(I'm not crazy. You're crazy.)
AMSE Sucks Part 6: So you want to be Web 2.0
Well, let's just say you weren't the first person to write an article about viral software adoption. You know what you have in common with all those other people? That's right, you suck too.
Viral adoption has one major defining attribute, which is that it almost never works. Except for the gigantic successes. But those are extremely rare among literally thousands of companies that think they can spend $0 on marketing and get their community to do all the work and then make money. Yeah, good luck with that.
Real life is different. If your program doesn't suck, then you can charge money for it. When people pay money for something, we say they have skin in the game. That means they'll feel like idiots if they can't get your program to work, no matter how stupid it is, because otherwise they'll be out 20 bucks. And the more money they spend, the more they'll recommend it to their friends, because if they do get it to work and it does turn out to be useless, then it's all the more important to suck as many people into the charade as possible. That way they won't criticize your stupid decision, because it would make them hypocrites. Instead, they'll throw good money after bad, desperately hoping that the next upgrade or $200/hour consultant session will make things finally work. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Who cares? They're locked in, and you're rich.
Instead, you're giving stuff away. No lock in, no skin in the game, no hypocrisy, no profits. Great idea! I say get some of that eager VC financing, fast, before they catch on.
How come this year it's Facebook, but last year it was Friendster or Google or Myspace? How can multi-billion dollar businesses appear overnight? The answer is simple: they're fads. If they can appear overnight, they can die overnight, and trust me, some of them will. It'll probably happen about the time that people realize that "addictive" is not actually a valuable attribute in a respectable service.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, viral banking software. I can't believe I just wrote that. Kill me now.