As is probably evident from past posts about twitter or identica, I am something of a Web 2.0 junkie. Over the last few years I have signed up for countless services and I am sure I have forgotten about far more of them than I actually use. And therein lies a problem. The rate of innovation online of late has been extraordinary, but the result is a proliferation of services that is not sustainable. With the Global FInancial Crisis progressing outside the financial sector to the broader economy, venture capitalists will be tightening their purse-strings and this will inevitably lead to a period of consolidation in the online landscape.
Early signs of this phenomenon appeared today with announcements that the social networking site Pownce, to-do list manager I Want Sandy and virtual Post-It note site Stikkit will all be closing down.
Twitter is a common theme behind these closures. Despite the backing of welebrity Kevin Rose and rich media sharing features, Pownce ultimately failed to grow at the same rate as twitter. When initially launched, the mystique generated by the invitation-only private beta version of the site attracted attention for a while, but interest seemed to wane after the site went public. Personally, I have been using twitter more and more and pownce less and less over the last year, but I will miss the friendly alien (pictured above) who appeared on pownce pages when something went awry. Somehow he is more endearing than twitter’s “fail whale”.
As far as I Want Sandy and Stikkit are concerned, the man behind both sites, Rael Dornfest, explained that he was moving to work full time for twitter after spending some time consulting for them. Twitter also acquired the intellectual property underlying Sandy and Stikkit, so enthusiasts mourning the demise of the two productivity sites may have the consolation of some familiar features popping up in twitter at some point.
Social networks, new media and other Web 2.0 offerings have been gathering momentum with the help of enthusiastic adopters and are now poised to move into the next phase of development in which they will receive broader user acceptance. In the process, more closures and mergers of the current bewildering array of web sites can be expected. Current harsh economic conditions are simply accelerating an inevitable consolidation phase in the industry.
UPDATE: it is also interesting to track the reactions of the twitterverse to the pownce news.