Well I’ve been putting this post off as long as possible since I have already posted about free a few times throughout this course and really I’ve said all I really wanted to say. But when reading over Wired‘s post about Free I did read one line that sparked a slight bit of interest in my mind. That line was this

They’re not selling papers and magazines to readers, they’re selling readers to advertisers.

In this line it really puts another spin on free and why it’s worth it. The paper and content in a newspaper or magazine cost virtually nothing per copy to create and distribute. Any costs that they do incur though are covered by the advertising within their magazine. Naturally you can charge more if your magazine is read (or at least purchased) by more customers, so if the company is really not making the money from magazine or newspaper sales then why not charge next to nothing or nothing for that matter in order to reach more people. If your content is as good as the one dollar paper but you’re giving your information away then you will most likely pick up more readers than the other newspaper. If you are reaching more people then naturally a company should obtain more value from advertising with you, over the other dollar newspaper. If the company obtains more value then you can charge more for the service and start to make the revenue back that you lost when you started to give the papers away.

This theory works great on paper but there would be a delicate balance on if you would obtain enough advertising revenue from giving away your papers to make it worth it, but it is possible. Especially now with Electronic copies now reducing the cost of production and distribution to basically zero.

To See What else I think about FREE re-read these posts

Giving Stuff Away Increases Sales

How to Make Money in a Free World

-TAG

Advertisements

An Interesting Program

March 30, 2008

I stumbled upon this page and found the story sort of interesting if you watch the video it explains the fact that they use a computer system to make a model of a ship and they can move the cargo around electronically on the model and move water around and the program will calculate the results of what that change has made. I thought it was pretty interesting.

Video

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

March 30, 2008

While reading this post by Seth Godin, I started to think about his last line in the post.

Do you know what most people want? They want you to care.

And also about a line he used in the middle of his post

Humans like humans.

And it inspired me to right this rant/post of my own. One thing I noticed changing at an increasing rate much the same rate as technology is the lack of interactions in business that are person to person. I know there is something to be said about the convenience of dealing with a computer, where the only mistakes made are generally your own, a computer won’t mistakenly lose your order, or give you green when you asked for red, but mistakes will happen, or we as the customer will come to a point where we need assistance. In general “Frequently Asked Questions” can solve about 50% of the problems we will encounter on websites or electronic devices but, for that other 50% when we have to call in, I don’t know about everyone else but I’d really like to talk to a person over a machine. I can deal with a few touch tone questions but when I’m yelling at a computer to tell it what my problem is and then it spits out some automated answer, then it gets a little annoying. I can’t think of any examples off hand, but they have been more frequent as of late.

Companies have to realize that as things become more and more digital that they will lose touch with their customers, and with that it will appear that customers are treated more and more like numbers than people who the company cares about. The majority of interactions with customers can be done by computer, such as buying, selling, advertising, and feedback, but where customers have questions or concerns they should be met with open ears and knowledgeable minds, not a mic and a database.

I’ve found myself lately dealing with smaller companies just because I get treated more like a person. Sometimes I like to be Thomas Godfrey, the guy who is buying parts for his 1995 Honda Civic, instead of Order number 568375 buying part number 3954. There are sometimes I don’t mind being the number and buying a common part that I know will work and that I will be happy with, but if it’s a special part or order I want to have some interaction. In saying that I will also say that I don’t like dealing with companies where there is person to person interaction only. I find a few sites are still order by phone only, which is fine as long as you are available when they are available. So I feel that companies need to find the balance between technology and personal interaction. I dont’ know if everyone feels the same way, but I’m a picky person and that is how I see it.

So Thank You Very Much Mr. Roboto but I’ll take the next available operator with a heart beat.

-TAG

Would the hydrogen car have been produced if the combustion engine was not harmful to the environment or if the resource upon which it depends was not depleting? Pretty good chance it wouldn’t be anymore than a thought. Why? Because we would have no need for scientists to be working on it, or industries and governments pushing those scientists to come out with the next big thing. The problem with innovation and invention is that it rarely happens unless there is a need or if there is a problem with the current solution. I got this idea from Seth‘s blog entry about “Opportunity of a Lifetime“. Humans have a nature desire to innovate and modify other’s designs to make it better or to suit their own preferences, but without a real need we would most likely just end up with a more efficient combustion engine.

The point to my post and some of the point of Seth’s post is that companies often don’t see the need to innovate or invent until they are already started on the downward spiral, when there is indeed something wrong. Any Economics professor of mine, Jim Sentence, once made a good point about the Canadian Economy when our dollar rose above the American dollar. I forgive Jim if I get this wrong, it’s not a direct quote but his basic point was that, while everyone was complaining that the falling exchange rate (currency appreciation) was going to hurt our Economy, he was excited for what this could do for the economic efficiency of the country. Basically Canada had been getting by pretty easy and not overly efficiently and now that there was a situation on their hand they had to adapt and clean up their act. The same is true for many companies in that they don’t really innovate until there is a threat or a problem on the rise.

So like a lot of people, and businesses (since they tend to have people in them) I work better under pressure. That is that once the pressure is on to actually do something then that is when the best work is done, because you know that if you don’t do it then you will get in trouble. Lets take Business Research for example, a lot of people (me) tend to leave things very late in the year and this can get you in trouble due to time constraints. However I do my best work when it comes down to the wire, and like many students I find it hard to get the motivation to do it before the last minute. I often don’t put it very high on my list of things to do until I absolutely have to. Businesses are the same way.

However students who do spread the paper out all over the year and can convince themselves that this is the best idea and will provide the best results. This is often true that the longer you spend doing it, and the more relaxed you are the results should be superior to a quick rush job due to a quickly approaching deadline. In business it is much the same, a business who can constantly look for ways to improve, and constantly and slowly work towards a goal will often succeed over and above the companies who leave things to the last minute, and leave innovation until there is a problem. Truth be told if you leave innovation till there is actually a problem, you are often to late to stay on top.

I guess being the car guy I’ll try to relate it to the automobile industry just to make this a little more interesting at 2:30 in the morning. Constantly trying to better your company, product or service in the absence of a problem is like preventive maintenance on a car. Just because you don’t have a problem doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it better. Leaving problems until they arise and need a quick fix is often more expensive and can actually be the ruination of the car itself.

What I’m really saying is

So if you haven’t really started on Business Research GET GOING

Ok so I wrote this late at night and really didn’t make a point related to the technological side of it all.  basically what I was getting at is that most companies  as mentioned above wait to the last minute but I find newer web based companies have a slightly different method.  They don’t wait for there to be a problem, they create a solution to a problem we didn’t know we had or a problem we had just come to accept.  Take Del.icio.us for example most people most likely accepted the fact that they couldn’t access their links from their home computer while at work. But Del.icio.us gave us the solution to that problem.  Take Facebook as well before Facebook I really didn’t feel an empty hole in my soul that I couldn’t keep incontact with almost everyone I’ve ever met, or even facebook stalk them, I mean check up on what they are doing and not engage in conversation because there is most likely a good reason why we don’t keep in touch. But Facebook gave me the solution to the problem that I had come to accept that I would loose contact with most of my high school friends.  But as metioned above these businesses are quite guilty of not responding quick enough to problems. This will often get them into trouble, but sometimes it causes them to do very creative things.  There is a lot going on with the battles of the tech world between Microsoft and Google, Mac and PC, Silverlight and Flash, and the list goes on.  I think most of these big companies work much better when the pressure is on.

-TAG

-TAG

Well I asked around and I managed to get my hands on some scuba gear so I’m prepared to dive a little deeper into my failed topic. First off a nice little definition of what I’m going to talk about.

AIR

AIR or Adobe Integrated Runtime , codenamed Apollo, is a cross-operating system runtime environment for building rich Internet applications, using Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, HTML and Ajax, that can be deployed as a desktop application. This is what my original post about the Ebay desktop was made from.

Taken from Wikipedia

Adobe made a public preview release of AIR (then called Apollo) along with a software development kit and extension for developing Apollo applications with the Flex framework, on March 19, 2007. On June 10, 2007, Apollo was renamed to AIR and a public beta release of the runtime was launched. Public beta 2 of AIR SDK was released on October 1, 2007. Public beta 3, was released on December 12, 2007, and version 1.0 was released on February 25, 2008. (2008-02-25)A Linux version is expected to be released in the second half of 2008

Silverlight

Also taken from Wikipedia

Microsoft Silverlight is a browser plugin that allows web applications to be developed with features like animation, vector graphics, and audio-video playback – features that characterize a rich internet application. Silverlight competes with products such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, Adobe Shockwave, Java FX, and Apple QuickTime. Version 2.0 brought improved interactivity and allows developers to use .NET languages and development tools when authoring Silverlight applications.

Silverlight was developed under the codename Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E). It is compatible with multiple web browser products used on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. A third-party free software implementation named Moonlight is under development to bring compatible functionality to GNU/Linux. Mobile devices, starting with Windows Mobile 6 and Symbian (Series 40 and 60) phones, will also be supported.

I did some searching around the blogs and found this post but it really didn’t give me the information that I wanted. thought this was a good quote.

There’s no arguing that AIR is highly capable, but so is Microsoft’s Silverlight. Adobe and Microsoft have entered a war of attrition, where like HD DVD vs Blu-ray one will eventually come out on top. Having said that both may well happily co-exist side by side for years to come, but history shows that eventually the market will pick a favorite.

As you can read from the descriptions above, Air and Silverlight are not exactly direct competitors. Air supports Adobe Flash and Flex which are actually the direct competitors with Silverlight. AIR is more for offline applications and for desktops while Silverlight is actually like a flash player for online applications and as mentioned in a few other place on the Internet that I have checked, there really is not point in taking this further, it’s comparing apples and apple baskets.

There is an offline application coming out for Silverlight if it is not out already. I’ll see what I can dig up on this topic later on this week.

-TAG

I think we have all learned a great deal from this site but the thing is the latest thing that I have learned I should not have had to rely on the blogs to introduce me to.  This thing I’m talking about is the new Ebay desktop.  While this new item is actually from last week, none of the posts really interested me this week.  Some of the posts caught my eye, but the majority are about politics and I’m so sick of politics in the blog entries I just can’t bring myself to read the same thing over and over again.  While the new technologies and mediums of exchange are making a political race completely different than it use to be, and this will change the way everything works, it doesn’t change the fact that As soon as I hear Hillary or Obama my brain instantly starts thinking about something else, and I can’t see past that, so I’ll talk about that information whenever it is used for something other than the political race.

So back to the Ebay desktop that Robert Scoble introduced me to, in this post . I am a bit of an ebay addict due to my car addiction mostly but I have also bought many random items off there as well.  The new desktop seems to be a very useful tool, I downloaded it and if you use Ebay much I suggest that you do as well.  I really enjoy it so far, do I see much of a difference so far as compared to their website? No not really. . . . . . . yet.  I have been playing around with it a bit, and listened to most of the audio tutorial that comes with it.  I like the layout better and it feels more like something i can make my own and personalize over top of the website.  Now that I have song a few praises of the program and Robert Scoble for introducing it to me, I have something to say about Ebay.  WHY DIDN”T I FIND THIS OUT FROM YOU?  I mean this is Ebay’s program and I went back to make sure but there is no mention of this on their site. I have been on a lot lately since I am in need of a few parts for my car and I was quite surprised to see it not mentioned.  I mean if you want to attract users and keep the ones you have wouldn’t you want to let them get their hands on something like this to make their time as a user more enjoyable?  If you are going to put the time and money into developing something why not get it out there.  I just found it slightly odd that it was not mentioned on their website. I mean is a link really that hard to post up with a catchy heading?  So I suggest that if you use Ebay check out the desktop.

-TAG

Convienient

March 3, 2008

I really like this post about Google Docs by Robert Scoble.  I find this really drives the point home about how Convenience is becoming such a deciding factor in what programs or products get used.  It states that Google Docs have a lot of problems but still they are being used. They have a major factor that normal word processors can’t duplicate, at least not yet, and that is the convenience of being online all the time and accessible to everyone without installing the program on your computer from a CD.  I personally haven’t looked at Google’s Docs yet but plan to very soon.  They would be very useful for group projects in school, as well as once we all get out in the business world.

Companies now have to build convenience into their products, look at how mobile technology is taking off, and the main reason is convenience.  I haven’t really jumped on the mobile technology band wagon yet, basically because I really have no need for it yet.  I suspect that will all change in the near future, but I welcome it.  Convenience plays a large part in my purchasing decisions, as well as which services or sites that I use.  I’m sure Google will fix the initial problems they are experiencing with the docs, and when they do this will be a great tool that everyone should take advantage of.

-TAG