Greybox Product and Barriers to Entry

I was reading TechCrunch today and noticed an article about booBox, a lightbox product that allows Amazon affiliates to incorporate cool web-2.0 “popups” with products into their site. I often read about startups on TechCrunch, and sometimes I think to myself “man, I wish I had thought of that” or “man, I could do something like that.”

Well, today the barrier to entry was so low that I came up with a competing product in under an hour. And not only that, but I’m offering three times the options! And did I mention it was free? So I give you … the DevelopmentNow Amazon GreyBox!

For demo and code, go here.

This is a real life example of what I was getting at in my Social Networking for Sale post — with rapid development techniques, open source software, and the huge availability of turnkey widgets, code samples, and solutions, product development is becoming increasingly commoditized, allowing the easy output of “close enough clones.” A previous employer had experience with a competitor whose product was “close enough” to be a real competitive threat, and so winning clients was less about the actual product than the strength of the team, marketing, PR, customer service, existing client list, and sales power.

So do I think that I’ll be a serious competitor for booBox? Probably not, unless I put together a hip-looking web site, send out press releases, work the conferences, etc. And competing with them wasn’t really the point. Rather, since Mike Arrington gave booBox “an early thumbs up” and said it “may be quick acquisition bait for Amazon or eBay,” it seems there’s potential gold even for quickly-developed apps.

Granted, I were serious (or smart?), I probably should have said my product took weeks/months to develop, not minutes/hours. And instead of using my product to prove a point on the commoditization of software in a little-read blog, I should have instead used it to go for either some web 2.0 notoriety and/or a quick-hit acquisition. But ah well. 🙂



DevelopmentNow’s Amazon GreyBox

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