Why do most startup apps feel "flat" and "moss-like"?

What I have noticed having seen a lot of startup apps (200-300) is that most of them are “flat”, “moss-like” with no advanced features. That is big disadvantage to advanced users but they just happen to survive better than supergood apps not released in time. And… even after maturing, they just keep things simple (a polite word), look at Evernote for notes or Basecamp for PM… Would you compare these apps to humans, rabbits, mice, flowers or simple moss? Even facebook is moss - its skeleton is very simple, it is just massively online communication platform, nothing fancy.

It is good for startup pockets, it is easy for users who still like to chat but where are the all technological advances we have been promised in sci-fi? I think current time will be remembered as “dark ages of software development” unless each of us will do something about it.

Another hypothesis is we have just reached the limit of human potential of handling GUI and time has come for bots and robots.

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This must be what you do; you take a hot topic and make another copycat topic in attempt to make it become hot.

No problem with it, just an observation:

Anyway, there are plenty of startups who are working on virtual reality and other “innovative UI”. I don’t think we’ve reached any limits and to assume that we have would be the death of progress.

And I don’t think these are the dark ages. We’re doing fine. We’re making progress. From solar panels and electric cars, to reactive frameworks that make life easy, to easy bake ovens.

Progress isn’t black and white, not for software, not for anything. Sometimes we take steps back, sometimes we take leaps forward. But we never stay in the same place - not for a second.


I have similar questions:

  • Where the hell is teleportation? Actually, no, where are hoverboards, which were promised by now (Back to the Future 2).
  • Why do most startup apps taste like 2-day-old pancakes?
  • How can I even?

Also, when do I get the money I was promised for my MVP?


Why would anyone care about that now that we can walk around and catch Pokemon?!? Hoverboards might make the quest a bit easier on the knees… Something to look into for sure.


About 2 pairs of topics you have shown - I do take a thought before posting them, the poll is quite different from topic, and the scope of the current question “Why startup apps should be primitive to succeed and why many of them keep the same flat structure after maturing” is quite different from the scope of the question of the original post, which was Meteor-related. I have even put it into “Uncategorized” category. I always give a thought before posting a separate topic, and not in the attempt to “make it hot” :slight_smile: but in the attempt to keep the discussion interesting and in the right category.

Nevertheless, your thought is a right example of suggesting us to stay in a flat world. Forking a thought and developing it further is unique feature of forums. Joe has another good thought for discussion which also deserves separate thread. So, why keep it in single one, it is not a chat :slight_smile:

The world is becoming flatter -> Yahoo with it’s categorized structure is replaced by flat Google where you cannot browse categories but just made to “obey the machine”, Contacts and Groups are replaced by Viber-like simple structure where who’s you talked last to is shown on the top of the stack.

This simplification has its usability pros but in the end it leads to flat thinking and flat-minded people. To illustrate the point, I have just got my brand new laptop from Dell but purchasing it was a hell because 3 face-to-face talks to young local service engineers to make drivers work in Windows 7 where useless. Guess how they search for missing driver? They can just run “special program from Dell”, which is Support Assist, and just do not give a thought in checking out error codes or downloading drivers individually. I think the problem is much deeper, it is a sign of “one-button generation”.

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I am starting to think it is just because there is a market for them. Application should not be that advanced but it must touch the emotions of the user crowd, and the heart of venture capitalist. And platforms like kickstarter, etc. favour much more physical gadgets than software, also because it is much more understandable to plain user.

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But if the team purchases a giant bottle of maple syrup and pours it all over the app—er, pancakes, then no one realizes the pancakes are two days old because the syrup is so good. Was it worth the expenditures? Maybe. Depends on the quality of the syrup. Is it organic? Is it from regular trees on this planet, or from somewhere else?

You’re pretty defensive about it. That’s kind of sad.

I said in my post that I don’t have a problem with your copycat mentality, it’s just an observation.

Also, if anything I’m suggesting that we don’t stay in a flat world. I’m discouraging your pessimistic and opinionated view of progress. Just because you don’t like an app, doesn’t mean we’re not making progress.

Here’s a fraction of the stuff we’ve made leaps and bounds in over the last five years:

  • GMO (genetically modified organisms).
  • Cracking the human genome.
  • Searching for the cure to cancer by pumping up t-cells, basically making our immune system superhuman.
  • Electric Vehicles.
  • Renewable Energy.
  • Articifical Intelligence.
  • Machine Learning.
  • Automated Environments and Infrastructures.
  • Self-Driving Cars.
  • Connecting third world countries to the internet.

Tell me again where we’re going wrong?

Apps and companies aren’t everything. Just because a couple of companies make shitty apps or have shitty strategies and cultures, does not mean you can make the generalization that the world isn’t making progress. Remember, it’s not black and white.

We take steps backward, we take leaps forward.

You might want to hop out of that tunnel you’re in. Right now you’ve got tunnel vision.

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I spoke to a VC the other day who said he will no longer invest in “easy” startups… basically, he won’t invest in simple CRUD apps. He is now looking for machine learning, data-intensive, drones, IoT… basically companies that will take a good amount of (1) very specific expertise (2) time to develop and (3) people involved.

I think the idea is that IF you do find a “winner”, you will have a concrete competitive advantage that is worth something (in an acquisition). Whereas more “simple” apps, the potential acquirer would rather just clone it themselves in a few weeks of work.

I think this is driven by advances in framworks like meteor… when a team of 3 people can clone your app in 3 days, your codebase isn’t worth anything. It is your users, momentum, or if you have some sort of very specific expertise (basically, your team).

That is why you don’t really see anyone buy a codebase when they buy a startup…they buy the team or they buy the users.

Facebook’s competitive advantage (aside from network effect and userbase) is its DevOps and ability to have a billion people using it, posting, streaming… as well as its ability to target ads on specific demographics to all these users… the ability to do that (codebase and the team/expertise needed) are not something you can put together in a year.


Hopefully devs can ride the money train a little longer.

I cannot find any real breakthrough, which would confirm any of the points in your list. Perhaps electric vehicles will do but again - it is just a mass production of what’s been around for years. And mass production was invented… eh… by Ford? So, Tesla is nothing new - just a mash up of mass-production and electric vehicles.

Yes, so true. And I have not said flat and moss-like apps are bad. They just have all that marketing emotional momentum (and users) with nothing special inside. Like Pokemon Go - it was possible many years and maybe even was done by some teams but needed marketing momentum to spread the virus to masses.

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