Farewell, Steve.

Rest in peace, Steve

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

You lived hungry. You lived foolish. And you taught us how to live.

Farewell, Steve.

Regulators’ Decision Function

Telecom companies lash out at EU fiber proposal
(Click image for full article)

Reading this news piece got me thinking: What is the best, single point decision function for regulators?

  • maximise consumer benefit,
  • maximise domestic employment and investment opportunities, or
  • help develop national champions who can grow and compete globally

Each has its pros and cons, and they all tend to be in conflict with each other.

Currently most regulators, like the one in news above, seem to prioritise consumer benefit, followed by local investment and employment opportunities wherever possible.

But, is that the best option? If not, which one of the above should a regulator chose to maximise? (Or, in what order should a regulator prioritise them?)

Continue reading Regulators’ Decision Function

Apple + Sprint – Exclusives.

Sprint - Apple exclusive
(click image for original BGR article)

With $20 billion worth of inventory involved, I believe it’s more a case of Apple getting exclusive access to Sprint’s customers than Sprint getting exclusive rights to iPhone 5.

With such a huge inventory to push, I doubt Sprint will want to sport any high-end Android or WP phone for the next few years.

Platform + App + API = Shortcut to Win

As a cyclist, I keep exploring route mapping and live tracking apps. This weekend it was the turn of mapmytracks, thanks to all the attention focussed on rocket2 LEJOG attempt.

But this post is not about a route mapping / tracking website, or about that attempt. It’s about the interesting approach mapmytracks has taken to app development.

They’ve developed official iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia apps. They don’t have an Android app, yet, but openly link to alternative Android apps that work with their API providing both live tracking and route mapping.

I like this approach, coming as it is from a website in a cluttered & competitive space. By providing an API and advertising / linking to compatible apps, they don’t have to compete with the huge number of similar apps in Android marketplace. Yet, they enable people on the most widely used smartphone OS to connect to their platform.

In one move, they’ve reduced their own efforts towards developing an Android app, ensured presence on multiple apps on that platform, and yet given them the option to, some day, buy the app that emerges as most successful on Android.

Wondering:

  • Are there other small firms out there, developing and owning the platform while providing APIs and encouraging outside developers to provide mobile apps for it?
  • Why don’t more startups that are targeting to become a ‘platform’ use this with an app+api strategy?

Continue reading Platform + App + API = Shortcut to Win

End of summer

End of summer...
End of summer...

Flash Thought: TV network executives have a good reason to hate this late London summer, don’t they?

It’s their best advertising season with all the latest programming lined up, and yet we’re all ignoring the tellys and heading out to parks & pubs making most of the sunshine.

Having paid huge sums for syndicating new series and advertising them all over town, what would you do if you were faced with this delayed flourishing of summer:

  • Delay the seasons programming by a week or two?
  • Bait & wait, trying to grab an early hook for winter?

Apple advertises Samsung Tab

This is going to be launched on the market with the velocity of a fire hose and is going to just come in and take away iPad 2 sales so quickly that by the time we get to final hearing the full impact of the patent infringement will be to the detriment of Apple and to the benefit of Samsung.” – Apple’s Lawyers on the Galaxy Tab 10.1

If I were Samsung, I’d highlight those quotes in my product advertisements.

Might even finally offer Apple some royalty payments, for using the quote :)

InMaps, revisited.

Yesterday, TC broke the story about Google being in talks to acquire Katango. Since Facebook brought out the smart-list update, Google would want to respond and Katanga’s platform might just be an easy ticket.

However, the thought of FB & Katanga’s automatic listing/grouping together of people reminded me of something interesting that LinkedIn had unveiled earlier this year but got lost after an initial spurt of coverage: InMaps.

Circles @ LinkedIn
Click on the image to get your own LinkedIn InMap

Isn’t that InMap, with its ‘Professional Networks’ just a smart grouping of my contacts into Circles? Exactly what Google wants to do with Katango and Facebook has already done with smartlists.

That information – professional association networks  – is not very valuable to me (I know my professional circles) but possibly a gold mine for LinkedIn and anyone it may want to share it with. Wonder what’s keeping LinkedIn from tapping into this data and providing features like ‘Professional Circles’ – give people a platform to share & discuss within relevant circles – that might help develop LI as a better social network rather than the ‘just a job site’ that it is fast becoming.

Even more, however unlikely, what is preventing LinkedIn from making money from allowing sharing of these network links with either G+ or FB? (Only user initiated, of course). Or refining the algorithms to pro-actively suggest recruits to companies based not just on keyword match, but network affinity of current/past hires as well.

Basically, at a time when both Google & Facebook are using these features to enhance their networks, why is LinkedIn not pushing it? Specially, as far as I know, it was the first to launch the feature.

Continue reading InMaps, revisited.

Twitter wins too.

In this feature war between Facebook & Google+, the consensus amongst industry followers seems to be:

Consumer is clear winner and Twitter is clear loser, everything else is still up for grabs.

Well, I’ll go out on a limb and say that I feel Twitter will be a winner too. And my explanation for that is that good old KISS principle works everywhere – in this feature-cluttered fight for social network dominance too. And in that space – for a ‘simple’ social network – there is still no competition for Twitter.

The feature battle between FB and G+  is developing them both into powerful, yet increasingly complex, properties. This is good for users like me and the people I read – we are all technologically adept, willing to trade simplicity & a little time for more powerful features and more control over what we see / read / do.

Yet, that is not what everyone wants. Many, if not most, people just want simplicity.

People like my girlfriend. Her primary network is Twitter – she loves its simplicity in her time-starved life – and the second one is Facebook – because it has an interface she’s familiar with and because that’s where most of her friends & family are, i.e. the network effect.

People like Om Malik, who wrote a short but insightful post earlier today about increasingly feeling social network fatigue and how increasing complexity was adding to it. Twitter should pick up this punch line from his post and use in all their advertisements:

I use Twitter all the time because it is simpler, easier, real-time and always on!

People who Mike Elgan quite nicely categorised here (read that full post, it’s good):

Most Facebook users just want to interact with family and friends. They don’t want to learn anything. They don’t want a more powerful platform. They don’t want Facebook to be more like Google+.

For these people, the increasing complexity of features and controls on Facebook is causing a dissonance.

Why Twitter wins?

Simply because for the first set of people above – like Om and my girlfriend, who are always pressed for time and attention – Twitter provides a clean, single timeline that they can read and update. No likes or +1s, no separate profiles to update, no privacy controls, no circles, groups or smart-lists for sharing, no albums, apps & games. Just one timeline – simple.

The fact that of all three social networks, it is the best integrated and easiest to use on mobile helps it even more.

My hunch is, that for these people who crave simplicity – Twitter will start taking over as their primary social network.  Yes, people will still stay on Facebook, many will even join G+ – but Twitter will become their primary network, with cross-posting apps their tool to update the other networks.

And that, will be a big win for Twitter.

Twitter will never be as big and ubiquitous as Facebook already is, or G+ wants to be. Yet, it has a community that is highly involved and committed. These, time-starved individuals, looking for an online community where they can feel comfortable – will not just join it, they’ll love it and commit to it in a manner they never did to Facebook.

Also, though their numbers might be small, these are the people who advertisers value a lot – people with short attention spans but good money to spend. They also happen to be the same people who are hardest to reach through old media TV & print advertisements.

Result: an increase in the ‘quality’ of users on twitter – both from their contribution to the interactions on the network as well as their value to the advertisers. Or in other words – a win for Twitter.

Continue reading Twitter wins too.