Friday, February 16, 2007

Are Gadget websites useful?

I think gadget sites are most useful for site owners themselves.

If you get a decent enough site/blog focused on gadgets going, traffic of 15000 a day means you are making at least $3000 a month, from Google adsense, affiliate deals and so on.

In the gadget blog arena, Engadget and Gizmodo are the two elephants, surrounded by 10-12 tiger-sized smaller sites. The rest of the field is chock full of small foxes drying to get a piece of the adsense action.

The lonely blogger starts early, hoping to pick up news about the latest robot from one of the Japanese/Korean sites, from his feed reader, which has more than 2000 feeds, all painstakingly researched by copying all the outgoing links in Engadget and Gizmodo, over a period of 30 days.

So, what purpose do the gadget sites fulfill?

1. Providing useful information: Do they carry useful information that the consumer might useful? Engadget and Gizmodo are slowly moving towards the area previously the domain of PC Magazine, PC World and others- carrying a judicious mix of advice and latest gadget information. The average user searches on Google for the iPod hack.

2. Existing solely for the early adopters: I tend to believe that this early adopter is a tired concept, endlessly perpetuated by the self-important crowd, which spends most of their free time ( I think early adopters have a lot of free time as well) on Digg and the uber gadget sites.

Joel Johnson, who was at Gizmodo, advises users to wait for at least a year until proper user reviews come out and then think about buying any gadget.

In fact, he goes on to claim that the average buyer is smarter than the so-called early adopter.

While the early adopter may be influenced by PR guys and Social media marketers, you never know, the iPhone for which the early adopter might pay $600 and upwards may be available for less 6 months down the line. The user can also judge for himself what the hype was all about.

3. Satisfying the brain’s need for ‘what is new’: I suspect we go to gadget sites for the same reason we go to websites featuring the latest in female anatomy. We are looking for the new ‘new’ (no offense to Michael Lewis’ fine book).

We all know that all these robots are no use for most of us and they may become usable at most 10 years down the line. However, we lap up stories about latest robots, flying cars, car/boat combines, MP3/Video machines, because our minds are addicted to this drug of new.

Joel Johnson is right:
the average user may be smarter than the early adopter, but the average user also clicks on more ads than early adopter, who has become ad- blind.

In other words, Google Adsense (for gadget sites, in this case) capitalizes on the average user’s tendency to click on any link on the page, enriching whole towns of rewriters.

The jury is still out on whether gadget sites are useful for anyone else than the site owner.


What does blogging mean to you?

For mainstream media journalists and bosses, blogging means, "What the ****!!!"

For many Fortune 500 CEOs, business bosses, marketing mavens and self-important PR guys, blogging means, "What the ***!!!!"

For one of my seniors, blogging means "a no-holds barred, rambling diary."

For one of the CEOs, who happened to take my job interview, blogging meant "...all that badly spelled crap masquerading for serious thoughts on Web off...and what is this web 2.0 thing?"

Marginal Revolution quotes Seth Roberts, who says blogging is an act of self-experimentalism:
Blogging makes us more oriented toward an intellectual bottom line, more interested in the directly empirical, more tolerant of human differences, more analytical in the course of daily life, more interested in people who are interesting, and less patient with Continental philosophy.

The Pew Report on blogging does not hold much water much in India.
What many of you might call Spam is serious business in these parts of the world.

For many in developing countries like India, blogging is a means to a livelihood.
Here, paid blogging is a respected job and many rewrite 10-15 posts daily to make ends meet. All thanks to Google.

In a survey last year in India, a majority of young people chose Bill Gates over Mahatma Gandhi. If those survey guys had asked bloggers, they world choose Google, no doubt about it.

Elsewhere, many are building businesses using blogs.

Writers run blogs to solicit ideas, and often foster one-on-one connection with readers.

For people hoping to make it big via blogging, the Creating passionate users blog has a most useful suggestion:

(The real secret to a successful blog/book/business)

Success no longer has to be a meritocracy (or advertocracy), today it's just as much a loveocracy.

Does blogging make us more moral and virtuous?
A commenter at the Marginal Revolution blogs cites Adam Smith’s well-known maxim that "morality comes from commerce,"

Do we spend too much time at blogging?
We love seeing our post up there on the Blogging red carpet. Frontpage listing on Digg, Techmeme and those links in the daily Statcounter report drives us to spend more time to write something new and special, every day.

Has blogging improved our writing?
In my case, it has taught to be coherent and to the point. I often find myself counting my word count for the day.

We are becoming better reporters and editors for our own domains.
Many of us now display the reporters’ habit to look at everything skeptically. Blogging is making us be more analytical towards all things we come across in life.

We looking at everything, and think, “Is there a post in it?”
In my case, I now tend to think twice before I venture to put forth my case. Maybe, it took blogging to make me a better debater. 

Blogging vs. books and others
I imagine whether the blogging text can effectively challenge other forms of wordsmithy. Can it develop into potent alternative to books, presentations, speeches, etc.? I come across numerous well-written posts on my daily rounds.

Coming down to earth
Maybe Blogging is transforming us into insecure narcissists.

Please share with me what blogging means to you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why mobile content hasn’t made it so far

Forbes magazine analyses the slow progress of mobile content (data, ringtones, video, audio, games) despite all the hype about the mobile is where the next-generation consumer media action is.

There are four main reasons:

1. Insipid marketing: For carriers, content is not a primary focus. The carriers came into this business only some time back, unlike in Asia and Europe The content team at the typical mobile carrier is ‘understaffed and underresourced’, and may also be outsourced.

2. Dismal market segmentation:
The carriers present the mobile content in the same way to nearly every segment.

3. Lackluster selling: The carrier’s content mall is not as easy to use as, say, Apple Computer's iTunes store.

4. Consumer fatigue: Data shows consumption per handset slides down in six months after a new phone is purchased. The article says that in the content business, the best way to defeat consumer fatigue is ‘peer2peer’ marketing – for example word of mouth marketing. So far, carriers have provided no easy way for a mobile user to recommend content to friends.

Why some media properties thrive and others don’t

Today, when print publications are under severe pressure from online media properties (mind you, newspapers are still big cash cows), some magazines are in fact reporting increased number of ad pages, in the United States and across the Atlantic.

The secret sauce is niche.

Steve Rubel quotes The Washington Post saying that ‘that the term newsweekly is really moot in this day and age.’ General-purpose newsweeklies such as Time and Newsweek are under enormous pressure.

I guess the user might be thinking, “I can get better general purpose news looking for free at headlines at Google news and its likes."

Among the newsweeklies, The Economist thrives because it aims at a focused audience – exclusive news analysis for moneyed people.

The niches magazines that thrive are aspirational titles such as Vogue, GQ, and others which are forever displaying the ‘in’ look and the ads like to transmit that cool feel as well.

I read somewhere that computer magazines are also under pressure from the freely available technical information online - Digg is a potent aggregator of computer news and advice lowing from an endless supply of bloggers and news sites.

Let us take this niche-idea further - online.

The success of focused sites such as Engadget (gadgets), Treehugger (Environment–friendly) instructs prospects online publishers to look for lucrative niche/sub-niches.

What are your thoughts on an Ohmynews-type Citizen journalism site devoted to design and fashion?