I have been watching the local social media space for a little while now relative to what is going on overseas and there is no doubt local talent has done much to advance local sites and services. We are catching up with foreign services like Technorati, Flickr and more and yet I find myself wondering if the innovation curve is flattening both here and overseas. There has been some criticism that local services are really just clones of their international cousins and I think there is some truth to that, mainly because our local services have similar functionality to their international equivalents. Two examples come to mind and they are our video/photo sharing services and the blog aggregators/search engines.
Sites like Zoopy and Twac are fantastic local sites that really help promote local content but they are fundamentally the same as the likes of YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. While some of the details vary (Zoopy handles photos and videos whereas the other services tend to specialise in one or another although I have heard rumours that Flickr will soon start hosting video too), these services are essentially very similar, if not the same. They are photo/video sharing sites with social networking components like ratings, comments and community services.
Similarly sites like Amatomu and Afrigator are variations of Technorati. Their focus and design may differ but the model is pretty similar too.
While I am in awe of the amazing work done by our local people, I find myself wondering when something truly innovative is going to come along and what that new advance will look like. Is there a technological discontinuity around the corner or are we going to see more of a flattening curve until the infrastructure doesn’t develop any further for a couple years? Will content become the new differentiator while the underlying platforms remain pretty much the same?