Every App is Just Some Other App
Please, I'm begging you: know your role and shut your mouth.
Sydney • Friday, March 10 •
This is just to say that recent news about Spotify and its plans to tackle TikTok with a Totally Different and Not At All The Same approach to scrolling feeds is exactly where we were always headed, but depressing nonetheless.
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If creativity was the goal you would say Daniel Elk should spend less of his time and money investing in international war expansion and killing technology and instead focus on his own back yard. To compete with TikTok on algorithmic sorting and the 2020s version of the News Feed isn’t quite foolish, but it is sad. Sad because it’s not an idea that needs to be made in pursuit of building anything better.
We have watched the generation before it (Facebook, Twitter, etc) commit their own arms race on tech features, mostly bought and sold and outright stolen from small startups, in a desperate and hopeless spiral to be the Front Page of the Internet. How’d that go? Facebook is Instagram is Twitter is Reddit. We’ve built an awful little ecosystem for ourselves.
A certain majority of Spotify users pay for the service in real, Global Bank Certified cash — something TikTok could only dream of — and I imagine they would like a better music and listening experience rather than any sort of pissing contest with TikTok over who can be the biggest streamer; the biggest radio platform; the biggest Optimiser Of Your Entertainment (who, exactly, asked for that?)
The problem is that what the audience desires is only a third of the thought process, and that, ultimately, implementing a new feature or piece of tech that looks remarkably like your competition mostly serves to shut-up your already rich investors who keep asking: Why Are They Doing This And We’re Not?
Everything is like TikTok and it will continue to be like TikTok because that is the platform that — through a storm of good product and luck — has captured culture. Just like everything was Myspace and then everything was Facebook. Hell, everything is Google in one way or another, but at least they had the sense to push towards advertising and data harvesting early on. Yeah yeah yeah, everyone only started hating Google a few years ago. Give me a break.
There are plenty of people yelling at Spotify, saying Why would you do this? And the sad truth is that they’re not doing it for you or for anyone who just wants a product that delivers on the first promise it made to them. They’re doing it to play the game. And, in the end, it will probably make all the right people all the right amounts of money.
You don’t need to be the best team in the league — you just need to show up for preseason.