Friday, July 13, 2007

People connect!

We're facing nowadays a enormous boom of any kind of online communities, ranging from the typical ones of contacts and dating services (normally making money by subscription methods) to professional ones (e.g. LinkedIn) or friendship ones (e.g. Facebook). I tried myself several of these communities and you realize that it becomes annoying having to sign in for every different interface. Finally you end up choosing the ones with the most appealing interface, the ones where most of your friends/contacts are, etc.

But when you loot at the amounts paid for some of those projects and the ones that are being at stake for the buyout of companies like Facebook, that makes us think at first hand about the "bubble burst" of 2000. Are they really profitable? Their model is subsidizing users (the only way to attract thousands of them everyday), and their main revenue is (again) advertising. But the power that lays behind them is their biggest asset: the number of customers that are using their services 'loyally'. If we imagine the amount of potential customers and the amount of data that they have from them (those non-confidential), we can easily realize their capabilities.

There are also theories that explain that any person in the world can contact any other person by six degrees of separation (six persons that know one or tow members of the chain till reaching the other side of the link). In the end that is leveraging the advantages of socialization, networking and the needs of people to communicate in a global world!

Friday, July 06, 2007

The lords of the media

The concept of 'prosumer' joins in the same person the consumers with the producers of content. Users are today being the producers of content for free, and then it's indexed, classified and broadcasted by lots of sites widespread around the world. Each time advertising is more targeted and internet companies knor more about the users and their consumer habits. This video also bets for the concentration of the industry where there will be a few big players.

There are others futuristic scenarios on the web that try to anticipate how the mid-term future is going to be. They also predict the big players will unite their power to create the owners of the information and the future media...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Google controls the world...

There’s a saying by the founder of Unilever: "Half my advertising is wasted but I don't know which half". Nowadays targeted advertising is much more developed than in the era of the old media. Google is a good example of an enabler for this change. We can start thinking about the great amount of information that this company is able to handle: tastes and preferences of users, purchasing habits… So Google has the key to a much more predictable and useful marketing.

But Google ‘domination’ is not only that it is the world’s main info controller, the plans stated in the wall inside its Palo Alto offices clearly state that they plan to expand their tentacles even to the moon. In that way they’re switching from the digital world that made them almost mythical, to the analog ‘real’ world… Do you fear anything?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Donate tech

Let’s reflect today on the unselfish actions of the techie companies. Part of their Corporate Social Responsibility plan or not, and being done just to give a good external image or not, we can say that this type of actions have in the end a positive impact... Bill Gates for example is recognized, apart from being the richest man in the world, to be the biggest donor as well. One can think that with the amount of money that he owns that’s easy, but that’s a biased point of view… There are many other fortunes in this world that don’t even do this…

Apart from that there’s an initiative in Spain named ‘Project Dono’ where a tech NGO that is in charge of distributing products donated by Microsoft and Cisco to NGO’s and qualified foundations based in Spain to benefit from this project. The products are: operating system software, office software, publishing software and products for servers. The benefited associations have to comply with certain criteria and have to bear the administrative costs. They save a total of 96% of the market costs. It’s a way of helping these associations by giving them technology infrastructure to support their activities. A nice move from Microsoft to also improve their public image?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Get a (virtual) life

Have you ever played to the Sims? Well, it’s a not so accurate comparison but it’s maybe the most similar one. Because Second Life is a virtual world, but online and with thousands of users living at the same time and interacting 24x7. I started ‘testing’ it some days ago and last week we had the opportunity of having a meeting inside the amphitheatre created by my business school, Instituto de Empresa. We were discussing the opportunities for virtual learning inside Second Life, but we realized that the application has still room for improvement, but great possibilities.

Another interesting phenomenon inside Second Life is the business created around them. Big companies and multinationals have created spaces inside Second Life, creating brand awareness. The first initiative within Spain has been Novatierra, which provides rooms and spaces for private companies to hold meetings inside Second Life. And more to come… How do you see this evolving…?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Plug & touch

Microsoft has recently launched Microsoft Surface, a product that is a service itself. It consists on a solution that works as a personal computer but the interface is tactile and very friendly. Usability becomes key in such applications. By this way they can make technology more accessible to those people that don’t feel comfortable when interacting with computers and other gadgets. Anyway, although this application is being aimed to the business segment, with this application Microsoft is also tackling the home connectivity business (easy: no keyboard nor mouse).

As you could read in the previous paragraph, we have named several concepts at the same time: product, service and application. Product in this example with ‘Surface’ could be more understood as the hardware itself and its features, which are assembled and executed by different applications. While the service could be defined at a higher level, like something more abstract that explains the purpose or the outcomes of the technology applied. How would you define the distinction between these different words?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Duel of the techie titans

Every sport fan likes always to watch the greatest teams playing, like a Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona game. Even if they’re not in their best playing moment, at least there’s always the curiosity and interest of watching two giant rivals playing. This last week, the techie world could witness the meeting of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs included in a conference promoted by “All Things Digital”.

Both top executives didn’t appear together since the beginning of the nineties, when both have bee in the leading edge of the industry since the end of the seventies… However there was no battle as such, but more the mutual acknowledge of their successes. It was also a moment to take a look back to memories thirty years ago, and how things have changes since then! In the end we have the opportunity of having a conversation between two real legends that apart from the love & hate that they can generate, we can recognize that they accumulated important achievements and charisma.

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