Archive for the ‘launch’ Category

Where Did the Web 2.0 Buzz Go?

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Is it just me or has the hype seem to have faded? I swear it was only 6 months ago (or even a few months ago) that the buzz was still buzzing. Now, it seems to have lingered. Though healthy for the Internet economy, it seems that many entrepreneurs and web junkies aren’t getting their daily dose of high adrenaline, heart-pumping web 2.0 hoopla they so dearly crave.

Evidence of this trend can be witnessed by visiting TechCrunch, widely accepeted as the grand daddy of web 2.0 blogs. It seems the content nowadays is focused more and more around the big guys (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, Amazon) than around the small start-ups that TechCrunch became famous for writing about. I wouldn’t go as far as saying TechCrunch is selling out, but maybe we are seeing a shift. Perhaps less and less new web start-ups are launching? Perhaps major consolidation is imminent?

Furthermore, it seems TechCrunch is adding a new candidate to the “Dead Pool” on a daily basis. In other words, more and more start-ups are filing for bankruptcy and/or selling off their assets, as they just can’t make a go of it.

Maybe the industry is in a lull? Maybe a moderate crash is to be expected? I don’t think so.

New web start-ups will continue to launch as long as the Internet is running, albeit less at times than others. In any case, it takes less money and human resources than ever before to launch a successful venture. Many 1-, 2-, and 3-man operations have gone on to accomplish big things in a short time period. Many web application frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails, have given start-ups a head-start and allowed them to concentrate less on building a service from scratch, and more on creating an excellent experience. Moreover, this also allows for more time to be concentrated on the business functions as well, most notably marketing and business development.

It will be interesting to see if this lack of news is just a short-term bump or if we are indeed in the midst of a major overhaul. My guess is that it’s the former.

Creating Barriers to Entry Online

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

It’s pretty hard to create strong barriers to entry online, especially for start-ups. Without a ton of cash or an army of programmers, Google or Yahoo can quickly and easily swipe your idea and churn out a prototype in mere weeks. Protecting against this potential threat is key.

The best way to prevent users from defecting and joining a competitor service is via strong brand loyalty and a stellar product offering. This cannot be over-emphasized. Just as content is everything to a blog, the product is of utmost importance to a start-up. I hate using cliches as I just did, but it’s true.

Another way to protect against rivals is by harnessing the power of the Network Effect. Though not all companies can use this phenomenon, if you plan accordingly it may very well be a saving grace. Examples of companies who exploit this include:

Partnerships, strong relationships, and/or exclusive deals with select companies may also provide a barrier against other companies. Solidfying relations and maintaing excellent communication is vital.

Finally, some companies turn to a more traditional approach - the Law. It seldom occurs on the net, but sometimes companies file patents to guard their business systems and practices. Examples include:

I don’t think a company should ever bank on a patent or legal barrier. Patents are only as good as your ability to fight them in court. In addition, rivals may find a way to dodge around them or give them a slight twist, thereby bypassing your defence.

Protecting against competitors is key to a successful long-term strategy. However, critical planning and execution is necessary. Failing to do so may erode your user base and ultimately lead to your demise. Don’t let it happen.

Choosing a Niche for Your Blog

Friday, January 19th, 2007

If you are thinking of starting a blog, you need to strategize. One of the first things you need to think about is your blog’s niche. This may also be the most important. You want to choose an area that you’re passionate about. This is vital as you will burn out very quickly if the topic is dry and boring. The content should excite you and spark your enthusiasm. In addition, you must possess a high level of knowledge in the given area. Writing above and beyond the education level of the average enthusiast in your realm is where you can add value with your blog.

So what constitutes a niche on the Internet? It’s definitely not the same as offline. In a given city, perhaps 300 people are hardcore poodle enthusiasts. On the Internet however, you may come across several hundred thousand.

In other words, you may think that a business blog is a niche topic. But that is far from the case. You need to drill down at least another level or two. Under the business heading, you may choose marketing. Below that, you may choose Internet marketing. Delving even further, search engine optimization (SEO) may be an appropriate blog niche.

You can either choose a niche with:

  • Large target market
  • High competition


  • Smaller target market
  • Lower competition

The latter choice is definitely the way to go. Though it may seem like posts will be hard to think up, once you get going they will start rolling. Furthermore, your reader base and users will likely be more loyal. Commenting and user participation is also more likely. Finally, if you choose to run ads, you can achieve a much higher CPM than a more generic blog.

And once you do choose a niche and begin to post, stick to your niche. Stay focused. Do not stray. Otherwise, your readers will become irritated and may ‘boycott’ your blog.

Just some food for thought for those thinking of starting a blog…

The Venice Project on Steroids: Joost

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Joost logoThe other day, the official consumer name of The Venice Project was revealed: Joost. To be honest, the name sounds more fitting for Mark McGwire’s biography, but that’s a whole different story. Nonetheless, the new name is much shorter and easier to spell than its predecessor.

Furthermore, the new name sounds less technical and more consumer-friendly. This shift reminds me of the initial branding strategy of Skype. But hey, if it works, stick with it.

Having said all that, I finally got a chance to download and install the client today. Upon installation, the program opened right into a video that encompassed my entire screen, including the taskbar. Interestingly enough, the video viewing screen doubles as the navigation panel.

If you move your mouse while a video is playing, an navigational overlay appears while the video continues to play. A button at the top of the screen provides interactive information about the programme. Buttons on the sides navigate to your channels or own personalized area, which contains a chat box and optional plug-ins. Finally, the lower buttons provide video controls and settings, as well as a search box.

Currently, there are only 28 channels in the system. But my guess is that this number will increase significantly in the coming weeks, as the founders are reportedly in talks with some of the major TV networks. Thusfar, default content and channels have been supplied by such sources as MuchMusic, Warner Brothers, and Virgin.

Unfortunately, I’m still at 0 invitations. Let the hype continue…

Evolution of a Hot Internet Space

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Over the past 2 years, we have seen exponential growth in a few select Internet spaces. For this article in particular, we will take a look at three of them: social networking, photo sharing, and video sharing. We will observe how each evolved, developed, and solidified its place in the mainstream.

Charles Darwin would have been proud. The evolution of these spaces support the notion of ‘natural selection’ and ’survival of the fittest’. In any case, here is the development as I witnessed it:

  1. Several players enter a space early in the game. Due to the immaturity of the industry and lack of education, little adoption has taken place thusfar. In addition, simplicity and functionality are not optimal. Finally, the user experience is far from perfect.
  2. Then, along comes a player who recognizes the potential growth of the industry. However, contrary to previous development, this new entrant decides to simplify the game and create the utmost user experience. Not only does this create a more intuitive service, but it exemplifies the flaws and weaknesses of competitors. In this case, I am talking about MySpace (social networking), Flickr (photo sharing), and YouTube (video sharing).
  3. These new-comers entered a potentially lucrative space, dummied down the offering, and created a functional, enjoyable user experience. For realistic reasons, exponential growth ensued. In the case of MySpace, users invited their friends as this is the raison d’etre for a social network. This spurred viral growth. In the other two cases, users upload their user-generated content and media files. But what good are uploaded files if only you get to view them. There is no value there whatsoever. Value enters the equation when a user invites their friends or other potential users to view their photo(s) and or video(s). Once again, this encourages viral growth.
  4. After a year or two of phenomenal growth, the industry leader gets bought out by an Internet giant or media conglomerate (MySpace > Fox Interactive; Flickr > Yahoo; YouTube > Google). At this point, revenue models are still in their infancy, and the acquisition company is focusing more on the size, growth, and demographic of the user base. Eventually however, the acquisitor must implement a revenue model in order to turn a profit from the deal.
  5. In all three cases, a somewhat targeted advertising model materializes. And as of today, all three services continue to operate as independent entities with a lack of branding from the parent.
  6. At this point, many of the smaller players have fallen off the charts. They’ve either run out of cash or failed to generate a considerable amount of traffic. Only a select few industry headliners can generate enough revenue (and in some cases, profit) to stay afloat.
  7. What happens now is the denouement of the industry. This is where things begin to get interesting. Of all the secondary players who cannot compete with the leader, many will ignore the warning signs and continue to position itself against the leader, only to fall short in the end. Nevertheless, the smarter companies will approach the situation differently. These players will take on a niche. This fragments the industry and creates unique verticals. Now sites can grab small subsets of users and traffic from the leader and build a loyal user base from a different angle. Though the potential target market may be smaller, the potential for success and the ability to drive higher CPMs is much more likely.

Here is a small list of some of the secondary level players who have done a good job of harnessing a smaller, more targeted audience:




So what will be the next hot Internet space? If I knew, I wouldn’t be posting right now.

NOTE: Some may argue that Photobucket is the leader in the photo sharing space. Though it does get the majority of traffic and usage, it fails to grab the attention and buzz of the press.