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This article was published on May 11, 2010

Video killed the radio star, Facebook killing the Foursquare star?

Video killed the radio star, Facebook killing the Foursquare star?

Facebook’s long heralded move into location has often had me thinking about how new features launched by established services can have a profound effect on other players in the market place. Sometimes it necessitates a change of strategy, sometimes it is a death knell. I got to thinking about how some recent market changes might affect existing players.

Who’s recently become at risk?

  • Location based services (Gowalla, foursquare, etc.) must be watching Facebook with an impending sense of dread. Facebook has built their primary activity – checkins and location sharing with friends – into an existing 400m user network.  Twitter’s similar move, although supposedly not to create a direct competitor, still delivers the basic functionality to an existing service with “merely” 100m user accounts. An uphill battle to build momentum has gone from steep to sheer vertical.
  • I can’t imagine were too pleased at Twitter’s announcement of an official URL shortener. Although Twitter already own some URL shorteners, and for a while Twitter even used as their default shortener, announcements at Chirp suggests there is more come in this space.
  • Twitter’s Blackbird Pie feature – when stable – will most likely hit EmbedTweet’s service quite hard. I don’t know what the developer’s strategic view is, but for the meantime he is fighting to hold his audience.
  • I don’t know how core Google Docs – as a standalone product – is to Google but for Zoho, the original online document service, Facebook’s partnership announcement with Microsoft must’ve come like shot from left field. They’ve already had to stand up to the Google onslaught but blends Facebook’s ready-made network of potential collaborators with MS’s well established market position in office software. Squeaky bum time indeed.
  • Google’s slow rollout of turn-by-turn navigation must have SatNav manufacturers nervous. Particularly as Nokia has followed suit. All of sudden, their basic products have been undermined and they quickly need to determine what value-add features will drive the average punter to shell out for a gadget that most does something the phone in her pocket already does.

Of course, there is nothing new about this. The PC nearly killed IBM. Google nearly killed Yahoo. Facebook killed Friends Reunited. It’s all part of a healthy free market for innovation. Sometimes though, it’s interesting to look back and consider the road we’ve walked.

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