It is not every day that great ideas are born. Even if you do have a good idea, it is not easy to bring it to life. And if you successfully do that, will you be able to sustain the product?
Twitter was a hub for well-known personalities and common people alike to share their thoughts, within the 140 character limit. Uber was (maybe still is…) a chic way to travel. Snapchat was a fun, safe (presumably) platform to share small videos and pictures. Today, Twitter is struggling to grow. Uber runs into a problem every other day, and Instagram has become a threat for Snapchat. What went wrong?
Twitter was once compared to Facebook. Twitter was your first-hand source of news. You could see news unfolding on Twitter. Twitter was informative and fun until it was not. Some changes made Twitter confusing. You could no longer follow conversations without getting confused. It also became difficult to tell a fake tweet from a genuine one. You no longer knew if the information shared was true or not. Most of all, bullying became rampant. Some power users were driven out of Twitter because of abuse. Twitter failed to address these issues. Twitter also forgot to update itself. The core offering of Twitter is still the same as it was during its inception. Meanwhile, Facebook evolved constantly. It made it easier for you to follow celebrities and politicians. You no longer had to go on Twitter to keep in touch with power users, which was once a very strong point for Twitter. Facebook introduced more features like the live video, which took you live to important events. Facebook also introduced hashtags. Slowly, Twitter became less attractive. It became replaceable.
Uber was a pioneer in the sharing economy. It made traveling easy. Somewhere along the line, Uber’s bad time started. An employee came forward with complaints about HR’s failure to do anything about the sexual harassment she faced. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has alleged that Uber has stolen its self-driving car technology. Uber’s CEO has been caught on camera misbehaving with a driver. Uber has also been said to use a tool called Greyball to evade authorities. Apparently, Uber also tracks iPhone users, even after they delete the Uber app. So many things gone wrong in such a short span of time. I think that instead of upgrading its service, Uber tried to evade competition through sneaky means. Uber failed to innovate and maybe that’s what made it panic. If Alphabet wins the legal battle against Uber, not only will Uber lose its reputation forever, it will be driven out of the self-driving cars race. If self-driving cars become a reality in the future, Uber will automatically become irrelevant as no one would be dependent on drivers anymore.
Snapchat was a breath of fresh air for many. It was totally different than most of the other applications/platforms available during the time of its launch. You no longer had to upload perfect pictures. You could upload totally silly and imperfect pictures and videos, and they would disappear within 24 hours. Snapchat also had this fun filters option. It differentiated itself well. Unfortunately for Snapchat, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which were pictures and videos that disappeared within 24 hours. In short, Instagram copied Snapchat. Instagram Stories is getting more users each day than Snapchat. If this trend continues, Snapchat will shrink and it may become irrelevant. Snapchat’s problems stem from the fact that Facebook (which has bought Instagram) has copied it. You can’t stop anyone from imitating you. You can only keep upgrading your product to keep it differentiated. Snapchat failed to do that.
Twitter, Uber, and Snapchat were all great products once. It might be a little unfair to keep Snapchat in the same list as Twitter and Uber. To me, Twitter is a disappointment. Their new features are based on increasing revenue rather than differentiation. If Twitter does not get rid of this mindset, it might lose the battle very fast. Uber’s problems are more rooted in its ethics. From sexual harassment to fishy business practices, Uber has ruined its own reputation. It goes without saying, Uber needs to get its act together.
Twitter, Snapchat, and Uber should learn from Facebook and Google. Facebook has come a long way. Facebook is always evolving. Same is the case with Google. Just think about it: Google was just a search engine at first. Now Google is making operating systems, laptops, and self-driving cars. Twitter, Uber, and Snapchat forgot to grow. They were so confident in their original offerings that they forget that this world is always growing. What’s in today will be out tomorrow. What customers like about you today is what will irritate them about you tomorrow. Just think about it, why did Nokia die? It was too busy in making mobile phones, it forgot that the world had moved to mini computers. Where is Blackberry today? Blackberry failed to adapt. It failed to change itself according to the changing demands of the market. It kept BBM exclusive to itself instead of making it cross-platform. In a bid to remain classic and exclusive, it became old-fashioned and irrelevant.
The tech world is really fast. Not only do you need to evolve constantly, you need to evolve according to the demands of the customers. You need to focus more on customer needs than your offering. Your offering can become irrelevant any day. No matter how good you are doing, you need to improve constantly. You need to stay ahead of your competitors. Simply stating that a rival company has copied your idea will get you nowhere. The customer today is loyal to the experience your product offers, not your company. If you do not improve their experience, they will get bored and move away.