I am not talking about green initiatives here. This is about all those annoying little “apps” and widgets you get when trying to actually connect with someone on Facebook, or whatever social networks you may be using.
Right now, there are a bazillion little applications all over the web, some cool, some useless. And while some have figured out how to create a click-based revenue model – others are just taking up virtual space.
The process of weeding out, in my opinion, will come from a third party – more specifically online billing specialists who make it easy for companies or individuals to effectively manage high volume micro-payment schemes.
The leader here right now is Zuora which has created a SaaS-based online billing system for Facebook app providers. I think Zuora has a lot of upside, and not just because Tien Tzuo is running the company. I have known Tien for some time and respect him a lot – he essentially built up a lot of Salesforce.com’s billing and other systems – and obviously gets SaaS and cloud in a big way. But billing is a lot simpler to do on a scale model than CRM, so I think Tien’s expertise here will be a plus – Tien will not run into the customization/scalability issues that a multi-tenant CRM provider like Salesforce.com faces.
But really, Zuora is just the beginning. I think some more open source and cloud-based providers will step up – offering even more inventive methods of monetizing the online experience. This is a space I would definitely have attacked as an analysts given the huge upside.
But from a user experience perspective, I hope that the emergence of firms like Zuora will deter people from releasing products that clutter my online experience and provide little value (let’s have less cow throwing, and simple yet effective calendar synching tools, right?). Instead, with real potential for revenue – innovative minds will hopefully start making cloud-based, productive apps that cost very little for users to consume. Fingers crossed…