Leave it to Umair Haque to distill down to a sentence what I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to convey about Web 2.0:
Web 2.0 cannot live up to its (enormous) potential to create value that’s structurally disruptive until and unless technologists understand consumer dynamics.
Web 2.0 can’t live up to its game-changing potential until and unless the geeks step outside and think outside their own box of geekery.
I’ll take another shot at a one-sentence problem statement (although I know I won’t do as well as Umair):
Web 2.0 needs to build killer apps for average people.
Who are “average people”? Get up from your computer and walk outside — they’re everywhere. You can recognize them by the way they talk about technology — they appreciate technology that makes their lives easier, but they NEVER get excited about technology for technology’s sake.
I’d love to see an example (I’m sure one exists — at least I hope) of a Web 2.0 start-up that began by conducting extensive market research to identify a real consumer need and then created an application to meet that need. My sense is that most Web 2.0 apps take the reverse approach — they are solutions in search of problems.
For kicks, here are a few of the many dozens of ways I’ve tried to say this previously (to varying degrees of success and/or infamy):