Tag Archives: Marketing

NASA and Rackspace Open Up the Cloud | CIOZone.com

Very interesting market play. I’m speculating that they are betting on “viral marketing” to propel them into becoming the 800 pound guerrilla in this domain.  If enough geeks and hacks dive-in, we may be looking at the next Tomcat/Apache…

… July -19 – 2010

NASA and Rackspace Open Up the Cloud

Posted by meggebrecht in Rackspace, OpenStack, Nebula, NASA, Lew Moorman, Jim Curry, Cloud Computing, Chris Kemp

Rackspace announced Monday that it is open-sourcing its cloud computing platform, making a bid to bring some sorely needed interoperability to the cloud with the launch of the OpenStack project.

First up is the software behind the company’s cloud storage engine, Rackspace Cloud Files. You can freely download early code at the OpenStack site under the Apache 2.0 license — meaning of course that you can do pretty anything you want with the code. The full release is expected in mid-September, according to the site.

In mid-October, Rackspace will release OpenStack Compute, code based on its Cloud Servers technology and the Nebula platform operated by NASA, which is partnering with Rackspace on the project.

So basically, anyone will be able to download the software behind two massive cloud computing platforms and build their own. And NASA and Rackspace have pledged that their engineers will continue to develop the technology — they kind of have to, considering that both organizations will be powering their clouds using OpenStack. Rackspace also says that it will commit money and manpower to supporting enterprise and service provider adoption of OpenStack….

via CIOZone.com – Professional Network for CIOs and IT Professionals – NASA and Rackspace Open Up the Cloud.

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Salesforce buys Jigsaw

I like this move. This acquisition is an interesting and complementary addition to the suite. The sales and marketing department users should be very happy with this move.

Salesforce Puts Jigsaw Together

Written by Curt Hopkins / May 9, 2010 6:35 PM

Thanks, David


Thumbnail image for salesforce_logo09.jpg

Customer relationship management software company Salesforce has bought Jigsaw, according to an announcement from the company. The San Mateo, CA-based Jigsaw is a crowd-sourced business contact data outfit.

Salesforce delivers its information via cloud computing, as does Jigsaw, so their models match up.

“Jigsaw’s data cloud platform also creates an enormous opportunity for developers and independent software vendors to deliver entirely new applications that leverage the business contact data found in Jigsaw.”

This is in keeping with Salesforce’s emphasis on integrating other data and apps with Salesforce via its Service Cloud 2 system.

Jigsaw offers a searchable online database of business contacts, assembled, corrected and added to by the public at large, including the contacts themselves. This seems a good fit for Salesforce and a big selling point for their users and potential users.

jigsawLogo.gifJigsaw has built up a customer base of 1.2 million users in six years. Its data includes 21 million contacts at four million companies and serves 800 corporate clients. The deal is $142 million, plus performance contingent earns of up to 10% of the purchase.

via Salesforce Puts Jigsaw Together.

Samsung E-Books Let You Read And Write: Remember the Apple Newton?

I have an Apple Newton in the basement from circa 1995.  Glad to see that Samsung et. al. are catching-up. Except that my Newton did not need a QWERTY pad.  Newton was an example of a great platform with no application (at the time) which means no market demand.  To put it in perspective, at the time I was using Mosiac to surf the web via my dial-up account.  Netscape was just gaining traction and AOL was king of the hill.  Lucky people lived close enough to a central office to get DSL.  ISDN cost a fortune.  After writing this, I have an intense desire to put on some REM or INXS.

Samsung E-Books Let You Read And Write

By Charlie Sorrel Email Author | January 7, 2010 |9:18 pm

LAS VEGAS — Everybody is showing off new e-readers at CES this year, and Samsung is no exception. But there is one reason for you to keep reading this post. With Samsung’s e-book, you can write on the pages.

We knew e-books would be a hot item at this year’s show, but the surprise is that there are so many large format readers. Samsung’s small range tops out with a 10-incher, which joins the Kindle DX in its new international clothing, and Plastic Logic’s enormous 8.5 x 11-inch Que proReader.

Samsung’s e-books, the E6 and E101, look just like any other black and white e-ink device. When you’re done reading either of the 6 or 10 inch books, though, you can pull out a stylus and start scrawling. These sticks come in various thicknesses and use “electromagnetic resonance” to draw lines on the page.

The smaller readers also have secret, slide-out controls hidden behind the screen, and an on-screen, soft QWERTY lets you type real text — your stylus scribblings remain just that, and are not automagically transformed into actual text. Still, its a lot easier to jot notes on top of your pages than to do it the Kindle way and tortuously tap out text on the chiclet keyboard.

The readers grab content over Wi-Fi (no 3G) and can display PDF, ePub and plain text files. I played with them briefly at Samsung’s stand (“No pictures, sir. It’s our policy this year.”) and took some pictures. The e-ink screen is much the same as any other, but when using the stylus to navigate, the local refreshing that draws menus is cleaner (but no quicker) than, say, the Kindle.

The navigation itself is clunky, and you never know whether you should be pressing an actual button, touching the stylus to the screen or using a finger (hint — fingers don’t work). Drawing, though, is responsive, and just like using a real pencil.

The e-readers need some work, and feel like the prototypes they are. Hopefully there will be some additional polish before these go to market, otherwise it will be yet another rushed product hoping to grab some sales from the flawed leader, the Kindle. Also, a quick question to the visitor at the Samsung stand who asked “Just what is the main difference between this and the iPod Touch?”: Are you serious?

$400 or $700, depending on size. And don’t say “Magna-doodle”. The pictured prototype with a hardware keyboard does not yet have a price.

via Samsung E-Books Let You Read And Write | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

How To Price Software Without Just Rolling The Dice

Boy, this one brings back memories.  This book review is nice recap of some of the hard lessons learned when I had my own manufacturing business.  Pricing is tough decision.  I’ve seen too many people over-complicate it to the point where it seems like black magic.  I have not read the book, but based on this review and synopsis, I would add it to my book Wish List.

How To Price Software Without Just Rolling The Dice

I’m going to open this article with a short (and true) story. I officially kicked off my marketing software company, HubSpot, about 17 months ago. If you’ve read my blog for any period of time, you likely know that I’m a big beliver in the “charge early, charge often” mantra. As it turns out, in order to “charge early”, you have to figure out what you’re going to charge people. That is, you have to have a price for your product. Thankfully, both my co-founder (Brian Halligan) and I had recently graduated from a top 5 MBA program. And, it wasn’t just any top 5 program — it was MIT. You know, that place where science and math and uber-geeky analytical stuff happens. So, you’d think that when it came time to figure out a price for our product, we’d really dig in, do some heavy-duty analysis, some really hard thinking and come up with a relatively well thought-out price. That’s not what happened.

When it came to deciding on the price for our software, we basically just rolled the dice.

I’d love to for the statement above to be an exaggeration.  Surely, we spent some time pondering that oh-so-important factor in our business sucess.  Nope.  We didn’t.  One of us (I think it was me) suggested “how about $250/month”, and that’s what we went with.  And, that’s where the price remained for about 2 years.

Things turned out fine for me and HubSpot.  But, you still shouldn’t do this.  Don’t just roll the dice when it comes to pricing your product.  Give it some thought, consideration and (gasp!) some analysis.  Your first step towards this path should be to run over, right now, and get the book “Don’t Just Roll The Dice: A usefully short guide to software pricing” by Neil Davidson.  Even if Neil weren’t such a nice guy (he is) and even if he doesn’t run my favorite conference (he does) and even if he didn’t build a really successful software company himself (he did), I’d still implore you to read the book.  It’s got the highest value-to-length ratio I’ve seen in a business book in a long time.  Go get it, right now.  And, if you’re still not convinced, Neil’s even been nice enough to give it away for free in convenient PDF form.  Yes, that’s right, you don’t even have to buy the freakin’ book on Amazon for $9.95 (though you could).

Just on the off-chance that I caught you at a particularly skeptical time and you’re still not convinced, here are some of my notes from the book.

Insights On Software Pricing From “Don’t Just Roll The Dice”

1.  Your product is more than just your product. You might think that your software product is just the bits and bytes that your customers download (or access online), but you’d be wrong.  What customers are actually paying you for is the entire experience of doing business with you.  Everything from how you market and sell the product, to how you help people use it and how you maintain it going forward.  All of it.  Your pricing should be based on this reality.

2.  There’s a difference between perceived and objective value. It doesn’t matter how much “real” (objective) value you have baked into your product if your customers don’t perceive that value, they are not going to pay as much for it.  Hopefully, their perceived value is a function, to some degree, of the objective value.  If not, you’re screwing something up.

3.  Community matters. The group that your customers belong to, or want to belong to will impact the price they’re willing to pay.  For example, some people buy hybrid cars not just because of the environmental benefit or the higher mileage but because they want to be part of that community.  The same reason some people buy a BMW.  Determine what kind of community you can build (or tap into) around your offering.  Help people belong to the community they want to belong to.

4. As it turns out, people do buy drills (not holes). There’s the reasonably famous adage around “people buy holes, not drills”.  The point is to focus on the benefit to the customer (not the product itself).  I generally agree with that notion.  But, it’s useful to keep in mind that holes can be a commodity, but people still sometimes pay $400 for a drill.  Benefits are important, but the direct benefiit is not the only one that customers value.

5. The more differentiated you are, the more you control price. This one should be obvious.  If you have a product that’s about the same as all of your competitors, then you don’t really set your price — the market does.  Of course, nobody thinks of themselves as being identical to their competition (especially software companies).  But, what we often forget is that it’s difficult — and very risky, to try and create a completely new category and be totally differentiated.  Decide which dimension you’re going to differentiate on and make sure it’s reasonable given your particular constraints (like cash).

6. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. This quote is not actually in the book, but I think it still fits the theme.  When setting pricing, it’s important to consider what the “market response” is going to be — particularly if you’re in a well-defined category.  Just because it doesn’t make economic sense for a competitor to get in to a price war with you, it doesn’t mean they won’t do it.  Particularly if they’re big or well-funded. If you’re thinking about competing on price, keep that in mind.  Better yet, don’t do it at all.

7. Remember to be fair. As humans, we often have a sense of what we think “fair” pricing is.  Even though a particular pricing model is “theoretically optimal”, it might not be wise in practice.  As software entrepreneurs, we often think we can get away with certain types of price segmenting simply because it’s enforceable in the software.  Just because you can keep customers from doing certain kinds of things (unless they pay up), doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right (optimal) thing to do.  In the long term, it could actually hurt.  Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and envision if they think the way you price things is fair.  [Note: I’m not suggesting you be all rainbows and cupcakes and suggest that you price based on being “nice”.  I’m just saying that you might actually make more money by being empathetic]

8. Pricing complexity has a cost. One of the things you learn in micro economics (and is discussed in the beginning of the book) is the concept of supply and demand curves and how you can segment your pricing in order to capture the maximum value (i.e. optimize revenues).  This can be a wonderful thing.  But, it’s critical to remember that this segmentation has a price — it’s not free revenue.  For example, when HubSpot went from a single price ($250/month) to two prices (still pretty simple), life got a lot harder.  All of a sudden, our marketing, sales and even our operational efforts got more complicated.  The product got more complicated.  All of our pretty charts that we used to talk about the business and measure success got more complicated.  The reality is that when you add a new dimension to your pricing structure, you’re adding a new dimension of complexity.  Oh, and by the way, the *second* price that you add to your product is the most expensive.  After that (third, fourth, etc.) things get a tad easier because you’ve already built some of the infrastructure to support multiple prices.  And by that point, your brain is already used to the pain.

Phew!  I typed this entire article in one sitting while simultaneously reading a majority of the book for a second time.  If I haven’t convinced you yet that you should go read it then I think I’m hopelessly inadequate at conveying the importance of this topic and the usefulness of the book.  Or, maybe you’ve already got it all figured out.  If so, may the wind be in your sails and may you go forth and prosper.  For the rest of you, just download the book.

And, on a more selfish note, what are your biggest insights when it comes to software pricing?  What challenges have you dealt with?  What questions do you have about pricing your software?  If you’re looking for some great answers, you can post a question on Answers.OnStartups.com where a bunch of smart folks like Neil Davidson (the guy that wrote the book) hang out.  Hope to see you there.
If you’re a startup junkie, you can follow me on twitter @dharmesh. I post quips, tips and random things of interest.

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Nov 23, 2009

via How To Price Software Without Just Rolling The Dice.

Molson: Brewing Up Success with Social Media

Here is another nice example of a Social Media business application.  What’s interesting is that a company that is so old is beating its much younger competition at being first to exploit this channel.   We’ll see if there is an affect to the revenue stream…

 

Molson: Brewing Up Success with Social Media

by Jonathan Kash on November 13, 2008

“Would you expect a 222 year-old company would be fully engaged in social media? Yes, if it’s Molson; this includes Twitter, blogging, vlogging, Flickr and more. As this came to me as a surprise, I was eager to find out why a such well-established company would take an active role on the Web. Ferg Devins, VP Government and Public Affairs, Molson Canada, was gracious to speak to me this past Wednesday.It turns out community engagement has been part of this family-run company now in its 7th generation since the beginning. Banking and transportation are but a few of the new technologies pushed by the Molson family since its founding. Why? Beer is a social commodity. Maintaining good relations with the community drives the business. …”

via Molson: Brewing Up Success with Social Media.

For Greater Customer Engagement and Acquisition, Build Seacher Personas

Good example that the internet is just another tool; like the yellow pages, billboards, bus ads, etc….  The basic principles of marketing and sales still apply.  You need to have a purpose, a strategy, and a plan!  Just throwing up a website, no matter how sophisticated, is a waste of time.  You must spend the time up front, just like with any other channel.  Would you start a TV campaign without a strategy and goal? No. So why would you do so on the internet (this applies to social networking/web 2.0)?

 

Building Searcher Personas For Greater Customer Engagement and Acquisition

by Vanessa Fox

“When we want to find more information about something, hear about something interesting from our friends, see a compelling television commercial, or need a local mechanic, chances are the first place we turn is the Google search box. Fifty percent of us in the United States use search engines every day and over 90% of us search every month. These days, your search strategy is your business strategy, whether you realize it or not, because that’s how potential customers are trying to find you. Search is the new yellow pages, 800 number, Sunday circular, card catalog, and cash register. No matter what kind of web site you have–whether it’s a media property like a blog, an ecommerce site, or the online arm of multinational corporation–you want to connect with as many of your potential audience as possible, and organic search can help make that happen….”

 

 

Continued at Building Searcher Personas For Greater Customer Engagement and Acquisition – O’Reilly Radar.

Amazon Quietly Dumps Sprint for Kindle-2, Embraces AT&T

Will be interesting to see who is the loser with this move? Probably AT&T customers and Kindle-2 users, with poor (poorer) performance and connectivity.

Seems that the AT&T network is in trouble.  The iPhone is just way, way too popular and affecting the entire network.  I’m sure that AT&T execs are hoping that the Kindle-2 has a very long and slow sales curve–giving them enough time to fix their network.  I’m also sure that AT&T Execs are hoping that during this period other Sprint commercial and VAR customers (like Ford Motor Co) will adopt the herd mentality and jump ship to AT&T because that’s what all the other girls are wearing.

Business is sometimes like High School…

Amazon Dumps Sprint for Kindle 2, Embraces AT&T

* By Priya Ganapati | October 23, 2009 | 4:08 pm

In a stealthy yet significant move, Amazon has dropped Sprint as its wireless partner for the latest versions of the Kindle 2 e-book reader. From now on, new Kindle 2s, in the U.S. and worldwide, will be powered exclusively by AT&T’s 3G network.

“Due to strong customer demand for the new Kindle with U.S. and international wireless, we are consolidating our family of 6-inch Kindles,” says Drew Herdener, spokesperson for Amazon.

The move was announced in a quiet update to Amazon’s product page for the Kindle rather than through a press announcement.

The move is a big blow to Sprint, which was the first U.S. telecom carrier to experiment with supporting mobile devices beyond cellphones and netbooks. It also means AT&T has all but cornered the wireless-connectivity market for e-readers. In addition to the Kindle 2, AT&T’s network forms the backbone of the new Sony touchscreen reader and Barnes & Noble’s recently introduced Nook e-reader. All that’s left for Sprint? Providing service for Amazon’s XL-sized Kindle DX, and supporting all the existing Sprint-connected Kindles.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle in 2007, the company highlighted wireless downloads of books as the device’s unique feature. The move helped the Kindle gain an edge over Sony, which had introduced its e-reader earlier but without wireless connectivity.

Earlier this year, Amazon offered a second-generation Kindle called Kindle 2 and a big-screen reader called the Kindle DX. Kindle 2 has a basic browser and lets users check text-heavy sites such as Wikipedia. But the devices were restricted to the United States.

Finally, this month, Amazon debuted an international version of the Kindle 2. It was the first Kindle to use AT&T’s network instead of Sprint’s. Kindle DX is still not available outside the states.

“Now that they are selling a Kindle overseas, it makes sense for them to have just one product that they can sell in all markets,” says Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. “And, since, in most of the world GSM is what is used, having a single product helps drive down costs for Amazon.” Sprint’s network is based on the CDMA standard.

That doesn’t mean Kindle buyers who bought their device before October will be switching to AT&T.

“Existing Kindle users, owners of the first- and second-generation Kindles and Kindle DX, will not notice any change to their experience. They will continue to utilize the Sprint network in the U.S.,” says Herdener.

And at least until Amazon introduces an international version of Kindle DX, Sprint will continue to be in business with Amazon.

“Sprint still powers the Kindle DX,” a Sprint spokesperson told Wired.com. “So it is not accurate to say that our relationship with Amazon is over.”

Meanwhile, for Kindle users, the switch from Sprint to AT&T raises questions about reliability of service. Weighed down by heavy data use from the iPhone, AT&T’s U.S. network has become congested, leading to slow connectivity and dropped calls.

And with about 3 million e-readers expected to be sold next year, could AT&T’s network face additional strain? Not really, says Golvin. “The type of connection that the Kindle needs is different from that of a phone, since there is no voice component, only a data component,” he says. “The actual capacity consumed by all Kindles now and those coming on to the network is very, very small compared to the rest of the network.”

Kindle users are also less likely to notice small delays or disturbances in the network, says Forrester’s Golvin. Unlike a web page, downloading a book does not require near–real-time display of different components.

“On an e-book reader, the congestion is invisible,” says Golvin. “The downloaded book arrives when it arrives, and a few seconds’ wait does not change much.”

See Also:

via Amazon Dumps Sprint for Kindle 2, Embraces AT&T | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

  • Review: Amazon.com Kindle DX