Sunday, February 22, 2009

My New Mac - Computer Hardware, Software, and the Space in Between

Late November of last year, I broke down and bought a new Mac laptop. My last purchase -- other than 'the company' purchase of my work computer -- was back in 1999. Sadly, why my old Wallstreet still runs, it's pretty well hobbled as a mobile computer, the interfaces are all outdated, and it's basically stone-age when it comes to software versions. With my new Macbook Pro, I can run all the new software, run Windows on Boot Camp or VMWare, and connect to my current generation of peripherals.

While I'm thinking about a more comprehensive review of the system, one thing that I just thought I would point out as food for thought. My new MBP ran about $1800 (I got the previous generation system on close-out) for the system. In going through all of the software that I need to update and reload, there is the big package of Adobe's Creative Suite. While I have some upgrade options, the list price for Creative Suite comes in at about $1700. Think about that for a moment -- one software package (or a handful, depending on how you break it out) costs as much or more than the entire system. Add in that a Mac is not your low-end PC purchase, and you have a sense of just how pricey the Adobe product line is.

Imagine if the Microsoft Office Suite ran $1800? How quickly do you think that Open Office or Google Docs would be a Microsoft killer? Consider -- with a complete install of the Windows package and the Office package, you still wind up far under the cost of the Adobe Suite.

Now, Creative Suite is a virtual must-have if you are a creative pro, but come on guys -- your killing us here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Quick Lesson in Internet Time

So I'm searching Google earlier today and, surprise surprise, I came across another Marketing To Me listing. One click and off I go to this placeholder web site that on first look appears to be a simple case of domain squatting -- somebody has built a marketing to me domain web site, complete with some intro BS on the home page and a full-site, Ipsum Lorum template. My first thought is, "Wow, somebody is reading my blog." But it gets better. Throughout the day, the idea is just grating on me, sitting there in the back of my mind -- when I went through the hoops finding a blog title, "Marketing To Me" wasn't really an obvious choice, it was more like what I got to after I went through my list of top picks. How odd was it originally -- well, as I mentioned it to friends in the early months, most commented about being unable to find it. It's kind of funny how, within the past month, some guy can fire up a blog, secure a domain, start building a site, and, oh, climb over the top of your still breathing concept in some sort of attempt to carry the ball like you own it. It's not that I'm taking it personally -- few things are really new -- it's just kind of funny watching the echoes ripple into space.

But for all of the me, there's really not much worth writing about if there isn't a take-away for you, so here's a couple of things for you to keep in mind from this whole lesson:
  1. There are going to be copies. From internet start-ups to musical acts, there are legions of goomers who are convinced that your idea is okay, but that they could do better. If your not careful, don't execute well, or aren't true to the essense of the vision, they just might beat you.
  2. If your IP is strong, protect it. If Oreo is going to be the greatest Internet cookie on the planet, then you're going to need to spend the money to secure, .net, .org, and maybe even If you're just experimenting, there's a tremendous likelihood that someone will see some glimmer of your success and gamble that it will be worth more to you later.
  3. The copiers are relentless. Recently, I was working with a company who had thirty-year old trademarks on products in a couple of unique market segments with a very select handful of customers. A couple of years ago, a Russian company entered the market and tried to compete against them in those markets using an obvious knock-off of their marks. Eventually, the trademark infringer gave up and disappeared, but the probably managed to grab a few dollars from unsuspecting customers before they left. If there are 100 pennies sitting on the counter, never underestimate some people's willingness to attempt to grab one.
In keeping with my previous post, I think that the real question here is, has blogging under the "Marketing To Me" title crossed the threshold of too many users -- has "Marketing To Me" jumped the shark?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Inverse Ratio of Web 2.0 Technologies

As a term to describe technology, Web 2.0 appears to be fading in popularity very quickly -- 'tis the nature of buzzwords and spin. But regardless of the fashion status of the buzzword, many of the technology ideas that have been mapped to 'Web 2.0' still hold true -- and will continue to shape our software technology into the future.

One of those Web 2.0 concepts that is an aspect of web software is "the more people that use the software, the more useful it becomes." Take LinkedIn as an example. As a employment social network, if LinkedIn only had 100 users, few people would find much use for it -- there wouldn't be enough of a user base to attract job posters, to build community discussions, or really anything to get you to use the software. If you've ever received invites for 'Yet Another Employment Social Network Site', you've probably experienced this. The question you ask yourself when you debate about whether to use it or not is, why is this worth my time?

The flip side of this principle and one that I haven't seen as much discussion about is a sort of fashion corollary -- the more people use a service, the less exclusive it becomes and the less useful it is. While it's not frequently discussed -- fashion and exclusivity are things that many 'Web 2.0' sites take into account. Consider the 'membership strategy' -- invitation-only memberships are used to help market to the fashion-exclusivity factor.

My question -- and the thing that started me thinking about this over the weekend -- how many users does it take for a given service to 'jump the shark?' Or, phrased in a more traditional way, did Facebook become less effective when it opened up from invitation only? Do you have a more exclusive window into a job opportunity using LinkedIn if everyone and their dog uses the service? To paraphrase Woody Allen, would you really want to be in a club that I'm in?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Recent Discussion with My Marketing Colleagues

Recently, one topic thread that came up in conversation -- based on my recent post about tradeshows, was some speculation about correlation between the economy and tradeshows. Our brief review of the tradeshows that we've attended this year is that attendance is steady or up, with lots of interest.

So the question on the table now is -- does a sour economy translate into people (potential customers) doing more research into the options available for their dollar?