UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 2 July 11, 2011

Bubblewrap 2.0

I keep hearing that expression "Bubble 2.0"; you know the one that arises everytime you mention any new cool web 2.0 app . While I hate the whole 2.0-speak and agree that in many ways this era smells a bit too much like the .com days I don’t think we’re facing a bubble and here’s why:

The ideology that is fueling the development of new, simple, cheap online apps is somehow drilling down to the way the investment is handled. Little, fun-size, investments that mean the people with the cash can spread their risk while still investing in the (gasp) internet.

Much of the new stuff coming out can be run, built, marketed on peanuts. If one company goes down, it’s not a huge blow to investors or the market (unlike say, Webvan). It’s a bit like bubblewrap ; sure, a few of these concepts are a bit over-rated and many are starting to look and feel a bit too samey but if a little bubble bursts here and there the overall structure doesn’t collapse. Well, hopefully.

But let’s face it, this is all about little shrimps with big potential. Technorati closing down wouldn’t make the cover of Business Week but it could turn a profit for investors (note: I haven’t done any research on this specific case so it could be losing cash like an optimist in Vegas). The funding for even the top web 2.0 businesses is usually a fraction of the cost of one of those silly (yet fun if you’re there) .com launch parties. So people, keep cool, don’t go spending that cash on hookers and Ferraris, we could actually make things work this time.

On a less positive note, everything is starting to look the same. Looking at the latest hot-new-thing feels a bit like watching the subway zoom by: a big blurry streak, with the odd clear face. We need to focus on stuff that can help people in business and life. There are now twenty billion systems for organising & searching RSS feeds and I still use Bloglines ...

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Alex is CEO of Sideshow , an award winning creative agency. You can read his blog here.

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there is a fanastic novelty in running your own site. its a huge ego-boost. but if it doesn’t pay-out (as in cash-money pay-out), many will fold. are you trusting your data to two guys who decide every day over lunch if they are going to bother paying next week’s hosting fee?

a business that is easy to enter is also easy to leave. a low barrier to entry also means low margins. the web industry and the services it offers are now commodities. you are very unlikely to get rich from the web at this point, or even make a prominent splash…its a mature industry where costs and margins are the next big hurdle, not innovation.