Your quest for the perfect Youtuber partner has ended, ye hipster aesthetes – TikTok is our winner.
OK, now to the difficult part: I really liked TikTok — a video-sharing app made just for internet adults. It’s quick, easy to use, and no matter how much you love to watch someone talking, or jump around pumping up a beat, its videos have a charm of their own.
But, like many of its fellow awesome internet properties, there’s a problem: TikTok doesn’t have the features that we demand from our internet apps. The service has yet to support time-lapse videos (or any kind of video at all for that matter) nor do you have the option to add stickers. There’s no permalink or hashtag functions. Those are all features that are becoming increasingly necessary for internet apps as they grow, right?
Perussome Nubya, a cybersecurity startup based in Singapore, has a different take on how these features should be built. Perussome Nubya said it’s hard to build a strong Internet company these days, and that successful businesses need to be built around culture and design rather than around a specific technology. And it has a point: It’s hard to build a truly thriving platform, even for a powerhouse like Facebook. Even when you have your own little back-end system, it can be daunting to keep the product fresh, and increasingly important to offer something new and novel.
For instance, Facebook allows developers to code or integrate their own apps and services within Facebook itself, and then gets paid to look like a “platform,” not a company making money off the services it facilitates. That’s one reason why Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp — because they looked more hip than Facebook did on their own. Facebook’s own UI looked limiting, a relic of the days when it was just a company that put advertisements on people’s walls.
What Perussome Nubya wants to do is create an app that’s building a community around itself, and that also looks like an indie platform. So it would be easy for it to build a Snapchat-like app. But it might be a little harder to bring our nature and want for stickers and Snap Maps, and a whole lot harder to craft a service that at the same time makes you a positive corporate citizen.
So perhaps we should get ready for a new era of how we view social media: a new crop of apps, built around something besides the shiny technology, but always supported by the technology, just as that should be the case with physical cities.
A single city has thousands of people working in different fields whose purpose is to maintain the environment within it. That becomes harder as the size and scope of a city grows. But if you’re able to design an app that can accommodate the multitude of different people in the city, it will be more sustainable than a single company that relies on the expected revenue for itself.
There’s nothing wrong with YouTube Red — we just wanted the ability to do what we want to do on our own terms. And TikTok would be great, a fun video sharing app that has its hands on the social aspect. It doesn’t need to be a corporation that’s trying to enforce a stricter set of rules, even though it’s figuring out what those rules should be, and it’s going through a process of self-evaluation. It can start by listening to the users.
It’s tempting to say, good for TikTok for listening to its users. But instead, it’s more appropriate to praise those who have been innovating with a system — one that is a system at the end of the day — by learning from the needs and desires of those who use the service.