Posts Tagged ‘column’
Friday, July 22nd, 2011
By Joe Procopio
Seriously? Wait, how many bands?
When deja Mi founder Justin Miller first dropped hints to me back in May about what would become deja Fest, it sounded intriguing. He painted a picture of an old-school launch party, complete with bands, beverages, and big-shots.
Of course I was in. That’s sort of my thing.
And his strategy made perfect sense. See, deja Mi is a venue-based media sharing application, fancy-speak for an app that takes your pictures, video, audio, any kind of digital content from an event, and uploads and categorizes it in a single album for that venue. All real time.
Local. Music. Tonight.
So you go to a show, and immediately after — hell, even during, you can relive (or immerse yourself in) said show, minute by minute, snapshot by snapshot – or, if you can’t make the show, you can watch or hear the whole thing as it’s streamed to you.
Better yet, if you happen to be out in downtown Raleigh after dinner at any one of the awesome restaurants that have sprung up, deja Mi can give you a full audio/visual menu of what’s happening around you.
No friends, no followers, no privacy concerns.
Cool app. Good reason to throw a party.
But Wait, There’s More
Things got out of hand, in a good way.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Miller and his gang that there’s been a veritable boom in media-sharing apps, especially those launched in the last six months. deja Mi is unique in the sense that it uses location and media sharing in a very efficient manner and marries the two through individual events.
The app stands out, but in order to stand out in the marketing shuffle, they realized they needed to create a major footprint right out of the gate. They talked about it and, going back to the roots of how the company was conceived, decided to tie the launch to the music scene.
A planned one-off concert-style launch party quickly grew into a couple bands at a couple different venues and then evolved into a monster two-day festival bringing in big names while including local bands in the mix.
Thus, deja Fest
That means you’ll see locals The Hell No and The Static Mind as well as Baltimore’s Wye Oak (, fresh off a stint on Jimmy Fallon, and Warner Bros.’ Surfer Blood.
All in all, it’s 26 acts at six different venues over two days plus an all-ages portion on a closed-off Cabarrus Street.
And it’s free.
So drop whatever it is you’re doing tonight and tomorrow (that’s Friday July 22nd and Saturday the 23rd if you ignored my tweets), and get to downtown Raleigh, because we haven’t seen anything like this in ten years, and probably won’t see anything like it again for a while.
The Return of the Lavish Launch?
I’m old enough to remember the bubble parties circa 1998-2001. And let’s get one thing straight. They were awesome.
Back in the day, technology was my ticket to front row seats at the Brian Setzer Orchestra (Thanks, Microsoft!), backstage badges at SXSW (Thanks, Vignette!), and all kinds of ridiculous, superfluous excuses for not having a revenue model.
Personally, I’m trying to revive that sense of fun in the technology world, especially in the startup ecosystem and deliberately in the RTP. Fun is healthy, and it can go a long way towards turning triples into home runs. Fun is necessary.
I’m also the first one to step up and say enough is enough when a Dave & Buster’s gets rented out and a Flock of Seagulls gets flown in for every point release. I’m just as wary of Groupon’s numbers as you are and right now, I’ll be honest, my portfolio is safely invested in mattress lint and Rosetta Stone for Mandarin.
This Is Not a Bubble Party
Miller came up with the idea for deja Mi, sensibly enough, at a show in October 2010. By November, he not only had the company underway but also, and this is key, the revenue model. The app was then built around that.
Going back to the glut of media sharing apps hitting the market between then and now, Miller took stock of the means to get his app to the top of the pile. He quickly realized there was one mean: The traditional way of breaking an app is the holy grail of TechCrunch, combined with several good write-ups and, of course, great reviews in the App Store and Android Market.
It wasn’t until April that the launch party idea was born. deja Mi is the official app of September’s Hopscotch Festival, so they have a partnership as well as a sponsorship with Hopscotch.
Miller realized that this roaming music festival could not only serve as a launch party, but also as the ultimate first impression and test-bed for the app. It would provide the backdrop not only for exposure, but also education and adoption.
If deja Mi is going to become ubiquitous with venue-based media capture, then festivals, even music shows, are just the first step. You might as well just jump right in. So deja Fest is not just a party, it’s a Petri dish where the app can quickly grow and evolve.
A Launch Party With a Purpose.
Certainly it’s going to be fun – but that’s just gravy.
It’s a risky move from a financial standpoint – as they’re putting most (not all) of their eggs in one basket in terms of marketing. It’s either going to work and work extremely well or it’s not, and then they go back to the drawing board.
What I like about it is that they’ve figured out there has to be more than one way to get your name out there. We can all complain about how the RTP is stuck in this plain, vanilla, boring rut, but in order for it to change, we have to make waves, take risks, and, well, bring the sexy back
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for tech media startup StatSheet. He also owns consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media and runs the startup social ExitEvent (http://ExitEvent.com). Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco and read at joeprocopio.com.
Friday, March 11th, 2011
By Joe Procopio
I’m sorry this took so long to write. Atlanta is kind of far away.
But I left behind the palatial confines of the Ritz Carlton Atlanta, an ironically trashed hotel room, and the remnants of Southeast Venture Conference 2011 with two key pieces of information.
The good news is, the long tail effects of the Great Recession are finally starting to wane, meaning venture investment is undergoing its first spring-like thaw. The bad news is there’s a bubble forming.
The clouds have parted, and now the sky is falling.
Coincidentally enough, it appears that the two days over which SEVC11 was held (March 2nd and 3rd) were the total sum of the post-recession-pre-bubble era. I hope that you enjoyed them as much as I did, although I’ll probably forever regret the fact that I spent close to 50% of the new-new-new-Internet-boom kind of drunk and/or asleep.
At least I was in the right place at the right time.
Before anyone panics and sells all their tech stocks, again, let me tell you a little something about the physics of bubbles. Wait. Stay with me. I’m not going to get into actual physics, and I can already see your eyes glazing over and I’m only thinking about typing the words “dot com.”
(Which, by the way, is the only context in which you hear that term used anymore. Have you noticed? Nobody ever says, “I’m going to work for a dot com,” and phrases like “dot com opportunity” and “dot com play” have pretty much vanished, even though the industry is still growing and you can’t say the name of most web addresses without saying the words “dot com.” It literally went Hasselhoff.)
It’s a common misconception that bubbles occur when too many people start doing too many things in whatever industry the bubble is in. For example, the conventional wisdom is that the dot com bubble formed when too many websites went up and the real estate bubble formed when too many people bought houses.
This is not true.
The truth is, bubbles form when too many people start doing stupid things in whatever industry the bubble is in.
The dot com bubble formed when too many websites with no discernable way to make money started raising astronomical amounts of capital at batshit crazy valuations.
The real estate bubble formed when too many people bought houses using loans with interest rates that were set to explode like a pipe bomb.
They’re called “balloon payments” and nobody put two and two together?
The Salad Days of Bubble
I was too young to attend any sort of venture conference between 1996 and 1999, but I can imagine what those presentations were like. A bunch of former Fortune 500 executives mid-life-crisising by pimping the magic attributes of cyberspace and its uncanny and totally provable ability to turn web pages into dollar bills.
“And in conclusion, we’re asking for $1,000,000 to $300,000,000 in order to discombobulate our paradigms and timeshift our synergies. If you take another look at our hockey stick, I’m sure you’ll agree that our estimate of $600 per eyeball is actually quite conservative. And now, enjoy the comedy stylings of Andrew Dice Clay.”
Did I nail it?
That Was So Then
At SEVC this year, the early-stage companies looked nothing like those early stage companies. In fact, they didn’t even resemble the companies we were talking about two years ago. Back in 2009, it was all guts. And by “guts,” I mean tons of bio and medical on one end and energy and telecom on the other.
Tell me that doesn’t feel unsexy like 1995.
And that might be part of the problem. The period from 1996 to 1999, thanks to mass acceptance of the Interwebs, was marked by unprecedented acceleration from solid consumer ideas built on a new technology (search engines) to entire industries built to look like they were built on new technology but really could have been mail-order companies.
So since 2009 looked so much like 1995, it’s sort of natural to expect that 2011 might play out like 2000, and that we’re on the verge of sprouting our next jillion-dollar dot com play from these promising early stage seeds.
Two Things Wrong With That
First of all, most of the people involved with the original bubble, the ones who in 1999 were jumping up and down screaming about how stupid all this was, we’re still here. And we aren’t jumping up and down yet.
The most egregious offense so far is Groupon, but it doesn’t take a degree in astro-physics or a the ability to suspend a massive amount of disbelief to understand how they make money.
So There’s Time
And second, these early stage companies not only don’t look anything like those bubble companies, they don’t act like them either.
At SEVC11, I overheard more than one investor make the assessment that these early-stage companies were solid, impressive, and ahead of the curve. The vast majority were already generating revenue, in some cases in the tens of millions per year.
The asks were also low, usually in the $3 to $4 million dollar range, and the reasoning was sound. Buy equipment. Hire sales staff. Expand into X vertical.
Nobody was up on stage presenting a deck full of dreams and rainbows. Nobody was wearing an expensive suit and waving around a business plan. Nobody had that look in their eyes, you know that one, the Easy Money look.
Maybe I’m Half-Browser
We know what mobile and social are, there’s no funky magic this time around. And we’re treating them for what they are: technical tools, not destinations. That’s the main difference
But be diligent. If I report back from SEVC12 yammering on about one-stop mobile apps for all your pool-cleaning-supply needs or building the world’s premiere social snorkeling network, then it might be time to back up and get out of the way.
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet. He also owns startup consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media (Intrepid Media.com). Yeah, he just referenced Rodney Dangerfield’s worst movie from the 80s. What? Joe can be reached via Twitter: twitter.com/jproco.
TechMedia, which presents the SEVC, is holding its next event, the Digital Summit, in Atlanta May 16-17 at the Cobb Galleria.
TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:
Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com
Digital East: www.digitaleast.com
Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
By Allan Maurer
- Allan Maurer
UPDATED - RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – I’ve got my 10,000 hours in writing for the Web. I started writing for online media in 1999 and averaged 1,000 hours a year or more since.
In his recent book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell, who also authored “Blink,” makes a case for the theory that it requires about 10,000 hours of practice to make someone an expert at just about anything.
Gladwell describes how Bill Gates, Bill Joy, and Steve Jobs all managed to acquire 10,000 hours on computers well ahead of most everyone else by being in the right place at the right time – leading to their success and riches.
He also shows that the theory applies just as readily to the success of the Beatles, who grabbed their 10K hours playing 12-hour gigs in demanding Liverpool nightspots before exploding into worldwide fame and acclaim. It applies, he suggests, to just about any endeavor.
Gladwell’s book, which I highly recommend, details many other components of “outlier” success, which include such things as the luck to be in the right place at the right time.
Right place, right time
I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time as well, actually. In 1997 I left a magazine in Charlotte, NC, to freelance as a writer, but I had been working for regional and local publications instead of the national magazines that had been my primary sources of income previously. Let me tell you, it is tough to make a living writing primarily for local and regional publications anywhere, but particularly so outside of major media cities.
I wrote for every publication that bought copy in Charlotte: Creative Loafing, The Charlotte Business Journal, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte’s Best Magazine, and more, but at the same time was learning to function on the still young Internet. I saw that the Internet was the future of publishing and journalism. I began spending hours every day interacting with people on newsgroups and through email. I began acquiring Internet skills – in search, security, and instant communication, among others.
You had to learn to avoid what were then called “flame wars,” how to search quickly and effectively – which was a bit more difficult in those days than now, and to double check your writing before zipping it off into cyberspace.
And I went job hunting online.
I also started hunting for an online job. The first company I actually interviewed with, a city site firm doing things similar to those I had done at city focused magazines, just flat turned me down, much to my surprise, considering how qualified I was for the position.
But it was the first of a number of strokes of luck that led me to a new career, and at twice what the company that had turned me down paid.
Pioneering tech news site
There were so many jobs popping up online in mid-1999 I barely hesitated at losing the first gig and moved on to applying for the next. I hit the bullseye with a company called dbusiness dot com (a url now owned by an entirely different company), later renamed LocalBusiness dot com. It was one of the first national online news sites covering local technology, startups, funding stories, business profiles. It spawned many imitators.
I had the qualifications they wanted. I had worked for daily newspapers as a reporter, was founding editor of two regional business journals (Northeast PA Business Journal is still going), had covered technology for OMNI, Science Digest, and Longevity, among other national magazines, and had written a book about lasers for Arco in the 1980s (Lasers, Lightwave of the Future), among other credits. You could probably pick up a copy at Amazon for a penny plus shipping and handling.
Versatility is always a selling point for a writer. I worked for a wide range of national publications over the years: from Playboy to Modern Maturity (both of which paid in the $1 a word range in the 1980s). I even wrote a seafood cooking column for a national dive magazine called USA Today for seven years.
$10,000 raise in one day
So they hired me. It was unlike any job I’d had before. We were expected to crank out at least four, usually five stories a day. While initially, we rewrote news releases without so much as a call, I began breaking news stories using traditional reporting methods within a month.
“Glad to know someone can find news without using the wire services (Business Wire, PR Newswire, etc.),” my editor said. But still, the sheer amount of copy we were expected to turn out daily was daunting.
I was one of the first reporters for that company to start breaking news about startups landing funding and broke a number of the biggest stories from the Research Triangle area in that arena, beating even AP to some $100 million deals in those heady times. But it was the daily grind of finding stories, finding sources to talk about them, and finding ways to make technology and business less jargon ridden and more easily grasped that was the real training.
I must have been doing something right, because when a then popular technology business magazine called Upside tried to hire me, LocalBusiness gave me a $10,000 raise instantly to beat their offer. The extra money was in my paycheck the next week. I admit, I do miss the way money flew around in those Internet boom years.
I worked for several other online news publications since, and co-founded LocalTechWire.com, now owned by WRAL in Raleigh. I joined TechJournal South in 2007, and the pace of doing half a dozen stories a day has not slowed. And I’ll say this, once you’ve worked for an online media company, going back to working for a print publication, which I did for a time, feels just like leaving the Interstate where you were doing 80 miles an hour to a back road doing 35.
What I’ve learned
Speed is the main thing I’ve developed working online. That has its consequences, especially working without an editor except Microsoft (and you know how good he is).
The Internet is a hungry beast and has to be fed at regular intervals. Developing that speed was particularly daunting at first, when I worked on an IBM PC dinosaur and dial-up Internet connections. One of the first things I learned was to get high end equipment and the fastest Internet connections I could find. People still comment on how fast I get a story posted following an interview. It wasn’t always that way. When I first started writing for the Web, doing five stories a day felt like whooshing through the galaxy at warp speed.
I also learned the need to be nimble and adaptable, because unlike staid grey lady print media, the Internet media landscape changes rapidly. New technologies, new competitors, new media models, and new tools evolve continually.
Most recently, after years using a variety of proprietary content management systems or tools such as Dreamweaver and FrontPage, I adapted to using WordPress. That added another layer of things to learn.
Learning SEO, for instance, required paying attention to details that I had never needed to think about before as a writer and editor and in an arena that changes as Google and other search engines refine their algorithms.
How? You can’t skip steps in the SEO process. You have to put in alternative text for images, do the 160 character or less headlines, descriptions and key word lists. You also need to stay abreast of search engine algorithm changes. Finally, you have to look at your analytics regularly to see what stories are working and which are not, the search terms people use to visit your site, and where they are coming from (search engines, organic, or referred).
It’s tough not to make some errors working fast, in quantity, and without an editor. But people are forgiving of Internet typos and such. You do see them everywhere, including the New York Times and other top publications online.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the Internet is largely self-correcting. When I make a mistake, whether it is a typo, a misinterpretation, or bad link, I hear about it from readers and correct it, usually before our eWire goes out in the afternoon.
From the time of that first online position through to the present, I averaged more than 100 hours a month writing for web sites, those I worked for full time, those I created, and those for which I freelanced. You deal with more than just writing web copy doing a job like this.
Adapting is essential
You learn to do most of your own IT, from using increasingly sophisticated applications and technology to managing security and ergonomic considerations. A list of the programs I’ve learned over that time would fill a page, including eight different content management systems.
All of which means that in this job, you don’t stop learning and adapting and maybe that’s the essential lesson?
When you think about it, I fit Gladwell’s other criteria of being in the right place (a market LocalBusiness dot com wanted covered) with the right background (solid journalism credentials and experience as both a business and technology writer), at the right time (the very beginning of daily web-only reporting.) To get that 10,000 hours in, you had to start then or earlier.
I was and I did, so, I should be getting good at this sometime soon.
Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournal South dot com.
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
By Joe Procopio
I’m an entrepreneur and I also consult to entrepreneurs. This kind of consulting is so much fun that I can’t even put it into words. It’s inspiramindblowingtastic. And although the questions I purport to answer are mostly along the lines of “how do I build this?”, I also get a lot of “how do I fund this?”
I like those questions, but the answer I give usually isn’t the smile-producing kind. This is because the answer isn’t what people want to hear. What people want to hear is: “Call this guy. Give him the secret handshake. Sign the term sheet.”
How to Get Rich in Two Easy Steps
What I usually tell them is: “Build something everybody has to have then prove to everyone you know who has money how they can invest that money in your thing and make a substantial return on their money.”
“Also hard work.”
Rich Uncle Moneybags
Most entrepreneurs are ready for hard work, and the ones that aren’t usually abandon the fancy business cards and the WordPress site and return to the cubicle from whence they came. The problem is that most entrepreneurs don’t know a whole lot of people with a whole lot of money.
If you are indeed that fortunate breed of entrepreneur, then Godspeed – go build that airline to the moon.
As for the rest of you, you’re going to have to hustle.
In working with what is now dozens of startups, I’ve attempted to beat down so many doors that I’m like a thief on a safe with a stethoscope and those cool fingerless gloves.
“Oh, what’s that? A Protex-A-Lot 5000? Give me 30 seconds.”
People like me are described as, for lack of a more professional label, hustlers. Keep in mind though, this is not the kind of hustler like the kids talk about today with their Iced-T and their OGs. I’m talking more along the lines of, say, Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose.
Oddly enough, I too like to bet on sports.
My Lock of the Week
Jason Caplain doesn’t hesitate to talk to those who hustle. He’s a General Partner with Southern Capitol Ventures, a just-turned-ten-years-old VC firm behind companies like Motricity, ChannelAdvisor, ReverbNation, eTix, Zift Solutions, Artus Labs, and so on and so on.
Jason talks to me not because of my awesome haircut or penchant to buy the first round, it’s because he’ll talk to anyone who will bust down any door in order to get to someone who will listen or help or point them in the right direction.
However, a lot of entrepreneurs aren’t the door-busting type. They’re the brilliant artist geniuses who are too busy coding and working to get their story out.
Calling All Entrepreneurs
So it became good business for Jason to reach out to them. Southern Capitol started doing this years ago with Calling All Entrepreneurs, an open-to-all, one-on-one ten-minute quick pitch and Q&A that they held in Raleigh as well as in Charlotte, Greensboro, Atlanta, Northern VA, and Baltimore.
They’d hear up to 30 companies in a single day and more than once held sessions until midnight in a hotel lobby.
It was tough for the entrepreneur to get their idea compacted into those 10 minutes, so they added coffee and expanded the blocks to 30 minutes. But they soon discovered that, beyond the initial relationship with the entrepreneur, the overall effectiveness of the sessions began to wane after a while.
So why not have an entire meal, skip the pitch, and turn it into a group discussion?
This became the Entrepreneur’s Breakfast which Southern Capitol has now held in all of their target markets. The structured pitch is gone, replaced by a group discussion of whatever the entrepreneurs are interested in. It’s not always about the money – there’s prospects, customers, product, other employees, other relationships that need to be built.
Plus, now the entrepreneurs build relationships not just with Southern Capitol, but also with the other entrepreneurs in the room, who sometimes have best advice. There have even been a couple of occasions where people have met at the breakfast and gone on to found new companies together.
The breakfasts serve to make Southern Capitol more accessible, and also help to clear up a lot of the myths and misunderstandings about VCs. They don’t all wear top hats and monocles, for instance. This in turn sends a lot of entrepreneurs into second gear.
See, once you know the water isn’t full of sharks, it’s a hell of a lot easier to jump in.
So why is this creation of doorbusters a necessary thing? Because the VCs aren’t exactly flocking to the RTP in search of the next Twitter. Yet. Jason says that he and his partner David Jones have never been to a board meeting where they haven’t booked additional meetings with entrepreneurs in the same location. That isn’t being reciprocated here.
Coffee is for Closers
That’s because the investors are customers, and they don’t know what kind of product is here. And that’s because the salespeople here aren’t out there selling – building and managing those key relationships.
Look. I’m not a salesguy, but I know when I need to be. The same is true for any startup. You’re not only selling a product, but if you’re raising money, you’re selling equity in the company. This isn’t even a metaphor, so I won’t extend it.
Except to say that smart entrepreneurs know that they’re selling $5 bills for a dollar.
VC Secrets Revealed
So why would Jason want this out there for his VC kindred to replicate, and potentially steal all those golden opportunities out from under him?
It doesn’t work like that.
Again, it’s about relationships. The more successful investors and therefore the more successful startups that are coming here, or better yet, located here, the higher the exponential on the overall return. Novak Biddle, Valhalla, Noro-Moseley and others are stopping by regularly for board meetings.
They should be on your list of VCs.
Bust a Door
Jason suggests the Price Waterhouse-Coopers Money Tree report as a starting point. Build a list of VCs whose criteria matches your startup (this is crucial, don’t get a reputation for wasting people’s time).
But don’t be afraid to check in with the ones that come here for board meetings, let them know who you are and what your company does, and offer to maybe meet them at the airport. The VCs aren’t flocking, but they are actively looking, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t understand the difference.
The difference is you’ve got to be visible.
Coffee, Bagel, Million-Dollar Advice
And that starts with building your network. Upcoming Entrepreneur’s Breakfasts will be held in Raleigh on January 31st and February 28th. Remember, they’re strictly for entrepreneurs (no service providers), but are indeed open to everyone.
Make sure you give Jason the secret handshake when you get there.
Jason and Southern Capitol will also be hosting the Venture Outlook 2011 with panelists Tom McMurray, formerly of Sequoia (current angel), Hooks Johnston from Valhalla, John Burke from True Ventures, and Matthew Witheiler from Flybridge on February 9th.
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet (statsheet.com). He also retains ownership in consulting firm Intrepid Company (intrepidcompany.com) and creative network Intrepid Media (intrepidmedia.com). He can be reached via twitter @jproco.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
By Joe Procopio
Man! Why did I use up all my clown phone jokes on the Droid X column? The Galaxy tab situation is ripe, RIPE I tell you, for a plethora of this kind of thing:
Models courtesy of Prestige Worldwide
And while calling the Droid X a clown phone was just a way to poke harmless fun at the (viable) oversized handset trend, there is actual substance to said comparison when it comes to the Galaxy.
On first glance, and even over several slapstick-style double takes, the Samsung Galaxy tab is a giant Android handset. Same buttons, same interface, same apps, same screens. It also runs current Android 2.2, which we know isn’t optimized for tablet performance, so for the early adopter, the Galaxy really is a giant Android smartphone that can’t make calls.
Although why they didn’t support basic mobile phone is a puzzler. Give me a headset and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t make calls on the device. In fact, that very capability would allow me to leave my mobile at home in the exact same scenario that would make me choose to leave my laptop at home and bring along only the Galaxy.
That’s the scenario I’m referring to. I think the iPad has been in existence long enough to make this concept self-explanatory, but I’ll summarize it just to make sure. My mom reads this column, you know?
I got my hands on the Galaxy exactly five minutes before leaving for this year’s Internet Summit. The device was absolutely perfect for the event. I could take notes, write, follow the tweetstream and add to it, check my mail, even do some light work.
The Galaxy allowed me to accomplish way more than I could with my smartphone, and I didn’t miss any functionality from my laptop – based on the fact that I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t be doing anything labor-intensive at the conference.
Except groaning at puns. A whole lot of Internet puns.
The Third Device Niche
That opens up the third device niche. My laptop replaced my desktop long ago, allowing me to work anywhere. My smartphone replaced a razor thin slice of said laptop functionality, allowing me to go to some meetings, events, and weddings without lugging around a bag. The tablet expands that thin slice dramatically.
So unless I’m in my home office or my office office, I can keep the laptop on my desk or at least in my car (it’s in the trunk so step off, thugs!), and just bring the Galaxy. Thanks to the cloud and the size of the device, I can even get work done.
Android vs. Apple?
If you’ve read me before, you know I just want everyone to shut up about Android versus Apple. These arguments usually make New Kids on the Block versus Backstreet Boys screeching contests sound nuanced. And yes, I’m aware of the irony of that reference being relevant again. Also depressed.
Anyone in their right mind has to give Apple props for inventing the gadget with the funny name that was the wrong size and didn’t do anything new. Once everyone realized that this was way more than just a really cool multimedia player, the third device niche became a real possibility.
The Galaxy ups the ante in two ways.
One: The entry of a second established player into the niche creates competition, which creates choice, which creates mainstream acceptance.
Two: The Form Factor.
Having used both devices in my day-to-day, I can say without hesitation that the 7-inch Galaxy is a much better size for my (and to repeat as a preemptive strike before the comments start getting all flamy) MY third device niche.
It’s actually not a clown phone, it’s a little tiny iPad.
Let me explain. Much like the iPad and iPhone, it takes about ten seconds for an Android user to figure out how get everything they need out of the Galaxy. It’s the same device, true down to the OS, with some cool add-on functionality to take advantage of the bigger screen.
But unlike the iPad, I can hold it vertically and type, like I would hold my smartphone (well, not exactly, but I can do the thumb thing). It’s big enough for apps and video, big enough to use on a desk and type, and small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.
However, beyond that, the differences are just flavor.
But how great is it that amidst the dawn of the tablet wars Microsoft finally released a working smartphone? Momentum!
Android + Apple vs. Amazon
This is the real battle now. The addition of Android to the tablet mix creates a kind of a Venn diagram of what you can do in the third device niche, where the limits are, with the common area being what should become the norm.
And if “Read E-Books” is in that common area, you can draw another little tiny circle around that and label it “E-Reader.” Yeah, they do other things. In fact, the Nook is basically a skinned down Android tablet, but that actually makes my point stronger.
Again, Apple created the market, Android expanded it, and the two together force the Kindle into obsolescence. Or at least shrink its niche market way down to basically people who read a lot and straight-up technophobes.
Building products for either one of those groups is pretty much a sign you’ve wandered off the cutting edge.
This is not a groundbreaking device on its own. When my friends first brought their iPads to conferences (and who’s the man now?), they were inundated with attention. This did not happen with the Galaxy. The looks I got were either along the lines of “damn, that’s a big phone” or “wow, that guy has HUGE hands!”
As Android has done before, it provides the alternative, nicely done, with a lot more freedom and all the issues that come along with that. It’s reportedly selling like crazy, so when the tablet-optimized Android OS is released, the Pad Wars will heat up again.
The cool thing is that regardless, you and I win.
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for StatSheet. He also owns consulting firm Intrepid Company (intrepidcompany.com) and creative network Intrepid Media (intrepidmedia.com) He’d like to reiterate that he’s ready to be an Apple fanboy as soon as they return his phone calls and potentially creepy emails. He can be reached via twitter @jproco.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
By Joe Procopio
Look, we all know that the world economy is in the toilet. Our own stock market seems caught in a range depending on what’s gushing, exploding, or opening its stupid mouth on any given day. Europe has had it, thanks for all those awesome centuries of culture and civilization, fellas. And Twitter still hasn’t figured out how to make any money.
Or have they? It’s hard to tell.
But I have a question for you on this, the fortnight before the season for the eve of all financial destruction: Which is the more valuable currency play? A) Euros; B) Flooz ; C) Badges
Answer Below (No Cheating!)
As far as the Euro is concerned, yeah, I’m the ugly American, but we do have the World Cup going on and that 1-1 draw with England is stuck in my craw like a keeper deftly securing a dribbling shot into his professionally gloved hands. You can actually buy Euro futures with an options collar using World of Warcraft money (I don’t know… pence?) and General Mills box tops. The only way you lose is if the scone market goes belly up.
If you read the word “Flooz” and didn’t laugh, you’re either twelve years old or Whoopi Goldberg. No wait, you can’t be twelve and not laugh at the word “Flooz.” Sorry, Whoopi.
And if you’re not 100% sure what badges are or why they might be the right answer, well, you’re not alone.
Badges Are Not Euros
Here’s what badges are in 15 words: Things that don’t exist with no intrinsic value other than to the few who seek them. But don’t take that explanation the wrong way. After all, a Star Wars action figure in the original packaging is just a few cents worth of plastic and cardboard. You can’t eat gold, yada and yada.
What badges are not are actual currency, certified or overseen in any way (and I say this knowing there is indeed some self-appointed badge certification website out there with tons of members who go by Monty Python referencing handles and nothing better to do than send me corrective email, I’m just too lazy to look it up), or linked to a central qualification.
You want the TechJournal South Ultra-Mega-Reader-And-Understander Badge?
There. Now you can put it wherever these things go, like on your MySpace page or above your fireplace.
Badges Are Not Flooz (Still Chuckling)
What badges are also not… are Flooz.
See. It’s confusing. Hang with me, we’ll get there.
Badges aren’t Flooz because Flooz was an Internet currency with a pre-determined cash value. You spent Flooz on the Internet instead of cash.
Badges have no, repeat, no value other than as a collectible and only, it seems, as a collectible to a single entity – a social network like FourSquare or an event like the World Cup. They come from the gaming industry, which is where I get my wobbly expert knowledge on the subject. I know of them, but I don’t have any, because while I can deftly destroy my wife and toddler children at Halo (the little one STILL has nightmares about the Flood, by the way, but you take your edge where you can get it), any kid beyond the age of five makes me look like my Dad.
Who, for the record, can still beat the hell out of Dr. Mario.
When badges came over to social networking they, like every other Internet idea, actually started out with good intentions, like Facebook, and were used to raise money for charity. These were actually less like badges and more like widgets.
But when used improperly, what badges can do, like every other Internet idea shamelessly copied and mutated into something awful for attention or money, like Facebook, is fall victim to a mix of trendhopping, poor program design, and automation, and bring down the worth of every achievement that they purport to reward.
Let’s say I decided that I want to get some sort of reliable return out of my ultra-mega TechJournal badge. This is the reason why anyone would want to do something like this and insert snarky social marketing advice here. If I do it right and offer something valuable in return for achieving the badge, like I come to your house and make fun of TV with you for an hour, then I’m actually on the right track.
But something of value to you requires something of value to me. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, no matter what kind of Groupon Schlotzkys is offering. So I’m going to make you do something to get the badge, like, let’s say, leave awesome glowing, ego-bending comments for my columns
Thank you. But unless I do it right, insert snarky social marketing cautionary tale here, I can actually devalue the badge and my return on it. We’ll hit it off great, with comments like “Joe, this column changed my life. I actually finished reading it and developed an idea for a new mobile business and now have term sheets from both coasts. Thank you!”
Then sooner or later, you’ll figure it out, and it’ll be “Nice column.” And finally, when it’s all blinders on and hell bent for leather, it’s “dsajhfsjh.” Basically whatever you can type with your fist before hitting “Post.”
It’s not long before I retaliate with automated monitoring and “Report Abuse” links on every post and then we’re getting bots and using captchas and then before you know it I’m fighting fraud on every front.
Which is exactly what happened to Flooz. Well that and people remembered they had credit cards.
A Fad. For Now.
Badges are a fad, but they’re the kind of fad like Angelfire was a fad or ringtones were a fad. There’s something there, most definitely, and when used correctly, badges can be another step on the way to actually monetizing all this social activity.
And there’s no reason you can’t figure it out before Twitter does.
Joe Procopio is the founder of Intrepid Company, a technical and management consulting firm (intrepidcompany.com) that has spun out publishing company/creative network Intrepid Media and digital incubator ExitEvent. You really can keep the ultra-mega badge, but what you really want is the super-ultra-giga badge, and to get that he’ll need one Star Wars action figure in original packaging. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @jproco.