Mobile Add Ons

I love the concept and execution of Square. A free, convenient, physical add-on to smartphones that provides a mobile payment SOLUTION FOR CONSUMERS.  The true genius of Square is that consumers can attain it for free. The reason for this is that as a mobile payment solution, Square inc. can (and does) simply charge a percentage off the transactions they process. By doing this, they have removed the barrier of an initial payment for their service.


This leads to the question: what other physical add-ons are coming for smartphones? And, will they too be able to come up with the alternative business model required for free distribution of the physical product?


A Quick Analytics Anecdote…Facebook Optimized Advertising

There has been a lot made lately of Facebook’s shortcomings in terms of its status as a lackluster advertising platform (read this! The Facebook Fallacy). However, it wasn’t until the other day when I realized how much better Facebook could utilize the troves of data they have access to.  Here’s what went down…

My good friend just returned from the Birthright program. Essentially, Birthright is an all expenses paid, 10 day trip to Israel for American Jewish youth (age 18-25). This program exists in the hopes that seeing Israel firsthand will foster further generations of Israel-supporting, American Jews.

Anyway, my friend returns, and right away (as they did not have access to Internet while abroad) gets on Facebook to find 40 friend requests from his other trip participants. They are also uploading and tagging each other in many photos. He had an amazing time, and apparently everyone returned from the trip with a significant newfound pride in the state of Israel.

Some Newfound Pride in Israel

It is completely reasonable for Facebook’s infrastructure to recognize these new relationships and what they have in common: a recent trip to Israel. That pride is what SHOULD be capitalized on. If FB’s advertising platform was advanced as it could be, all of the kids on this trip would be getting targeted ads pertaining to Israeli “pride” products. Israeli flags, Naot (a popular brand of israeli sandals), and all sorts of other items could fly off virtual shelves if given the opportunity.

Experiential data is extremely valuable, as it plays to people’s emotions. Facebook should orient its advertising platform accordingly.

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Just Another Industry: The End of the Scarcity Model in Music

The following table examines the components of the music business that made it “perfect” for Internet-based disruption, and the state of those components afterward.

Business Component Pre-Disruption (Perfect Industry) Post-Disruption (No Longer Special)
Promotion Magazines pushing Record Companies’ product: Free Most music magazines have become culture based. Do not have nearly the same pull over readers. People do not need recommendations. They can sample and judge for themselves.
Promotion Radio pushing Record Companies’ product: Free Still relevant, but does not have nearly the same pull over listeners as before. Decentralized by emergence of Internet Radio.
Promotion Television: MTV: Free Advertising Now industry must pay for television advertising, like all other industries.
Promotion/ Distribution Physical Distribution. Chains of independent retailers whose focus was selling Record Companies’ product. Now only physical distribution is big box stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) or Mom & Pop indies. Physical is waning anyway. Digital distribution is not monopolized.
Distribution Controlled by Record Companies: Oligopoly. Distribution now flat. Internet is an equal space, any random musician can have worldwide digital distribution without Record Companies.
Listening Technology Records followed by CDs. High Priced. Cheap to produce. Not copyable. Wears out (must be replaced). Digital copies cost nothing or are cheap. They are easily copied. They do not wear out. Unlimited consumption streaming services like Spotify are emerging.
Costs of Production Used to take enormous sums of money to make a commercially viable album. Now solid albums can be created cheaply with virtual instruments and home studios.
Popularity Principle: Reinforcing Just had to get Album into Top 40 charts to create more sales: Consumer rationale “Must be good because it is selling!” World of niches. People can sample for free, will only buy what they personally like.
Cool Factor Music defines people over long periods of time. Still relevant.


Just Another Brick…

I miss my Facebook wall.  Timeline is a fascinating and impressive function. I like having two profile pictures, especially the huge new one (the more of me, the better!).  But, what problems does Timeline really solve? I liked having one centralized place where people could write on my profile.  That still exists, but it is convoluted and doesn’t load instantly as I scroll down my FB.  Searching for past posts is difficult, and I liked having a clean interface between different sections of content on my profile.
Timeline is well built (the timeline function anyway), a cool concept, and I believe it would make an outstanding additional function to a user profile.

However, no one I speak to uses Timeline for it’s actual purpose….looking at their friends historical Facebook presence. People only use timeline as an augmented wall (or as a stalker tool),  and rarely scroll downward past the first section.  I would wager a bet that posting and interaction between users is down since the introduction of Timeline, as Timeline’s build simply does not user promote interaction like the wall.

The recording of history is an important aspect of Facebook. But, despite the fact that “Twitter is where news breaks; Facebook is where news goes,” (John Herman-Buzzfeed), it can’t be ignored that Facebook is still a marvelous tool for social interaction, and that should be where the emphasis of the service lies.

Bottom line: I don’t care nearly as much about my online past as I do about the present.  Timeline makes my online life harder, not easier. More work for me as the user=worse product. Doesn’t matter how cool of a feature it is.

P.S. My birthday was last week, and timeline combined all of the birthday posts I received into one small timeline box.  Maybe I am more insecure than most, but I LOVED having my Facebook wall plastered in birthday messages. It felt good. It was a fun way to show off online (what we all want from Facebook anyway) without putting in any effort. Having my congratulatory messages minimized and shunned to preserve a balanced timeline sucks, and does not play to what I as a user want my Facebook presence to be.

John Herman Article Link:

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5 Things I Wish Were Improved In Spotify

I love Spotify. I have used it since it first became available in the US. I’m a premium member, and consume most of my music through Spotify. However, there are several issues I have with the service that I would love to see improved.

1)   Playlists– I am a consumenivor (as Nick Bilton would say). I consume content online, all day, in a variety of ways.  I do not have the time or the desire for playlists. Plus, I am an unorganized person.  I want two things in my virtual music collection. One is a basic library format containing all the music I like/want/could ever dream of. The second is an easy-to-use metadata based search function (think iTunes) to navigate said library. In its current state, my Spotify music library is a bit of an unorganized mess, as I get lost in all my different playlists.

2)   The Mobile App– Just got the latest update…

Still unimpressed. I want the ability to access my play history! Plus, I want the play history to be synced between the computer and the mobile device. How else can I remember music as I discover it?  Take the time and hassle to organize it into playlists… while on my phone?!? Not happening. Also, the process of searching for and playing music while on a mobile device is arduous. This App will only serve you well if you are a playlist person.

3)   Sharing– With the latest Spotify update, I have a huge column on the right side of my screen. It is supposed to be filled with people who are my “favorites.” So far, it is empty. Yet, I can’t minimize it!. This “favorites” column is taking up 1/5 of my window and is empty. Yikes. Stop trying to make me share through your service, or at least build a less intrusive function.

Look at all that wasted screen space!!…Plus, I really struggled over what music was in the background…I want to seem cool (see #4)

4)   Facebook Integration– Not everything I listen to is cool and hip. I am not very cool or hip. Facebook is all about presenting a finely honed version of yourself to your online community. Unless out of sarcasm, no one wants to look foolish on Facebook. The audience is too large.  But, when my listening habits are broadcast to the world through FB, I feel an uncomfortable pressure to only play what other people will not judge me for.  That is extremely hard, as everyone’s musical tastes are different. Just another barrier between Spotify’s paradigm and an at-ease listening environment.

5)   The Vibe of Its Updates– Every time I download an updated version of Spotify, it feels as if the service is moving further and further away from what I as a fan and as a music consumer want.  The core advantage over alternative music-consumption methods, cheap access to quality streams of most artists’ catalogs, remains strong. However, many of the ancillary features feel as if they are advancing the value of Spotify, rather than my consumption experience. (Example: Facebook integration. I feel my privacy is being violated. They gain huge amounts of exposure to untapped music consumers).

6)   Lack of Integration With Services I Use– I know I said 5, but this one just came to me. Why can’t every song I Shazam be instantly added to a “Shazam” playlist??

I just tweeted #6 one at Daniel Ek. Maybe he’ll use it.

P.S. I love Spotify, and use it incessantly. But, that is not because it is an unbelievable product, but because it is simply the best that currently exists.

First and Foremost

It is strangely fitting that my first post comes several days after my 21st birthday. This is not to say I am a significant consumer of alcohol: I’m not.  Rather, I can’t help but feel as if I am only now, at 21, beginning to find my voice. This discovery is happening while upwards of 75% of my “significant” birthdays are in the rear view. My birthday is in late May, so growing up it always felt like simply completing a year of school justified a party. This meant that every birthday was significant… while the parties felt undeserved.

Sad Birthdays… Undeserved Celebrations…he might be happier in less pink

Looking backward, I think that some of the emphasis on birthdays should come at a time when we as individuals are more secure. I am just now starting to narrow my interests and find focus. In the past, celebrating the passing of a year without seeing much progress was depressing. “What do I really have to celebrate other than this number?”

Looking forward however, there are not many major birthdays left to celebrate.  Sure, 25 is a milestone—a quarter century. 30 is tricky. 50 is a crisis. But, as of 4 days ago, I am a full-fledged adult.  I have the same rights that my father does (minus rental cars and a presidential candidacy). But have I really done anything worthy of celebrating?!?!

Bald Man in a Sports Car... Top Down

Midlife Crisis… #usesunscreen

I have several goals for this summer. Most of these goals revolve around writing, analysis, problem solving, and self-education. As such, I hope to use this blog as a way to chronicle and share what I learn along the way. Next year, I want to celebrate 22 with a genuine smile, knowing that the past year was not passively spent.

With that in mind, thank you for joining me. I hope to offer up a variety of insight in this setting. Though most of it will focus on music, technology, and the Internet. I hope to hit on many other topics as well. Feel free to comment, criticize, or argue… because, well, haters gonna hate.