I was reading the following article about DropBox and the Stack Fallacy, and it struck me that this is exactly the problem that AppFriends is solving with our in-app social layer: Big Companies and the Stack Fallacy.

A quick summary: in a technical stack, there are a number of layers sitting between the foundational server and the end customer. The “stack fallacy” was adopted by a number of VCs to describe companies who underestimate what it takes to build the layer above their own core business layer. This happens because companies lower in the stack believe that since they build the foundations of the higher layers, they know everything you need to build that higher layer. This is a fallacy because as you go higher in the stack, customers’ needs change, and without knowing what the end customer wants in that layer of interaction, you cannot build successfully. Examples include Google trying to go from search data to social networks and Oracle trying to compete with Salesforce. Conversely, going lower in the stack often does work (i.e. Google going into cloud storage), since the company is already a customer of that lower layer, and understands what needs to improve.

So back to social. AppFriends is a plug in social layer for apps, and by providing front end UX/UI in addition to backend hosting, we’re essentially solving the “stack fallacy” that a lot of apps have in relation to the social layer sitting atop their app. There are countless examples of apps that tried to add social features but weren’t successful. This isn’t because social doesn’t work or the app developers aren’t skilled – on the contrary, the app developers may be extremely skilled in building their app, whether it is a sports app, a travel app, a music app, etc. However, social features are really a higher layer sitting on top of their app – user expectations of social are different than their expectations of the core app, and what users want out of social is often quite different than what they want out of the underlying content or commerce or utility app. As a result, the customer knowledge required to build this higher layer is also different.

This is why in addition to being a backend host, AppFriends provides out-of-the-box social UX/UI that is thoroughly researched, tested, and also continuously iterated based on users’ social behavior. Social, community, in-app chat, message boards – none of those magically make users more engaged. Building UI that understands what users want out of social and how they interact is critically important. This is why AppFriends takes care of the social layer, front end and backend, so our customers can focus on building the best sports/music/travel/anything app in the app store.