Archive for the ‘off topic’ Category

What Ever Happened to Zune?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Microsoft Zune logoRemember that highly-touted, over-budget, lackluster Microsoft MP3 player Zune? If you don’t, I forgive you. If you do, you may be wondering the same things as I.

Is it still around? Did anyone actually buy one?

I don’t know a single person that bought the device. Nor do I ever hear or read anything about it anymore. It’s like it doesn’t exist. The iPod still seems to be the player of choice for most of the population. The disease that is the Apple culture has gone mainstream and never looked back.

I think we need a term for this recurring Microsoft trend.The scenario seems to follow an eerie, recognizable pattern in which the company enters an established market late in the game, and produces a hyped, high budget, flop of a product. How about the “Microsoft Syndrome”?

A recent example that comes to mind is the announcement of an Adobe Flash competitor named Silverlight. Isn’t it a little late in the game? Flash is the industry standard. In addition, most web junkies hate the plug-in from a usability perspective anyway.

I think the company needs a wake-up call. This software giant continues to ‘innovate’ and push the boundaries beyond traditional products into new, unchartered waters. Sometimes this move works (xBox), while most of the time it crumbles (Live Search, Zune).

If I had one piece of advice for the company, it would be this: stick with your core competency and focus on creating a more useful, enjoyable experience. Almost everyone hates Windows for many reasons. But since there is a monopoly, consumers have no other choice if they want to operate a PC. Furthermore, the company has a stranglehold on their bread-and-butter - the office suite. But this area is in jeopardy as competitors, such as Google and Zoho, threaten with web-based suites. Therefore, Microsoft needs to erect barriers against these competitors and create more robust offerings to satisfy consumer needs.

Finally, as mentioned, the company needs to focus on the Windows experience. After all, this is what made the company the worldwide mogul it is today. Without the OS, Microsoft is nothing. And I suspect there may be some heavy competition and surprising innovation in the area in the very near future.

Time vs. Web Applications

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

People only have a certain amount of time in a given day. Trade-offs must be made. There is an opportunity cost to every decision. For this very reason, people must limit their daily use of web applications to the few essential apps.

Let’s say, for example, you have 2 hours of free time per day you can spend online. You could spend 1 hour on two different apps. You could spend the full 2 hours on one app. You could even spend 20 minutes on six different apps. The point is that any new start-up wants to be part of the Internet user’s daily routine. Furthermore, the larger the dependance and percentage of Internet usage spent on that app is also very important.

Personally, a portion of each day is spent on:

and often on…

In any case, web app dependance is what every company fights for. They want constant, consistent page views and app usage. Furthermore, they want users to tell their friends and get them to join. This is the reason social networks can build and become successful so quick. Their inherent nature bodes well for ‘viral marketing’. And once a network hits a critical mass or tipping point, even non-users must join as the majority of friends use the system and it becomes essential to a social life.

Other services become more valuable and powerful with an increased user base, although they are not as prone to viral growth. Craigslist and Wikipedia are two good examples.

Let me know the apps that make up your day…

When Will Yahoo Achieve a PageRank of 10?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Yahoo logoWhen you think of the top Internet brands, Yahoo is almost certainly one of the first to pop into your mind. After all, this search engine giant has withstood the test of time and prospered. Furthermore, it is ranked #1 in the world by Alexa in terms of traffic. So why hasn’t this web goliath been able to achieve a Google PageRank of 10 yet?

Now, I love conspiracy theories. And although I do not believe this is a conspiracy, let’s explore the possibility that Google is blocking Yahoo from achieving a PageRank 10. What does Google have to gain from this potential move? Perhaps, more credibility as a search engine and the perception of a more useful search tool (based on the number of back-links). Nah, I don’t buy this…

So let’s move on… Why do Macromedia, Adobe, and Real all have PageRank 10, but not Yahoo? I pondered this question for a long time. Then it hit me - plug-ins. A lot of website link to these three giants for plug-in downloads and updates (i.e. Macromedia Flash, Adobe Acrobat, and Real Player). The story behind Google’s PageRank of 10 is also similar. A lot of website publishers embed the Google search tool within their site. For this reason, back-links are extensive. Yahoo is not known for this.

Yahoo needs to create some amazingly revolutionary widget so that everyone embeds it on their site and Yahoo can finally reach this final platform. JUST KIDDING. To be honest, PageRank doesn’t mean a whole lot. It is a subjective number created by Google that many swear by. Others yawn at its presence. My guess is that Yahoo will hit this mark soon enough. Moreover, I don’t think anyone has paid this much attention to such a small thing as I. But that’s just me.

What’s really interesting is the PageRank scale itself. Though most people assume it ranges from 1 to 10, I’ve heard that it may extend beyond the upper limit. However, due to its logarithmic nature, no site has come close to achieving the next level as of yet. But who knows? Maybe Google will get to 11 before Yahoo gets to 10.

Every time I visit the Yahoo homepage, I check my Alexa toolbar. Maybe one day that infamous rectangle will be full of green…

Note: Hopefully my Yahoo links above will push it over the top… unlikely.

Internet Brands as Verbs

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

You know your Internet brand has made it big when:

  • Your user base is in the millions.
  • Revenue (and profits) are not only present, but also quite large.
  • Your company brand name becomes a household VERB.

Who are some companies that have managed to pull off this feat:

  • Google logoGoogle (i.e. Why don’t you just google “doggy raincoats” to find the nearest dealer?)
  • Digg (i.e. I just dugg that article on gorilla mating habits.)
  • Skype (i.e. I’ll skype you after I get back from my yoga class.)

Honourable mention goes out to:

  • Twitter (i.e. I am going to twitter that thought.)
  • MSN (i.e. Just MSN me later when you get home from your banjo lesson.)

As an avid Internet user, I use these terms/brands synonymously. But every once in awhile, I come across someone who doesn’t understand what I am talking about. They are unaware of the brand. This is usually a striking moment for me - perhaps a wake-up call - as I consider these terms as part of my daily lingo.

Though naive and assuming, the ability to incorporate these ‘branded verbs’ into our dialect goes a long way in terms of increased productivity and effectiveness. No further explanations are needed. For example, a large percentage of Internet users use Google or know of the brand. So, to save time and hassle, we say, “Why don’t you google this?” rather than, “Why don’t you go to, type in ‘Asian singing snake’, and hit enter?”.

Likewise, I can tell someone to ‘skype me’, rather than log on to Skype and start a voice conversation.

These Internet-branded speech shortcuts are not likely to be a fad. My guess is that they will continue to pop up as the Internet produces more household names and services. Another thing to keep in mind is that some Internet brands will never become a verb - either because their name is too long, has too many syllables, or is just plain hard to pronounce, OR because they are not known for one specific function or use (i.e. portals).

Interestingly enough, once a brand reaches this ultimate platform of fame, it tries to protect against it. When brands become verbs, most companies try to protect their valuable trademark and brand equity. Allowing your trademarked name to be used as a word not only erodes brand value, but also corporate credibility. This pitfall has occurred to many offline brands over the years including Xerox, Rollerblade, Kleenex, and Band-Aid.  

Essentially, when your brand goes mainstream, people will speak casually about your company. Protective measures must be taken. An eroding brand may be right around the corner. There is a very fine line.

Please be sure to mention any other Internet companies that I may have missed (and I know there are some out there.)

V1agra, L0se W3ight, W0rk fr0M H0me, fR33 iP0ds… zzzzz…

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

SpamNo, this isn’t a spammed post. Nor did anyone hack my blog. It’s me expressing my frustrations and angst with SPAM. Though my blog is being protected by Akismet and junk mail gets filtered from my e-mail inbox by Hotmail, I still take the time to peruse these discarded posts and messages. There is a rare occurence when a legitimate message gets filtered out. However, I may not be able to do this soon, as I am receiving over 300 spammed messages per day.

In other words, even with these counter-spam methods, time and effort must still be put forth to overcome this societal burden. I can’t imagine the cost these time-wasting messages have on our economy. I’d imagine in the hundred of millions of dollars, if not more.

Almost all the messages are focused around a few key areas that pull in huge Internet revenues. They include:

  • Erectile dysfunction drugs
  • Weight loss solutions
  • Online gambling
  • Free giveaways
  • Business opportunities
  • Porn (who would have thought?)

Not only are these messages annoying, but they are also hard to read. The cryptic combinations of letters and numbers used to try to combat anti-spam measures is perplexing to say the least. Even if I did want to start a home-based business or order some weight loss pills, I wouldn’t know which link to click…

Add phishing to the mix and we have yet another another obstacle to overcome.

Obviously, this is not a problem that is going to go away anytime soon. I guess for the time being all we can do is bite the bullet and hope that ‘our’ technology can overcome ‘their’ technology… if that makes any sense. As long as there is money to be made online and ‘gaming’ is present, spammers will make the most of the opportunity.

Note: I expect this post to get SLAMMED with spam due to the nature of the content and the specific words contained within.