Dienstag, September 26, 2006

Internet - job engine or job killer!?

Yesterday I drove my car home from work and I remembered that I still had a birthday gift certificate in my glove department for the second part of a kite-boarding course, which I started last year, but then the wind died. While driving I pulled out the certificate and looked at it. Besides the organizational stuff it had this URL on it: http://www.kiteboardingfehmarn.de/. I remembered that the course was all the way up north on the island of Fehmarn in a tiny little city called Gold, with about three houses. Then I thought: How did small companies like this surf school get clients before we got the internet in 1995? That is only 11 years ago and I can barely remember... Ok we possibly pulled out the thick yellow pages book and started looking. But most of the time this only included business in the region you lived in. You possibly had a chance to find a business far a way by calling some local tourist information... then my thoughts began to race... Is the internet a chance for small local businesses that are located near some big metropolitan areas? Is the internet or the digialization maybe not a job killer, but a job engine? I do not have the necessary macroeconomic and demographic data at hand to answer the question, but here are some pros and cons as food for thought:

Job Killer Examples:
  1. Travel industry: local travel agents will soon be disappeared and will be replaced by travelsites
  2. Bank industry: I haven´t seen my bank office in about 3 years, since I do internet banking
  3. Flight Check-In: Most of the time I check in at a machine or via the phone
  4. Public Tax administration: I did my last tax statement completely via the PC and handed it in via the internet (ELSTER), a great productivity increase this must be for the tax experts, but also a possible job killer
Job Engine Examples:
  1. Software industry: thousands of jobs have been created around webdesign, e-commerce systems, business software, intranets, CRM, Supply Chain Management...
  2. Online Retailers: In Germany around 60.000 people live off eBay, either by being Sellers themselves or by working for a company that makes money from services or software around eBay.
  3. SMEs: Many small and medium-sized businesses that found out how to do online-marketing have a much greater visibility today and found new customers that not only drive longer ways to visit the store, but that also order online, e.g. specialized Spanish fancy food stores, surf schools, small hotels, restaurants, hiking equipment sellers, surfboard sellers, translation services...
  4. Gaming, fun and services industry: many new jobs have been created thanks to the new medium, which were not possible in the old days, e.g. Online-Games, online picture processing, home office workers, flirt- and chat platforms...

In the end you can make up your mind yourself or start looking for university studies and public statistics on www.metager.de to find out the truth.

I finally arrived at home and felt deeply sorry for the thousands of people who might have lost their job, because of too much competition from the internet or from overwhelming robot productivity, but on the other hand I was hoping that many of them were able to retrain themselves with new PC- and software skills to find new jobs and I was very optimistic about the digital times ahead, since it bears great chances even for the smallest local OTC companies, but we definitely need more students with programming skills to help all the business get connected.

Donnerstag, September 21, 2006

Smartphones in 2009 - big changes ahead...

In 2009 according to new studies every third phone in Germany will be a smarphone! How will our life have changed by then?
  • Will we still carry three+ devices like ipods, digital camera and mobile phone? Nope, it´s all in one!
  • Will we only synchronize private emails at home in front of the PC? Nope, everywhere, anytime!
  • Will we be able to write & edit word documents including drag&drop functionality on the phone? Yip!
  • Will we watch television in the subway on our phone? Yip!
  • Will we connect to WLAN hotspots all over the city? Yip!
  • Will we be worried about costly dataplans, WAP or UMTS rates? Nope, because we will have a flatrate!
  • Will we use Skype on the mobile phone to chat? Yip!
  • Will bandwidth increase and will telcos stop limiting data traffic? I hope so...

Hey, but in the end my fingers are still too big and it is annoying to type on a mobile phone and you know what? The screen still will be small compared to ever increasing flatscreens at home... We will see... What do you think?

What is your opinion about AJAX programming?

Do you have an opinion about AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)? Write me a comment and share your experiences!

1. Did you use throbbers?
2. Did you use invisible iframes?
3. Did you use a URL fragment identifier?
4. What are the pros and cons?
5. What were your experiences as a user?
6. Which are the cooles AJAX sites you know?

Please feel free to write a comment!



Dienstag, September 12, 2006

Einfacher Versand für gestresste Business-Leute

Ich finde Menschen toll, die Unternehmergeist haben und neue Services anbieten, die das Leben vereinfachen. Das Start-Up prePack bietet im Raum Hamburg einen neuen Versandservice an, der einem die ganze Arbeit nach einer erfolgreichen eBay-Auktion abnimmt: Der Artikel wird für angemessenes Geld abgeholt, verpackt und versendet. Toll - genau das richtige für gestresste Business-Leute: www.prepack.de

Donnerstag, September 07, 2006

We have seen nothing yet! mash-up developers out there: time for rock 'n' roll!

Today I held a speach at the Media in Transition conference in Munich (http://www.mediaintransition.com/indexe.html) and discussed new Web 2.0 ideas in an interesting panel discussion with Simon Willison from Yahoo!, Ibrahim Evasan from Sevenload and Tom Dyson from Torchbox. In order to also open up the discussion here on my blog, let me share some of the points I tried to make during my 25-minute presentation...

Hopefully some food for thought and also new mashup ideas:

2. eBay´s developers program as a motor for Web 2.0 innovations:
  • eBay has billions of product data available, even including some demographic data, shipping data, product features, pictures and of courses prices.
  • data and eBay functionality are available via free webservices APIs and the market data program (http://developer.ebay.com)
  • The eBay webservices platform makes integration for 3rd-parties easy by leveraging technology standards (XML, SOAP, REST, https...) plus numerous SDKs
  • Numerous companies already use the eBay APIs to mash the data into their applications, e.g. ERP companies, logistic companies, tool developers, hotel chains...
  • eBay functionality is migrating into more and more portals such as freemail sites, price comparison sites, wireless apps, IPTV tools and much more

2. eBay´s affiliate programs are a motor for web 2.0 innovations

  • Especially new web 2.0 start-ups in the socializing, community, content or networking can make extra money off these programs by integrating relevant eBay items as advertisements into their sites and possibly even targeting these precisely based on their user profiles
  • eBay pays you money not only for clicks and bids, but also for new user registrations and even pays you a rev share in the US
  • Learn more at http://affiliate.ebay.com or http://partnerprogramm.ebay.de
  • tools like the editor kit or the eBay relevance ad let you target the ads in an optimized way

3. Examples and ideas for Web 2.0 mashups around eBay:

  • Google Maps or planet browser are currently the dominating mashup trend around local eBay searches and data. Examples include www.2realestateauctions.com, www.markovic.com, www.dudewhereismycar.com and some more
  • Another hot topic are plug-ins such as the eBay watcher as part of the google desktop 2.0. I expect many more AJAX dashboards with eBay functionality in the near future
  • Mashup idea: www.billmonk.com (facebook) to be mashed as a long-term financing option for students. Imagine your uncle borrowed you 300 bucks to buy a flat screen and you pay him back after a couple of years and remind him: Look this was the eBay item I bought - remember?
  • Mashup idea: www.dabbledb.com in order to organize your eBay sales as a professional seller and give access to some suppliers e.g. in order to view relevant statistics or spread-sheets... many more stuff can be done with this cool database / app
  • Mashup idea: www.worldofwarcraft.com or www.xuqa.com to be mashed with the gold that is being sold on eBay directly within the game or any other stuff that fits into the story. Or you could even mash it up with google maps and myspace.com in order to find out who and where the people sit in the real world that you are dealing with.
  • Mashup idea: Now this mashup is really cool. You gotta try it out: www.slide.com Enter your favorite seller and it will give you a cool slide show about the item this seller is selling. Nothing more needs to be said...rocks - in my opinion...
  • Mashup idea: Mash product prices from various platforms into a cool price comparison or analysis site - www.mpire.com is really worth trying out. Checkout the mashing around http://del.ico.us or the post it to Web - option for items. Mashup at its best. www.frucall.com is also an interesting option, still waiting for an eBay API connection
  • Mashup idea: collectors corners like www.squirl.info - great to be mashed with the matching eBay items
  • Mashup idea: Paypal - Skype - eBay :-) who would have guessed it? But seriously communication (voip, IM, peer to peer, WLAN) and payment offer great opportunities to be mashed...

4. Summary of the panel discussion after my speach:

  • Will we have a bandwidth problem with video taking over? Some believe so, but new technologies and ever increasing computing power and bandwidth will overcome the bottlenecks in my opinion.
  • What will dominate broadcasting, streaming, ownership, downloads? It all will happen. A daily television programm will be something of the past in 5 years - that`s all I had to say
  • Security: A big risk for Web 2.0, since users might get too transparent and not all developer are good you know. It really depends who wins the race. Today the young myspace kids do not worry about all the data they create about themselves, but they will grow older and you watch... I can already hear the human rights activists screaming... and read below in some of my other posts: I am scared already, thinking about all the data I left registering on so many websites out there...
  • I also made a comment about the internet and a question from the audience, whether this is a new bubble or not: First of all YES, the word Web 2.0 is too hyped up, but the magic word really is: APIs!!! These create tons of new business opportunities. But in the end... hey, the internet is only 11 years old and WE HAVE SEEN NOTHING YET!

5. Closing comment:

I read in an IT newspaper the other day that a professor predicted that ERP software companies are going to have a hard time competing against Web 2.0 business apps in 10 years from now... hmm - something to think about.

My first video podcasts about eBay wireless

Hey, guess what. During a campaign I launched for eBay wireless in Germany at the beginning of August I got to do my first video podcasts. The cameramen was the most nervous of all of us, but it turned out alright, I guess. What do you think? Watch out, they are in German though...