The Future: Part II

This is part two (part I ) of my take on Seth Godin’s proclamations.

The number of new products introduced every day is five times greater than now And the vast majority of them go completely unnoticed. Add to this the new means of distributing TV content and the media scream gets louder and less intelligible. People will come to depend on aggregators. These are people who watch particular segments of the new product market and put the cool stuff out there for their readers.

I’d expect to see some scandals and out cry as product providers go for these gatekeepers and their readers get mad when they find out someone was paid to place a product. Most of the hoo haa though will be moot if the aggregators continue to provide quality information. I don’t really car if Icon Productions paid my favorite movie critic/aggregator to review their new remake of the Ten Commandments, as long has the review is accurate.

Wal-Mart’s sales are three times as big Wal-Mart will always be the king of cheap. As more stuff gets cheap, they will sell more stuff. They aren’t the people to go to when you want something cool or complicated.

Wal-Mart is also where the masses, and especially the poor, shop. Do the millions of new products rate selling at Wal-Mart? Or are the often going to be non-commodity items?

Any manufactured product that’s more than five years old in design sells at commodity pricing Assuming it is a commodity and it survives. Most things won’t survive that long and other things are unique creations, for example music, movies and art. Wal-Mart won’t be so central when we get most of these online. And as the proliferation of old TV shows on DVD have shown, even when it is old it can still have non-commodity value.

The retirement age will be five years higher than it is now My bet is it will be even older than that, but the average job will actually be smaller. Many people will build careers that allow them to work less as they get older. So they work longer, but less.

Your current profession will either be gone or totally different I kind of agree with this. All careers will be different when the media landscape changes. But doctors will still be trying to make people well. Lawyers will still be suing people. Computer programmers will still be solving problems with technology. How they do it may be different, but what they do will still be the same.

When I first read this my thought was, “And owning real estate is still a good idea”. None of these changes cause people not to need a place to live. Nor does it change a need for food and water. Nor a desire for sex or companionship. People will still go to church and have hobbies. How we do things may have changed a lot in the last few years, but what we do is still around.

Written while listening to “Be Like That”
album The Better Life
by 3 Doors Down
Written while listening to “Figured You Out”
album The Long Road
by Nickleback

The Future: Part One

Seth Godin, author of Free Prize Inside – which I need to get around to reviewing – has a list of things he thinks will be true in the future.

Lots of people have reproduced his list, but no one has commented on it. Here’s my take.

Hard drive space is free My first reaction was to say nothing is ever free, but my reinterpretation is cheap and plentiful. If that’s true I see a device – probably combined with the laptop like thing further down – that will be a portable TIVO. All your music, TV shows and movies will be on this one device you carry with you. You’ll back it up to even bigger storage on your home server.

Back up is something people like to ignore when they think storage is cheap. Why would I need to keep a copy of stuff on my home machine when I’m going to be able to carry everything with me. The big reason is because you are more likely to lose something you carry everywhere. The iPod gives us a glimpse of this, you carry your music everywhere, but you still sync up with a main computer.

I’ll talk a little more about the concept of home vs portable computer later.

Wifi like connections are everywhere You know I wonder what this will be like technically. Will it be decentralized like WiFi? Meaning I can get an internet connection no matter where I go, but won’t have the same connection everywhere I go. Or will it be an always on cell phone like connection where the same connection stays with me as I move from place to place?

Just being able to have a connection anywhere will change things in one way, but it won’t do as good a job as a communication medium. For instance yesterday I was looking for sunglasses, which are something hard to buy online because you can’t see what they look like on your face. So I went to the mall and tried on sunglasses. I found some I like – Rayban Preditor 18s with polarized lenses – but they cost more than I wanted to spend. I figured I could get them cheaper online. So I got the girl to write down the model number for me. If I had had an internet connection right there I could have quickly checked prices online and known I wasn’t going to find much of a difference in price. (Which probably explains why there were 3 sunglasses shops in the mall).

But if I’m in my car I can’t use a WiFi connection, I need something always on.

Connections speeds are 10 to 100 times faster This will give “subscription TV” a whole new meaning. You’ll connect to a production company’s web site, buy DRMed movies and download them to your home server ala iTunes. Then you’ll put them on your portable, or watch them on your home entertainment system. Networks are replaced by aggregation web sites. Sites that specialize in finding certain kinds entertainment. You’ll probably daily browse these kinds of sites looking for new stuff.

There will also probably be meta data attached to the downloaded files, including everything from episode guides to trailers for related media.

Everyone has a digital camera You know I don’t think this will be that big a deal. Everyone has owned a camera for years. But that doesn’t mean they carry one all the time. They may in the future, but it won’t be that different. People who like to take pictures do it a lot now. Most people do it for special occasions. A few do it for art. Don’t see digital changing this.

Everyone carries a device that is sort of like a laptop, but cheap and tiny
Anyone remember the show Earth Final Conflict? In it they had something called a global. This was a small device that when collapsed was the about 1″ x 1″ x 4″. Then you pulled it open to make it about 3″ wide and there was a display there. It was used as a video phone and as a computer. I envision something like that that people will be carrying in 5 years. Once we have flexible displays cell phones will change.

I also don’t think this will change the fact you’ll still have a home computer. It will probably be integrated into a entertainment system. You’re house will also have a central server, where you put files – including everything from homework to movies – that are shared by the users of the house. Ergonomics will dictate the need for something you can sit at for hours vs something you can carry with you everywhere.

I think I’ll do the next 5 things in another post.

Written while listening to “Shock to the System”
album Billy Idol: Greatest Hits
by Billy Idol
Written while listening to “Six Sirens”
by Project 86
Written while listening to “Flesh for Fantasy”
album Billy Idol: Greatest Hits
by Billy Idol

Website overhaul

I know I said the next business related thing I’d talk about was Incorporation, but, since I haven’t done it and may not, I’m going to skip it right now.

Instead I’m going to talk about my latest product release. I did a minor bug fix update to Suck It Down last week. At the same time, I’d put the finishing touches on my new streamlined website. You see a while back I read a PDF I downloaded by Seth Godin called “Fixing Micah’s Site”. Before reading this booklet my company website was a blog, a strait Nucleus website a lot like Reactuate. Even the links to product information in the side bar were permalinks to blog entries.

I don’t think I realized how bad it was until I changed it.

As I said awhile back, I decided to redesign it and went out looking for a designer. I found one that created a new logo for me but I couldn’t afford a site redesign, so I ended up doing it myself. [R.A.D.] It turned out OK. I’m still not totally happy with it, but it serves it purpose well. More on that in a minute.

One thing about the design. I decided to make it not look like your typical Mac developer website. Instead I went with bolder colors and “heavier” use of them. I’m not sure if it works to not.

First thing I decided when I started the design was to focus on getting people to buy Suck It Down. That was the main purpose of the whole site. I think it is pretty unlikely people are going to buy the software without trying it out. But I give them the opportunity anyway. Buy and download links are right next to each other on every page.

When people come into the first page of the site they have the opportunity to download or buy our products. No searching or multiple clicks to get what they want.

I also added a lot more about why they should buy it to the Suck It Down page. In the past, I had a prose spiel and little bulleted list of features. Now I have a spiel and a list of problem solutions.

And it seems to be working. Since I announced the availability of the update – which in and of itself really shouldn’t motivate people to buy who haven’t before – I’ve had registrations equal to what I normally have in a month. So about a 4x increase in sales.

What else have I done to improve sales? I created a better disk image to deliver the product. When you download the software you get a better user experience. You have to approve the license and then you are presented with a window with instructions on how to drag install the product. I even completely removed the Read Me file from the image. First, 90% of people don’t read it, and second, those that do didn’t really get much information anyway.

I didn’t make any changes to the UI of the app to encourage purchasing yet. I’ll do more of that in the future.

Think First

For the rebirth and growth of R.A.D. Productions, I first started thinking about it differently. I started asking different questions.

I knew RAD was a source of passive income, even though I had to work to produce the products, because even when I was doing nothing I still made money. It was a lot like royalties, you work up front and then get paid over time while doing nothing else.

So I started wondering, could I make more over time by putting in some effort in different ways? The big problem with RAD is no one in the target market has heard of us. We don’t get much press and do no advertising. So I immediately thought about doing some advertising.

But wait if I do advertising what is its goal? Obviously I want people to buy my products. So a user clicks on an ad and buys the product. Well there are a few steps in there and if I’m not set up for those steps I’d be wasting money advertising. So I asked myself, what happens when they click on the ad? They go to the website.

I have a tendency to be a usability freak, especially when it has to do with websites. Last time I did a redesign of the RAD website I was gung ho about blogging and essentially turned it into a blog. Problem is it is less focused on getting people to buy the product. You have to click at least twice before you can download the software. Its hard to find the advantages of the product.

So I decided I need to redesign the website.

In addition to usability the site need to look better, cooler and more professional. For this I need a professional. So I went looking for a graphic designer to design a logo for the company and redo the website.

Next time I’ll talk about how that went.

Business Blogging

One of the reasons I have a blog is to be a record of my life. I often post things I found that are interesting so that I can later go back and look at them.

I mentioned previously that I am focusing more on making R.A.D. Productions, my shareware software business, more profitable. So I thought it would be good to start blogging some of the things I’m doing and why. I would find this very interesting if someone else were doing it.

I’m creating a new category call business that will be strictly for these posts.

Company Taxes

I’m doing research into incorporating R.A.D. Productions and found this site with details on costs and taxes for corporations. California is definitely off my list.

I’m really trying to decide between Texas and Nevada.

There are no income taxes in Nevada, but you have to pay and annual fee of $80. Texas has a franchise tax, but if you made no real income you might be able to avoid taxes all together. I doubt my company will make a profit for a few years, so Nevada might end up being more expensive.

Written while listening to “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”
album The Best That I Could Do
by John Mellencamp

Motherload of Software Business Info

I decided to go to the Carnival of Capitalist which I’ve never been interested in till recently. It was really good and I got 4 new feeds to read. But the best site for what I’m trying to do is It is the mother load of information on marketing your software start up, which is exactly what I want to do. It gave me really detailed and coherent information on how to promote my software company.

I’ve already decided I need to seriously update my company website to be more product focused, so its bloginess is going to be going away in the near future. I’v also decided I need to hire a designer to create a over all look for R.A.D. Productions and its products. Then I can take this look to product packaging (which is just a downloadable disk image background), the website, and the about box of the product.

As an interesting aside, the other day I was looking at Google and decided to search for “Mac Image Downloader“, which is the big focus of Suck It Down, my product. The R.A.D. Productions site didn’t even show up. I went and changed the title to “R.A.D. Productions, Makers of Image Downloader SuckItDown” and now we are ranked #2.

Stop Order Lessons

I’m a little frustrated this morning because I invested in a stock last month and it is currently up 23%, but I sold it yesterday for only an 18% gain before commission.

First I have to say and 18% gain is pretty dang good so I’m not too sad. And I learned something.

I learned about stop orders, which is where you say sell a stock if it goes below a specified amount. This is useful when you have a stock like I did that was going up and you want to make sure you don’t lose your gain if it suddenly drops. The problem is you don’t want to set your stop too close to the current price because stocks have a tendency to spike down and your order gets triggered.

Which is what happen to me. I owned NOOF and I bought it at 9.178 after commission in December. Its been doing really well and was over 11 on Friday. I had been trailing it with a stop order and upped the stop to 10.8. Well it spiked down and the order became a market order and sold for 10.86.

Now I’ve learned a valuable lesson. But I also have to decide if I want back into NOOF. It still seems on the upswing.

Commissions are an important factor for me. All of this is happening my IRA account and I don’t have much in there so a commission is $17.95 + $3 for a stop order. Since I’m dealing with 100 shares, that can be 1% of the cost. So when I buy I pay 1% and when I sell I pay 1%, so I have to have at least a 2% gain to not lose money.