Jack of all trades master of none has gone online

A question I often ask when when using on-line services: Why do so many web sites stop focusing on their core offering and unique selling point? Many web-sites are becoming an on-line version of Jack of all trades master of none.

I know it it fast and releative cheap to add a new feature to a web-site to see if it works but not all sites can be asking the question, how it fits with their key offering, why add the feature? Do the users need it on the site? Can it be done well. Adding a social network feature isn’t necessary a good idea just because Facebook is doing well. Adding another instant message isn’t necessary a good idea just because Yahoo has one. Why do so few web site use ‘mashup’ and combine data from more than one source into a single integrated tool instead of creating a ‘me-too’ feature that doesn’t work with anything else and often isn’t well thought out.

Just a couple of examples

Plaxo.com isn’t doing a job at keeping addressbooks in sync any longer, but has added a social network factility that isn’t outstanding in any area or offer much that isn’t done better already by somebody else.

Photobox.co.uk is adding on a lot of new services, gallery, shop, gifts of all kind but the core business of being the best on-line photo printing service is suffering, even basic features as upload isn’t always working well on all browsers.

One of the success stories on the Internet Amazon.co.uk has actully avoided being a jack of all trades and focus one one area, being a market place (No social network, no blogging, no new address book, no instant message features. eBay is a good example of how focus on a core area is imporatnt, they were an auction site, but is trying to become a market place – a small move of focus, but enought to cause trouble for eBay.

Do we need web-sites that just is the best ideas on the net bundled together under one URL in a poor ‘me-to’ implementation? No Thank you. Can we please have web-site that does one or two things well and leave the rest to somebody else…. and no year long beta would be nice too.


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