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For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Archive for June 11th, 2008

Is the iPhone Application Store the Problem for Adobe Flash?

Posted by Bob Warfield on June 11, 2008

Mathew Ingram writes about the iPhone as razor/razor blades, but he’s missed the most important part.  The handset is indeed a razor, and I suppose you can see the service as razor blades that benefit the carriers.  But where is Apple’s razor blade play?

It’s the iPhone Application Store.  Apple has bet heavily on the idea that the iPhone is a platform.  It’s why thye’re so ballistic about unlockers, and why they’ve allowed the carriers to get the recurring service revenue on the deal in an apparent retrenchment to traditional models.  Apple sees that it can radically stimulate growth, make the carriers more eager to embrace the iPhone, and give the unlockers a serious setback all in one strategic move.

What does this have to do with Adobe Flash and the fact I can’t get it on my iPhone?  Somewhere, I read that the SDK prohibits you from placing an interpreter on the iPhone.  That’s when the light bulb went off.  Flash is an interpreter.  Why would Apple care?

An interpreter is a piece of software that creates a “virtual machine.”  To the hardware, the interpreter looks like a single application, but it can run any number of applications written in its interpreted language.  Java is an interpreted language.  The JVM is the Java interpreter.  Flash is an interpreter, and Flex is a language and framework that run on that virtual machine.

Putting it into Apple’s terms, if they let Flash onto the iPhone, you pay them once for that application, and then you’ll have a backdoor through which any Flash/Flex application can gain entry without having to pass through the Application Store.  It’s a revenue leak of biblical proportions, and one the market would be sure to exploit.

So what’s a poor Adobe to do?  It’s a tough problem.  They’d need to provide Apple with a special version that only runs apps that are certified at the iPhone Application Store.  Adobe is probably loathe to do something so specialized, and it likely conflicts with their religion about what Flash is.  Worse, there is a lot of Flash out there (the vast majority) that is not applications.  It’s animations or ads or streamed video.  It’s not obvious how to tell the difference between an app Apple wants to charge for (they get 30% of the revenue and the app owner gets 70%) and an ad or other piece nobody would pay for.

Don’t look for the problem to be resolved very soon, and if it is, look for some Draconian measures to have been taken around Flash.

Related Articles

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Posted in saas | 8 Comments »

The Internet is an Influence Multiplier

Posted by Bob Warfield on June 11, 2008

After reading David Armano’s post Brands + Amplification = Influence, I was reminded of the military concept “force multiplier”.  A force multiplier is a combination of technology, intense training, organization, or a combination of all to make a given force more effective than another force of comparable size.

David is responding to a post by Alan Weiss that says it isn’t really possible to create a brand on the Internet, you can only spread it more effectively.  Perhaps Alan and I define brand differently, but I think he is wrong on that, and I have the impression Armano thinks he is wrong too.  

Weiss claims people only read your blog because they heard about you in some other context, and want to hear more from you.  I know for a fact that is hogwash–I get a lot more people wanting to interact with me outside the blog because they first discovered me in this blog than the other way around.

Armano makes some interesting points in his post though.  The most important of which is that the Internet is a sort of non-linear amplifier of the value your content is delivering.  He says:

But what may be the most critical piece for us to understand and harness is how amplification actually works.  The mechanics of it are intricate to say the least.  If you have nothing remarkable to offer, there tends to be no amplification.  If what you have to offer is remarkably good—the network kicks into overdrive resulting in the influence of behavior and ultimately some type of relationship.  If what you have to offer is remarkably bad—the network also kicks into high gear and amplifies the negativity—influencing behavior and often times causing perception and possibly relationships to go south.

I interpret this graphically as wildly undamped growth curves as you stray towards either slightly positive or negative.  The more positive or negative your initial content, the more it kicks:

The more your content deviates from the mean “quality”, whether good or bad, the more intense is the amplification effect of the Internet. This goes a long way to explain why when you look at a bunch of blog posts you’ve done, they don’t fall into a nice uniform scattering of popularity. A few are hugely popular, and most are pretty average.

What does it mean for marketers? Armano gives this anecdote about Dell:

Michael Dell understood this when he prioritized the effort for his company to participate in the positive amplification of his own brand via the internet including multiple social networks. This ultimately lead to more than a 20% improvement of opinions found on the Web accessible through Google etc. Other major companies have watched closely and are now in the process of figuring out how their own brands need to come to terms with this new reality.

For startups, my takeaway is that your first priority has to be to find something worth saying.  Or, to put it in these terms, something worth amplifying.

I had a great lunch recently with LucidEra’s Ken Rudin, whom I’ve interviewed in the past.  That lunch will be the subject of some posting next week, but for now, I can easily see that Rudin has followed a strategy of creating something worth amplifying and then empowering his customers to talk about it. 

Jim Kukral, in a comment to Armano’s post, puts it perfectly:

Amplification is another word for creating customer evangelists. The people who really, really amplify your product/services.

Another way to look at it is that your first task may be to get on the map by non-Internet means and then to follow that up with a campaign to amplify the positive message you can talk about after you’ve gotten yourself on the map.  Getting on the map is a function of creating enough critical mass of customers who are excited about your product.

Posted in Marketing, strategy, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments »

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