Getting the Beta Right

Michael Arrington writes: “The main thing to remember is that you generally only get one look from the early adopter crowd. There is just too much going on for them to give a flawed company multiple chances to get it right. You either grab their attention, or you lose their attention. If you grab em, everything is easier from then on. If you bore them, you are facing an incredible uphill battle just to get them back to the site. So, basically, dont blow your first impression. Once theyve made the decision that you are not noteworthy, it is very hard to get them to pay attention again.”

Web Services for Small Businesses

The New York Times writes:

The second-generation Internet technologies combined with earlier tools like the Web itself and e-mail are drastically reducing the cost of communicating, finding things and distributing and receiving services online. That means a cost leveling that puts small companies on equal footing with big ones, making it easier for upstarts to innovate, disrupt industries and even get big fast.

The phenomenon is a big step in the democratization of information technology. Its imprint is evident well beyond business, in the social and cultural impact of everything from blogs to online role-playing games. Still, it seems that small businesses, and the marketplace they represent, will be affected the most in the overall economy. Long-held assumptions are suddenly under assault.

Pay Per Call Advertising

WSJ writes:

Connecting consumers and merchants by telephone could bring new advertisers to paid search, particularly small businesses and services firms that don’t transact business online. It could also help companies that rely on call centers to sign up customers.

“The big theme here is the connection of online and offline,” says Greg Sterling, an analyst at research firm Kelsey Group. “It really closes the loop, and that’s the attraction of it for everybody.” Mr. Sterling estimates the pay-per-call market will be worth $3.82 billion by 2010, up from $60 million this year, driven by the arrival of large Internet players like Google and Yahoo.

Average bid prices are $10 a call, with certain popular, mature categories, including mortgages, refinancing and debt consolidation, reaching as high as $50, Ingenio says. “This is 10 and 20 times the going rate for clicks,” says Marc Barach, Ingenio’s chief marketing officer.

BarCamp Delhi

March 4 in Delhi. “BarCamp is a new kind of technology ‘unconference’- organized by attendees, for attendees. It’s an open, welcoming, once-a-year event for geeks to hang out with wifi and smash their brains together. It’s about love and geekery and having a focal point for great ideas.”

TECH TALK: DEMO 2006: The Best

The best demonstrators at DEMO 2006 termed DEMOgods were:

Kosmix. for Kosmix Search, which categorizes Internet content into understandable categories.
Front Porch. for PorchLight Security Messaging, which enables network administrators to automatically inform end users of security compromises and send alerts directly to the browsers of the affected users.
Iotum. for its telecom platform, which intelligently filters, ranks and prioritizes calls based on their relevance to you.
Krugle. a vertical search engine that gives programmers instant access to open source code and relevant technical information.
NetworkStreaming. for SupportDesk, an easy to use, efficient and effective remote IT support tool.
Panoratio Database Images. for its patented software that analyses large, complex data sets and presents information and highlights hidden, significant relationships that might otherwise be missed.
Riya.com. for sophisticated face- and text-recognition technology in a consumer application that makes searching within your digital photos easy and fast.
Sprout Systems. for Sproutit Mailroom, an e-mail management system for SMBs that prioritizes and archives emails and even suggests replies.
Ugobe. for Pleo, a robotic toy with programmed intelligence, organic movement, and realistic behaviors.
VSee Labs. for VSee, a clear, low latency video conferencing platform.

Paul Gillin picked his favourites:

Personal Productivity

Accomplice Software’s Accomplice – This is a time organizer on steroids. It bolts onto Microsoft Outlook and PDA organizers and allows you to organize your tasks flexibly but powerfully.

Iotum – It’s not a personal product – in fact, you have to connect it to a PBX or VOIP switch – but its benefits are very personal. Iotum does intelligent call routing, making sure the calls you get are only from the people you want to talk to.

Publishing

There was lots of interesting action in this field as the personal publishing trend gathers momentum.

Blurb BookSmart – My choice for best-of-show. Drag and drop photos into a template, add text and ship off to a service that returns a hard-cover coffee table book.

Grass Roots Software’s Freepath – This adds a bunch of new tools to your PowerPoint arsenal, enabling you to seamlessly mix in multiple data types and jump quickly around a presentation.

Riya – Pattern matching and face recognition software has huge potential but the technology available to the public has never been very good. Riya can spot patterns in photos – be they faces, words, objects or something else – and then sort through databases of photos looking for the same patterns.

Simplefeed – Simplefeed has some very cool technology that make RSS a more effective and trackable medium than e-mail or even Web pages for anyone who publishes information.

Paul also highlighted a couple SMB (small and medium-sized business) products:

Interprise Solutions USA, LLC’s Interprise Suite – I didn’t think the world needed another ERP suite, but Interprise thinks it’s got a winner in a fully integrated and internationalized ERP/CRM suite for small business. And it has 1,300 beta sites to prove it. Pricing will be in the $5,000 range for five users.

Sprout Systems, Inc.’s Sproutit Mailroom – The first in a planned suite to SMB productivity tools from this El Cajon, CA-based startup is Sproutit Mailroom, a flexible e-mail management tool that allows users to automatically categorize, route and respond to e-mail messages based on a set of rules. Enterprise products are available with the same functionality but Sprout is focused on SMB organizations that are drowning in e-mail.

Tomorrow: Attention Attractors

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