Keeping up with new startups is almost impossible. While we sleep tonight, there are thousands of caffeine-infused individuals hammering away on keyboards creating the next great thing. With a polished slide deck, a few thousand loyal alpha users, and a code repository secret sauce, anyone can take his or her idea from stealth mode to global success overnight. And while some of the companies mentioned in this article will go on to success, others will fall by the wayside, burning through cash and users similar to a summer camp bonfire. The interesting threads to follow through these few successes and myriad failures are the trends that add value to the end user. And the current crop of products and services being launched offers a great list of features to keep our eyes on.
With the popularity of Twitter's Vine and Facebook's Instagram, the short-video-sharing marketplace is more than crowded. But the founders of MixBit (mixbit.com) have enough of a unique idea and startup success credibility to pull off some magic. Chad Hurley and Steve Chen were also the co-founders of YouTube, the most popular video website on the planet. But they are now focusing their energy on the social video app MixBit. Users can record and share up to 16-second video clips via their mobile devices. Users then have access to mix their videos with anyone else's to create a final video from one to 256 clips linked together, about an hour in total length. These final mixed videos can then be shared on traditional social networks. MixBit has been on iOS since August and recently launched on Android. Content creators can easily mix and remix versions, sharing individual elements with others or adding new clips as additional users create them. Crowdsourcing video editing is not entirely new. Google Drive has allowed multiple users to upload and share editing features. But this is a very robust app for mobile devices. Look for the continued trend of multiple users having access to shared content to create their own films and videos.
Allowing users to add content to sites is nothing new, but the trend continues to grow. The latest launch from the online language learning site duolingo.com is an interesting study in engaging your audience. DuoLingo offers foreign language lessons and provides a unique game-like system to reward and motivate you to stay engaged. But its recent concept, Incubator, allows bilingual users to create their own lessons and submit them. The lessons are tested and move up the ranks of popularity to provide additional training for the entire community. One of the current "French for English speakers" lessons has 1.4 million learners participating in the course. Engaging and rewarding users to create content is hard enough, but having your audience build something that attracts a crowd is amazing. Sites such as DuoLingo and others are leading the charge by making it very easy and fun for their viewers to get involved.
As the online world continues to grow, there is an increasing urge to create a real-world connection from our digital content. 3D printing, lifx.co Wi-Fi lightbulbs, and a tiny printer that puts your latest social updates into your hand are all examples of making the virtual a reality. But the latest collaboration from an iPad app and an Italian notebook design company is micropublishing at its finest. The app design company FiftyThree, Inc. and Moleskine have teamed up to offer Book. Users can draw, sketch, and write on up to 15 pages in the free app. You can then select a hard cover design and upload your images from the app. For $40, you will have your own Moleskine printed notebook in your hand in less than 2 weeks. This high-quality, digital-to-analog system is just one of many examples of users wanting to migrate their digital content offline. Current digital content creators in any field would be wise to figure out how their audience wants to interact with their content in an analog form.
While we may not be able to keep up with every trend and nuance that surfaces on techmeme.com every day, in the world of digital content it pays to know what your audience wants and how they want to consume it. These few examples have all found a niche, listened to their users, and created something unique. Trends in technology will constantly change, but the desire for good content will always provide room for innovation