Jeff Kaplan, our new Chief Architect, and I have been brainstorming on what tools/features we want to focus on next. It got me thinking about what has made the most popular internet companies successful. What was there common denominator. A search led me to this list of successful web companies. After going thru the list I found 2 common characteristics. The site/service was either cheaper and/or easier than its predecessor. See below for the list.
Altavista easier than Yahoo
Google easier than Altavista
Match easier than a bar scene
Amazon easier than bookstores
Craigslist cheaper/easier than newspapers
Godaddy cheaper than register.com
Paypal easier than writing checks
Wikipedia easier/cheaper than encyclopedia
Facebook easier than myspace
Skype cheaper than phone.
Flickr easier than emailing ur photos to friends.
Kayak easier than Expedia.
Google Docs cheaper than Office
Dropbox easier/cheaper than file server
Tumblr easier than Blogger
Square easier than accepting checks for small biz
Of course, there are some outliers like Twitter, AirBnB, etc… those created new markets entirely, but for the most part it is all about being easier or more affordable.