e27

When the Cornerplay turned 100, I highlighted my 22 favorite posts. It feels much too soon to do that again, so for this milestone, will instead share what I’ve learned.

Google is king. That’s been the biggest surprise for me so far. The Cornerplay is syndicated weekly on TechSpot and e27 — two fine publications — primarily because as a casual writer, my objective is to be read. Yet, the largest referrer of traffic by FAR is Google. Nearly 27% of all traffic came from Google search and the next largest is 6%.

For example, Googling “the credit card information is not valid. please check your entries carefully.” will get you my article about Sony’s epic failure to process payments on PSN as the top result (as of this writing). I guess I’m the only person who wrote about it outside of forums and the like. It suggests long tail topics — especially those about consumer pain points that aren’t addressed — can generate enduring traffic from Google.

It’s depressing if you think about it. For publishers, it’s no longer about building an audience who loves your content and checks in everyday, even if via RSS or Twitter. That path takes a lot of time and money. No, if you want to become a business, it’s about getting Google to like you and send you traffic. Or becoming click-bait central and relying on Facebook to go viral.

That’s if you’re in the game of building traffic. Fortunately, I’m in the game of writing about whatever is interesting, so I can speculate what winning might require and then proceed to ignore it. Nevertheless, here’s more about the Cornerplay, 200 days in:

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It’s been 100 days since we started the Cornerplay. Wow! Time flies. This blog started out as a hobby, a creative outlet away from work, and I hope to keep it that way.

It was hard sometimes to maintain the discipline to post everyday. On average, each post takes two hours to write and so my nights have been consumed by this blog. I don’t watch TV any more, but that’s probably a good thing.

The Cornerplay has reached over 10,000 readers, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider it’s the 10,000 best looking people on the planet. Every single one of them reading this awesome blog. And somewhere along the way you helped us pick a logo.

Today, The Cornerplay is syndicated via two weekly columns: every Thursday at TechSpot, a leading tech publication with 4 million readers; and every Monday on e27, Asia’s leading technopreneur website. I’m honored to be affiliated with these two fine publications.

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With Microsoft in the news recently (18,000 in layoffs!), we thought we’d check in with Skype 5.0, which launched last month for iPhone and will soon debut on Android. Skype used to be the name in messaging, but in today’s mobile world the venerable brand has become an afterthought to Whatsapp, LINE and even Google Hangouts. So how does Skype 5.0 fare?

The Skype team apparently rebuilt the app from scratch with a focus on speed. I’m glad to report the new version doesn’t feel slower than its competition. It looks good too. Microsoft wisely decided to stick to one common design (Windows Phone) and apply it everywhere. One nice upgrade is that if you use Skype for both desktop and iPhone, if a message is read on one it’s automatically marked as read on the other.

However, Skype remains as unusable as ever. Why? Contacts still works like it’s from the 90s. To message a new contact, I have to first search, hope the right person shows up and then manually add her. What makes it worse is that I haven’t used Skype in a long time, so most of the contacts in the “people” section are outdated.

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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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I’ve been to every Echelon since it began, and the conference has changed a lot over that time. Everything is bigger, slicker, more polished. A reported 1700 attended the conference! There are more interesting people from a wider variety of backgrounds. Ideas are well researched and articulated. Start-ups pitch well and are better funded; you can say almost professional.

The tech scene’s maturation is unbelievable; like watching a child grow up into a young adult.

While so much of this is good, I have noticed two trends that while are not yet concerns, can easily be if we as a community are not careful.

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e27’s Echelon is the TechCrunch Disrupt of South East Asia; it’s the region’s largest and arguably most influential tech conference.

Echelon also has its own start-up battlefield, and in cornerplay tradition, we’re giving our high level assessment on the winner: Taamkru, an iPad educational game for kids five and below (iOS only for now).

In the words of the company:

Taamkru helps your preschooler achieve academic success in both an enjoyable and productive way while allowing parents to monitor achievement with personalized progress reports…Taamkru’s kid-tested inventory of nearly one million creative learning exercises has been developed by trusted child development experts and aligned with Ministry of Education standards. Our productive learning app has been carefully designed for preschoolers to use and help them achieve academic success with fun, interactive and premium quality educational content of increasing difficulty.

Taamkru is a worthy winner, but it wasn’t my first choice for the competition.

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