Awhile ago, I wrote about Snapchat. In my view, Snapchat is the worst app ever; I mean, it’s just like texting only worse in pretty much every way.
And yet, it’s massively popular. While it doesn’t necessarily make much money, it could be bought, like Instagram was, to a bigger social media company for seven or eight figures.
What happened with Snapchat wasn’t too unique; in fact, a good case of something else like this is a little game some of you may know called “Farmville.” Farmville was a Facebook based app that allowed you to pretend to farm things to your little heart’s content, without the burden of actually interacting with nature. Thousands upon thousands of people made in-app purchases, because who needs to use money to buy real food when you can use it to buy virtual food, right? With the success of this app, Zynga took off, gobbling up other games and milking them for all they’re worth, like Farmville Hungry Hungry Hippos (which, by the by, makes no sense), and the Words With Friends board game (which is basically like Scrabble only less fun, more expensive, and BLUE!).
All was going well in the land of Zynga until a few weeks ago, when the company announced something: they were doing really poorly. The company’s attempt to ultra-monetize existing brands like Words With Friends in counter-intuitive ways (“Let’s make our cheaper app rip-off of Scrabble into a more expensive board game rip-off of Scrabble!”) just turned out to be ultra-stupid. But that’s what happens when something is successful; we try to use it, and make it more successful, without acknowledging that there is a point where growth is bad.
(As a little note, the best example of this is not an app at all, but Starbucks, which used to be much bigger until people realized they don’t need mediocre coffee on every street corner in New York and Seattle)
In the time of Myspace, Facebook, Snapchat and Zynga, one successful app is enough to set you up for the rest of your life, and propel you forward more than any other single product in the history of the world. Zynga and Facebook — they’re investing all this time and money, making halfhearted apps and inheriting successful or semi-successful apps and websites because we live in an age where to strike it big, while infrequent and unpredictable, can cover the cost of hundreds of other failures.
What will be the next Snapchat? I don’t know. All I know is I never suspected that, given the absolutely moronic premise, I’d need to use the phrase “the next Snapchat” to begin with. Time will only tell how many media moguls will spring up and throw dumb ideas at us in the hopes that it’ll catch on despite its stupidity.