One of the major forces in computing right now is the deployment of software via ‘containers.’ From Docker: “A container…is a lightweight, stand-alone, executable package of a piece of software that includes everything needed to run it: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, settings.” Software is deployed through a container to make sure that it runs the same no matter what system it is on.
I think that this trend is exactly the same as what is happening in the consumer durable and certain sectors of the CPG markets. Before I unpack that statement, let’s discuss why software containerization has become so popular.
The idea behind containers is quite simple: software is running on a wide variety of devices, and the developer wants to ensure that the software runs the same everywhere. TechCrunch has a great 101-level piece on containers if you’d like to read more.
There are many forces at work behind the development and proliferation of containerization, but I’d like to call out two in particular.
Varied operating environments: Computing was first done by a large mainframe, then individual desktops via a client-server relationship, and now via mobile-cloud. Computing is done on a large number of differentiated devices connected to a central OS endpoint via the cloud.
Abstraction away from source code: Everything done on software ultimately goes back to the 0s and 1s communicating with the CPU. However, services are increasingly built multiple layers above the binary. Think CPU -> server -> AWS -> Intercom
Containers, and the software they enable, are empowering companies to deliver focused digital solutions to singular customer use cases. And networks like Instagram are enabling consumer brands to do the exact same thing!
I wrote last week that brands can use Instagram in a targeted manner to create feedback loops within their desired demographic. These brands capitalize on Instagram’s uniform consumer experience to sell a solution to a specific use case (#firstworldproblems). A few varied examples:
- Bevel (started with a razor designed to protect the skin of black men, built into a cosmetics brand for people of all colors)
- Bonobos (started with one product, a better men’s chino pant, recently sold to Wal Mart for $310 million)
Andy Dunn, the CEO of Bonobos, has a fantastic piece about the need for a brand to nail one product: “If you don’t start with a relentless focus on an amazing first product, odds are you won’t even get a seat at the table” + “the best way to get volume is to sell a lot of one thing, not a little of a lot of things.” + “Make one thing great. Get one thing right. That earns you the right to go from product one to product two.”
Containers -> software; Instagram -> consumer brands.
Life many software startups, modern consumer brands use web platforms to reach users trying to solve specific use cases – often these use cases are ones they didn’t know they need solving.
To Dunn’s point – most don’t earn the right to go from product one to product two. More on that soon.
- A16z: The End of Cloud Computing
- Docker: What is a Container?
- TechCrunch: WTF is a Container
- A16z: Cloud-Client Computing
- Ben Davis: Instagram is the Ultimate Consumer Accessory
- Forerunner Ventures Portfolio
- Using Containers to Build a Microservices Structure
- Nicole Quinn: Consumer Start-up Trends
- Andy Dunn: Get One Thing Right