Farewell HTML5

December 16, 2012

facebook ditches HTML5So much for the “new hope of mobile app development” – Facebook released an updated app for Android, which replaces the webview/HTML5 architecture with a totally native implementation. The remake significantly improves the speed and overall slickness of the app, finally making it usable on Android. While we learned that HTML5 is bad for mobile a long time ago, it’s nice to see Facebook thinking the same. Also, in case you are wondering: yes, MobileNoter for Android is totally native too.




Microsoft buys users on whopping scale

May 11, 2011

Microsoft top management has a good reason for their recent agonizing buying spree. Everyone and his dog know that Windows and Office cash cows will be dead one day, and the day is coming fast. Microsoft is really trying to make a move into online, cloud, and mobile – the most promising categories dominated by Google, Facebook, and Apple.

Apple… was a marginal company only a few years ago. Apple passed Microsoft in market cap in 2010, passed Microsoft in revenues in October 2010, passed Microsoft in profits just recently.

Meanwhile Microsoft pays a fortune to buy users from Yahoo, then from Nokia, and now from Skype. That’s right – Microsoft is paying billions just to get the users, not valuable technologies or products (not entirely with Skype, but mostly so).

Every business school teaches that this strategy is not going to work. If you purchase users with low ARPU from someone, the users will continue to bring low ARPU to you. If you try to charge them more, they will flee to your competitor. Those business schools will soon have an excellent case study to support the claim that the strategy is bad. The chart below shows how Microsoft Online Services Division has been doing for recent years. If you have trouble summing those columns up, here is the summary: the Online Division is losing $2.5b per year. Surely you have no trouble picking the trend.

microsoft online division is losing a fortune every month

Dropbox uses social game tactics to increase virality

May 5, 2011

famous dropbox logoDropbox is one of the best known applications in the world that appeared in recent years. While Dropbox is really useful and a great app, perhaps some creative marketing helped it to go all the way to #1 file sharing app in three years. It turns out that Dropbox cleverly utilizes the same tactics that is commonly used among social gaming companies on Facebook and other social networks.

For example, once you sign up to Dropbox, you are offered to perform 5 of the following 7 steps to get 250MB of storage space for free:

  1. Take the Dropbox Tour
  2. Install Dropbox on Your Computer
  3. Put Files in your Dropbox Folder
  4. Install Dropbox on Other Computers You Use
  5. Share a Folder with Friends or Colleagues
  6. Invite Some Friends to Join Dropbox
  7. Install Dropbox on Your Mobile Device

Compare this to the 5 steps that Office Wars – an addictive Facebook game – asks to do in order to become an “Office Wars Pro” and get some perks for free (that otherwise would have to be bought for real money):

However, Dropbox doesn’t stop with the list above. More simple actions will get more free storage to the users, like:

  1. Linking Dropbox account to your Facebook account
  2. Following @Dropbox on Twitter
  3. Tweeting about Dropbox to your followers

Every step of the above will get you 128MB more. All this is on top of the “old school” marketing gig: any new user signing up to Dropbox off your referral link would add you 250MB of storage space for free.

It is very easy for Dropbox to utilize this tactics, because they can give away free space in small increments for just about anything: if you Like their page on Facebook, write a positive blog review about them, put Dropbox sticker on your laptop and post a photo of it – the possibilities are endless. It is much harder to do the same for a company that sells software for a one-time payment, like we sell MobileNoter SE. The company could give users discount coupons for the user actions it want to appreciate, but even this is not guaranteed to work – the biggest application store – the AppStore doesn’t support coupons.

Evernote just squeezed more money out of investors!

October 23, 2010

Evernote just raised another $20m. That’s on top of $9m left from previous round and a claim that it’s a profitable and sustainable business. Makes you wonder why they need all this money. My guess is that’s a preparing for M&A kind of things. Now, some users have comments about this news:

  • Do you now have enough to update the Palm/HP webOS application?
  • one thing I would ask would be that you streamline and improve the performance of the various clients out there.
  • I want to be excited about this but I have seen funding come and go and so many desires of the users go ignored.


We’ll see what the users get out of this new round of funding. I, personally, find the idea of creating a global platform for human memory out of a note-taking software to be a bit, er, misleading. The real global platforms for human memory are Google and Facebook. It’s not the ability to store information, it’s the ability to find information, based on relevancy or your social context.

The best thing Facebook ever did

May 16, 2010

What will let Facebook own the internet advertisement? How will Facebook displace Google from being the top advertising platform?

Well, that’s obvious now. With the help of their Like button placed all over the whole darn internet. OK, maybe it’s not that obvious, but there are only three pieces to this puzzle:

First, Facebook is the company that finally owns our online identity. Microsoft couldn’t do it with its HailStorm and Passport. Google couldn’t do it with Gmail/Google account. Facebook, with all the sites that use Facebook Connect is the 800-pound gorilla in the online identity market.

Second, web search is quickly becoming a commodity. It’s not hard for a large company to build a search engine or license someone else’s search engine. Its search quality won’t be as good as that of Google, but see the next point.

Surprise! The search quality as it has been understood by Google is not important to the consumers anymore. That’s why there are new players in the field, who innovate by delivering different search experience: Bing, Wolfram Alpha, and others. While Google does a good job of counting incoming links and clearing search results off spam, 99.99% of those search results are still irrelevant for me and you. But imagine what would happen if Google sorted the search results by bringing the posts “liked” by your friends to the top? Now, this would be like by thousand times more relevant! The only problem is that Google doesn’t know who my friends are, leave alone what pages they “liked”.

The mathematical approach of Google to the web search fails miserably when compared to the social approach. People always want to know what movies their friends watch, what music they listen to, where they go to dine, get excited. There will always be hardcore users who will use Google for search, but the rest of the population and advertisement dollars will go to Facebook.

P.S. Just when I was about to finish, I found this fresh post: Will Facebook Be Tomorrow’s Google, and Google Tomorrow’s Microsoft? , expressing similar ideas. It’s fun to read it too, especially since it comes from a former Google Group Product Manager.

Startupers beware: your mothership will eat you for breakfast

April 14, 2010

The recent news and rollouts by major companies are going to have a huge impact on the startup surface, and sink a lot of them as well. Here are some I want to mention:

  • Microsoft’s roll-out of web-based and free Office is going to damage web office suites developers, like Zoho;
  • Microsoft’s new Outlook 2010 is going to include social network features. Bye-bye Xobni (which is a social Outlook plug-in);
  • Twitter buys one of the iPhone clients – Tweetie. It means all other iPhone twitter clients are screwed;
  • Facebook, in addition to their Credits system, is rolling out an offers system – a very popular way of monetization. Wait till they make their Credits the only way to take money from the users, and numerous startups will kiss good-bye.

However, the top prize for screwing its ecosystem and partner network goes to Apple:

  • Their are introducing their ad platform iAd. No doubt it will be the exclusive way for advertising on iPhones and iPads;
  • Their new SDK licence agreement clearly prohibits use of any development platforms except for Objective C. This is a major blow to Adobe with their new Flash CS5, which includes tools to easily port Flash apps to iPhone OS. It also potentially makes Unity – a new platform for 3D  game design outlawed.

The lesson we all can learn: when your application totally depends on some company’s product for monetization or value for users, the company can evaporate your business in a blink. Our MobileNoter also falls into this category. People like our product, but if Microsoft decides to port its OneNote to MacOS and iPhone OS, we’ll have to have a much better product than theirs in order to win the customers.

NSFW: The last “0 friends” South Park episode is hilarious

April 11, 2010

This episode became an instant classic. The quotes from it will be repeated for years.

Here it is: http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/267112. Made me ROFL. I mean it actually, literally did. Facebook, Farmville, chatroulette… The Mad Money and TRON touches are a masterpiece.

P.S. Have you been to the chatroulette? The South Park guys do  NOT exaggerate about it.