I was reflecting on the Facebook / Docs.com announcement and couldn’t help but think about how often I actually collaborate with friends on shared documents. Not very often at all. And how often do I collaborate with colleagues and business partners over a shared document? Every single day. It makes more sense to me that LinkedIn should be leading the way in creating collaboration environments.
As I thought about it, I realised that often LinkedIn are behind the curve with new features. I began to wonder if the service lacked innovation. Gasp! Labelling a popular, successful, monetised web business as lacking innovation could be heresy. Let’s see if I can back it up.
LinkedIn for BlackBerry
Today a colleague was excitedly showing me how LinkedIn on his BlackBerry connected his LinkedIn contacts to his BlackBerry contacts. For the life of me, I couldn’t get excited about something Facebook was doing on the BlackBerry at least 8 months ago, if not more. The LinkedIn app was released in March of this year.
LinkedIn was slow to bring photos to profiles.
Photos came to LinkedIn profiles in September 2007. In 2000 HotorNot led the way with a service based on photos of people. Facebook brought the thinking into social networks in 2004. I appreciate that there needed to be some thought about whether photo sharing was appropriate on a professional social network but, come on, we’re talking about profile photos and its not as if people walk around their offices with brown paper bags on their heads. We’ve all met people in meetings, forgotten their names but recognised them on sight. It seems like an obvious omission.
LinkedIn are keeping the walls very high around their walled garden
Applications came to LinkedIn in October 2008. 18 months later and there remain a staggering total of just 13 applications available. I have no intention of playing FarmVille, Mafia Wars or even Poker with my LinkedIn connections but I’d find it hard to believe that on today’s web there is only sufficient innovation to support just 13 apps on top of a community numbering 70m+.
Okay, so there is some evidence to support the hypothesis. What about Docs.com? In researching this piece I discovered a hidden gem. One of LinkedIn’s apps is Huddle Workspaces – an online collaboration platform linked with an existing web service. And it was one of the launch apps back in October 2008!
The seed for this post was thinking LinkedIn had missed a trick with online collaboration. In exploring the idea, I discovered that they hadn’t missed that one after all. But they had missed others. I wonder if LinkedIn reacted to the docs.com announcement by congratulating themselves on being ahead of the curve with Huddle? Or ruing what must now feel like a missed opportunity to own the mindspace for “social network meets online collaboration”?