Sunday, January 31, 2010
“Alongside our greatest longing lives an equally great terror of finding the very thing we seek. Somehow we know that doing so will irreversibly shake up our lives, our sense of security, change our relationships to everything we hold as familiar and dear. But we also suspect that saying no to our deepest desires will mean self-imprisonment in a life too small. And a far-off voice insists that the never-before-seen treasure is well worth any sacrifices and difficulty in recovering it.
And so we search. We go to psychotherapists to heal our emotional wounds. To physicians and other health care providers to heal our bodies. To clergy to heal our souls. All of them help–sometimes and somewhat. But the implicit and usually unconscious bargain we make with ourselves is that, yes, we want to be healed, we want to be made whole, we’re willing to go some distance, but we’re not willing to question the fundamental assumptions upon which our way of life has been built, both personally and societally. We ignore the still, small voice. We’re not willing to risk losing what we have. We just want more.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Less than 24 hours after Apple introduced the iPad, a British media company announced plans for an app development fund for the device. Northern Film & Media said it will contribute as much as £40,000 (about $64,500) to help northeast England teams develop apps.
After reading this I started thinking about developers and the iPad. My first thought is always about the customer problem. What problem does the iPad solve and for whom.
I'm still not sure of that answer, however I'm sure it will appear over time. What does interest me though is the mechanics of the fund and the developers who get the money.
Like all VC funds there has to be an exit strategy. I suppose the "bet" here is that by being first on the iPad is akin to being first on the iTouch/iPhone. In as much you iPad app might be listed in the top 25 apps and so will generate considerable downloads which can then be ad supported.
Let's think about the ad model for a moment. Let's say there's a million unique impressions every month and the conversion rate is 3% - that's 30,000 paid ads each month. At a rate of £2 each that's £60,000 a months or £750,000 a year. Not bad for a £40,000 investment.
So now the newco is profitable and cash flow positive, so it starts hiring for the next app. Two more developers, nice digs to work out of, more overhead for marketing because now this thing is starting to get popular and before you know it 3 years in they're losing money each year.
And to me therein lies the rub. In the short term it's a money spinner (potentially) in the long term, it's probably not as there are now more newcomers (remember there are currently over 2,400 Social Networking apps in the iStore).
The money should have been repaid via dividends by now to the VC fund... but there is no exit, because who is going to buy a company losing money?
A Must Read piece on the iPad: link
I totally agree - "Apple has decided that openness is not a quality that’s necessary in a personal computer. That’s disturbing."
Yes it is for a number of reasons. Perhaps the biggest one is that it stifles innovation. Sure you can still develop but only within Apple's boundaries. For most of the developers that's far too restrictive.
Apple how has a monopoly on innovation on their platforms. I suppose that's why 93% of the world runs Windows. Not because it's better (Customers buy solutions) but because it's "more" open.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
From the excerpt...
The invention provides a method and system for location-aware authorization such as for electronic devices (e.g., mobile electronic devices). One embodiment involves authorizing access to a standalone system such as a mobile device, by collecting user credentials on the device for authentication, obtaining location information (e.g., geographical position) for the device from a locating module such as a satellite navigation module attached to the device, accessing profile authorization information for authenticating the user based on the user credentials and device location information (localization), authorizing access to the device by the user if the profiled authorization settings match the credentials and the position of the device.
There's already a Mobile solution that enables this to happen (link)
Works on all Mobile platforms, and all that it requires is an Internet connection. Works inside the browser and supports real time location such as GPS, Wifi, RFID etc and can also delivers real time user credentials such as bio fingerprint data.
One question I often hear is that you have to build a Mobile app to ensure that you can still run it in the event that your not connected - this is called Offline mode.
It always makes me smile when I hear this - in this day and age (and certainly going forward) Everything connects to Something (in some form or fashion).
It is simply not practical to store everything on a Mobile device even if there was room. The data sits on very powerful servers all of which are now connected to the Internet. Even the latest Mobile apps for the iPhone all connect in the background to web servers for their content.
And therein lies the real issue - the content is always somewhere else. You access it via a connection. If there's no connection you wait until there is. Can you imagine in the future a Mobile device (or any device for that matter) that doesn't have real time connectivity?
It won't happen because we're fast becoming the most connected society on Earth - and it's how the folks who supply the connectivity make money.
So next time you hear someone say that a Mobile app is the way to go because it can run offline don't believe them, because to have any value it will have to connect to something.
Not a lot. One uses the Operating System interface to display a rich user interface, the other uses the browser and usually delivers a web service (like search).
The other big difference is that it's much harder to build cross platform Mobile apps due to all the different operating systems than it is to build a web app that displays content in the browser.
Here's a simple scenario. You decide to build a Mobile app that does Search - it will have a nice user interface and connect in the background to your web service to deliver the results. All the user will ever see is the Mobile app interface. You decide to deliver this app on 6 Mobile platforms - here's what you have to learn:
- Blackberry - their version of Java
- Symbian - J2ME (standard version of Java)
- Windows Mobile - C++
- Android - their version of Java
- Apple - Objective C
- RIM - WebOs
Now imagine that after releasing the Mobile app you need to add 4 new features. Ouch!
The cost, development time and risk are considerably diminished with a Web app. Mobile apps only make sense in a niche, one platform environment - otherwise they simply don't scale from a cost and risk perspective.
So why do people build Mobile apps? Simply because they can access the device side capabilities that the Web app/browser can't.
However that's now changed and it's possible to access any device side capability via the browser without compromising security or performance - there's a free trial version out there that shows you how it's done. (link).
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Simon Judge writes in his latest blog about the need for the following:
Nevertheless, I believe there would be a huge market for a cross platform application generator. What I mean by this is something where you can write once and deploy (native) to many platforms and still retain the OS look and feel. Also, something that covers the majority of the native APIs. Such a thing wouldn’t be easy to produce. For example, just look at the difficulties (and timescales) Nokia is experiencing adapting Qt for Symbian and Maemo
Well 5o9 Inc has built it and it's called MAGGIE (Mobile Application Generator). Here's a screenshot (it runs as an online SaaS tool).
Here’s how it works - you meet with the customer and talk about the features that they want in their Mobile app (this includes the ability to access native device side API’s such as GPS and SIM cards, and then share that data with a web service).
You enter the data into a spreadsheet which can then be exported as a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file and copied into MAGGIE (Mobile Application Generator). All you do then is select the mobile phones you want the software to run on, and click on the Submit button. Alternatively you can have the source code emailed directly to you.
It then generates all the native code e.g. Java, C++ etc for all the different Mobile platforms. It does all the UI for you on all the different form factors and also includes debugging notes.
You can even access your own background images off the web and they will be included. After that, drop it in your compiler and hit the compile button. It compiles clean.
There is still a little work left to do, but the majority of the code is complete and ready for deployment.
Think about this in the hands of Mobile developers who are looking for cross Mobile platform support with the ability to integrate into backend Web apps with nothing more than a few lines of scripting code.
The ROI is now measured in hours not months or years.
I thought I would try a simple experiment - see what advertising is like on mobile?
I have a iPhone with a few ad supported apps onboard. So I launched Text+ and clicked on the advertisement for dating advice. Please note that I'm happily married and have been for coming up 24 years. So my first problem is why doesn't the app know this? If they knew a little more about Me it would make the advertisements a lot more useful.
Anyway I clicked on the ad which launched the browser and this page appeared.
This is exactly what I saw in the browser on the iPhone (same size, everything). Now my next question is - what do I do now? What is my incentive to double click on this page to zoom into the text? Why isn't the page correctly formatted for a Mobile device?
And herein lies the fundamental problem with advertising on Mobile. Closing the marketing loop after someone has clicked on an ad is going to be very difficult. There is no large monitor to view the page, there is a limited keyboard and all the mobile phones have different screen sizes and various input devices. Basically they're all different.
So how do I as the advertiser plan for all of this. No one is going to type in data on a phone. You might try it once, but it's a labor of love each time - and whats the payout for all that effort?
Nothing that I can see.
For advertising to really work on Mobile the site I'm connecting to AND the ad that I'm seeing has to "know Me". It (the ad) has to be contextually aware of not only Who I am, but also What device I'm using, and finally Where I am. Anything less and the ads become worthless.
It sure sounds great to say that 100 million ads are delivered each month - but if they have no relevance to Me then it's like the tree that falls in the forrest, it makes no "impression".
Check out the picture below. Seesmic just launched an app for the "Oprah crowd" that makes it easy to follow Tweets. Let's remember that the vast majority of the world have no idea what Twitter is or let alone what a Tweet is meant to be.
Let's just study the picture. It's a stream of tweets. Can anyone (not the techies) decipher what's going on here?
140 characters simply isn't enough context when mixed with hash tags (#) and shortened URL's. Throw in an @ sign to indicate that it came from someone else and it's like a new short hand. Great for generation X who thrive on this new vernacular, but which leaves the rest of us in the dark.
I've been on twitter for months now (@cranstone) and I follow 61 people with 92 followers. Let's say that those 61 people all tweet something 3 times a day. That's 183 messages that I have to scan through. That's 66,795 messages a year.
And I just follow 61 people. There are some people who follow thousands of people.
It's ridiculous - no one can read that much in a year and do anything else. And therein lies the problem with Twitter's 140 character limit.
It never lets you say enough so you're forced to say more via additional tweets. You stream of consciousness now gets mixed with thousands of other tweets leaving the follower scratching his head.
In the end the noise becomes too much and we revert to the old fashioned communication technique - good old fashioned voice. No limits there.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Fascinating - Command China vs. Network China. Here's a thought - could the same thing be said about America? Command USA (Washington/Government) vs. Network USA (less Government).