Niel Robertson from Newmerix wrote a very insightful blog post last week about inversion as the cornerstone of the Web 2.0 revolution. (Niel used to be VP Research at Exodus.)
A successful web app, Niel says, looks like ZingFu, which puts a silly frame around photos that users upload. ZingFu offers about 0.1% of Photoshop’s functionality, but it’s instantly accessible to 99.9% of the population. In contrast, the other 99.9% of Photoshop’s features might only be understood by less than than 0.1% of the population.
Following Niel’s logic, a successful web hosting service might look like MySpace or YouTube or Flickr. Each of these sites offer a tiny % of the average web hosting package’s functionality, but their simplicity appeals to an *enormous* audience. In contrast, the other 99.9% of web hosting features might not be widely understood among the general public. As a point of reference, none of my friends outside the industry have any idea what FTP is.
My favorite simplified web hosting case study is PhotoBucket, a company founded by Alex Welch, a former Level 3 exec. Wired reported a couple of weeks ago that PhotoBucket passed the 30 million user mark, and is signing up 80,000 new users per day. According to PhotoBucket’s official blog, 30 million is also the number of (a) dog owners in the US, and (b) hot dogs consumed in baseball parks. Not coincidentally, neither activity requires HTML knowledge 🙂