Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everybody click to call!

Markus Goebel writes a post about click to call applications, this time TringMe is the star.
(BTW, thanks for mentioning Sitòfono, among the similar services)
The curious thing is that Markus is experiencing funny calls from all countries around the world. That is the "power" of real free calling experience, and we have to cope with it.
Whether we filter calls by selecting certain countries or hour ranges, as long as we behave as worldwide reachable people, we need to manage all calls, and to understand that click-to-call buttons are powerful instruments that can shoot in your foot.

Bloggers like me and Markus tend to be online most of the time and happy to answer but, sometimes, things can go in unexpected manners:
I am OK with such calls, but please understand that I can only answer during working hours in my time zone. The rest of the calls goes to the voice mail box. The yesterday's caller didn't even understand that he was talking to an answering machine. He thought that I was on the phone with him but refusing to answer, so he got a little upset.

That is not a big problem for Markus, or for me, but if it were an online shop that could mean "a customer to be managed".
I think we still have to learn how to use our click-to-call. And, perhaps, click-to-call applications need much more than just click-and-speak.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SPOCK - Social network Mash Up

It's natural. One is not enough.
Having one TV channel or one political representative or one idea or clothes of one color is not good.
Having kazillions of everything is worse. When it comes to information management, you feel lost.

  • Kazillions of websites
  • Kazillions of blogs
  • Kazillions of Newspapers
  • Kazillion of business directories

Now think about social networks and communities:

OK, don't pretend I write a complete list here. Ask Mashable for that :)

But this time we have a collector. A gatherer. Something really interesting.
It's called and it's the "Who's Who 2.0".

Basically, it's an Identity search engine. But this is a simplistic definition.

Spock is actually innovative, and these are the most intriguing features:
  • tag yourself, tag other people
  • spock robot auto-tags you. And it is usually good!
  • build a trust network over more social networks
  • vote whether a tag is relevant or not for that person
  • review and mark relevant/irrelevant tags attributed to you
  • link people by adding tags to the link: "Bob is Alice's [friend/colleague/boss] That's semantic folksonomy!
My advice? Give it a try now!

What's missing? A click-to-call application, like Sitòfono :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

[Updated] Release Review: "3CX Proves That Soft Is Better Than Hard - When It Comes To Phone Systems" :)

I already talked about 3CX some weeks ago.
It is a dynamic company which produces a Windows based software PBX that could replace the highly expensive hardware ones.
It is also a company with a kind of sense of humor: if "3CX sounds like Free Sex" could be in doubt, their press release title clarifies everything :)

They just delivered version 5 of their 3CX Phone system. From their Press Release:
3CX Proves That Soft Is Better Than Hard - When It Comes To Phone Systems

3CX Phone System allows businesses to completely break free from the shackle of hardware-based, proprietary phone systems. Built on the open SIP standard, 3CX Phone System interoperates with all popular SIP phones, VOIP Gateways and VOIP providers.
Nick Galea, CEO at 3CX said, “We are excited to deliver version 5 of 3CX Phone System at a time when the market is realizing that proprietary, hardware-based PBXs are becoming obsolete. 3CX IP PBX is a modern software based PBX that evolves the communication of businesses to the 21st century, by delivering mobility, productivity and cost-saving advantages”.

I think they can make 3CX Phone System a real success if:

  • They target small offices and business that have branch offices, esp. worldwide.
  • They plan to specialize their application on at least one direction. It could be an add-on, so that the general purpose version can still work unaffected for the broader market.
  • They plan to give phone support, along with online chat and e-mail. You know, if something is not working, it's bad. When it comes to phone systems, it's really bad. If something is not working on your phone and you cannot receive support, it's DOOM!
  • Customers are aware that 3CX is not responsible of any service interruption/problem on the data pipe. "If your ADSL is down, your phone is down. Just make sure you have a B plan for your phone system, if you need high availability". Most of offices don't, anyway.

Having said that, I think 3CX new release is really putting a highly competitive challenge among the other players. As usual, 3CX phone system is released as Free and Business editions, and here you can compare them by feature availability.

To me, the Business edition is worth just for these features, among others:
  • Call recording
  • Bridging with other 3CX servers (branch offices)
  • Firewall friendly VOIP client with included mini VPN – ideal for remote users
  • Voice mail messages via e-mail
Anyway the have a full fledged set of features, some of them are already present in Sitòfono (like Firewall friendly client, voice mail messages via e-mail, call log...)

What I would like to see in this PBX is some more... "specialization": what about a specialized version for Sales Force Automation? What if the call log could be mashed up with geolocalization and, for instance, SugarCRM? Could you imagine a direct telemarketing firm which builds a "conversion efficiency map" based on call duration, position, and customer acquisition data?

And (obviously for me) what if 3CX-powered companies could put a simple button on their websites and let their visitors call them, for free?
How do you see a synergy/a mashup between 3CX and Sitòfono?

Just one note. Since I still pretend to be a web developer, I've a running copy of Apache HTTPD server on my PC. 3CX tried to install a new one and this produced a conflict (it's the service name registration, I think). Now I need to rename the new HTTPD service in order to access the management console.

Anyway, if 3CX is going to be installed on some kind of windows server, I expect there will already be an Apache installation on it. I'd like to see an installation option like:
"Apache HTTPD detected: would you like to use this version or install a new one?"

Alternatively, I'll put some other lightweight HTTP server in the installation package.

[Update]: I am sorry it wasn't explicit about the fact that 3CX does really take into high consideration their customers. I already knew that, but I haven't written that clearly. What I wanted to write is to suggest is some more immediate, more engaging contact between customers and 3CX, like phone contact, for a company that's so keen on customer relationships.

In facts, few hours after I published this post, I've received an e-mail from the local distributor which offered help to install and to solve my issues.

Moreover, I've been contacted by 3CX PR thanking me about the suggestions given in this post. Regardless of the product's future evolutions, this means that 3CX is strongly oriented to customer feedback and does not leave out any suggestion.
That's what I consider a great customer care job!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sitòfono Christmas present!

Sitofono - Online customer contact tool.
Hey, this Christmas I am going to offer one free click-to-call to a tourist agency, a hotel, or a restaurant, with unlimited calls for three months!
Put Sitòfono in your website and in your e-mail signature, and receive immediate feedback by talking to your customers, from the Web.
Sitofono gives voice to your online business!

Just send me a brief description of:
  • your activity,
  • your website,
  • the phone number you want to be connected to Sitofono,
  • and where you would like to position the call-button.
My e-mail is enrico.marongiu [_at_] abbeynet [_dot_] com

I'll contact the winner on December the 15th.

More info on Sitòfono here:
Please forward to anyone interested!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sitòfono Social: because relationships matter

Sitòfono is undergoing a major restyling, these days.
We realized that relationships between a firm and a customer cannot be just "phone calls". After all, the phone call is just the medium to achieve a result.

In the Real world, customers notice you on a printed ad, look for you in the yellow pages, get your name by some friend's advice. Anyway, since customers are usually located in the same place, they are naturally bound to move within a limit.
Time passing by, they will notice you again, and get information which is persistent and durable. They will remember you, and you have somehow captured their attention.

But what happens on the Web? People move, literally flock from a content to another. The very same happens on e-commerce sites, or "online shops": customers are like a frenzy swarm, some bounce on your website and do not come back again.
Customers have to cross a lot of barriers on your site.

  • The first "shield" is distraction: customers can go off track if they don't get a clear focus
  • The second barrier is lack of comprehension: do they understand clearly what they are looking at? Can you assure them that they got the message?
  • The third barrier is lack of persistence: will they come back the next day?
  • The fourth barrier is mistrust: can they judge a book by its cover? Don't they need direct contact to be assured that you are a trusted person? Visual contact will be the best, but even voice contact can make the difference
  • The fifth barrier is hesitation: when facing the payment form, they can get scared, or they need some more information that hasn't been found on the website. At least, it wasn't noticed before
People need direct contact to resolve uncertainty and to dissolve some of these barriers.
Sitòfono addressed very well the barriers that involve direct contact, like hesitation, mistrust and lack of comprehension.
But now, with the new "social" features, Sitòfono becomes a tool which engages your customers in a more social-oriented behavior: your visitors can give advice about your website to their friends, bookmark the call-back button for future reference, share the URL on the most common social bookmarking tools...
In word, they will remember you.

Luca Filigheddu published a great review of Sitòfono with the new social features, check it out!

If you want to discuss about the new features with me,
just call me

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Google Android for Italy? It seems so

It seems that there is a feeble possibility that Google Android Developer Challenge will be for Italians as well.
The news, in Italian, has been published also by, the most read Newspaper and the most visited news site in Italy.

Guido Scorza, a researcher in the IT field of law, suggests that Google can work around the limitation, because the Italian norms and rules for prize challenges allow easier set up for creative and engineering challenges.

What Guido Scorza worries about is that neither Google, nor the Italian government took a clear action upon the matter, giving the impression of superficiality and talking the talk without walking the walk.

Of course his blog writing is done during commuting times, therefore is approximate and partial (so it is mine). He states clearly this fact in a post scriptum, because he talks the talk and walks the walk. And, anyway, nobody pays him to look for alternatives and workarounds in this matter.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Google Android Developer Challenge not for Italians

You know the news about Android, don't you?
Check the android developers blog
We're really looking forward to seeing all the amazing applications that developers will create on an open mobile phone platform. In fact, you may even want to enter your application into the Android Developer Challenge -- a USD$10 million challenge sponsored by Google to support and recognize developers who build great applications for the Android platform

Nice, I want to participate. Because Italians do it better.

Yes, Italians do it better, and the original way. When there is a competition on innovative products, we are able to cut ourselves out in a sweep. The ADC FAQ page states that:
The Android Developer Challenge is open to individuals, teams of individuals, and business entities. While we seek to make the Challenge open worldwide, we cannot open the Challenge to residents of Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, and Myanmar (Burma) because of U.S. laws. In addition, the Challenge is not open to residents of Italy or Quebec because of local restrictions.

Local restrictions for challenges and prizes are mainly bureaucratic:
  • Register your prize challenge to three public administrations. You've to fill up a separate form for each one
  • You need a notary. Well, in Italy you needed a notary even to sell your bike, recently this procedure has been simplified.
  • Just to let you know, prize challenges cannot damage Italian government's monopoly on ability games and gambling.
  • Last but not least: you need to give a cautionary 20% of total prizes to Italy's government. It's called "to bail out", it translates "I do not trust you've got that much", doesn't it?

More information on this thread

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Italians do it better. But via e-mail!

I am not talking about the sexual performances of Italians (at least, those self-proclamated latin-lovers that tell tales of great effort and sacrification), but the customer attitudes at calling a call center, help desk, or something that keeps you "holdin'on a sec".

According to this report (ItNews, Italian), people prefer e-mail offline contact when engaging with a potential seller, or when they are asking for support or assistance.

Alternatively, they'll consider the possibility of being recalled in ten minutes, but they are fed up with long queues in the jungle trees of IVRs.

The key point is: if somebody wants to talk with you, it's because he/she wants immediate contact. If you cannot engage him/her instantly, better say "I'm sorry, I'll call you back in a while". And recall him with a smiling tone!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

iPhone PTT - NikoTalkie

Now iPhone has its VoIP application ready. It's called "nikotalkie" and works like a walkie-talkie or any other PTT (Push To Talk) software.

Now what I am wondering is:
  • Is there a plan to make it work on other phones OSes, like Symbian (it makes me think of Nokia E65, for instance)?
  • Is there a Utility in walkie talkie feature "as is"? How many people have PTT installed? How many do use it?
  • Is there some plan to extend the "walkie" function like, uh, ya know, mobile micro-video-blogging?
  • is it complicated to install the iPhone "installer"? It seems it is not that straight

(My source: )

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

TringMe - Another player in the click-to-call space

TechCrunch announced a week ago a new click-to-call service: TringMe. TringMe differentiates from other services because it adds more flexibility to the traditional "phone-phone" connection:

Callers can ditch their phone and call directly through their Flash widget to your mobile phone, landline, and GTalk (Yahoo and Skype coming soon). All they need is a microphone and one click

Hey, nice job. I haven't tried yet (there is some sort of answering machine) but I assume call quality is excellent and call setup time is nearly instantaneous, isn't it? How do you cope with network bandwidth limitations? After all, it's the consumer pipe the *real* problem: that's why Sitofono (as MyBlueZebra and Jajah) introduced the third party call control, just to avoid any problem with the consumer's crappy ADSL.

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VoIP as emerging technology-AGAIN?

Hey, VoIP is going to be the technology behind Unified Communication, one of the 10 emerging technologies to keep monitored -AGAIN!

I've been playing working with VoIP since 2001 and each year was the year of VoIP. Now journalists cannot use it once more, so they changed the term in "Unified Communication".

Well, the best unifying communication device is still the telephone. It's working well and it does all it's needed to communicate.

Why should I change it? Why do I have to install a new box, new power plug, new wires, new installation problems?

Why should I bother with instant messaging? Why should I write messages when I can talk?

Why should I be blamed by an acquaintance for not disclosing my "online status" to everybody but only to some friends? Why do I need to state "hey I am here" and "hey I am disconnected". If I am always connected, why do I have to say that I am "disconnected" or "away from pc"?

Why do I have to trust your VoIP thing is the data network (on which the VoIP service is based) is not sufficiently reliable?

Please answer these questions before thinking of crossing the chasm.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Irrelevant corporate websites

Giacomo Vacca found an earth-shaking article on traditional SEO and Google ranking:
How to evolve your irrelevant corporate website

They use instant messaging, facebook, (and other social networks) and rarely directly type in a domain name to corporate website. If this holds true, then it’s assumed that prospects make decisions on other websites BEFORE they come to the corporate website to get factual information.

This is clearly true. Before going to visit the official website of a product I am interested into (let assume a digital camera), I'd go on a product-review website (just as an example, Revoo) and select the most appropriate comments to have a quick glance about the available products.
When I go to the official website, I already know nearly everything. In few occasions, I found a n official support forum that made me choose for that product: online support and general good feedback from users are key points in my consumer habits.
You’ll no longer only be the only one publishing to your website, customers, prospects, and other members of the community will have direct access to publish on your website.
To summarize: customer feedback and engagement. That's what Sitofono is meant for.
What if you can even talk to a customer? What if you can call him free and ask him a general review of the product?
Do you think letting visitors call other consumers is a valuable feature? Since it can be done as a special adaptation of Sitofono, my company product for customer engagement, I'd like to discuss with you the feasibility and the scenarios.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

FR33 53X

It seems that even VoIP services follow the fad of fiddle with product and brand names. Here are few examples of product names that were given birth as a pun or a similar sounding word>
  • Twitter was Twttr, internet ages ago, just recalling the "twitter" name
  • ICQ means I seek You
  • CUSeeme was See You See me
  • Italian chat program "C6" by meant "are you there?"

The last application, the mentioned VoIP application, is called 3CX Phone System (a free, upgradable software IP-PBX, check out the review from Luca Filigheddu ).
3 C X
Three See Ex
Free Sex
, to me.

Was it intentional or am I just too pervert to see free sex everywhere? ;-)

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Truphone on iPhone: call setup time too long?

Take a look at the Truphone on iPhone video on Andy Abramson log: do you consider 20" call setup a reasonable waiting time?

I do not. Most of you do not. And the poor man's thought is: "Truphone is no good, I want to call and instantly be connected, this does not happen with traditional telephony! Truphone service is bad".
But the truth is that Truphone is not the real culprit. Its only fault is that it relies upon a VoIP wholesale carrier, whose service is usually offered as "best effort".
Therefore there is no guarantee, no performance metrics, no quality figures: no way to assess the overall quality of phone calls.

As Luca already stated, VoIP service providers are subject to slavery by wholesale carriers.

On a Porterian point of view, the VoIP market was born in danger due to
  • the high rivalry from other competitors,
  • the lack of customer lock in (except for Skype, standard SIP means no lock in),
  • the easeness of new player entrance.
Now, the VoIP market situation is aggravated by the enormous power of suppliers, which can decide the destiny of a service by simply providing (or not providing) a sufficient quality of phone termination.

Trying to explain your customers that the fault is on your service provider is not wise: on the contrary, giving such an excuse yields the customer the impression that you are just a cockdodger.

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Push or pull?

Seth Godin talks about push and pull methodologies. Apart from the marketing considerations, I see that push and pull are fundamental tasks in the work process and both have to be balanced well. But what captured my attention is this sentence:
I can't use internal wikis. "It's on the wiki" is a dumb thing to say to me.
I expect my team to check on the wiki because it's not useful to broadcast each information to everybody. Except when needed, information has to be stored on a "pull" mechanism. Luckily, most of the wikis provide a RSS feed on the latest changes.

Usually we forgive someone's lack of discipline if the element has some creative behaviour, in this case we justify everything with a sentence: "he's a genious, you cannot trap his mind in this or that process". Most of the creative people I've met are totally inept at managing simple tasks like:
  • retrieve a document previously stored in the document management system, however it is categorized or tagged, even by means of the custom search engine
  • complete tasks in an ordered way and notify the rest of the team
  • remember decisions and keep coherent behavior when analyzing scenarios. If you've changed your mind, notify others that you've changed your mind and why
  • before answering "it's not my duty" think. re-think and be completely sure that it' not your duty
  • make a move before someone asks you about the status of a project,
  • avoid replying that you're waiting for X or Y to complete a task when somebody questions about the task status you're responsible of (That's what I call cockdodging!)
That's something that you can balance with a smart, ingenious mind, charisma and a really good idea that makes the rest of the team happy to work with...
But if you're not that kind of person and you just behave as "creative", you're just a dead corpse on the boat.

Since good ideas do not happen here and there, I advise the reader to do the best to behave well in a team, be cooperative, and organized.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sitofono at the EADP Paris Congress

We are presenting the Sitòfono product at the EADP Congress, the international conference on Phone Directories and Yellow Pages, held in Paris at the Westin Hotel.

The place is fantastic, luxurious furniture and great staff.
I've taken some pictures, have a look on my Flickr EADP tagset

Sitofono at the EADP CongressJust a note: yesterday we were looking for a good, cheap restaurant. We looked at the Pages Jaunes, the printed version. As an "always connected" person (sort of), I've missed several things:
  • Customer rating: how can I judge the quality of the restaurant? At last, we had to personally check with a stroll to the place
  • Enhanced details: opening hours? Available places? Does it provide vegetarian diet?
  • Promptness: look for the street address in the list of streets, get the map page number, x and y coordinates, look for the street in the square, elaborate directions
  • Check with a phone call: in this case, since I don't speak french I hadn't called but I usually call the restaurant and ask few questions if I cannot get all the information presented above, and eventually I book a table.
What if all this happens in a single web page?

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Bad rabbits are here!!!

You know, Hictu! is the microvideologging platform I like most. I know, I work for the company which develops Hictu but I've chosen to have no insights of what's going on it and it's real fun to discover the new features as a "normal" user.
That's my worst video post on Hictu, grabbed after a really tough week, check it out :)

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Friday, August 31, 2007

That's really a blog!

The best page in the universe This is really a funny blog! Look at his post "9 things I learned about the world according to anonymous stock photo models" and laugh out loud! Yes, it is a bit... direct, but it's worth a read if you do not suffer for some swear words in the text.
On the left side you can see a simple multiple choice test regarding the choice of model images for helpdesk services.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Call me free, Call me free, Call me free...

In implicit reply to Imran Ali's article "Phone from HERE", Luca Filigheddu presents a practical use of Sitòfono in the two most active social networks: LinkedIn and Facebook.
I've posted a comment on Imran Ali's article, but it's still under approval, and it says something like this: I do not see anything new in the Corraleta move, since Sitòfono (and other web based click-to-call services, to be honest) can be embedded in every HTML page by following few, simple instructions. I mean, it's good that "Phone from Here" provides a link to be placed on LinkedIn, but to be honest I see that as a "me too" move, something like "jump on the social network hype".

Besides, Jaxtr, which just raised 10M$ of funds, is providing a call me free button that clearly aims at social networks and which targets people with low or zero knowledge of HTML. Indeed, Jaxtr provides a "wizard" to ease the publishing procedure for the most famous web sites and applications, like:
  • Facebook
  • Orkut
  • MySpace
  • Hi5
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogger
  • LiveJournal
  • Xanga
  • Flickr
  • Craigslist
  • eBay
  • AIM (away screen)
Moreover, it presents a simple step-by-step instruction to embed the "call me" code in your e-mail client. That is really a fantastic user experience!

What's different in the Jaxtr move? They are targeting the community users, the millions of users that cannot speak HTML, by providing an it-cannot-be-easier procedure that hides all the techie stuff.

I consider it a really good move, as far as the quality of user experience is concerned. However, I pose a question: what will be the "returning value" for such a nice feature? Will it be money (it actually captures paying customers), reputation (it strengthens the corporate identity), experience (it's the starting point for future, better services)?

Other thoughtful questions are hidden in Luca's comment on the Jaxtr funding in his article "Challenge: make pay for a valuable service"

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do you look like mr Burns?

Among the tools that compare your image to something else, like the one I've talked about in my post Find the celebrity that looks like you, I've stumbled upon this nice flash application: Simpsonize Me

This time you're going to resemble a Springfield citizen, a creature of Matt Groening, a cousin of Homer...
Give it a try, as you can see my simpsonization worked well!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mashable 30+ VoIP services

Mashable posts a list of the 30 (and more) VoIP services that can be considered as an alternative or a complement to Skype.
I am very happy to see Sitòfono in the list of "Phone Connecting Services".

I think that the Skype outage last week created more disappointment and negative hype than real damage to users. I guess the real damage has be inflicted to Skype credibility.
However, do not forget that all the internet based services are subject to a lot of outages that are different in nature, duration, and entity to be blamed:
  • Consumer PC is behaving badly or is misconfigured => Blame the user ;-)
  • Consumer pipe is down => Blame the service provider or the cable provider
  • Some networks are reachable, others are not => Blame the interconnection operators or the backbone providers
  • All the networks are reachable, but not the one that provides the internet-based service => Blame the service provider for not monitoring its reachability from outside
  • (VoIP specific) The service seems working, but you cannot make a call => Blame the service provider for not checking periodically that the PSTN termination provider is up and running
Here in Abbeynet we have developed an automated testing toolkit that checks periodically the VoIP overall quality, by measuring the transmitted-received differences in a closed loop phone call.
The toolkit is based on the Abbeyphone VOW SDK, with some customization necessary to intercept the audio statistics.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Evaluating a software start-up

Following my previous post on "The Business of Software", I would like to introduce an interesting "checklist" that helps evaluate the potential of a software start-up, from a VC's point of view.
A good start up should be measured on these points
  1. Management Team: they should be competent and experienced professionals with sufficient background on the technology/product to be marketed
  2. Market Attractiveness: high entry barriers to keeps out competitors, negotiation power for suppliers/buyers, no good substitutes, could be a complement to dominant products
  3. Compelling offering: it has to be a "must have" product, service, or solution
  4. Customer interest: evidence of a large willing-to-pay user base
  5. Credibility: a case history, a reference client, a testimonial gives credibility to the product and the technology
  6. Business model: VCs want early growth, rapid break-even
  7. Flexibility: strategy and product offering must be adaptable to new inputs from competitors, new technologies, new user needs
  8. Payoff potential: the ROI must be high (>25%). It usually forces the start-up to develop a product, which could be risky but more profitable than providing solutions and software services.

The author, Michael A. Cusumano, explains the meaning of each point and applies them systematically on real-world companies like Numega, Cybergnostic, firstRain.
Even if it is an a posteriori analysis, it gives a clue on how to evaluate a potentially explosive startup.

Needless to say, I suggest a deep and reasoned reading of his book.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Windows Live ID opens up to developers

Following the efforts done by Yahoo! and OpenID to build a third party based authentication system, Microsoft releases the APIs to let people deploy their applications with Windows Live ID as the authentication method.

What is the advantage to the web application provider?
Any application provider need not build his/her own user base, design or implement a sign-up procedure, he/she needs just to glue the third party code to the web application.

What about the user?
Evidently, users can access a web application by using an already known user-password pair. Moreover, users need not worry about the management of their web identity as they should do when giving their passwords to services like meebo.

OK, it's a WIN-WIN strategy for users and web developers. But what about Microsoft, Yahoo, OpenID and the rest of them?
This is a more subtle value discovery. Community service providers discovered that they cannot confine their users into their walled gardens.
People churn as rapidly as a new sign-up is needed. But since users are lazy, if they don't need to signup again for a nice service, if only they can recycle a previous access key, they will.
It is a war strategy, well known to experienced warlords:
If you cannot control the ground, control the access gates.

By doing this, the value of the community (as the number of active users that sign in at least once in a month) is retained.

Now the point is: how Identity management systems can build up a profit?
Firstly, as they retain the user login, they can instill advertisement into the login process. Please note that each identity management system has user profiling, it should be evident what's worth.
Secondly, they can acquire important information about new web applications and the real user base dimensions and service usage. Companies like Microsoft and Yahoo! can work on real data before acquiring the innovative start-up.
Last, but not least, if you know how people herd across the web, and how information spread along the various identities, you can resell these figures to companies specialized in market surveys.

And what about the big G? Is Google planning to do anything like this?
Well... Google started all this, actually. When people access Google search engine, Google installs a "unique" temporary cookie that allows full profiling: instead of questioning "who and what are you?" and then infer "what you are interested into, and what you want to buy", Google has first-hand knowledge of what are our interests.
Unfortunately, Google cookies are anonymous and have no persistence, they can be removed, refused, etcetera. That's why Google provides free web services like Gmail, picasa, and so on, where an authentication step is needed. Google can then bind the anonymous data with the help of identity-persistent data, still keeping them as anonymous data.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The business of software, Harry Potter and the Iron Maiden

It's curious how certain terms are used in completely different context and topics.
The kiss of death is the dreadful spell cast by dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

But the kiss of death is also the more dreadful action undertaken by VCs when financing a startup, as described by Michael A. Cusumano in The Business of Software: as the author explains during the book, the Kiss Of Death consists in the irresistible desire of VCs to maximize the investment, by pushing the company to build a product at any cost.
This usually means, to the average startup, to open new offices or refurbish the existing with luxury furniture, hire new people with different skills, spend into great marketing campaigns, target the broadest market ever (USA), put enormous efforts (both technical and financial) into risky and unpredictable paths.

All this usually translates into a Flight of Icarus:

His eyes seem so glazed
As he flies on the wings of a dream
Now he knows his father betrayed
Now his wings burn to ashes to ashes his grave

Cusumano has no quick-and-dirty recipe to build a successful company, but he gives the reader interesting thoughts and some rough checklists to evaluate the wealth of your company: if I were you, I'd buy a copy of his book.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

2007 Predictions: the crystal ball contains Sitofono

It seems that my hermit state has hit again.
I've just found this news about the top 10 voip predictions for 2007: well, I cannot conceal my happiness to see our product, Sitòfono, as one of the players in this forecast:

I definitely see voice features becoming an integral part of the way customer-service applications, enterprises, and publishers use the Web.
Voice-based communications through a Web trigger or hyperlink is becoming more common and will be even more so in 2007, thanks to aggressive moves by Adobe to add VoIP into Flash, and thanks to upstarts like Sitòfono.
Ted Wallingford, Signal to Noise

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Voicestar acquisition. A milestone for Click-to-Call

As already reported by Luca Filigheddu, TechCrunch reports the new deal between Marchex and VoiceStar.

This is good news, as it confirms and highlights, indirectly, the value proposition of our product Sitofono. Such an acquisition helps define the boundaries and the future road for competition in the Click-to-Call market, which is moving from niche to mass dimensions.

Luca explains the business model and the value of Click-to-Call when related to customer "capture":

If you are able to offer a way to “engage” those visitors and convert them into customers, you can set that value at a higher price. It’s a bargain for you (agency/adv company) and for the advertisers, which are leveraging the invested budget.

Advertisers can embed click-to-call into their banner ads, or put it right on the splash page of a banner campaign. It is easy to demonstrate that this will clearly increase the conversion rate of visitors into customers.

For more information on this matter, take a look at his post, it contains a list of his articles about Click-to-Call that are really worth reading.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

MOSH - MObilize and SHare

Nokia is a great company that really works out the ways for connecting people.

Its last big news it the beta release of MOSH, Mobilize and Share, a brand new sharing platform that allows the user to share his/her images, sounds, video, and even mobile apps.

Following the tradition of programs we’ve hosted before within Forum Nokia, MOSH is a grand experiment for us: a platform that puts unprecedented power in the hands of mobile users. Regardless of your mobile device’s manufacturer or make, MOSH enables you to create, collect and share your content and applications in a community setting.

Unfortunately, my current Vodafone Italy plan "Your Internet in Your mobile" does not allow to navigate freely... Indeed, any login information is mangled by their web gateway.
Too bad for me :(

Update: the MOSH access now works well, but unfortunately I cannot upload directly from my mobile... Let's see!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I've lived like an hermit

It's incredible. I don't know if it's happened due to too much information or too much focus on certain things. I've lived like a recluse for 1 year, to the least, if I could not spot this fantastic collaborative application: Upcoming.

If you, like me, don't know what Upcoming is, here are some tags for you

  • user contributed event calendar

  • people can say "I am attending/viewing the event"

  • rss feeds

  • georeferenced venue database

  • venue catalog is created by contributors

It's curious that I've been thinking of something similar (well, I was thinking about something specific for artists and talents) for some months without realizing that there already was one and it worked easily.

It's really a FANTASTIC job!

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Delivering quality or velocity?

Thorough my work experience I've been delivering value both on small and medium-sized projects. Most of the value is Software. But there are other kind of "values" that have quite a long-lasting effect:

  • Domain knowledge value

  • Process knowledge value

  • The value of freedom degree

The first two values are well known to us: when you find out how to solve a puzzle, you need less time to solve it again. This means that you learned something about the domain of the problem and the process you've applied to solve it.
Consider the Tangram, for instance: it is a visual puzzle and the domain is geometric, therefore you need to learn several geometrical properties (translation/rotation), memorize some geometrical patterns. Moreover (and this is process knowledge!) you experience different strategies to solve the puzzle.

Philip Armour talks about it in his book "The Laws of Software Process: A New Model for the Production and Management of Software" in terms of Orders of Ignorance.

All this works in a perfect world, anyway, where communication processes are error free and people, like computers, are never mistaken.

But in our World it is common to:

  • forget to mention

  • make implicit reference to

  • disguise

  • conceal

  • distort

  • misinterpret

  • under/over-value

features, concepts, in a more general way, THINGS.

When you're working in team, the presence of these communication errors can produce disastrous results. Let me tell you a story:
A rich shipowner orders a fantastic sailship to the best engineering team. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, he specifies everything in his request plans: materials, construction techniques, processes, etc.
At the launch, the ship sank in few seconds.
The shipowner furiously asks the project manager why it sank, and he calmly replied: "you did not specify the boat had to float".

The loss of feedback between the shipowner and the project manager produced the disaster. How can you prevent this? You need to deliver something earlier.

If you deliver earlier you are not going to produce a fully working (or real size) thing, anyway you can always produce something that's intermediate, incomplete, full of errors and somehow raw.
"The next delivery will be better", you've to think while collecting feedbacks from your client.

The equilibrium is delicate, anyway: if you deliver too early or too late, you can waste all the work:

  1. deliver too early: lots of continuous feedbacks, overheads, and loss of priority in change requests produce a bad product and out of time.

  2. deliver too late: projects took an erroneous path and there's no time to go back an restart

It's really worth noting that there is NO optimal point. Every project has its inertia, and, most important, every person has his/her rhythms.
The challenging part of project management is to adapt the project to the rhythms of the development team and the client.

Remember: "to err is human, to iterate is good" ;-)

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Measuring Innovation by patents

Browsing one of my favourite blogs I stumbled upon an interesting report: "Top 15 most innovative Countries".

What makes me think is the method used here: they measure the innovation rate of a country by counting the number of patents filed in a period, divided by the population .

First thought (and first comment on mentalfloss) is on average bias: 1 billion Indians have more urgent problems than filing patents or taking a degree in computer science, they are trying to survive the famine!

Second thought is more politic/polemic: are we sure that a patent is worth an innovation point? Is innovation just a score on a registry? Do you weigh the toilet seat deodorizer apparatus as worth as something that has never been filed but we use everyday?

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Italian ex-president uses Sitòfono

As you probably noticed by my low posting activity, we are rolling out a lot of new things, and one of which I am particularly proud of is that Francesco Cossiga, a well known ex President of the republic of Italy, is using Sitofono.
His Sitofono is hosted here:

What makes me even more proud, is that Francesco Cossiga is Sardinian, as well as me and most of the people in the company I work for, Abbeynet.

If you can read italian, check this article on Mytech.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Looking for a pizzeria in Milan? Chiamagratis!

Pagine gialle, the Italian business directory, features a brand new Click-to-call service by MyBluezebra

Guess who is the Mybluezebra technology partner? ;-)

Check it out in this Search for a pizzeria in Milan result page.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


I've been trying Joost yesterday night for the first time, after a really busy period.

Here are few "raw" comments, I'll give more detailed in the future:

  • Quality: decent, sometimes good. Few glitches are not a problem on a documentary or "easy watching" tv. But I'll become berserk if I see glitches while watching a horror movie!

  • Quantity: lots of theme-oriented videos (extreme sports, jackass, music), but which I qualify as: if-I-have-nothing-to-do-Ill-watch-it or good-to-watch-while-cooking-dinner

  • User experience: impressive! The control panel is something really worth seeing, the channel navigation experience is lightweight, slender

Ah, if you want an account (unless they unlocked the closed beta program) just contact me via sitofono or via Hictu (nickname: cerion)
Joost™ the best of tv and the internet

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nokia on mobile advertising: next google?

Nokia announced recently on its forum developer network that two new mobile advertising services are available for developers.

Learn how to implement targeted mobile advertising

Programming for Nokia devices is changing the mediascape. Two new mobile advertising services are transforming the way people use their phones: Nokia Ad Service and Nokia Advertising Connector. Nokia Ad Service is a fully managed service for advertisers to conduct targeted advertising on mobile services and applications. It consists of a group of mobile publishers forming a mobile ad network and a platform to deploy, manage and optimize mobile advertising campaigns. The other service, Nokia Advertising Connector, accommodates third-party publishers and advertising aggregator companies that want to extend to relevant mobile advertising. Nokia Advertising Connector operates as an intelligent switch, selecting between text, visual, audio, and video ads — depending on the user's context — and feeding the ad to the device.

For more information, check the official nokia press releases

Is Nokia going to compete with Google in what has been the only steadily growing revenue stream after the dotcom bubble?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sitofono, as easy as it gets

As you already know, Sitofono is the Definitive Click 2 Call:
[Sitofono] is the easiest click-to-call service ever that any web site, professional, blog, e-commerce portal and so on can easily use to be called for FREE from their customers/website visitors.

Well, we've released an improved version, check out the main features below.

What's more in this release?

We've been working hard on several aspects: we've improved the user experience, we've extended browser support, and we've made it more accessible for the visually impaired .

Moreover, you can now put your visitor's phone number directly on the URL. This allows you to build new contact interfaces, doing something like this (I trust you can do much better :) ):
Your number:

Sitofono helpdesk hacking

Sitofono is a truly flexible service. It is web-based, and it is easily mashable with other services and applications.
For example, you can build a very personalized and interactive mass mailing newsletter, so that your users can contact you without even worrying of dialing their numbers. Just imagine that I own a fishing motel and I want to reward those old customers that bring a new customer. I can send an e-mail like this:

Dear %%NAME%% %%SURNAME%%,
we are happy to inform you that you have been entitled to a free weekend in our Baits Hotel! All you need to do is call us and book two rooms for the desired period. One room is free!

Kind Regards,
Mrs. A. Perkins
Baits Hotel Booking service

%%NAME%%, %%SURNAME%% and %%PHONE_NUMBER%% are filled with real values from my customer database (a simple spreadsheet)

Sitofono frequent callers

And, what about having a "top customer" addressbook at hand?
Just build a list of html links with your sitofono address and the phone number of your top customers, then click on the desired name and Sitofono will put your customer in contact with you: your customer will hear the introductory message from Sitofono and in few seconds he/she gets connected to your line.

That is to say, something like this:
Abbeynet main line
Abbeyphone helpdesk

The trick, unveiled

The correct syntax for this trick is this:


Comments and improvements

We never stop working on our products, so please drop me a line if you have any suggestions about improvements or new features you'd like to see in Sitofono, I'll be happy to discuss on it with you

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Monday, March 12, 2007

We're Pulver100!

As Luca announced today, Abbeynet, the company I work for, has been awarded with the presence on the Pulver 100 listing 2007

The Pulver 100 is the first and foremost listing of privately held growth companies that represent the future of IP communications. Originally introduced in 2002, the pulver 100 recognizes companies that have substantial real-world deployments and enjoy significant growth rates. The pulver 100 has become an indicator of the leading edge in IP communications, and the companies named to the 2007 Pulver 100 represent the future of the IP communications industry.

One more thing is worth to be mentioned. Luca notices there is a big name that is missing:
The big absence ? Skype. Skype is not a Pulver 100 company this year.

This fact confirms, somehow, the idea that Skype(1) is not(2) doing(3) innovation(4)

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Click to call drives the automotive innovation

What's better than calling the Restaurant nearest you've booked a table for two to tell them you're a bit late, while still driving on the highway heading to the restaurant?

Google partners with BMW and together they release a really innovative application:

[..] users in Germany can send a business listing found on Google Maps Deutschland directly to cars enabled with the BMW Assist service. Drivers can then set it as the destination for the in-car navigation system, or they can call the business from within the car. No more having to write down the address and re-enter it in the car -- now you can just click and drive!

Check the whole news here:

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Digital Vs Analog POTS

Markus Göbel wrote an interesting article about the Minute Stealers affair.

Moreover, C|Net published a post about FCC ordering about interconnection agreements, which puts a rule on how businesses between "traditional" local telcos and wholesale (VoIP included) operators should be set up.

VoIP is being acknowledged as a mainstream technology and is undergoing regulations, somehow. The very moment this happens, some telcos are retaining the cheap long distance calls customers with a competitive service.

As previously stated, the minute stealer business is going to close early. Here's Luca Filigheddu post about digital pots

In my opinion, VoIP as a digital POTS will go on being a Big Telco's prerogative in the longer term, without any tangible and enduring business opportunity for other entities. The real value is: Web applications + VoIP + Presence. That's something really different and Big Telcos are still far from that business opportunity.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

L'espresso praises Sitòfono

L'espresso, the weekly newsmagazine leader in Italy talks about Sitofono and its value proposition for all the activities that have a point of presence on the Internet.

Sitofono is like a doorbell for your site. If the metaphore "website" = "shop/studio" is true, Sitofono is your first voice contact, that is to say the second thing you look at after reading the bronze plate.

Luca said:
(Free translation)
At present, we are focusing on the Italian market, but we've already planned the expansion towards Europe and North America, i.e. countries where the usage and the success of VoIP technologies is really relevant.

(Source, Italian)
Attualmente ci concentriamo sul mercato nazionale, ma stiamo già pianificando il lancio nel resto d’Europa e in Nord America, Paesi dove l’utilizzo e il successo delle tecnologie basate sul Voice over ip è davvero molto importante.

That is to say: stay tuned :)

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Innovation Resistance (Part Three)

Following the previous posts a bout Innovation resistance Part One and Part two, here is the third and last part.

As I already said, resistance to any form of change is a natural reaction. I tried to classify the first three forms in this "post trilogy", here is the last and more general one.

The third form of innovation resistance is the lifestyle lock-in.
When we propose innovation, we are always replacing or modifying someone's habits and way of thinking. We are removing the safe harbors of being acquainted, accustomed to this or that behaviour.
When we find someone that has made the first step to change (the so-called early adopter), he/she finds often stuck in a dilemma: "if everything has been working fine so far, why do I have to change?". People go back to their habits at the first "serious" difficulty. What's never clear is how to quantify the "serious" value. People tend to change lifestyle only if they see that there is a net advantage in changing.
Example. The video recorder allows timeshifting, so that you are not put into slavery by TV schedules: how many times you hear people saying "Sorry, today I can't go out because I have to watch the latest XYZ episode"? The timeshifting "feature" came up only after some early adopter put it in practice, in real life. Word of mouth did the rest.

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Innovation resistance (Part Two)

In a previous post I started talking about Innovation resistance (part One). In this post I presented the first (and the most common) type of resistance, which comes in the form of "Truth" by Conventional Wisdom.

The second form is the lack of necessity.
One of the most common sentences is "640 k ought to be enough for anyone". Even if it's a false Bill Gates Quote, it resembles the main idea of being satisfied with the things you already have.
Do you remember people speaking like:
- "Why do I have to bring a telephone with myself? I don't need it. If I cannot be reached right now, I'll be available at home, or at work."
- "I don't want to spend 400$ for a GPS navigator: my tourist guide and driving map are enough, for 7$ each. Anyway, I never get lost." :))

The Lack of necessity is a form of "luddism", that is to say we are skeptical about the fact that we may need something new.

An "old" story about a fisherman and a businessman describes the situation in which we find a typical "resistance" from lack of necessity. It's worth a read: even if you disagree either with the fisherman or the businessman, you've got the hint to think about it...


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Innovation resistance (Part One)

The main foe a start-up company has to face is innovation resistance.
Resistance manifests itself in various forms, and in different moments of the product lifecycle.

The most common form (and the first to come up) is the Truth of Conventional Wisdom.
This form of collective knowledge, sometimes misidentified as "common sense" does not take into account new, previously unknown knowledge.
Anything that goes against the CW is slowed down in its race. Any technological innovation had to slowly permeate the collective thinking, to create awareness and confidence in order to overcome this problem.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Firefox and Thunderbird VoIP Extension released

I'm happy to announce that a new version of Firefox VoIP Extension and Thunderbird VoIP extension are available on
They work on Windows, MacOS X and Linux platforms.

The only thing you need is an abbeyphone account, get it now, it's FREE :)

Please note that they are still beta releases, that is to say that there is some undocumented feature, and some uncovered bug around.
Anyway, this Firefox VoIP version solves some minor bugs and the more important bug when working on blogs and content management systems, which has been spotted by Russell Shaw

Enjoy your calls, and if you want to have a chat just call me: my number is 210001182!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Web design is CRAP!

First of all, I want to thank Giacomo for citing me as a source of book titles :)

He points out what is the Zero principle of design: "if you want to break the rules you first need to know the rules to be broken".

And the rules are CRAP :)

That is to say, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity.

1) Contrast
The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements [...] are not the same, then make
them very different.

2) Repetition
Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. [...] This
develops the organization and strenghtens the unity.

3) Alignment
Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarly. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page.

4) Proximity
Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units.

Rules, conventions, and the "common sense" build up what is a good design.
The thing is, what makes a "good design" is not what makes an "excellent and innovative design".
What makes an innovative design is something that goes beyond common sense, rules, conventions.
It is about creating something really new, something unprecedented.

We all know that, the Web is an infinite source of designs and attempts of establishing a new way of communicating "things".
Most of them are just failures. Until you find something that is really capturing, it stimulates your neurons in a positive way, it programs your will to go on, to follow the Cheshire cat...


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Where are the Voice2.0 developers? Partying somewhere else, I think

Mr Blog recently published an interesting post about "Where are the Voice 2.0 developers?"

He quotes one of my posts, and I needed to stop and open my dictionary because I didn't know the idioms "Talk the talk, walk the walk".

PhoneGnome has offered a free API for almost a year now. But where are the innovators? We even offered to provide a free PhoneGnome box to those publishing apps to the User Contributed Library.

People say they want this stuff. They can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

English language improvements apart :), I want to clarify this point: my company released a "Voice Over Web" SDK in May, 2006 right during the VON Europe conference in Stockholm, and I was happy to see that Phonegnome has been following a well beaten route[1], and that we were heading the same direction.
That is to say, it wasn't my intention to say "I wanna play with that toy".
I was just so delighted that I "placed some bets" after a glance at my crystal ball.

Unfortunately our SDK has been coldly saluted: even if we received praises and some good technical feedback, we haven't seen experiments worth noting -yet.
My opinion is that we came to the party earlier than expected, and the place was nearly deserted. The party people was feasting somewhere else, with widgets, gadgets, ajax scripts and rails, maps, identity and Single Sign On APIs, and so on. Now they finished building their websites, and found themselves in an embarrassing silence. Websites are mute. Websites need Voice.

In fact, during the last two months we've been contacted by a wave of independent developers, entrepreneurs, old friends, all of which are interested in building a "website with Voice in". All of them need to provide a communication tool to their community, all of them need a turnkey solution because they don't want to bother with the "telecommunication matter".

Opening up (or licensing) your technology (or product) to make it as widespread as possible is a strategy that's been historically used to impose well known dominant designs: VHS (over Betamax), Google maps, Intel Centrino (over Transmeta), NTSC in USA and PAL in Europe. It's a combination of open architecture and bandwagon effect.
Everybody wants to ride the tide.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Mobile Ad Targeting for 3 Italia

Christine Herron cites a recent research results about mobile Ad Targeting and its effects

Adriano Gaved from mobile media company 3 Italia recently shared the results of an internal case study on mobile content ad targeting. The big takeaways from their testing:

  1. In mobile content, carriers will be disappointed to discover that the consumer's expectations around content consumption will trump his or her preexisting norms around mobile usage. e.g., free and advertising-supported is the standard content model, rather than premium payments. (Notable exceptions: users are willing to pay extra for games, adult
    content, and music.)

  2. Each time you divide a target cluster, you will double the clickthrough rate.

That is to say, we Italians are avid consumers but... greedy?
Exception is -as always is- Porn.

Anyway, what's really interesting is the fact that you need to segment your user base, in order that you can obtain more performing Ad.
3 Italia tests stopped at a certain level of granularity. What Christine wonders is if they stopped because they just reached a sufficiently effective CTR or if they failed to achieve reasonable improvements by segmenting more.

In addition to that, I wonder if they are segmenting on mobility attitudes by interpreting the cell registration data (like long-distance-workers, sales representatives moving by car, sales representatives moving by plane, etc.)

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Ten things you need to know about "ten things you need to know about" lists

  1. Lists should be guidelines. But they pretend to be commandments.
  2. Lists are usually a personal representation of a more complex world: each reader would have pointed out different aspects, not just those ones.
  3. Lists represent a "compressed archive" of some more thoughtful reasoning. They cannot replace a well-written document.
  4. There are no good lists and bad lists: lists have no soul, no will :)
  5. There is a tendency to grow the list in a more structured way, thus transforming the list into a document tree. But want to save the trees, don't we? :)
  6. When someone reads a list, he/she feels an incoercible desire of building up his/her own list.
  7. Most of the bullet points are just obvious statements we could have made without them.
  8. A list cannot contain sufficient information to strengthen or weaken an argument. It's insane to pretend that a list can save you from a higher-pitch-debate.
  9. When you feel confident that the list has been "marble carved" in your brain, the first thing you do happens to violate the guidelines contained in the list!
  10. Sometimes it happens that the list is made of 13 or 9 elements. Some weird mental constraint (it has to be long enough, but not too long) lead the writer to cut out 3 interesting ones or to add one dumb bullet point to it. Like this one is!

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fast Second: book review

On the verge of writing my previous post I started writing a review on a very interesting book. I was "frightened" of being rough, impolite, offensive somehow to the readers or to the authors.
Then, I had the occasion to read a really crude and earth-shattering review by Joel Spolsky on "Dreaming in Code" (Yep, I read his blog).
All of a sudden, my worries vanished :)

So, here is

My personal review of Fast Second (by C. C. Markides, P. A. Geroski)

It is a really interesting book, where "interesting" is twofold: the ideas expressed are interesting, and the writing style is interesting too, for it provides information by repeating the same concept in different ways. It seems to me that the most interesting thing in this book is the repetition scheme in itself.

In fact, it helps the reader by just writing the concepts twice or more, in order that the reader doesn't need to re-read the same sentence more than once. Memorization is easier because information is redundant and presented from different viewpoints (like 2D and 3D representation).

That is to say, it could have been written in half the paper, but it wouldn't have been such a light reading on such a complex matter. Books like this can be read on a noisy flight near the turbines, with a crying baby on your side, without the need to concentrate on the topic.

Uhmmm, what's missing here?

Oh yeah, I forgot the topic on which this book is focused on! The book is about competitive innovation in the mass market, it clearly advocates the strategy of waiting for a settlement of the technology evolution, then enter the mass market (well, actually it is "build a rather inexistent one") just before (or shortly after) a dominant design appears, and when most of Startups are running out of fuel.

What I don't understand is how such an ecosystem can sustain itself, and how can I estimate such a high risk (technical and financial) of entering in a typically narrow time window with big investments, which are needed to consolidate the product and create the market.

My Advice

Similar "redundant" books have been written and edited by Kathy Sierra and are called "Head First": they are far more capturing and interesting than Fast Second, and I advice to buy them if you want to stuff more things in your brain with lesser effort.

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The Porn secret lobby

It's not news.
A technology that can be exploited to transmit, transfer, share pornographic content and guarantee high revenues is a business in itself. But the real question is:

"Is Porn a relevant driver for the settling of a dominant design?"

Daniel Scocco, the author of Innovation Zen (one of my top 5 blogs) wonders whether HD-DVD will win over Blu-ray just because "Sony refused to give Blu-Ray licenses to porn movies".

I can see he recently read "Fast Second", an interesting and curiously written book about the relationship between innovation and mass market, and how, when and where a firm should enter the mass market with products based on innovative technologies.
Curiously, Fast Second omits the "P" factor, but it highlights the fact that open-standard adoption is one of the factors that make this or that design variant as the dominant one.
My thought is that Porn is just one of a more complex factor set.
Porn sits aside Music, Film, and Software. Porn is just one egg of a basket that consumers elicit as the driving force.
DRM (Digital Rigths Management) is a much stronger limitation than the "no-porn" strategy, and I bet that the technology with the weakest DRM system will definitely impose itself in the mass market.

(I wonder what happens if a VoIP company starts "renting" adult hi quality video platforms. Is that sufficient to settle as the dominant platform?)

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cisco iSueTM strategy

It's quite strange. Cisco owns an iSomething trademark, and Apple did not try to prevent such a big brand dilution: Apple has been selling iThings (the iMac, precisely) since 1998, and if I were Steve Jobs I would have suited InfoGear, which filed the iPhone trademark in 2000, for brand dilution.

The iMac hype generated a lot of iSomething gizmos, some of them were nice, some weren't.
I think that "i" prefixed to another word is a strong identity element which, in my opinion, pertains to Apple product portfolio.
Therefore, Apple has the right to preserve its identity elements and avoid product misattribution, brand weakening, loss of dominance in a market.
For instance, I don't think Apple will allow me to sell frozen pre-cooked cod fillets with the brand name "iCod", because it will confuse consumers and think that Apple is selling food. Or, worse than ever, associate my low quality (fishy) iCod rotten sticks with Apple...

Anyway, as David Berlind speculates right before the iPhone unveiling, Apple has much more to gain than to lose, in a lawsuit with Cisco.

And, for those who do not know yet, there is another danger towards Apple brand, a trademark misuse that's called iBrator. I wonder if Cisco is interested in acquiring the owning firm...
Watch the video :)) (Quicktime)

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