Twitter~ A cost effective model

This blog will look at  the concept “Lightweight Models & Cost-Effective Scalability“, the final pattern of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. In the World Wide Web business/organizations are now looking to  adopt a scalable, cost-effective strategy encompassing business models, development models, and technology to deliver products to market faster and cheaper without sacrificing future growth.

Once the idea of web services became au courant, large companies jumped into the fray with a complex web services stack designed to create highly reliable programming environments for distributed applications. –Tim O’Reilly

Basically, what O’Reilly is saying is that what was once normal to start out big has now turned to starting small with a big picture at the end of the model. Once was the idea of large complex web services, that has now been turned on its head. Using a business model and starting and starting out small with a small budget but gradually increase costs as revenue has been increased. Benefits that this brings include:

  1. Cost effectiveness
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Doing more with less
  4. Easy start-up
  5. Fail fast
  6. Scale easy

Twitter

Right, so a great application that demonstrates lightweight modelling and cost effective scalabilty is the popular micro-blogging platform “Twitter“. Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. Twitter has become a go to for business and is a great application to use whilst starting up, it is free, easy to start up and has a huge amount of users which will bring responsiveness. From starting with twitter business can then more on to a much larger/complex web services as revenue increases.

Here are best practices that Twitter has adopted in relation to practices that  Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT   pointed out during “Lightweight Models & Cost-Effective Scalability” lecture.

(1) Scale with demand

When twitter started, it had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007, this grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. (More statistics here) We can see that twitter started out small in terms of people using and tweeting, however as usage increased they had to increase their scale base on the increase demand of users.

(2) Syndicate business models

Using twitter can also be a great way to increase your business model/strategies. Social media are not generally link to each other. Users could use say their Facebook/google+ accounts and promote their twitter account. This allows enterprises to build all or part of their business on top of various social media components.

(3) Outsource whenever practical and possible

Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco, with additional servers and offices in New York City, Boston, and San Antonio.

(4) Provide outsource infrastructure, function, and expertise

Generally big companies such as twitter have no need to outsource their infrastructure, function and expertise. These would be done in their own offices.

(5) Market virally

User initiated positive word-of-mouth can lead to dramatic market growth, when new applications/social media are released it normally takes sometime for people to follow and use it. Using viral marketing is a great way, twitter blasts could be used or even facebook group pages. Twitter  has been ranked the fastest highest social media in the world in 2013. This could not have been achieved without the use of various viral marketing strategies.
(6) Design for scale
Scalability does not happen by accident, Twitter no doubt started small in terms of users. There is no doubt that  from an early stage strategic and tactical choices were made to enable scaling as twitters growth increased. Twitter was designed to give the users control of the content they tweet, baring the 140 characters restriction. Users have control over their own profiles and content which means that operating and support costs are shouldn’t be that high.
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In conclusion, Twitter is a great application that offers a great model and cost effective Scalability. However, one thing to be mindful is that with such a big user population Twitter users/businesses will face spam, how Twitter reacts to this will determine if Twitter continues to be popular in the near future.
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References:

– Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 10 – Lecture slides

Leveraging the long tail “iTunes Store”

This blog will look at  the concept “Leveraging the long tail”, the seventh of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. The internet is like a virtual shopping mall, with a wide range of products for sale.  We are beginning to see companies look not just to sale certain products but have a wide range of variety to cater for anyone (a niche market). Businesses are now using the “Long Tail” pattern.

Small sites make up the bulk of the internet’s content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet’s the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head. – O’Reilly

The Long Tail, in a nutshell

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. – Chris Anderson

So one company that has used this pattern effectively is Apple, the apple iTunes store has a wide range of music,app and books to choose from. By applying this pattern the apple iTunes store has provided benefits such as increase in capturing a wider variety of audience and an increase in customer chose. 

Here are best practices that ebay has adopted in relation to practices that  Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT   pointed out during “Leveraging the long tail” lecture.

(1) Build on the driving forces of the Long Tail

¨Driven by three forces
1.Democratized tools of production – as iTunes continues to grow apple has adopted more applications other then music, through the popularity of smart phones apps, ebooks etc have now been added to the iTunes store growing list of applications users can buy/download.
2.Decreased cost of consumption by virtue of democratized distribution – iTunes itself is free, some apps are free to download, this brings more customers to use the iTunes store.
3. New forms of connecting supply and demand – Organizations are now using the iTunes store to drive their business and attract customers. People using iTunes store now have a wide range of selections not only limited to a few choices that they are interested in. This drives business from hits to niches a new market

2) Use algorithmic data management to match supply and demand

The iTunes store uses algorithmic data management to match users purchases/searches to recommend apps/music/books users might be interested in.

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(3) Use an architecture of participation to match supply and demand

Customers and owners can discuss/share their thoughts on applications on the apps store.  For example, reviews can be made through comments on a particular app. Ratings is also a way iTunes store allows customers to look at if the product is worth purchasing.

(4) Leverage customer self-service to cost effectively reach the entire web

This practice has been done by iTunes, users can sign in their account, view their wish list, recommendations etc
However, it would be good it users view other peoples download history, and share what they have downloaded with the iTunes community. This would allow customers to manage their own accounts gives them greater control and information.

(5) Leverage the low-cost advantages of being online

iTunes store has started of by making the right move, making the store an online and not a shelf store.  This not only a low-cost advantage but also brings into play online/viral marketing. Many people use iTunes now with the huge growth in smartphone users.

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In conclusion, the iTunes store offers many products for the public. They have demonstrated effective use of the 5 practices that helps them Leverage the long tail. Not only to cater for a certain category of customers but a wide niche market.

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References:
– Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 9 – Lecture slides

Perpetual Beta “Ebay”

This blog will look at  the concept “Perpetual Beta”, the sixth of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly.  In the current internet age, applications and softwares doesnt just rely on CD or install update packages. When devices and programs are connected to the Internet, applications they  are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services.  Development teams for these application should engage the users to be real-time testers, and structure the service to reveal how people use your product.

Users must be treated as co-developers, in a reflection of open source development practices (even if the software in question is unlikely to be released under an open source license.) The open source dictum, “release early and release often” in fact has morphed into an even more radical position, “the perpetual beta,” in which the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. It’s no accident that services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Flickr, del.icio.us, and the like may be expected to bear a “Beta” logo for years at a time.

Benefits for this pattern includes:

  • Faster time to market — using actual users to test your application/software
  • Reduced risk — real time feedback
  • Closer relationship with customers
  • Real-time data to make quantifiable decisions
  • Increased responsiveness

Ebay is an online auction and shopping website where people can sell electronics, cars and many other things. Ebay was founded in 1995, since then Ebay has become the leading auction site on the internet. Throughout the past 18 years Ebay has been though many changes,  particularly in the UX area. So does Ebay close down during updates? No! Whilst, going to my Ebay account recently i felt something was wrong my listings weren’t showing up, this was because of Ebay doing maintenance work to improve the application for its users. Here are best practices that ebay has adopted in relation to practices that  Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT   pointed out during “Perpetual Beta” lecture.

(1) Release early and release often

Since its launch Ebay has been through many changes, it is said Ebay deploys a new version roughly every 2 weeks. Since Ebay is such a popular application used by many, it is essential that Ebay releases a new version to fix bugs, improve user experience and implement new features. We also have to remember that Ebay is also now accessible via smartphones by downloading the Ebay app.

(2) Engage users as co-developers and real-time testers

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What better way of getting feedback and monitoring Ebay’s users use of the application then engaging users to help with the development of Ebay. One way Ebay has adopt is to have an image on the right hand side of the scroll bar that says “Tell us what you think”. This is a way of getting feedback.

(3) Instrument your product

What users do often tells you more than what they say, other ways ebay could well have used other than the “Tell us what you think” image for fast user feedback is a hot spot/heat map monitor. This will track the mouse movements and clicks of users, this could give good feedback to Ebay developers on which areas they need to look at to improve Ebay from a users perspective.

(4) Incrementally create new products

Since using Ebay i have seen numerious new features being added on to the Ebay application. New features includes having recommendations based on previous items viewed,  changes in feedback and many more.

5) Make operations a core competency

Ebay takes users data and feedback to provide users with much better experience.  Ongoing day-to-day management of data and services play a large part in where Ebay is at right now.

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Conclusion

Ebay’s use of Perpetual data has helped them continue to improve their application to adapt to the users needs. By monitoring and collecting data from users use of Ebay itself this allows fast and efficient changes without the need for huge downtime.

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References:
– Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 8- Lecture slides

The World of Ubiquitous Computing

This blog will look at  the concept “Software above the level of a single device”, the fifth of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. From all the previous blogs “Harnessing collective intelligence” , “Data is the Intel Inside”, “Innovation in Assembly” and “Rich user experience”  we can see that the world of Web 2.0 is evolving at a rapid rate.

The vast increase of smartphones used has brought us into an era of ubiquitous computing. So what does this mean? It means that applications and web 2.0 can now be accessible not only on ones PC but now on multiple devices (laptop, smartphones, tablets etc). You can now shop online on your smartphone on the move and even your tablet! Gaming has also moved towards not only PC but mobile devices.

One other feature of Web 2.0 that deserves mention is the fact that it’s no longer limited to the PC platform.- Tim O’reilly

The PC is no longer the only access device for Internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. – Professor Jason Watson’s Week  7 lecture

SkypeThe interactions between many devices is not a big feature in the world of ubiquitous computing, an application that demonstrates this is “Skype”. Skype allows people to call, message, share and see others where ever they are in the world. Skype is accessible on ones PC, smartphones and even tablets. This shows that this application doesn’t just run on a single device, but it runs on multiple devices. If someone wanted to call their mum/dad their mum or dad they can do it from a PC however their mum/dad could answer the call from their smartphone!

Lets look at some best practices that Skype has adopted based on the 7 best practices that  Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT   pointed out regarding “Software above the level of a single device”.

1) Design from the start to share data across devices, servers, and networks

Skype offers users many functions such as voice calls, video calls, chat and sharing data. Skype was designed to share data across multiple devices. Recently, MSN messenger has merged with skype bring both networks together.  Users can now use skype and it’s features as long as they have internet connection on their device.

2) Think location aware

Skype can utilize wireless signals to enable users to call/transmit/receive data. Most devices have wireless/GPS and bluetooth built in, as long as there is internet connection skype can be used and accessible.

3) Extend Web 2.0 to devices

Skype not only can be used on PC but the application is extended to mobile devices as well! You can also link your Skype to the popular Facebook application!

4) Use the power of the network to make the edge smarter

Once a user is logged into Skype on their mobile device even if they aren’t using their phone Skype is still active because it is still connected to the network. By doing this messages can still be sent to a receiver unless the have actually logged out of the Skype application. All personal Skype information are stored on the server.

5) Leverage devices as data and rich media sources

As mentioned before weather on your PC or mobile device, Skype allows users to use the device to access rich media sources Skype offers. This includes: video calling, data transferring, chatting and voice calls.

6) Make one-click peer-production a priority

Skype once installed is simple to use, when chatting or sending data users just have to click the “send” button to send the data to the recipient.

7) Enable data location independence

Skype allows customers to seamlessly keep data synchronized across devices, if a new contact is added on a PC once Skype is opened and signed in on the same account on another device data will be synchronized across. This is a huge convenience.
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References:
– Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 7- Lecture slides

YouTube- “A Rich User Experience”

This blog will look at  the concept “Rich User Experiences“, the fourth or eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. From all the previous blogs ”
Harnessing collective intelligence” , “Data is the Intel Inside” and “Innovation in Assembly” we can see that the world of Web 2.0 is evolving at a rapid rate. Long gone are those websites that were static and not user friendly. It is important that websites/applications developed satisfy the user and makes navigation/find information easy or else users would not return to that website.

Fortunately, with all the methods of enriching websites and web applications there are plenty of websites that offer users such a rich user experience like never before. The website/application i will analyze today in relation to “Rich User Experience  is Youtube. Youtube is one of the most popular websites out there, i can safely say that everyone reading this blog would have used YouTube a some stage in their lives. However, Youtube has undergone various changes since becoming a huge phenomenon.

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Youtube allows users to upload videos and stream videos, it uses uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 technology to display a wide variety of videos.

Here are some benefits/ features provides Youtube with  rich user experience:

1. Youtube automatically suggests video names based the letter a user has typed, the suggestion changes as more letter is typed in. For example if you type “G” drop down suggestion will give you suggestions such as Gangnam style, Google etc . This is such a great way of not only finding the content you want but it also draws users to other content based on youtube’s suggestions.

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2. Youtube now can be linked to ones gmail, some may hate this but i find it convenient, by linking it to your gmail your search history in youtube will be saved and suggestions will be made based on your searches.

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3. You can also share a particular video you like to other social media networks, very handy and efficient way. (This pleases many users a lot, since they can then share what they want to their social media account from YouTube).

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Right, lets look at some best practices that Youtube has adopted from a rich user experience perspective.

(1) Combine the best of desktop & online experiences –

The youtube navigation is simple and easy as most should know, what has changed in the last few years is the YouTube application that is now available on almost all mobile devices/smartphones.  Whether on the desktop or mobile device the rich interactivity, high user engagement, fast performance allows Youtube to be a ubiquitous application that provides rich user experience.

(2) Usability and simplicity first

YouTube’s application is simple and easy to use providing all its users a simple yet rich user experience. I believe YouTube holds a big portion users using their services is not only because of the services they offer, but also because of the simplicity and usability YouTube offers. Thus, retaining their users. If you haven’t check YouTube out you seriously need to ask yourself what have you been doing! Go to YouTube now!

(3) Match the technology usage to the requirements

Youtube can be used on any devices that has a web browser (IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari) or in the age we live in now with smartphones the youtube app allow users to use the YouTube technology. Currently, YouTube uses HTML5 and Flash to display its contents however this could well change in the future with a push towards HTML5.

(4) Search over structure

Searching YouTube contents doesn’t only come from the YouTube website itself, even google searches can also bring up Youtube pages.

(5) Deep, adaptive personalization

As mentioned early, YouTube brings in personlization to its users, based on their search history recommendations will be made to the user.  This adaptive personlization offers rich user experience because it will show content that the user is interested in or similar videos. YouTube user’s experience dynamically learns from the users behavior, anticipates needs, remembers preferences, and adapts as appropriate. Which saves time!

Resources-

Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 5- Lecture slides

http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

http://chris.pirillo.com/youtube-layout-changes-good-or-bad/

Innovation in assembly

This blog will look at  the concept “Innovation in assembly“, the third of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly.

Lightweight business models are a natural concomitant of lightweight programming and lightweight connections. The Web 2.0 mindset is good at re-use. A new service like housingmaps.com was built simply by snapping together two existing services. Housingmaps.com doesn’t have a business model (yet)–but for many small-scale services, Google AdSense (or perhaps Amazon associates fees, or both) provides the snap-in equivalent of a revenue model.

These examples provide an insight into another key web 2.0 principle, which we call “innovation in assembly.” When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways. Much as the PC revolution provided many opportunities for innovation in assembly of commodity hardware, with companies like Dell making a science out of such assembly, thereby defeating companies whose business model required innovation in product development, we believe that Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others.”

 – O’Reilly

The world wide web has grown at a fast rate and will continue to.  Re-use is a great term to describe Web 2.0, with all the data and API’s available out there business/companies can customize and create applications like never before. This is know as “Innovation in assembly“.

What is an API?

An API is also know as “Application programming interface“. It is an interface implemented by an application which allows other applications to communicate with it. So why is it needed? This is because there needs to be communication between platforms and applications. Just imagine Notepad couldn’t copy-paste to and from microsoft word or google chrome, you would have to type everything out even though it is already on notepad!  This is only one of the examples of communication between applications and all this communication is made possible via APIs. This type of innovation brings speed and efficiency to our everyday use of the World Wide Web. Right lets take a look at an API that is useful throughout the world.

Bing Translation API!

bing_babelfish       bingapp

Bing Translator is one of many services offered by bing. Bing  (known previously as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search) is a web search engine from Microsoft. Bing Translator’s main rival is google translator , these 2 translation services allows everyone in the world to use it. This is such a great tool particularly with people travelling around to various countries where they many not be familiar with the language there. The API allows developers to create mobile apps or even implement the translator into their application. So what are the benefits of the Bing Translation API?

– Increased Bing’s popularity/exposure
– New products and innovations developed

Let’s look at the best practices that  Bing Translation API has adopted-

1) Offer APIs to your service-

Bing offers many services including map services, search services and translator services. All these services have API’s that are available for people to use.

2) Design for remixability

Apart from the usual one language translating to another, one interesting application that has used bings API to remix and design is 2lingual Bing search. 2lingual Bing search is a search engine that uses bing translator API to split users search into both languages.

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3) Use existing standards

The API can be used with either REST, SOAP or JavaScript protocol and responses are formatted in XML or JSON.

4) Build your business model into you API

With Bing being a search engine, the translator fits well into the business model, for example users might want to translate a sentence from English into Chinese by using the Bing search option they can easily translate into the chinese language without needed to use other translator services.

5) Use web 2.0 to support your platform – Using the Web 2.0 patterns, Bing translations harnesses the data of its users and developers to create new linguistic services (voice recognition services).

6) Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty – The competition from other translation services such as Google translate and other translation sites is no doubt intense and fierce. By making their API open to the public this allows bing to gain customer trust and loyalty.

Conclusion

What Bing translator has shown is not only does the application provide a way of translating languages from the internet, but by providing an API to the general public it brings in innovation assembly. Developers can now use the API key to develop various types of applications or implementing it within their website/application. 

Foodspotting — Data is the Intel Inside

This blog will look at  the concept “Data is the Intel Inside“. The second of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly during a conference on Web 2.0. So what does this mean?  The phrase means that data weather it be the user or privately created is becoming a commodity.

“During the Web 2.0 conference O’Reilly confessed that having access to large amounts of data is in many instances more important than creating great algorithms” — Why is this so? As the web continues to evolve data is such an important aspect, Internet applications, success often comes from data, , not just function.

You can either be part of the data as users such as flicker or youtube where users upload their images/videos, in other words users are the data. Another aspect is users collecting data via websites (wikipedia, google etc). I believe we are moving into the stage where data will continually be reused. A great example is social media sites (facebook, google+, twitter etc) once users upload their content (images/posts/videos) these data can be reused via other websites/web 2.0 tools. Data contribution leads to collection and then distribution via the web which leads to organizations gaining exposure or even increase in earnings.

Ever heard of the web 2.0 application Food spotting?

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Food spotting is a website and app that allows people to find and recommend food! It is particularly useful because of the map feature it has, users with the application can look at current food trends in the areas they wish to look at. For example, once you have signed up you can either upload an image of the food you would like to share, this can be done via their website or through their mobile app (which is much more convenient on the go).

IT’S ABOUT DISHES
Discover nearby dishes, find whatever you’re craving & see what’s good at any restaurant.  -Google Play

IT’S VISUAL
It makes finding good food as easy as looking in a bakery window.
-Google Play

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What is great about food spotting is it utilizes the data of users and stores it on their application. Let’s take a look at an example, a person has just been to Southbank in Brisbane and went to Grill’d the awesome burger restaurant, they want to share their findings of this restaurant. They can upload their image to Foodspotting, which allows everyone who has the application to see what are the ‘ Latest in map area’ which shows the latest foods based on your selected location or current location (based on GPS). Another great aspect is that when you are viewing an image you can like itwant it or if you have tried it click tried it.

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Let’s look at some best practices that “Foodspotting” has achieved with its data strategies-

1. Seek to own a unique, hard to recreate source of data
The unique thing about Foodspotting is the data shown are data from the users themselves.

2.Enhance the core data-
Foodspotting allow users to enrich data with user comments, liking it, wanting it or tried it. Which is a great way to engage the online community.

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3. Let users control their own data
Food spotting does enable users to control their own data such as deleting and reviewing posts.

4. Define a data strategy
The advantage lies within the data being collected can be viewed by many.Users get to upload their current food explorations on the go from Global Positioning System (GPS)

5. Design data for reuse

Data reuses is fast becoming a major factor in the growth of the web. Foodspotting allows users to share the data they have uploaded. Even sharing other users foods via social media sites such as Facebook, google+ and twitter.

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Foodspottings privacy use of data-

From foodspottings privacy policy states “You can choose not to provide us with any of the information above, but may not be able to take advantage of certain features without creating an Account or providing the appropriate information.” An example is ones current location, in order to find nearby content more easily and receive targeted information. A user can opt into sharing your mobile device or web browser’s location by accepting the appropriate permission or prompt.  However, users who turn of their location services will not be able to find foods around them in their current location.  Foodspotting’s privacy policy has shown that they give their users free will when it comes with their data and third-party sharing.

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Sources

http://www.foodspotting.com

http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/12/google-admits-data-is-the-inte.html