Monthly Archives: May 2008

RIAs Blur Lines – Add Something New

There’s a great interview with Mitch Grasso, CEO of SlideRocket, over at InsideRIA.

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Mitch mentions one of the things that differentiates SlideRocket is presentation analytics . This is actually one example of the tectonic shift content creation software is undergoing. Content creation tools, desktop or otherwise, must leverage the cloud (push and pull). What makes software owners successful is how their audience receives / interacts with their content. The rules of the game are changing. Content creation apps must not only create and deploy content to engaging presentation tiers, they must connect to or provide a great set of web services that bind creators to their audience. The audience is everything — risk losing sight of it at your own peril.

Mitch also notes how he fully expects SlideRocket’s AIR client to dominate the web tier Flex client.

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This is the argument Dare Obasanjo was making the other day.
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So what is SlideRocket doing? Maybe the web service just expands your audience reach and makes the product more accessible. Maybe the web service will be tiered with a free web client and a premium desktop client. However, the real differentiator between SlideRocket and PowerPoint or Keynote is the presentation, sharing and community building that a killer web service can bring. RIA is software and services packaged together and SlideRocket is schooling us on how it should be done. Wake up Neo.

More Is Often Less

Keith says something I feel very strongly about, but how do you get business types to get out of the feature arms race? Lot’s of business folks still feel like its the bullet points that win product comparisons and sell upgrades, but do they help you create passionate users who love your products?

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I’m not opposed to features (Keith definitely wasn’t saying that). Instead I’d like to see thoughtful well executed features that simplify my life and empower me. Too often, this is not what software delivers.

Note to self — try to suck less.

Winning Hearts And Minds

Microsoft’s biggest problem these days isn’t technology, it’s ecosystem, or corporate strategy. Instead it has something far worse — a perception problem. There’s a ton of historical evidence — monkey boy, M$ (a slur used by geeks to describe corporate greed), Apple’s Mac vs PC (it wouldn’t be effective if the perception didn’t already exist), etc. — and more keeps popping up all of the time.

For instance, while slamming offline web apps, Dare laments the anti-Microsoft sentiment in the Web 2.0 crowd. It appears he’s suggesting that ill will towards MS is so great that Google Gears was developed and praised only because of the potential harm it might do to Microsoft. I’m not attempting to slam Dare or his argument (he has some valid points), only highlight the reaction elicited as a result of the MS perception problem.

(Note: I’m not sure I buy his “desktop” apps are far richer than web apps generalization in today’s RIA age, but its an arguable point)
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It also gets, if you’re lucky enough to be the CEO, eggs chucked at you during speaking engagements.



The problem Microsoft has is that even with superior fire power ($274 billion market cap) it’s losing the all important battle for hearts and minds. I’m not trying to make the argument that Microsoft is pure unadulterated evil and it’s all roses everywhere else. Google seems to want to own your personal information and advertise to you in disturbing ways (although what company doesn’t), but they still have a generally positive perception amongst the rank and file (its a fun verb we all use). Apple is certainly no stranger to vendor lock-in and wrapping your content in a layer of crud, but they package end to end experiences so well that they continue to have a high degree of consumer good will.

Microsoft on the other hand, comes across as a caricature of greedy monopolists constantly looking for ways to subjugate an entire set of industries–OS, video, mobile, search, gaming consoles, game development, servers, browsers, etc. The actions of its executives and business units reaffirm this negative perception despite the many positive interactions we may have at the individual level (what’s it called when the behavior of the group doesn’t match the beliefs / behavior of the individuals that make up that group). For many this results, justifiably or not, in a toxic swirl surrounding all emanations from Redmond and that folks is a big, big problem. I’d offer up advice, but somehow I don’t think the suits would listen.