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iOS, Android, Windows 7, the App Store, Android Market, Windows Marketplace, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Google TV, PS3...
The number of channels and platforms on the internet and mobile internet is astounding. And it's growing practically every single day. In many ways, this is a blessing, but it's also a curse for developers and publishers.
According to Loic Le Meur, who runs Seesmic, a social media management tool provider, "It used to be simple. You just needed a website. Whatever you do on the web today, it's now a nightmare if you want to optimize your presence."
So what are developers and publishers to do? Le Meur has a simple solution:
- You need to be on all popular platforms.
- You need to be in all app stores.
- You need to support every form factor.
- You need to be on every social network.
No wonder Le Meur is living a nightmare! But is all of the pain really necessary? Do you really need to support every platform, app store, form factor and social network? Is it even possible?
The bad news: it is a multi-channel, multi-platform world and most developers and publishers will not realistically be able to thrive with a presence in just a single channel or on a single platform. The good news: the idea that you need to be everywhere is just pure, unadulterated nonsense.
The reason: when Le Meur writes "it's now a nightmare if you want to optimize your presence," he is not talking at all about optimization. Optimization has nothing to do with maximizing the number of platforms and channels you have a presence in; it has everything to do with maximizing the return from the platforms and channels you can invest in.
Fortunately, most developers and publishers interested in earning a profit are concerned with the latter, not the former.
Just because "Quora launches and the cool geeks are hiding there" doesn't necessarily mean that your customers are there, or more importantly, that they want to interact with you there. If you're going to make sure your website is optimized for Google TV, which thus far looks like a complete flop despite its promise, you might as well invest in making sure your website is 'compatible' with the first version of Netscape because somewhere, someday, someone might turn on a 15 year old computer and try accessing your site using it. It could happen!
When it comes to channels and platforms, trying to be everywhere is a path to nowhere, and smart developers and publishers recognize that being strategic is a far better approach than being prolific. Despite Le Meur's suggestion that it is, trying to gain a spot in the "top 10" list of some brand new app store with virtually no usage is a completely pointless exercise.
At the end of the day, the key to success in our multichannel, multi-platform world is making sure that your customers can interact with you in meaningful, enjoyable ways when and where they really want to.
The assumption that every channel and platform is ideally suited to meaningful, enjoyable interactions is a dangerous delusion, just as is the assumption that your customers want to interact with you in every channel or on every platform simply because they can.
Photo credit: bennylin0724 via Flickr.