Constructing a Niche Service

A friend of mine recently has purchased an apartment in a new real estate project. For some time he has been complaining to me about the low level of service he has been receiving from the company: to find out trivial details about the progress of the construction, numerous phone calls are needed; no one tracks his requirements regarding the finish details of kitchen and bath; he has to coordinate and schedule different sub-contractors (installing bath, kitchen…) by himself, etc.

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Web Video on the TV Gone Wrong

Recently I have read about an Israeli startup that plans to introduce a product called WebTVplug, which allows to connect the TV to the Internet through a hardware plug-in. The plug-in converts IP data, streamed from company’s server’s, to video signal, consumable by TV, and presents to the viewer a mesh of video clips, collected from the web, grouped by categories and sorted by company’s content editors.

The problem of this product, is that instead of adjusting the content for the TV medium, it simply gives access to myriads of short clips from around the net in YouTube style (without the social aspect of YouTube).

The entertainment experience in the living room is inherently a passive one. Large display, soft sofa, remote control, a cup of tea. People want to relax, to be entertained, to be immersed by the movie they watching or the game the playing. While some may say that playing video games is not a passive entertainment, I would argue that it is in the sense that it does not require mental activities such as reading, browsing, searching, deciding – all those things we do on the web, and don’t do while watching TV or playing video games.

But the service constantly requires our attention and intervention, to select the next clip to watch. Which for short clips happens quite often. Since the amount of content is enormous, sooner or later we are drawn into a decision paralysis. It seams to me that most people would find this experience tiresome, and not fitting with what they come to expect from living room entertainment.

The idea of bringing Internet content to the living room has undeniable potential, but it seams to me that this product goes in the wrong direction.

If I would have tried to bring web video to TV, I would have focused on the following design aspects:

  • Push, Not Pull – the user shouldn’t be asked to constantly make decisions, but rather be fed with self-streaming and self-updating content
  • Embrace the TV – the layout, the fonts, the menus of the UI should be specifically designed for large displays, viewed from a distance. The input method ideally should be TV’s native remote control.
  • Fuse with the Web – since the content is streamed from the Internet, it is possible to give each user experience customized for his unique taste. Instead of offloading on the unsuspecting user countless videos, sorted by category, but intended for everyone, it is possible to try to learn each user’s taste, and offer each one content, tailored specifically for his interests. This can be done by providing supplementary web service, through which user can teach the system of his taste, for example by feeding his YouTube’s account favorites.

On a side note, the service has an option of connecting the plug-in to PC, and streaming video clips. Its not clear why would anyone want to use this feature, when he has access to YouTube and other popular web video services.

The original post (in Hebrew): http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3782742,00.html

When talking about web video on TV, I should mention of course Boxee, which is a great example of web-to-TV product done right.

Continue reading “Web Video on the TV Gone Wrong”

PriceMatcher Elevator Pitch

About 6 months ago I took an Entrepreneurship course as part of my MBA degree. One of the tasks we needed to complete in the course, was to think of an entrepreneurial idea, and write an “elevator pitch” for it. Elevator pitch is a concise introduction, that allows the entrepreneur to present his idea to potential investor, in some undemanding social context – like riding together in an elevator.
I blogged about the pitch I wrote in Auctioning Off Your Purchasing post. Today I want to share the pitch that wrote my study partner, Pavel, based on an idea we developed. Later on, we tried actually to implement that idea, but that’s another story. 

PriceMatcher

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Looking for Startup Patterns – Dissecting the Web 2.0 Frenzy

Startup Patterns
Startup Patterns

Anyone who follows web 2.0 magazines (like TechCrunch, Go2Web20, etc) and observes the emergence of latest web startups, cannot help but feel that most of them follow similar patters and structures. While different in technology, market and target audience, when striped from all the bells and whistles, often they look and feel very similar. Continue reading “Looking for Startup Patterns – Dissecting the Web 2.0 Frenzy”

Feed your Chi.mp with your social-networks profiles

Back in May 2008, in post titled Multiple Personality Disorder I talked about the need I felt, to manage and control your online personalities (the professional one of LinkedIn, the social one of Facebook, your dating sites profiles, etc). Today I read about a service called Chi.mp that aims at exactly that.
Chi.mp allows you to gather your social networks profiles in one place, under your own domain name (i.e gorilla.mp), create online “personas”, such as public persona; friends persona; professional persona, and publish and push your updates back to your social networks. Continue reading “Feed your Chi.mp with your social-networks profiles”

Ideas soup 1

We have to prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ for MBA class. Let’s say you have an idea, and you need an investor to make it happen. So you go and prepare a small paper which sums up the idea, and explores its business potential.
So, in order to do that, first of all I have to find some idea to base it upon. Which reminded me, that the whole idea of this blog in the first place, was as a ‘meeting place’ for all the lousy ideas I have (should I call it a ‘burial ground’?). So I thought I would list the ideas I still care to remember. Maybe someday I will want to explore further some of them (but wouldn’t it then be grave digging?)
So, here is one such list: Continue reading “Ideas soup 1”

Utilizing Large Monitor

A couple of months ago I purchased a 22″ LCD monitor. I saw that there is no point in working with maximized windows (of Firefox, Word etc.) since then you get huge margins, that are added to both sides of the screen. So I started working will all the windows in ‘normal’ mode (not maximized) – and suddenly I had lots of free desktop space, and nothing to do with it. Not only that, quickly I found out that moving/resizing windows around a large desktop is an exhausting task. Continue reading “Utilizing Large Monitor”

Can't get yourself go regularly to gym? I have the solution

Thought about an interesting marketing gimmick for gyms: promise partial refund to your subscribers (or whatever called those people that go to gym on a regular basis) if they complete a training program.
For example, those who show up at least twice a week for a period of 4 months and train according to a program that was compiled for them by gym’s coach, get a 30% discount off their fee. Or maybe get some complementary service for free (pool, sauna, etc.).

Sometimes, fantasizing about girls gazing at your muscular body at the local beach is just not a strong enough incentive. And everyone likes getting his money back.
I wonder whether this kind of scheme is already implemented somewhere…

So you thought you might like to parse HTML

A friend of mine wanted to get a price of a specific product from a price-comparison site in a programmatic way, so he asked me how he could that.
Now, this shopping-comparer service doesn’t have an API, so in order to get the price from a page, he needs to write a script that is able to do the following:
1. Request, and get the page for the specific product.
2. Parse the received HTML page, and understand it.
Continue reading “So you thought you might like to parse HTML”