A lot of people try to pitch Robert Scoble. As an influential blogger and technology pundit, a nod from Scoble can mean huge publicity (and VC attention) for startups. But he’s been frustrated of late by the slew of copycat startups seeking to be the Uber of Tanzania or Facebook for veterinarians. It’s cheap to start a company these days, so the money – and high-quality development talent – is spread out. “How many companies have a kickass iOS developer on them?” he asks. “Not many, and that’s causing some of this small thinking.”
Scoble’s looking for something else: “I want to see people who are trying to change the world and bring something new.” Fortunately, he believes a new wave of innovation may be ready to hit.
Five years ago, the birth of the iPhone launched a wave of startups. But genuinely new app ideas have become rare – and even if your idea is good, the marketplace is so crowded, it’s extremely hard to stand out. “I found 30 more this morning and I’m not even trying,” Scoble told me. “It’s a harder world to compete in right now. We’re in a down cycle and we haven’t seen a major new platform come along in a couple of years.” But Google Glass, which could debut as early as 2013, is likely to change all that. “One reason I think Google Glass will perform really well is the demand for developer output on that new product,” says Scoble, whom I’ll be interviewing the upcoming BusinessNext Social conference in Las Vegas.
The rise of mobile is another spur to innovation. “The future is going to be mobile,” says Scoble, and as for anyone who suggests developers shouldn’t start by designing for mobile, “that’s crazy talk to me. If you go anyplace in the world and you watch how people are living, they’re staring into a mobile phone. You’re going to come out with a web thing and change the world? No, mobile will change the world. Look at Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, those are largely mobile. Another billion people will join the Internet in the next three years, and those are not people with desktop PCs. They’ve never seen one.”
Where do you think the next great innovations will arise?
This post originally appeared on the Forbes website on December 16, 2012.
Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.