Screw the super angels, we need a super user collusion table at Bin-38

OK, screw the super angels. You’ve heard all about those, right?

Well, I’m tired of hearing all about them. Why? They pollute every conversation with talk of valuations. Collusion. Exit strategies. Monetization strategies. Gamification strategies.

How boring.

When I was on stage at Techcrunch Disrupt I had to sit through this kind of talk. Look at the sessions from the first day. It’s all about adding gaming systems to the web. What did they talk about? Pleasing investors (we’re already selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth) or pleasing brands (we can help brands get more engagement).

Gag me with a spoon.

Did I hear anyone during our session say “users are gonna love this?” Or “we did this to make users lives easier/better/etc?” No!

But it’s worse than that.

When I talk with audiences that have lots of VCs and VIPs in them, like I did last week at Rackspace’s SaaS event, or the week before at VatorSplash (a great event, by the way), I ask them how many new apps they’ve tried on their phones.

Only 5% of those audiences have tried more than 100 apps (I’ve tried more than 500, but have kept 356 on my iPhone. Strike that, I was just at CardMunch today and got one more. 357. Great business card scanning app, by the way).

Just look at Google. There are 3.1 million results for “super angels.” But there’s only 298,000 results for “super users.”

Why is that? Because money talks.

I’m sick of it.

Instead of the Super Angels alledgedly colluding against entrepreneurs, it’s time that the users met at places like Bin-38 and collude to get better products. It’s time that super users get the word out again. It used to be that the tech bloggers were all about users. But, lately, the best user conference, Gnomedex, has closed up shop and the tech press has decided to either talk about new products, people getting promoted/fired/hired, or funding events or exits.

I want a blog that says “Hey, did you hear what Kleiner Perkins sold today? WHO CARES! Did they build a better product?”

I’m to blame, by the way. Why do I say that? Well…

When Facebook opened up its new group feature, did I build a list of super users? No. I built a list of VCs, CEOs, and Tech Influentials.

Gag me with a spoon.

Did I get off my behind and build a Twitter list of super users? No. I’ve built a bunch of them, but none that focus on users.

Do I ask enough questions about how to use a product or service better? No.

Do I get technical info from companies about how to use APIs to build things better for users? No.

Do I hold companies feet to the fire for building crappy user interfaces? Not enough. Yeah, I bashed the first Kindle, but do I do that enough? No.

So, what can we do to make the industry more user-centric?

I’ll try to do my part. I’m looking for people who have more than 100 apps loaded on their mobile phones to start a group of super users. Who is in? Leave your Twitter info and Plancast info here so I can add you to a group.

Oh, and how do you get more than 100 apps? Use Chomp. Appolicious. Or Appsfire.

By banding together we can put pressure on those Super Angels to give us better technology.

Why focus on mobile? Because mobile is seeing the most innovation and change of any platform, by far, and investment too. It’s where users still have some leverage because those super angels will be pushing their companies to get adoption and they’ll want to talk with super users who are willing to try new ideas/apps/services, etc.

Are you in?

Comments

      1. Could not see where to post a first comment. Anyway you were great on NPR talking about the car you drove. Thanks. Have no apps but I would if I could.

  1. I only have about 80 (many of which are web apps), and prefer pruning what I don’t use very often.How often are you using those apps Robert? It’s just noisy space taken up and slowing down access of your favorites.

    I do want to hear about more amazing apps, so I hope this group takes off

  2. Around 150 since the last cleanup. Truth being told, I’m not using many from the last two screen. Basically I am placing new apps close to the first couple of screen. If I don’t find them useful, over time I’m slowly moving them towards the last screen… Then they fall.

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/al3xandru

  3. We should talk about favorite apps-> I’m torn between
    GV connect/Gimzo5,
    twitter,
    instapaper!!!,
    Kindle app,
    couchDB definitive guide book app, javascript the good parts app,
    would have said wordpress but their last release was terrible,
    dropbox,
    skype,
    Opera mini and Reeder are ok but not as awesome as the above.
    My wife digs epicurious, sort of-> she just loves recipes

    those are all my heavily trafficked app (I forgot to reinstall a bunch that were mediocre)

    + web apps
    bookmarks for everything I use regularly, +
    greader,
    several couchappsporas,
    several github repos,
    friends hackers, knowabout.it, dejafeed

    The rest of my stuff is noise. Please sell me on your favorite app and why

  4. I have racked up 586 apps on my iphone 4 but I must admit that I’ve got a lot of crap which is lost in Spotlight. I can’t be bothered to group everything via iTunes on the desktop or rearrange apps on my homescreens. I think Apple really need to add options to1) Drag apps out of Spotlight without hooking my iPhone up to iTunes2) Delete apps in Spotlight3) Improve the searchability in SpotlightAlso I have discovered that sometimes when I delete apps by removing them directly on my iPhone, iTunes decides to resync the same app back to my iPhone when I’m syncing my latest purchases.I use Chomp, App Popular and the Featured pages of the App Store to discover new apps and I also experiment with apps that are causing a stir on twitter.I’m purely a user of apps and I have a genuine interest in new, innovative apps and technology.http://twitter.com/AneesYounis

  5. I have racked up 586 apps on my iphone 4 but I must admit that I’ve got a lot of crap which is lost in Spotlight. I can’t be bothered to group everything via iTunes on the desktop or rearrange apps on my homescreens. I think Apple really need to add options to1) Drag apps out of Spotlight without hooking my iPhone up to iTunes2) Delete apps in Spotlight3) Improve the searchability in SpotlightAlso I have discovered that sometimes when I delete apps by removing them directly on my iPhone, iTunes decides to resync the same app back to my iPhone when I’m syncing my latest purchases.I use Chomp, App Popular and the Featured pages of the App Store to discover new apps and I also experiment with apps that are causing a stir on twitter.I’m purely a user of apps and I have a genuine interest in new, innovative apps and technology.http://twitter.com/AneesYounis

  6. You don’t need super users who have a lot of apps. You need the picky people who will not bother with apps just to have lots of apps that they may or may not ever use. You want people who jealously guard their screen space and phone/device memory. You want the people who will not put up with fad software but will only keep and use apps that solve real problems.

  7. So true. I was talking with some major tech press about our launch with some great customers and was told it wasn’t interesting enough even though these are huge customers in our industry. Then the reporter (blogger who claims to get our industry) was like “How about calling us if you raise more money?”. I was like, “Wait, if we raise money it’s a story, but if we actually do something with that money to make customer’s lives better, it’s not a story?” This person was like “Well, yeah. If you raise money, it means that a bunch of smart people have validated it”. Um, what? Investor validation and the need to raise more money then we already have counts more than customers/users?

  8. You hit the nail on this one, Robert. It is interesting that if you check top tech blogs like Techcrunch and others, at least 50% of their coverage on startups are VC and funding related (just check Techcrunch today) It acts as an easy filter for blogs in terms of which startups are safe or worthy of coverage. I am glad that someone thought of the ‘user’ in this whole cycle. Just imagine having a conference that is totally geared towards getting user feedback and user traction. Basically you present and you have the audience (“superusers”) submitting during your presentation, what they think about your concept and what they think you can do to increase the potential of your startup. Your primary goal for presenting at this conference is to get user feedback, what super-users think (whether hot or crappy) and what you can do to fix it. Not what a number of super-angels think about it. But if you can get VC’s interested in your startup, that will just be icing on the cake, which should happen naturally.

    Having these super-users supporting you during early stages of your startup will not only help you to refine your concept but tremendously help you to kickstart your marketing and pr as well. Good to know you are stirring the pot again. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

    Over 125 apps now on iPhone
    My twitter – http://twitter.com/chrissel
    Plancast – http://plancast.com/chrissel

  9. Great post. Reality is different though. Investors (VCs or Super Angel) are talking metrics only. Or worse they want to know who gets on board before they put a $ down. First thing an investor will look at is competition. If you have none, you suck. If you have too many, you are worthless. If Google or Microsoft are on your path – FORGET IT.
    Markets, strategy are secondary. API, technology, users are way down their checklist.
    8 out of 10 tech blog posts are about the last round of financing or acquisition. 1 out of 10 is about a failure and 1 out of 10 (often a guest post) speaks about the product.
    Can you (we) change that? We (you) should try.

    BTW I’m a compulsive App Store shopper. Do I qualify? Oh, and no valley presence :(

  10. Totally agree about how boring the super-angel chatter is. But I look at “super users” differently. What you’re describing is more of a “super collector” of little-used apps. I look at “super user” as someone who is an advanced, very frequent user of an app or site, to the point where they think more symbolically about it than graphically (meaning: they like macros, short-cuts, scripts, add-ons, extensibility, command-line interfaces) so that they can be even MORE productive in less time. I’m definitely a super-user of some things, but not a horder or collector of apps simply to collect them and show off. THAT is boring imho.

  11. Well yeah. It is time users control the game. Look at all the super angels and VC’s scrambling every bit of technology space where they see some money making scheme. Game companies for instance are raking in millions of money from their product but had never ever give back a single cent to game users.

  12. Never been here before you seem riduclously good with your community. I use no apps on my phone apps. I too see the most growth in apps and creativity in this place. Meant to attend mobile conference soon on mobile apps.

    Dara

  13. Super Users are just a differing myopia, like anyone REALLY productive is going to wade thru that many apps or actually use to full potential, or be all that concerned when the product doesn’t work as advertised (hype doesn’t play in Peoria), real users will be, putting up hard-earned money, expecting results. Just richie geeks being geeks for the geeks sake of being geeky, and for being in the in-know-cool-kids-crowd, gotta collect them all.

    Any MBA worth a half penny (or within eye-shot of a decent Product Diffusion Curve diagram) can tell, you focusing on Super Users/”Innovators”/Early Adopters is the surest way to ruin a company, bored in 60 seconds, onto the next new newer app.

    And the venture market has long been sub-prime…

  14. While I agree with the need for more input from the users, even the Super Users, like Christofer says above, this isn’t always a “better” group in and of itself. According to iTunes I have downloaded 288 apps. Most of those are free, but of the 30 or so paid apps the only ones I don’t use are Command & Conquer and Sim City. Both of these had a lot of nostalgia value but neither is really playable in iOS. I have 89 apps (looks like installed but all of them get use even if, like your flashlight, that use is occasional but important. And except for Tricorder I think all of them actually “do” something. Apps are definitely suited for wisdom of the crowd – 200k (and growing) apps per OS? Not even a Super User can master one category unless it is very niche. However, lots of people can learn a few apps each and use them thoroughly.
    http://twitter.com/mikecarlucci
    http://plancast.com/mikecarlucci

  15. I have over 100 apps on my iPhone, and beta tested many more (apps) during my days with the BlackBerry Alliance team. Would love to get more involved with mobile apps, especially in the sports field.

    twitter.com/anothersamchan
    plancast.com/anothersamchan

  16. I don’t make quite make the cut, with around 70 apps on my android devoice. But I’ve tried a lot more. I just cut out the ones that I don’t use, don’t like, or that don’t work.
    I do love apps and enjoy finding new ones and using them to make my life more productive or more fun.