One of the beautiful things about the emerging Social Web is that it is becoming easier for small teams to create socially-enabled websites and applications. As frequent readers here know well, I’m predicting an explosion in the number of new social apps in the coming months, fueled by open standards and practical approaches for data portability. If I’m right, we will see a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship that rivals what we saw in 1995 and 1996, when a small piece of free software allowed the Web as we know it to emerge.
So, when I read about Iminta, a new social aggregator, I was keen to see what their unique twist on a familiar plot would be. After all, the key to innovation waves is the launching of a large number of experiments — and a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” battle. That’s how we got Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, and eBay in the first Web Innovation wave.
Alas, for reasons not yet clear, Iminta has launched a private beta of a service that seems to offer nothing new, when compared with existing offerings from Plaxo* and FriendFeed. It’s also ironic that Iminta’s viral growth engine is Plaxo’s address book widget! I guess this “shot across the bow” is meant to be a highly visible test of Plaxo’s commitment to user ownership, control, and portability of their address books and friends lists!!
Early coverage of Iminta’s launch struggles to find differentiation. Here’s Scott Gilbertson’s piece on Wired blogs, and Rafe Needleman’s on Webware (along with the much-appreciated disclaimer that Rafe’s not in a position to do an unbiased review). Michael Arrington’s piece on TechCrunch points out:
Of course, it’s certainly possible that Iminta has a grand vision that they are working toward that will be built on the scaffolding of a proper-subset-clone of other services, but if so, it’s certainly yet to be revealed.
*Reminder disclosure: I am both a blogger and the head of marketing for Plaxo, so am in no way an unbiased writer on this topic!