In case you haven’t heard it’s 2015 and a new year means new themes (or re-emphasis on old old themes) for the internet industry. The three themes that I see taking shape in 2015 revolve around health, home and payments. I give my quick take on each of these themes below.
With regard to health, you may have heard that Apple is fixing to release their watch in early 2015. Sensors that gather health data are a key component of the Apple Watch. I assume that the data from the watch will be aggregated in Apple’s native Health app and in turn will be made available to third-party apps. Given the myriad of fitness trackers and watches already available Apple is something of a johnny come lately into this space. Everyone interested in this space is waiting for the Apple Watch and so I think that the race to track people’s health data really begins once Apple launches.
The tech world was aflutter earlier this week as Microsoft announced that (a mere four years after the launch of the iPad) they were releasing Office (specifically Word, Excel and Powerpoint) as native, touch optimized apps on the iPad. I have read a broad array of coverage on this development and none of it explored the broader implications of the move, which I happen to think are a way more important development that the arrival of new productivity tools on the iPad.
First and foremost, the arrival of Office on the iPad heralds the beginning of a major partnership between Apple and Microsoft. How so? Well, Microsoft is selling access to edit documents on the iPad (the individual apps are free to use as document viewers) as in app purchases. That means Apple gets 30% of the revenue. What Microsoft is selling though is not just full access to Office on the iPad. They’re selling Office 365 memberships which also include a license for full Office on five computers and five tablets. Please stop and think about that for a second. Apple will be getting a 30% cut of most new Office 365 licenses going forward. That is an absolutely huge win for Apple and a huge concession by Microsoft.
When first time internet entrepreneurs (i-treps) begin to think about building their product it’s often an overwhelming thing to have to consider all the technical aspects of a web-based system. Even with pre-packaged systems such as WordPress and hosted platforms such as SquareSpace there are plenty of important considerations such as setup, design, workflow and more. Once those things are considered i-treps likely turn their thoughts to the time consuming process of acquiring the necessary talent (a programmer, a designer, etc.) to help them make their idea into a reality. Given this it’s not surprising that many new ideas end up shelved before they even get off the ground. While building out a world-class (or at least a really good) system from the start is one way for an i-trep to approach development, there are other approaches that are not only viable but also very advisable too.
Start simple. It seems like such a basic concept but too often i-trep ideas tend to take off into the stratosphere due to our expectation that great things can be built very quickly these days. It’s true that they can be built quickly if you have the right people and financial resources. New i-treps typically lack both of those things. And even if some good people and resources are available there is still a risk that the resources invested in a very new idea will end up squandered if said idea fails to get off the ground. So I say again, start simple. Starting simple allows you to prove the worthiness of the idea and gives you an opportunity to tweak the idea before too many resources have been expended on the initial concept.
After digesting Apple’s recent iOS 7 event it became clear to me that now more than ever the internet ecosystem that a particular mobile device is connected to is becoming almost as important as the hardware and software on the device. It’s true that sales of mobile devices make Apple a lot of money but it’s the lock-in effect of Apple’s ecosystem that ensures a continuing stream of revenue and future device purchases.
A case in point as far as Apple is concerned is FaceTime video chat. At first FaceTime seemed like a folly in the face of Skype’s dominance. But now that Apple has sold hundreds of millions of iOS devices and Macs that support FaceTime it has become the default video chat client for many iPhone and iPad users. The same goes for Apple’s iMessage service. When I know that someone has an iPhone I’m more likely to iMessage them than send an email when I’m on the go. The lack of the 160 character text message limit is incredibly helpful. And the ability to send and receive on my iPad and Mac make iMessage much more useful than standard texting. I’m seeing iCloud photo streams getting used more within my family too.
With word coming from Google that they have now consolidated their storage quota to 15 gigabytes (GB) across Drive, Gmail and Google+ I began to ponder just how much free storage you can get from the various cloud services seeking your digital assets. A cursory review of some of the major services reveals the following amounts of free storage.
Microsoft SkyDrive – 7GB
Amazon Cloud Drive – 5GB
Apple iCloud – 5GB
Dropbox – 2GB
Box – 5GB
Back in October 2012 Google shut down the Feedburner API, a situation that left many an Internet content publisher scrambling for alternatives to a service that no longer seemed to be a given to continue into the distant future. It’s true that Feedburner is still alive (for now) but the signs of a slow retreat by Google from the feed distribution space (shut down the API, shut down the blog) are there. Given the signs I think it’s a wise move for Internet content publishers to: a) start migrating feeds off of Feedburner; and b) refrain from moving any new feeds over to Feedburner.
As an early Feedburner user (pre acquisition by Google) I thought that it would be helpful to write a post that provides some context by letting people know what Feedburner does for publishers, why they got so popular, what happened after Google acquired them and why Feedburner (and services like it) are no longer necessary (or advisable) for those people who plan to be serious Internet content publishers for a long time to come.
Have you heard of Google Takeout? It’s a service that allows you to export your data from selected Google services so that you can either have a backup or easily migrate to another platform. Google’s recent notice of shutting down Google Reader will lead to many people (including myself) exporting their data via Google Takeout so they can more easily switch to other feed readers.
So what do you get if you use Google Takeout to export your Google Reader data? Google’s Data Liberation Front blog explains that in their post titled Escaping From Google Reader. In short you get files for just about every activity (stars, likes, shares, etc.) but the most important file for migrating is the subscriptions file, which is provided in an xml format. You can upload that file to another service and save yourself the trouble of individually re-subscribing to each of your feeds.