He’s a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It’s not simplistic. It’s simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.
Thorough interview, heard stories I haven’t heard before. Like the quote above, it really does come down to making it easier for the user to use, removing those barriers. Sometimes convenience means a simpler end to end system than existed before.
But none of them matter if the product is harder to use, since most people simply won’t care enough or get enough benefit from long-term features if a shorter-term alternative is available.
Another similar entrant to this market was written up recently on Portfolio, bundle.com.
The core unifying quality Royal found among the staff wasn’t a specific programming skill or even a set of those skills. It was passion. Curiosity. Enjoyment of the work and openness to new processes and approaches.
As consumption of information becomes more interactive (iPad, Android, Google TV, whatever), this type of team will be essential for publishers.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it definitely has fueled a lot of innovation.
That’s how Apple builds its platforms. It’s a slow and steady process of continuous iterative improvement—so slow, in fact, that the process is easy to overlook if you’re observing it in real time. Only in hindsight is it obvious just how remarkable Apple’s platform development process is.
Starting with the release of a minimum core product and then slowly building over time is a good recipe for success.
Facebook works because it is rooted in identity. It is an exercise of one’s ego online. As I’m sure you all know, the usage statistics on Facebook are off the charts, in part, because of real identity, the exercise of one self’s in the digital realm.
This offers something important to publishers. For the first time, we can populate our site with users who come to us as themselves, not merely as anonymous screen names. I’ve always thought that among our most leverageable assets is our audience.
Discussion with SVP for Digital Operations at NYT on engagement. Publishers chase engagement as an important metric, but Nisenholtz says the trend away from anonymity to real identity, thanks partially to Facebook Connect, is capable of having a great impact on publishers. Not only can they monetize their audience by selling demos to advertisers, but the quality of conversation/engagement is higher due to the trend toward real identity of contributors.
I personally see news media still fundamentally struggling with paradox of needing to present news, not opinion vs. engagement being a conversation, 2-way, with personality and opinions. Maybe that is why most of the examples in this article discuss news mashups with APIs (post news reporting), reviews, Answers sites, etc.
This isn’t so surprising: the fact of the matter is that newspapers have never made much money from news. They’ve made money from the special interest sections on topics such as Automotive, Travel, Home & Garden, Food & Drink, and so on. These sections attract contextually targeted advertising, which is much more effective than non-targeted advertising. After all, someone reading the Automotive section is likely to be more interested in cars than the average consumer, so advertisers will pay a premium to reach those consumers.
Traditionally, the ad revenue from these special sections has been used to cross-subsidize the core news production. Nowadays internet users go directly to websites like Edmunds, Orbitz, Epicurious, and Amazon to look for products and services in specialized areas. Not surprisingly, advertisers follow those eyeballs, which makes the traditional cross-subsidization model that newspapers have used far more difficult.
As the newspapers lose their revenue streams, they are having trouble subsidizing the news operation. The disintermediation of Craigslist killing classified revenue wasn’t highlighted, and should have been.
Google’s economist gives too short mention to the societal value of news, IMHO, and similarly recommends to “burn the ships” ( Andreessen http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/06/andreessen-media-burn-boats/) and kill the print version to save costs. Varian’s main suggestion is to experiment, experiment, experiment, and that is just good business sense. The best businesses are diversified, trying new revenue models is key to staying alive.
They want things to work most of the time, and be easy to fix when they don’t. And if the process by which it happens is “magic” they are totally cool with that.
I didn’t quite get the vitriol against the iPad launch either. Just because you may not be the target audience of a product (or you may think you are not, yet), doesn’t mean that product sucks. Especially if you haven’t even used one, or seen how many millions of others happily will.