Archive for the 'internet product management' Category

Google’s 20% Incomplete Products

March 11, 2008

Google has always flaunted it’s 20% time idea, where engineers are encouraged to take some random ideas and come up with products any decent product marketing company would have already had on the roadmap.  Of course, maybe they like it that way, so until GOOG hits $200 they can continue to do that kind of thing.

The problem is that with that 20%, a lot of Google products could really be useful, such as:

– Google Reader:  The links in the start page work, so after you read the teaser, the link clicks through to the same page.  This was probably a 20% time project enhancement that ran out of time.

– Gmail: Great, you made it easy to manage multiple accounts, except when I send an email with on of them, it says send “on behalf of” my google account which I prefer to keep private.  Maybe Google could use some of that 20% time and realize that’s likely a fixable issue.

–  Google Search: Believe it or not, the answer to every question is not a blog.  Since you can’t tell an engineer what to do with their 20% time, let’s hope it comes to them in a vision.

You’re right, Google’s 20% time isn’t causing 80% of the problems.

Google Reader Image Bug

July 8, 2007

Ok, geek time:

I don’t know why you can’t search google reader, I’ve only wanted to do it 100+ times. 

Since Google isn’t going to add search, maybe they can fix the Google Reader Image Bug.  You’ll notice in Google Reader that images are often not displayed at their intended size.  They’re shrunken, garbled, and otherwise un-readable.

Unfortunately, the image usually tells the story or makes the money (ad images have the same problem – wonder why you’re not converting Dell?). 

Here’s the typical problem:

google-reader-image1.jpg

See that square of gibber gabber?  That’s an ad unit that Dell is paying good money to Techcrunch for, and getting nothing in return.

Now this is how Dell would like the ad to display:

google-reader-image2.jpg

*Google Reader Image Bug workaround: 
When you click on an item in Reader, it automatically marks the item as read.  All you have to do is uncheck the “Mark as read” checkbox, and the image will display as originally intended like magic. 

Deal with a Screw Up

March 23, 2007

Two ways to deal with a screw up.

You can ignore the screw up, like Google Reader not having a search feature.  Yes, the same Google that is known for search.  If you want to search Google Reader, you’ve got to hack it yourself.  That should have been a product feature on launch

You can fix the screw up, like the new Highrise CRM tool not having a robust free account.  Free-mium is a viable product strategy, but you’ve got to offer something useful.  Within 3 days of launch, after listening to customers, 37 Signals fixed the product.

Or, just don’t screw up.

Hype Appropriate Feature

March 6, 2007

Well, the Highrise pre-launch marketing has become a Hypefest for what may become the coolest small business CRM application. 

Of course, if you read carefully, you’ll notice a nice tease for what will be the killer feature that makes it the coolest small business CRM application:

The mystery way
There’s one more way to get new people into Highrise. We’ll be covering it in a future preview post.

I’m glad at least one internet product marketing guru predicted that there might be a mystery way to add contacts to Highrise:

Keep an eye on how it’s integrated with email, as that seems to be the difference between cowbell and more cowbell with other small business CRM products. 

And the point of all this self-promotion is to highlight the ability of a company to blantantly hype a product because (they will soon announce that) they have a hype appropriate feature.  To get away with this kind of hype, you need a product that does all the basics well, and it doesn’t hurt to have a track record of making great internet products.  The latter is why Microsoft can’t get Live off the ground, and the former is why David Sacks with a Paypal pedigree can get a $100 million valuation for a simple family tree that can’t handle predictable beta launch web traffic scaling.

You can lose that license to hypefest just as quickly.

The 5 Fears of RSS

February 23, 2007

1. Someone else will use my content. 
Good point, but you’re also telling me that you can control the content put on another website.  If you’re producing content with the goal of search engine optimization, there should be a significant number of links back to your site already.  So you’re really just seeding backlinks for the search engines to gobble up.  Even better, these RSS feed -stealer-monetizers are really good, so they’re less likely to be caught by the magic algorithm.

2. Nobody will click-thru to my website.
Ideally, you shouldn’t really care about how someone reads your content, the point is that they’re reading it.  Now if I never plug Ralston Ventures in this post, and never tell you that I’m a jack-of-all-trades online marketing and internet product management consultant, then yes it would be a shame to have to click-thru and read that tidbit.  If you think your content is that good (it’s not), run a teaser feed that requires the customer to click-thru to read the whole diatribe. 

3. RSS is too technical, email works for my customers.
Then I should assume you have a 0% bounce rate and a 100% open and click-thru rate on your email campaigns?  There’s nothing more technical about RSS than anything else, and there are a hundred companies out there trying to make it easier.  The point about email statistics is that RSS feeds are unfiltered, direct to the customer, unlike email which can be blocked as spam, filtered as junk, or lost among 4 email accounts.  With RSS, the customer gets it all and has the power to unsubscribe at any time (and know it worked). 

4. I can’t make money on a RSS feed.
You actually can, Feedburner will slip them right into the end of your feed.  Of course, when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?  Focus on the content, the customer relationship, and the message; ignore the pennies.

5. RSS feeds require content which requires creativity which requires work which requires time.
Content is king, so make the time to produce more content, or hire an online marketing expert.