Online Classifieds

Andy Beal talks to Oodle’s Craig Donato:

Classifieds are simply better when used online for both consumers and advertisers. It’s easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for:

* It’s easier to search & browse online;
* It’s more effective to qualify interest when listings contain more descriptive information (e.g., more text, photos, virtual tours, etc.); and
* It’s quicker to make contact (just drop a seller an email).

For sellers, online listings are more convenient and cost effective:

* Ads can be purchased more cheaply and in many cases are free;
* It’s easier to accept inbound requests via email (using an anonymous screen name);
* Listings attract better prospects when they contain more descriptive information; and
* Advertisers can edit or delete a listing at any time.

Already, there are many more listings online than in local newspapers.

Software Start-up Pointers

Joel Spolsky offers some learnings for Micro-ISVs. Among them: “Dont start a business if you cant explain what pain it solves, for whom, and why your product will eliminate this pain, and how the customer will pay to solve this pain. The other day I went to a presentation of six high tech startups and not one of them had a clear idea for what pain they were proposing to solve. I saw a startup that was building a way to set a time to meet your friends for coffee, a startup that wanted you to install a plug-in in your browser to track your every movement online in exchange for being able to delete things from that history, and a startup that wanted you to be able to leave text messages for your friend that were tied to a particular location (so if they ever walked past the same bar they could get a message you had left for them there). What they all had in common was that none of them solved a problem, and all of them were as doomed as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

Managing Data

Information Week writes:

Here’s a rule of thumb: The amount of data stored by businesses nearly doubles every 12 to 18 months. And the very biggest–those at or near the 100-terabyte mark–probably triple every three years.

But databases aren’t just getting bigger. They’re also becoming more real time. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. refreshes sales data hourly, adding a billion rows of data a day, allowing more complex searches. EBay Inc. lets insiders search auction data over short time periods to get deeper insight into what affects customer behavior. Data is also coming from increasingly complex sources: Radio-frequency identification readers now feed data to Wal-Mart, and Nielsen Media Research, in collecting info on TV-viewing habits, is getting data from TiVos and iPods along with the standard living-room set.

Because businesses run fast-response systems that need to quickly get data in and answers out, they’re solving some of the most interesting problems in data management.

China’s Five Surprises

Strategy+Business writes:

There are at least five surprises in Chinas future: facets of life and global business, stemming from the cultural, economic, and political evolution of this unique country, that will turn out differently from the way most outsiders suspect. These surprises are:

1. Why not me? The intensity of Chinese entrepreneurialism is propelling many companies, even now, beyond a role as producers of low-cost commodities.
2. Fearless experimenters: Chinas emphasis on rapid-fire research and development makes it a seedbed for original products and services in the future.
3. Chinas brain gain: The ability to attract and retain executives from around the world has provided a higher level of competence for Chinas enterprises.
4. Out from Guanxi: Outsiders still view China as a largely patronage-based economy, in which connections and ethnic background determine success, but increasingly (at least in some sectors), high-quality management and transparent governance structures count more.
5. Chinas overseas ambition: The country is taking on a role as a catalyst of sustained economic growth in the emerging markets of the developing world.

Salesforce.com’s AppExchange

Forbes writes about the new service from Salesforce.com which is “a system that allows the company to host and exchange applications developed by third parties.”

AppExchange functions much as eBay’s site, which allows third parties to buy and sell items. For now, those applications revolve around the CRM space, but the system could easily be expanded to include offerings for non-CRM applications.

Salesforce.com would then become a kind of clearinghouse and development center for many different kinds of applications developed by many different kinds of companies. It’s a strategy that could carry big rewards, but it is also risky.

WSJ adds:

Salesforce.com says it has now attracted more than 150 applications that will be sold or offered free of charge by partners on its new online marketplace.

Some of the new services were created by software developers, and some by customers that had originally developed offerings for their internal use. Others were created by Salesforce.com programmers.

“It’s like an iTunes Music Store of enterprise applications,” says Marc Benioff, the company’s chief executive.

TECH TALK: India Rising: Mobiles for All

India ended 2005 with 75 million mobile users. December saw 4 million new additions. If that pace continues (and probably accelerate), India will see its mobile user base reach 200 million by 2007-end. Mobiles are there with almost everyone now. With the flurry of new offers, there is little excuse for not getting a mobile. And with the proliferation of mobiles, a new future becomes possible.

First, a status update on the mobile industry in India (via Mobile Pundit).

The Hindu wrote:

The subscriber base continues to grow aggressively and in end-2005 touched 75 million (48 million in end-2004).

Indian ARPUs are among the lowest in the world at around $9, the lowest being the Philippines at $7.2. To put things in context, average ARPUs are $40 in Australia, $42 in Korea and $10 in China.

Increased network coverage will result in higher month-on-month additions, scaling up India’s mobile connection base. It is expected that revenues will grow but unit contribution will drop and operators will be under pressure to reflect profitability. Telecom operators will struggle to find a balance between yield (income, earnings and margins) and growth to fulfill these expectations.

Voice revenues account for around 85 per cent of traffic while data and value-added services constitute the rest. Henceforth, the proportion will keep increasing in favour of data and value-added services, T. V. Ramachandran, Director General, COAI told The Hindu.

Currently, pre-paid users account for 77-78 per cent of users. By end-2009, this share is likely to go up to around 88 per cent. What may change during this period is the value of recharge coupons.

The mother of all telecom equipment tenders is being unveiled by BSNL. At $4.5 billion for 60 million lines, it is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

The dramatic change in the past month or so has been the introduction of the lifetime pre-paid plan. For less than a thousand rupees one-time payment, a user can get a pre-paid account with free incoming calls for life without having to recharge the account. This essentially means that any person willing to invest about Rs 2,500 (Rs 1,000 for the account and Rs 1,500 for a second-hand phone) can now receive calls for free forever. This will now open up a whole new segment of users especially in the blue-collar and rural segment.

Another aspect of the mobile growth in India is that the existing infrastructure supports data services (on both the GSM and CDMA networks). Given Indias pathetic broadband infrastructure and low PC penetration, it is possible that the mobile can become the way the benefits of the Internet are made available to the masses in India. This is similar to what happened in Japan in 1999 when NTT Docomo launched its i-mode service.

So, the mobile revolution is well underway. People are getting connected like never before. Those days in the not-so-distant past when one had to wait for months for a landline connection seems like a nightmare from a different world! Now, armed with mobiles, people are interacting with TV shows to decide who stays and who goes. This interactivity would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. The mobile has, indeed, become the cornerstone of our digital lives.

Tomorrow: Flying Free

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