Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twitter Tips

I was sent a Tweet on Twitter Tips by Problogger. Particularly relevant was the section on 'Provide Value'. God, I wish. The number of meaningless, endless, ego driven and pointless tweets that I have to put up with most minutes of each day defies gravity.

Proving, as ever, that boatloads of people, since blogging came along, are on an endless treadmill to achieve the next big 15 minutes of Internet fame. But can't they do fame with brain? OK, bad idea...

And for my alter (not) ego hit twitter.com/philipletts. Yaargh.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time For A New Bank

It's time for a new bank. Everyone seems to think that the reason banks are so stuffed is because of rogue traders, megalomaniac managers, non existent regulation and good ol' greed. And they're right. But there's something else missing - competition.

What we need is a new bank. A start-up. How refreshing. One with an innovative brand. God forbid an aspirational brand. An online bank that uses the latest technology to benefit its customers, not trick them. A bank that takes deposits and helps us make and receive payments - instantly. A bank that offers a simple credit card with the lowest interest rates and no frills. A bank that gives better interest on savings and low cost loans with clear repayment terms and simple guarantees.

A bank that does online and mobile banking standing on its head and provides the best, most rapid service over the phone from a professionally run call centre. Its Website points us to the best independent mortgage brokers and insurance companies that they continuously vet and approve or not.

A bank with values - simple, fast, no-frills and customer obsessed - supported by the smartest technology available to keep service great and costs minimal. Now that sounds like my kind of a bank. How's yours?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Artists Online at b-uncut.com

b-uncut seem to have it down. Artists are flocking from around the world to hang (and their art) at b-uncut.com. The Web 2.0 art site is creating a small storm in the art world and we can see why. It's well designed, active as a tamale and much needed.

If you have ever been to an art fair or listened to one too many car-salesman like art dealers you'll understand why. b-uncut looks like a welcome breath of fresh air in an all too stuffy art mart. Check it and we'll keep a watching brief.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Netvibes Takes on iGoogle

Netvibes does personal portals - well, personal landing pages to be more exact. The Web 2.0 Euro Tech company plays off the philosophy that you don't want Google - well actually iGoogle - to monopolize. 'You can have my email, contacts, calendar and even apps, but you'll never get my desktop too!' Right.

Apparently the Netvibes environment is more flexible, universal and richer. Plus, if you're a company seeking branded desktop offerings for your users this could be the way to go. If your none of these and just some lonesome geek - they have a widget store. Who doesn't?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mydeco Does Web Home Decorating

mydeco, Brit Tech home decorating pioneer, takes homestore to Web 2.0 to you. Led by serial UK Web entrepreneur Brent Hoberman of lastminute.com they have a vision to aggregate homestores, decorators, designers and shoppers online through mydeco.com.

They don't offer product themselves - but do provide you with easy access to loads of furniture and home decorating stuff from a bunch of different retailers, as well as expert advice and tools to help you choose that paint colour, toilet seat, sofa or fridge. Yeah, fridge. It's Brit stores only for now - but the US should be up next.

There's even a mydeco Web deco magazine and social network for interior designers and home deco fanatics. Nice if ya have the time! For the rest of us it could provide a nifty slouch potato mechanism for getting your home sorted online and freeing up time for more football/clothes shopping. Yah.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

iPhone 3.0 - Is It?

The old adage that it takes 3 releases to get a piece of software right looks to be the case with the iPhone 3.0 announced yesterday and due out this summer. iPhone 3.0 fixes all the core issues and gaps in the iPhone 3G. The release is all about stability and maturity - no new groundbreaking features.

From a users perspective a bunch of niggles and gaps have been dealt with - particularly MMS, cut and paste, searching using Spotlight across apps, horizontal keyboard mode for all apps and particularly email and a nifty little dictaphone app. But that's it. No new iPhone Nano, no major Safari upgrade and few new breakthrough's to cloud based services. At least you will be able to synchronize your calendar with Google Calendar - Yaargh!

Let's hope Apple shine with hardware innovation and 'cool' factor in the next version. They're gonna need it to keep iPhone sales rising and the competition at bay. Cos Microsoft and Palm are hot on their heels.

From a developers perspective this is a major step forwards with a 1,000 new API's covering everything from subscription charging models to embedding maps and email into app synchronized updates and loads more. Proving that the future of the iPhone is as platform. Period.

b-uncut Takes on Saatchi Online

Talking of Ning (last post) - b-uncut, a fast growing social platform for artists around the world, seems to be moving at a clip. Apparently they're growing by 2-3 new artists per day. And could soon prove the real pretender to industry heavyweights Saatchi Online and Artinfo.

Making the case that focused, independent, Web 2.0 social innovators can strike big. And perhaps the future of social networking and social media is niche. You know small is beautiful and all that jazz.

And b-uncut artists sure are prolific - they have approaching 5,000 artworks loaded at the site and growing like a weed. Is there a future e-Gallery in the offing. We'll keep our watching brief on these creative folk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ning Takes on Facebook

Ning, you know the Web 2.0 dudes with some serious branding issues, have finally removed their sheep's clothing. And the fox has got ambition. Ning is Andreessen's latest gig and up until now has been the leading platform provider for other social networks and intranets. They have approaching 1 million networks on their platform, from granny collecting groups to serious artist hangouts. And on the back of these specialist networks they have quietly gathered 20 Million members.

So now they have flicked the switch, turned themselves inside out and changed Ning.com into a Facebook for the 20 Million. Voila! And in one fell swoop the world has yet another social network to contend with. And you thought you could get away with just your Facebook and Linkedin accounts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Apple's iPod Shuffle - Bigger - Smaller!

The iPod Shuffle just keeps getting smaller. Or is it bigger? The all new Shuffle now packs 1,000 tunes, but fits in the change pocket of your jeans. No clip, zip or pip. Just loads a tunes.

And a voice announces which song is about to play. Step aside Kindle - another text-to-speech app?

Simple, cool, cost effective... Apple.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Crowdtsorm's Crowd-controlled Comparison Shopping

Crowdstorm is another cool Brit Tech company worth watching. Founded by UK comparison shopping entrepreneur, Philip Wilkinson (you know Shopgenie, Kelkoo etc), it does crowd-controlled comparison shopping.

To use their jargon-ness its all about "impartial buying advice from a crowd of trusted people - cos Crowdstorm help ya find 'what' to buy through aggregating expert reviews, user reviews, thoughts, videos and q&a's from a crowd of trusted people and sites". Yo..... cool.

The test for Crowdstorm should prove to be in the quality of the crowd, relevance of early product categories, iterative-quality system comparison improvements (mothfull YAH!) within their engine and some cool marketing - cos these ain't the only guys onto crowd-controlled comparison shopping.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

iPhone App Store Stumbles

The iPhone app store, which launched less than a year ago is all the rage. It touts app after app after app. App-arently (yeah, yeah...) there are now 15,000+ apps available for your iPhone from iTunes/the Apple App Store. 15,000! And if app development keeps going at this rate there could be approaching 50,000 by the end of next year. That's nearly 1,000 new ones to go through every week.

If you do the maths we'll soon be spending more time pouring through the Apple App store directory than reading the news, spending time online, watching movies and even going to work... You get the picture. In fact we now think the App store will stumble purely because there are too many apps!

You see no one wants to see iTunes packed with more apps than movies or tunes. So Apple, please chunk it down - has the recession not woken you to the fact that less could even be more? Please.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Windows Mobile 6.5 Looks Ready!

Windows Mobile 6.5 has created some positive press. And it probably should because inch by inch the Seattle outfit has developed a half decent mobile operating system. With 6.5 Microsoft have proven that they can (and probably will) narrow the gap with Apple's iPhone. And with it Microsoft may have finally reached the end of the beginning in the mobile space.

After all, the user interface is now up to snuff and a developer community is being launched. The browser is better and sync works. So what could hold Microsoft back from re-taking the smartphone market from Apple and RIM. Well, probably Google.

But even that may not be enough - as Microsoft's charge begins. Apple's only hope to remain from PC-rerun-oblivion is to keep re-inventing the smartphone space, developing their media features (how about adding speech-to-text) and moving out of the smartphone box with a Nano phone. And Steve thought he could have a rest!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Squace Get Universal Mobile Interfaces

The dudes at Squace - you know the smallish mobile software team from Stockholm with meagre aspirations to become the universal mobile interface layer have started blogging after a quiet winter. 

Are they the next Microsoft? Is it a browser? Android? Well, if you are as confused as.... just check out the new blog they've started called, surprise, surprise - UniversalMobileInterface (no branding issues here - please!).

Apparently they have a universal software layer, ring Java download, that can run across a ton of mobile phones and gives users universal access to backed up links, contacts, email and more. Hey, if it supports my Gmail contacts and calendar you've got me. That is until Android devices improve... Apparently they're due to launch commercially in about a month - so check em out at Squace.com.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spotify Versus iTunes

We first talked about free Web 2.0 music service Spotify last year, soon after they launched. And they've come on a way. Now anyone can sign up for their free service (which is the most impressive). And it looks (listens) to me like its the best music model on the Internet for 'free tunes' while their iPhone app experience takes the service from your home to the mobile.

Spotify lets you hook into playlists, genres, albums and more all for free as long as you're OK putting up with a short spoken ad every half hour or so. I have hardly noticed hearing one, but that may be just because they don't have any advertisers as yet, and the listening experience has never really been compromised. So, it looks like iTunes finally have some competition - Spotify for your general, free, play-all-day offering and the Apple service for your favorite catalogue of owned tunes. Beware iTunes - it may be time to innovate once more.