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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Abandon the Super User, Focus on Customers

I am the digerati -- more or less -- which is exactly why companies should ignore me.

My television is run by one of the five computers I own. My phone receives RSS feeds, email and texts all day. My Outlook Calendar is synched with Google Calendar. I have a multimedia blog about media and journalism, complete with a wiki and social network.

All that gadgetry is necessary for me to do my job, but as the folks at ReadWriteWeb break down, the "digitally savvy," high-income, wealthy few who are early technology adopters are not great predictors for businesses.

Turns out the signal-to-noise they produce -- along with what we second-tiered adopters produce -- isn't the best indicator of what services and software applications will "make it."

Super-users -- or supernodes, which are the people at the center of large networks of people -- can be so disruptive to services that Om Malik at Gigaom suggests technology companies may want to charge these folks for excessive use since it can bog down systems, thus turning off regular users.

It's an interesting proposition. But there's one problem: super users get nasty when they feel slighted and charging them money isn't going to fix that.

Super users demand service in a free world.

FriendFeed is an aggregation service that allows users compile all of their -- and their friends' -- pictures, videos, blogs and Tweets in one place. It's a great idea unless someone deletes on of their threads. When that happens, the comments that everyone else left disappears as well. That enraged Robert Scoble -- one of the Web's superest of super-users.

The big question for FriendFeed -- and other companies -- is this: who cares if the super users don't get what they want?

The business model doesn't depend on making the digerati happy. VHS didn't beat Betamax because it was a better technology. Microsoft isn't a flashier technology than Apple.

And the Web won't be ruled by the tech elite.

By Brad at 12:43 AM | Comments (2)

(2) Thoughts on Abandon the Super User, Focus on Customers

Boy do I agree with this one! The Scobles of the world don't mean anything to the average person- they just seem like gameplayers. However, even as a poweruser, I'm seeing a shift in social media to a much broader audience. I think we're at the proverbial tipping point of acceptance. I'm in my early fifties and have ben blogging for several years bit none of my friends were. In the last few months a half dozen have started really blogging and Twittering- a big change.
As for Apple, their rise has always been based on elegance and ease of use for the average person, emphasis on 'average'.

Comments by Martin Edic : Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I would argue that Apple hasn't focused on the average user. It's price points have always been higher than most people are willing to pay.

There's a variety of reasons they aren't the dominating OS, and much of that has to do with ease of use for the average user.

However, I do agree -- obviously ;) -- that companies should focus on making things as simple as possible.

Function over form is the mantra in CS circles -- and that means sometimes reducing the functions to make sure it works.

Thanks for reading :)

Comments by Brad King : Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 01:53 PM

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