This season’s must-have startup feature set is the quick fix. At the crossroads between the attention deficit disorder of internet users and voyeurism we have the phenomenon that is Chat Roulette. In some sort of mix between the visuals of the classic 80’s board game Guess Who and some sort of stalking application we have the recent StartupBus winner DateBrowsr.
Under the category of mobile applications there is the simple check-in use cases of Gowalla and FourSquare. And of course, the standout heavy hitter in the category of quick fixes that I’ve yet to mention is of course Twitter, fueling the zeitgeist one minuscule update at a time. There is an element of both bragging and voyeurism to all of these services, and the major usage is built around the fact that the user can leave at any time – the user workflows are very short and there’s a lot of fun to be had in that short time.
Chris Dixon has an excellent article about why for a lot of business models having the user stick around for a long time may not help the revenue model. On a consumer web app dependent on advertising revenue having the user hang around not clicking on ads is just burning up your server cycles. More and more, the simpler web applications are tending towards just a single feature. Foursquare has an interesting revenue model, bringing game mechanics and analytics dashboards to real-life businesses. Twitter has ubiquity which should eventually lead to decent revenue, but it remains to be seen whether there is a sustainable business in the other ideas.