Saying the following to a consulting client – what do you think?
“Being in close to a service and seeing all its differentiation is not the same as having that differentiation be appreciated in the market – at some point it just doesn’t matter to most people. Offer an API, partnerships with a number of other cool startup contendors, and a different aura (respecting privacy better than Google for example) and you can at least be much more high profile – perhaps moving from being seen by casual observers as an also-ran to being a Golden Boy.”
Like Marc Andreeson, I think the web is not in a bubble. Everyone from consumers to industry bloggers to VCs – heck, developers and your own company, can use some solid strategy for how to deal with the fact that many of us are doing things that basically look identical from a standard distance away. I think APIs and partnerships are great things to think about in this regard. The parties who engage on those levels will take the time to notice how you are different, and the end result will be a much more visible differentiation as a result of your roll in the larger ecosystem. Del.icio.us and Technorati are examples of this, Twitter is too.