The decline of niche tools

2015-05-22 2 min read

    I have a few sites that are “first stops” for specific use cases. I’ll go to Google Maps for directions, Foursquare for ideas of where to go, and Amazon whenever I need to buy something. They’re great most of the time but what’s interesting is what happens in the failure case. At that point my primary tool is no longer sufficient and I need to move on to secondary options. In these cases I tend to not have a well defined set of fallback options - for most of them I’ll fall back to the general case of using Google and then exploring from the search results. The only clear exception is Foursquare in which case I’ll go to Yelp before moving on to a general Google search. What’s surprising is that the fall back option usually leads to a successful outcome. Maybe I should switch my approach to start with the general search first and only move on to the specific tools when it fails. I wonder if we’re converging to a world run by fewer, smarter, and more powerful apps. Data begets data and as we supply more of it to the leaders we entrench their position, making it significantly harder for new companies to launch. We need regulation that enforces data mobility and allows people to export all the data that they’ve contributed and share it with whoever they’d like.