poelog: Commentary, thoughts and opinions on the web, ebusiness and marketing -- a web log by Rob Poel
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Saturday, April 27, 2002

Business 2.0: Yahoo's Leap from Free to Fees - Yahoo has begun charging for everything from file storage to e-mail forwarding. The message to users is simple: Get used to it.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Monday, April 22, 2002

Web Services. Seems like everywhere I turn I hear them referenced (ok, maybe I need to get out more, but that's another point). I was just reading about Google Web APIs and it referenced a link at O'Reiley titled: Top Ten FAQs for Web Services. That then reminded me of a recent Business 2.0 article called: What the H*ck Are Web Services? If you're in marketing - read up on this stuff - it's important to at least be well-versed in the technology even if you never write your own SOAP service.

News.com: Google gives some advice...for a price - Google is entering the once hot advice space with Google Answers. I've been intrigued by this segment since askme.com generated buzz in this area during the Internet crazed late 90s. Click on the link now and you'll first be redirected to askmecorp.com where you'll be "sold" on their Employee Knowledge Network software (look closely and you'll find the link to the askme.com site that initially made them famous ... but not rich ... before they changed their business model like everyone else in 1999). As the news.com piece points out, the current leader in this area is Keen, who drove 2.6 million visitors to their site in March. Keen has a big head start on Google but I know if I was on their board of directors I'd be nervous about Google's entry due to the cult-like following of those that use Google.

One interesting point to ponder: Remember when Yahoo! used to be only about "search" and they slowly lost that title as they morphed into a "portal." What will become of Google, currently the Sultan of "search" as it extends its brand in this manner? IWith every extension it risks weakening the core. And I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing if I was their CEO - you have to diversify revenue streams, especially as you ponder an IPO - it just needs to be done with utmost care.

(News.com link via Scripting News).

MarketingProfs.com: Where Are You Going Without Your Marketing Grammar? - Good article about the basics of branding. How do you determine if your company is effectively communicating it's brand? There's only one way. Write down what you perceive to be your noun, verb adjective and colour(remember all the big brands have them). Then ask your customers to write it down. If they stuff up, or go 'duh', it's time you had a nice long look at your communication. (via bBlog).

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Shirky: Communities, Audiences, and Scale - I bookmarked this article a week ago but haven't had time to read it yet.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Broadband Wireless - " it's the "next killer app. It's going to change the world.". And it's already happening, in Hawaii, of all places, according toThe Island of the Wireless Guerrillas, a Business 2.0 article. Just like the Internet ushered in a wave of entrepreneurs I think broadband wireless access to the Internet could have the same impact.

Friday, April 05, 2002

Doh! I was going to try and get out of the office early today until a friend sent me a link to this highly addictive mini-putt game. 1st game score: 42 - 2nd game score: 39 (par is 48).

Digital Identity: a topic crucial to the progression of the net, web services, personalization, etc ... now covered in detail at Digital Identity World (via TDCRC email newsletter).

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Interesting new web-based service: Singlefile.com (interface designed by the talented folks at 37signals). Singlefile is a web-based service that helps you organize your book collection. It's great for keeping track of the books you've read, the books you are reading, and the books you haven't read yet. How much you wanna bet that in the next 6 months Singlefile adds one or more of the following media to their list of trackable things: CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Videos, Magazines, etc.?? I'd label this business category "Personal Media Inventory Management" (ok, so the acronym PMIM could be better). Although I'm sure Singlefile.com isn't the first in this space, off the top of my head I'm not aware of any others.

Interruption: Allright, am I good or what ... Singlefile is owned by
Spinfree, a company that helps you organize your entertainment. They currently sell the following software titles: BookBin, VideofIile and Audiofile. So ... it does appear more than likely that audio and video formats will be added to singlefile.com in the near future.

Other interesting side point: If you go to www.spinfree.com you are given the chance to go to A) Spinfree Software or B) 37signals. Looks like the folks from 37signals dabble in more than web design and usability.

Anyway, back to my thoughts on singlefile.com. This service definitely is targeting a niche audience: the anal organizer that starts to twitch if his CDs aren't alphabetically ordered in his rack. I'd be really curious to dig into the business model of a service like this. What combination of Plus Memberships (500 books, $19.95/year) and Premium Memberships (unlimited books, $39.95/year) are necessary to break even?? Leveraging the ISBN # the site is quite tightly integrated with Amazon.com so in addition to subscription revenue I'm sure they also hope to collect affiliate referal commissions (I can share my collections with others who can buy a book I have by linking to Amazon, or I may link from my own collection to see other books at Amazon by the same author of a current book in my collection). The great thing about a service like this is that, like any web-based service, the incremental cost to add another customer is almost nil (no CD or manual to ship, everything is web-based). Singlefile wisely offers you a free, 30-day trial membership (as well as a free basic membership covering a 25-book collection) so that hopefully you'll begin using the site and get addicted - addicted enough to shell out the annual subscription fee. I guess I'm just not sure that there's enough people that fit the customer niche to make this a viable business. 10,000 members would only bring in $300,000 (5k Plus Members and 5k Premium Members) in annual revenue. When you have hardware, hosting, support costs and development fees to cover that doesn't leave much left over. And without some effective marketing/advertising, or at the least a viral campaign that awards referall feels (ala PayPal), even 10,000 paying members sounds like a lot. That's not to say I don't like the site/service, I'm just not sure if the business model works.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Looking for some guidance writing that marketing or business plan? Check out mplans.com and bplans.com. Yes, the sites are geared toward selling you software to assist with your plan development, however there are number of great sample plans for those that are just looking for a jump-start (via WDFM).

Congrats to the 20003 NCAA champion Terrapins. Not the prettiest of games but a W is a W. I would have won my NCAA bracket pool if Indiana had won but I was still rooting for Maryland. Earlier in the day I predicted that Maryland would win by 15 ... which they would have done if Indiana hadn't hit a meaningless 3-pointer with 2 seconds left to cut the deficit to 12. Good thing I didn't have any money on that over-under call.

Monday, April 01, 2002

Not sure I can see myself ever Instant Message a stock trade but if I was an E*Trade customer I'd soon be able to as E*Trade and Yahoo! just announced a deal that would open the door for IM E-Commerce. There's a few interesting pieces in this article:

1) IM, or instant messaging, is continuing to gather steam as a communications medium. Personally, I don't use it much since it's not yet a widely adopted tool to conduct work-related activities and very few of my friends and family use it, but it's obvious that continues to gather momentum (wonder when an integrated email/IM app will come out).

2) E*Trade continues to impress me as they expand their partnerships AND their product offering. I currently do my stock trading through Datek, manage my money at NetBank and get my financial news, stock quotes and business information from Yahoo! Finance. A one-stop shop would be great.