You know the names of the big tech companies: Facebook, Amazon, and the rest. Those are the giant companies that try to do everything, and sometimes even seem to succeed. They’re toppling legacy competition in industries as different as shopping and moviemaking, and they’re doing it at an incredible pace. But there is still a place for little fish in the tech pond, and some of the niche services and gadgets that exist around the web and in the real world are astounding in their genius – and their specificity.
Take Banti, for example. Banti is a service that lets you share photographs, which is a pretty crowded space to be in – only Banti has something that sets it apart. Sure, Facebook and Instagram (which, by the way, Facebook owns) are photo-sharing apps, too, but Facebook and Instagram are about quick updates: showing things off to the world. They’re more about what’s in the photos than they are about the photos themselves, and that leaves a space for Banti to cater to professional photographers.
Banti is a tool for putting together photo albums, and they don’t mean it in the same way that your Great-Aunt Gretchen does when she puts together photo albums of every vacation she’s ever taken. Banti’s photo album services are for photography die-hards and professionals, and the emphasis is on proofing. Pros can use Banti to display their proofs work to clients, simplifying the once-obnoxious process of swapping communications back and forth with clients about which photos they want to use and which they want to scrap.
It’s not all glamorous stuff. Photographers (and everyone else) need to use printers, and printers are notoriously finicky. If you don’t have the right driver on your computer, you’ll be out of luck – and with some old printers still kicking around with newer computers, this can become a nightmare. Just ask anyone who bought a new computer while holding onto their old printer: finding the right driver to make the two play nice is tough, especially when all the packaging and CDs that came with the printer have long since gone.
Enter Canon Pixma Driver Setup, a whole website dedicated to – you guessed it – Canon Pixma printer drivers. It’s a utilitarian site that gets the job done, and it’s emblematic of the sorts of niche sites that still thrive on today’s corporate-dominated web.
Even in areas where Amazon and the other big boys have attempted to dominate, smaller operations are carving out spaces of their own. Take eBooks, which Amazon has attempted to corner the market on with their Kindle eReader and associated file format. Amazon and the now-defunct Borders went to war with Barnes & Noble and other tough customers for their share of the eBook market, but the behemoths aren’t the only ones in play. eBook Itch, for instance, has made a space for itself in the romance eBook business. Theirs is a novel (pun intended) concept: they give away the books for free. Even Amazon can’t compete with that.
The niche tech companies don’t stop where the internet ends. For every big iPhone or iPad announcement, there are dozens of other companies releasing unique gadgets that target a very specific audience. For instance, did you know that there’s such a thing as a plug-in diesel chip tuning box? There is, and to its target audience of diesel truck drivers, RV enthusiasts, tractor-driving farmers, and boat owners, it’s a familiar concept. While many of us may never have heard of the device, there are tons of folks who can’t live without it. It improves the economy of diesel engines, saving its owners a pretty penny on gas.
It’s true that tech companies are bigger than ever, but that has not meant the end for the big boys’ more obscure cousins. Niche tech companies are still making their way on the internet and in the real world, helping their chosen set of customers in ways that giants like Amazon still can’t (or won’t). That’s the beauty of capitalism: if someone needs it, someone else is bound to build it. Nobody ever said it had to be one of the big corporations.