Who Built This App?

When it comes to clothing, I tend to stick to a few brands. I care about how something is made, where it’s made, what it’s made of, and, if there is one, the story behind it. I’m pretty committed to these brands. I’ll sample others, but these brands have my loyalty.

My relationship with apps is very different. It’s almost the opposite. I don’t care about depth, I cast a wider net with a shorter rope. The idea of a screen full of apps from just a few authors does not excite me in the least; if anything, it’s evokes the complete opposite reaction. As a user (not as an engineer), I don’t care about how it was made, where it was made, or what it’s made of. I do care that it’s polished and does what it says, and once it’s captured my attention, it has me. But I don’t care how it got to that point.

Because of this, and because I think a lot of people are like me and prefer breath over depth on our phones, I think companies acquiring apps should be mindful of it. Twitter’s acquisition and presentation of Periscope is a perfect example. It’s not Twitter’s Periscope, it’s Periscope. Twitter didn’t use its much bigger stage to go in to lengthy discussion. Twitter used its stage to point people to Periscope’s stage, which at that moment, was a blog post on Medium. Twitter could have just as easily posted that Medium post on it’s blog.

Twitter offered resources, infrastructure, and data, I can only assume, but then got out of the way of Periscope’s brand and team to allow them to execute. I’d be willing to bet most average users don’t even realize Periscope is a Twitter company. Even the words in their post embody this:

“Read more about Periscope here, directly from the team that built it.”

I like this approach to acquisitions in the app space, where brand and design are major differentiators. Acquirers already have a voice and personality, suffocating another’s with their own seems like a mistake in many cases. I recognize not all acquisitions are the same, sometimes it’s about people, or a technology, or, unfortunately, for purposes of consumption and sidelining. But, when it is about the app, when fostering its growth to compliment your services is the objective, I think this is the best path forward. Most of us want diversity on our phone.

Are there examples that suggest otherwise? Will What’s App remain What’s App or will it be swallowed up by Messenger? What about acquisitions that support the approach? When you use Instagram, do you feel like you’re using a Facebook app?

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