The latest buzz in amongst the Swedish internet enthusiasts is the Read/Write Web lists of national web apps. There have been a few complaints (here and here for instance) about Sweden being a disgrace as we apparently haven’t thought of enough stuff ourselves. Apart from that not being true, it also raises the issue of cloning vs innovation.
In my opinion, the critical point is the execution of the idea – not the idea itself. At least when it comes to comparing “top sites” of any sort. There were plenty of video options before YouTube, there were social networks before MySpace and so forth. The interesting point is not that their idea was fresh out of the box, but that they tweaked so successfully into becoming a success. Take a look at Startup Reviews study on MySpace for a few good pointers on why it exploded, and others didn’t.
There are many factors that decide the success of a website. Firstly, it is a matter of expectation and measurement of course. Are we looking at revenue streams? Unique visitors? Potential? Reach in the target group? And what was the purpose of the site? Not all sites aim to become the largest player in the field. Depending on what perspective to use, all the apps on the list would rate differently.
So even though it’s a really good idea for a series (I wish I thought of it first!), it’s not a good foundation to start ranting over Sweden being a useless country when it comes to web success.