Archive for the ‘Random topics’ Category

Flash CS5 will generate iPhone Apps

October 9th, 2009 No comments

At the beginning of this week it was announced that finally Adobe® Flash®, on its CS5 version, will be able to produce iPhone apps and deploy them through iTunes Store. This news resonates at different levels of iPhone and Flash ecosystems, from the business perspective to the impact in content for the users.

On the business side, this is probably one of the best deals that Adobe and Apple would have crafted. Even before iPhone – and before Adobe acquired Macromedia – developers were asking for a mobile version of the Flash Player, and Nokia and FlashLite flirted a little but nothing ever happened until now. I’m totally positive that iPhone’s processor can deal with a Flash Player, but this option would put Apple’s App Store out of business because the Flash’s developers outnumber by far iPhone’s and Apple’s distribution channel would be unnecessary.

The way it will work is that developers will create the content in Flash, then it will be exported to iPhone native language and will have to comply with Apple’s iPhone Developer Program. Then the content can be deployed through the App Store, and everybody wins: Adobe provides a new platform, developers can easily sell their apps and Apple get the revenues related to the Developer program and the app store.

A tip of my hat to those who crafted the deal and made this deal possible (on Adobe’s and Apple’s side), although I would have preferred a full Flash Player.

Current iPhone developers are arguing that Flash will not provide the same reach on applications, i.e. Flash would be limited, in spite of Adobe saying the opposite. I guess we will have to wait until the end of the year or early 2010 when the Beta version of Flash CS5 is released to see what it can really do, but so far the we have great expectations.

Here is a demonstration video from Adobe Labs:


Extra thought: I can see Apple opening the App store for different mobile devices in the near future and become a big hub for content distribution, what do you think? (let’s see how good I am at predicting the future.)

Can you see more of what is out there?

September 22nd, 2009 No comments

Few days ago someone I talked to reminded me about a business analogy I haven’t heard in a while and I thought about putting it in writing for two reasons, because I think it’s a good analogy and because I want to see if anyone out there knows the original author to give him or her a deserved credit for it.

The story goes like this:

A shoe manufacturer wanted to increase sales and decided to go abroad. He hired two market researchers (business developer, sales rep, or any title you prefer), because as a wise man he never trusted on just one opinion. Both of them spent a month on a far far away country without talking to each other and upon their arrival, they reported their results. One of them said “There is no market whatsoever, don’t go there. No need for shoes” and the second one said “What are you waiting for! There is plenty of market there, we should start tomorrow.”

The shoe manufacturer was bewildered by the results and inquired both. The first one said: “Since I stepped down from the plain all I saw was barefoot people, no one in this country use shoes; hence no market.” The second one said, since I stepped down from the plain I saw the opportunity, we could sell at least a pair of shoes per capita, that’s a huge market, we just need some marketing”

The morale of the story, from my personal point of view is that we need to break our paradigms to see and go beyond our usual appreciation of the world around us, we might be losing a big opportunity. Think for while in your business or job or even your life, are you seeing more or the same? Are you using all you can on your different channels, markets, processes or resources.

By the way, I think the second guy was a Babson alumni 😉

If you can draw any other morale, please share it in the comments section. Thanks for reading and thank you Margarita for reminding me this analogy.

PS. Also let me know if you know who the author is.


The importance of colors in usability

September 14th, 2009 No comments

Have you tried the following visual exercise:

Say out loud the color of the words below (not the actual words) as fast as you can:
It is difficult because the left and right parts of your brain are telling you different things, one is trying to read the color and the other is actually reading the word.

You may think this is just an optical illusion and that it has no real application whatsoever. Well, think again.
Our brains are wired to perceive several colors with an inherit significance such as red for danger or stop, green for “ok” or go, and yellow for caution. It’s everywhere.

This must be taken in consideration when you are designing for usability and here is an example of how not to do it:

In the Roku website, they make your brain hesitate over which option is better for you. Obviously for them the best option is if you buy the device with cables, more business for them right? But if you see a red button and a red button together, what does your brain think or read? It is the same as the exercise above: conflict. Which button do you think is your brain most likely to click on?

The bottom line is, when you are designing for usability and conversion is all you care about, be sure you don’t confuse your customer,don’t make them think.

Have you seen this somewhere else? Post it in the comments area.


Elevator pitch in 140 characters or less

September 9th, 2009 No comments

We live in a fast world that threatens to become even faster. The way we communicate with each other has dramatically changed in the last 10 years with a common denominator: attention spans are shrinking. ADHD seems to be a popular self-diagnosed disease for those who can’t concentrate and multitask as a way of living (myself included).

As a result, the way we communicate our business’ value must change too, be more succinct. Recently I heard Guy Kawasaki comment on a company’s value proposition saying: “Really? You can’t tell me what you do on 140 characters or less?” with an obvious allusion to Twitter and a very interesting one…

So I tried to give it shot and this is the result:
Dextra Media is a digital production company for marketing agencies specializing in Adobe Technologies (Flash, Flex, Photoshop and more)

Let me know if it’s clear…
Have you tried yours? Feel free to post it on the comments

We no longer have 30 seconds for a full elevator pitch, and if you do, you should say a lot since, for today standards, it is a lot of time.

By the way is good to be back after 6 months…


Marketing yourself, karma, networking and other topics

February 10th, 2009 No comments

I recently attended to the SDForum regarding the Ten Rules for Marketing yourself (twelve actually on the presentation) and it was quite interesting.

You can download the presentation at SDForum webpage so I won’t spoil it.

However I would like to comment on some points the presenters Sue Connelly and Gretchen Sand mentioned that I think are interesting. One of them is karma, and certainly I could pass the opportunity of writing about it in my blog. I totally agree with their point of view that helping people to get what they are looking for, or at least pointing in the right direction, will have repercussions in one’s life (good ones I hope) if you are honest about giving a hand to someone in need. But, sometimes it seems to me a little too “romantic” approach and I believe that sometimes you have to put your own interest first (without stepping in others people heads of course). I guess a good balance between both is ideal.

Now I will jump to a different topic: Networking. Sue and Gretchen corroborated what I have practiced since I arrived to the Silicon Valley thanks to an advice from a close friend: networking should be done looking for a relationship rather than a immediate benefit, moreover it should focus on quality as opposed to quantity. And it makes a lot of sense to me, just think about it, if you go to a networking session and you try to build a relationship with 10+ different people you will probably won’t make it and will end up burned, but if you focus your attention in two or three people and get to understand their interest and motivations this could end up in a more fructiferous relationship.

So stop going to networking events to collect 50+ business cards!

Well at least that is my recommendation

Thanks for reading!

Security questions and adult ADD

December 23rd, 2008 No comments

As defined by Wikipedia, Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD/ADHD is “characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without a component of hyperactivity

Most system administrators are worried about the security of our personal information stored in their systems (yes, I wrote “most”) and spend time protecting it, even from ourselves. To protect this information some system administrator, IT gurus and empirical programmers came up with several (complicated ways) to overcome this. One of them is the security questions.

Why are security questions there? Well, let’s say someone breaks into your computer and steals your passwords for a certain page. If he enters the information he will have access to whatever you have protected there. So the smarts IT guys (yes it is sarcasm) opted to ask a “security question”, which is a random piece of personal information. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, however, as I have exposed here several times, the problem is not the idea, is the implementation.

Have you seen a movie when one of the characters is absent for a long period of time and then comes back and have to prove he or she is not someone else have to reveal a small piece of information of the past that no one else would know… well that is the basic principle… and real life doesn’t work like movies

In real world, people forget things, omit details and have imprecise answers all the time. Now if you add other problems like excess of information, lack of time, ADHD and other common circumstances in our daily lives then it gets messy… here are some real examples:

  • If you ask someone that has ADHD and reads a lot which author is his favorite (question on Sallie Mae) with two months difference between questions you are very likely to get a different answer.
  • Could you imagine for a very sensitive person for example, what would happen if you ask him or her who his/her favorite relative is (question on Capital One)? It may change after a family discussion or even depend on the way that person feels on a particular day.
  • A matter of definition, a “school” starts at elementary or at kindergarten? It is arguable, right? Then which answer is correct if someone ask the name of the first school I attended? (just like Verizon Wireless asked me) Should I have the internal discussion of weather kindergarten is or not a school… Besides, other 60 kids know that answer probably. But don’t worry, on Verizon you can choose the last name of your best friend (I have 3 or 4) or your favorite vacation destination… (I know it is the beach, but did I put Cancun or Ibiza?)

If you add to all this that the answer is case sensitive and a exact match then you are in trouble. What if they ask the middle name of my grandmother and she didn’t have one?

For banks, ok, I think it is worth the hassle, but for a credit association like Sallie Mae… well is not like a digital-burglar is going to enter my debt account and payoff my loans! Don’t do things just because someone else is doing so!

This is probably the last post of the year, so wish you all the best for 2009.

How to freeze a warm lead

August 27th, 2008 No comments

After the problem I had with Amica (read past blog) I tried to find a new insurance company for my car. I called many agents, filled out thousand forms with my data, driving records and car info to compare different quotes, coverage and reputation . You have no idea how annoying this is.

After several quotes I got curious about how an Amica quote would look like, after all I had been a customer for the last 2 years and that could give me lower rates. So I thought, “Ok, I’ll give this guys a second chance.” I picked up the phone and after 30 minutes I was able to get a quote that was, indeed, lower than the others I got before. Great!

After that, the operator asked me if I wanted to close the deal at that time, and I said: “No, because I would like to see the policy first on my screen to check that I’m not missing anything important. Could you send it to my email?” Of course he replied a yes and proceeded to confirm my email address. Later that day I didn’t received the email, nor that night, nor the end of the week. A week after I sent an email to customer service at Amica to get my policy on the mail for revision, being very clear on my e-mail that I WANTED TO BUY the policy.

No response whatsoever for 48hrs, I decided to search just one more quote from (probably) the only company I haven’t got one yet. To my surprise it was lower than Amica’s with same coverage; moreover, I was looking at my policy on the screen and I felt comfortable to buy it on-line right away, so I did.

One day after I bought my policy with another company, I got a call from Amica’s customer service and they were saying something like now we are ready to take your order… that was two (or more) days ago!, I had to tell them that I wantED to buy… but not anymore, sorry. Moreover, later that day, I got another call from the Online service center to talk about my previous post, alas I wasn’t available but they wanted to hear from any other improvement idea I could have. I think it is great to learn from our own mistakes, I’ll give you that Amica, but learn from others’ as well.

In the end, the answer to the title of the post… how to freeze a warm lead? Waiting. If someone wants to buy from you now, sell now!

Also, if you are one of Amica’s phone/chat operators, don’t feel guilty about these situations; as Edwards Deming said once “The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top! Management!”

It’s the law!

There is no doubt that one of the easiest ways to market a product is when you can (legally) use the sentence “it is the law!”

Since July first in the State of California, a new law went into effect forcing anyone talking on the phone and driving at the same time to use a hands-free device. Moreover, if you are under the age of 18, you can’t use your mobile at all while driving. This law tries to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel to prevent accidents caused by distraction.

Retailers couldn’t wait, all hands-free sellers went nuts advertising any technology they had to keep the customers driving safely and under the law, and of course there was no add on TV or radio that didn’t use scary type of sentences such as “it is illegal”, “you will get a ticket” and of course “it is the law!”

Of course, most of the 23 million drivers in California don’t want to get a citation so sales of Bluetooth devices and other kind of headsets increased since September 2006, when the California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act of 2006, or SB 1613, was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It is amazing how a device that wasn’t selling very well can ramp up with a little push. The funniest thing about this law is that dialing is not prohibited, meaning that you can actually write text messages while driving (not that I encourage doing so, but you could).

Anyway, I think that despite this law, drivers are still distracted from of the road because they are eating, daydreaming, applying makeup, shaving, scratching random body parts, etc.

I really hope this this law will reduce the number of car accidents in California at least in the same percentage sales of Bluetooth devices grew (figures that have not been released by any manufacturer, by the way)

“We have definitely seen increased interest in all things hands-free these weeks leading up to the law,” said Charles Hodges, RadioShack’s national director of media relations. “Based on the number of people that drive in California, we made sure stores are well-stocked for customers.” CNET News.

If you don’t have money but don’t want to brake the law, here is an idea: alternative hands-free

Written from my iPhone while driving. Just kidding.