Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

What’s The Next Hot Space?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Every hot Internet space goes through an evolution. There is an initial acceptance stage, followed by hyper-growth. Recent spaces that fit this description include micro-blogging, online video, and social bookmarking.

Buzz and exposure in these areas exceeds that of most other areas. Furthermore, acquisitions have taken center stage. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are the usual suspects, but traditional media companies (Fox, Viacom, etc…) are beginning to recognize that the web is going to play a vital role in the progression of media.

High valuations are also an indicator of a hot sector. They may reflect actual value, factoring in future growth and earnings, but often these stratospheric numbers are pulled out of the air by Kool-Aid drinking analysts.

So… back to the title of the post… what is the next hot space?

We’ve been hearing a lot about ’semantics’ and the ’semantic web’, but when is there truly going to be an app or service that regular people can use that leverages this technology? It’s been talked about for years now, but we have yet to see much progress (at least in my mind). New search engines Powerset and Hakia promise to revolutionize search using semantics - I guess time will tell.

Platforms and aggregators seem likely poised for success. They bank off raw data and information to create interesting, value-added services. The Facebook platform is a great example of this. Now, MySpace and Bebo have introduced similar platforms.

Perhaps, simple apps or feature-specific apps (think 37signals) will be the future. Keeping it simple and not over-crowding the offering with useless features is more complicated than it seems. Though this cannot be classified as a given space, it is more of a strategy that can be applied to any space.

To me, it seems that the most successful apps will either be more complicated or more simple than current services. This may seem like a generic statement that covers all bases, but I’ve been amazed (and unimpressed) with the majority of recent offerings.

What do you think the next hot space will be?

Facebook App Management

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Facebook new logoAre you sick of scrolling down seemingly endless Facebook profile pages? Are you sick of the clutter created by the app onslaught? I sure am. And I think it has to stop. The creation of the developer’s platform was a great idea, but the lack of regulation and management is what irks me.

Users continue to add countless apps (most of which they will probably never use). I, for one, will add the odd app, but only if I see value and plan on using it. If I’m just looking to try one out, I’ll add it, try it, then delete it immediately. I doubt this is process followed by most.

For this very reason, I am proposing a Facebook app management system. What does this mean? Well, it means useless clutter will be eliminated, page load time will decrease, and overall experience will improve.

Under the proposed system, apps that remain unused for 2+ months (or whatever default period of time) will automatically disappear from a given profile page. For obvious reasons, they can be re-added at a later point. A simple control panel would allow users to set their own inactivity period (2 months would be the default, for example). Having said that, users could still choose the “Never Delete” setting. This is essentially what Facebook is using right now.

I understand that some users enjoy the “Superpoke” function and other miscellaneous apps, while others try these apps, then never use them again. Subsequently, these space-eaters serve no purpose and provide no value to the profile owner or visitors. Displaying only the apps used frequently will improve the experience without creating any added hassle (automatic removal of idle apps) for the profile owner.

My Problem With Web 2.0

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I really like web 2.0 and social media, but I have a problem. The majority of people don’t know what the heck it is. This means that they are unable to use such technologies. Preaching to the web 2.0 ‘echo chamber’ is great, but it limits growth, thus decreasing potential revenues.

In my opinion, many start-ups with products/services focused solely around web 2.0 are hoping for a successful launch, widespread PR and exposure, then a quick sale to an Internet giant or media mogul. Long-term aspirations are questionable. Even more perplexing are web 2.0 services that aggregate other web 2.0 services.

Simplicity… usability… they’re all I ask for. God bless the companies that make web 2.0 usable. Making it easy for regular folk to harness and leverage the power of these technologies cannot be overstated. I’ve hit on this topic before, but I will continue to do so.

First of all, we need to take a look at the messaging. Web 2.0 is full of jargon. Let’s take a look at some popular web 2.0 terms that a majority of people have likely never heard of:

  • AJAX
  • Widgets
  • RSS 
  • Wikis
  • Mash-ups
  • Podcasting

… and the list goes on. Personally, these terms are second nature to me. But I understand that my parents and friends have no idea what they mean. This needs to change.

Secondly, there needs to be better education around how these technologies can or are being used. The intimidation factor plays a huge role here. Many shy away from web 2.0 due to the seemingly frightening nature of these terms. This is nothing more than an information inefficiency. Bridging the gap is the ultimate goal.

So what needs to be done? What’s the simple solution?

Easy-to-understand messaging and better education are key to the adoption of web 2.0 technologies.

Once this happens (and all the planets align), we can all delve further into this interweb of unlimited possibilities.

Note: For further analysis and commentary, please read this previous post: How Facebook Is Bringing Web 2.0 MainStream.

Web 2.0 Acquisition Spree

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

In the past couple days, we witnessed the acquisition of two web 2.0 contenders - Newsvine and Jaiku. The former was scooped up by MSNBC, while the latter was bought by Google. Interestingly, both sit second in their respective industries, trailing space leaders Digg and Twitter.

What’s the advantage of buying a second-tier player? Price obviously. I’d imagine that Digg or Twitter would be looking for several multiples of what Newsvine and Jaiku sold for. To their credit though, these leaders have shaped their respective industries and tallied up enormous user bases. Brand equity and recognition cannot be overlooked. For this very reason, I was surprised that Google didn’t buy Twitter. The search giant is known for buying high-profile, industry leaders (i.e. YouTube, DoubleClick, Blogger, and FeedBurner to name a few).

I’m not a regular user of micro-blogging platforms (i.e. Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, or Tumblr), but I have dabbled from time to time. Having said that, it is hard for me to compare Twitter to Jaiku. Nevertheless, I’ve heard whispers that Jaiku is a more powerful platform than Twitter with more robust functionality. Ambiguity aside, this may be a reason Google opted for the lesser known name. Price may have been a bonus.

As for Newsvine, it will be interesting to see how MSNBC decides to incorporate and/or integrate the service. Left in the uncapable hands of Microsoft, the service will probably fail. The Redmond giant has a history of botching web 2.0 acquisitions. Let’s hope that they keep it separate and consider it a ‘portfolio asset’.

To MSNBC’s credit however, I think Newsvine is a great acquisition. As opposed to Digg, the site is truly focused on the news. Though the design and much of the news are highly professional, Newsvine is still able to successfully incorporate the concept of social news and user-contribution - a slippery slope to say the least.

Kudos to all parties. I look forward to seeing what happens next, especially with Jaiku…

Any thoughts? Anyone know the acquisition prices? What do you think of the fit?

The TechMeme Leaderboard Is Link Bait

Friday, October 5th, 2007

TechMeme Leaderboard logoThis week, TechMeme officially launched its anticipated “Leaderboard”. The board tracks the top 100 news sources on TechMeme, based on the number of headlines attributed to each source over the previous thirty days. To some degree, it can be interesting to follow. But I think it poses more problems than benefits. What is truly the point of displaying the top 100 sources? It simply creates a hierarchy of power and inflated egos.

Such a ranking system isn’t what the blogosphere needs. We all know that TechCrunch is popular, but we don’t need to be reminded yet again. The so-called hierarchy (A-listers, B-listers, etc..) is a bunch of crap. Blogs are meant to break down these barriers. A leaderboard simply creates an echo-chamber and a positive feedback loop within the realm. In other words, blogs may be giving way to the manufactured world of popularity.

I don’t really care who has the biggest presence. I don’t care that a lot of people read XYZ blog. What I care about is the content - I truly appreciate insight and analysis beyond the basic facts. If the content is good excellent, readers will follow. They don’t need to be influenced by a ranking system to see what ‘everybody else’ is reading. This is the herd mentality.

Personally, I judge every blog based on the quality of each individual post. Over time, I become more and more loyal if the content meets or exceeds my expectations. On the contrary, I lose respect for blogs when the content begins to degrade and succumb to mediocrity.

The TechMeme Leaderboard simply reinforces the so-called leaders and ignores quality content from lesser known sources. The way I see it, this board does nothing more than provide an added marketing mechanism for TechMeme. Now, the ego maniacs at the top will re-visit the leaderboard on a daily basis to view how their ranking has changed. Lemmings and wannabes will also frequent the chart to catch a glimpse of their idols and get an idea of what they should be reading. Is this what the blogosphere was meant to be? I hope not.

In my opinion, the best quality content nowadays isn’t always found at the top. A lot of these blogs have taken a more conservative approach and refuse to take a stance or express an opinion. This creates appeal to a larger crowd, but shows neglect for the initial minority. To some degree, these blogs are moving toward the more traditional media model (shame on them). Lower level blogs have nothing to lose. Therefore, opinions and thoughts are articulated in a much more concise and thought-provoking manner. This is the reason such content shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve always been a big fan of TechMeme in the past. I just think this new move may be one filled with ulterior motives.

PS. I’m not bitter about not making the list. I couldn’t care less. It isn’t the reason I blog.