It’s a very interesting topic. Few thoughts for now:
First, I’m thrilled that developers are building buisnesses and applications on top of Twitter. Stocktwits is off to a fantastic start. I love it. And there are plenty of other 3rd party apps doing different amazing things that I use every day.
Second, I don’t think it’s easy one to pin down and say one is better than the other. Mainly because i don’t think you can just put one company in a box like that. Think about Google for a second. Platform or application or service. Where do they make their money? How do they help others make money?
The best part about Google is they can make money themselves and they have helped other companies generate new buisness models at the same time. That’s a fantastic model.
Oh, and third, I can’t share Twitter’s plans for monetization just yet. But stay tuned :)
Peter Semmelhack, who is the founder of Bug Labs, told me once that if you were going to start a direct competitor to Microsoft today you would have to embrace open source. There would be no other option.
SInce 1991 Walt Mossberg has written the weekly Personal Technology column for the WSJ.
I remember in the early 90’s my friend Naveen and I would often say that Walt Mossberg has one of the best jobs on the planet. He gets access to all the cool consumer gadgets and gets to pick notables and write product reviews
A lot has changed since then but my love of consumer technology products hasn’t changed a bit.
“Gadget reviewers, look out: Boston venture capitalist Bijan Sabet may be out for your job. Sabet recently got hold of an advance model of the HTC G1 smart phone, which runs Google’s Android operating system. T-Mobile began selling the phone Wednesday. Disclosing that friends at Google had provided him with the phone, he assessed its pros and cons.”
So here’s my list of iPhone apps I use regularly. (I’ll cover my favorite Android apps in a future post.)
1. Twinkle. My favorite twitter client for the iphone. Latest version also allows re-tweets.
2. Tumblrette. A beautiful 3rd party app for Tumblr users. Never been easy to post a photo, quote or text post to Tumblr. I use it whenever I’m traveling. Also easy way to browse your Tumblr Dashboard.
3. Summizer. This is a really well done app for Twitter Search. And it includes the ability to save search results and update them on the fly. My current saved searches include:
-@bijan. tracks when folks send @reply to me that I don’t follow
-“welcome to twitter”. the happiest search results page I’ve ever seen. Twitter users welcoming their friends to twitter
-Spark portfolio companies. I check them all.
-Startups that I’m considering investing in. Great feedback from the community.
-Obama. you know why.
4. ToDo. The iphone doesn’t come with a task manager or todo list app. This 3rd party app called “ToDo” is the best and I’ve tried a ton of them including (OminiFocus & Things). ToDo is fast and simple. And the best part is that it syncs with Remember The Milk (pro user subscription required). Many thanks to Brad for telling me about this solution and he blogged about it today as well.
5. Shazam. This app still blows my mind
6. Yelp. We use this app all the time in our house. Usually whenever we are about to walk into a restaurant that we’ve never been to before.
7. Wikipanion. I’m sure there are others. But this 3rd party app for Wikipedia does just fine for me.
There is a big difference between a great user interface (UI) and a great user experience (UX).
Every week I see new product demos. Most of them are early in development so often the founders are just trying to show me the core functionality of their product.
But the next step is a hard one. And it’s not just about finding a great designer to make pretty pictures. A beautiful design is one thing. But a great user experience is something else.
Few examples to consider.
Take for instance the BMW iDrive system. The NYT has a story about this system today. The idea was to remove the majority of the buttons and dials of from the dashboard. That’s a good goal. And the design was a marvel. But the user experience was a step in the wrong direction.
I know some loyal BMW owners that simply stopped buying BMW’s because of the iDrive
I’ve been using Gmail a lot these days. Probably because of my new Android powered G1. I don’t care for the design at all. The screen seems crowded. There are even ads on the screen.
But the damn thing is so functional. It’s faster than anything. Email in a browser is faster than my Entourage client. Search is a joy. Integration with gcal is smooth. Filters and threading is so efficient. The UX is a breath of fresh air.
I think there a lot of lessons to take from just those two examples when building consumer products.
“There are some other fixes out there as well, some fairly obvious and some, I’m certain, waiting for someone much brighter than me to invent. But even today a 7 drive RAID 5 with 1 TB disks has a 50% chance of a rebuild failure. RAID 5 is reaching the end of its useful life.”—
-First of all bandwidth to my house has improved big time. I’m now getting 20Mbps up & down thanks to Verizon FIOS. At the time of my earlier post I was getting 5Mbps down and 2Mbps downstream.
-I still don’t need to backup the content on my DVR. Actually we use our DVR less and less as I’m streaming more stuff online these days to our big screen tv.
-my music collection has grown considerably but I’m listening to my local music less frequently too. Most of the time I listen to music online. So my backup needs have changed here. Eventually I probably won’t have to back up my music since it will be free and in the cloud (btw I can’t wait to try out the new imeem app on my G1).
-i store 100% of our home photos online now. everything is on flickr and tumblr. i trust that it’s being backed up properly.
-I scan important documents and back them up to our server (with redundant storage) on the home network. I also scan the kids art projects & report cards. This is still the best scanner ever imho.
-I backup our family home videos to the same server. that library is about 100 gigs.
I do worry that if, god forbid, my house burns down or my server has multiple simultaneous hard disk failures, my home videos and will be lost.
So i’m searching for a big honking disk in the cloud for my home videos. I was thinking about Amazon S3 but I haven’t found an easy desktop client that makes it simple for our needs. I tried Mozy but I’m having problems. My friend Larry recommended SugarSync but the desktop software won’t let me backup data from our LAN (it seems to insist that all content reside on the same computer as their desktop app).
Maybe I’ll try FolderShare and keep a big disk at the office that will sync with my server at home.
After hearing the rumors for several weeks, I first heard about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama on Twitter yesterday.
My reaction at the time was a knee jerk one and I offered this tweet:
"I don’t care about Powells endorsement. I haven’t forgiven him over the march to war in iraq and that bs united nations presentation"
I was upset with Colin Powell and I’m still upset with Colin Powell.
Friends of mine offer a variety of explantions for Powell’s role in the war. It didn’t make me feel any better unfortunately.
I also didn’t appreciate that Colin Powell was making his endorsement with less than 3 weeks left in the election and with Obama in the lead by most measures (although i know it ain’t over yet). That’s like me suddenly becoming a Tampa Bay Rays fan (because they are going to kill the Phillies). Are we to believe that Colin Powell really didn’t have a firm opinion until now? Maybe I guess.
But I will confess. My tweet came from of the emotional part of me. I hadn’t actually seen or read his actual endorsement.
Until this morning.
And guess what. I was very impressed. And I’m glad that he endorsed Barack Obama.
Full disclosure: I’m good friends with the founders of Android. Google bought the company several years ago. That team created the open source and full software stack that is leading to a number of Android powered phones & devices.
The first Android powered device is the HTC G1 that T-mobile will ship next week.
My Android friends gave me a G1 last Thursday.
My thoughts after a few days of use:
-The software is quite stable, not only for a v1 release but in general. My G1 hasn’t crashed on me once. I wish I could say the samething about my 3g iphone (which I also love but locks up from time to time)
-Android sw is fast. Really fast. the UI is signficantly faster than the iphone UI
-You can run apps in the background on the G1. Not true with iphone. iphone in some ways thinks of applications like MacOS System 6. Remember Multitasker :)
-The keyboard on the G1 isn’t the best. In some ways the iphone keyboard is better or at least to me. The problem I have with the iphone keyboard isn’t the touchscreen. It’s the periodic delays with the keyboard. No delay with Android. Did I mention its faster
-I haven’t tested the camera on the Android but I like that there is a dedicated button on the side to trigger the camera.
-The G1 has a removable battery. Need a say more
-Connect it to your Mac/PC with a USB cable and it just shows up as a USB drive. Drag and drop mp3 and other stuff like photos to the device and it just works. WIth iphone, everything has to go thru iTunes. that works for some but not for me.
-Android/G1 supports the Amazon MP3 store which is so awesome. Buying music is easy and flexible for the first time on a phone.
-Integration with gmail, gcal and gcontacts works really well. I’m trying out a test to keep a parallel life in google and exchange for now.
-I wish I could sync Outlook with Android
-i like the browser UI on the iphone better than Android.
-the headphone jack on the G1 bums me out. Must use their headphones or find another set that has a miniUSB connector instead of a standard headphone jack connector.
-It’s bigger, longer, thicker and heavier than the iphone. Some dont’ like the look. I acctually like the size. I love the flip out the screen.
-The Android App store works just like the iphone app store. very fast & simple. There are already a bunch of familiar apps like Shazam. There is a great app that Rich Miner showed me where you take a picture of a bar code on an item. It looks up the item online and returns all sorts of useful info. And there is pacman. And Google isn’t going to block any apps that may compete with their business. Smart.
I’ve been meanging to write this post for the last few months. But I’m struggling with the best way to do it.
So here goes.
I’m almost 40. I don’t consider myself old (denial?) but I’ve seen good markets and down markets. A few times over. After college, when I moved to Silicon Valley in the early 90’s the market wasn’t great at all. Then it was very interesting. Then it was amazing. Then it was ugly. Really ugly. I was there from 1992-2001.
When I moved to Boston in 2001 it was a tough market and only got worse in 2002 in many ways. Then in 2005 Boston/Cambridge started coming back with tons of great startups. And we have seen big companies like Google & Microsoft investing big time here in beantown. And now we are back in a down market. The cycle continues.
But the thing I can’t stand and it seems partciularly true of late is how some people turn inward or become really unwilling to give a helping hand when times are tough.
Suddenly calls go unanswered. Or patience grows thin. Sympathy goes away. We start things like FuckedCompany. Or some folks will only make introductions if you promise them something in return. Or people start asking (demanding?) compensation for something as innocent as advice.
I noticed this behavior with some folks in the last crash and I’m starting to see it again.
So I just want to remind everyone. We gotta help each other out. It’s not just about personal karma but it’s important for the entire startup & business ecosystem
And it’s especially true in times like this.
When we are in a down market we need to be more helpful to each other, not less.
“A painting done by Picasso in his mid-twenties was worth, he found, an average of four times as much as a painting done in his sixties. For Cézanne, the opposite was true. The paintings he created in his mid-sixties were valued fifteen times as highly as the paintings he created as a young man. The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world”—Annals of Culture: Late Bloomers: Reporting & Essays: by Malcolm Gladwell -The New Yorker
I bought a MacBook Air when it first came out and ditched my MacBook Pro.
I thought it was the right thing to do because I’m traveling a ton and wanted something lighter. And my back appreciates the lighter load. Especially when I’m running around NYC or SF.
But there are tons of tradeoffs with this machine. The two big ones in my mind are
1. can’t swap out the battery in the macbook air
2. can’t connect the macbook air to a 30” Cinema Display
I’ve somehow gotten over the battery issue. But the inability to connect to my display at work makes life cumbersome. I have to sync files now between my work machine and my macbook air. It’s not easy and I’m always finding myself without some document or song or photo I need.
Today Apple announced a whole new MacBook line up.
And the new MacBook is small, thin and according to my friend, Chris Devers, it will work with my big monitor. Marco has also has interesting post on the new machines.
So it looks like I made a mistake buying my MacBook Air when I did.
1. It’s been too long since I had the kids all to myself for a few day. We are having a blast. The weather here is gorgeous. We are mostly outside. I’m completely exhausted but having fun ;)
2. It feels like forever waiting for the G1. I’m also wondering if Apple is going to blow us away with their new products this week.
3. Last night after the kids went to bed, I was thinking about what to do for the night. I had a bunch of stuff recorded on the DVR but I didn’t watch anything. Instead I got completely into Boxee which has been running on my MacMini attached to the big screen for some time. I watched old home videos (sentimental with lauren gone I guess), funny clips and listened to tons of music from my collection.
4. I’ve been wearing my Obama shirt a lot on the weekends lately. Suprisingly not that many people say anything to me. I would have guessed that fellow supporters would give me a nod or wink or something. Especially in a state like MA. Trying not to read to much into that.
5. Home networking still isn’t as easy as it should be. I’m adding a few WiFi extenders to our home network tonight and something tells me it won’t take 5 minutes.
“Here’s the deal. Everyone, including Sequoia, Benchmark, Ron Conway, etc, are still planning on investing in startups. They’ve been at it a long time and know that VC is a cyclical business. In fact, Moritz understand that the best time to invest “is when people are cowering under their desks”.”—Don’t Shoot The Messenger - AVC