Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Innovation Is Assembly

"Lightweight business models are a natural concomitant of lightweight programming and lightweight connections. The Web 2.0 mindset is good at re-use. A new service like housingmaps.com was built simply by snapping together two existing services. Housingmaps.com doesn't have a business model (yet)--but for many small-scale services, Google AdSense (or perhaps Amazon associates fees, or both) provides the snap-in equivalent of a revenue model.

These examples provide an insight into another key web 2.0 principle, which we call "innovation in assembly." When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways. Much as the PC revolution provided many opportunities for innovation in assembly of commodity hardware, with companies like Dell making a science out of such assembly, thereby defeating companies whose business model required innovation in product development, we believe that Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others."  (Tim O'Reilly 2005)

In this post, I would like to share with you about a company on how they uses the web applications with the current well known APIs/Developer Ecosystems.

The company I am sharing with you guys will be, Threadless.  

Company information about Threadless, it is a community-centered online apparel store run by skinnyCorp of Chicago, Illinois, since 2000. Co-founders Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart started the company with $1,000 in seed money after entering an Internet t-shirt design contest. Members of the Threadless community submit t-shirt designs online; the designs are then put to a public vote. A small percentage of submitted designs are selected for printing and sold through an online store. Creators of the winning designs receive a prize of cash and store credit. Below will be the screenshot of their web site and a video link about them... 
I have created the company's API diagram, which is showing which are the famous APIs that Threadless are using right now. Its the Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr
They have smartly used the Facebook API as their "JOIN US" Membership, and if there is any updates they will be sending you a message to your Facebook Inbox and they even can advertise on your Facebook account too. Below will be some screen shots of the Facebook API that they are using.  
Threadless also have their very own Facebook Fan page, where their members or Facebook users can have a look at their latest collections, and also allow people to make comments about the design or click "LIKE" if they love it. Members also can share the design with their friends or sharing it just posting it on their Wall. 
They have make full use of the Facebook API and they even have the SHOP App on Facebook, which allow users to purchase Threadless tees on Facebook too. Checkout the screenshot below. Users can make comments about the design and adding it into the cart, by using the API. 

Threadless is also using the microblogging tool, Twitter to spread out informations and links to the world. Users can also ask the questions on expecting a speedily response from them. They also have their blog and forum service available for their members to use. Below will be some screenshots of their twitter site, forum and blog page. 
Instead of Youtube, Threadless uses Vimeo to share their video. I personally felt that the interface and navigation of Vimeo site is much better compare with Youtube. Threadless have used video as part of their marketing or advertising purpose. Like their more premium apparel line known as SELECT, always uses video to show off their latest collections or what are the latest news of what they are doing right now. Below will be a screenshots of Threadless Vimeo page and SELECT. 
Its an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community created by Ludicorp and later acquired by Yahoo!. Threadless have used this API to share some interesting photo of their work or users/members are allow to tag them too.  Below will be a screenshot of their Flickr site. 
Using the power social technology to market or advertise their product will be the taking over the normal channel like printing it on newspapers or brochures. Now this will overtake it in this current generation.   


Web 2.0: Principles and Best Practice: 
Youtube video about Threadless business:
ScreenShots and information about Threadless: 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Steph said...

    When I first saw this blog post was about threadless I couldn't see how they fit with innovation in assembly (thinking tshirts alone!). Your diagrams make it very clear - this is an innovative company and they are certainly taking advantage of API's to allow their users to build a profile, and seek support for their designs. Is there anything you feel they could do better? how do they deal with issues such as down time with platforms they integrate to?

    24 March 2011 18:50

  3. Sorry for the removing of the comments Steph...

    Thanks for the useful comments... :>

    Is there anything you feel they could do better?
    Personally, i felt that Threadless have done a great job by using the Facebook API. There are millions of Facebook worldwide and using it to advertise or share it within the members totally allow them to outshine their competitors like 80sTees ( http://www.80stees.com/ ).
    As for now Threadless is doing fine. They have used other APIs(Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, etc.) to reach out to more people which is great.

    how do they deal with issues such as down time with platforms they integrate to?
    Unless the internet is totally down, else-wise they have no worries. They still using their traditional ways for communication thru their forums or blog. Although their main API is using FB but they also have been using different APIs too..

  4. Great effort by making some interesting examples and never knew that Threadless is using so many different approach to reach out to people using the web. :)

  5. A great post! As a frequent threadless tshirt buyer, its a buisness model that seems to work, i know from experience that being able to 'like' a tshirt design on facebook has meant the company has re-manufactured a design after seeing so many requests (likes).

  6. Very interesting! It's funny that I've visited the threadless website many times and have noticed them on Facebook and Twitter, but didn't know that they were on Vimeo, Flickr, etc. I think they are a great example of innovation in assembly
    (And I agree with you too that the interface and navigation of Vimeo site is better than YouTube!)

  7. @howedan: Threadless simply using Facebook as one of their major marketing platform... Love their idea of having the "like" tees and they fantastically used the shopping cart on Facebook API :>

    @mindy: Thats why i think Threadless is really smart and trying their best to attract as many people as possible, and building their brand awareness with the current power of social media. I totally love Vimeo over Youtube... :>