Great essay from Paul Graham...
Empirically, the way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things. Want to dominate microcomputer software? Start by writing a Basic interpreter for a machine with a few thousand users. Want to make the universal web site? Start by building a site for Harvard undergrads to stalk one another.
Empirically, it's not just for other people that you need to start small. You need to for your own sake. Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg knew at first how big their companies were going to get. All they knew was that they were onto something. Maybe it's a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it's going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you'll get it wrong.
I think the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary. You'll be better off if you operate like Columbus and just head in a general westerly direction. Don't try to construct the future like a building, because your current blueprint is almost certainly mistaken. Start with something you know works, and when you expand, expand westward.
The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.
Here is a quick summary of the options available to you, and the decisions you need to make before a development cost can be established:
There are dozens of good solutions, and which to choose depends on a multitude of factors... do you have a site already with a CMS ? do you mind offloading visitors to a 3rd party "hosted storefront" like Shopify, which is a great service... or do you prefer to keep them on your site throughout the checkout flow?
Is your site running as a self-hosted WP blog, and thus could use an on-site ecomm plugin instead? There are a few popular plugin options for this scenario.
Further, if you already use PayPal, do you want to simply add a Paypal checkout button?
See a site that does this: http://depotpublishing.com
You can do this method on both a website or a blogging system.
If yes to Paypal, do you want to continue using PayPal but need a true cart, and want a seamless, integrated checkout flow where the user never leaves your site? Then, we use the PayPal Pro api to make any type of cart system. See my site http://moultonfarm.com and go to the online store.
Or, you might want a full-featured shopping cart using a different payment processor, like authorize.net, and you want it hosted on your own site... ?
or even http://choiceliteracy.com
And lastly, how do you handle the backend accounting and inventory management, if at all? Do you need QB integration? (troublesome!) They need a store like bigcommerce that can send all sales data to QB on a synced basic. But setting up this scenario requires a true QB expert on hand.
The options go on!
In some cases, you may not want to use Paypal, and already have a 3rd-party gateway and merchant service. Therefore, you need a very simple "cart" that does only what you want, that talks to the API (interface) of the gateway. A common gateway is Authorize.net. It has APIs with which you talk to their systems.
Or, you may not have a merchant account yet. In that case, you could use an all-in-one procider like: e-onlinedata.com
And now, we get to the technologies with which your site is coded... php? asp? jsp? python? ruby? We here at PDG&Associates use only php and sometimes python.
For php, there are lots of choices.
For a simple and free one, here's: http://conceptlogic.com/jcart/
You could modify it as needed to make it work, and a programmer could use it as the basis for a custom solution. And there are probably 100 more carts like it this.
Or with custom programming, we could simply build a tailored solution. Give us a call to make sense of the options!
From a comment by the new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer:
Ms. Mayer may have the hardest time taking Yahoo into the mobile advertising arena, a market dominated by her former employer. Unlike Yahoo, Google and Apple dominate the mobile advertising space with hardware and software options.
And that’s where it runs headlong into its identity problem. “Yahoo is still mainly a media company. It doesn’t have an operating system. It doesn’t have the devices,” Mr. Hallerman, of eMarketer, said. “I don’t know if there’s room in the market for a fourth mobile platform.”
Asked whether she plans to run Yahoo as a media company or a technology company, Ms. Mayer said, “It’s not the right question. The most important thing is to give end users something valuable, inspiring and delightful that makes them want to come to Yahoo every day.”
Marissa Mayer is just 37 years old and has uncommon wisdom among the tech analysts and elite. Best of success to her!
From an article at The Verge: Vizio has 414 US employees who oversee a vast army of suppliers making their products at the manufacturing level. The founder says that 50 percent of their job is orchestrating.
And why are the TVs so low-cost?
“We're here to make innovative technology a commodity,” Wang told Inc magazine at the time.“ We're not here to build cheap product, we're here to make the product affordable.”
You know Vizio for its affordable LED TVs sold at Costco and Walmart... and maybe for its tablets or monitors. But they also are making PCs.
“PCs aren't going away,“ says McRae. “They're still extremely important devices in people's lives and they're really becoming an entertainment product as much as a productivity product. And if it's an entertainment device, it's in our wheelhouse. We do entertainment devices pretty well.” Vizio first tried to expand beyond TVs into smart devices with the Vizio Phone and Tablet, which launched at CES 2011, but McRae killed the phone after dealing with carriers proved frustrating and expensive. PCs and tablets can be sold directly to consumers — something Vizio is pretty good at.
They have innovative ideas about the direction of PCs:
“The tablet has forced the PC industry out of its slumber. There wasn't much going on. But the next three to five years in PCs will actually be very interesting. You're going to see new form factors, you're going to see touch embedded over time.
EBay offers PayPal Here
Intuit offers GoPayment
Eventbrite offers At The Door Card Reader
A credit card swiper that plugs into an iPad’s charging slot and can be used to sell tickets and merchandise at event sites.
From a NYTimes article titled "In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad"
“You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards,” said a current Apple executive.
“And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.”
Photograph by Ryan Pyle for The New York Times
Aluminum dust from polishing iPads caused the blast at Foxconn's plant in Chengdu.
The latest hot discussion on the internet is the author Larry Downes versus Best Buy.
To compete successfully against new online retailers, traditional retailers would also need to find ways to transform the expensive liabilities of physical locations with limited hours and high labor and inventory costs into assets that complemented rather than competed with the online experience.
There's a great line from the column: From Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” novel, one character asks another how he went bankrupt. “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
Larry has a great summary of why Best Buy is dying slowly:
I’m not shilling for Amazon or any other successful online retailer here. My point is much more basic. Amazon neither invented nor appropriated its basic strategies from Best Buy or anyone else. It simply does what consumers want. Best Buy does what would be most convenient for the company for consumers to want but don’t, then crosses its fingers and prays. That’s not a strategy–or not a winning strategy, in any case, now that retail consumers aren’t stuck with the store closest to home.
Analyst Tero Kuittinen said that T-Mobile "must now explore more creative opportunities — for instance, seeking partnerships with media giants like Amazon, Facebook or Google. T-Mobile’s spectrum, not its customer base, is its most valuable asset."
A commenter on a forum noted:
As a long-time T-Mobile customer, I can only say I am relieved to read that this is over, at least for now. The mere thought of one of the highest-priced carriers with the lowest customer service rating would be taking over the one carrier with the lowest rates and best customer service made me shudder.
T-Mobile is not "damaged" as AT&T claims... besides being four billion dollars richer, many T-Mobile customers were opposed to this deal, and are relieved that the company can once again focus on its customers.
New ways to sell tickets
If you are having an event and need to sell tickets, EventBrite might be the best way to go.
We used EventBrite to sell tickets to our North Country Film Festival in 2010. It was a success.
Now, the California-based company has released an iPad app that faciliates at-the-door sales. The NYTimes has an article:
To deal with similar situations, and to compete more directly with the big guns of the industry, in June the company introduced Eventbrite at the Door. Using an iPad app and a credit card scanner, Eventbrite at the Door customers can let in advance ticket holders and sell 400 new tickets per hour.
Eventbrite is bundling the hardware and testing it in beta with about five or six event organizers, but it plans to release it as an iPad app this summer. The first iteration will be called Eventbrite at the Door, but as more features are added, such as seating, it will evolve into a full mobile box office. CEO Kevin Hartz sees it as akin to Opentable terminals at restaurants. Eventually he’d like to partner with Square for the card swipe readers, but is waiting for Square to open up its API. Square just launched its own iPad cash register app as well, but that is geared more at merchants than event organizers.
In the meanwhile, EventBrite charges less than TicketMaster:
The company charges consumers 2.5 percent of the cost of each ticket plus 99 cents, plus credit card charges of about 3 percent. For a $20 ticket, those fees would come to about $2.10, or 10.5 percent — much less than customers are used to paying through Ticketmaster, where surcharges are often 30 percent or higher.
The industry resists EventBrite's low costs to consumers:
“A lot of people in the music business don’t want ticketing democratized,” said Josh Baron, editor of the music magazine Relix and co-author of the book “Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped.” “It’s a business, and venues want money.”
The Auteur vs. the Committee
From an article in digital domain at http://nyti.ms/qBBIB8
AT Apple, one is the magic number.
One person is the Decider for final design choices. Not focus groups. Not data crunchers. Not committee consensus-builders. The decisions reflect the sensibility of just one person: Steven P. Jobs, the C.E.O.
By contrast, Google has followed the conventional approach, with lots of people playing a role. That group prefers to rely on experimental data, not designers, to guide its decisions.
The contest is not even close. The company that has a single arbiter of taste has been producing superior products, showing that you don’t need multiple teams and dozens or hundreds or thousands of voices.
A well-known commentator, John Gruber, gave a talk a few years ago about design leadership and creative vision.
Two years ago, the technology blogger John Gruber presented a talk, “The Auteur Theory of Design,” at the Macworld Expo. Mr. Gruber suggested how filmmaking could be a helpful model in guiding creative collaboration in other realms, like software.