Just after my post on how a lot of web tech stuff is boring and derivative, comes the introduction of Yahoo! Maps. It looks great. No doubt a lot of people will find it very useful. But the sad thing is that, in the scheme of things, it's boring as hell.
I really feel for the development team behind that effort. They all must've known that when they finally shipped (and shipping software is a really, really, amazingly hard thing to do), that the blogosphere would be full of big gaping yawns and nasty posts about what copycats they are. And no matter how good they made their service (it's really cool), nothing would change that.
Speaking of copycats, I reconnected with Robert Scoble today - His feed had been super quiet, and I thought he might be dead, until mikal pointed out that he'd actually moved house, over to wordpress.com. (Maybe there should be a forwarding service for RSS feeds. That might be an original idea...) One of the things that makes Robert mad (in fact almost completely deranged, by the sound of it) is the fact that when you look at my innovation graphic, there are very few 'created' lines coming from Microsoft. And there are a lot coming from Google.
Scoble wants Microsoft to try to delight the early adopters - the bloggers, the slashdotters, the people running beta software, and most importantly, the people who hold enormous sway with their friends and colleagues. But then, he's a nerd. He's an early adopter himself. Those kind of folk always get passionate about this.
It's all beautifully defined on wikipedia under Diffusion Of Innovations. Seth Godin illustrates it again in Purple Cow. Google are delighting nerds like me and my friends. They're being remarkable. Microsoft are focused on delighting the late majority and the laggards, because those folk are conservative and rich. And yet, Google are slowly reeling in the rest of the market, because people like me tell people like my Mom and Dad.
In the end, it comes down to corporate culture, because that determines how an organization reacts to corporate change. I'm not sure a company with a huge history of delighting slower, more conservative people can ever re-invent itself as one focused on the early adopters.
But then, Microsoft have more money than God, and they are never so scary as when they are stealing somebody's lunch. Who knows what might happen?