…I wouldn’t be investing in social media. Or location-aware services. Or game-enabled, location-aware, social media mashups. Instead, I’d go for augmented reality.
That, at least, is my takeaway after attending last night’s New York Tech Meetup. Certainly there were plenty of cool demos – parse.ly and Hangalong stood out in particular as interesting concepts filling an interesting niche – but I didn’t really want to consume any of them as a standalone platform. At a certain point it just becomes another set of friends to manage, another list of preferences to train, another batch of data to import, another platform to evangelize in my social group, and it all makes the process of socializing and sharing more complex, not less.
It’s not that I don’t want a better way to find online content that might interest me – heaven only knows my Google Reader is clogged beyond belief and my Facebook feed is more colorful than useful – or find a better way to make plans with a nebulous group of friends on a Friday night. I just want these to be features of my existing social tools, not their own islands, no matter how API’d and Facebook Connected/@anywhered. At this point, I think it would take an upstart with the ambitious vision of a Google to hope to upend the social landscape.
By contrast, the value proposition of something like Docrew – a game for kids played though a computer’s webcam – doesn’t depend on momentum, integration, or lengthy engagements. You simply open it up, and it’s immediately cool. I’d pay for it, even though I’m far from the target audience (five year olds).
And as a side note, precisely one demo inspired an immediate download. Cabsense is just plain useful.