Catch and Keep Business Models

Josh writes:

As the success of sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Classmates, and Geni have demonstrated, viral marketing can be a very effective tool to help build social networks that appeal to a wide range of people for a number of different reasons. Beyond the specific markets that they focus on, these sites have fundamental differences in how they acquire new users, generate revenue, and grow their business.

But what all of the most successful social networks have in common is that theyve perfected what I like to call a “catch and keep” model. From the first time a user signs up for a MySpace, or a Facebook, they find themselves sucked into spending hours on the site, and feel compelled to both return on a regular basis, and drag their friends into their network. As recent data demonstrates, the top social networks are among the highest trafficked and stickiest sites on the web.

Broadcasting Your Status

Fred Wilson writes about Twitter:

It will be the status broadcasting system of the Internet.

I dont change my away message on my instant messaging client very often. When I am away, Im not there to do it. But if I can send a text message to Twitter and it just happens, Ill do that.

I dont change my avatars audio as much as Id like. But if I can send a text message to Twitter and it just happens via text to voice, Ill do that.

I dont consume local services very often on my phone because its a hassle to log in and tell them where I am. But if I could just send a text message to Twitter with my location and information starts coming to me on my phone, Ill do that.

If all these things happen because of one text message I sent to Twitter, that’s fantastic.

Video and Ads

Robert Cringely writes:

Hiro Media thinks we simply ought to add commercials to Internet TV shows and movies, thereby changing both the associated business model AND the balance of power. If shows come with ads attached in such a way that they can’t be easily removed or skipped, why would their creators be opposed to copying and sharing? In fact, copying and sharing should be ENCOURAGED, because they lower the overall cost of distribution, increasing market share.

Internet users in many countries can already watch TV episodes on the web, often with commercials. But that is different from what Hiro is doing. If you watch 30 Rock at, for example, the episodes are cut into sections and commercials are added between the sections. If you want to start watching a new section of the show you first have to watch a pre-roll commercial. There are no true interstitial spots like you find on television. And these NBC shows generally play the same commercial over and over and the commercial doesn’t seem to be tied to any information about the viewer.

Emerging Technologies

Technology Review picks 10 for 2007: “Some, such as optical antennas and metamaterials, are fundamental technologies that promise to transform multiple areas, from computing to biology. Our reports on peer-to-peer video, personalized medical monitors, and compressive sensing reveal how well-designed algorithms could save the Internet, simplify and improve medical diagnoses, and revamp digital imaging systems in cameras and medical scanners. Nanohealing and quantum-dot solar power demonstrate the potential of nanotechnology to make a concrete difference in our daily lives by changing the way we treat injuries and helping solar energy deliver on its promises. Precise neuron control could help physicians fine-tune treatments for brain disorders such as depression and Parkinson’s disease. And single-cell analysis could not only revolutionize our understanding of basic biological processes but lead directly to predictive tests that could help doctors treat cancers more effectively. Finally, by combining location sensors and advanced visual algorithms with cell phones, mobile augmented reality technology could make it easier to just figure out where we are.”

PC Games Rebounding

The New York Times writes:

Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm, noted that in the first two months of 2007, domestic retail sales of PC games reached $203 million, a 48 percent increase over the $136.8 million in the period a year earlier. She noted that these figures do not include revenue generated by PC game sales online, or online subscriptions to play PC games.

She said the bulk of this surge in sales is rooted in the role-playing video game genre that, itself, grew 43 percent over the same period last year.

TECH TALK: Reflections from a Dubai Trip: Make No Plans

Every time one visits a Dubai or a Singapore, one is astonished by how well they are developing the infrastructure in these cities. Then, back in one of Indias cities and all one can do is groan in sheer frustration. With little or no planning, we have let things slide. The focus on quality of life is completely absent. Yes, cities are the magnets, the engines of growth. But read a story like this in the Wall Street Journal and one is left wondering if we have any people with a heart left amongst our planners:

India’s economic growth in the past several years has brought new wealth and a higher standard of living to many in this metropolis of 18 million. But it also has created suburban sprawl that is adding more people to a rail network that has seen few new trains or tracks added in the past 30 years.

Indian officials have a new term to describe the 2.5 times capacity crowds that now ride at peak hours: Super-Dense Crush Load. That is, 550 people crammed into a car built for 200.

The result is what may be the world’s most dangerous commute. According to Mumbai police: 3,404 people, or about 13 each weekday, were killed in 2006 scrambling across the tracks, tumbling off packed trains, slipping off platforms, or sticking their heads out open doors and windows for air.

The toll has been increasing as daily ridership has increased to more than six million people a day. Last year’s tally was up 10% from the year before. Accidents are so common that stations stock sheets to cover corpses.

And this is just the beginning. Projects start late, take too much time, and have capacity constraints even before they are launched. Corruption is only one part of the problem. At the core is perhaps the fact that we just dont think right. We refuse to learn from the best examples the world over. We think we can reinvent the wheel into something better. So, we try and innovate in our solutions when all that is needed is smart copying.

Consider for example how we have built our airports.

Tomorrow: Dreams in the Air