How the ‘Freemium’ business model leads to success

Freemium 99 procent free

Freemium: 99 procent free

A few days ago Fast Company published a story about ‘Evernote CEO Phil Libin’s 3 Steps to “Freemium” Success‘, which he achieved with his company and service Evernote. The Freemium business model is based on providing free basic services and earning money from users opting to pay for additional features. The competitive advantage is in price. A free product cannot be beaten (on price) by an even cheaper product. The article presents 3 success factors and from the text a few preconditions can be distilled: » Read more…

To touch or not to touch the iPad?

Be careful touching the iPad

Jacob Nielsen (of Nielsen Norman Group) published research about the usability of the Apple ipad with early iPad Apps and some websites. Surprisingly it is signaled that some issues encountered with websites in the early 90’s are reoccurring now with this state of the art piece of technology.

Remarkably the touch pad functionality, which would be one of the fundamental features of the device, causes the main issues. Many of the different App user interfaces seem inconsistent, causing repeated and longer learning curves for users new to specific apps and possibly the whole device » Read more…

“We hate to do it, but we have to follow procedure” or NOT!

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Some quotes from this intriguing speech by Barry Schwartz about our lost wisdom:

  • “You don’t need to be brilliant to be wise” but at the same time “Without wisdom, brilliance is not enough”.
  • “We hate to do it, but we have to follow procedure” some say
  • “Rules and procedures may be dumb, but they spare you from thinking” (Scott Simon)
  • “As we turn increasingly to rules, rules and incentives may make things better in the short run, but they create a downwards spiral that makes them worse in the long run” and “we are engaging on a war on wisdom”
  • “We must ask, not just is it profitable, but is it right” (Barak Obama, 18-12-2008)

Also read my story about rewarding strategies.

Would you buy her apples?

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Evil witch offering apples at Albert Heijn

Evil witch offering apples at Albert Heijn

Like most kids, when I was young, I learned not to buy apples from evil witches. I normally buy my apples at the Albert Heijn supermarket, but today I decided not to. See the picture at the right.

This supermarket has a temporary Snow White promotion, during which you can collect miniatures of all 7 dwarfs and other characters of Snow White’s fairy tale. It’s kind of weird to associate the apples you want to sell with an evil witch and the poisoned apple that caused Snow White to suffocate.

Multitaskers perform lousy when multitasking

Multitasking as it should be - Inspector Gadget

Multitasking as it should be - Inspector Gadget

A Stanford study on multitasking performance, published in August and sited in NRC this weekend, showed that frequent media-multitaskers perform less when having to focus on multiple information sources than typical non-multitaskers. This can be explained by assuming that the typical media-multitaskers are actually not good at focusing or concentrating on a task at hand. They basically cannot choose the relevant information sources. Surprisingly the media-multitaskers group indicated to be quite good at handling the different information sources, while the actual results of the study show otherwise.

“We kept looking for what they’re better at, and we didn’t find it,” said Ophir, the study’s lead author and a researcher in Stanford’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab.

At the same time, companies are requiring their people to be tuned in to more and more information sources, like email, mobile and even twitter while the research shows it to be counterproductive.

Hartman Event on content management and Kano’s model

Here’s  a summary of the Hartman Event on content management I recently visited.

Although seemingly quite IT oriented, the Hartman Event on content management turned out to be very consumer focused instead. This was also due to the attention for social media.

This event was made possible by suppliers of content management systems and services. However, as opposed to other events I have seen, the participants really had something useful to contribute and did not explicitly use the opportunity to sell their product. Next year the event will put user experience central, so this promises to be very interesting.

One of the interesting lectures explained the success of a new website created by the speaker’s company. He explained how the Kano model was used to manage the different kinds of needs. In line with the model, needs were divided into three categories:

  • Basic needs: needs that need to be satisfied. When not fulfilled, the user will be dissatisfied, but beyond a certain degree of fulfillment they do not contribute to higher satisfaction. For example: the presence of a steering wheel in a car, or the availability of a website.
  • Performance needs: the higher degree of fulfillment, the higher the satisfaction. For example: the number of horse powers of the engine of the car, or the speed of a website.
  • Experience needs: when not fulfilled the user will not be dissatisfied, but once fulfilled they contribute strongly to a higher satisfaction. For example: an extra audio plug in the back of the car for connecting an MP3 player or functionality to extract a product catalog from a website for offline use.

This model can be applied to many cases in which diverse consumer needs need to be identified or prioritized.

Recipe for flatulence marketing

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Get rid of air strategy

Get rid of air strategy as presented in the 'Radar' show (Dutch)

The Dutch consumer interests television show Radar recently presented a very interesting story about symptom marketing. In the Netherlands it is forbidden to advertise subscription medicine. Companies try to circumvent the regulations by not promoting the medicine, but by promoting the symptom it cures. Symptom marketing aims to have people realize they have a symptom, have them think it is a decease that requires treatment and have them go to a doctor to ask for a treatment. The Radar team demonstrated how this works using the symptom of flatulence (the presence of excessive gas in the digestive tract which generally causes farting). » Read more…

Small seats for tall people

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Well equiped train in Taiwan

Taiwan train with large comfortable seats

Last week I enjoyed a perfect holiday in Taiwan. We encountered nice weather, nice people, and nice landscapes. For a two day trip to a national park we took a train. Expecting a typical Asian train as you (used to?) see them in the movies, so prepared for the worse, Taiwan again brought me a very good experience. Used to the Dutch trains with uncomfortable chairs with very limited leg space, if there is actually a seat available, I considered that the fact that Taiwanese people on average are less tall than Dutch people would not benefit me. I was pleasantly surprised » Read more…

Warm welcome to The Netherlands

This morning I returned from a one week holiday trip to Taiwan. After a relatively short and comfortable flight serviced by KLM, seated at the emergency exit, I exited Customs after little less than 12 hours. Considering about 1 hour and 15 minutes for taxiing, walking across the airport, standing in line at passport control and waiting at the baggage belt, this is an all-time record. The next 130km to get to Eindhoven took me 4 and a half hour, 3 hours more than normal.

One of the reasons for this huge delay caused by the Dutch railway company NS is that I arrived at the train station too early. Train service only started about half an hour later. For tourists arriving at night at an international airport like Schiphol (10th in size world wide) this is of course an immediate big disappointment. The fact that all the shops in the station hall were closed at this hour and the disgusting hygiene level of the platforms does not help prevent tourists wonder ‘What hell hole did I arrive in now?’. The train I caught to Amsterdam Central station after waiting for over half an hour, only strengthened the impression. For some reason we pick up our tourists in the most terrible trains available, even considering the fact that all Dutch train designs in general lack consideration for some basic consumer insights.

After this first experience the rest of the trip was hardly any worse. At Amsterdam I had to wait 20 minutes for the train to Utrecht. There I had to wait 30 minutes for the bus to Den Bosch. Normally there would be a train but due to scheduled train track maintenance passengers were transported by bus. Unfortunately the first bus was scheduled to depart at 7.30h, not considering any passengers arriving earlier from other stations. The bus arrived at Den Bosch at 8.12, just 5 minutes too late to catch the train to Eindhoven. After waiting a bit longer and a last 20 minute train ride I arrived at Eindhoven at 9.00h after which I took the city bus home, arriving there only 4 and a half  hours after I left the airport.

(Micro-)blogging is here to stay?

Old and new tools to tell people what you think or feel

Technologies that will soon all be forgotten

After some deliberation on whether to start a blog or not, I finally started one (this one) a month or so ago. This week I read in the local newspaper that blogging was old fasioned (sooo 2008) and being completely replaced by micro-blogging. Fortunately I recently started to use twitter as well, so I’m not completely worried about my digital affinity. On the other hand, until now I still try to find out what’s the advantage of Twitter over MSN, ICQ (a technology from the mid 90’s) or even an ordinary IRC channel (early 90’s). To me until now it doesn’t seem more than a slow group chat. It actually looks a lot like a big newsgroup discussion (first introduced on digital bulletin boards in the 80’s).

If I am to believe the numerous articles on Twitter, “this technology is here to stay”. It’s gonna change the way we spread news, it’s gonna change the way we use the internet, it’s going to change our lives. Surprisingly, this is exactly what I read about traditional blogging a few years ago. Did it really change our world? No, not really. Not surprisingly, it’s especially the companies that have interests in these technologies that spread these words first. And they are frequently copied by the early adopters.

I have decided to stop believing this kind of statements. Nearly no new technology is here to stay. (No reason not to enjoy them of course.) There might be exceptions, like perhaps the wheel, but even there I’m not sure yet. In practice it’s naive to think that any new technology will not be succeeded and eventually replaced by a newer technology sooner or later. And newer technologies rather sooner than later. In the mean time, I’ll just keep blogging.