Parasite Apps


After Bruce introduced us to Meerkat, an app that allows you to live tweet video, I came across this article on Gizmodo that classifies the app as a “Parasite” that caught my attention.  The article calls out sites such as Uber and Feedly because they force you to log into their service using Google, Facebook, or Twitter instead of managing this themselves.  Now, for most people this isn’t much of an issue.  But the author feels “parasite apps can become shackles, tying you to the big three of social, even when you want to quit them.”  When Orf deactivated his Facebook account, he quickly realized that he was then shut out of other services like Spotify and Instagram.  Sure, he could create a new account on these platforms, but I guess it is the principle of the thing.

Where Meerkat runs into trouble is that they were also accessing Twitter’s social graph which allowed Meerkat users to send notifications to anyone who is a follower.  Without access to the social graph, it will take longer for users to build up their networks from scratch.  Now, only time will tell if and how Meerkat will be able to recover from this set back.   Whatever happens, the important take away is that not only are apps like Meerkat subject to the “whims of their host bodies,” but ultimately consumers are forced to remain connected to accounts they don’t want.

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One Response to Parasite Apps

  1. sydhavely says:

    Very prescient post, K’Shelle. Meerkat made the news today because Twitter shut it out of SXSW as a show-stopper app because, evidently, it had just acquired a look-alike app, Periscope. Meerkat has other competitive challenges such as other streaming video apps. Going mainstream is the challenge they all face. Great post.

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