Somewhere in the 1980s we coined the phrase “first mover advantage.” Right or wrong, I associate it in my mind with the birth of Compaq Computer, in the middle 1980s. Compaq’s original 34-pound sewing-machine-sized computer was dubbed the first compact computer. Luggable was more accurate. And it wasn’t the first, either.
This bugs me. “But that’s not new,” people say, meaning, as they say it, “so it can’t be an interesting new business.” It’s an idea fetish. It misunderstands that underlying fact that being first doesn’t mean diddly without getting the traction to stand out, and stay.
Which brings me to Google Buzz. Not first, at all. Not original. But very powerful. My favorite quote on this is Mobclix evangelist Megan Berry’s Power Trumps Innovation post on Huffington Post yesterday (bias alert: she’s my daughter). She says:
So how is Google Buzz different? It doesn’t have a character limit and conversations are threaded so you can comment below the original post. (OK so there’s actually a few more differences and you can check out Monica O’Brien’s ode to Buzz for the play by play). But, honestly, that’s pretty much it and neither of these ideas are really new. Google Buzz is decidedly unoriginal (for more on this check out TechCrunch’s superbly titled If Google Wave is the Future, Google Buzz is the Present). There’s nothing new here. Threaded comments have been around since online forums, the idea of social sharing is so 2005, and choosing who to follow is, well, have you heard of Twitter?
I totally agree. It’s not new, but it’s very important, because Google has power. We can’t ignore it.
A case in point, actually, is how many of us will revive our gmail facility just to get into Buzz. I’m annoyed, I admit it. This means that if I’m going to be absolutely up to date with everything I do in blogging and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn these days, now I have to add Google Buzz into the mix. I’m really hoping Tweetdeck adds it into the interface, like they did with Facebook and LinkedIn, so I only have to go to one place.
What I mean is: damn! Another social media platform? Really? But this one is Google, so I don’t dare ignore it.
And that’s the point. Like Microsoft before it, Google has the power to jump into a market after it’s become important, and change it, even, in a short time, lead it. So first mover advantage? Well, not so much.