This morning I received a long-delayed invitation to beta test Foldera, a new communications filing system that’s supposed to manage your emails, chat conversations, files, and projects easily and intuitively.
Mike Arrington reviewed Foldera on Techcrunch in February 2006 after seeing a demo himself. Looking at the comments of the post, the general sentiment was “that’s cool, but I don’t see a real need for this.”
Based on the early comments, I may not have done the best job in describing this fairly complicated product.
That was Arrington’s quote in the comments. If you can’t explain it in a post about the product to a savvy audience, what chance do you have in the market? At the time the company had already received $13 million in funding despite having little to really show for the idea.
In case you missed it, that TC post was written 16 months ago. That’s roughly equal to 10 years considering the pace of apps we’re currently seeing.
I had a similar experience with a recent Touchstone / Particls beta invitation I passed up. I looked at reviews and comments online and didn’t find anyone raving about how the app has changed their lives for the better.
For me to download an application (or start using it online), and even consider changing my habits (which they all require), the app in question better damn well better perform, save time, and drastically improve my life or save me time. I also need to be extremely confident that the company behind it will not shut down in the near future, forcing me to go back to my old habits.
I had bought into this before with a few websites and web-apps. I signed up for the beta test or service, used it once or twice, and when the novelty wore off, I never visited again. I’m not sure I can think of any application or web-app (outside of Gmail) that has been successful at changing my habits. Even Gmail’s sibling Google Calendar has not gained enough traction with me – and here we’re talking about Google, the overlords of the Internet. What chance does an unknown app or company have?
In the case of Foldera I can only imagine someone selling the company dropped “Microsoft Outlook killer” and some VC’s ears propped up. Money flowed in. The playbook for 2006, especially after the Myspace and Youtube acquisitions was: Pick a cool name, call it web 2.0, insert “[Microsoft/Google product] killer”, collect VC money. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s now the second half of 2007.
We’re seeing a saturation point for web 2.0 apps that solve a problem no one really had – or alternatively – web 2.0 apps whose adoption costs outweigh their marginal benefits. As a matter of fact, that point may have already passed. Lots of people have been writing about the web 2.0 bubble bursting. Unfortunately for Foldera, I think they may be right.
P.S. Note to self: avoid ironic names for applications.