Poke App Fails: Facebook Can’t Innovate, Say Many

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“Facebook shouldn’t be ashamed that it had to copy Poke. But it should be ashamed that it never even tried to invent it,” said Farhad Manjoo of Slate, about Facebook’s new Poke app. Facebook based Poke on the immensely and organically popular Snapchat, an app that sends images that “self-destruct” after viewing. After an initial leap to number one, it fell rapidly to its current position of 35 in the iTunes store.

“This . . . raises some questions about Facebook’s ability to be kingmaker” and shows an “inability to innovate,” said Om Malik of GigaOm.

These and other criticisms suggest Facebook may be increasingly unable to create new, viable channels for content marketers.

The reasons Poke failed weren’t technical or design issues. As Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider said, “Maybe Poke’s failure isn’t about flaws in Facebook’s product ideation or product-building . . . [but] a flaw in Mark Zuckerberg’s long term vision for Facebook as a platform.”

It seems that Facebook needs to act “before it sees an opportunity” — but is failing in exactly this way, according to Manjoo. “The real problem—and it’s a big one—is that Facebook didn’t think of building something like Snapchat long ago, all by itself,” said Manjoo.

Apps like Snapchat are parasitic on the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook hates this. But at this point, the best it can do is copy. Facebook pounded out Poke in about 12 days.

It’s clear that Facebook has the technical competency to release new services quickly. But it may not be able to detect the need for them until someone else does first.

Content marketers who are waiting for Facebook to roll out new apps, services, features, and products that are truly useful ways of reaching an audience, may be waiting a long time. Facebook isn’t where innovation is coming from. It might be a better bet to watch who Facebook is copying.

Image: Flickr

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