G+ First Impressions

July 12, 2011

It’s been a while since the last post but thought would be good idea to capture my first impressions of Google+.

TL;DR – I really like it and it will become my primary social network over time.

The primary reason I use social networks is to keep in touch with friends and for purposes of discovery. My facebook settings are pretty restrictive with No posting on the wall, No tagging of photos etc. So facebook is used mainly for keeping in touch with friends, people I know IRL (in real life), while twitter is primarily a discovery mechanism for new stuff. But my primary information y mode is still GReader.

With Google+ the whole process of discovery and keeping  in touch with friends is simplified. I had roughly 400 contacts which took me about 3 hours to segregate into friends, acquaintances, followers, etc. So now I have 15 circles with an average of 30-40 contacts in each. Ex-Colleagues, Business Contacts, friends and spouses of friends are now segregated and can be managed in a more sensible fashion and I do not have to wade through lots of junk, I can pick and choose which streams/feeds I want to look at, depending on the time and my inclination.

It’s a lot more streamlined and organised and I foresee that just as I migrated away from Orkut to Facebook and Twitter, a similar process will take place as more and more people come onto G+, I will spend less and less time on Twitter and Facebook. Especially they build better integration with GReader.

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Overview of the what is the Chrome OS

November 25, 2009

Marty Manley has done a great overview of Chrome OS, speculating on what it means for the future and how Google sees it. Favourite line talking about consensus in the 80s

I recall a room full of McKinsey partners nodding their heads soberly at the proposition that there was “no business case for networking desktop computers”

 

He also explains why the name Chrome, so go read the whole thing well worth the 5 mins of your time


Google Wave Invites

November 16, 2009

Have about 10 new Google Wave Invites to give away. Message me if you want them. Strictly FIFO (First In First Out).

 

Update: Ok Folks all invites sent out you should get the invites in the next couple of days. Google takes some time to send them out. Have fun waving.


Demand Creation Vs. Demand Fulfillment

August 27, 2009

Jim  Spanfeller the outgoing CEO of Forbes.com has an interesting take on the troubles facing the publishing inventory (Hat tip Felix Salmon). He contends that online advertising rates are so low because the publishers are fundamentally underpricing for the product that they offer. Money quote

What they should not do is allow some sort of invisible hand (or should I say hands) to price their inventory against a backdrop of objectives that can and often does change at a moment’s notice.  This practice has fundamentally driven pricing down across the web and, perhaps more importantly, changed the success metrics from ones based on “demand creation” to ones driven by “demand fulfillment.”

There are two parts to this argument. One is that online medium is very good at demand fulfillment, think Google Ads, contextual advertising, and that business is essentially a race to the bottom as far as pricing goes. My previous comment on the Craigslist story, is at the heart of it about destruction of a business model. This is not the first time it has happened also, Microsoft did it to the encyclopedia business with Encarta, Online directories did it to the Yellow Pages and lest one think this is only about the online world, Japanese car makers did it to American ones and currently even though not many people are aware of it, Huawei from China is doing it to the telecom equipment vendors like Cisco, Motorola and Nokia-Siemens. These businesses are fulfilling demand at a cheaper price with sometimes better quality. Infact the British did it to Indian weavers 250 years ago. Nothing new under the sun here, destruction of business models and changing of the dominant players is a normal part of ongoing innovation.

The other part of the argument which is more relevant and has not had much thought behind is what happens to the core function of advertising which is demand creation. In all the brouhaha of Permission Marketing, CTRs and Web Analytics, one important aspect of business is forgotten, which is demand creation. It is not enough to get customers to buy what they need, but also what could make their lives genuinely better and for most products if customers don’t know how their life could be better they would not buy it. Apple is the quintessential example of this. They build products which consumers are not really searching for but once they have it cannot live without. Another company which actually does this fairly regularly, even though it worships at the alter of data is Google. Demand creation is an severely under-represented aspect of marketing. The fetishisation of measurement has led us to a road where demand creation is outsourced to spammers and SEO sleaze.

Demand Creation is a much harder nut to crack, especially online. One of the ways is obviously viral marketing, but not all products are amenable to a viral approach. Creating a demand for a product, is a subtle art and trusted online properties can definitely play a role, by being a gate-keeper. NYT or New Yorker are trusted sources, so are local papers and they should charge for creating that trust. Paradoxically the route may be by creating a scarcity and charging exorbitant rates. It signals to the customer that the business is serious enough to spend that money to get in front of them. Not by buying cheap inventory from an ad network.


Who will benefit from the eBay-Skype standoff

August 1, 2009

Skype may shutdown due to the to spat between eBay and Skype founders who are unwilling to license the P2P technology to eBay.

First, how stupid is it that after paying billions eBay did not actually acquire the license rights for a key piece of technology on what their platform runs on.

Second, if you know that you need to negotiate with someone in future do not screw them over. Haven’t these people heard of the iterated prisoner’s dilemma?

As to who will benefit, I think this would be a golden opportunity for Google Voice to try and rollout to as many countries as possible, as well as really push hard for Google Chat. I think if Gogle can roll out a quick stand alone Google Chat application they could significantly gain market share.


Do not alienate your core audience

July 26, 2009

John Dvorak asks if the party is over for Microsoft. Listing a long set of activities that MS has embarked upon, everything from Online Publishing to Web Search. But he hits the nail on the head that Microsoft’s core is as a Software Developer building tools for masses, but more importantly for other developers. Apple has apparently learnt that lesson well, today iPhone is the dominant Smartphone player in the world on the back of their Apps Store.

Somewhere along the way Microsoft stopped building awesome developer tools and probably their turning point was when they dissed Java as a platform and that generated a huge backlash against them. As this 1998 article in CNET notes MS waged a holy war against Java and that made them look like bullies and against freedom of choice for developer tools. And what do developers hate the most? Being told that they cannot do or use something even if it makes no sense to use it.

As with all tragedies, the roots of the current downfall have less to do with lack of focus by Microsoft and everything to do with decisions taken a long time ago when they decided to go to war with their core audience the developers.

I think Microsoft realises that and hence are desperate to find something which will replace that core audience, whether it’s online advertisers or Gamers. Will that be possible? Stay tuned!


Spit and Polish in Software Products

July 9, 2009

Most users of great software simply do not understand how much effort goes into creating a powerful and polished piece of software. I have now some firsthand experience with developing http://www.mymoneymanage.com. The actual core functionality for the full product was finished in less than 3 months with a couple of developers, but when we got feedback from users we realised how much spit and polish was required.

This post by Benjamin Pollack really brings out in detail what goes into building a good product. He uses the real world example of Stack Overflow to make his point. But it is amazing how most developers simply do not understand and account for the effort that goes into developing something with polish.

Money Quote

The next time you see an application you like, think very long and hard about all the user-oriented details that went into making it a pleasure to use, before decrying how you could trivially reimplement the entire damn thing in a weekend.

This brings me to all the hype around Google’s Chrome OS. It seems amazing to me that seasoned commentators are breathlessly going on about how it will change the world. Despite all the hype of Cloud computing and weekend hacking and Paul Graham’s promise of a new revolution, it’s still freaking hard to build a product.

The best quote so far is from FakeSteveJobs

Trying to make an OS out of Chrome is like saying you’re going to turn a Pontiac Aztek into a stretch limousine. I suppose it could be done, but why?

I think the definitive word on this is by Joel Spolsky Good Software Takes 10 years.