Know your customer: Pipes, Popfly, and mass acceptance

Simon Brocklehurst has written a nice piece on why mashup services like Yahoo! Pipes and Microsoft Popfly will never get mass acceptance. I agree that these things are never going to be super-popular services. The questions I always ask myself when I see something new being hyped are:

  • What real world problem(s) is the product trying to solve?
  • How much time (and usually money) does it cost to use the product to solve those problems?
  • How many people want those problems solved badly enough to make the necessary investment?

Simon’s article explains fairly well how the mashup services haven’t done a good job of answering these questions. I have a similar reaction when considering services like Second Life and its predecessors, which is why I’ve never gotten past the hype on those products either.

For my part, I ask myself thse questions about the new web services we’re building every day. Will they meet the test and gain mass acceptance? I think so, but the proof is in the pudding.

Finally, as food for thought, here’s the last paragraph of Simon’s piece:

I suspect the tools that will succeed best in the “mashup” market are those that are aimed at web developers. So, if you’re looking to see who will “win” the popularity battle out of Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google, you might do worse than to consider those tools from the perspective of the web developer. If you do that, though, you’re into the world of RIA… and then you need to take Adobe, with its great tools, into account; and also possibly Sun with its forthcoming Consumer JRE and JavaFX toolset.

Do you agree with Simon? Do you think Flash/Flex/Apollo does a good job of addressing those questions? If not, why not?

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 04Jun07.

4 Responses to “Know your customer: Pipes, Popfly, and mass acceptance”

  1. “What real world problem(s) is the product trying to solve?”

    Some people just like porn. Same basic idea, it seems.

  2. I could live happily never seeing the word “mashup” again.

    we’re working on Apollo widgets for workflow integration via http to remote sites. but I don’t think that has anything to do with the popular notion of… that m word.

  3. Is iGoogle popular? Do people customize the content, the views? Can I call iGoogle a mashup? At least a presentation mashup?
    Do people use mint? Do they provide information from various sources into mint?

    Just as an application is only as good as a problem it solves, goodness of mashups depends on where and how are they applied. Both hotmail and gmail are email applications. if one of them is inferior does that mean all email apps are useless?

    Traditionally people will not ‘develop’ software. Given a feature, they will personalize. Mashups is talking about extending the personalization to the level where u combine, filter data from multiple sources. Something that yahoo pipes enables you instantly.

    People who use RSS, have sometime or other used some software to aggregate / filter multiple news sources. Yahoo pipes takes that capability to a whole new level. Its much more than what a normal user would think of. But, once a lion has tasted blood, he will need it more and more. Its matter of time before we see mashups getting adopted. It will have its own audience.

  4. I’m pretty sure Google has their own ways of tracking such things, and doesn’t need mint. In fact, they give away just such a service for others to use (google analytics). At any rate, I haven’t seen any numbers for iGoogle vs the standard Google home page.

    At any rate, I wasn’t saying that Yahoo! Pipes or Popfly was useless. They clearly are useful to some. What I am saying is that they will never reach a mainstream audience and thus were overhyped. Yahoo! Pipes has been out for nearly two years, and Popfly almost as long. I wrote this blog post more than a year ago. Both are far from mainstream now. How long do you think it will take before the mass acceptance comes?

    As for the more general topic of mashups, I have used any number of them myself, most of which build on top of google maps. The success of those particular mashups relates to the problem they are trying to solve and how well they solve it.

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