Found this on a dinner menu tonight. Sparked some good conversation around what symbols would most clearly convey their associated message.
Gluten-free already has a few attempts at a universal symbol: . I had no idea, but it makes perfect sense.
Vegetarian too: . Both use a ‘v’ shape, but how universal is that? I guess you could adjust the stalk shape to fit any character form, but that’s still not language independent.
I can’t find a universal symbol for contains nuts, which seems strange given the attention to gluten-free. Aren’t peanut allergies more dangerous? I don’t know, but it always seemed that way to me. The closest I could find was at kidswithfoodallergies.com. It’s actually a pretty good start. Using the peanut shape and no symbol gets the point across very well. But I think an ideal universal symbol works across all languages, cultures and print capabilities. If someone with artistic talent can convey a peanut in monocolor (minus the arms and legs), I’m on board. This and gluten really deserve a solid symbol.
For garlic-free we thought a cross would work better: , you know, because of vampires. Why not?
Using the infinity loop for sustainable works great.
Probably not. But isn’t that the brick-and-mortar analogy to this:
That’s right, Amazon now places product ads from external websites on their product pages as a CPC ad service. Here’s my question: is this the most valuable CPC ad space for CPG manufacturers on the internet today?
I actually don’t know the answer to that question, but I suspect it’s so. After all, buying ads for “baseball” on Google is as likely to serve to someone looking for information as to someone looking for an actual baseball. But people surfing Amazon are pretty clearly in the market for purchase, which makes these ads ultra-valuable.
It’s easy to see why Amazon would do this. They position themselves as the low-cost, low-hassle, large-selection merchant. To meet these goals, they need to know what their competitors are offering and for how much. By hosting these ads, Amazon gains frictionless access to competitor offerings and pricing information. In essence then, Amazon’s competitors pay Amazon for the privilege of providing Amazon with competitive intelligence. And these merchants are willing to do it because Amazon, more than any other portal on the internet, is where people go to do commerce.
I love this toggle. If the red-eye toggle depends on the software’s ability to distinguish an eye from the surrounding area, then the color/texture of the surrounding area is required information. So why not ask in the most common-sense language possible?
btw, that’s my parents’ dog Lexie. She just turned one (note the tiara)
So what I’d like to see in the National Broadband Plan is to make that entire 500mhz available as unregulated spectrum where anyone and everyone can build technologies, devices, markets, and businesses in it.
Fred Wilson - The National Broadband Plan
Couldn’t agree more. I forwarded a similar idea in a telecom law final three years ago (shout-out to my professor and thesis adviser, Tim Wu for developing a great class/exam). The question, derived from the newly announced wireless spectrum auction, asked us to develop an allocation plan for the 700 MHz spectrum (previously used for tv broadcasts).
Looking back over my exam (the wonders of gmail), I still agree with what I wrote:
“Telecom regulation should endeavor to push three goals: (1) scalable, high-capacity access points, (2) strong, cost-effective peripheral connections, and (3) efficient distribution of frequency for the benefit of the public at large … To use a simple analogy, the government should act as if the wireless industry were a highway, setting out lanes and using its regulatory powers in a manner that incentivizes the creation of efficient vehicles and a network of accessible, usable, cost-effective filling stations.
“[To that end, a portion of the spectrum should be set aside and] maintained by the government according to open source, net neutral protocols, and offered free of charge … In this way, innovation at the edges will be privately funded, either by telecoms seeking a competitive advantage or consumers seeking a better way.”
UHF television generally occupies/occupied the 470-870 MHz range. This range is great for broadband for a few reasons: 1) it’s already allocated to a consolidated purpose; and 2) it strikes a nice balance between data capacity and signal robustness. I hope the government adopts a plan similar to Fred’s proposal. Radio spectrum is a platform for innovation that belongs in the public domain.
Before payments take over the web, we need to address the issue of lost passwords (thanks to Matt Mireles for the pointer). Amazon has tried a bunch of stuff to overcome this issue: 1-Click and PayPhrases come to mind. But what if the answer isn’t decreasing virtual friction? What if the answer is creating a virtual payment process that is physically (and behaviorally) natural?
Bump Technologies has an interesting product. When you want to transfer information between iPhones, you bump them together (gently), and thanks to the magic of accelerometers and 3G, data is exchanged. What I love about this product is that it uses physical actions to trigger virtual action in a natural, mechanical way. Bumping fits into the mental schema we have for handling physical data, and that makes it easy to understand and adopt. The other day, PayPal introduced a new app that allows people to “bump” money to each other. The app thus marries the mental schema of a physical act to a virtual action.
But why do you need two people to bump? Why can’t I use bump in the same way I use my credit card, except for online shopping?
Here’s the use case: I find a new tv to buy at bestbuy.com. I head to checkout, where I’m presented with payment options: Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Bump. I choose Bump and enter my PIN (or billing zip code, or any other short, personal identifier stored somewhere other than on the actual phone). I then bump my computer. Bump’s servers connect the dots (act of bumping + PIN) and voila, payment made. Receipt’s in the email. In action, the process is no different than handing over my credit card to the cashier. It feels natural in a way that entering numbers doesn’t. It feels like the way things work at the store.
I’m out of time, but I like this idea. Bump shouldn’t limit itself to being a medium of exchange between mobile devices. Its greatest attribute is that it creates the expected virtual response from a common physical action. It would make sense to a child, and to my mind, that’s the mark of good technology.
As a Pre owner, I’ve been consistently pleased with Palm’s software development efforts. But success depends on more than a great product. The Pre’s original television ads were memorable only for their strangeness. The lightweight plastic casing is cheap (but insurable). And now we live in a world where a well developed app ecosystem appears critical, but webOS’s installed base may be too small to attract a critical mass of developers, despite Palm’s best efforts.
So it was a rough day for Palm, but I’m not as bearish as many others seems to be. In politics, you’re never as smart as you look when you’re winning, and you’re never as dumb as you look when you’re losing. The same holds true for Palm. Marketing campaigns can be relaunched. New hardware can be sourced. And platform-dependent apps may have a shelf life—the combination of next-gen browsers and higher perceived connection speeds could plausibly substitute browser-based cloud apps for most locally installed apps in the future.
At the very least, I hope webOS development continues. Palm’s software development team has innovated at every turn; I’d like to see what they can do.
The amount of time I’m willing to spend learning a new software product directly correlates to the price I paid for it.
Since I pay nothing for web apps, they get about five minutes of my time. A quick straw poll of friends reveals I’m not alone in this.
The lesson: for freemium/free apps, the key to adoption is simplicity.
Note: thinking about this reminded me of a post last month from Paul Buchheit: If your product is Great, it doesn’t need to be Good. Well worth the read.
I’m not ordering a first-gen iPad, but that’s not really a relevant data point (my dad and my fiancee have both already placed their orders, so it’s not like I won’t be using it). That said, I’ve been noodling on what the possible use cases are for the device:
So really we’ve got three use cases and a purchasing motivation. Focusing on the use cases, two themes emerge:
As to point 1, I imagine the need to let the iPad “live” in a common area (rather than in a charging dock next to a wall) is why SJ was so adamant about the 10 hour battery life and the ability to hold a charge. People are fundamentally lazy—if the iPad isn’t sitting in front of them at all times, they’re not going to use it enough to develop a bond.
Regarding point 2, I don’t see anyone buying the iPad as their main (or only) networked digital device. That’s not to say the thing won’t be a roaring success—at the moment, the pre-order figures are outstanding—that’s just to say that the device, even if it lives up to the hype, probably won’t change the world so much as it will change the computing usage of many affluent people.
And all that is fine. The iPad doesn’t have to change the world to be successful. So long as the software reflects its hardware, I’ll be satisfied. You rarely see Apple try to cram a usage into the wrong hardware. The iPad is neither a mouse-and-keyboard-driven laptop nor a pocketable phone/connectivity device, and I expect the OS to reflect that.
Sheet music - http://www.forscoreapp.com/
Board games - http://www.gametableapp.com/
So far, my favorite ideas for this device use it as a surface (rather than as a handheld). It’s an affordable, portable version of MS Surface. It’s not a laptop. Truly innovative ideas will develop uses specifically tailored to the unique nature of the product.
When you say “group buying,” the average person will probably have no clue what you’re talking about, and the average businessman will think you mean group purchasing on the enterprise scale. And yet, most of us have participated in group buying behavior for years, we just don’t realize it.
Couples, fraternities, and softball leagues all buy things as a group (meals, beer, and entry), but until now, when I heard of group buying startups, I thought of the Groupon model (basically Woot! with strangers).
WePay, though, has redefined my mental model of group buying. Where once I saw the chore of collecting people for a one-time purchase, now I think of all the times in my life where a purchasing decision involves more than me. So with only a few one-line blurbs on the site, I now project the service onto the things I already do. No education required.
This idea isn’t new of course, Apple mastered it long ago. But it’s always good to see a company recognize and use a good idea.
Here are some random thoughts/questions I’ve been kicking around lately. They’re mostly half-baked. Thoughts welcome.
*HT to Mark M. for the line
When purchasing decisions involve heterodox interests, sales difficulties increase exponentially. A perfect example is enterprise Gmail. Gmail is undeniably a better-designed email product than most companies use, but Google butted up against unanticipated resistance when selling Gmail to enterprises. It turns out that enterprise purchasing decisions are far more complex than a single users.
The IT guy at my work and I talk often about what it would take to move our firm from Lotus to Gmail (consensus: an act of god). He pointed me to this article from CIO: Why Enterprises Are Moving to Google Apps, Gmail. Here’s what I found most interesting:
Perhaps most significantly, at a Google Apps CIO roundtable event in San Francisco this week, Google announced that enterprise users of Google Apps could access Gmail through an Outlook client. The company hopes it will quell the protests by users who have become tethered to the desktop app and who, as a result, have sometimes hindered enterprise adoption of Google Apps.
“For me, it eliminates the last hurdle or mindset for letting go of [Microsoft] Exchange or the Exchange mentality,” said Bob Rudy, vice president and CIO of Avago, a semiconductor company that moved its employees over to Google Apps, during the event. “This will help with adoption.”
It turns out that people don’t necessarily want better email (at least not in the sense that Google initially thought). Sometimes they just want a better version of their current user experience. Sometimes they even want something you never even imagined could be important. From the consistently excellent IgnoretheCode (aka, Lukas Mathis):
If your users reject an improved user interface, you need to start out by figuring out exactly what motivates them to prefer the more complex solution.
Of course, there’s more at issue here than UI, but the general point remains. When people reject an objectively better solution (at least in your eyes), you better find out why.
Two observations and a hypothesis:
1) People use mobile apps on mobile devices
2) People discover mobile apps on their computers (it’s just a significantly better medium for exploration - pick your reason: screen size, ease of input, connection speed, etc.)
Therefore, to create a strong app ecosystem, you’d better have a strong online marketplace
So now a question: why doesn’t Palm have an online marketplace? I’m not saying you have to package or police it like Apple, but when I’m browsing for things to buy, I want lots of multimedia information fast. Sure, Palm lets me browse a few screencaps, but why not let me buy? Give me the ability to explore apps and make it easy for me to buy them, and you will get my money. Promise.
And one more thing: why is the Android marketplace so shallow? Just because you want people to have access to apps however they want doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build an access point of your own. Build a deep, iTunes-like storefront and take a reasonable cut of the apps sold there. No one ever accused Linux of being closed off, but that community brought a centralized app marketplace to the masses.
This is the set of share curves for Chrome browsers. Beautifully ordered, right? Pretty much the idealized portrait of release early, release often. So how does Google do it?
From Royal Pingdom (awesome analytics, btw):
Google Chrome handles its upgrades in a completely automated fashion, even for a completely new version of the browser. While other browsers will ask the user for approval to move from version 1 to version 2 (just an example), Chrome will just handle that in the background and move ahead with the upgrade.
If you think about it, this mirrors the way web apps work, i.e. updates go through to all users so everyone is using the same version of the software.
Genius. The post focuses on the mechanics of upgrade push and the correlation between “pushy” browsers and people who love web analytics. These charts could seed a million great thoughts, but I want to focus on the idea that changing the defaults can change the game.
Check out IE’s share curve set:
I generally believe that the mark of a mature company is dominant legacy costs (real or abstract), and that’s exactly what we see here. Despite prolonged effort, MSFT hasn’t been able to get its old (brand destroying) software off of the world’s computers. IE6 is three generations and nearly a decade old, but killing it depends on every IE6 user out there independently choosing to go through the upgrade process. Who wants to take that bet? And don’t forget, many of the users running IE6 are doing so because they can’t risk an upgrade on their pirated copy of Windows (there’s another post in there about effective methods of deterring software piracy). Meanwhile, as MSFT slowly watches its past starve its present, Google chose a different default upgrading behavior for Chrome, and with that single tweak ensured that it’ll never have to deal with the legacy costs of an intractable, negative brand equity browser product.
Now that’s a strategic advantage.
This is a screencap of Gizmodo’s big scoop taken around midnight PT. The post’s been up about 15 hours. Two things strike me about this picture. (1) Giz pulled in 4M visitors to this one page in about 15 hours, and (2) there’s only a single ad on the whole page, and it blends right in.
On the other hand, the post immediately preceding this one got only 18,000 views in the same time frame. Here’re Gizmodo’s pageview stats through this year (thanks, Quantcast):
Pretty solidly cyclical with regular dives on weekends (clearly a workday site). Crazy spike for the iPad announcement in late January, but no lasting effects. We can see that one-off pageviews bonanzas don’t seem to create loyal leaders on their own, so the strategic benefits of a big news item appear minimal (I know it’s just one data point, but it makes intuitive sense).
At a micro level, though, we can pretty easily value a “scoop” from this chart. During the iPad reveal in January, Gawker they nearly tripled that number. For a site that does about $5k/day in ad revenue, that’s pretty big. I’m sure today’s traffic will end up looking very similar.
So much about this is interesting. Many narratives to think through. I need to sleep now, but I’m excited to see what happens with Gizmodo’s traffic…
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