June 30, 2008
In a nutshell:
it’s better to build a very simple service that caters to a very basic need, and slap an API on top, than to try and create a specific, complex service that does a lot right from the start. The first type of service, if executed well, has shown to be very resilient: once it breaks the initial attention barrier, competing against it is practically impossible.
The Magic Formula
Determine a basic need -> Create a service that satisfies it in the simplest way possible -> Open it up.
This is a powerful insight and sums up the new web ethos as well as anything I’ve read lately.
The challenge, though, is that “success” is defined here as distribution. I agree that it is very difficult to compete with ubiquity, and that ubiquity is served by simplicity.
The challenge, though, is monetizing simplicity.