Thursday, July 31, 2014

First Movers get the press....

I have seen articles in all the major tech news services the past two days showing AgileBits 1Password product working with Apple's upcoming IOS 8.  
It should be notably to you, and how you market your software to note that 1Password is not nessasarilly even on the lips of most people when they think about password managers (of which it is one).  All this important press, and the long tail behind it should have gone to the market leaders in the space (The RoboForm & DashLane 's of the world.).

Lesson learned, when there is an opportunity to showcase your product integrated with a new, or upcoming platform, you devote resources.  Make certain you are first to showcase your product.  First movers always get the press.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twas Marketing that killed the tablet

So I'm just now hearing comments from the CEO of best buy that iPad tablet sales and other tablets are plummeting in sales. I can't help but think that the problem is not with tablets per se - the bigger problem is with the people that are running product.

So they introduced tablets and their answer for the next generation tablets are let's not make it 5 inch let's make it 6 inch let's make it Nine let's make our phones tablets blah blah blah blah blah. Let's stop for a second.If you wanna understand what's going to drive tablets understand their place in the world.

Number one you have a country (forget the rest of the world world for a moment) of the United States with 300M + consumers who have landline phones from Ma Bell connected to  copper wires that have been sitting on their wall forever. With voice over IP with Skype video services there is  no reason why we should not have one of these iPad (or other) tablet devices in every one of our rooms. So instead of working on a different size tablet - your product managers need to wake up and ship  devices that are made to replace the old phones and become the new video phones to replace decades of copper wire connectivity. Additionally try to understand what a consumer needs, not what you want to sell.  For me as a stock trader  I would love my monitor to be surrounded by six different tablets all held up by a  little flexible gooseneck that holds them in place.  My wife, who reads or watches video on her Tablet when going to bed might want something to hold it up for her as well.  

So stop breaking the Tablet market by making up random sizes you think might work...the simple solution is what a tablet might be used for, and how it is held. Ship some configured as 'phone-first devices', and instead of changing form factors every quarter, try introducing new and interesting tablet stands, not tablets.

What do you think?

Yelp blew it with video

Yelp recently announced that it would add the ability for it's users to upload videos. Yelp blew it for multiple reasons in my opinion.

First, understand that Smartphones are already a thorn in the side of many businesses.  In Yelp's main playground (restaurants), not only do they cause tremendous delay in the whole customer experience (people put wait staff on hold while they take selfies, etc), but more importantly for Yelp - Restaurants (and other small businesses) HATE Yelp. Now a business may or may not have a legitimate gripe with their online reviews, that's a different issue.  But for Yelp the issue is that businesses that should be advertising and embracing Yelp disdain it. 

Instead, Yelp should have made the ability to upload videos available to the business, not the consumer.  Yelp wins two ways.  Yelp has now thrown businesses a peace offering, a tool if you will to make their product or service appear better on the Yelp platform.  Yelp then also has the ability to sell yet another product offering to their businesses - their real bread and butter customers.

Maybe Foursquare will take the ball and run with it.  What do you think?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Do you Window Shop?

I blog over and over again about how your products UI is one of the most important pieces to get right if you want to keep and grow your userbase. I can not stress it enough.  If you're like me, you are ALWAYS looking extra closely as the user interfaces that others put on their apps and websites.  Is it simple?  Can my grandmother navigate it?  Is it pretty?  So here's a neat trick I like to use. I don't just indulge myself with apps and websites.  I like to go Window shopping.  Try it, next time you're at the local store, or mall look carefully at their window displays.  Notice what makes them nice - or ugly, what draws you in or away from entering the store.  What I hope you learn is that a lot of what works in the physical world, will work for your app or website as well.




I personally am a huge fan of 'White-space'. Look at any apparel retailer's window display.  Do you see mannequins all the way across their windows?  No, instead more often than not, you will see a group of Mannequins in a cluster - surrounded by white (empty) space to either side.  Now, go back and re-visit your UI .... Empty space can, and should be your best friend!

Mobile first?

Ask an entrepreneur 20 years ago what platform they were developing for, and you might hear 90% - Windows - 10% Mac. Asking the same question 15 years ago, you likely heard 75% were developing for/on the web, less than 25% for the desktop market.  Fast forward to today, most startups are developing for Mobile first, and of those many choose IOS first, and eventually Android. Many of these Mobile first companies even remain Mobile only, never even considering the web or desktop market.

I believe within just a few short years (if not now), many should be considering Cloud first. By architecting as much of your product to exist in the cloud you immediatly make it a much easier, and less expensive challenge to enter your next market.  So today, you might be launching IOS first, because you  might only need a UI Shell (If you run in the cloud) to launch Android it may or may not make sense for you.

HOWEVER, the point of this post is that you want to plan for tomorrow, not today.  And the tomorrows of the world are filled with new platforms. With 5G coming and a plethora of new platfroms and devices it's  No longer a question of which platform first - Android or IOS, it will also include Wearables like Google Glass, SmartWatches, IoT's, VR (ie Occulas), etc so plan ahead.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Disruption over 5G

The advent of the Internet never ceases to amaze me. Both in how many ways incumbent businesses are being disrupted, and more importantly how many dinosaurs go down blindly, or kicking and screaming trying to protect their legacys (think Blockbuster, Radio Shack, Newspapers, Magazines, etc).

Within the next 5 years we will likely start to see wide scale deployment of 5G (the next generation of bandwidth) networks and with that even more disruption.  You do not need to be a seer to watch the current growth in video served up over IP networks, just look at stats from and startups such as YouTube, Aereo, FilmOn,Netflix,etc.

I personally can not wait, as I believe we will start to see major film projects arrive 'IP first, theatre second' as a common practice once 5G arrives.  In the interim, I expect only one brave and bold studio (out of the majors) to launch their 'IP First' initiative now, over 4G that we currently enjoy.Hollywood studios - who among you has the brilliance to eat your own lunch?  To the victors go the spoils, let the games begin....


Friday, July 25, 2014

Microsoft's Skype Phone

I am currently an 'Android' person, previously I had an Iphone - and had an Android device before that. For me switching between the two proprietary operating systems has been easy.  But as we move forward, it will become more difficult to switch. This is (should be) what companies do, if they are smart - try and lock you in. So while in the past the ecosystem might consist of a tablet, a smartphone and an app store, going forward it will include Telematics, wearables, your thermostat, stove and fridge...anything and everything that can communicate. Third parties will also try and 'own' this space as well, such as what Quirky is doing with it's recent spin off of Wink.  Ultimately though in my opinion the only decision that will be a must will be IOS or Android. But this does not mean that companies like Microsoft can't give it their best shot at being there as well.

Microsoft can play catch up in other ways.  Microsoft needs to think of their Skype property more as a central focus for now, and not their thus far failed mobile OS. A Skype phone would make things very interesting in jump starting Microsoft's mobile efforts in my opinion.  Skype has almost 400 million users already, so the audience is already there.  Microsoft should make a second device (after launching the Skype phone) that is not dissimilar to their already existing tablet, the Surface.  This product should also have Skype as it's central, focal point.  This is the video phone that will replace all the old bell telephones we grew up with in every room in our house. Unlike earlier attempts at video phones 10 and 20 years ago, this time it's different.  The bandwidth is plentiful, the video software works, and to be frank, i'm shocked that this isn't main stream as we speak.  Microsoft can take this initiative even further, with other existing technology they have (they just don't know it).  I have been reading about some Skype software initiatives that they are going to be launching next year.  This is their translation play.  They tout it with spots like "...imagine Skyping with someone on the other side of the world, who speaks a different language, and Skype translates that in real time...". While that sounds really cool, if you are speaking to someone on the other side of the world, and neither speaks the same language, you are likely transacting business.  Are you really going to risk a translation app on a business call??  The real value, and beauty of what Microsoft's software can do is not the translation, it is the real time speech to text.  There are 700 million people around the world who are 'hearing impaired'.  Imagine if they suddenly had a method of communicating like anyone else.

So between Skype's existing 400 million users, and another 700 million that are hearing impaired, you have a potential market of over 1 billion for a Microsoft phone.  That's how you get back in the game, Microsoft. Longer term, if you read my earlier blog post you know I believe that the software and apps will ultimately all be up in the cloud, your phone will be 90% about sensors and hardware. All Microsoft needs to do right now is get in the game.

(The purpose of the above blog post is not so much about Microsoft, you should think about it in terms of how YOU and YOUR startup can enter a market where players already dominate...there's ALWAYS a way, so don't give up!!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kickstarter & Indiegogo have a Potato Salad problem

By now you've likely heard of, or seen the over funded Potato Salad project on Kickstarter. To everyone's amazement, it not only met its intended goal of raising $10, but went on to raise over $61,000 from over 6000 backers. Cute...and it likely was a phenomenal PR event for Kickstarter, but they now need to be careful that they don't have a Potato Salad problem.

Those who know me, know that I am a huge fan of both of the aforementioned services. I visit them often, and recently I am noting a huge influx of Potato Salad 'like' campaigns.  Not in the literal sense that people are raising money to create a recipe, but more like Cyber begging.  Some want money to fix their car, or to buy something, etc.  While there is nothing wrong with this, both services (and yours!) need to carefully model their UI's and website flow to filter such offerings more selectively. If not, they risk alienating users who search (for example) for technology as a filter, and expect to see technology related campaigns.

If you do not think this can create a huge usability issue for your start up think again.  All you need do is look at every successful service, and how spammers ultimately take away from an otherwise pleasant experience. I not only get this spam in my email inbox, but also as Trolls on Twitter, Bots on Quora,etc. It has gotten so bad on Craigslist, that I rarely am able to search there anymore (Try searching for 'Prius' under cars, and see how users have abused Craigslist by inserting 'Prius' as a keyword into ads that have nothing to do with Prius.)

Is your Startup  experiencing this yet, or perhaps you want to stop it in advance?  Reach out to me, and I will show you how to fix it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why you shouldn't hire me

One of my ventures AFPR is a consultancy where I offer all of what I have learned (mistakes and successes) over the past 20 years to small software and app. developers. Even though my greatest successes have been in product, or business strategy, and not just business development deals, that is often why entrepreneurs seek me out. The conversation us usually the same .... "Andy, I want you to do some business development for us. I noticed 'XYZ (their competition) corp. is having tremendous success and momentum...."

More often then not, I either try to structure these engagements as more of a strategic consult, or I turn them down outright.  Why would I turn away a potential client? If your product is inferior to the competition, or something is wrong with your funnel (there are many points of failure for a product) you need to ask, what would be the end result that new business relationships would add  to the bottom line?

In the Freemium world, from my experience the average conversion rate from free to pro is 1.5%. I always use this as my benchmark, and  mark how successful I am by how far I can exceed this.  While at RoboForm, I was proud that I had this rate converting far in excess of that average. If you approach me already knowing that your 100,000 monthly free users are converting at only .25%, there is nothing of value to be gained by me getting those 100,000 monthly's up to 500,000, or even millions.  You have a more critical flaw somewhere with the product,pricing  funnel, etc. This is why I prefer to approach any potential consulting engagement top down first. So should you.

So before you ask to hire me to do business development, let's have a more strategic conversation first.


Dear @Twitter ...

The past few months it has become more apparent that Twitter has a user issue.  Specifically, new users, and retaining them.  When Twitter reports their quarterly earnings at the end of July, you can expect to see their MAU's to likely be flat to perhaps up a few percent sequentially.  Twitter will ask analysts, investors et al to focus on other metrics, such as the billion + reach of their mobile ad network.  While I agree that Twitter will have an easy time monetizing, and showing great revenue growth, let's face it - Without user growth, Twitter is a dyeing asset.  It puzzles me that it takes such a large company, with likely product teams that are 100 people + so long to figure out how to fix it.

I believe that Twitter, and it's hoards of engineers might be looking at their product through colored glasses. After all, if you're Jack Dorsey, or Dick Costello and you use Twitter, you are likely using it as many narcissists do, or perhaps as your bully pulpit.  Who doesn't like the feeling of having thousands of followers who hang on every word, and re-tweet what you have to say? So problem number one is that Twitter needs to understand that for the average Joe (who may or may not have the false expectation that people will immediately flock to follow, and retweet them), the initial Twitter experience is likely to be a large disappointment if indeed that is how they intend to use it.

Instead, this is what Twitter needs to do to fix their user retention issues:
 Twitter needs to understand that most Twitter users (at least the ones that I am aware of) do not want to necessarily follow (or be followed by) their family and friends.  They have Facebook for that. So when on-boarding a new user, just offering to scour their contacts to recommend people to follow is not going to cut it. Twitter needs to 'learn' about who a user is, what their demographic is, and what their interests are.

As a new user, this is what one will see currently.
My first issue is how Twitter determined that I would want to follow that list.  Personally, I would not want to follow any of them.  Twitter should do a better job of guessing whom a user might want to follow, and not just draw from their location (I assume this is why it suggested the New York Islanders to me).

Here are two alternative methods that I believe would be a more welcome initial customer experience. Ask the user a series of questions, that better serve to 'profile' the user.  It is only at this time, that Twitter is in a more intelligent position to recommend who I might find interesting to follow. A second method might be to consider showing a user 'interests', not people to  follow.  For example, if a user selected current events, perhaps then Twitter should recommend CNN, and other news sources. Maybe a user would check off sports, or even more macro - automobile racing.  It this juncture, Twitter could recommend following NASCAR... you get the point - why doesn't Twitter??

The Death of Brick & Mortar Retail

Traditional Brick & Mortar retailers have seen sales chiseled away over the past 10 years by a scrappy little sales channel called the Internet. This is a disruptive trend, and one that we all see. The smarter retailers saw this coming, and rather than conceding the war, the fought back. This is why even with the mega-success of Amazon, Walmart.com is right there fighting the good fight.

Now however, with the advent of the Smartphone, retailers asleep at the wheel will find that the online challenge has 'stepped up it's game'.  I expect that within 5 short years, we will see even some traditional Brick $ Mortar retailers that obtain more than 50% of their sales via a Smartphone (and other mobile devices).  For etailers, perhaps as much as 75%.  If you're not already, you need to start immediately plotting out your mobile strategy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Your blunder is your biggest PR opportunity

If you have not already seen it, AirBnB just announced their new logo design. As horrible as it is, it is also the talk of the town.  You can not view a twitter of Facebook stream without seeing it mentioned.  Here lies opportunity.  Should I be part of the AirBNB team (I am not), I would be all over this.  How AirBnB could leverage this even more is simple.  Announce that you now wish to crowdsource a better logo design, and watch 'em talk about you even more!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Kickstart your Marketing

I have done all forms of marketing over the years. These include online ad spends,Adwords, SEM,SEO,Website and Product funnels - and at the other end of the spectrum, PR,Social Media, Print ads, and Broadcast. I am always on the lookout for new methods of getting the word out, in a cost effective manner.

Recently, I have found myself on the consumer side of new web start-ups such as Kickstarter, or Indiegogo. I am convinced that you, as someone who is launching a product or service should be looking at services such as these, even if you have no need to raise money for your launch. Specifically, I am suggesting that you should look at these services (and others), as an ongoing 30 day advertisement for your product, and not just as a method of raising funds.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's the Matter with U(I)?

One of my passions is beta testing new things.  As a part of that, I always reach out to the developer with my thoughts, comments and suggestions with how to improve their product. There is NOTHING more important than the User Interface in my opinion.  I do not care if your app. solves world hunger, if users are confused with how to navigate - or even if it just looks ugly...they aint coming back.

So as part of exploring new products, sometimes this is with little obscure start-ups like  Ubi . with whom I have been working with back and forth via emails with suggestions.  I do not however reach out to large and mature companies directly, as they should know better.  And it bothers me just how prevalent BAD UI's are in the mature company world.

I'm just opening my Twitter app (I am on Android, but I am certain the experience is similar on an Iphone), and I scroll down through all the new Tweets since I last opened the app. Now I want to get back to the TOP (Latest Tweet)... how to do this?  You would think they would simply have a button that says 'home' or such - but no.  In the Twitter app, the only way to get to the latest Tweet is to scrollllllll all the way back through all those Tweets you've just read [Disclaimer - Technically the app does have a home button, however it is not dedicated - such that when you scroll down, it disapeers from view].

Think about your UI first and foremost, and if your grandmother can't figure it out, go back to the whiteboard.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don't Litigate - INNOVATE!

Today will mark an important decision by the US Supreme court. They will rule on whether or not Aereo can exist.  Aereo's business model (in the event you are not familiar with them) is to install a tiny HD TV capable antenna using Line of Site on your behalf.  Then, you are able to access your own personal antenna via the Internet (on the end device of your choice) to watch conventional broadcast TV channels.

The incumbent broadcasters (who have not innovated at all) are scared that their entire business model is at stake, and so rather than innovate, they have chosen to litigate this...all the way to the Supreme court.

I am not currently an Aereo user, however I anticipate that I will be as soon as this litigation 'noise' goes away. On a separate but somewhat related rant, it always bothered me how the FCC handled requiring broadcasters to offer their over the air signals via antenna.  If you have tried it yourself using any of the very cheap (or expensive if you wanted to bother) antennas you can buy at your local radio shack, you would find that very few Americans have the 'line of site' required to be able to enjoy this.  It is a scam of monumental proportions IMO, and one that the broadcasters should have directly fixed using their own innovation.

This same fight goes on again, and again and again - It is so common, that a lot of the time you don't even see it unless you look.  Consider Apple computer, and their lawsuits back and forth with Samsung, for billions.  AirBnB being sued by various governments (hmmmm think the hotel lobby has anything to do with this?).  Uber, being sued and or blocked by local governments (think Taxi lobby).

More and more often I am seeing this across all industries as technical innovation allows people to disrupt incumbents.  It bothers me that we, as citizens put up with this nonsense.  Regardless, I watch as technology eventually always wins out in the long run. All you incumbents are doing is stalling the inevitable.  Learn, to eat your own lunch, before someone eats it for you.  It's time to Innovate, not litigate.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

You're only as good as your customer service

I'm the type of person who likes to root for the underdog.  So when Samsung first came up with their answer  (Samsung Droid Charge) to Apple's Iphone, I was all over it.  That purchase was years ago, and represents the last time I will likely purchase a product from (or recommend to my family, friends and networks) a Samsung product.  It wasn't that the phone was horrible, but it did have more than one major bug for me.  I understand that products can have bugs, but that is why I expect support when I need it.

When Samsung was unable to repair my phone (phone was only a few months old), they referred me to their website, where they would offer to buy back the phone from me.  I didn't know what to expect because I had paid $400 for my phone only months earlier.  Needless to say, I was horrified, when I submitted my product info. on their website as instructed, and learned they were offering me $50 to buy it back from me. This is Samsung telling me that they do not value me as a customer. More importantly (to their detriment), Samsung is telling me they do not need me to endorse their brand to my family, my friends and to my networks.

Thinking of buying the new Galaxy S5?  I would tell you based on my personal experience you will be better off with the new HTC One.



Monday, March 31, 2014

"Always On" is a game changer

There have been two new products in the past 12 months that have me very excited for what's next.  First, the Motorola X, and most recently Ubi, the Ubiquitous computer.  Disclosure, I have not tried nor purchased either product.

What has me so excited, is not even the actual products, but more importantly the introduction of devices that are always *listening*.  Siri might get all the press, but to use it, you need to physically interact with your Apple device. With the Motorola X, and the Ubi, you need only talk to the device, and it responds/replies accordingly.

While I don't expect an interaction like Captain Kirk had with the Enterprise's computer, or the recent movie 'Her' anytime soon, I think going forward, every device will need to start listening, and I like where that will lead us.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Smart-Watches - The Do's and Don'ts of Product Design

I like being an early adopter, if for no other reason than to have new things to add to my junk drawer.  We all have a junk drawer, it's where bad technology goes to rot along with nail clippers, old keys and USB sticks.  So obviously, my appetite is wet for this next generation of devices - Wearables.

If you don't want your product to end up in my junk drawer, here are three things you need to know;

1) If you are making a Smart-Watch, DO KNOW that a Smart-Watch is a Watch first and foremost.  People treat watches as jewelry, and as such I do not want my Smart-Watch looking like a cell phone that has been strapped to my wrist (I'm looking at you Neptune Pine). I do however want a Smart-Watch that at first glance, appears to be a watch (I'm looking at you Moto 360 -Well done).

2) I do not want a Smart-Watch that is a brick, unless I buy your other products.  Samsung tried to do just this with it's Samsung Galaxy Gear watch.

3) Stop trying to replace my Smart-phone.  You can make the greatest Smart-Watch in the world, and 99% of the population will still keep a phone in their pocket.  I do not need a Smart-Watch to do everything my Smart-phone does. Specifically, I do not need 3G or 4G connectivity.  Just allow me to communicate with my Smart-phone via Bluetooth, and Wifi, and we're done.  Other than that, pack in as many sensors as you like.  A good camera would be nice as well.

I personally can't wait for 2015.  Even though all the big players will be releasing Smart-Phones in 2014, I can't help but think good ones won't arrive until generation two...2015.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Facebook bought Oculas Rift

Mark Zuckerburg's Facebook just bought Oculas Rift (OR), a "next-gen" VR/gaming device.  Everyone is a buzz about how is it  a fit for Facebook?  Seems pretty straight forward to me.... Facebook Messenger via VR...Buy anything using an inflated stock price...Hardware envy....The next Iphone...ya these are the easy visions but I think The gift of Hindsight is 20-20, and if Zuck knew then what he knows now, he would have an 'eco-system' ...not unlike Apple's App store, or Google Play.  The nice thing about having over a billion users, is that there are sooooo many ways to monetize them.

Don't look at what OR is today (an immersive gaming system), and instead fast forward 5 years out. Though I fully expect OR to launch as a gaming system, and to be written about as a gaming system, try to picture if you will, what it might be able  to become.

I envision going to an 'app' like store, where I can download new immersive experiences that have been uploaded by other users. Maybe I want to experience first hand (via the OR's Virtual Reality system) what it is like to jump off a building in one of those Wingsuits - Or perhaps drive around a NASCAR track at over 200MPH .... The sky's the limit here, and if you think about it, some website has to aggregate all those experiences ....Why not Facebook? hmmmm

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Does Absense make the heart grow fonder?

Anyone who had been reading my blog over the past 10 or so years, might have (or not) wondered where I went to.  Why was I no longer blogging?  Regretfully a very close family member had taken ill with cancer. I left not only blogging, but my start-up and marketing world to help him, and spend as much time with him as possible. He subsequently passed away a little more than a year ago.  At this time, I have a part time job working for Trader Joe's to provide me and my family with health insurance.  Though I enjoy working with (and for) the great people of Trader Joe's, my body does not.  It is a very physically demanding job.  Besides, with the upcoming waves of 'what's coming next' IE Wearables, Smart-Watches,  'Internet of Things' my brain has not slowed down, on the contrary, my thoughts on this have been going a mile a minute.

So firstly, my apologies for the long absence.  I hope previous readers who enjoyed reading my posts on Marketing, Web 2.0, etc might recall they learned something, or received enjoyment from those posts. If you are one of them, I hope that my absence has made your heart grow fonder, and you will continue to visit here as I start blogging once again.

Thanks,

Andy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt 'Ergonomics' Review

I have been dyeing for Verizon Wireless to offer 4G (LTE) phones since late last year's announcement of their coming availability. For the past few years I have been using the Motorola Droid. Though I have seen phone's that I thought were better become available, I didn't see anything revolutionary coming up short of a phone that took advantage of the 4G network. Even 4G by itself is not revolutionary, but I considered a 10x increase in speed to be enough of an incentive.

The question I posed to myself last week was do I buy the HTC Thunderbolt just released ($250 with two year plan), or wait for Samsung's 4G entry (rumored to be available in April), or summer when Motorola's dual core monster becomes available?

Well, I eliminated Motorola out of my equation all together. The deciding factor here is that I learned that they somehow were hardcoding (locking down) the bootloader, such that I would not be able to root the phone (important to me, not necessarily to you).

Long story short, I didn't want to wait any longer, and plunked down the $250 for the HTC Thunderbolt. The following is a review of the HARDWARE/ERGONOMICS only - a the operating system is mostly what I had used on the Motorola Droid (Android).

Because I had been used to my Motorola Droid for a long time, it will likely take me some time to get used to the new form factor (in all fairness to HTC). Depending on whether or not you had previously been using one of the so called *Hummer* phones might have it feel different in your hands.

My initial reaction to the HTC Thunderbolt's feel in my hand is that the weight of the phone feels heavy, but in a good way - as not to feel cheap. Though it's size is big enough as to be slightly uncomfortable. Again, in fairness to HTC - this might simply be that I was using a smaller phone for so long...time will tell. Another, and bigger complaint that I have with the HTC Thunderbolt is their choice of placement of the locking button (this is one of only two physical buttons on the phone, located on the top, and top of right side). One of the nicest thing about a really great smartphone is the ability to use it entirely one-handed. If they had only moved this one button further to the right along the top, this would have gone a long way to making it much easier to use with one hand (I can still use the phone one-handed, but it is awkward). I know you're going to think that such a minute detail is knit-picky, but isn't the 'devil in the details'?

The same 'one-handed ability' has only come up one other time - equally annoying - if not more so. This is when I tried to use the camera with one hand. With my Motorola Droid, there was a choice for me to click the shutter. I could either 'tap' on the screen, or as I preferred to, click on a physical button located on the outside of the phone. The HTC Thunderbolt only allows for you to 'click' the camera's shutter by tapping on the screen. Again, not impossible to do one-handed, but just awkward.

The biggest form-factor (ergonomic) mistake on the HTC Thunderbolt is simply unacceptable, as it makes no sense. The HTC Thunderbolt ships with a very cool kickstand built into the back. This would be a perfect *self-dock* however, The HTC Thunderbolt has it's USB (power-input) jack on what would become the bottom surface, should you use the kickstand. This makes using the Kickstand simply not possible while powering the phone.

The first HTC Thunderbolt I received was defective. Specifically, when I held it to my ear, and people were speaking to me on te phone, their voices were coming through tin-ny / scratchy as if the speaker somehow had a small tear in it. The replacement phone fixed that issue, however it brought up something else of interest to me.

That first HTC Thunderbolt that I had for 2 days prior to returning it had really crummy battery life in my opinion. Certainly not what I had been lead to believe from other reviews, and the products own documentation. On the replacement phone, the battery goes all day, and then some!! I am not sure if I was just unlucky with my too issues, or HTC Thunderbolt has quality control issues. Time will tell.

Many have asked me if they should buy the HTC Thunderbolt. Having used it for only a week, I would suggest they at least wait one month for Samsung's 4G phone to come out. Having at least two phones to choose from makes sense considering the (few) cons I have pointed out above.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stealth Mode?

This post is in reply to a Tweet by Fred Wilson (AVC) - who suggested that Stealth Mode is dead (or perhaps never should have been). His comment was basically that no company should be in stealth mode, nor does it help them in any way.

I will make this post short and too the point...Stealth Mode SHOULD remain alive and well. There are many reasons why Stealth Mode might make sense for your start up. In this day and age where no space is cost prohibitive to enter one should expect MANY clones. From the day you (publicly) launch, expect no less than one dozen students somewhere in India to clone your entire business just to get credit for writing their thesis.

I would ask the uber smart Fred Wilson this - When you are considering investing in a startup, do you post it publicly on your blog, or Twitter stream? I imagine not, as this would alert other (competitors) VC's to perhaps push you out of the round.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Apple ITab - 'There's a dock for that'

If 'There's an app for that' has been synonymous with the Apple IPhone, then the new tagline for the Apple IPad should be 'There's a dock for that'.

For some the Apple IPad will be their ereader. Fred Wilson just tweeted that he will likely mount it on his elliptical trainer. I have personally always wanted a WiFi enabled flat monitor to put on my kitchen refrigerator. When it is not showing the families shared calender, it might be my needed grocery list as bar codes flash in front of it from my fridge.


My Dashdock will mount it in my car...well you see where this is going. But what's really cool about mobile computing (I put this in the category, because it's really a 'smart' monitor) is what you can and will do today (that no one does yet);

My prediction is that within one year a combination of a smartphone and an 'ereader' type device will replace a desktop and or laptop computer for some. Apple IKeyboard coming next ....

Lastly, likely the most important item of news about the IPad is the repercussions it has for the Kindle. No- I don't think this is a Kindle killer, however expect Kindle 2.0 Powered by Android .....

What will you use your IPad for?

You can follow me on Twitter here.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to set the blinking clock on a VCR

Software developers - You have a problem. Having had my hand in product development (as a non-developer) while at RoboForm , ToneThis , Avant Browser I learned something about software developers. Most of them think in different terms than us (the consumer). This IMO is one of the biggest mistakes that startups make early on - no non techies involved with the product.

This became clearer to me yesterday in not one, but two software install experiences. My friend Steven Groves was over my house watching the Cardinals get slammed yesterday, and we were exchanging recommended apps for our Android phones. At some point, Steven recommended 'Bump' as a method to exchange business cards. While I do think Bump will be an excellent solution, I found it's productecture to be horrible. At some point in the installation, I accidently 'told it' that I was someone else (I tapped on one of my contacts when trying to teach it my profile). This is actually VERY easy to do when you are using a haptic keyboard. Further, Bump decided that it likes a gmail email address & profile better than anything else that you have. Final outcome? It took me a half-hour (as well as a total uninstall/re-install of Bump) to teach Bump who I am. Still have not been able to teach Bump that I do not want to use my Google (GMAIL) profile - but at least I won $5 from Steven when I bet him he could not correct that.

The second piece of software was MindMap. MindMap was given to me (It's not an inexpensive piece of software) by someone whom I had done some bizdev with years ago, who works with the company. I have always been impressed with the very cool looking Mind Maps created with it, and had been pumped to make my own maps. Regretfully, after several tries I just could not figure it out. While it seemed to me that the intuitive way to create a new 'box' within MindMaps would be to simply right mouse click (apparently Mac users don't do this), MindMap takes no advantage of context menus, and instead uses keyboard keys such as 'Insert' that I never even knew existed (again pointed out by my friend Steven).

Moral of the story here? Consider having real human beings along for the ride during your development process - not just software engineers. Consider also having a video (ie Youtube) of your product being used. Video is the new product manual.

You can discuss this with me further on Twitter here.
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Google Superphone ( Nexus One) ramifications

I watched Google's media event today announcing their new Nexus One Superphone. There was one large surprise - That it will be available on Verizon spring of 2010. Make no mistake about it this is a HUGE hit to RIMM's Blackberry phone franchise.

The Nexus One (and other Android phones/devices) will keep Apple's Iphone honest. This is great news for consumers who have a love/hate relationship with Apple. By offering a competitive device (a better device in some regards), Apple will now have to speed up it's product roadmap that has always remained closed, and proprietary. Possible changes that might be forced on Apple include - Allowing for the consumer to add memory, and swap out their battery as wanted/needed. Better and more powerful camera. A faster and more powerful processor. Ultimately, I believe Apple will need to license their Iphone OS - or face the same single digit market share they have VS Windows in the PC space.

For Motorola, Apple Palm and anyone else in the Smartphone space - this is the 'first shot across the bow' in commoditizing the Smartphone space, just like low end cell phone space has become. With an Open Source OS platform (Android) product differentiation becomes more difficult. Going forward the only way for Smartphone hardware guys to differentiate themselves will be via faster processors, better battery life, better cameras.

For wireless carriers (Verizon AT&T TMobile and Sprint) - Android has nasty mathematical consequences. For the first time, your customer is not necessarily locked into your network. More importantly, Android will accelerate the "ramp" to Superphone devices - which are HUGE consumers of data - hence Bandwidth. The amount of *new* CAPEX to keep up will not mirror the new revenue streams as new Superphone users come online.

Now for the suckiness.... As a consumer, expect to see the Wireless Carriers to start implementing tiered pricing (no different than the Cable companies have). If your streaming music or video, or doing all those fun things that Superphones allow for - get ready ...Your bills gonna be a lot more expensive in a year. All you can eat data will be dead.

You can discuss this with Andy further on Twitter


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Browser - It's all about being EVERYWHERE

The most recent Browser Market Share numbers came out today.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 63.62%
Firefox 24.72%
Safari 4.36%
Chrome 3.93%
Opera and others - negligible

Having spent 6 years in the Web Browser / Toolbar space - it became apparent to me, that whatever company (Microsoft, Google, Firefox...) owns the browser - has won the game. The browser is after all, not only the first thing that you see when you go online, but it goes everywhere you go be it on your desktop, Mobile device, and very shortly, your TV.

Owning the browser space gives tremendous power. More and more searches being done directly from within a browsers toolbar (Think Google's entire revenue stream at stake). With the rise of Social media, it is only a matter of time before your Facebook, Twitter et al all travel with you - right in your browser (some are already there).

Today we are seeing all of these platforms (Web,Mobile,TV,etc) converge. There is a chess game developing amongst the giants to own the browser. Google, Apple,Microsoft and Firefox all recognize that not only must they own the desktop browser, but all of your browsers. The company that can provide a 'like' experience across all your digital platforms will be in the winners circle. Should you own a browser that is NOT in all of these different spaces, your toast. It's not just about having a similar UI across platforms - it's about moving all your data, experiences, likes and dislikes from one device to the next.

The *NEW* browser is on the desktop, laptop, mobile, TV and lastly, will be in the cloud as well. To the victor go the spoils...let the games begin.

You can chat me up on this further on Twitter- here.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google Phone - Is an Iphone erghhh ITouch Killer

I have been giving a lot of thought to Google's forthcoming launch of their phone - as well as their disruptive model. I just don't see Google pricing themselves out of the market - so expect a VERY subsidized phone. If anyone thinks this phone is a threat to Blackberry or as everyone alludes to - Iphone, don't.

What no one is seeing though is that the Google phone WILL be a category killer...just not in Smartphones. What you are looking at IMO is an Itouch killer.

1) Will be priced competitively with an Itouch (I am guessing sub $200).

2) Can do everything an Itouch can

3) Can do what an Itouch can NOT ie Compass...GPS...Accelerometer... (everything an Iphone can do).

4) does NOT require a carrier (can be used WiFi only just as an ITouch can)

Don't get me wrong, I understand that this is not Google's intent, and they are looking at 'bigger picture' things. Just saying that the Itouch/Ipod franchise will be disrupted as an unintended consequence.

Anyone who does NOT see the real threat has their head in the sand.

Want to discuss this further? '@' me on Twitter here
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Friday, October 09, 2009

I-Stage Phoenix

On October 19th, The CEA (Producers of Consumer Electronics Show -CES) will be Holding their I-Stage event here in Phoenix Arizona. The following start-ups have been announced as finalists in the competition;

  • Cubicvue LLC, CubicVue 3D Filter
  • Entourage Systems Inc., The eDGe
  • Immerz Inc., KOR-FX
  • Meld Technology, WholeHomeHD™
  • Regen Inc., ReNu™
  • Tenrehte Technologies, PICOwatt
  • Thinkeco Inc., the modlet
  • Thinkoptics Inc, iWavit™
  • Valencell, Healthset®
  • Zagg Inc., ZAGGbox
  • zero1.tv Gmbh, VooMote
After learning more about these companies, I will be following up on with - What they are doing right - and What they are doing wrong ... ala Business Strategy - Business Development and Marketing ...stay tuned. If you want to explore for yourself, and have a comment - please @ me on Twitter, or on this blog.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Apple Iphone & ITouch the NEW Point of Sale

Don't just think of the Iphone as a smartphone - more importantly do not think of it's baby brother the ITouch as a personal entertainment device. Start thinking outside the box.

These are the NEW Point Of Sale (POS) devises. For those not familiar with the term, POS - think of a cash register in a store, or one of those terminals where you swipe your debit card. In the future, the salesperson will ring up your order right there on the sales floor. Think I am talking years off ? -

I was in Las Vegas this past week, and possibly the coolest amenity the Casino/Hotel offered me was a free ITouch to use during my stay. Using the ITouch I am able to request more towels, order room service - even request my car from the valet. Check out? ...all via ITouch


If you like business, stocks and especially Marketing consider following me on Twitter here.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

MORE Twitter Spam - From ME & U!

I recently posted about a *NEW* type of Twitter spam that will be a problem going forward (see my previous post) .  This post is about an altogether DIFFERENT type of Twitter spam, and one you, me and especially Brands need to be aware of.

If you know my background, I am all about making products, and campaigns viral.  But there is a proper way to do this, and a SPAMMY way.  The devil is all about the details.

If you are part of the Twitterverse, than you already are likely familiar with needing to share your Twitter credentials with third party applications in order for them to function.  Most of the time, this is safe.  Some of these third party applications, in an attempt for them to become more viral are Tweeting on your behalf.  One example is www.wefollow.com  WeFollow is a simple directory of people who Tweet, that you can add yourself to.  After adding yourself to WeFollow they REQUIRE that you Tweet to your followers that you have added yourself.  I would prefer that they allow you to Opt-out from this, however at least they make it clear that you will be tweeting a message.  So it is my (your) choice in the end, if you want to stop the process in order not to send out their viral Tweet.

A few days ago, I had the misfortune of entering a contest for a Hyatt Hotel in Chicago.  They had hired a third party application to run their contest, "Twitter-Contest.com".  Twitter-Contest did NOT make it clear to me that they were going to Tweet on my behalf.  WORSE, and this makes me furious, They continued to Tweet their message to MY follows, using MY credentials every two hours, non-stop.  To stop this, I was forced to change my Twitter  password, so their spam app. could no longer Tweet their spam using my Twitter ID.

Spam apps. like Twitter-Contest.com RUIN it for the apps. (majority) that do NOT abuse using your Twitter credentials.  As more and more third party Twitter developers make an attempt to be viral, be VERY careful about this *new Twitter spam*.

You can follow and discuss this with me on Twitter, I am @A_F

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twitter SPAM - It's coming

First you need to know, I am not picking on Twitter - nor am I singling them out. If you have distribution - email,IM,Social Network - ANYWHERE there is a mass audience you can be certain the spammers will get there. Now I have been threatening to do a post on how Twitter is all about the "Soft Sell" , and this STILL is not that. But this is how they will spam you, and why it is a threat to Twitter.

As an experiment, to prove a point - I threw out a bunch of random Tweets, with Keywords that I thought might be bait for opportunists.

[NOTE I had intended to upload a Photo to post HERE showing my random Tweets - but got a message from Google that I had exceeded my limit <---guess Google is doing belt tightening]

Bingo! Within 5 minutes of my Tweets I was followed by no less than 5 new follows - all having bios and links to websites that pertained to my different keywords.

While this is not a big deal now, Twitter WILL, no MUST address this and cut it off before it hits. We know that within the next few months, the same coders who sold spam it yourself programs in the 90's - will write programs that automate the process of spam-following. Then expect to see HUNDREDS of new follows a day - all trying to sell you something.

How do you think Twitter should address this? Agree? Disagree, have ideas? Please let me know - I am @A_F on Twitter

SMALL BIZ - U have the MOST to gain from Twitter

I am certain I wasn't the 1st to discover Twitter, but if you do a search on this blog for "Twitter" I certainly think I was one of the 1st to highlight how it would/could be used. What does surprise me though is that small biz has thus far been so slow to adopt.

Small business - Twitter offers you a tremendous opportunity. Here is how I recommend you use it (everyone can use it differently, the following is only ONE suggestion...I realize not everyone shares my views).

1) If you are a brand (ie a restaurant or retailer), I personally believe (like) your logo to be your avatar (not a picture of you personally).

2) For your Twitter name (not to be confused with Twitter ID), I like it when it is a 'human' name, but perhaps associated with a brand. Examples are Phil from Cisco. If you are a restaurant, perhaps your name might be John the Chef.

3) I personally do not like when a brand uses Twitter to only broadcast their specials, and news. It is not only OK for some of your Tweets to be conversing about things NOT at all related to your business. Want to tell me you walked your dog this morning? That's not only ok, it is recommended.

4) If you're a local business, there are ways to build a local following. When I recently moved to Phoenix, from New York, I used lots of great tools/websites to discover and follow people local to me.

5) Have fun in your tweets! People love to see your human side. If you're able to poke fun at yourself once in a while, that's a bonus. No one makes more fun of me, then me!

6) LISTEN - There are many tools that make it very easy to 'mine' Twitter for a potential new customer. As a real life example, I once Tweeted that I had a meal at Tarbels (a Phoenix restaurant that locals rave about), and did not enjoy it at all. It was not long after that I received a Tweet from the owner of another (competing) restaurant. This other restaurateur did a few things that made me want to visit. First, they defended Tarbels, indicated they knew Tarbels owner personally, and that my bad meal muse have been a fluke. Then they GENTLY (Twitter is all about the soft sell, but that's a future post by itself), suggested I might like their steak Au jus (I forgot the actual meal they recommended).

7) Once you have built your following (you should always be looking to build it continuously), consider having contests. The devil is in the details, but I like one's that add a charitable component. Don't make it to difficult, but suggest a few simple components to qualify;
1) They need to follow you
2) They need to RT a message (i.e Follow @RAYPIZZA RT - I love Rays Pizza - To win free Pizza for a month).

8) Hold Tweetups. This works best for a bar or restaurant, but if you're creative ANY business can do this. A Tweetup is telling people there will be a joining of other local Tweeple at a certain venue, on a future date. Consider offering SOMETHING to those who attend the Tweetup (i.e. 1st 10 people who show up get a free... or ALL who attend will get 25% off ...etc).

Please tell me YOUR story of how you use Twitter in your business. If you do not own a business, please tell me of your experience with a business that you follow.

BTW if You are new to Twitter, or have not yet read - This is a MUST READ:

Twitter Ten Commandments:

You can talk to me here on Twitter.







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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Twitter - Congratulations on your STARS (Here's Why!)

There is a lot of *noise* on Twitter lately with Ashton Kutcher hitting the 1,000,000 follows. Some people like it, some do not - most don't care.

But when you have the rockstars on Twitter (Kutcher, Oprah , Ellen Degenerous , SnoopDog , John Mayer, etc) and the follower counts are in the six-seven figure ranges you get something else. Stellar demographics from the sociosphere!. As just an example in it's simplest form, let's assume that I am an agency that will be launching an upcoming Rap Star, and his newest single. I will easily be able to data mine the social networks for not only 'mentions' of like artists, and other profiling - but sociographics that also include information like who I follow. I know this is only one more new piece of information, but in it's entirety, we finally have enough to create intelligent algorithms.

As I have alluded to in an earlier post (Facebook - Google's real competition), Social Networks will soon start to realize their true inerrant value. If you look underneath the hood at Twitter and Facebook, there's "Gold in them thar hills!".

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dude where's my Twitter?

OK - I have to admit that as someone who has been tweeting for a year, I was not threatened by Ashton Kutchers recent challenge (Calling out CNN that he would be the 1st to achieve 1,000,000 followers on Twitter). After all, I (we) can limit all the 'noise' by simply following who we want... If I want nothing to do with Ashton, I simply don't follow right? WRONG...

I am learning a few things that trouble me. First, I am hearing from MANY Tweeple that once you follow Ashton (as well as CNN), you can NOT unfollow. I am certain that Twitter will blame this on a bug, but come on! Wake up and smell the roses. @EV has a big announcement coming tomorrow... Anyone not yet realize yet that it is their first user to break the 1 million follower - and that this will not be broadcast on OPRAH?

It bothers me that we (The ORIGINAL TWEEPLE) have followed REAL people... yes, even celebs like @the_real_shaq who "@" you back - have a conversation, follow you, and are REAL. Now, all of a sudden with "Twitter goes to Hollywood" we are going to start seeing all these false celebs...many who have hired ghost writers, and the ones who ARE real...simply using Twitter as their tool to spam their fans.

The reason it bothers me, is that I am already experiencing a sea-change in the 'spamminess' of followers lately. EVERYONE has something to sell! I guess it is just the maturation of Twitter, but come on @EV do you have to be in bed with the whole scheme?

You can follow me (if your not a fraud) at Twitter, HERE

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Twitter Sponsor Space confirmed

If you blink - You might miss it:



Acknowledged by @Twitter as a "bug" *WINK* .... But certainly points to a future revenue stream - at least in their thoughts

You can follow me on Twitter here

Monday, March 30, 2009

To Mark or not to Mark....

CNBC would have you believe that investors want to eliminate the FASB accounting rule - 'Mark to Market'. This would allow our insolvent banking system to not have to raise additional capital - at a prohibitive / dilutive stock price - where the only likely investor to have that much cash would be the government ( totally socialiing our banking system). That thinking is, and would be wrong.

I myself, have been calling for FASB to "relax" mark to market rules since last year. Do not mistake relaxing mark to market with eliminating it. The market needs two things;

1) They want clarity, and accountability (mark to market is supposed to have provided this in theory).

2) They want marks that reflect HOW a company is holding an asset on their books (if they are holding an asset to maturity, and that asset is still paying as scheduled, it should not need to be markeded to market).

In reality, what the market wants (and what I hope we get from FASB) is both. We do it now with GAAP vs non-GAAP earnings... Think about it - Gaap vs non-Gaap allows us to view earnings per share for what they REALLY are (diluted via potential stock option conversions vs earnings without all those additional shares).

So FASB please give us what we want (and need);

1) Require banks to post a number on their Q's that reflect the CURRENT market for their assets - but only for the purpose of "clarity and honesty". From a capital requirement, let them mark it to a realistic date that they expect to hold that asset.

What do you think they should do? Let's discuss it on Twitter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Banks! Misunderstood STEAL of the CENTURY

I first blogged about why if you did not believe in Armageddon you MUST be in bank stocks back in late November of last year (right when the XLF bank ETF bottomed that year in the mid 9's). Checking my stocktwits feed, you would read that I was at that time "nibbling in" using the XLF as my proxy for the banking sector.

Fast forward toa few weeks back, and you would see that I became VERY aggressive on the secotr, and I Stocktwit'ed that I was now in FAS (FAS is a Direxion "3X" levered ETF), a VERY agressive bet for anyone.




I really DID put my money where my mouth is (Pic below is an actual cut and paste of my Etrade account showing my FAS Position which I bought in the 2's and still own).



NOTE: I am NEVER a Pig (Bulls and Bears make money...Pigs get slaughtered) - But even being up 150% in my FAS position Banks are still CHEAP!

This is the perfect storm for banks. Unless you're from Mars, you HATE banks. No one understands banks. Last year, banks lost BILLIONS (each). So why buy banks? Well the first reason is the same one I reasoned back at the end of last year, and still maintain... Without Banks there IS no economy, without banks there IS no stock market, and without banks, there is ONLY Armegeddon. Think about this for a moment...No matter what you do either as a consumer, or as a business the banks have their hand in your pocket every step of the way.

Reason #2 - All those BILLIONS of dollars in write downs last year? ... Most will be reversed. Now that FASB/SEC is rethinking a more reasonable method for banks to Mark then Mark to Market, MOST of the previous write downs will materialize in the next few years as "write ups".

Reason #3 - Geithner "et al" have outlined a plan to get all of those toxic assets off the books of banks. Having traded markets professionally for 15 years, I believe this is tantamont to "sell on news" ... in other words, banks will rally at least all the way up till they actually rid themselves of these toxins.

Reason #4 - Forget the 10-20% of toxic bank assets and focus on the 80-90% of the GOOD ones... THINK for a moment... rats have NEVER been lower. Think you will not refi your existing mortgage, or loan? This is REAL $$$$ right in the bank's pockets!

Reason #5 - The Gov't has already spent over a TRILLION dollars, and will be spending TRILLIONS more... What sector (*hint it's investment banking) do you think will have it's hand deep into this stimulas?

Reason #6 - Expectations, think about it everyone is tuned to believe the banks will never ever earn another dime. This thinking could not be farther from the truth.

Reason #7 - Fatter then Oprah, One would think that the banks represented the epidimy of 'layoffs' but go into any bank branch and you will see that there are at least 3 customer servive reps available for every banking customer in line (what line?)! There is TREMENDOUS headcount that still will and can be cut at banks.

Reason #8 - Take reason #7 one step further...do we really need our bank to have a branch on every corner?? Expect to see many banks close many branches over the next few years (we still have over 85k + banks in the US, and we likely need not even half that number).

Reason #9 - Now that the market is closer to showing that a likely bottom has been put in, expect to see an uptick in corporate M&A's - Investment banking fees anyone?

Reason #10 - DON'T FIGHT THE FED!!! I know this last one is cliche, but really think about it... Money has never been cheaper, and the fed will continue to do everything in it's power to reflate... No industry benifits more from cheap money than the banking sector.

So does this mean straight up? No, obviously after I have made 150% being long FAS (Banks up an average 50%) a pullback would be expected. A good entry point now might be to start looking (entering) from a 50% replacement of today's move...perhaps low 9's for XLF or 7ish for aggresive FAS traders ( Look at the bigger picture though, and there is NO other asset class poised to move higher (percentage wise) from here than the banks. If I am wrong and the banks make a new low? ... God help us all.

Think I am off my Ghord? No Clue? Bring it...Leave YOUR comment or shoutout to me on Twitter:

@A_F


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Friday, March 20, 2009

Twitter (and Twitter Businesses) BE VERY AFRAID!

I was shocked to read about a Harvard Economist's study recently (Article is actually a hoax but read on - ). The study implies that the downturn in the economy is DIRECTLY correlated to a drop in productivity and tied directly to increased use of Twitter by people in the workforce.

While I completely laugh at this notion, if you have a vested financial interest in Twitter (either as an investor in Twitter, or perhaps you have/or are building a business based on the Twitter API), you need to know the history of Pointcast.

I first saw (used) Pointcast in 1996 and was blown away by it (as were most everyone else). Pointcast was a screensaver that "broadcast" news of interest to you into the screensaver. In 1997 Pointcast was all the rage. It's ubiquotous popularity reminded me of exactly the popularity and attention that Twitter is recieving now. Pointcast was gaining in numbers and popularity so quickly in fact that New Corp. very quickly made an unheard of (at the time) offer at that time of almost a half billion dollars to acquire Pointcast.

Fast forward a scant 2 months latter, and Pointcast is making headlines everywhere. Not because the service it offers is so cool - but because of all the corporate bandwidth (at the time bandwidth was both expensive and precious) the application was using. One by one until there was a groundswell, network admins. started blocking access to Pointcast. In short order the majority of corporate America had blocked access, and usage fell off a cliff. News Corp subsequently withdrew their offer, and Pointcast got sold on the cheap...going out on a wimper.

So for those whose financial lives depend on the Twittersphere...be aware, and never let go the lessons of history.

(BTW - I do not think Twitter and other social networks will be banned behind the firewall - but one should always be aware of risks that come out of nowhere)

Let me know what YOU think - You can find me on Twitter here.


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Twitter - it's NOT "What you are doing?"

I have said in much earlier posts that Twitter needs to do a better job of explaining themselves better to new users. I recently saw a stat that as many as 68% who sign up (or visit) Twitter never come back. And recently as this morning I saw an CNN anchor poking fun (she didn't understand WHY anyone would want to know that you just choked or coughed while having lunch).

Twitter at some point in the past few months must have read one of my older blog posts - and subsequently, they posted a video on their home page to explain how Twitter works for new
users.



.


Though this is a good first effort, they should realize that the TRUE value of Twitter is not always asking or answering "What are you doing?". While anyone is certainly free to use Twitter how they want - I can not help but think that for me the better Q&A is "What do I find interesting" or "What do other people in my 'trust' network find interesting?"




There is a key difference between the two, and though I welcome both, I tend to 'filter' out the noise. Once you build your Twitter network you will find that it becomes an invaluable source and wealth of information.

Using my own network as an example of this - I follow other people within my range of interests (Entrepreneurs , Marketing , Venture Capital , and Phoenix Arizona (since I now live here). How has Twitter helped me?

Using Twitter, I immediately know of almost every industry, or conference event. When I can not attend them, people I follow usually do - and do a fantastic job of "micro-casting" the event. It is almost as good as being there.

Using Twitter, I actually feel like I know people here in Phoenix. I have only attended a few network events - but there are MANY TWEETUPS and if you ever get the opportunity to attend, you will likely find as I have that 'face to face' the same people you have been tweeting with are just like friends you might have made using other methods in the past (i.e. childhood friends,school friends,etc).

Brands on Twitter are only beginning to scratch the surface of how they can use Twitter. If formally they marketed by sending out a press release - their new press release will be TWO WAY, VIRAL, and interactive.

Small business likely has the largest opportunity of all to leverage Twitter - and this will be the focus of my next post... You can be *alerted* when I blog next by following me on Twitter

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tricks to finding employment

Everyone who is, or has looked for a job (especially in this tuff economy) already knows job sites ... i.e. craigslist , Hotjobs , Monster , Careerbuilders , etc (Indeed is the best).

If Twitter is one of the tools you are using, you likely already know some of the key players there i.e. - @employerbrander @jobangels @jobshouts @ @jobhuntorg @jobsnob etc.

So These three tips will hopefully be an "extra" that you might not have thought of in your job search.

Tip ONE:

A picture really does say a thousand words, and most recruiters and HR people now days will LOOK at your online profiles - even if they request a resume. Consider spending a few dollars to have head shots taken professionally. If you can not afford professional head shots you at least need to make certain that in one of your online profiles (i.e. LinkedIN or Twitter) you look not only well groomed and professional but MOST importantly SMILE. I see a lot of online profile pictures that even though the intent might have been to look serious and professional - appeared to look "glum". NO ONE wants to hire a downer...even if you're feeling down about your employment situation make CERTAIN YOU DO NOT SHOW IT!

Tip TWO:

The early bird gets the worm. Here is a clever method to locate businesses that WILL be hiring BEFORE THEY EVEN POST THE POSITION!! Every city should have a business paper, or magazine (Here in Phoenix Arizona they have "Arizona Business") with all the listings of new business incarcerations as well as newly leased commercial space. [ I am certain there must be online services that provide this-if you know of any PLEASE leave the link in my comments section] These listings provide an excellent source of both newly forming businesses and businesses that are opening up new locations - or perhaps expanding. This will usually give you a multi-month lead time over other job seekers. Once you "filter" which businesses might be relevant to your experience put it to work using the next tip.

Tip THREE:

I am a hunter by nature (having worked as a stock broker for 15 years) and now with the advent of the Internet you have NO EXCUSE for not being able to locate a company insider. When all else fails try out Jigsaw (An online repository of business cards that you can search via location/title/company/etc) a "pay per business card" website.

Do not just hunt for "HR" people - but search within those companies for your peers as well. So as an example, if you are in sales - hunt down not only other sales persons - but the sales manager as well. Once you have located some goto guys - use the next tip.

Tip FOUR:

When I actively searched for a job, I would send out as many as 20 cover letters, resumes or introductions daily - ALL BY EMAIL. There is a better way. First thing you should do with those "goto guys" you earlier located is to search for them on the various social networks. LinkedIN is the best resource, however Twitter and Facebook can also work. LOOK and SEE if you have any common friends - after all NOTHING works better than being personally introduced when it comes to getting an interview.

Even if you do not find an "introducer", take note of their personal info (ie. there interests and hobbies) and see if you can find a commonality there. Once you have taken these steps consider the next (and last) tip.

Tip FIVE:

Remember earlier I mentioned I had sent out all my introductions and cover letters via email. That is ok, however please consider that for every position available there are likely HUNDREDS of others that are sending their resumes via email. Think about that...the odds are stacked against you right from the start. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO GET ON THE PHONE AND CALL THEM HUMAN TO HUMAN. I know that may sound strange, but many will appreciate that you made the extra effort to call. Especially if you are in a sales related position (many are) - they will appreciate that you are not afraid of the phone.

Good luck to all of you - I have been unemployed and it is not fun, and this time it is likely more difficult than ever. You will need to do EVERYTHING you can to get an edge.

PS - Don't forget to say "Hi" to me on Twitter.





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