Archive for March, 2009

The Good and Bad of my first iPhone Skype experience

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

That’s a screnshot of my wife’s iPhone finally running skype.

We just tried it for a few minutes and:

Good

  • Looks and feels like skype. It evens has all the sounds you’ll hear on the desktop client
  • There’s no lag when it comes to Instant Messaging
  • Sound Quality is Great
  • It’s a great option to make calls when you are traveling outside of your own country. Now you can take your iPhone with you and not pay for international roaming to effing AT&T (or your carrier) and use any internet enabled WiFI network to make your calls. It will rock even more if you have SkypeOut. Update: According to GigaOM the application works only over WiFI, which is great for me. When you’re out you use the regular phone. If you travel abroad, just piggyback on some WiFI network you find.

The Bad

  • We could call from her iPhone to my Skype client running on MacOSX, but I couldn’t call her back
  • The iPhone’s lack of background application running kills the purpose of skype. You’d have to have the application open all the time for it to be useful. As soon as the app closes your session dies, so there’s no way to get notified if someone called or messaged you
  • The contact list (if you have hundreds of contacts) was very laggy to load

So far this is just a glimpse of what phones will be able to do in the future when wireless internet will be as common as electricity. When I first heard about WiMax the first thing that came to mind was “No more cellphone bills!”. The day we have broadband internet access everywhere for free (think the wireless spectrum that will be left for grabs once the TV stations go all digital) all we’ll need is an iPod (since it supposedly runs on the iPod too) or internet mobile phone and Skype or similar VoIP software.

Related Posts
Review: Skype for iPhone. Verdict: Awesome.
Skype calls over 3G working on 3.0 Beta
Skype Now Officially Available for the iphone

OnLive could change the video game industry

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I feel it’s my geek given duty to make a post about this presentation. I was lucky to finally have the time to watch their hour long presentation and Q&A session at the Game Developer Conference 2009 (which ends a couple of days from today). They could have not picked a better place to finally demo their technology.

In short, they’ve introduced a huge new concept to the video game industry, I’d call it “Cloud Gaming” to not only host the games, but also host the processing juice. You won’t need a console anymore, they keep the hardware to execute and stream the game to your screen. They support TV (with a miniconsole), PC and Mac.

So bear with me, they say they have solved the issue that you’re thinking about now, Lag. The people behind this worked on apple to create Quicktime, and they identified differences between what it takes to compress linear (regular) video, vs Interactive Video. They say their compression algorithm doesn’t take seconds of lag (like when you stream over a webcam), but miliseconds. They have custom chips to process the graphics, and I bet they might even built their own network protocol right on top of IP.

So what are some of the implications of this:

  • We’ll all be able to finally play Crysis and even more demanding games on low end PCs
  • No more buying more hardware, no more upgrading your PC to be able to run games, no more buying consoles
  • All your games live on the platform, so you can play from any computer, and you’ll keep the state of your game until the last time you hit the Pause button
  • Your friends can see you play, live. I bet we’ll be able to see live tournaments, we’ll start seeing a new breed of famous people get more attention, the Elite gamers. Imagine seeing the best Call of Duty player in the world playing live
  • New Genres of video games will emerge on this platform, maybe even new genres of entertainment, think new Live Broadcast shows where participants use an avatar to either act or compete (game show)
  • Game Developers not need to think of the rendering limitations that they might have nowadays, and will be able to design games that could only be imagined in the past. Render quality only thought for movies will now exist for video games, think of virtual reality now
  • There’s about 100 million PCs/Macs/Laptops out there that are not ready today to play high end games, now they’ll have the possibility of playing virtually any game by installing a 1Mb plugin from OnLive.com
  • Takes Piracy out of the Business Equation
  • A bigger gaming audience makes an even better case for companies placing advertisement in video games, maybe there will be a lot more high end free games with bigger audiences, think the next Grand Theft Auto coming out for free with superb real life like graphics rendering, all ad sponsored and free to the consumer. The amount of people that you could have playing a great game for free would make other developers think twice about charging for their games and having their virtual worlds ad sponsored.
  • No more installs
  • Now multiplayer will have almost no latency since all players live inside their datacenter, you only get the latency of your ISP if there’s any
  • Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft must be shitting their pants
  • Services that sell used games are going to be selling vintage and their business will be reduced

However I think there will always be room for the old consoles. This is the biggest entertainment industry in the world, we have grown up with consoles for almost 30 years and there’s a lot of changes to push into people’s minds:

  • How do you convince me, that finally made up my mind after years and dropped $500 on a PS3 to play with my friends in latin america online to switch to this, if my friends will probably have no way to even have access to the system in years to come?
  • How do you convince PC gamers that rather pay for the hardware and pirate the games? (There’s plenty of those, probably the majority of the PC gaming population outside the US never plays for a PC game, and doesn’t get into consoles because they pirate the games) into renting or buying games on the cloud?
  • How do you convince all the people that they should switch when their gaming experience depends entirely on being connected to the internet. So If the ISP is having issues I can’t play? isn’t my console awesome?

It seems that many of these complains are similar to all the complains brought upon business models that didn’t exist online and that are now thriving. This presentation left me with my mouth wide open, and I highly recommend you watch it. You’ll be blown away by the power of the UI, and how as you Browse for games, you can even see how other people are playing live, it’s like streaming video is nothing for OnLive. Really sick technology.

In the case that they succeed, I just can’t wait for them to have competition by the existing big brands, it’s going to get so interesting once cloud gaming becomes the defacto platform, maybe we as consumers will end up playing games for free, all sponsored with in game ads.

Just by listening to the guy if you’re a techie, your mind will start to fly to barely start to imagine the awesomeness of the technology that should be behind this. I can imagine anything from custom virtualization technology, to custom GPUs, custom network cards, custom network protocols on top of IP, deals with major internet backbone networks, ISPs, deals with game publishers, sick level API development, incomprehensible comprehension technology for my retard brain… when I see shit like this, I always think… how the hell is there people that still believe in god? Mankind is the closest thing there is to something like that! I’m thankful for people in this world that can think so big.

The service is supposed to launch next Winter 2009, but you can sign up to be a beta tester

Geek T-Shirt Collection #13 – Who-Lu?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

From Joost. Internal (bad) joke about their competition. I don’t think this joke is very funny now.

At Hulu I bet they say “Whoost?”, specially after you see the recent numbers from comScore.

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How to get free press for your billion dollar corp using and branding kids all over the country

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

To pull this Marketing Stunt, you need to own a billion dollar corporation, publicly traded with a market cap of about USD $100 billion traded on the NASDAQ. Then you need to have yearly revenues of $21,795,550,000 or about $41,467 per hour.

Having all this money, there’s an ingenious evil marketing strategy you can implement that will make you look good, get your free press and it’s only going to cost about $150,000, which is the equivalent of let’s say 3.6 hours worth of your revenue, so think about it, in 3 and half hours from now you should have the budget for it.

If you have made up your mind 3.6 hours after reading this, here is what you need to do:

1) Start modifying the logo of your company on every holiday or special occasion.
2) Create and promote a competition in all schools across the country for kids to redesign an “out of the box” version of your logo, and offer $50,000 in prizes.

Open the competition to all U.S. residents between the ages of 5 and 18 who attend elementary and secondary schools (i.e. grades K-12) in the U.S. The National Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of their choice, a trip to your main Office, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle. Also award the winner’s school a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab. (This is where you’ll spend roughly $50k)

The Prizes will go as follow:

  • Each of the other 3 National Finalists will win a trip to your main Office, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle.
  • Each of the other 36 Regional Winners will win a trip to your main Office and a t-shirt printed with their doodle.
  • Each of the other 360 State Finalists will receive an official winner’s certificate.
  • What your company gets in exchange:
    Free Press on all major media outlets TWICE, once when the competition is announced and once when the winner is announced. You know that if you wanted to get that amount of attention it would cost you millions of dollars in advertising. Nothing beats free press baby!

    Best of all, you will inspire millions of kids ages 5 to 18 to admire your company and your brand, you will imprint your logo in their brains permanently, they will redraw it over and over while thinking how to make your company better. They will even write essays about you.

    All the kids get to think they’ll make the best logo and win the first prize (poor bastards). This is the best time to create an image of trust in their minds when they think of your brand. In the future it will be hard for them to pick any other competing company over yours. In the end they will also be more than willing to work for you once they’re old enough.

    And remember… Don’t Look Evil!

    Why I believe Twitter is a billion dollar company

    Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

    Last night I read a post by Neal Wise called Twipocalypse Now: Warnings of a Twitter Bubble and this morning I feel the strong need to express a lot of the things I’ve experienced and learned from Twitter, and why I think this service, (which to me is the closest thing to being able to read a lot of people’s minds) has a potential billion dollar business up it’s sleeve if they play they cards right.

    Starting with my personal Twitter History
    According to TwitterHolic, I joined Twitter on February 28th 2007 at 7:53:01pm. Since then I’ve sent 9,880 updates (as of this blog post), or about 13 Twitter updates a day. That probably makes me an addict since day one, and I admit it.

    First Twitter was fascinating because it was a lot of fun, sharing and getting to know a little better how some “internet friends”‘s lifes were like, and sharing mine with them. Now, I find myself using it in more advanced ways, and trying to analyze how trends are spread and what causes you to have an ever growing number of genuine loyal followers.

    Twitter didn’t invent the idea of Micro blogging, I believe Jaiku has the credit for this, at the beginning we all opened accounts on as many services as possible (Jaiku, Twitter, identica, plurk, pwnce, friendfeed,…), but it seems Twitter’s simplicity (and board of directors and contacts) had the magic to grow virally like no other service in its field.

    One thing they did right from the beginning is that they opened up the service with an accessible API for developers available from the very early days. I remember using a Python-Twitter and being fascinated with how easy it was, then I wrote integration scripts for (the almost deceased now) wedoit4you.com’s blog directory and twitter, for MyBloop.com, and scripts to send me direct messages which twitter would send to my cell phone via SMS when my linux servers were having trouble.

    They had a very rough first year in terms of scalability (they still have some issues), the service was always going down, and for a time, I found myself cheating on it on plurk, service which I also found fascinating until I reached it’s “Nirvana“. Along the worth mentioning competitors there was also Pwnce.com which closed up shop last December, and I don’t blame them, they were probably in this to be number one, and they realized they just couldn’t keep up with Twitter’s popularity.

    Many Twitter based services came along, and also many competitors including Facebook which copied the whole notification thing and put it on the facebook timeline feed, and it became really annoying cause with Twitter being down all the time you would be tempted to try Plurk for a while, and then ping.fm came along to post on all of them from one place.

    Introducing Power Twitter
    About a month ago, I found a Firefox extension called Power Twitter that made me abandon ping.fm for good, and therefore all the other micro blogging services. I’m doing all my micro blogging on twitter now.

    Twitter likes to be proud of it’s simplicity, but I think little by little they will have to add functionality that us addict/advanced twitter users appreciate from extensions like Power Twitter. They should thank Power Twitter for bringing back some of us.

    Where Twitter is now
    So now that the Twitter service is a lot more stable, and it’s grown a lot in the past two years, it seems that it’s becoming a mainstream phenomenon. Every day you hear something on the TV, and Google News is a good way to see how much web press they get every few hours. This in my Internet business experience is the best thing that can happen to your company. The amount of genuinely interested traffic that press can get you can’t never be matched to any publicity campaign, so I’d say Twitter is already profitable by not having to spends tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in publicity.

    But let’s see a little bit of numbers.

    The following graphic is why I think Pwnce’s board made a wise decision to leave the race and move on to other things, they were in it to be number one or a close number two, but it didn’t happen, Twitter has no match in its arena as it is right now, and it’ll be very hard even for a company like Google to build something similar and compete, they’d be better off buying Twitter (but twitter can’t sell out for less than a 10 figure sum).


    Monthly Visits: Twitter vs Jaiku vs Plurk. 54.2M as of Jan 09

    As you can see, it’ll be very hard for the competitors to catch on, even for Jaiku which was the first to do this, and which got acquired by Google. As it is, they’re clearly the number one by several orders of magnitude. The others might have decent businesses going for them, but they won’t be a billion dollar landmark on the internet. Competition will always be good though.

    So they beat everyone in their field very early, now it’s time to take over the world, let’s see what Twitter has to do to become a billion dollar company (be it on their own, or by valuation and acquisition)


    Uniques: Twitter vs Facebook

    This graphic shows unique visitor count according to compete.com for Twitter and Facebook until January 09. Twitter had 5.9 million unique visitors monthly at that time, today analysts are talking about 7 million uniques a month. Twitter is not a fool and that’s why they dind’t sell out to Facebook, they’re going for an user base as big (and of course bigger) than Facebook’s, which shows here some 68 million users as of January 09.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder has said it clearly too (and that’s why he didn’t sell out either), his goal is to connect EVERYBODY, so he’s probably looking to get traffic like that of Yahoo’s or Google’s 131 million unique visitors a day, and of course the whole planet the day we’re all finally using the internet the way we use electricity (that’s going to be a really interesting to live on).

    So how can it make money you ask
    Before you read this section, keep in mind that Twitter has already achieved $55 million dollars in funding. To have an idea how much this money can last, try to remember how YouTube used to spend around $1 million dollars monthly in bandwidth alone right before being acquired by Google. Twitter by no means eats that much bandwidth, and it’s a small operation of 29 employees. Making things expensive, put each employee at an average salary of $100k a year, plus let’s say $20k a month in (bandwidth, hardware, office) expenses to cover my basis, that would put their costs in around $4 million a year (I believe it’s much lower if they run things cheap like we do). They got enough money to run for 13 years if their costs didn’t grow, so let’s say they have enough money for sure to run for the next 5 years without making a penny, 5 years is a long time to make things happen on the internet. So in response to Neal’s Post, the internet and the whole financial system would have to go down for a Twipocalypse to happen, not even this economy, or a depression would make it go away, the service is FREE, and they got plenty of money to run it for a long time.

    This graphic shows the number of Visits per month the site it’s getting (according to compete.com, it could be more). As of January 2009, this was 54 million visits a month. That makes around 10 visits a day per unique visitor, not bad at all, almost like email.

    So let’s do a simple exercise, thinking very very small. If Twitter was run by a couple noobs that weren’t really ambitious and just wanted to make a good living off of it, they could be raking in right now, easy $12-$50 million a year without being very creative.

    I’ve seen way smaller sites with good sales team selling CPM campaigns at $20, $25 and even higher. I cannot imagine a good sales team selling CPM campaings on a site like Twitter, which could be perfectly well targeted based on reading your twitter update history and that of your followers, your re-twitts, etc. Let’s use the numbers of January:

    With only ONE Ad, and without growing the traffic:
    54,000,000 visits at $20 CPM => $1,080,000

    A small minded biz model with just ONE ad would bring now $12.96 million dollars a year minest $4M in costs and then effing taxes, would leave them with abour $4M cash in their pockets. Some people would settle for $4M a year, but this is petty cash for what it can make, and you could argue that it’s a very high CPM with this economy, but even with a lower CPM still it’d make enough to make the founders a decent living with a couple million dollars a year, my point is it can be monetized and run profitably without doing anything out of the ordinary. But of course, Twitter is not a million dollar business, it’s a billion dollar business.

    Since they don’t show any obvious business model to the public now, there’s a lot of morons out there thinking the site can’t make money, or that Twitter “doesn’t know how it’s going to monetize…” YEAH RIGHT.

    Still thinking on Ad-Revenue based business models, let your mind fly now, and think how much money they could make if they slowly showed us that they’re building a more powerful search engine (before Google deploys a Twitter search) and they had targeted ads on their search results just like Google’s #1 income source.

    As they have more users sending updates, they’ll have more and more information about everything happening in the world, url recommendations from all over the world for the content that matters, from respectable twitter users, showing us the latest and most relevant content. If they could manage to index all of this information this information and searches would yield results as good as Google’s we have in our hands a billion dollar business with sponsored ads, just like Google’s #1 source of income.

    I personally do a lot of searches every day on Twitter as it is and find a lot of stuff that’s more up to date than Google’s results, plus you find related people that know about the subjects you are looking for. That’s gotta have tremendous value for the company given that Search Traffic is the traffic that it’s monetized the best today on the web since it’s the one with the highest conversion rates for advertisers.

    With it’s API alone, there’s already an ecosystem around it building companies, some may even be monetizing already and keeping it quiet. Twitter also, in another non-creative way, could charge for use of its API, but I think this would cripple their grow and deter companies away from using it. However it’s possible in the future they will have enterprise access to their API for large amounts of transactions per second and they could make a fortune on this alone, without even altering one bit the current user experience.

    Another way it could be making a lot of money without ever changing the user experience would be to have data mining services for marketers. Subdivisions of Nielsen make hundreds of millions a year on data analysis services that big corporations pay for every month. Twitter has an awesome potential to analyze what people love, hate, want, bought, sold, go, read, do… only doing this I think it has one hell of a business model. It just needs to focus on growing enough so that they can have enough data to make it a really valuable source for analysis. And they’re focused on growing, growing, growing, that’s all that matters at this point.

    Then, there’s other business ideas I won’t mention because I might pursue them myself, and there’s also the obvious exit strategy of getting bought by bigger companies when you have a billion dollar valuation. Potential buyers… Yahoo! for example is looking to grow it’s search by getting into social networks, I think Twitter is both an amazing social network and the next tool for searching the most up to date information. I’d even dare to call Twitter “a human powered search engine index of the most current information in the world”, and that also has to be appealing to @Google which only a week ago has created a few Twitter accounts and it’s a little scary to see Google for the first time interacting live with people, doing replies, and even RTs (Re-Tweets, a name for forwarding what others have twittered).

    I hope that after doing this very simple analysis you also find it funny when you read or hear people saying that “Twitter doesn’t know how it’s going to make money”. No VCs in their right mind, in this economy, would drop $55 million dollars on a company that didn’t have their shit straight.

    When I hear these kinds of comments, I feel glad there’s very naive or short sighted people in this world.

    I feel better now, I just wish I could invest money in it. For now I’ll be glad to have a few more followers

    Geek T-Shirt Collection #12 – Joost’s new logo

    Sunday, March 1st, 2009

    I must be the Joost fanboy with the most Joost T-shirts :p, this is the last one I got though.

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