Red Bull gains acceptance

Okay, so there are a lot of organisations that have gained some sort of benefit from the implementation of enterprise 2.0 within their company. Colgate for example increased their productivity and efficiency by implementing enterprise 2.0 to allow a genius share an idea to speed up filling toothpaste tubes. Oracle created ‘Idea Factory’ to increase staff engagement. XM Radio benefited knowledge by transferring their desktop functions to a collaborative application, which allowed information be shared more quickly and collaboratively. All these organisations benefited greatly from the implementation of enterprise 2.0; however what about a product today’s youth (including myself) have grown to love?

Red Bull successfully benefited from gaining a good reputation from the use of Facebook. Of course energy drinks are finding it difficult to gain acceptance in today’s market thanks to the concerned parents of teenagers and A Current Affair; however by establishing a count of over 29 million Facebook likes, it is safe to say Red Bull has gained acceptance into today’s society thanks to the youth. This has further turned into Red Bull releasing a social game called Red Bull Mission Control. According to Social Bomb CEO Scott Varland, “The app weaves game into everyday life, bridges the networks and activities of players, and integrates tightly with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.” What is there not to love with Red Bull’s amazing enterprise 2.0 to gain popularity and acceptance by the community? I even downloaded this app to see what it was like – who doesn’t like a fresh app on their smartphone?  Every organisation does have it’s risks from the implementation of enterprise 2.0, and Red Bull was fortunate enough to gain acceptance rather than have the implementation ruin their reputation – or in some cases (A Current Affair) have their image poisoned.

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When bigger does not mean better

Many online companies now target niche markets where competition is significantly lower than what is at the other end of the tail. This in turn allows them to start off with smaller companies that allow them to upscale with demand when their market increases. Think about the number of web sites that are popping up everywhere to cater for anything from fashion advice to blogging, these businesses did not aim to follow the old trend “get big fast”; but now follows the “small is the new big” trend. This allows organisations to be run cheaply, with little advertisement & staff expenses. Lightweight models and cost effective scalability is a web 2.0 pattern many online businesses have adapted to, such as Facebook, Google Adsense, Wikipedia, Flickr and even Digg.

Digg is a “place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web” (Digg.2011) where they share news stories for other Digg users to read. “The more popular the story, the more the story spreads” (Digg.2011).  Digg’s model is very user driven, where “they provide the system but the users provide the content” (McMillen, 2010). Digg also doesn’t seem to advertise very much, so they seem to rely mainly on word of mouth. Considering Digg first “started off as an experiment in 2004” (Wikipedia.2011) it has increasing popularity and up scaled into a web service similar to Facebook (although, it is considerably less popular then Facebook). Digg also re-uses many other services such as “Google Adsense” (Wikipedia. 2011), and copies social networking sites such as Facebook to provide a social network element to the service. Digg also created a “voting system called digging and burying, which then was copied by other social networking sites with story submission and voting systems” (Wikipedia.2011). Due to the users creating the content, Digg is very lightweight and therefore very scalable with its “77 employees” (Wikipedia.2011) and optional registration.

A common issue with this web 2.0 pattern is that exponential growth can catch business off guard. Digg has a large amount of “traffic at the moment, and may be beginning to be weighed down by all the resources being shared on their site”(McMillen.2010) however if managed well, it could just be a case of adding more servers.  Business survival is also another issue, with many start-ups beginning on tiny budgets or as a personal side project. If the business has a legitimate business model then they have a strong chance.

Lightweight models and cost effective scalability is a major pattern of web 2.0 due to the number of businesses targeting niche markets and providing particular services or products. By starting off small, businesses are able to make changes where needed without being easily detected. When their business becomes more popular, they then can upscale. Look at websites like Facebook and Wikipedia – they both started off very small and grew with their popularity.

References:

Digg. 2011. What is Digg? Accessed 12 May 2011.

McMillen, J. 10 May 2010. Digg, Lightweight models and cost effective scalability. Accessed 12 May 2011.

Wikipedia. 8 May 2011. Digg. Accessed 12 May 2011.

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Niche Market equals greater chance of success?

With the increasing reliance and use of the internet it is not surprising to see companies using the web to advertise and sell their products and services to internet users. Many companies such as Amazon target the ‘head’ of the market with generic and popular products and services however; the majority of online stores and services target a niche market which is the ‘long tail’ of the internet. This is referred to as the web 2.0 pattern Leveraging the Long Tail which Tim O’Reilly states “small sites make up the bulk of the internet’s content; and narrow niches make up the bulk of the internet’s possible applications” (2005). With web 2.0 an online company is more likely to be successful if they target a niche market (or tail) rather than the popular market (or head) due to “lower costs in advertising due to lack of competitors and higher conversion rates due to the target audience looking for a service similar to what you offer” (Van Dyk. 2010). As explained by Van Dyk (2010) “The more specific the keywords, the more specific the audience. If you had a resort you could describe yourself as a hotel or perhaps the location of the hotel. This would be a very generic term and really the head. If you were specific and used keywordLeveraging the long tail - head of dinosaur and tail of dinosaur. s such as ‘backpacker’, ‘pets allowed’, ‘wheelchair access’ the results in a Google search would be fairly narrow.” This suggests that by targeting a specific audience reduces the competition and therefore your product or service will more than likely be seen by consumers. There are many online services that follow this web 2.0 pattern, and CarSpace is one of them.

CarSpace is a web service that is a MySpace for car lovers, which targets the niche market of car enthusiasts who want to share car information and stories. The website states, “Edmunds Inc publishes the website to empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders” (Edmunds Inc. 2011). Carspace also incorporates many other car selling sites like drive.com.au by providing car reviews and buying and selling car pages for its users. Although there are many similar sites to CarSpace, the competition does not exactly incorporate pages for users to share their experiences and have discussions about cars. CarSpace is a part of the long tail of the internet by providing a very specific service to a specific target. Tingom (2006) states, “The key is to really find a space that is vacant or needs some love and attention. There can only be a few MySpace web sites before that market is entirely full. Facebook decided to focus on colleges first – and then corporate after some success”. CarSpace definitely fills a vacant space in web services for car enthusiasts.

Like many other companies targeting niche markets, there are issues with this web 2.0 pattern. One common issue is that some markets benefit more from this pattern, whereas some markets not so much. In reality, it depends on the popularity of a service and the demand it’s in. CarSpace is not exactly a mainstream web service, however there is not many services that offer the same thing as CarSpace so there is less competition. Leveraging the Long tail is a crucial pattern of web 2.0 that can be seen all over the web with very specific services being offered to very specific target audiences.

References:

Edmunds Inc. 2011. About Us. Accessed 5 May 2011.

O’Reilly, T. 2005. What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Accessed 5 May 2011.

Tingom, C. 26 July 2006. Web 2.0 is about Niche Markets. Accessed 5 May 2011.

Van Dyk, J. 2 May 2010. Leveraging the Long Tail using Web 2.0. Accessed 5 May 2011.

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Beta – excuse for poorly developed product or development revolution?

Beta seems to be a popular label for web services to display in the 21st century’s internet era, which means that their web service is available immediately in the trial stage. By releasing their service in the beta stage developers are able to see how user’s interact or use their service, and provide upgrades and bug fixes to their service thanks to user input. User’s of beta products become co-developers by discovering problems with the service and providing feedback to the developers about their experience with the service. Caroline McCarthy (2007) states ‘it’s a reassurance. It means it’s ok if the photo upload tool occasionally time out. Lost all of your address book contacts? Oops, blame the beta’. This suggests that the beta label allows users to relax about minor bugs and issues the web service is having because of its beta label however, is the beta label just an excuse for poorly developed web services or the start of a development revolution?

One popular web service that wore the beta label proudly was Gmail. Gmail was ’first released in 2004 in the beta stage’ (McCarthy. 2007) and only removed it’s beta label in 2009. Google’s email service was in beta for about five years! Many users joked about the removal of the beta label under Gmail’s logo with ‘never getting use to using Gmail without the familiar BETA text greeting you when they log in everyday’ (Coleman.2009) however Gmail obviously recognised the despair of users loosing the BETA label greeting, so they ‘allowed users to turn on ‘back to beta’ in the settings of their Gmail accounts which then returned to displaying the Gmail logo with the BETA label beneath it’ (Coleman.2009).  The beta version of Gmail allowed Google to use real-life testers (the users) to discover problems with the Gmail service and alert the developers about these problems. One common problem was the ‘JavaScript alert message that would pop after trying to send an email for two minutes saying that there was a problem, and stopped the user from saving the email as a draft’ (Gottipati.2006). One user even asked ‘will Google ever focus on fixing the Gmail issues instead of adding new features?’ (Gottipati.2006). Good news is that Gmail is out of its beta stage and is now one of the most popular email services used.

In the internet era there is a lot more emphasis on ‘getting preliminary versions of a service out as quickly as possible’ (McCarthy.2007) and many ‘developers and entrepreneurs use the beta label as a way to state that their service is with a state of constant evolution’ (McCarthy.2007). Unfortunately the beta label may be misbelieved or misused to represent “if something screws up, it’s not really our fault” (McCarthy.2007). Due to this misconception of the beta label, there are mixed beliefs of what beta actually represents.

There are of course, many issues and debates regarding release of services in the beta stages. One major issue is privacy of user’s behaviour, where the web services may collect information regarding how certain users use and interact with their service. Basically, nobody wants their interactions to be watched – especially with web services such as Gmail.  It is extremely important for developers to remember that the beta label is not mean user testing should replace the quality of the service. Personally I believe the Beta label represents constant upgrades and improvements to the buggy service; and not a label to display for poorly developed services. Go ahead and try out a beta service, you may be surprised on what it offers.

Coleman, K. (7 July 2009). Gmail leaves beta, launches “Back to Beta” Labs feature. Accessed 21 April 2011.

Gottipati, H. (28 September 2006). Gmail beta – is “beta” a version name or part of the product name? Wondering as it stays forever… Accessed 21 April 2011.

McCarthy, C. (18 January 2007). Perspective: Beta – the four-letter word of web 2.0. Accesse

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Embrace cloud computing by stepping beyond the single device

Web 2.0 has amplified the use of web applications being used on the move with increasing popularity of mobile internet and applications for everyday tasks. Many people who own a smart phone regularly uses their phone to access the internet, download files or even to share their location with the help of mobile applications. Web 2.0 is now beyond the single device, and web users do not need a desktop computer or laptop to access services provided to them via the internet. O’Reilly (2005) states ‘applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected’. This suggests that applications that can only be accessed or used on a standard desktop computer or laptop will not be as valuable or successful as applications that can be used on mobile phones or other forms of technology. An example of a web 2.0 application that is beyond the single device is Dropbox.

Dropbox is a free service that allows you to store files such as photos, videos and documents in your Dropbox account. You can then access your files via mobile phone or on other computers as long as there is a Dropbox application installed. Users are basically able to access their files anywhere on any device, and therefore is not limited to just a single device. Dropbox not only allows a single user to access the files in the Dropbox account, but also allows the user to ‘share folders or documents with an option to share with a controlled group’ (Top Ten Reviews. 2011). It is amazing to think that mobile users can now access the files stored on our home computer on our mobile phone, providing it is also stored on Dropbox and there is an internet connection! Applications that are accessible via multiple devices are definitely very useful in today’s society with the increased reliance of accessing data while away from an actual computer. Other applications that go beyond the single device such as Facebook and Twitter are also very popular and may also be critical in emergency situations. Think about the Brisbane floods at the beginning of this year and how the Queensland Police incorporated social networking to discover emergency situations and also to provide updates to the public. Also, Social networking sites that may have been accessed by mobile phones during the floods were used for ‘flood related communication with people using the site to make contact and send heartfelt messages to loved ones’ (The Daily Telegraph). Web 2.0 applications are obviously making a huge impact on the way we live our day-to-day lives due to the greater access to the applications we have thanks to the web 2.0 pattern.

Just like every other web 2.0 pattern discussed, there are issues and debates circulating the mobility of web 2.0 applications. One major issue is compatibility issues of the web application with mobile devices. Social networking sites avoid this issue because nearly every mobile phone has the internet and its own mobile web browser, but applications that are required to be downloaded such as Dropbox may be incompatible with some mobile operating systems. This reduces the popularity of the web application and therefore the success. Most applications cater for multiple mobile operating systems (unless of course they were designed by Apple) so accessing something from multiple devices is usually no problem. Some web 2.0 applications have a long way to go with creating ease of access for users, however with the future of cloud computing slowly becoming a reality; why not embrace the change and make more applications accessible from multiple mobile devices?

 

References:

Dropbox. 2011. Dropbox Features. Accessed 14 April 2011 from http://www.dropbox.com/features

O’Reilly, T. 2005. What is web 2.0? Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Accessed 14 April 2011 from http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

Petersaints. 2009. What is Dropbox? Accessed 14 April 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFb0NaeRmdg

The Daily Telegraph. 2011. Facebook and Twitter for Toowoomba and Queensland flood information. Accessed 14 April 2011 from http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/facebook-and-twitter-key-for-toowoomba-and-queensland-flood-information/story-e6freuy9-1225985571656

Top Ten Reviews. 2011. Dropbox Review. Accessed 14 April 2011 from http://online-data-backup-review.toptenreviews.com/dropbox-review.html

 

 

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Why travel overseas when you can travel via virtual applications?

It’s amazing to think how far we have come from the development of the web, especially using web 2.0 as a way to slowly replace the desktop. With the development of AJAX, Flash and HTML5; web users are able to use online sites to cater for desktop application needs. Take Microsoft Word for an example. It is possibly able to replace MS Word with Google Docs, which offers users the same features minus the hard drive storage. Everything is going virtual, and virtual desktops are slowly becoming the future. For this to happen successfully, rich user interfaces were required to allow users to easily use online applications, just as they would with desktop applications. One web application that demonstrates the use of rich user interfaces is 360 Cities.

360 Cities is the web’s largest virtual tour of the earth by allowing photographers all over the world to upload their panoramic photos to share with users. 360 Cities claims to ‘take advantage of the broadband Internet speeds and advanced computer technology’ of users, which allows users to view the panoramic photos as a virtual tour rather than a static photograph. 360 Cities is demonstrated in the video above, showing how the user can view every little detail in the full 360 rotation of where the photographer was standing. 360 Cities is a great example of the web 2.0 pattern rich user interfaces because no server could provide that amount of interactivity for hundreds to thousands of users at a given time.

Virtual tour image of Syria
Virtual tour image of Syria

A similar site to 360 Cities is The World Wide Panorama, where photographers all over the world also create panoramic photographs and upload them to the cite for users to view. The difference between the two sites is mainly 360 Cities allows users to upload and create their own panoramic photos where World Wide Panorama only allows selected professional photographers to upload their files. World Wide Panorama basically removes the rich user interface for users to use by only allowing users to view what has been uploaded.

 

With the future of virtual desktops ahead of us, it can be safe to say the desktop is dying. Everybody wants to access everything everywhere, and a great way to do this is by storing everything online. This may raise many disadvantages such as ownership of the content uploaded and loss of data if a web application ends it’s service; so users should still be encouraged to keep back up files on their desktops or hard drives until the use of virtual desktops is increased. Virtual applications are the future, and what we have available to use now is amazing. Imagine it’s potential in a few years time! Check out 360 Cities and I promise you will be amazed.

 

References:

360 cities. (2011, March 29). [HD] World Record Indoor Photo 360º Panorama – Strahov Monastery Library. [Video File]. Accessed 31 March 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Ot87w5q3c

360 cities. 2011. World Panoramic Photography. Accessed 31 March 2011 from  www.360cities.net

World Wide Panorama Foundation. 2011. The World Wide Panorama. Accessed 31 March 2011 from  http://worldwidepanorama.org/worldwidepanorama/wwp/index.html

 

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Why create when you can re-use?

A common problem with the increase use of technology is the increased risk of being hacked. A lot of applications are now ‘designing for hackability’ (O’Reilly.2005); meaning the application source code is open which allows users to re-use the application as a basic foundation for developing their own application. O’Reilly (2005) states, ‘when commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways’. This suggests that users can use applications that have already been created and modify them to benefit the user. This is the web 2.0 pattern known as innovation in assembly. APIs (Application Program Interface) are commonly used, and are a ‘set of routines, protocols, and tools for building applications’ (Webopedia. 2011). This pattern may be difficult to understand by non-programmers, so the best way to think about a good web 2.0 API ‘makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then only needs to put the blocks together’ (Webopedia. 2011).

An example web 2.0 API that follows this pattern is OpenLayers. OpenLayers is a completely open-sourced JavaScript map for users to modify and embed into their own websites. The purpose of OpenLayers was to create a map API that ‘kept map data and map tools separate, so that the tools are able to operate on all data services rather than just on one map’ (OpenLayers. 2011). OpenLayers builds a great amount of trust with users by providing a completely open-source code and tools for the API for users to tweak to suit their needs. With users modifying their code source, OpenLayers could benefit from their users by harnessing the collective intelligence from the users and use this new intelligence to create more API functions and tools.

OpenLayers maps imageOpenLayers is very similar to the very popular Google Maps API, however there is one main difference that set the two APIs apart. OpenLayers is free software which ‘has been developed by the open-source community, not the company’ (Stack overflow. 2011). OpenLayers may not be as popular as Google Maps; however it offers greater flexibility than Google Maps by allowing users to change the code anytime, without requiring the user to rewrite the whole code. ‘Google Maps is considered an out-of-the-box API, meaning only few modifications can be done in comparison’ (Stack overflow. 2011).

Although OpenLayers is still undergoing rapid development with the ‘support of organisations and developers all over the world’ (OpenLayers. 2011) there is potential for OpenLayers to become just as popular, if not more popular, then it’s Google Maps opponent. Web 2.0 applications like OpenLayers are being used more often by users, to create mash-ups of different APIs to create a web application by re-using code in APIs. The future of web 2.0 application development is in innovation in assembly by allowing re-use of code.

fbariggar. (16 May 2010). OpenLayers Heatmap demo: Pubs and restaurants in Sandiago. Accessed 24 March 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4AgbIOKZKI

OpenLayers. 2011. Open Layers. Accessed 24 March 2011 from http://openlayers.org/

O’Reilly, T. (30 September 2005). What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. Accessed 31 March 2011 from http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=1

Webopeida. (2011). API. Accessed 24 March 2011 from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/API.html

 

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