Monthly Archives: June 2014

I’ve resisted writing about Yo because, well, it’s a dumb app and I didn’t want to give it more PR than it already got.  You can use the app to send a Yo message to a friend.  Aaaaand…that’s it.  The app took one developer 8 hours to make.

Even Apple thought the app was stupid.  According to this excellent Business Insider’s article:

Yo launched quietly on April Fools Day, but Apple rejected its App Store application. Yo lacked substance, Apple argued. The pair fought back and defended Yo’s simplicity. Eventually, Yo was published.

And yet, today, over 500,000 people are using Yo.  The app reached #4 on the US iTunes app store and raised $1.2 million in funding.  Supposedly, they could have raised a lot more money if they wanted to.  Argh!  And what’s worse — Yo has even spawned copycats.

The tech industry can be a bit of a joke sometimes.

Yo is a marketing gimmick that people latch on to because using something really dumb can be really funny, and for many that’s real value.  I get that.

Yo isn’t even the first to hit humanity’s ironic goldmine.  Make it Rain and yes, Flappy Bird are two other examples.

As an industry outsider I’d find this app’s success hilarious.  Not so much as an insider, working hard to get our own app noticed.

There was a great story on re/code about how Apple’s iOS8 has replaced Yahoo’s weather app with one from the Weather Channel.  This is an embarrassing loss for the purple icon.

The real value of Yahoo Weather isn’t in its fancy design; it’s in its data and distribution.  Neither of which belonged to Yahoo.  The data for weather was provided by — you guessed it — the Weather Channel, who unsurprisingly supplied better data for its own app.

Apple provided the bulk of the distribution.  Marissa Mayer wants “daily habits” to be the cornerstone of Yahoo’s strategy, but in this case iPhone users didn’t have a daily habit of using Yahoo Weather; their daily habit is to use whatever weather app Apple provided.  Discovery remains the biggest challenge of the apps business and Yahoo Weather is no exception to it.

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Yesterday, Path launched version 4.0 of its app.  Version 4 is an incremental improvement over version 3 and there is now a new standalone messaging app.

Path is supposedly doing alright, growing from 1.5 million DAUs at the beginning of the year to 4 million.  A TechCrunch article further states that:

Southeast Asia is now its biggest market, with the U.S. coming second, but Path is also seeing some user growth from the Middle East.

While TechCrunch will readily accept Path implying it’s popular in South East Asia, data from App Annie shows that it’s really just Indonesia.

I spoke to a couple of friends in Indonesia on why they use Path.  The country has distinct characteristics that make Path a useful product there — perhaps uniquely — but that usefulness isn’t in messaging as the company believes.

It would be a mistake for Path to extrapolate too much from Indonesia into a company-wide bet.  Though I suppose they have to go somewhere.

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Like most entrepreneurs, I started off reading about the tech industry with TechCrunch, and shortly after discovered other big blogs like Engadget and small ones like Fred Wilson’s AVC.  Soon I needed Google Reader to manage all these websites, and my favorite reader was Flipboard.  Google retiring Google Reader was probably the first time I felt genuinely disappointed by tech — it’s not often change feels like a step backwards in this industry.

Its replacement, feedly, has reliability problems and doesn’t have as nice of an interface.  So I continued to use Flipboard but depended on its Technology section to get the bulk of my industry news; and then would go to individual websites Web 1.0 style to fill out the rest.  I was reading less — especially the smaller blogs — but this might have been OK as I had less time for reading.

Then I discovered Techmeme, a website that aggregates what it thinks are the best news and analyses for the tech industry that day into one page.

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You’ve probably heard of the Amazon Fire phone by now.  If you haven’t, see Engadget’s hands-on here.  It’s an interesting effort by Amazon, about packaging the company’s services in an integrated and attractive manner.  It’s what Google does with the Nexus program, Microsoft with Surface, and Apple with pretty much all their products.  As The Verge articulates:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his company’s first smartphone in Seattle on Wednesday, the Fire Phone, by first turning to a curiously ironic metaphor: a bucket of water. “You can fill a bucket with an eyedropper, if the bucket doesn’t leak,” Bezos said, striving to convey Amazon’s success at getting and keeping customers for its Prime subscription service. Now those Prime customers have a new reason to immerse themselves deeper into Amazon’s bucket of devices and services: a smartphone designed just for them.

There are a four things special about the Fire: Dynamic Perspective, Firefly, Mayday and camera with unlimited photo cloud storage, but the only things that matter — Firefly, Mayday, unlimited cloud storage — are not even hardware based.

If Amazon chooses to keep the Firefly exclusive to the Fire, it would mark a big strategy change.  My bet is Amazon will stay open and have its services available everywhere, and therefore will eventually port Firefly to other smartphones.  Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend what’s otherwise a pedestrian if not gimmicky phone in the Amazon Fire.  Unless it’s for that non-techie relative who just needs Mayday.

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The winner of Echelon’s India satellite, Hoverr, caught my eye.  Their business is about putting ads in front of websites’ images; what they do is analyze what’s in the image and then serve a targeted ad.  For example, if the photo is about a car, why not serve an ad for the latest BMW.  People don’t look at banner ads in the usual places but they do look at a story’s photos, so not only can the ad be more compelling it can also have prominent placement.

It’s an interesting idea.  I wanted to vote for them to win Echelon until they freely admitted they were a copycat, and about the fifth or sixth to the market too.  You can’t win a start-up competition by being a clone, can you?

I recently saw such an ad — I don’t know if it was Hoverr’s or one of their competitors’ — and I almost coughed up my drink when I saw it.

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