Tech Timmy

Rants and Raves from a Tech Enthusiast

Product Dilution: Ultimate Website Killer

Posted on | September 22, 2013 | Comments Off

If you’ve ever been to a candy store, you’ve seen how the store has tried to make as large and wide variety of candy available to you as possible, and it works, because you walk around the store, over and over, just trying to decide what you want. Eventually, you have chosen a few different types of candy. Many services try to recreate this idea on the web. The goal is that if they provide you with enough options, you’ll spend a lot more time wandering about on their site. This works, too, for some time. We all want to try the different flavors, but as every one knows, too much candy leaves you with a sour stomach and a toothache. Just the same, too many features on a web site leaves users wanting less.

As a website is growing, expanding product offering is a huge driving force to keeping older users entertained, and generally speaking, it’s not a bad idea to move forward from your original idea, as long as you are still true to the reason you made the site. However, it’s far too easy to go over board with your offering. Product dilution can be thought of as a bubble. As we all know, bubbles pop eventually. Each feature needs to have a dedicated team that understands the back end behind the feature, and they need to be ready to search out problems and errors and, as timely as possible, solve any issues before it burdens the end user. And this is just the start of a dangerous cycle.

Too many options available is the perfect way to meet a stagnation in new user sign ups. If there’s no clear direction for a website, any potential users will turn away for another website that does have a clear direction. Your existing users will start converging into their own niches on your site, where they only really use a certain few features, while ignoring the rest. If you ignore any particular one, especially older features, you alienate the users that are dedicated to it. Of course, if you’ve moved on from developing the existing products, the users are likely to feel they’re being left behind, and what they are going to do is begin migrating to another website that caters specifically to the product they used most at your site. It only takes a few members to say, “I found a better site. Come join me,” before your user base starts dropping.

So, here’s where we get to more problems. Your user base is dropping, your new sign ups are stagnating, and you’ve got a plethora of employees working on products you’re not sure you can financially support. You have to start cutting employees. The remaining users will notice this cut, too. Why? Because you have less people paying attention to the products you’re offering and the issues the users are having. Why is that significant? A few lines up: if you don’t pay enough attention to a product, your users don’t feel important, and they leave.

MySpace is one of the most recent victims of product dilution (among other things, but we’ll stay on topic.) Way back when, MySpace was a music oriented social networking site. In the process of competing with other sites in the market, MySpace began developing new features left and right. Taking a look around the site, you’ll find a myriad of wide ranging things to do. Blogging, messaging, forums, groups, karaoke, videos, restaurant reviews, and chat/IM are just a few of the features on the site. MySpace has overwhelmed itself, and, ultimately, its users. The company lost view of its original goals and purposes, so it’s users are flocking to other sites that have clearer intentions, such as Facebook, who, as MG Siegler recently pointed out, has a problem of their own: keeping it simple. Despite this problem, putting MySpace next to Facebook and it’s quite obvious which site is more bloated.

So remember, don’t attempt to be the site that has every thing. In the end, the one thing you won’t have is success.

Just when I was starting to wor

Posted on | September 22, 2013 | Comments Off

After the first couple of weeks on Twitter, tweeting about very mundane tasks, getting a grip on what the site was really about, I finally fell in love with Twitter, essentially, for one purpose: the flow of information. When news happens, it’s on Twitter long before any editors can approve an article for web publishing, and before the major news outlets (eg. AP, Reuters) even send out notices. I remember specifically a plane had crashed, and news of it spread on Twitter. Michael van Poppel of BNO News called the coroner’s office in the town the plane crashed, to the shock of the clerk that answered the phone. Poppel tweeted out that the clerk asked, “How did you hear so FAST?” And that’s where I think the real power behind Twitter lay. Something happens, and the Twitterverse knows instantly.

When Trending Topics were moved from the less-than-obvious search page, to the home page, I was quickly disappointed to find that memes were taking the place of information. #3turnoffwords and #3turnonwords hit the trends and are still being tweeted about. I’m not sure why I was so surprised by this. I expected there would be fun and games, but I suppose I didn’t imagine the games would quickly out weigh the information. I started thinking Twitter was losing a small bit of that information flow. It’s always nice to have a reminder that things just aren’t what they appear. I think that, most likely, Robert Scoble deserves credit for this one.

scoble

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares victory in the Iranian Presidential election, the government shuts down mobile phones, and access to YouTube and Twitter within Iran, opponent Mousavi accuses Ahmadinejad of rigging the election, and Tehran is set ablaze by protesters. Twitter is flowing with real-time updates, photos and videos of riots, and police action. Meanwhile, main stream media, specifically, CNN, is running Larry King discussing David Letterman vs Sarah Palin. Enter Scoble. “CNN: you should be ashamed. Horrid news judgment today. Absolutely horrid.” It didn’t take long for disgust towards CNN to migrate from FriendFeed to Twitter.

As I type this, #iranelection, #cnnfail, Tehran, and Mousavi are all in the top five Trending Topics. Although CNN has been the one graced with a failtag, it’s not the only main stream media that’s ignoring the events taking place in Iran. In a retweet, Scoble points out that all of the networks failed. Luckily, Twitter’s on this story. Otherwise, who else would?

Shame on you, MySpace

Posted on | September 22, 2013 | Comments Off

Just two days after laying off 480 U.S. employees, with more to come internationally, in an effort to cut costs, MySpace is celebrating today the one year anniversary of the launch of MySpace Karaoke by giving away a trip for 2 to Las Vegas. Well, I guess we know where some of the money saved from the layoffs is going to, since there is no mention any where on the home page announcement or on the Karaoke page about the contest being sponsored by any company. Way to go MySpace.

MySpace Announcement

Many people claiming to be current and, now, former MySpace employees have been posting on TechCrunch alleging that the management teams (mainly VP’s, SVP’s, etc) are the one’s that should be cut for under-performance. Perhaps SVP & GM of MySpace Karaoke, Nimrod Lev (dead serious that that is a real name) should be one of them out the door?

Hello world!

Posted on | September 17, 2013 | 1 Comment

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Verizon: Not A Heaping Pile of Shit

Posted on | March 31, 2011 | Comments Off

So, I was just thinking about the iPhone and AT&T, and how it’s sad that Apple’s product is greater in quality than AT&T’s product, which reminded me of an exchange of tweets I had with John Gormly (@jgormlyjr) a few months back. John suggested that people are more likely to let others know when they are displeased or unhappy, as opposed to when they are satisfied and content. He was, of course, speaking about mobile phone providers as well as mobile devices themselves, and John has it completely correct. Most people are definitely more likely to speak up when they are displeased. I can distinctly remember way back in elementary school, a teacher had called my parents to tell them I was doing great in school, and that she was impressed. When I got home that day, I remember my parents being in awe, not that I was doing well in my studies, but that a teacher had actually called with something other than bad news.

Okay, so, how does this relate to my train of thought about AT&T, and more importantly, the title subject, Verizon? It’s quite simple, really. Proving John right, many are tapping away at their keyboards complaining about AT&T’s service, whether it be via blogs, tweets, comments or statuses. As I can’t recall having heard any one praise their service, I’ve automatically just assumed that, yes, case closed, AT&T has some horrible service. But then, I remembered John, and our conversation, and realized I am really only hearing half of the story. There are undoubtedly just as many consumers out there happy with their mobile service provided by AT&T, as there are those unhappy. The difference is that they’re just not bothering to write anything about it. And that brings us to the title of this entry: Verizon.

There have been a number of occasions I’ve taken the opportunity to, briefly, mention that I am fond of Verizon’s services. Yes, services. I decided in an effort to encourage more positive discussions about products used, even though knowingly in vain, I would take the time to go into more detail about my satisfaction with VZ.

Firstly, as I already noted, I said “Verizon’s services,” up there. As far as I know, I’m using all they have to offer. I suppose the love affair started early. We had Bell Atlantic landline telephone service in our home from the earliest I can remember. Bell Atlantic, of course, merged with GTE in 2000 to form Verizon Communications. We still have Verizon Voice in our home, although, admittedly, its soul purpose is for bill collectors (usually calling the wrong number) to call, not be answered, and leave voicemails, which are listened to, and, subsequently, deleted. It’s likely that once our contract is up, that we will cancel Voice to save a few dollars monthly, but it’s of no fault to VZ, just the fault of lack of use/necessity. I cannot recall at any time having been displeased with the connection and having service unexpectedly cut.

Years ago we had AOL and dial-up to connect to the Internets. And we all know that dial-up eventually finds itself to be not enough and burdensome. Initially, we made the switch from dial-up to Comcast Cable. We kept this for a few years, but no one was really satisfied with the service. Finally, in 2006, we cut Comcast Cable internet and moved up in the world to Verizon DSL. I do not miss having to constantly unplug a modem and wait, no, hope, that when it is plugged back in, finally powered up, it’d be connected and working. I also do not miss having to call a 800 number to find out why the Internets was broken (lol) and being told to unplug/plug back in [again] as a non-solution-solution. VZ DSL stayed connected, with no down time. Last year, Verizon finally rolled out FiOS in our area. And we were in the first dozen of residents in the area to adopt it. I can’t recall exact numbers, but I do know that there was a significantly great change in up/download speeds.

We now have FiOS for our phone, Internet and cable. I would obviously like the FiOS cable, considering I can have widgets on my TV screen. I love anything that isn’t just the way the makers want it, but customizable to the way I want it. Verizon just recently added a Twitter and Facebook widget, and although right now, they’re pretty primitive compared to what one would expect from a Twitter or Facebook widget, how cool is it that I can have Twitter and Facebook on my TV? Picture quality is great, and I have more channels to choose from than I even know about. Importantly, there have been no service interruptions to our cable.

Finally, VZ Wireless, AT&T’s biggest competition. I first started using VZW three years ago. Originally, I was using their prepaid service. (Prior to this, I has been using Tracfone prepaid wireless.) Having never lost signal or dropped calls, I decided in 2007 to go contract. I have been with VZW since, first with a Motorola w385 handset, and now with the Blackberry Storm. I still have not had any problems whatsoever with my mobile service. I am quite certain that I will be with them for very long time. No, AT&T, you cannot lure me over to you, no matter how many new iPhones Apple gives you.

So, here’s a question for all: are you happy with your providers?

(I guess I ought to throw a bit of a disclaimer up. I do own stock in Verizon Communications, as I have that much confidence in the products they offer and the company. One could probably suggest this blog has motivations because of my owning stock in VZ. It’s not the case, but you’re more than welcome to your suspicions.)

Twitter Drama

Posted on | April 14, 2010 | Comments Off

So. Twitter is down for maintenance right now. Interesting to note, the U.S. State department is claiming a bit of credit for that.

Oh and I’m working on a 15 step program, written by MG Siegler over at TechCrunch.

The feds are claiming credit because they are the ones that asked Twitter to delay going down. :P
“U.S. officials say the State Department asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintenance shutdown of its service this week to keep information flowing from inside Iran as the crisis over its disputed presidential election grew.

The officials say the department contacted Twitter executives in an effort to ensure Iranians would be able to communicate with each other if other communication avenues were shut down. The microblogging site was to have been offline for 90 minutes Monday, during what would have been daytime in Iran.

The officials say the move also allowed the U.S. government to maintain access to eyewitness accounts of what was happening on the ground in Iran.” AP (2009)

Blogging on the Move

Posted on | August 12, 2009 | Comments Off

Basically, I’m simply trying out the beta WordPress for Blackberry app on my 9530 Storm. Sure, it works, but this is sp not optimized for the Storm. I’m stuck using the keyboard I hate and in portrait view. I’ll add a screenshot later. This will probably just take up space, unused.

Update: The screen shot app I have on my phone can’t capture the keyboard (for some reason.) Instead of a screenshot, here’s a real picture of my phone with the WordPress App opened up.

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