Next Line On The iPhone Horizon: Micropayments

Apple has a tried and tested approach of creating complete, yet simple ecosystems and the one it has developed for the iPhone is testament to this genius.

However, ecosystems need to evolve or they devolve to the lowest common denominator. Much has already been said about the “commoditisation” of apps to very basic one offs with gimmick appeal.

Allowing for a deeper level of engagement within an app is key to this “appolution”. And one of the most important steps forward in achieving this in my view is to open the spigot for micropayments.

Om Malik has also called for this:

I would be spending a lot more if Apple extended the API to allow for the ability to transact within apps.” Nothing like buying a song, an application or a ringtone with a simple click, only to be billed in a batch, later. Such buying habits are the reason why we believe Apple’s iPhone could prove to be an ideal micropayments platform.

Inverting The Enterprise 2.0 Risk/Revenue Paradigm

I’ve been involved for over a decade in various shapes and guises selling software as a service to enterprise. But had yet to find an innovation in pricing models that truly reflected the value/volume conundrum that so often stifled adoption of solutions that only truly demonstrated their value at mass enterprise usage. 

And then along came this post from Julien Le Nestour – pure brilliance. As he points out:

Every product bearing what is usually dubbed a “social component” has significant network effect and peer production dynamics. The more employees actively use the application, the more they — and so their organization — extract value out of its use. Marginal benefit per user, and hence total value, thus increases with the number of active users. Yet, most pricing structure are degressive, Volume-Discount schemes: price per user decreases with the number of users. Price and value varies in opposite ways.

Take more upfront risk for deeper customer deployment

Using Yammer as a case study he argues:

The more users will use Yammer, the more value the client organization will get out of it. In most organizations however, the value of a Twitter-like for corporate use will not be obvious, and will slowly build up with time, as it spreads internally.

Yet, pricing is desperately of a Volume-Discount type, making an after-pilot deployment with a small group of early-adopters look very expensive per user (large companies will compare it to the price per user for fully deployed applications like email or IM). Smart vendors will reverse the price structure, offer organizations the opportunity to try out the new technology, experience its value over time after a pilot, and scale up accordingly. They have to forgo immediate but short-term benefits, in order to get a chance to demonstrate their value added and reap the benefits as the client scales up its use.

I suspect there is a good deal of tweaking that will need to be done to make this model work in practice so as not to totally shift the burden of risk to the technology supplier, but inverting the model is a good start. 

Mapping Minds: Google Trends Meet Twitter Thoughtstream

Two of the most powerful tools for currently mapping how humanity thinks are Google Trends and Twitter Search.

I whipped up an analysis of Google versus Twitter on Google Trends and the result put Twitter far ahead in our collective consciousness. This is a really useful tool for tracking across a timeline, with clear pointers to inflection points, but it does nothing for point of origin or realtime tracking.

This is where Twitter’s Search function shines. I did an exercise last week in which I tracked a number of key words on Twitter. “jobs” not surprisingly brought up a bunch of results, mainly from job board feeds, “Sydney” alerted me to a number of interesting events taking place in the city, but the clear topic du jour was the “iPhone” – the amount of traffic on Twitter related to this device was enormous.

Imagine if we could mash up these two tools, and extend their reach beyond Twitter’s audience – this would be an extremely powerful way for marketers, politicians and many others to map our minds.

Hattip to Erick Schonfeld for getting me thinking about this.

Feed Your Social Media: Facebook Grows On Attention

I have been a huge advocate of feeds – they are an incredible attention grabber, able to keep users engaged and as a result drive up traffic on social media sites.

Take the Twitter phenomenon – and apply it to the real world analogy of being in a coffee shop having a conversation or penning an email when you overhear something – just the sound of a keyword or two can grab your attention away from your current activity.

Facebook cottoned onto this recently and as Eric Eldon over at VentureBeat points out, this has been hugely to their advantage.

Contextualizing Your Social Networks: Reid Hoffman

Michael Arrington, who is supposed to be taking a break from blogging, has a great Davos interview with LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman.

Key takeout:

MySpace is like a bar, Facebook is like the BBQ you have in your back yard with friends and family, play games, share pictures. Facebook is much better for sharing than MySpace. LinkedIn is the office, how you stay up to date, solve professional problems.

Radio Silence: Replaced By The Newsfeed, While Silicon Valley Hums Quietly In The Background

First up, to my regular readers my humble apologies for not blogging for a few weeks. I had a busy month – what do they say about living in interesting times – yip, that is how it has been.

When I have found the time to feed the meter, as it were, I’ve turned to the newsfeeds. Mostly I’ve kept up posts on Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter.

I think I am not alone in this shift: blogging less, posting more.

I’m heading back to Sydney this evening for a few weeks and will hopefully have a bit of breathing space to do some more considered posts.

Let’s see how that pans out. If you are in Sydney and would like to meet up please ping me – I look forward to getting a grip on how the tech space has progressed downunder.

I’m also very happy to let you know that despite reports to the contrary, Silicon Valley is alive and well. One of the companies I am advising has gone from zero to term sheet in less than two weeks. I am keen to see more of the same!