Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Saturday, January 15, 2005

I have been getting reports that Apple's new iPod Shuffle is sold out. Buzz Bruggeman, for instance, told me he just wanted to go and look at one at the Apple store in Florida. They sold out of their latest shipment in an hour.

Is branding dead? Apologies to my friends Doc and Hugh, but no.

Here's a company selling a flash-based MP3 player that's very similar to tons that have been out there for months, if not years.

But, notice how fast word has spread that Apple had a hot new product. Word-of-mouth is getting faster and faster. Only a few thousand people watched the Apple keynote, but word has been spreading through the information networks fast. I've been seeing blogs about Shuffle come through my aggregator ever since.

Another anectdote? My boss was in line to buy one the morning that Jobs gave his keynote. His phone had an SMS text message. His wife, who wasn't even watching the keynote, had heard about it and wrote just a few simple words: "you better not come home without two."

There's some lessons here for all companies:

1) If you build best of breed products your customers will take your next product without even checking it out.

2) If your product has even one attribute that others don't have word will get around fast. In this case, what does the iPod have? Just ask my son. "It's cool."

3) Word-of-mouth networks will get everyone in a hyped up state so that sales growth will be explosive once enough people think it's worth talking to their friends about.

4) The company doesn't need a blog to get the word of mouth out if it has a pile of rabid fans who'll talk about it (and if you can get Gizmodo and Engadget to cover your keynotes live). If you don't have those things you'll need to figure out how to get the first 40 bloggers to talk about your product. Why 40? That's the ICQ rule. They started with 40 fanatical users and went on to have hundreds of millions of downloads.

So, what is the new branding? It's the likelihood you'll tell your friends, family, or readers about your new product. Apple's product quality and marketing are working to make Apple's brand love very high. Steve Jobs now gets applause just for displaying a product box.

Companies with low brand love (and, yes, I do count the company I work for on that list) will find it tougher to get adoption. Not impossible, though. Remember the Halo 2 lines? All you need to do is build the best-of-breed product and people will line up to buy.

Keep in mind: best of breed is both the product itself and the marketing/evangelism that surrounds it.

11:16:03 PM    comment 

Martin Schwimmer sure opened a can of worms.

First, Martin has replied to the criticism. I'll give my own thoughts in a future post, but wanted to get all the linkage here so you can see what people are arguing about.

"Christopher Baus: What I don't understand is why he licenses his content under Creative Commons."

Shelly Powers: "Wait until he discovers the other online sites, such as, that do add ads into the feed if you use it to subscribe within any aggregator, Bloglines or not."

Phil Haacked: "In my humble opinion, he's making a myopic mistake in action and reasoning."

"James Robertson: Scoble points to a lawyer who's unclear on the concept."

Karsten Schneider: "It's a dumb move if you ask me."

Paid Content: "How to Control Your RSS Feeds: First step: Don't publish one."

Niall Kennedy: "Feed aggregators and robot exclusion."

Neil Turner: "Never trust attorneys."

Blogosphere News' Devin Reams: "I don’t think you can even begin to compare the “old media” (NBC) with a blog. The advertising models are hardly comparable, Mr. Schwimmer."

Alpha Geek: "This guy [Schwimmer] seems very confused."

A Copyfighter's Musings' Derek Slater: "Let me throw out some questions, in the service of probing the issue (and not to judge or argue for any particular view)."

Ed Bott: "What happens when you don't understand technology."

Thomas Hawk: "Martin, Dude, if you don't like the way that your work appears in an RSS reader, THEN DON'T PUBLISH AN RSS FEED!"

Denise Howell: "I don't think there's an easy answer, but a court could be asked this question before long as businesses built on RSS continue to explore what they can and should be doing with the material they aggregate."

Russell Beattie: "So yeah, I think this guy Martin Schwimmer is a anal-retentive pinhead (it's not what he said, but how he said it), but it's obvious this was going to happen sooner or later."

Brendon Wilson: "I, for one, would like to thank Martin for the attention he's brought to this issue."

One last one to watch is Mark Fletcher's blog. He's the founder of Bloglines and I imagine he might have something to say on the issue.

10:53:35 PM    comment 

Jacqueline Passey: "I frequently blog naked."

Um, as my son says: "TMI!" (That stands for "Too Much Information").

Yes, this post comes with a $5 donation to Tsunami relief. Up to $80 now.

By the way, she uses a Toshiba Tablet PC just like the one I use.

1:42:01 PM    comment 

I've been invited to write 1,000 words for a book by people who write web sites in reverse-chronological order. Hmmm, I can't even get 1000 words done on my own book, much less on someone else's book.

Very interesting idea, though. I wish I had thought of that. See, I'm stupid. Shel and I are actually trying to write an entire book ourselves! That reminds me, publishers are interested in books about this stuff. I need to finish off my part of the proposal. Shel says we'll have it ready this week to send around. Thanks to everyone who has given us such great suggestions.

But, back to the topic at hand. Anyone want my invitation? Who should I give it to?

1:28:56 PM    comment 

ZDNet's David Berlind talks about how a Wall Street Journal reporter told him that a source in the financial sector said that Web sites with content in reverse-chronilogical order are insignificant and that podcasting is nothing that anyone has to pay attention to.

Oh, he's right! How many readers a day do I have? A few thousand? Maybe 10,000 on a good day. Now, how many users of computers are there? Hundreds of millions, right?

But that's totally missing the point. How many people does it take to change the world? Not many. .NET was done by a handful of people. From what I hear from Apple the iPod team was a handful of people. From what I hear from my friends in politics change in massive policies usually happens due to a handful of people. Ever watch the West Wing? They say it's pretty close to how it's done.

I've seen what happens when Dave Winer and Adam Curry get together. Podcasting happens.

So, it doesn't take too many people reading you to make some wild things happen.

I am just wondering: who's next to change the world?

1:20:32 PM    comment 

Do you dream about being a music studio audio engineer? You know, the guy who decides what level the singer is relative to the guitar? Well, UMIXIT promises to give us that. A friend says it's cool but I haven't tried it yet. Has anyone else?

12:56:41 PM    comment 

Does anyone else still look at the images coming from Mars with amazement? Our little robots have been up there about a year collecting images and data. I don't think they ever expected them to last this long. What an amazing feat and win for Nasa.

And, of course, the images coming from Titan are equally amazing.

12:42:25 PM    comment 

By the way, I'm already seeing other reactions to Martin's decision. I've posted those to my link site. Lots of other things are there as well.

12:33:26 PM    comment 

I've just removed Martin Schwimmer from my subscription list. Why? Because he doesn't want his posts reprinted in Bloglines (and, I assume, in sites like my link site).

The real trick here is: if you don't want your full posts reprinted somewhere else, don't put them into RSS. That's one reason most commercial sites don't include full content in their feeds.

I don't mind that Bloglines reprints my content and I don't mind that anyone using an RSS News Aggregator looks at my content without seeing my design or my navigation links or my email address or cell phone number.

If I did care, I'd switch my RSS feeds to only shove out partial content, or I'd delete my RSS feed altogether.

Update: what is different about Bloglines than, say, NewsGator? Is Martin saying I can't look at his writings in ANY news aggregator, or is he discriminating only against online news aggregators? I say: if you don't want your writings to be republished in a news aggregator, don't publish an RSS feed.

12:30:54 PM    comment 

I heard another excuse today. A reader here is being head hunted by a company that'll go un-named here for obvious reasons. He asked whether he would be able to continue writing on the Web. They said "no."

Why not?

Because the execs there say that they're selling brains and that they don't want knowledge shared with people outside the company who won't be paying for it.

One little problem: how will I know you have a big brain if you aren't willing to display your talents in public once in a while?

12:17:34 PM    comment 

One of the most successful venture capitalists the world has ever known, John Doerr, is on IT Conversations (it's a recording of his speech from the Web 2.0 Conference).

12:05:56 AM    comment 

Anytime Adam Bosworth, now of Google, says something, it's gotta go on the "must pay attention" list. He was on Gillmor Gang yesterday.

12:04:19 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
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Last updated:
5/11/2005; 1:02:04 AM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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