5 Years Ago, the iPhone Changed Everything June 29, 2012Posted by justincaldbeck in communication, culture, discovery, iphone.
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While it almost seems hard to believe, it was just five years ago today that the first iPhones were sold. I remember the enormous amount of people lined up outside of Apple Stores eagerly waiting for their new device. It was easy to understand the hype of the device, but what many did not predict would be the way it would shape our behaviors and give birth to an entire industry.
The iPhone itself is a game changer, few could deny that, but much like iTunes was the real power behind the iPod, the App Store has been the big game changer for our industry.
We didn’t all immediate realize the power of the App Store, in fact my partners wrote an interesting post in 2009 about how little revenue Apple was making from apps. But today, we have seen companies emerge as App providers and other that have started as popular Apps and then expand to other platforms. Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, Pulse*, Instagram, Uber and Foursquare are just a few examples of companies that have seen incredible success as mobile apps.
In addition, the iPhone has played a big role in reducing the friction for consumers to use products from businesses that were previously web-centric such as TaskRabbit*, LivingSocial* and GrubHub* as well as retailers like Gilt. These companies not only built better customer engagement through the iPhone but also attracted new users who discovered the brand for the first time on a mobile device.
Despite all of these early successes, the market is still in its infancy in many ways. While it may seem that everyone we know has an iPhone or Android device, Nielson recently reported that only about 50 percent of US consumers have a smartphone today. As that number grows, the audience and demand for new applications and types of mobile solutions will grow too.
For my part, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to watch the market emerge and evolve and help companies take advantage of this amazing platform.
*Lightspeed portfolio companies
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Anand Rajaraman, co-founder of Lightspeed portfolio company Kosmix, posts about how to stop email overload and break silos using wikis, blogs, and IM.
We hit the email wall at my company Kosmix recently. When we were less than 30 people, managing by email worked reasonably well. The team was small enough that everyone knew what everyone else was doing. Frequent hallway conversations reinforced relationships. However, once we crossed the 30-person mark, we noticed problems creeping in. We started hearing complaints of email overload and too many meetings. And despite the email overload and too many meetings, people still felt that there was a communication problem and a lack of visibility across teams and projects. We were straining the limits of email as the sole communications mechanism.
We knew something had to be done. But what? Sri Subramaniam, our head of engineering, proposed a bold restructuring of our internal communications. He led an effort that resulted in us relying less on email and more on wikis, blogs, and instant messaging. Here’s how we use these technologies everyday in running our business.
* Blogs for Status Reports
* The Wiki for Persistent Information
* Instant Messaging for Spontaneous Discussions
The effects of the communication restructuring have been immediate and very visible. They include a lot less email and almost none on weekends; better communication among people; and 360 degree visibility for every member of the Kosmix team. After we instituted these changes, everyone on the team feels more productive, more knowledgeable about the company, has more spare time to spend on things outside of work.
Anand goes into detail as to how blogs, wikis and IM are used by all employees, and how this has streamlined the communications in the company. I highly recommend reading the whole thing.
Lightweight self expression for the general public November 21, 2007Posted by jeremyliew in blogging, communication, Consumer internet, product management, self espression.
MIT Technology Review has two good articles about microblogging in the November/December issue. (Both are behind a free registration wall.) The puff piece on Evan Williams and Twitter notes some of his thoughts on micbroblogging:
The criticism doesn’t seem to bother Williams, in part because he’s heard it before. “Actually, listening to people talk about Twitter over the last few months, you hear that almost all the arguments against it are the exact same arguments that people had against Blogger,” he says. “‘Why would anyone want to do this?’ ‘It’s pointless.’ ‘It’s trivial.’ ‘It’s self-aggrandizing bullshit.’ ‘It’s not technically interesting.’ ‘There’s nothing to it.’ ‘How is this different from X, Y, and Z that’s existed for the past 10 years?'” Indeed, there were blogging tools available when Blogger was released, and others have emerged since–including TypePad from Six Apart, which offers more features. But none has the simple appeal of Blogger, and none is as easy to use. These were the reasons Blogger was such an important force in the blogging revolution.
There is an interesting idea at the heart of all this, and that is the idea of innovation through removing features. By focusing on a subset of core functionality, both Blogger and Twitter (and the other microblogging startups, as well as Facebook’s status) have made the user interaction much lighter weight. In my experience at AOL, Netscape and IAC, lightweight interactions generally work better with the general public.
Last year Gartner predicted that blogging would peak in 2007:
The analysts said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million. The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs… Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer said the reason for the levelling off in blogging was due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog had already done so. He said those who loved blogging were committed to keeping it up, while others had become bored and moved on.
“A lot of people have been in and out of this thing,” Mr Plummer said. “Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they’re put on stage and asked to say it.”
Microblogging removes some of the pressure to write substantive posts, making it a lighter interaction that is easier to keep up.
The public’s preference for lightweight self expression is part of what has made widget providers (such as Rock You, a Lightspeed company), profile layout sites (such as Free Code Source) and quiz sites (such as Quizilla) so successful.