Tag Archives: mobile

Tale of two businesses: exciting vs. boring

Yesterday I visited two businesses: one exciting, Sliderocket, and one boring, Bluepulse.

First, about Sliderocket, it’s a new presentation tool. Here is a video I shot with my cell phone yesterday with the CEO. I’ve been using it for my presentations and it’s a TON better than either Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote for giving presentations. We filmed a demo yesterday that’ll be on FastCompany.tv in June. This thing is sexy, visual, and well integrated into Web services like Flickr and Salesforce. In other words, it’ll get lots of hype from tech blogging journalists like you read over on TechCrunch.

But the second, BluePulse? You probably haven’t heard of them, but they have customers in 198 countries, have hundreds of millions of messages flying around their social network (which is only for users who have mobile phones) and have been grabbing up Silicon Valley’s top talent — they just got Christopher Nguyen who was director of engineering at Google. You can see part of that team in the video I filmed yesterday.

In a future interview that’ll be up on FastCompany.tv in a few weeks where we met former Google executive (this is the same office where YouTube started, by the way).

So, which one is more likely to succeed?

I have to bet on Bluepulse. Here’s why:

1. Market. The cell phone market is growing much faster than the market for PCs or Macs.
2. Competition. Bluepulse wins here big time. Why? Well, let’s assume you’re a kid in India and you get a new cell phone. Do you know of a social network for that cell phone? No. So, BluePulse isn’t having to convince you not to use an entrenched competitor. But look at Sliderocket. If that same kid gets a new laptop he’s probably heard of Microsoft Office and his friends probably use PowerPoint and so, now you’ll have to convince him that Sliderocket, something he hasn’t heard of, is better. That’s a LOT tougher of a job than Bluepulse has ahead of it.
3. Monetization. Bluepulse is building up HUGE engaged audiences that it knows a LOT about. Think about the things that a social network learns about you. Heck, start with just your location. This is stuff that advertisers will pay big bucks for. Someone using a presentation tool? You’ve gotta charge them cause advertising won’t fly in that business model. That’s a LOT tougher of a business to build.
4. Usecases. One thing is going to be working against Sliderocket for at least a few months: Powerpoint works offline. Now, Sliderocket has an interesting answer there (they are building an offline client with Adobe’s AIR technology) but that isn’t finished yet, so when Sliderocket comes out in July you won’t be able to develop presentations in a plane (you will be able to play them, but the real offline client will come later).

So, add all these things up and you’ll see that the more boring Bluepulse is far more likely to build a world-class business that we all talk about than Sliderocket does.

That all said, Sliderocket is one hell of a great product and I can’t wait to show you that sexy demo.

What do you think? Which business would you rather own?

Compare cell phone to pro camera

You can’t compare a $3,000 digital SLR to a $500 cell phone from Nokia, can you? Well, look at these two photos. Which one was made with the Canon 5D with a 50mm F1.4 lens and which one was made with a Nokia N82 cell phone?

You can visit my Flickr account to see which camera made which images and you’ll see some other comparison photos and other images that I’ve made with the Nokia N82. Make sure you click on the “All Sizes” option to see the full resolution images to really compare.

Yes, if you look closely the images made with the pro SLR are nicer, but that isn’t the point. The point is that photos made with cell phones are getting to be darn good. The worst photo you’ll ever take is the one you don’t take because you didn’t have your camera with you. I don’t know about you, but only photo geeks like Thomas Hawk take their pro cameras everywhere (he shoots with a Canon 5D). I know I carry my cell phone everywhere, but only have my 5D a small percentage of the time, so I’m far more likely to get a shot of something interesting with my cell phone. Speaking of Thomas, he wrote two great posts yesterday. First is on the 10 things he learned from Ansel Adams. The second is about 12 ways to never miss a photo opportunity.

How does the N82 compare to the older N95? The camera is better and I like the phone overall better with one glaring problem: it doesn’t work with AT&T’s 3G network, so doing video on Qik on the N82 isn’t nearly as nice.

Canon 5D beach shots

Beach shot at sunset with new Nokia N82