Last week, I read this tweet:
Three fastest growing (at least in US) consumer mobile apps are all from Los Angeles based companies— Andrew Weissman (@aweissman)
He was referring to Whisper, Tinder, and Snapchat. It got me thinking. Consumer applications increasingly rely not on crazy venture financing, expert technical human resources, and a deep infrastructure (though they always seek all of those). Global distribution can happen really quickly for free, and while many mobile entrepreneurs are working on strategies to hack ranking higher on the App Store and to create more virality within their UX, these days it’s youth culture that drives adoption. Every kid has a smartphone, so they can just decide among themselves what’s hot or not. Marketers and growth hackers be damned. And youth culture is unpredictable.
I know this because before hearing about my brother’s experience using Snapchat, it hadn’t even *dawned* on me that it was something used for anything other than sexting. And most adults were the same way. Tinder is more intuitive to adults, but who could predict that the interactions they designed would take over urban dating culture the way they have? It’s crazy. I will admit I don’t even know how Whisper works, and I’d like to think I’m still fairly young.
*update* My friend Adam Besvinick (biz + partnerships at Wanelo) noted an extra confounding factor to the changing landscape. The “early adopter” audience that grew AOL, Facebook, and even Twitter isn’t the audience that seeds consumer platforms today. Pinterest, Wanelo, and Snapchat all grew outside of the “traditional” early adopter audience. Pinterest in the midwest, Wanelo and Snapchat, among all manner of teenagers, democratically spread across the country.
What this suggests to me is that it’s open season for consumer and mobile entrepreneurs. You don’t have to be from the Silicon Valley, you don’t have to be a graduate of Stanford or Harvard, and you don’t need venture financing to start. If you touch something in the zeitgeist, you can succeed big. And this means that breakout growth in consumer-based applications will happen wherever there are young developers/designers. And that is everywhere. Exciting times.