Instagram wannabes…

Today when I was reading about Vlix, a mobile video sharing app that adds Instagram-like filters, which is joining a long line of start-ups and apps that are trying to do precisely the same thing, I was reminded of what Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said — “You can’t appoint a leader; it just happens.” It is particularly true when it comes to startups and consumer social services.

Take Instagram, the photo app/social network as an example. They got a few things right and over 10 million people turned them into the leader in a market where there were others apps and services with a “social network” and “filters.” It just caught onto something that is ephemeral and not listed on any slide deck — happiness & emotions. When I see Instagram today, I don’t see a social network — I see a hub of attention where we share and get lost in carefully edited, curated and somewhat beautified lives with others. Just like television or music videos — it is where we choose to spend our attention.

And one of the reasons why many of these services such as Vlix will fail to succeed is that they don’t quite know what is that they are trying to offer. Oh that, and a growing list of competitors. Vlix’s competitors include VibopBlipSnipsSocialcamToutViddyVlixand Vloggo. Socialcam seems to be a leader in this market, but just.

PS: I will be chatting with Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom at our upcoming Mobilize 2011 conference on Sept 26 and 27th in San Francisco’s Mission Bay Center. Join us.