, Facebook probably won’t cream them (again, at least not for a while) because, contrary to popular belief, Facebook isn’t good at everything, just like MySpace wasn’t before them, or Google before them or Yahoo! before them. Do you see a pattern here? There’s always the possibility that a new kid on the block could eat your lunch, but predicting it will happen every single time something new and marginally cool comes along is just silly. And so, in the words of one of the APPNATION conference closing keynote panelists – “I think hype is over-hyped” – mobile or otherwise.
What do you consider to be an over-hyped mobile technology or mobile rumor?
A little bit more about me: I begrudgingly love my new iPhone. I’m having an on-again off-again fling with technology – it’s on when it’s actually useful and off when it’s just the latest way to waste time. Admittedly, I have a mobile shopping addiction problem, but am getting help. It hurts my feelings when reporters don’t respond to my amazing pitch emails, but I’m secretly envious of them, since they get to spend their days writing about cool stuff. I like piña coladas, have two kitties that just turned three and they’re my babies.