Category Archives: Web

Google’s Chrome Web Store is really happening!

In the US, the worlds biggest Search Engine have taken the step (outside the mobile platform) to start selling applications. And not just any applications, web browser applications (apps)! Throught the newly opened  Google Chrome Web Store you have the ability to purchase web browser apps. At the moment its only available for in the US territory. People with mobile phones or other devices running Google’s own operating system Android have had access to apps before. But this is a new direction, but in line with their plan for their upcoming PC operating system to compete with Windows.

And among the first publishers to release games on the Web Store we find Electronic Arts, Zynga, Digital Chocolate, Jagex, Spryfox, Bigpoint and Namco. They will inially start with just over 200 games. But most of those partners are probably already signed thanks to the help of the Android Marketplace for Andriod Mobile decides. Here Google have sort of taken the position were Mircosoft could have been, having the dominant Mobile OS for none-Apple mobile phones. Microsoft’s answer is the new Windows Moblie 7, but the question is if it will be dead on arrival.

It will be interesting to see the potential of the games and other applications they will release going forward. Will it be yet another platform for games, similar to GamersGate and our competitors? It seems Googles focusing more on building platforms and offer services than its core business, search. Well, its all business right to expand and develop its portfolio. And looking at the success of both Apple’s iTunes and digital distribution stores for PC/Mac games, this is a very lucrative market. Owning the distribution channel and the customer. And customers, or rather users is key for Google. Knowing as much as possible to display better directed Ads, which generate more revenue. So taking the step into distribution is something else from their core business. But hey, its Google! Would could they possible fail? Oh wait… Google Wave. But stop! They still rethinking that project.

Then we have Apple, which is its own success story! Not only do they own and control their own distribution platform (iTunes), they are also hardware manufactures. So the Apps build for Apple product will ONLY work on Apple product. One manufacture, one platform. But its still it makes millions both for Apple and its third-party developer. And they have their own web browser as well! Wouldn’t surprise if they start selling Web browser Apps as well, through iTunes of cause.

They are truly trying to take over the internet, and at the moment they are also battling Facebook for the time, attention and clicks from the worlds billions web users. Facebook have done what Google did to Microsoft, “steeling” good workers/programmers. And to lock-in users as much as possible. Which is really good from a business perspective but not away’s from a customers/user perspective. For exmple this is happening in the PC/Mac games industry at the moment with our biggest competitor, Steam. They are locking in customers in their service and make developers and publishers reliant of them. Will write another post on this later.

But the battle of the web giant is about to begin.

Chrome Web Store

Google Chrome Web Store

Google help the fight against Piracy

One of the two biggest websites online (the ohter being Facebook), Google have joined the fight against piracy. With tons of torrent and other piracy sites, they will of cause be listed in Google. This will probably be (as with most businesses online) the main source of new customers/users. And if you cut this source of new user, you might hit the pirates just right. So Google now works at making it easier for content and copy rights owners  to “delist” piracy sites.  This will probably quite a mighty blow toward the pirates. But at the same time you could question the sort of Openness philosophy Google have about listing everything online.  The power of Google on the internet is needed to be discussed in details. So who better to make it harder than those guys? It will be interesting to follow up and see if it have made an effect.

But you can divide piracy into two categories, content ripping and distribution. Pirate Bay for example is only a distribution network enabling content rippers ( the ones who get hold of content to distribute). They don’t host or hold any files. Both categories are equally problems, but they enable each other. A simple concept. You have to have good content to attract more customers/users, but at the same time massive amounts of customers/users make it attractive to distribute into. You have to kill both content ripping and distribution to really crash piracy. Googles action will limit sending new users to the torrent/piracy sites. Not prevent the content from being ripped. But its a step in the right direction.

More details about the new changes go to the Google Public Policy Blog.

Beatles on iTunes. Content vs distribution

Today Apple had a little announcement, they will start selling Beatles songs on iTunes. Its among the few Apple announcement that only focusing on adding new content, instead of new features or technology. And it raises the question on content versus distribution.

The ultimate is to have the best content on the best distribution channel(s). But the news of Beatles on iTunes shows how long it can take before adding the best content. Apple is the leading digital distribution platform for music in the world! Every record label, artist and group do everything they can to be selling on iTunes. Specially when you take into consideration how dominant the iPod is for mobile music players, and buy music on iTunes might be the only way to have your favourite artist on your iPod.

And its the same by looking at Spotify for example. Spotify is at its core a free distribution platform, that tries to acquire as much content as possible to attract new listeners (accounts). Which in terms increase the potential for advertisers, potentials subscribing paying premium accounts and finally getting songs sold through the service. A basic but interesting business model:

Expanding content catalog = Attracts more users

The more users = More content owner should want to have their content for new/potential consumers.

Improved reaching to potential customers/consumers = Better chance to turn into paying users.

Still its in some way contradicting. A content service is mostly attractive if the user base it huge. But to get a huge customer base, you need to have great content to attract new users.

It’s the same for us at GamersGate. To attrach new customers we need to have the latest games. But in order to get the latest game we need to constantly increase the user base, so all our partners and potential partners wants to sell their new games at our store. We see a lot of new competitors poping up all around us, but I can only imagine the difficulties for them to build a customer base from scratch. We started with a lot customers from the Paradox Interactive community as our best customers.

One interesting blog post discussing this is from GamesBrief, about Electronic Arts acquisition of mobile publisher Chillingo, the publisher behind Angry Birds. Read this great piece, discussing EAs shifting focus on acquiring user installbase/new distribution instead of new IPs/Development Studios. How EA got the installbase from the great success of Angry Bird through the Crystal system.

Its the same if we look at valuation of sites / companies like Facebook or Zynga. The increadible high valuation of those companies have nothing to do with technology, ONLY numbers of accounts/users. Without Facebooks 500 milion users, then the core service is only okey. Here the content (features/applications) isn’t the big USP attracting new users. When it comes to social medias, (most of the time) the amount of active users is what attracts new users!

Beatles @ iTunes

Beatles @ iTunes

Twitter business model-s

Twitter is really one of the fastest growing phenomenon on the web in recent year, along with Facebook. Becoming a communication standard within basically a year, its on almost every webpage. It have expanded with x millions accounts today. Couldn’t find any numbers but I can only guess. And making expressions like “I just Tweeted this and that” a common expression.

But like most IT start ups, they still haven’t found the right business model to make substitutional revenue from. Google had the same problem in the beginning, but finally developed one which is now one of the standards when it comes to web advertising and marketing (CPC). For Google it came natural, complementing with their basic service. For Twitter its a different ball game.

Discussion online have been when and if Twitter will file for a IPO. Rumors about this have been shot down time and time again by the company. Still, before going public you need a steady revenue stream. As my interest in private stock investment have been increasing lately I am interested to see how they develop and if a IPO opportunity will show it self within a couple of years.

And it looks like Twitter is investigating different business models and which could work for them. Nothing revolutionary. One model is a classic ad-driven model, selling sponsored/promoted Tweets. Also opening for third-party applications to be connected to their service. Another model copies the Free vs Preimum model, such as Spotify. Were everyone get to access and use the service for Free, but if you want to follow special twitter accounts/people, you have to pay a premium fee. Quite a risky model, but could work good for the more confidential business 2 business users.

Its great that they are actively looking at different business model, cause revenue needs to come from somewhere. I can imagine that hosting and running one of the biggest services online isn’t by any means cheap. But at the same time its a tricky question. Ideally you want to follow the Google concept, were the revenue source won’t interfere or distract to much for the regular users. And like Facebook its a social platform, were people come to communicate with friends, follow conversations and news. I mainly use it for getting all news feeds collected in one place. On Google, Adwords/Sponsored Ads works and complements the vital Search function. And people would be furious if a payment requirement were implemented. I think selling premiums have its limited potential, and ads will struggle the same way as one Facebook. Looking forward to see what more business models they will come up with.

And they have also launched a new service for everyone without a Twitter accounts, Fast Follow. Its like the Facebook public setting were everyone can see and follow tweets, by using your cell phone. I think this is one part in their strategy to attract more people and bind them up for a real Twitter account. Get them interested, and when they want to join the conversation, then a registration is needed and you are there. From a business prespection (using Twitter to communicate to potential customers) this is a great idea! If, by some chance, we get the option to talk not only with the ones following our Twitter feed, but others as well through the same medium, its a win-win. Will be interesting to see if this service will be a success or not. Not totally convinced myself.

100 Million Facebook account hacked and leaked

This is really scary, how some hacker can get access to 100 million accounts on Facebook accounts and share them through torrent sites. Its really bad to do this, people need to feel secure that the things they post online can stay confidential and private. Facebook recently made it official their member number have surpassed 500 Million accounts! A very impressive numbers, and it seems that Facebook will be a platform of its own. A internet within the internet. With all the applications, features and connectivity they offer developers and companies, it must be a horse job to keep everything 100% secured and working. But still, 100 million accounts. From what I have understood, some of the problem arrised  from members not updating or tightening their security settings.

At the same time I feel that people take it to light what they post. And that I mean for online generally. Looking through my own Facebook feeds I see people posting tons of strange things and links. What botther me most are everyone who post pictures of their children. Its okey with 1 or 2, but all the time and constant updates on that their kids are doing. In some way I can understand some who want to post for family and relatives to get a view into the small ones life, but in my mind I would like my children chose them-self when and how they want to be posted. Some for of “Posting ethics and moral” need to be teached. People seems to still be suppriced when they loose a job, or don’t get a job cause the employer Googles the employee and find al lot of strange comments and images posted. Think before you post. It might come back and haunt you.

Flattr: Web Micropayment

From one of the founder of the world famous Pirate Bay comes a new venture, Flattr. What it does is literally making web clicks into a currency, were you click on the content you want to give money to. I have attached a video explaining the concept better.

I really think this can be something. Clicks are already a way to get paid today with system such as Google Adwords and other advertising tools. We like to “Like” things on Facebook and just pressing a button to join a group.  The big question mark is the man behind it, Peter Sunde famous from operating and defending Pirate Bay. Debating heavily in Sweden that things on the web should be free, its a bit strange that he develops a system for paying content creators on the net. Just a bit contradicting.

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Cool Playstation 3 Facebook connection

Yesterday when I was searching through all the system and account preferences on my PS3 to see if I could somehow change my account name, I found some hidden Facebook settings. Just out of curiosity I inserted my Facebook account information and then left it. And to my surprise, when I earn a Trophy it gets posted on my Facebook page. Amazing! A feature I really like and hope to see more of. Have been searching today on the web if Xbox have anything similar, but it doesn’t seem they have.

I knew Facebook and Twitter had come to Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 but didn’t find it to be that exciting. Just using the services on my console, with no extra or special features? But this PS3 Facebook connected thing was really neat!

Facebook PSN Trophies

Facebook PSN Trophies

Updated Facebook interface

Today it was time for me to receive the new Facebook interface design. Didn’t know it was coming until a few days ago when I recieved an invite to a Facebook group against the new design. That’s how my generation gets update on what happens in the world, Facebook groups invite. :)

Discussed it with some people at work today. They thought it was  quite messy, but I don’t see it as that big of a deal. Facebook probably have a good reason behind the new design and they won’t change back now. Everytime they update their site, people complain, but then we don’t hear them anymore after a while. I don’t rememeber the old designs I lived through.

Facebook New Interface

Facebook New Interface

Facebook and Twitter on Xbox

Now finally Facebook and Twitter on Xbox 360 have gone live. Downloaded them today and just briefly tried them out, and I don’t feel that blown away. How I understood it you have to enter the both services separately, and you can’t do anything else when you use them. Thats okey I guess, but it would be much more powerful it they accessable also when playing games. We don’t want to exit the game to access social services. For example wouldn’t it be great to be able between matches in Modern Warfare 2, to tweet the result, or tell everyone on Facebook the score? I haven’t explored the Xbox version completely and to connect with Xbox Live friends, it seems they have to “activate” the applications.

And along side this we also got confirmed today that Facebook will also hit Playstation Network with the new 3.10 firmware update.

Its interesting to see how the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Last.fm is expanding to new territories such as the video game consoles. Companies start (or already have) understood the power of working with the social sites. For example at GamersGate I created our Facebook group and our Twitter feed (@Gamersgate). Its a great tool to communicate with our fans and followers. And its wonderful how we can connect all the services together. For example how every time I write a Tweet (which doesn’t happen often) it automatically generate a Facebook “what am I doing?”. And I am just learning more about Facebook Connect and the possibilities it offers. I look forward for the time when we only need one account that’s connected to all different services.

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DeView: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

Chris Anderson - Free: The Future of a Radical Price

Chris Anderson - Free: The Future of a Radical Price

On my way to Germany last week I finished reading Chris Andersons book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. The expectation from the Long Tail have been sky high, and though not as good, or revolutionary as the Long Tail, its still a must read. Some part very rather slow to get through while some chapters I found felt more valued in my opinion. What I like about is how Chris don’t claim that everything should be free, rather how the concept of Free can be utilised to build business from scratch or even for big companies to stay competitive. Even some example when the big boys have to adapt to the changing digital market, thanks to the spread use of free software and services on the web. How Google is one of the biggest forces pushing and expanding free.

I really like the part were he write about combining Free and Paid, with a lot of great examples.To use Free to build a potential customer base, and then charge for a premium service for those who want more advanced features or more storage.

Maybe what I missed was a discussion of which companies that can benefit from Free, and those who don’t. I think it would be great to try to criticise his theories to strengthen them.

It is great to see that Chris take this concept into reality by giving his book away for Free in either Audio book and eBook. This isn’t new, to give away as many books as possible to get interest up and build his own brand. He doesn’t make his money on book sales, but rather on people booking him to come and speak and going into details about his theories. The same way music artist start to give away their music, broaden the fan base who then will pay for other things such as concert and merchandise.

By reading this book, after many fictional books recently, it got my business mind and thoughts start working again. It really inspired me, which is a good thing!