Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

The 37signals Way

Friday, February 16th, 2007

37signals logoLet me tell you about a small Chicago company named 37signals. Not only have they created some of the most functional apps on the net (Backpack, Campfire, Basecamp, Ta-da List, Writeboard), but they’ve also managed to produce one of the most successful tech job boards and a corporate blog. Oh, did I mention they also pioneered Ruby On Rails, a highly popular, widely-touted, open-source web-application framework?

Why are they so successful at doing so many different things? It’s simple. The answer is… they’re simple.

They run a lean operation, both in terms of manpower and product specifications. This is not to say the products lack functionality or sophistication. It simply states that the interfaces and designs are clean, and that only the necessary features are included - nothing over the top or extraneous.

So how come no-one else is taking a similar approaching to web applications? Beats me…

Their simple, easy-to-use apps are setting the industry standard in an industry that doesn’t exist. Obviously, other companies are pitching their project management, collaborative writing, real-time chat, and organizational tools, but none seem to be competing on the same level. Or maybe 37signals has simply created a niche and taken 100% ownership of it.

Moving along…

Their revenue model is ingenious. They actually CHARGE people. Unlike many web 2.0 outfits that are monetized via Google AdSense and run-of-the-mill ads, 37signals actually charges users once they’ve tried the product and determined that the basic feature set is insufficient. In other words, no financial commitment is made until the user determines that the given product has a basic level of functionality, but that the premium version is the optimal choice. Only then, does 37signals achieve a transaction. Surprisingly, people WILL pay for a good product - even for software, in this day and age.

As I have said, I am still unsure as to why another company hasn’t come along and tried to accomplish the same thing as 37signals. Eventually, others will clue in. But in the short term, I think there is a very real opportunity for a small, lean start-up to step in and create simple web-based apps that are not only clean, but functional. Competing in a different realm than 37signals may be a good option, but there are countless other small niches to be conquered. In doing so, the venture may be able to achieve the web 2.0 unthinkable… revenues. Or in a utopian world… profits.

Are Wikis Here To Stay?

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

In one word… definitely. In some form or another, wikis will be around for years to come.

I like to use the term ‘dynamic document’, instead of wiki. The latter is too entrenched in the over-hyped world of web 2.0 lingo. It should be retired to the world of beat-boxing, i.e. “Wiki, wiki, wiki…”. The term ‘dynamic document’ not only provides a better description of the concept, but also paints a vaster picture as to what wikis can be used for.

The concept of collaboration and user-contribution is relatively new. But live documents not only save time and effort, but prevent overlaps. Almost any written document or piece of media can be turned into ‘wiki’ form allowing for open user-collaboration.

Obviously, wikis have caught. Wikipedia is the prime example. However, others do exist. Google Docs provides the ability to collaborate and chat in real-time.

I truly believe that more and more companies will adapt this concept as the benefits become more apparent.

How To Reach The Tipping Point

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Every modern-day home business libraray seems to contain at least one or two titles by Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and/or Malcolm Gladwell. Together, these new-age business revolutionaries have paved the way for a for a new type or marketing and thought-process.

Gladwell’s first title, The Tipping Point, gained widespread acclaim and went on to hit the bestseller list. A cult-like following ensued. The same can be said for the former two authors, but years earlier. In any case, there is a common thread among their books that entails the idea of evangelists, connectors, ’sneezers’, mavens, and influencers. These are the people who will not only use your product, but rave about it to others. These are your loyal fans, your army. But reaching them has always been a problem. Until the advent of the Internet…



Much has been said about the micro-communities, niches, and target groups that marketers strive to reach. Offline, locating these tight-knit groups is next to impossible. Even in a case where a marketer is able to reach the intended audience, messages are more often than not ignored or over-looked. Finally, the level of interaction leaves much to be desired.

Enter The Blogosphere

What if a marketer was able to tap a pre-existing network that of micro-communities that were focused around a specific niche or topic? What if there were search tools to simplify the process even further? Locating your influencers and evangelists, and creating product conversations would be much easier. The process could in theory be broken down into a set of steps. This ‘art’ of marketing is all of a sudden a science.

The blogosphere and blog search engines are the stuff that dreams are made of - for marketers. Add to that blog directories and ranking systems, and not only can a marketing strategy be tailored around a specific group, but around the status or hierarchy of a given group.

For obvious reasons, I am not going to outline the entire marketing process, but you can begin to see how valuable the blogosphere and an accompanying toolkit can be.

Use it wisely and treat these users like gold. The Tipping Point is closer than it appears…

Too Many Features

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Way too often do I see a company trying to do too many things for too many people. A company will launch the ultimate portal experience with e-mail functionality, search, weather, horoscopes, VOIP, calendar, and an AJAX interface.

What I’m trying to say is that many companies confuse their offering by trying to do too many things. By focusing on 1-3 features in particular and creating a spectacular experience, your potential for success is much greater. This is what YouTube did… and did very well might I add.

How often do you read a features set that is over a page long and you’re left wondering… “WTF does this thing actually do for me?” It’s a daunting reality. Now, isn’t it refreshing when you browse a feature set that is minimal (only in terms of size). You can paint a clear picture in your head as to what the system/site/software can accomplish for you.

Think of it like ordering food in a restaurant. Sure, a huge menu is good as there are a lot of choices. But in many cases, the size and breadth clouds your minds and thought-process. A smaller menu is easier to choose from as the information at hand easier to quantify.

Numerous small companies can attribute their success to a given feature of a larger unsuccessful company.

As the old saying goes, “A jack of all trades, master of none.” Companies need to conceptualize a clear vision and stay true that original mindset. It may not sound logical but by focusing on a smaller number of features, a start-up has a greater likelihood of succeeding (in many cases).

Craigslist and Wikipedia are great examples of simple start-ups that set out to do one thing well. Never along the way did they stray from that original vision and look where they stand today - among the greats.

I can’t wait to see more examples of this mentality and thought-process moving forward. These are the apps and designs of the new web. They are the success stories and sites I will use. This is web 2.0.

Do You Digg Canada?

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 logoIf so, then is the site for you. This Canadian version of its Southern cousin is all about user-contributed news. As the site says, “News 2.0 is all about Canadian user powered news. All the news are submitted and voted by users. Share, discover and promote the news that is important to you!”. Although very similar to Digg, the site takes on a very Canadian feel.

Current front page stories include articles regarding Vancouver and Ontario. Mark Evans referred to the site as the “Great White North Version of Digg”.

Although Digg itself would be impossible to compete against directly, niche news sites and verticals like are changing the game. By taking on a regional subset of Digg’s traffic, is able to not only survive and co-exist, but also develop a more targeted, tight-knit community around Canadian news.

Once again, this is evidence that user-contribution is here to stay. As more and more niche portals, verticals, and communities spur up around this concept, the stronger and more powerful the foundation becomes. is powered by a CMS called Pligg. This Digg-like back-end system is becoming more and more popular around the net. It is being used to power countless verticals and Digg-like sites that not only publish news, but also photos and videos.

Though the web portal is still in its early stages of life, already it is gaining some traction and exposure. For more on the development of the site, visit their blog.

It’s good to see yet another local, Canadian web 2.0 company making waves in the sea that is the new web landscape. Good luck guys.

NOTE: agreed to feature my site if I featured their’s.