Defining the Prosumer product

This week, Do.com announced it will be closing down in January. It may simply be the latest in a string of social networking apps to call it quits, but it also highlights the difficulty in developing Prosumer products that generate market traction.

do-com-logoPositioned as a productivity solution, Do.Com was also viewed as an app that straddles the work/personal divide, to be a veritable Prosumer product.

The problem is, it did not have a clear vision of what defines the “Prosumer” market, and it did not adequately redefine workflow needs in a permeable environment that increasingly blurs the dividing line between the personal and the professional.

As a result, Do.com probably missed an opportunity to craft a new perspective on the elusive Prosumer demographic. For example, as a Prosumer, my primary need is to consolidate all the social networking and collaborative platforms I use. At the same time, I need to manage the different types of connections and co-ordinate the different degrees of sharing that these tools offer, but not based on “projects” or “transactions” – rather, based on “relationships” (which are not the same as “connections”).

Despite their attempts to capture “3-dimensional” linkages amongst my networks, most collaborative tools and social networking platforms are limited by their 2-dimensional perspective of linear connections, rather than multi-dimensional relationships.

Until tools like Do.com do a better job of managing the qualitative and contextual nature of professional and personal relationships (and offer better ways to manage the different facets of these connections), they will be interesting, but not essential.

POSTSCRIPT: Here’s why Facebook can never be taken seriously as a productivity or professional tool – when editing my “official” Facebook page the day, I was prompted to add my “likes” for music and films – why would I want to share that sort of information with my professional contacts (unless it was really relevant to our relationship – client karaoke night, perhaps?).

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