Mike Arrington wrote a milestone piece yesterday saying Google wouldn't make the mistake of overhyping whatever new thing it may or may not be cooking up to compete with Facebook.
Mike's predecessors in previous loops, Ben Rosen, Esther Dyson, Stewart Alsop, John Markoff, Walt Mossberg, I'm sure I'll think of others, never said that hype wasn't a necessary part of making software successes. Their livelihoods depended on people coming to them with hype so they could turn it into ink on paper (or vapor on paper).
When it came time to roll out stuff, the titans of their day, Bill Gates, the Visicalc guys, Mitch Kapor, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, John Doerr, Marc Andreesen, would always offer up a banquet for the press. And usually whatever they were hyping would flop. Hard. OS/2, Cairo, Hailstorm, Aritifical Intelligence, Object Oriented, TK!Solver, Agenda, The Semantic Web, even open source, when presented as a panacea for the tech industry was a major dud.
Meanwhile it's the stuff that doesn't get the hype that has a chance to go through the iterations needed to achieve market acceptance, off on the side, without millions of users showing up Day One. Almost every product we use was like that. (Recent Apple rollouts are the exceptions. Don't know how they do it. They must have quite a testing process going on behind the curtain.)
Mike basically said, in not so many words, if you want to know what's working, what the future will look like, don't look for the stuff that gets hyped to people like me. You have to look more broadly.