Sunday, January 30, 2011

Facebook pushes developer to avoid flash-why?

Facebook, the biggest social met work with over 600 million members did miss one of the most important development in the last 18 months. FB did miss the mobile train.
There is a Facebook app available for smart phones like the iPhone, but the functions are limited. Facebook could grow so extremely because of their open API approach which allowed developers all over the world to build plugins or apps for Facebook. This helped FB to get a lot of content and functions without spending money and research. The downside is, that most of the apps in Facebook are done in flash and flash is not available on many smart phones, and even if the smart phones have flash capability, the apps won't work well because they are designed for mouse and not touch.
Facebook wrote now an open letter to their developer community not to use flash anymore to change their existing flash apps into HTML (I don't say HTML5 anymore because since last week the HTML5 functions are now official a part of HTML).
I don't have the letter but I did find an interview about FB and HTML5

Why is Facebook so eager to get away from flash?
As you know Facebook is big and wants to sell as much ads possible, however we should not forget that most users are spending over 50% of their FB time to play games like Farmville, Mafia Wars etc.

... But the most interesting thing Pleasants noted was that he recently heard (from his own source, apparently) that half of all users on Facebook now play social games. More impressively, 40% of total usage time on the service is spent on these games. That’s meaningful, of course, because “a huge amount the Internet is on Facebook,” Pleasants stated......

And Facebook announced that their official currency is FB credits, any in game purchase must be done with FB credits which gives FB 30%.
All these games are not accessible through FB mobile, therefore people spend less time on FB mobile, but worse, the game developers like Zynga did develop their games like Farmville as mobile version outside of Facebook.

This is pretty hard on FB, if all games will go to mobile outside from FB, because then FB could lose a lot of traffic, this means a lot of page views, which is more than a lot of ads impressions. And FB would not make money on the virtual goods sold through these mobile game versions.

It is almost ironic that a young company like FB which grew to number one website did miss the mobile trend. Should not all these smart young people at FB have known that mobile will come?

I guess Steve Jobs was smarter than anybody thought, when he announced his mobile devices will not support flash. Everybody thought it is vendetta against Adobe. But I believe he saw early enough in FB a competition to his app store and games. He got now many FB games with his anti flash move and instead paying money to FB the developers are now paying to Apple 30%. and if i would need to choose to whom i need to pay 30%, i would prefer to pay it to a company which is well established, generates real revenue and has real products.

If Facebook is not able to get the mobile part straight for the most used apps in their website, then FB will be in 24 months not anymore in the top 4 websites.

Facebook is big and has big potentials, but losing the top time spending on their site will cost a lot of money and I can tell you that more and more people will move their social activity to mobile. I hope for Facebook that it is not too late for them.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Google instant preview on the iPhone

Google has begun rolling out instant preview for iPhone and iPod touch..

The desktop version was rolled out late last year, 'Instant Previews' for iOS devices utilizes a Safari tab-like page built completely using HTML to show users a snapshot of what the website looks like before they load it.
The desktop version has an advantage because the user can instantly compare images of the results.

The mobile edition -- which appears to be rolling out slowly and is not currently available for everyone -- is activated by selecting a small magnifying glass to the right of search results.

Given the difference in screen size between desktops and iOS devices, Google has created a new interface for the tool, with users shown a Safari tab-like page which allows for scrolling sideways between the results, and when selected allow you to visit the page.

The instant preview search is not yet available for the iPad but will be more likely like the desktop version because of the bigger screen.

The results page also includes the title and description of each site alongside the URL when you flick through, and dots at the top of the page showing your progression through the query results.

Google might have missed the social train, but is now pushing a lot into mobile, which obviously Facebook missed.

The latest mobile changed at google:
Google instant
Google docs which is now editable with the iPad.
Noes google goggles update.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The iPad goes to the pub

We had on Friday a after work party at a new bar at the international mall. The bar just opened a few weeks ago. It is a Scottish bar called "The Pub".
It is a nice two levels bar and all employees are wearing kilts. I believe they offer around 30 different beers but no German beer.
The bar was packed and seems to be the latest hit.
The coolest part in the bar is that you don't interact with the waitress or bartender if you want to get beer. They are only there to take food or soft drink orders or to open you a tap.
The first time you want to order you are asked if you have an open tap, if not you have to give your credit card to the waiter ad he will come back with your credit card and a second card, which is your card to order beer.

At the east side wall, the Pub has around 15 Draught beers and on top, mounted to the wall, 4 framed iPads.
You hold the back of the card (which has a barcode) to the lower part of the iPad. The iPad attached RFID scanner (hidden in frame) will recognize the RFID and then the iPad is greeting you by name. You will have 20 seconds time to start to fill your glass with one of the beers in front of you.

You will see on the iPad how many ounces you took. Yes you pay per ounces. Their regular ounce price is 34 cents.
On the opposite side they have a big screen which shows how much an ounce costs and how well the beers are sold in ounces.

This is a pretty cool usage of the iPad. The waiters seem to have an iPod touch for taking orders. Which they use a special application to punch the order in and then scan the bar code of the card (I was told, can't confirm because i did not order food, i only ate from others plate :). And the food is actually pretty good, especially their home made potato chips).

The company which is offering this system might have seen a blog about a guy who did build something similar for his home.

The pub Tampa belongs to the Tavern Restaurant Group and is so new that it has not yet a website.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is the iPad ready for business?

Apple is claiming that 4 out 5 top 500 companies are evaluating the iPad as a business device.
I did want to know if the iPad is an alternative to a notebook.
I tried the last two weeks to use my iPad as much as possible. First i thought it works well or even better. I have to explain that i am not a programmer or designer. I am director who does manage a team. Therefore I have no real heavy duty to perform on my notebook, if i don't want to.
I spend most of my time in meetings, writing emails, reading documents, creating PowerPoint decks and surf the Internet. The iPad can do all this and does not take up so much space like a notebook.
Before, I used my iPad mostly for writing my blog and surf at home the Internet or to read my emails. I had it the last 8 months every day in the office but it was most likely the most expensive digital picture frame you can get.

I have the 3G 64GB iPad with an original Apple external keyboard.

In the two weeks I did want to use my iPad as much as possible.
The first issue I did run into (which is not only an Apple problem) my wifi did not work well. We have in our office a few wifi routers but the reception is not always the best. The iPad lacks of course of wired Ethernet, therefore i had to use 3G. 3G is sometimes slow plus the reception in our building is everything but good. I had many times issues to load a website or to get emails in time. Lucky wise my office is just a few yards away from the wifi router that at least there my Internet worked.

I started this wonderful presentation with keynote, which is not really easy to use on the iPad but results are looking much better than on the notebook with PowerPoint. Almost done, i did send the deck to a co-worker to look on it. He has only PowerPoint and he told me that half of my pages do look totally off and he
could not read some parts. I must have used a font type which he doesn't have. Therefore i did export the deck as PDF. This worked but he could not make changes. I asked one of our desktop publisher to take my deck (which I exported as PowerPoint) to give it a professional look. A few hours later I got it back but when I opened it in keynote I got an error message. I had to ask the designer to export it in an older version. Finally I had it in keynote, only 20 minutes before my presentation. It took the full 20 minutes to resize the font because it was somehow off on my iPad after importing.
Meeting went well and using the iPad to connect to projector is great. Lucky that this was one of the few meetings without the need of webEx for call ins. I would not have known how it would work with the iPad. Pretty sure there is an app for this.

Reading and writing emails just went well, i believe the emails are better organized on the iPad than in outlook. I got a word document I had to open and to modify. First i could not open it because it was done in latest office 2011 version. I had to open the document on my notebook and then save it as an older version. After I was done i had to email it to myself because my iPad is not synced to the work computer.
Writing in the document using pages was horrible, I mean really horrible. I am decent in speed on the iPad. But the freaking pages program had issues with me. I might have written 5 words and then needed to wait up to 30 seconds till I could see what I wrote. I think in total it took me 1 an hour for something which should only take 15 minutes. Pages lacks of tracking changes therefore I had to change my color to red that the author could see what I changed. Tracking changes is imperative in offices, iPad is not good in handling this, maybe there is an app for this.
The next thing I needed to do, was to look at a complex Excel document with multiple sheets, pivots and graphs. Again the same problem i had to export it as an older version that the iPad could open it. Making changes in there is close to impossible. Try to change a complex formula using the touchscreen. I used my keyboard but it was not better.
I almost gave up.

Our company has a few enterprise applications, i can't use any of them on the iPad. They are all from Microsoft and only support IE 6 or higher. Of course for some of them are iPads apps available, But either they are expensive or do not work well because we did customize the enterprise applications to our company needs. These 3rd party apps do not support custom forms or fields. I tried to use for Dynamics 4.0 one of these app, which costs $30 a month, but our custom entities and field are not showing up. I wasted $30.

One of our publisher has a very heavy flash page and i was asked to look at it. No luck with the iPad, because flash is a no no.

After all i gave up after a few days instead of using it 2 weeks.

The iPad has great applications like keynote but in the business world everything, but the iPad, is windows based. There is no chance for the iPad to replace the notebook as long there is not at least a 90% compatibility to the windows world.

But it was fun to try and i still love my iPad.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.
Please follow my twitter account @schlotz69

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Starbucks mobile Card

Starbucks has a new iPhone mobile app which allows the user to pay with their phone instead of using a credit card or a physical Starbucks card.
I went this morning to Starbucks and tested it. I can say it is awesome.
First of all when you start your app you can see how much money is left on your card.
Which is very helpful because i never know how much is left.
You order your product at Starbucks, then you start your app. When the employee is ready to take payment you click on "Touch to Pay". A new screen opens with a barcode.

You hold the barcode under the scanner and it is done. You paid and you know instantly how much money is left. If you need more money you can transfer from your credit card within this app money to your Starbucks card.
Finally which helps me to keep less cards in my pocket. If just all credit cards would work like this, i would not need anymore a big wallet.

Imagine you see a cool product online and you want to buy it right now, but you don't want to put your credit card information to this vendor. Would it not cool the checkout would have a qr code which you could scan and automatically the credit card app would recognize who the seller is, how much the invoice and then send the money to them with the order through your phone. How more secure can it be? Maybe you need to put a credit card verification pin during order in your phone to ensure if somebody did steel your phone cant purchase anything because they don't know your pin.

I hope i see more apps like Starbucks to keep my wallet small.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is it a phone or a netbook?

Motorola once the the dominator with phones like the Razr lost the cool factor market lead against the iPhone and companies like HTC with Androids.

But Motorola is back. According to Motorola they have now the most powerful phone - the Atrix!!!

What is so special with the Atrix?
It is the first phone with a dual processor 2x1 gigahertz) which is twice then the current phones on the market have (1 single gigahertz processor).

But more impressive then the dual processor is the ability to dock the Atrix into a 11.6 inch screen with keyboard and a fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone (number code works as well in case your finger gets cut off)

According to some rumors the screen docking will be sold at Best Buy and not ATT (ATT will sell the Atrix phone). The prize will be at $150 for the 11.6 inch docking screen. The Atrix becomes a netbook that is just 14 millimeters thick when plugged into screen and keyboard — about the same as an iPhone with a bumper. The keyboard has its own power source and is rated at up to eight hours use. The netbook has USB slots so you can use an external drive.

Is this not what we all wanted? A phone we use to go to work or to make calls. But when we are in the office we dock it into a screen and use it as a notebook.

The idea is great but the Atrix is still a little away from this.

1. It s running on Android 2.2 and there are not many enterprise application available. But at least you can use google documents for Word and Excel.
2. When the phone is docked, the 11.6 inch screen only support right now chrome browser in full screen mode. All other applications are shown in a small side box on the screen which is the same size as the phone screen.

But after all it is the right direction where phones will go.
The Atrix is impressive in speed, and quality.
Some facts:
16GB internal memory and up to 32GB micro SD card makes it in total 48GB
5 Mega Pixel back camera and a VGA front facing Camera
960x540 screen resolution slightly lower than the iPhone 960x640 but it is not as clear and bright like the iPhone.
The Atrix will be on ATT 4G network
1 Gigabyte RAM which is more than other smart phones.
Basically the Atrix is similar like a netbook in terms of specs 18 months ago but much smaller.
Motorola is claiming that the phone will only use both processors when needed.

It is exciting to see the Atrix in action and it is pointing in the correct direction but it is still not a notebook replacement. We will see what Apple will show with their next iPhone release after iPhone 5.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.
Please follow my twitter account @schlotz69


Facebook Credits the only way to pay on Facebook

Game developers on Facebook soon must accept the social network site's Credits -- a move expected to pad the company's coffers, since Facebook charges a flat 30% whenever users buy anything with the currency.

The rule, which goes into effect on July 1, will be the exclusive way users can invest their real money into games running on Facebook. Developers may opt to continue their own in-game currencies, such as FarmBucks or CityCash, but users must buy these funds in Facebook Credits, not U.S. dollars, British pounds, or Euros.

Today, 150 developers use Facebook Credits in more than 350 applications, said Deb Liu, a platform marketing manager at Facebook, in a company blog. This represents more than 70% of the virtual-goods transaction volume on the site, she said.
Full article at newsweek

I am now a little confused, if credits is for facebook a legal currency, is it then a legal currency to trade? If so does the value of facebook currency goes up and down on the stock market?

Does Facebook not go to far with this? Not only trying to build their own online country but as well their own currency. How do i as an user know the value behind the currency? Maybe soon faceboook starts to offer their own passport?

Having Facebook credits, how can i use them somewhere else? Maybe i want to play farmville on the iphone not within facebook, is the currency working?

I think the government should stop sometimes companies doing certain things. I remember back in time the copper mines in Chile had all their own currencies that the workers can only spend the earned money within the copper mine facility to get food etc. This was and is not social at all. I want to decide where i can use my currency and not be dictated by a company. Does a Facebook employee get paid by Facebook currency?

What do you think, is Facebook going to far?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where is Apple future?

Steve Jobs has his third leave in three years and this one could be long, maybe forever.
We all know that he is famous for being very active in product development. He did multiple times delay product releases because he did want to have in the last second a change or did not like something on the product like the color. His most famous detail for perfection was during Next. When he was looking for a perfect black color of the Next computer. It took many rounds and months till he was satisfied with the color.
He has the same sense for detail with the white iPhone 4 which comes supposedly in March on the market with almost a year delay.
Steve Jobs is not by nature a software developer or a designer, but he has a gift for esthetic. Apple created beautiful consumer devices since he came back. No other mainstream computer company has build so many good looking and easy to use devices.
Steve is a great negotiator, who knows how far he can go, he is so arrogant that he rather prefers to lose a deal then giving up from his position. This is a big gamble which paid off many times.
It will be no harm for Apple if his leave is less than a year, but the longer he will be not anymore active in the day by day business, the bigger is the chance that Apple will lose the sexiness.
A company like Apple has already in their drawer new products for the next 12 to 18 months but after this the absence from Steve could change a lot.
A good friend of mine and I are always discussing how great and simple Apple products are. But he always says Apple needs to be more business friendly to be really successful. I don't agree. I believe one reason why Apple is so successful is, that they did not too much care about businesses but consumers.
Apple would need to make compromises on their hard and software which would have as an effect that the computers are not so beautiful anymore and not so easy to use.
Take as an example the iPad. Simple to use, long battery life and a wonderful piece of design.
Apple says that 80% of the top 500 businesses are evaluating to have iPads in their company.
But i think it will be never a notebook replacement or a total business unit. It is build on a platform where not many enterprise developers are around and not many of these top companies would have such developers in their teams. Most of them are using enterprise applications which are either not working on the iPad (because of safari browser and missing components) or only available with reduced functions. It might be a great tablet for sales people for their CRM if is available for the iPad. There is a salesforce mobile app version (right now only for iPhone) but this app does not work well if the company has a modified and customized salesforce site.
Using salesforce with the browser on the iPad does not make fun neither. The screen is too small and using just touch is annoying when you need to do a lot tasks or if you have to fill out opportunities. Dynamics has the same issue with mobile app (MS has no mobile version but 3rd parties are offering mobile clients) and the web app is not working on other browser than IE (at least the CRM 4.0 version).
Finance would not be able to use the iPad neither because apps like numbers are too simple to do the work finance departments would need?

I believe Apple went so big, because Steve did not want to make compromises to be a real business solution. He knows for designers the hardware is great, but for the average office person he would need to build a computer which could support enterprise software market leaders.

With Steve leave we will see very soon small signs that he is not active anymore. We will see more products released which are only 98% or less perfect.

But the longterm effect (if he is not coming back within a year) are more drastic.
Apple will try to push more into business direction which will let the consumer suffer. As an example if Apple get a breakthrough in the business world, more and more hacker will try to hack into Apple systems and more viruses will occur for Mac OS. At the end the companies are prepared for it but the consumer will be not. As a result Apple might be almost as vulnerable as Windows.
Companies will push Apple to produce computers less good looking but more resistance against dirt and heat than home computers.

New products will be released rather earlier than late with more bugs as we like. If a company has a strong CEO, then finance or the CFO can't push the teams to develop faster to stay in budget. Without Steve the CFO will have more power to get products faster out of the door to get earlier revenue in.

Apple will be not anymore so good in negotiating and will take too many compromises which will take Apple's uniqueness away. Apple won't build products how they believe should be, but how the partners influence them.

But the biggest effect will be in product releases. Nobody can replace Steve and his feelings when which product should be developed. Apple will again (like when
Steve left Apple to start Next) develop too many products and bring to much confusion and diversity to the consumer. Some would like to have more choices when buying Apple computers but honestly these people are geeks and not Joe average.

Apple is too big not to be a big player anymore but without Steve, the chances are high that Apple will not keep the number one position. Over a decade Apple could fall back four of five spots.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.
Please follow my twitter account @schlotz69

Thursday, January 20, 2011

White iPhone finally coming in March?

Multiple news and blogs are writing about the white iPhone and that it is finally coming after one year delay. Supposedly Best Buy has it already in their inventory list and in Germany vodafone added it to their inventory list.
Vodafone screenshot:

Best Buy screenshot:

Interesting is that if Apple does not want to announce to early the arrival why do they already deliver to BestBuy or Vodafone the real Name of the SKUs. They should know that at least one employee at these stores would make a picture and send it around the world, and i bet the person would use an iPhone to make the picture. Would it not make more sense to have a code name in the inventory list and replace the code name when the phone is announced?

Or is it again a smart marketing trick? Don't tell anybody about the white iPhone but put enough clues out there that everybody starts to speculate. This approach is the best and cheapest marketing you can do. No need to run expensive ads and press releases. This way things get viral better than a marketing specialist could imagine.

I belive nothing happens by accident, and therefore Apple does know exactly what they are doing and if people post some "secrets" then they are strategic placed from Apple.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Facebook launches new mobile app

Facebook goes international on mobile with partner Snaptu. The iphone version in America got not updated, which is not necessary hence the app is already great. Just missing a dedicated ipad app, which might never come.

From FB blog:

A Better Mobile Experience for More People

by Mark Heynen on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 5:00pm

We want people to have a great mobile experience no matter what type of phone they carry. Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren't used by most people around the world.

Today, we're launching a new mobile app to bring Facebook to the most popular mobile phones around the world. The Facebook for Feature Phones app works on more than 2,500 devices from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturers, and it was built in close cooperation with Snaptu. The app provides a better Facebook experience for our most popular features, including an easier-to-navigate home screen, contact synchronization, and fast scrolling of photos and friend updates.

We also wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. Similar to the site, we've worked with mobile operators from around the world to let you try this without paying for any data charges. The 14 mobile operators listed below are offering free data access when using the new Facebook mobile app during the first 90 days after they launch.
During the next few months, we plan to make the app available through more carriers in other countries so you can have a great mobile Facebook experience no matter what device you use.

Launching today on

■Dialog (Sri Lanka)

■Life (Ukraine)

■Play (Poland)

■StarhHub (Singapore)

■STC (Saudi Arabia)

■Three (Hong Kong)

■Tunisiana (Tunisia)

■Viva (Dominican Republic)

■Vodafone (Romania)

Launching soon:
■Mobilicity (Canada)

■Reliance (India)

■Telcel (Mexico)

■TIM (Brazil)

■Vivacom (Bulgaria)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Forget Facebook, Twitter and Groupon - geocaching is the real thing

We all hear about Facebook, twitter and Groupon how great these social networks are, and how much their possible market value is from 2bln to 50bln depending which one we look into it. But do they really any good for us? Groupon saves us money, but the rest?

However there is one of the older social networks which is totally underestimated. And i have to admit i did it as well. I am talking about I heard about this few years ago but did not keep it on my radar till recently. I did read two months ago an article in NYTimes about geocaching and then a few weeks ago from my boss that he does geocaching, after i asked him why did he buy a GPS device.
But the real catch was when my brother in law came to visit us and told us that he is geocaching as well. We tried it out and now i am a member and my whole family enjoys it.

What is geocaching?
You sign up at geocaching. There you input your street address and then you can see were caches are hidden close to your location. A cache is a container which has at least a log paper that people who find the cache can write their handle and date down.
Some container are bigger and have items in there which the player can exchange with another item with same or higher value. The website gives you only the coordinates of the cache and some tips (sometimes only a riddle which you have to solve to get the coordinates). The user takes his smart phone or GPS device and inputs these coordinates. New GPS devices have already a geocaching plugin. Smart phones like iPhone have apps to download. The app at the iPhone costs $9.99 but which is a good investment.

With the app you search for caches and report if you found one, upload images and write logs.
The website has some more functions. To be a member is free, however if you donate $30 for a year you can get some more statistics.
There are 10 different types of caches.

Really interesting are the rare trackables or travel bugs. If you find one you can take it and put it in another cache. On the website you can see from where it traveled. My brother in law found one which did travel from Washington down to Florida.
The caches can be located in a street sign, under a fake stone, in a a fake screw or anywhere in the woods or walls. Mostly the caches are on public property but not in national parks. The website will tell you for each cache how hard it is to find and how hard it is to get there. Many of them have a piece of paper which explains why this item is hidden in case somebody finds it who does not play geocaching.
In the region we live, which is in the woods, are within 10 miles at least 500 caches. I walked at many by without knowing there is a cache hidden. It is a fun social game for the whole family. After a while you will see same handles finding the same cache like you and you start to send these people notes. There are even big caching events with over 500 people coming together. is claiming that there are over 1.2 Million caches world wide and 4 million players (did i mention that my brother in law lives in South Korea and plays geocaching there?).
The most players are in the US (it started here) and in Germany (Germans love the nature).
This is the first and only true social network which combines online and offline in a perfect way.
A perfect game for the whole family.
I don't have yet a GPS device and use only my iPhone which is, depending where i am, only 8 to 32 feet exact.
Good GPS devices can be exact as 3 feet which can be very important to find a cache.
We did find at the weekend 16 caches but had no luck with one, which we searched over hours till it got dark. Some caches you can only find when it is dark because they might have some special night color on it. For some you need to be a scuba diver to get to them. I even did hear that one is on the way to the space station.

I believe in a few years there will be more than 50,000,000 players world wide. And guess what, the company which is running geocaching is pretty small. Only 30 employees and a lot of volunteers.

Right now the company makes approx. $30 million in revenue, which is $1 million per employee. This is higher than Facebook, twitter or Groupon does.

Geocaching is very anal that their game is not used for commercial purposes. Brands are not allowed to hid caches and to reward players.

How did i come up with the revenue number?

Geocaching is claiming to have 4 million players, i assume 25% of the registered players are paying $30 a year (low enough that a lot would do to get more service). Which gives us around $30 million. Then there is the merchandise part. You can buy containers for your caches, pins, bugs, trackables, etc. Average price assumption is $6 and maybe 800.00 items sold (I bought an item and the invoice number was pretty high).
This is another $4.8 million over a few years.
The iPhone app has very high rating and over 3200 people did rate the app. Usually 5 to 10 % of people are rating. This gives us approx. 30.000 downloads or $300k gross revenue (minus Apple share).

There we go, the revenue will be somewhere between $25 and 32 million.

If this company gets some investment and the player community is growing then we have a new big social network. With some investment I could see special sub sites for brands to do their own geocaching game through

History of geocaching from wikipedia:

Geocaching is similar to the 150-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy[2] of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.[3] The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav[4] as 45°17.460′N 122°24.800′W. By May 6, 2000, it had been found twice and logged once (by Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington). According to Dave Ulmer's message, the original stash was a black plastic bucket buried most of the way in the ground and contained software, videos books, food, money, and a slingshot.

Jeremy Irish a web developer from Seattle moved the idea into a website called in 2000, which is now the biggest geocaching website.
Please read the full history of geocaching at

I love geocaching. Thank you Jeremy and your team.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.
Please follow my twitter account @schlotz69

Monday, January 17, 2011

Steve Jobs is taking another medical leave

Steve Jobs announces today that he is taking another medical leave. It is a wise decision for his health, but how will be the impact for the company?

The last time he took a medical leave, Apple went through couple of problems and small accidents.

We all know Steve is very active at Apple and many things are going through his control. His staff is so used to his supervision that they seem sometimes to miss to verify all details, because he will look through it as well.
We can't blame them, because Steve changes things many times in last second. But as a result we get great hard- and software. Depending how long his leave is, it could negative influence the stock market and the new products coming up. His sense for details was and is important. The future will show how the impact is or of we have again security breaches or other simple things not working.

Soon will be an announcement of the new iPad and in Summer of the new iPhone, and nobody yet could present the keynotes so good like Steve.
I wish him well and hope he will be soon actively back.

See article from yahoo news about his medical leave:

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced Monday he is taking a new leave of absence from the technology company "so I can focus on my health."

"At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company," Jobs said in an email to Apple employees.
Jobs said he had asked Tim Cook "to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations" in his absence.
"I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy."

Jobs went on a medical leave in 2009, and later disclosed he had undergone a liver transplant as part of treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Targeted ads - are we going too far?

I read more and more the debate about targeted ads and if it is bad for us and should the government put some controls on.

I say targeted ads are not bade in contrary they are good, but I believe the government should put some controlling on.

First why i think targeted ads are good. My opinion might be driven that I work in the advertisement business.

If the ads are completely targeted, means the brands can display ads specialist to my buying habits or interests then the worst what can happen is that all ads I see are somehow interesting for me and I finally don't see anymore ads for leg shaving cream, lipsticks are other products i have no use and interests in. I would even not see sex ads anymore, if the publisher does it right. Because the publisher website would know I am a man, don't buy any beauty products for my wife and don't click on sex ads.
In the best scenario I would see much less ad placements. If you are asking why, I will explain. We have today on a page in average 6 ads but only because the click rate is so low (in average under 0.1%). The brands need to deliver millions of impressions in order to get 1000 clicks and only 3% of the clicks will (in best scenario) drive to a direct buy. Millions of impressions to generate 30 buys is pretty bad. Now a website has only a limited page views and the more ad placement the more impressions the more they can sell. Right now the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is for this reason only a few dollars in best case.
Now if a publisher can deliver 80% optimized ads, the Consumer would click more likely and more likely buy offered products. The click rate might go up to 10%, this is an improvement of 10,000%. And then 10% (300% improvement) will buy the product. The advertiser would only need to buy 10,000 impressions instead of 1,000,000 to get same results. As an effect the publisher can raise the CPM from maybe $2 to $200 to keep the brands cost the same (of course $200 would not happen so fast but maybe $80).
By having such high click rate and such high CPM the brands would not buy millions of impressions anymore otherwise their budget would go up. The conversion rate can't go unlimited high because the consumer has as well a budget limit. Therefore it is very unlikely a publisher would sell so much inventory like today. As a result some or half of the ad placements would go away.

At the end if a publisher is able to optimize ads to perfect targeting then we would see much less ad placements than before which at the end we all want. We don't want to have on a website more ads than content.

But why I think should the Government be involved?
I trust most of the brands, they even would not get many times detailed user information. They would tell their agency who they want to target where and the agency would build the ads for them. The publisher will then (or their ad operation company) target the ads as good they can with info they had stored about their web users.
Now there are companies out there i don't trust and don't like, but their ads would disappear on my screen because I never click on them.

But i don't trust many publishers or websites owner in general. Let us take an example like Facebook. They know all about us, who can ensure that they don't sell info about me to dubious companies? One day I might come home and 10 carpet cleaners are standing in my front yard only because my Facebook profile says that i like to vacuum but my vacuum cleaner did break last week.

I don't trust people working for FB, how do i know that they don't scan my data and find out that my wife likes men with long hair and muscles. And they did read that we had fight. Suddenly a FB employee or friend of them is hitting on my wife.

The problem is really not the targeted ads, the problem is that companies are able to store too much information about us which we might or might not be aware of. In a certain degree I don't care if they do, as long I feel comfortable that nobody (even FB) can read my information without my acknowledge.

I can't rely on what a company is saying. But if the government is regulating it, then at least if there is a problem I have the right to fight and will win. Therefore the chances are lower that somebody uses my information to do unsocial things with them.

Face it. If a person is in danger to go to jail for 5 years and has to pay up to $100,000 fine, the chances are much lower that somebody tries it, then when the only risk is to lose the job.

Same for companies, if they have to pay millions of dollar and are in risk to lose their business, the CEO has to go to jail, then not many companies would misuse our information.

The only way to get there, is to have it regulated by the government. The government of course can regulate more. They could for example force web browser companies to enable easy to use functions for the consumer to block data collection. It should be even by default on, and the user can choose to switch it off.

Right now it is a pain of the butt to do so, and TBH google chrome has anonymous browsing but guess, it is owned by google, and who knows if it is really anonymous or only for the rest of world but google.

Bottom line, i would like to see for myself more ads tailored to me, but i am afraid, if the government does not react, that too many people know too much about me without i even know.

Really bad is it with our mobile devices. They have all a unique identifier and usually a cell phone is only used by one person. The collection of data gets even further because it knows your location and is all the time with you. this is the reason why Apple got trouble with iAds and this is good so.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

iPhone screen too small?

When I bought in 2007 my first iPhone I was amazed about the OS, the ease of use but the most about the big clear touchscreen. Internet was slow and I did not use it much for surfing the web. The time went by and a year later I bought the 3G iPhone. Now Internet was fast and screen seemed to be big enough for surfing when I needed it. It got better with the iPhone 4 which was my next one. I could not anymore imagine not to have a phone like the iPhone and no retina display. But then came the iPad. The iPad changed my world totally. A 9.7inch screen with all the comfort of the iPhone (besides calls). Now I use my iPad for reading newspapers, magazines and sometimes to play games. I still like my iPhone for the type of games i play better, but this it is. I am so used to the big iPad screen for websites, and 99% of my blogs are written with the iPad. When I am now on the road or at home and to lazy to pick up my iPad, I use my iPhone to read emails and websites. However I don't like it, I don't like this tiny screen. It seems to hurt my eyes more than ever. A few months ago I made fun about the Dell Streak that it is too big for a phone. Now I wished that Apple had a bigger iPhone screen.

I believe the iPad changed our mind, most iPad users have iPhones and might think like me. The Dell Streak with 5inch screen is maybe too big, but one more inch for the iPhone would be great. I might then able to write my blogs with the iPhone and would have less headache when surfing the web.

Almost all other vendors have now phones with bigger screens than the iPhone. The iPhone 5 is coming up in June and I now get the feeling and hope that it will be available in L and not only in M (in terms of size).

Here is my wish list for the iPhone 5:
- 4.5 inch screen or at least 4.0
- RFID reader and chip that I can use the phone for certain payments, that i can use it for my marathons and can start to build apps to read RFIDs
- 4G for 10times faster Internet
- build in cable less charger that i don't need to have a special cover to do so.
- stereo speakers (cool to have)
- higher resolution for front camera to make better still images of my face (makes it easier to update my social profile image. No need to ask somebody).
- better geo tagging with photos and movies. All pictures i take right now are tagged Disney Orlando. I live 60 miles North West of it.
- 64GB memory to get my full iTunes music library on it
- faster processor that i can finally throw my notebook away. Just use an external monitor and a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone.

I think this is all what I am missing for new phone.

Is there something I missed?

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Verizon is starting in February to sell iPhone, so what?

Everybody seems happy that now Verizon is selling the iPhone, because many people are complaining about ATT.
But here is my take on it.
ATT had and has issues with receptions but i believe Verizon will have some too. iPhone users are know to have much more heavy data usage than Android or blackberry users.
Verizon 3G is not as fast as ATT there will come complains too. But the biggest part we should not forget, Verizon is not able to deliver voice and data at the same time for 3G. The beauty of the iPhone with ATT is that you can surf the Internet during taking a call, and trust me this one of the best features ever. I had many situations where i needed to read an email somebody did send during call or i did use my iPhone for navigation and got a call in at the same time. Verizon said they are working on this issue but did not hear yet that they allow vocie and data.
Apple will sell much more iPhones and it was time that there is another provider, but it comes with some limitations which users will complain about. The Verizon costs are the same as at ATT, i would not recommend to switch from ATT to Verizon only because Verizon has now the iPhone.

The only reason to switch as an iphone user (in my opinion) is to get 4G access, but unfortunately the current iphone does not support 4G. Therefore we have to wait a few months till iphone 5 comes out.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Verizon Wireless plans to sell Apple Inc's iPhone for as low as $200 starting next month, putting the smart phone at the center of its high-stakes battle with AT&T Inc for wireless customers.

I do not believe that as many users are switching from ATT to Verizon and if they do so, they will lose speed and data/ voice usage.
Article from yahoo:
Verizon's announcement on Tuesday that it would start selling the phone on February 10 puts an end to AT&T's three-year old status as the exclusive U.S. provider for the iPhone. Pre-orders start on February 3.

Verizon Wireless said the phone, a version of the Apple iPhone 4 designed to run on Verizon's network, will sell with a two-year agreement for $199.99 for the 16-gigabyte model or $299.99 for the 32-gigabyte model.

The prices are the same as what AT&T charges for those models.

Verizon, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, said the phone would be available at 2,000 of its stores around the country. It declined to comment on service price plans.

AT&T, which loses its cherished spot as the exclusive U.S. provider for iPhone, is expected to face its toughest year since 2004 as a result of the Verizon deal with Apple.

"The real question isn't how many iPhones Verizon will sell, but what AT&T does in response," said Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, who attended the Verizon event.

Analysts, pointing to years of pent-up demand among Verizon Wireless customers, expect the company to sell 9 million to 13 million iPhones this year.
The new deal will hurt phone maker Motorola Mobility, which has made a comeback as the flagship phone vendor at Verizon Wireless for the past year.
Motorola phones run on Google Inc's Android software, which has become Apple's most formidable rival in cellphone technology.
Shares of Verizon were down 2 percent at $35.16, while AT&T shares were down 1.3 percent to $29.97. Shares of Apple slipped less than 1 percent to $341.50.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twitter revenue less than $100 million but valued $3.7 bn?

Twitter did raise a short while ago $200 million and is now valued almost $4 Billion.
At the same time they generated last year less than $100 million. I really don't understand why we are almost back at the same situation before the big .com bubble exploded. Companies like twitter and Facebook get evaluated by their maybe potential revenue and not by their real market value.

Let us face this, i have no doubt that a Facebook could eventual generate $50 billion in revenue or that a twitter is able get revenue of $4 billion, but this will or would take time. For both at least 5 years if they grow revenue 100% consecutive in the next 5 years. But 5 years is a long time and can change a lot.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed he believes twitter will solely be funded by advertisement. Advertisement is attractive, but dangerous. Brands can only advertise as much they have money for it but the money is not unlimited. Right now twitter and Facebook are in favor for brands because it is new and we don't really know how much brand awareness and revenue it will bring to the brands. Advertising is only good as long it can produce indirect or direct sales.
We don't know if twitter is still attractive for them in 5 years, but we still bet twitter will be $4 billion big in 5 years.

Google could grow so much because the Internet grow a lot and we needed a place where we can find the information we are looking for. Google offered us the best solution and therefore their ad model did work. Facebook might work, because after almost 10 years of google we consumer understood that the ads shown on google might not help us all the time to make buying decision. But on Facebook the advertisers know who we are and what we want, brands can finally tailor personalized ads. But what if the government decides that brands are not allow to know so much about us? The prices for Facebook ads will fall, extremely. Facebook would be not so much in favor than other portals or search engines.

Let us compare Facebook to Google. Google made approx. In 2010 $25 billion in revenue and has a market cap of $200 billion. And Google is traded public. Facebook had a revenue of $2 billion last year and is valued as $50 Billion only traded at second markets. This means Facebook has 3 times better revenue - market cap ratio than Google (Google: revenue times 8, Facebook: revenue times 25). But in terms of traffic which defines at the end amount of ad revenue (when same amount of impressions) they are almost the same. So why is Facebook so higher valued? Brands, banks and consumer did need after ten years something new, something special. Google is old, it is an elephant, not so sexy anymore. The founders are older. Facebook is young, Mark is young, it is sexy, it is somehow new. It is a young playful elephant with dreams. The Google dream was "don't be evil", now Google is mature and understand that dreams not always come true. Facebook is still dreaming to make the world better. But this dream will not come true neither, because of our rights of privacy.
Note on the side:
privacy is exactly the reason why Facebook fas in Japan only 2 Million members. People in Japan don't like to open their identity just to do things in the Internet. I like it, more of us should think like them.

however Facebook will get eventual mature and a new kid is around we want to be around. Facebook will survive and will be used by more than 500,000,000 users this won't really change, because it is over the critical mass, but it will be so common that advertisement money will go away to the new rising star.
Twitter will not be one of them.

But back to twitter, it is for me really unlikely that twitter can ever make more than $500 million in revenue. Yes a lot of people are using twitter but not many do read tweets direct at twitter. Either we use a twitter app or read the tweets on other portals like linkedin. And even if there are a lot of ads, do we really want to see or even click on it?

Here is my tip to twitter, how they can make billions in revenue. Twitter should buy or start their own search engine, not the twitter search we have today. A simple page like google. I know that many people not only tweet their thoughts in 140 characters but many times as well add tiny urls with links to full articles or blogs. Twitter as well reflects more than anything else our moments of life. Which could help a lot to decide which stocks to buy, which bars and nightclubs are in or who the hottest single at high school is. Twitter just needs to find a way to harvest this for us in an intellectual search engine.
If twitter can spin off a search engine as life saver for certain situations and as a helper to find good blogs or news, then i can see value in twitter. But for now the twitter search is poor and i don't believe very well used.

Investors, either you guys do know much more than simple people like me or you just like to gamble at high stake. I would no invest $200 million in twitter right now with the knowledge i have. But i guess I know much less details than the investors.

A good friend of mine would simply say:
"Facebook, groupon and twitter investment. This shows us how less the money is worth nowadays." he might be so right.

Below is article from the Australian I did read about twitter and it's advertisement future.

Twitter chief executive officer Dick Costolo. Picture by AFP Source: AFP
TWITTER aims to become an independent company funded solely through advertising, but has not yet considered flotation, the CEO has revealed.

Dick Costolo said that Twitter's services for advertisers were enough to create a profitable business model. These include "promoted tweets", where companies pay for their messages to appear when a user searches for key words.

The remarks were the clearest indication yet that the company's strategy is to aim for a lucrative listing of shares rather than sell itself to a larger company.

Google and Yahoo! are believed to have considered bids.

"Our business model is an advertising model," Mr Costolo said.

"My sincere hope is for Twitter to become an independent company."

However, he said that the company had not yet considered a flotation, suggesting it was unlikely it would do so in the foreseeable future.

He joked that Twitter's business plan was "to continue to raise money".

"I just don't think about it," he said.

"I don't think about (flotation) on a day-to-day basis. I'm sure there will be a time when we consider it, we're just not there yet."

Companies such as Starbucks, Virgin America and BestBuy have already signed up to its promoted tweets service.

Mr Costolo said that the medium was proving increasingly attractive to brands wanting to speak directly to consumers.

Twitter was valued at $US3.7 billion ($3.72bn) last month, four years after it carried its first 140-character posting.

The valuation came after the company raise $US200 million in its latest round of fundraising, an investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley's best-known venture capitalists, which saw off competition from DST Global, the Russian investor in Facebook.

The fundraising round took the total amount raised by Twitter since its launch to about $US360m.Analysts believe that Twitter attracted less than $US100m of advertising revenues last year, plus fees from Google and Microsoft in return for allowing tweets to appear on their search engines.

At the time one analyst said: "It's a huge multiple, but the idea is that (Twitter's) scale can be monetised."

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

eBay Fashion has now augmented reality

eBay is now offering augmented reality, with the latest iphone update on Friday.
Consumers are now able to test a few sunglasses before they buy them.
First you have to take a picture of your face with your front camera on the iPhone. After this you have to move and zoom the glasses placer till this fits well on your eyes. It is important that you have good lights and that your eyes clearly seen in the middle of the image.
After this you can choose from a handful different types of glasses like the RayBan aviator.
The front camera will start and display the glasses on your face. You can even turn your face left, right, up and down and the glasses will move with your face.

You can hit the shop button if you like the glasses. Hitting the shop button will show you all ongoing auctions for your selected glasses.

The idea is great but still a little experimental. The glasses are rendered in a bad quality, the frame does not look real, but you can choose for each type different frame color or glass color. The glasses don't follow perfectly your head move, but the better the light the better the app works.
It took a while till i had a good scan of my face to see the glasses almost fitting perfect. Unfortunately there are only few types to choose from and one joke glass type which is as well available at eBay to buy.
Really good is how the glasses are partly transparent. It feels almost like real. It is still a big step to market but does show us the direction it is going. I can't wait till i can put clothes via AR on before I buy them.
AR and eBay are showing how we can get online a step closer to brick and mortar. I buy a lot of things online, but almost never clothes, only if I tried them before in a store. Soon I can try them online on.
I can't wait till the iPad with camera is out. The screen is perfect size for things like this.

Well done eBay.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Did i say 80.000 downloads? It was 1 Million at the first day!!!!!!

MacWorld is reporting that Apple had 1 Million download of apps in their new Mac Store.

And if only 250.000 downloads have benn paid apps with average $14 per app, then Apple would have made at the first day $3,500,000 gross revenue or over $1 Million in net. This is almost  half a billion in a year, and yet not everybody has the app store application installed.

It took just 24 hours for Apple to rack up 1 million downloads from the Mac App Store, the company announced on Friday morning. The store opened on Thursday, with more than 1000 Mac applications available for download.

In a statement on the company’s site, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “We’re amazed at the incredible response the Mac App Store is getting. Developers have done a great job bringing apps to the store and users are loving how easy and fun the Mac App Store is.”
The Mac App Store’s progress on the download front is somewhat slower than that of its iOS sibling: when launched in 2008, the iOS App Store counted 10 million downloads in the first weekend. However, back in 2003, it took the iTunes Store a week to sell a million song—granted, it was a different world back then. And while Apple didn’t issue a press release when the iBookstore hit 1 million downloads, we do know that it hit 600,000 within the first week and 1.5 million within the first month.
In short, a million downloads in a day is nothing to sneeze at—especially from a platform that’s more than 25 years old. If the Mac App Store has only a fraction of the impact that the iOS App Store had, then Mac software development is probably still in for a substantial boost. But the real change is yet to come: when Macs start shipping with the Mac App Store preinstalled, look for the fireworks to start for real.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mac OsX App store is here

I updated my Mac OS today to get the new app store. The OS update did require a reboot and a positive side effect was that my exchange account is working again. This means email, contacts, calendar and Microsoft IM work again with my office exchange. The last update before which should have improve the exchange did break it.

I went ahead and opened the app store. It looks almost the same like on the iPad.
See left side of the image below.

The app store has already 1000 of application and the most of them are apps we know from the mobile app store like Angry Birds. Angry birds got at the first day already 560 ratings, and if in average 10% do rate an app and the numbers are real then they had over 5000 downloads and a gross revenue of $25,000 minus 30%.

I went through and tried to count by ratings how many apps have been downloaded and put the numbers together. If I am not mistaken than Apple had at the first day over 80.000 downloads which an average price of $15. This is a revenue of $1.2 million for the first day and an estimated one year revenue of over $400 million in the first year, which would leave Apple at least $120 Million.
The mobile app store had last year a revenue of $2 Billion or around $600 Million for Apple.

The most applications like "the cat in the hat" are between $19.99 and $29.99. However I believe the apps which are as well available on the iPad have already the same price as for the iPad or will be soon the same price and not anymore higher. We can assume that most Apple Computer owner will have as well an iPad. Why should somebody buy a software on the Mac if the software like "the cat in the hat" just a fraction of the price available for the iPad.

A small icon in your dock appears with download status, when downloading an app. The app will automatically put in your dock when downloaded, no extra install needed. You can anytime delete the app from the dock.

I did not see yet free apps with iAds, but pretty sure it will come.
Some apps ( like Angry Birds) are in full screen mode, especially if they have been before available for the iPad, as Steve showed at the September keynote. If you have two screens the app will only run on main screen. The more expensive apps which are not available for the iPad are working like normal apps where you change screen size and the tools are their own windows.

We will see a lot of iPad apps coming to the Mac, because it is pretty simple for a developer to port an existing iPad app to the mac store.

Interesting to see that Apple developed apps are cheaper than as packed apps. Aperture costs only $79.99 instead of $199. Pages, keynote and numbers together only $59,97 instead of $79 if you would buy iWork from the shelf.

Apple is bidding on the long tail. They are offering blockbusters like pages, numbers and keynote to a low price with the hope the consumers will buy more of the apps which Apple has no costs but makes money of them (30% of retail).

The store offers a lot of free apps like twitter etc. This will attract many users. You can image that this new app store will bring more users to Apple for their PCs.

Apple sold so many iPhones, iPods touch and iPads, that consumers who already know how easy it is to install and buy software, will switch with their PC to Apple. It is just a logical step. I think the iMacs and MacBooks market will grow very fast in consumer niche to over 20%.
A very smart move. There has been always 3 big arguments why people did not buy Macs.
1. Price
This changed a little back, since Apple is not so much more expensive anymore. The MacBookAir starts under $1000, which is not much more than a Dell notebook with similar quality.
2. No apps available
Almost every major software is now available for Apple. And with the app store are soon more high quality inexpensive apps than for windows in one place.
3. Don't want to switch to new System
With worldwide over 100 Million iOS devices shipped, there are now many consumers who are firm with Apple and the new app store is basically the same as on the iPhone. Nothing new to learn.

To this three points are coming 3 other important aspects.

1.Apple has almost no virus and because the apps are sold under the complete control through Apple the risks of viruses will be even reduced as long the consumer only downloads apps from this store.
2. Kids will ask for Macs in the future with the argument that there are more educational software than for Windows computers. For parents it is almost a no brainer because the parental controls are much more sophisticated than for Windows.
3. Buy once and install as often as wanted on your computer. A big annoying part with Windows is, that anytime when we buy a new Windows computer, we have either to find the original software CD, remember the serial number or have to buy the software again.
Apple figured out that serial numbers are old school. For me it is the best invention ever that apps don't need anymore serial numbers, you just need to remember your apple ID. One ID for all programs.

Overall the app store is a great idea and a perfect marketing tool.

E-commerce made perfect. Apple has a big store where everybody can buy software, Apple does not need to create any product pages (because the developers are putting the info in) but at the same time controlling that only Apple approved products are getting bought.

Interesting is that there are no adobe products in the app store available. A good friend of mine believes because of Adobes price politic. Adobe is in Europe much more expensive than in the US and Apple philosophy is that the software price is everywhere in the world almost the same. Plus Adobe does not like that Apple (which is not a big Adobe promoter) would get 30% of their revenue.

We see if he is right, but his explanation does make sense for me.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Is Facebook overvalued?

Digital Sky Technology did offer in October 2010 some of it's Facebook shares (but then invested again $50 Million this week).
On Tuesday a German investor in Facebook sold all his his shares. Thomas Heilmann had a stake in the social networking website “in the area of one-tenth of a percent” at the beginning of 2009, without specifying the exact size of the share. The current valuation of Facebook is “crazy,” Heilmann said in an interview with Tagesspiegel (

All this could be an indication that FB investors are believing that FB is overvalued. Or as Mr. Heilmann says "crazy".

Investors have usually a deeper knowledge of the financial situation of the invested companies. Another Interesting point is that Facebook just now got another investment of $500 Million. If their system would work really well and revenue (estimated $2 Billion) is higher than costs, why is there a need to get another investment in?

The shares at second market are skyrocket which is the base for the estimated value of $50 Billion. Everybody who wants (and can afford) to buy shares through or will now pay over $110 a share. A lot of people have a hope that FB will go as well or better than google.

Google started in 2004 with $85 a share and raised within the first day by 20% and had an Initial Market Cap of $23 Billion. Which was big. We are now 6 years later and Google has a market cap of $193 Billion. This is 8.5 times of original offering. But the profit margin is only 29% (Baidu, and AOL have a higher margin. Baidu has over 43%).

Facebook would need to start with am initial market cap with $35 to $50 Billion which is not too far from realistic, if we take in account that we are now 6 years later. has already $1.3 Billion in FB shares to offer, which most of them are coming from early investors

Big difference in Google and FB is that was in 2004 only number 5 website ( behind yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner and eBay). Facebook is already number 1 and higher valued than yahoo or eBay.
On the other hand when people search for something they are more likely clicking on ads then when they read posts from friends or play games. Games make already 30% of FB traffic.
Which is not too bad for FB because mot of the games make revenue by selling virtual goods and these have the bought through FB using facebook credits, which FB gets 30% of it.
In matter of facts the biggest losers right now on FB are their own apps like links and notes.

The good news are that brands are going more and more into Facebook and have their own fan page with e-commerce, which is missing in google. Google only offers click away. On the other hand Facebook can offer much better personalized ads then any other website on the web.
Plus the trend goes away from "click" thinking and more to ad penetration.

All these are good indicators that FB could be big, bigger than google.

Let us summarize. google only income at the time back was through ads. Facebook generates (if it works well) through ads, FB credits and e-commerce (fan page with shop must pay to FB a certain amount for each sold item through FB). these are already 3 types of revenue income.

But on the other hand the government is trying to build a new law which does not allow anymore to send too many user information to advertisers. If this law goes through then the advantage of FB will be much lower.

And there are the costs. Facebook is build on open source like php and mySQL which saves a lot for software license but needs much more hardware. FB is already leasing over 50,000 servers.

Infrastructure is expensive. All the new features and initiatives add up to more users, more traffic and more growth. And that means more servers and more data centers. Facebook is currently spending at least $50 million a year for leased data center space. As the company moves into the data center construction business, that spending will jump significantly.

The company is approaching completion on its first company-built data center in Oregon, representing an estimated investment of between $180 million and $215 million in construction costs and IT equipment. Facebook recently committed to spend $450 million over the next five years to build a second data center in North Carolina.

This means most of the investment goes into Data Center. And Facebook is still hiring people and need soon more office space. All together can easily cost 2 Billion. I believe right now, if FB goes public and generates revenue as expected, the profit margin would be far under 10%, which is lower than industry standard (profit margin for internet information provider average is 21.7%), and this is what the investors see and maybe sell their shares. For them FB in terms of profit margin does not seem to be very lucrative.

I am just happy that i have not enough money to think about investing into FB.

Facebook IPO Stories summarized below

1/2/2011 Facebook has raised $500 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investment firm in a deal that values the company at $50 billion, The New York Times reported. This indicates that Goldmann Sachs will be most likely the FB IPO bank.

10/8/10 Investors offered a slice of Facebook (Financial Times), a subsidiary of Digital Sky Technologies, could go public later this year. A portion of DST's stake in Facebook is expected to be owned by

10/1/10 Facebook does 5-for-1 stock split (CNN Money) The company is splitting its stock for the third time in its history.

9/28/10 Facebook Board Member Says Possible IPO In Late 2012 (SmarTrend) Board member Peter Thiel has said that the company may hold their IPO in 2012 if they meet revenue targets.

9/27/10 The Value of a Piece of Facebook (New York Times) The secondary market for the company's shares continues to be active. Most recently the company was valued at $33 billion based on private transactions.

8/19/10 What's Facebook Really Worth? (MoneyShow) Most estimates currently value the company at between $30 million and $60 million.

7/30/10 Facebook Said to Put Off IPO Until 2012 to Buy Time for Growth (Bloomberg) Facebook likely won't hold its IPO until 2012. This would give the company time to find grow additional revenue streams and give the CEO time to perfect the skills needed to lead a public large-cap tech company.

7/24/10 Facebook IPO "when makes sense": CEO (The Economic Times) CEO Mark Zuckerberg is waiting until the time is right for his company's IPO.

6/28/10 Elevation Invests Another $120 Million in Facebook as that IPO Looks More Distant (TechCrunch) Elevation Partners went to the secondary market to buy another large amount of shares in Facebook.

6/17/10 Facebook '09 Revenue Neared $800 Million (ABC News) Facebook is in better financial shape many had believed in the past. Impressive growth catapulted their revenue to the $800 million mark in 2009.

6/3/10 Facebook CEO says no date in mind for IPO (Reuters) CEO Zuckerberg does not worry about possible dates for the company's IPO. He's focused on running the business.

3/3/10 Facebook Valued at $11.5 Billion in SharesPost Index (Bloomberg Businessweek) If you use transactions in an index on the SharePost website as a guide, Facebook is worth $11.5 billion.

1/26/10 Facebook investors: Seriously, no IPO this year (CNET) Investors Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner say the IPO won't happen in 2010.

1/14/10 Facebook Shares Just Keep Climbing (Forbes) Facebook shares have risen to $32 apiece on SharesPost. That values the company at $14 billion.

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iPhone did let me oversleep

I did read on Saturday that there is a problem with the year 2011 and the iPhone alarm clock (see below).  I did not care so much about it becasue i did not need to get up early on Saturday or Sunday.

But different than everybody was writing it did affect as well Monday morning (1/3/2011). I missed my work out and came into a lot of traffic because i woke up too late. My clock did not get off, even it was said it will not happen on Monday. How can something simple like an alarm (i did write in the 80es programs for alarm clocks, and they worked) can go wrong and this twice. First when the daytime shift happens, which i could understand but then in a new year with the alarm not going off at all.  Apple even did know about this but was not able to send a fix early enough? Come on don't you think many people are using their phones for alarms? 10 minus points for Apple.

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Many iPhone customers had some explaining to do after they overslept to start the new year, due to a glitch in the gadget's alarm clock feature.

Users who set their iPhone alarm for a single wake-up rather than recurring use found the alarm didn't go off with the year's arrival, Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said Sunday.
A fix is in the works, and all iPhone alarms will work properly starting Monday, she said.
The glitch affects iPhones using Apple's latest iOS 4.0 operating system, including earlier versions of the smart phone whose users have downloaded the latest software.
It wasn't immediately clear what caused the alarm problem, or how many iPhone users were affected. Online postings on blogs and social media sites described people being late for work, church services and other appointments on Saturday and Sunday because of the problem.
The problem is the second in two months involving iPhone's alarm clock. The company said in early November that the end of daylight savings time could cause problems for iPhone users. In that instance, Apple said that repeating alarms set on iPhones and some versions of the iPod touch might not recognize the Nov. 7 end of daylight savings time, and might work incorrectly shortly before or after the time change.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Skype video call on iPhone good but not great

Since last week we are able to make video calls with Skype on the iPhone over 3G or wifi.
I first tested it with 3G only, but my ATT reception was not great. As a result the call did work but the image did update only every 2 seconds.

Skype was so nice to inform that the quality might be bad. Then i made a call over wifi and it worked.

Similar like FaceTime, you are able to switch the cameras from front to back. The image will as well rotate when you rotate your phone. However the quality of sound and image is only half as good as doing video calls with FaceTime. The good part is you can easily call friends which have no iPhone but a Skype account.
The only really impressive part was that Skype automatically switched to 3G when i was on wifi and left my house to show my sister our street and the wifi signal went bad.

After all it could be a great tool, if Skype could make the quality on the iPhone as good as on computers. I am not sure why the quality is not as good, maybe Skype needs better computing power. For some reason Skype went a couple of time black, almost like screen saver. I had to touch the screen to get the image back.

I would like to see that Apple is buying Skype and implement their FaceTime technology. So far i did not find any video application as good as FaceTime. Apple could have instantly 120 million users.

If your friends don't have iPhone and you like to do video calls, then Skype is the best alternative. I use Skype all the time to talk with my family and friends overseas. Finally i can walk around and show them my house and son. Prior i had to carry my notebook, which was a pain. I love the ability to switch between the cameras. Interesting is that front camera resolution with Skype is lower than with FaceTime.
Skype is using the full screen like FaceTime. I tried a couple of times Fring but was disappointed about the quality and that Fring does not give the full screen option.

Skype is better than Fring but not as good as FaceTime. However it opens the ability to make with your iPhone video calls others than iPhone, ipod touch or Apple computers. I would give Skype 3.2 out of 5 points.

On the iPad you can receive video calls but of course not yet sending video. This will change with the iPad 2 in April.

Skype video call is not yet available for Androids. Skype is saying it is too complicated to get Skype video running on all different android OS and phone versions.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

What will 2011 bring to us?

Happy New Year. 2011 will be very interesting. Apple will bring the iPhone to Verizon and maybe other phone providers, the iPad will get an overhaul with camera and retina display. The Macbook Pro gets a facelift and flash drive instead of a hard drive.
But besides Apple are much more companies and products around. Here is my 2011 predictions.

1. Facebook
Facebook will have an IPO mid 2011. Not that Mark Zuckerberg really did want but he got pressure from Government (over 500 share holders) and pressure from his main investors. Apple will offer 30 billion for Facebook and the only way to deny the offer and to make the investors happy is to go public. The trade will go up very fast and after 3 months FB has a value of $70 Billion. The value will go down end of the year when FB faces a few major trials.

2. Groupon
Groupon goes in April public and reaches a market value of $29 Billion.

3. Twitter
Twitter will be bought by Facebook for $1.2 Billion.

4. Skype
Skype will be available on every major mobile platform and will be number one video call application but does still not find ways to make decent money. Apple is going to buy Skype, after FB deal with Apple did not work out.

5. QR codes
QR codes get finally a break through and all major brands are using QR Codes on each product package and print ads to give more details to the product or to allow to purchase items shown in print ads.
A few new start ups with QR ideas are coming but none of them has yet the billion dollar idea.

6. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality will be the 2011 hype, everybody wants to have apps with AR. Many games will use AR, but some really useful applications will come too. Consumer can go in the store hold up the phone and can see instantly in which isle the savings are.

7. Location Location Location
This is the most important part in terms of real estate. In 2011 it will be the most important part for advertising. More and more people are surfing the Internet from their mobile device. Ads will be much more target by location then ever before.

8. Microsoft
Microsoft will have a great 2011. MS will grow extremely their mobile business and end of year 2011, Microsoft will have more apps than Blackberry and sell more mobile phones than BB in the US. Many companies will use MS 7 mobile phones as their business cell phones.
Kinect will be so successful that the first TVs will come out with build in kinect device. Instead of using a remote, the user can switch the channel with waving the hands. The TV will recognize the person in front of the TV and display the personalized screen.

9. Social TV
TVs will be more integrated in online and social. Google TV never made a success but Sony and Samsung learned from Google TV and will offer new TVs with build in Facebook and twitter.

10. 3D
Almost all new movies will be in cinema as 3D, but it does not really make it into the consumer households. Houses with man caves or cinema room will have 3D but the rest stays with normal TV. This will change in 2012 when the 3D TVs don't need glasses anymore and the prices are not much higher than without 3D.

11. Netfilx
I believe 2011 will be hard for Netflix. Netflix need to renew their licenses with Movie companies and have now to pay 10 times more than the last time. This means the costs for the users will go up. Apple, Google and Disney are fighting to buy Netflix.

12. Google
Sergey Brin will announce that he will step back from being active at Google to spend more time with his family. Eric Schmidt will replace Sergey with an former HP executive.

13. Paypal
Mobile smart phones are so common in 2011 that the consumer get used to the idea to pay groceries with the phone. We will learn the only thing we really need is our car key and smart phone. Paypal will be the number one company for payments through smart phones. Paypal will make the first time more revenue than eBay (Paypal is an eBay company).

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