Quick; I want you to imagine the makers of smart phone or console that refused to have Netflix on it. Wait, or maybe they decide they don't want any Facebook technology on it. Or maybe, just maybe they don't want anything to do with that whole "Twitter thing."
Can you see it? Nope, neither can I. And why can't I see it? Because Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other companies have made themselves more or less indispensable to large customer bases. They're not going anywhere, they've learned from the mistakes of their predecessors (such as Facebook learned from MySpace and Netflix learn from,well, everybody), understand that they can make up the infrastructure of people's lives.
That comment about Twitter being like plumbing? It may sound a bit goofy, it may give you strange Mario Brothers imagery, but it's an excellent quote, an excellent example. Some services are so big, so powerful, and so useful, they border on being indispensable.
(One may argue with my inclusion of Netflix, but with their success I think they're worthy of inclusion).
This is a valuable lesson for us progeeks – the value of indispensability.
1) Some of these indispensable companies provide us business lessons in becoming indispensable unless being able to survive economic downturns and challenges even if it means acquisition or reorganization. Many of these companies provide simple, effective, understandable services and do them well. The basic idea of Netflix or Facebook don't sound glamorous or flashy–but they work without the distraction of trying to be flashy.
(IN fact, I'd argue Facebook, by letting people make all sorts of games and tools lets others add the flash).
2) These are companies that allow for expandability, sharing, and even the development of compatible software that work with their services. From the Netflix API, to Facebook games, to Twitter applications, these companies cooperate with others and even let themselves work as platforms. Their existence becomes not just indispensable to their users, but for many people working with and on the services they provide. They are in short, indispensable to other companies becaus their services are easy to use.
3) They get their services everywhere. They encourage it, they seek it, and it pays off. I laughed when Xbox was supposing an a Facebook interface; only later as I saw things spread on many devices do you realize that was a completely logical evolution.
4) These are companies that are not going away. They're not just lessons for those of us building her own businesses, but point to places that may be good choices to work because of their indispensability. Or, perhaps you work with companies that work with them. Either way these are companies that are cultural and communication infrastructure, and they're not going anywhere.
5) These companies provides services that can be accessed on many devices. They are really, in a way, and evolution of the software–as––service model that we see in companies like Salesforce (also, I would argue bordering on the indispensable).*This is an important trend is to keep track of at this time; the power of unique services that can run on any device.
So take a look at these unique, powerful, yet easy–to–understand services. Their indispensable, they are omnipresent, they are successes. Learn from them well, my fellow progeeks.
* By the way, the day you have specific Salesforces interfaces for XBox and PS3? That will just be awesome. I'm not sure I'm joking.