For last couple of days I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about now being the beginning of next dot-com bubble. Well we certainly see many more startups showing up these days and I believe that it’s because it’s way much easier to run a startup now. We have this wonderful pool of tools available that let you rapidly mock up, test and throw away (or further develop!) concepts. A quick and by no means complete list of assets that has emerged in recent years to make life of hackers and entrepreneurs alike so much easier (in no particular order):
- Cloud hosting like Amazon EC2
- Social Media
- Frameworks and rapid development technologies that get you halfway through to ready product instantly
- Supporting communities
- A real fever of events like Startup Weekend
But to call it a bubble? I think that’s too much. Until yesterday I’ve been convinced that as Naval Ravikant has stated: there is no bubble. Yesterday however Color has lunched and not without lots of hype. And hype is all I expect from something that managed to attract 41 million dollars of funding. Last night I’ve snatched an Android phone to check what is all this commotion about.
So let me quickly describe my experience with Color. The phone I have been testing this on was Desire Z and the installation went fine, then the application started OK as well (I’ve seen some comments about troubles getting that far). There were some significant problems with the interface (i.e. critical buttons hidden underneath the virtual keyboard and ignoring ‘enter’ on a single input form) but it’s a alpha version so I can understand these as long as the app is usable. On first run I have been asked to enter my name and take a photo of myself which seems to me like too much to ask during the initial run. Nevertheless I took ‘some’ photo and continued to see what can this app offer. Problem is that there is NOTHING more. Blank screen with a single photo of my wall that I’ve just taken. OK I’m guessing that’s because no one else is or has recently been using this app in my area, but hey! I’m not living in the middle of nowhere. Based on poor rating of this app on the Android Market I reckon I’m not the only person not being able to make any use of this app. I believe that there are some uses that I didn’t discover. Perhaps it’s really cool when used while attending a conference or a concert. Perhaps we have not yet discovered its full potential. It’s possible that Color will be ‘the next big thing’ but if you ask me I say it’s highly unlikely.
Let me summarize: valuation of 80 something million dollars, no track record, lots of hype and product that is, so far, less than average. Sounds irrational, doesn’t it? It all seems to me like characteristics of many ventures that we’ve seen during the previous bubble era. And there is more to it! Jacques Mattheij has posted an entire list of indicators that we’re indeed in the next bubble.
Bubble or not I think it might be an era of opportunity for some. We live in interesting times and with all these assets at hand I tend to agree with Cristina Cordova – let’s stop building photo sharing applications and aim a bit higher…
Edit: Apparently we have all misunderstood Color. It’s not a yet another photo sharing app, it’s a data mining trojan horse that runs on your mobile. Does it change anything? No.