Websites that are "first to market" usually get a strong following. However, a lot of these websites later fail (for whatever reason).

I sometimes wonder why these websites didn't make their existence required for any competitors.

For example, imagine if Friendster had published their data (using some variant of SOAP or FOAF standards). Then MySpace and all these other new sites would of probably relied on the Friendster data, and Friendster would of quickly become the "data" source for these other clones.

This might hurt Friendster in the short run, but imagine a competitive environment where you control the intellectual property. It's not much of a competition, actually. You would simply be the parent company to all these other clones.

Of course, how do you prevent these clones from outright stealing the data and then cutting you out? There really isn't a foolproof way to do this - what you rely on is your name and YOUR ability to do better.

Following my analogy, what if Friendster published all data and then MySpace grabbed it (for a nice price, of course)? If Friendster continued to provide a better user experience, then it wouldn't matter. But if MySpace turned out to be better ... well then the user wins (and Friendster dies, but does anyone care if a crappy site dies?)

In a sense, this is what Amazon is doing. They originally were only selling their own goods ... but now they're slowly expanding into services, making other ecommerce sites depend on Amazon for success. And when me (Joe user) goes to search for an item, I get the best price from various retailers, not just Amazon. Amazon is not worried about losing sales; they make that up in the money they make from Target and such (running their sites). Plus now the availability of items is so great that I just go there to buy everything (and no doubt they've made a few sales from my various purchased over the past few weeks, although most of it comes from Adorama).

In any case, the reason I posted this under CE and not web development is because this is what I plan on doing with CE. Full XML syndication of all data; I don't purport to be the smartest guy alive. I'm pretty sure someone else could do better with the data than me.

If I can control the flow of information for these other sites, then in essence I'm forcing the livelihood of other sites to be contingent on OUR success. It's a risky strategy, but one that I think pays out in the long run.

We'll see soon enough.
Posted by roy on November 5, 2003 at 02:24 PM in | Add a comment

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