I was walking through Target a few days ago when something struck me. Why are there no “generic” apps or “store brand” apps out there? I have never seen a generic Basecamp or Mailchimp. Physical products created by a brand almost aways have a store brand competitor on the shelf, so why is that not the case in the web industry? A well-made product that offers almost the same functionality as a more expensive standard can have a nice market niche.
The barriers to entry for creating web apps have never been lower. Cloud hosting and computer make infrastructure costs ridiculously low compared to even 2 years ago. There is a ton of development talent in India, China, and elsewhere that can be had for much cheaper than in the US. This low cost to entry is another reason that generic apps should be common.
I have a few ideas as to why you DON’T see generic versions of popular apps:
- Technological – While the cost barriers are lower than ever there are still significant technical hurdles, such as scaling, to overcome for almost all of the popular apps.
- Intellectual Property – I’m sure many of the most profitable web apps out there have significant intellectual property protection
- Onward and Upward – tech companies are unique in that they are always looking for the next thing, not rehashing or remaking what is already available.
What do you think? Can you recall seeing any generic web apps?