See the clip first before reading further.
Imagine that you want to start a service, a service that already exists. Let’s say, slideshows. There are tonnes of programs available on the PC or Mac, and an equivalent number online. So how are you going to compete? How are you going to diversify? And more importantly, what will be the business model? That’s what the guys and girsl at Animoto were up against. They did have one thing in their advantage; they were all coming from the film industry so the knew a thing or two about how to present images.
Animoto says in their tagline: ‘The End of Slideshows’. And it’s true. Although I can make nice slideshows in iPhote, some people may even be able to make nice slideshows on a PC (just don’t mention teh word PP, please…) but they all kinda look dull. OK, Ken Burns effect is sort of cool and it makes your slideshow more vivid but it wears off once you have seen it too much.
Also, making a slideshow, eerrr, nice slideshow can be painstakingly cumbersome. Import a picture, set in and out points, edit the movement… It takes a few hours before you master it and have some result. If you want to make it really cool (like the one you just saw) just add a few hours more to the equation.
So, take an existing service and improve it considerably, How does Animoto tackle this? First, ease of use. I don’t know if you believe me, but making this slideshow took me about 10 minutes (including making coffee): uploading pictures, adding some text, choose a song, push a button, drink coffee. Animoto analyzes your images and your music (although they say they do that…) and based on the outcome they create a slideshow. Which brings me to the second point: they make a really, really cool slideshow. Well, in my opinion they did a pretty good job.
So what’s the business model? Very web 2.0-ish. You can create for free (yeah, free = good = web 2.0!) a 30 seconds clip. Just upload some pictures (or get them from your Flickr account) choose a song in their library (or upload your own) and push a button. In no time you have your 30 seconds photo-videoclip. But that’s just to wet your appetite.
Of course, 30 seconds is way too short and before you know it you see yourself buying credits to make a full-length videoclip, including the option to download the file. Costs? $3 per video or $30 for an annual subscription so you get unlimited slideshows. Expensive? Not in my view. And then the ease of use comes back. With a few clicks (and a PayPal account) you have bought your credits and off you go.
So taking an existing service with lots of available options on the marketplace, think it through carefully and pimp it up like hell. That’s how Animoto did, and that’s how you should be looking at services too.