Dec 4 2012
Basis Technologies

The Never-Ending Case of the “Me-Toos!”


There has been a lot of talk in the Streaming Audio space taking place over the last month.  First came the Bloomberg post related to Apple’s potential entrance into the Streaming Audio sector (everyone in unison: “Please, not another Apple post…”) and the implications of its arrival.  And then today came some news around MySpace’s efforts to enter the subscription space.

That being said, I have a theory that whenever a competing product from a mega-corporation labeled a “[Insert Beloved Product]-Killer” is introduced to the public, the only thing truly successful about that launch is the marketing and promotion.  Everything else comes up short.

Some quick examples would be Apple Maps (to compete against Google Maps), Google Places (to compete against Yelp Reviews) and Yelp Deals (to compete against Groupon – 1 of 500+).  MySpace’s history is littered with examples of it trying to quell Facebook’s and Twitter’s momentum with similar product features.

While these are strategic moves, they fall under a category of business decisions I like to refer to as the Me-Toos (as in “Oh, you have [insert service, product or product differentiator]? Me, too.”).

The Me-Toos are a tough place for companies to operate because it automatically sets you up as second to someone else’s lead.  Blackberry’s entrance into touch screens and app stores are great examples of the Me-Toos hard at work.

When the Me-Toos are done by a company we hold with regard, our response is to write the obit for the young competing upstart who’s about to get their lunch handed to them.  When the Me-Toos are a company who appears to be standing on their last leg, our response is to call it a desperate attempt as we start to write the obit on the anticipated failure.  And, outside of the truly desperate attempts, we really have no idea what is going to happen next.  Consumers are a fickle friend.

My take: based off of their history, Apple’s best bet is to make an acquisition (it’s not like they don’t have the money, people!) and then leverage their clout with the record labels to address the royalty issues that have such an impact on companies like Pandora.

MySpace holds the largest catalogue of available music in the US with roughly 50% of its inventory coming from self-publishing and independent artists, so it truly can position itself as a place to ‘hear it first’ compared to its competitors. How this will be received by 12-24 year olds over the coming 12 months will be something to keep an eye on.

The more players in the space, the more innovation is made among the offerings; the more innovation among the offerings, the more likelihood that more consumers find something they like; the more consumers like, the more they will participate and the more this entire segment will grow over the coming months and years.  Best of luck to the Me-Toos!