Category: Outside the Box

Following on the matter of non-developers with ideas for mobile apps, the focus today is on practical though somewhat abstract business considerations that should be useful to everyone.

Learn how to Bootstrap.  To help you out, Seth Godin made The Bootstrapper’s Bible available for… Free.

Bootstrapping practically enables you to do anything you want even if you are starting with nothing.  Time is money, but it has the worst “conversion rate” of any currency.  It is probably necessary to change your way of thinking to get better value from your time.  Information has a monetary value, ideas can also have value.  With money, you can hire people to spend their time advancing your projects.

Time to Market.  The biggest obstacle with any new idea is its time to market, which can be highly dependent upon available funding.  Being first is not always best, Everquest was regarded by many as the first modern MMORPG and it took second seat to World of Warcraft.  Both had huge amounts of money and resources behind them.  While bootstrapping may get you to where you want to go, it will take far longer than having money and resources available from the get-go.  This leads to…

Networking.  Be social even if you really are a hermit.  It is not what you know but who you know – and who knows you, and what they think about you that is most important to being able to move on an idea.  While it may help to have connections in big companies, all big companies generally started as ideas and more often than not, as small companies.  Social networking is not about what you might need or want now, it is all about what tomorrow might bring.  It is something you should never stop doing until… maybe, when you get to retirement.  To this end a networking strategy is important, but a topic for later.

Networking is your means to accelerating your time to market when you don’t have the money or materials or team.

Develop your Core.  I’ve covered this before,  suffice that it deserves emphasizing again.  When you have friends who are competent business professionals in their own right, you have a talent pool for sharing knowledge, skills and sometimes, resources.  Retired professionals are often happy to serve as a mentor because they tend to be financially established, have time to spare, and can appreciate the possibility of becoming a shareholder if and when your start-up leads to an IPO.

People – Time and Money.  Everything about business concerns People first, and by extension, their Time which serves as the primary basis for measuring Money (rent, wages, etc.).

The more Time people invest in you or your idea, the more successful you are.  Money, not so much – money can help you be successful, but only to the extent that it is used to bring more people to spend more time on what you have to offer.  At least, what I want to emphasize is that money is a means, but not an end unto itself.  It is VERY EASY to see how a lot of companies today have gotten this terribly confused, to the point they focus on making money at the direct expense of their own customers.  Some institutions are getting the drift.

Process vs. Result –  Perfect the process and you will consistently get good results.  Focusing on results without care for the process is extremely hit and miss and leads to things like the global financial crisis.  Not to ruffle feathers, but to emphasize further that People are the most important considerations where Processes are concerned.  Helping others to do what they want to do or get to where they want to be is the time tested best way of getting to where you want to be and doing what you want to do – in business or life in general.

Measuring processes correlates to things like A/B and multivariate testing to see which of two or more screens yields a higher conversion rate.  That’s probably going to tie in to making it more visually appealing or easier for the end user – the Person at the other end.

The thing about perfection is that it will never happen.  That doesn’t mean you stop trying to realize it.  Functionality, by the time you achieve whatever you thought “perfection to be”, your standards for perfection will have changed.  If your standards don’t, odds are your customer’s standards will.

1% More. Or Better.  Or Less Expensive.  One percent of your day is about 15 minutes.  You can do the math if you like.  Apply that 15 minutes per day to your social networking, or another activity useful to your business or life.  In 15 minutes you can easily introduce yourself to one more person on LinkedIn or write a short blog post.  Even if you do it only on work days – that’s 260 new contacts or blog posts or discussion comments each year.

Consider the Pareto Principle – 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of your results.  Looking at the second tier, (20% of 20%) 4% of your efforts may generate 64% of results.  Further yet, (20% of 4%) .8% of your efforts may account for over 50% of your results.

Today’s topic focuses on mobile and internet bandwidth, as yet another precursor to the extended discussion intended on “global mobilization”.  Our special guest for today was pulled away at the last moment to advise on other matters, but he will be with us on Wednesday.  

This article on, slightly dated, explores both the challenges and solutions associated with expanding overall bandwidth capacity.

The objective of the initiative is, essentially, to make the Internet available to everyone in the world.  Presently, an estimated 2.7 billion of the world’s 7.2 billion have regular access, with access increasing at about 9% per year.  On the basis of the Rule of 72, this means we can expect Internet accessibility to reach about 5.4 billion in 8 years, and be truly ubiquitous within 12–16 years (relative to population growth).  So, 2030? more

Aside from Acts of Nature, big things don’t just happen — they are talked about and planned, months if not years in advance.  That is one of the practical lessons that developers can take away from this extended discussion of Nokia X in connection with Opera and  The better you and your company are able to work with others, the easier it is for your efforts to achieve “economy of scale”.

Combine this with think tanks and forums for executive level decision making and you come up with ideas — and plans — for what can be called “economies of mega-scale”.  That’s in line with the concept of  It is also the function of organizations like the Singularity University, established in part by Ray Kurzweil, in collaboration with Google and NASA’s Ames Research Center.    Its mission is to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”  With the stated aim of producing “projects that can positively impact a billion people in ten years by leveraging exponentially advancing technologies” (per Wikipedia).

Bridging the Internet/Technology divide has been a goal of the United Nations since at least 1999 where the Internet is concerned.  As I referenced Wednesday, the goal of a $100 laptop was represented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in 2005 by Nicholas Negroponte and MIT Media Lab in 2005.  It is also a hot topic with the WEF this year, too.

The World Economic Forum is — more

The future of digital currencies is extremely speculative, so what is presented here are simply thoughts for consideration.   Technology is overwhelming as it is.  Technological advances are accelerating.  Many would assert that humanity has a hard time adapting to what we already have, say nothing of what is to come.

Location based advertising coupled with facial recognition will change retail stores.   Robotics are replacing many factory jobs and 3-D printers are building not just houses, but human organs.   Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites are making it possible to secure major financing outside conventional financial institutions.   Sites like ODesk facilitate international outsourcing.   Translation software is making it easy to get the gist of anything in any language.   And then we have digital currencies – from MMO Gold Vendors to the disruptive influence of Bitcoin causing consternation in governments.

Add to this the volatility of financial markets, fluctuations of major world currencies, concerns over sovereign debt, the ongoing war on terror coupled with potential for money laundering… the list can go on and on.   It pays to occasionally stop focusing on the now and consider where we are going – where the future will take us… or our individual and collective ability to influence the future.   It’s logical and natural – as we’ve come accustomed to planting in the spring, harvesting in the fall and saving for the winter.

Of first concern, starting with the United States, there is an interest to tax virtual currencies.  It’s not happening yet, it’s been discussed for years, but the basic trend is that more and more money is finding its way into non-standard currencies which can be traded for real money and real products.  Online taxation was waived early on in the United States, but as more and more states are taxing online sales, the gap between physical and digital products narrows.   Bitcoin, the most notable digital currency, has taken blows of varying degrees of severity from Russia, China, India, Thailand, Korea while the West (USA, Germany, and Switzerland) have started looking at ways to tax it.

The second area of interest relates to ubiquity – not so much of a single digital currency, but their proliferation and potential to be sold or traded for real products or real money.   Real products – emphasized because we are talking about the ability to buy in-app or in-network software or even watch movies.   Basically, the lines between real and virtual are becoming increasingly difficult to draw.

Numerous other areas of concern and interest apply from the growing reliance upon credit cards and alternative forms of payment; the challenge of many countries to confront their “shadow economies”; and the growing capability of governments to track all online and banking activity.  This is not small stuff, nor particularly futuristic.   Even religious leaders are weighing in, for different reasons, on the idea of changing monetary systems.  Concurrently, at the top strategic level, one of the top issues governments and financial institutions are trying to address is the digital divide.

For the sake of amusement, the idea of digital tax collection spawns images of a gangs of “tax collectors” running around The Barrens in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, like some government agencies are apparently already doing.   Like everyone else, most governments are struggling to catch up with the pace of technology, so some of their efforts are going to be hit or miss.  The logical extension of technology gives way to lots of great possibilities along with a lot of things that we may not like.  Internet Anonymity is one thing likely to be lost in the process – if not to the government, then to corporations.   I’m not saying this is a good thing or bad, or representing this in any other way than a personal view about the long-term consequences and capabilities of technology that already exists.

As local and regional economies become better integrated into the overall global economy, money and currency as we know it is likely to change radically.  This may be a long way off, but the talk of a single global currency is not new.  In many ways, it is logical.  An evaluation of Eastern vs. Western GDP’s will show a gradual process of “evening out”.  Singapore and Hong Kong are two very good examples – where a concerted effort can lead to a radical growth in average wages.  In the 1970’s, average wages in Singapore were around $600 per year; today – nearly $62,000 considering purchasing power parity.  The implications for the rest of the world are there and worthy of being considered as it relates to how the world achieves what we might call economic equality.

This requires a lot of head space – these are all topics being explored by some of the world’s most prestigious think tanks, like Chatham House, and economic leaders like at Davos.

Relevance to mobile apps and online gaming?   Imagine if you would being a customer – you have a thousand different games that you might want to try or that you’ve only been playing one game and have a lot invested in it, but get tired of it.  What if… What if the money you spent on one game or the value that you have in it could be transferred to… any other game?   It matters little if there is just one universal game currency or if there are exchange rates.

That’s just a what if.

Many games have nodes of “digital raw materials”  where people can refine them and produce “finished digital goods” – which can be sold for “real money”…. and which game developers ARE selling for real money already.   What is the difference?  Well, for starters, the designer of the game typically holds all of the rights to everything in the game, can change the dynamics of the game, and alter the value of any given item and so forth.   There are games like EVE Online that explore this in much greater depth – where at least the game time can be legally purchased and sold with its in game currency.   Then there’s this story

This topic is deeply philosophical, and all of this may well exceed the specific purpose and function of our blog.   Friday though, we will use this as a basis to explore some real, practical applications of at least some of these concepts for mobile app developers.


Your Internet footprint is simply how you show up when you are “Googled” or what shows up when people search for your name/s on other search engines.    It is usually only of concern when someone has some past behavior to hide.  Many employers do online searches on candidates for new jobs to help narrow their short list.   Equally, it is done in business for purposes of due diligence and competitive analysis.

Firstly though, I’m not going to pass this off as something that is critically important.  It’s not – except when it comes to applying for a job.  The interest here is for mobile app developers aiming to leverage what they have done and are doing for something more.   That may be a job with another app developer, it might be to get in front of journalists or businesses, subcontracting, or any number of other possibilities.  Fundamentally, your Internet footprint should make it easy to see that you are who you say you are and have done what you claim.

I’ve come across individuals and companies who have made some significant claims about their internet related and programming abilities.  Yet, upon investigation, there was nothing there to validate their claims.   I’ve come across people who have almost no Internet footprint whatsoever.  This is not bad unto itself, except where it relates to their claims.  Frequently, as a developer for a company, much of what you might do is masked – under an alias, under a first name, ghost written for someone else, or simply developed solely for internal use only.   These activities can be easily covered by your resume and personal references.

On the other hand, if you have been developing apps on an independent basis or have your own company, then there are numerous venues for you to be represented — your company web page, social media profiles, blog posts, articles, etc.    Social media is one of the easiest ways to represent yourself.

Frequently though, independent developers may blur the lines between their personal and professional representation across social media venues.

The fix is simple — determine whether your current profiles more accurately represent your personal or your professional “face” and set up a second profile respectively, or strictly limit your activity to the single account, accordingly.   Moreover, you do have the option to represent yourself, your company or your products individually.

Ultimately, your overall goal is to get what you want to represent you to be reflected on the first page of any search results for your personal name (company name or product).

As I mentioned this in the Crowdfunding article Wednesday, having a good online profile — so that when people go to validate that you are and do as you claim, that they can immediately see it.   The very first thing I did when getting the Rally Team contacted me was to “google” their lead designer – Bryan Lemster — and sure enough, he had a great internet footprint reflecting that he has been in app design for a while on a professional basis.

As the old saying goes, “Publish or Perish” – practically words to live by.  The Internet does not forget – and that’s a double edged sword.  When you do good, make sure the record reflects it.  Oftentimes, that means that you will need to take care of that yourself, but LinkedIn can be a great help in that regard.  If you’ve done great work for someone, ask them for a recommendation.