Are Social Network Aggregators The New Cheese?

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Here’s a question that’s been running through my head ever since Michael posted about FriendFeed being in danger of becoming the coolest app no one uses: exactly how many startups out there are trying to be the one social networking service aggregator to rule them all, and how many is enough?

It seems like every day startups come up with new applications, be it for desktop, Web and/or mobile phone, that essentially want to be the gateway to our online lives. In reality though, there are not that many people who want – let alone need – continuous access to multiple social networking services, and even if they do, how many people (outside of the tech industry) do you know who are genuinely waiting for a extra third-party that helps them manage all their online personas?

Is this a sucker’s game? Is it a battle worth fighting?

For example: how many clients exist that basically aim to lure you away from using Twitter’s standard web interface by adding more features to the core micro-sharing functionality and throwing in more eye candy? And yet, the Twitter website remains, by far, the most popular way for users to update their message streams, with dozens of apps like TweetDeck, Twhirl / Seesmic Desktop, PeopleBrowsr, AlertThingy, Sobees, Streamy, Tweetie, Nambu, TwitterBerry, and HootSuite trailing in its path (and there are many more where that came from).

Don’t even get me started on the plethora of apps that syndicate FriendFeed feeds alongside Facebook and Twitter to deliver the best-user-experience-known-to-mankind when it comes to updating your social graph on your current status. It’s the ultimate social networking service aggregator update management tool, baby!

All these applications appeal to only a fraction of the users of the more popular social services, many of which are still trying to figure out how to turn all that attention into cold hard cash themselves. I’m not necessarily saying that that’s a reason not do get into that business, I’m just saying chances are little that they’re ever going to be able to turn it into something even remotely profitable.

I sincerely think we’ve seen enough of these social network aggregators, and while I’m sure one or two will live on, get acquired or turn out to be a successful venture in another way, most are destined for failure like most startups in any other market, especially if they’re as saturated as this one has quickly proven to be.

I’ll sure be pointing back to this post when the next contestants in this particular arena find their way to our inboxes.

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