PS3, Wii, Zune: Second coming of the revolution…

15 11 2006

It’s palatable in the air.  People are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the PlayStation 3, the Wii (to a lesser extent) and the Zune (to an even lesser extent).

Despite what’s being reported as their best efforts to  sabotage PlayStation 3 by outrageously high pricing, I would tend to think that Sony will eventually work it’s pricing out.  It’s certainly treading near the danger zone putting the machine out of the reach of the price point required for mass adoption.

What’s coolest about this new revolution is that all three consoles have a legitimate claim to the throne.  XBox 360 was first market, early as well on online services and priced at a moderate level.  PlayStation 3 is flaunting its muscle as the leader of the last two generations and could come out a leader if it can work out some of the early kinks.   Nintendo Wii is probably the smartest company play right now, pricing a sweet spot of around $250 and heralding a new generation of games that are just plain fun, along with an inventive new remote and sensor combination that promises to reinvent how we think of the game control experience.

Plasma screens and LCDs are becoming commonplace in homes and establishments everywhere.

Even HD DVD and Blu Ray look like given some time and riding alongside the adoption of PS3 and XBox 360 HD DVD players, they too will etch out a place for the highest echelon of viewing experience for movies and video games.

Get ready for next generation of entertainment.  The last generation was pretty sharp, but this one’s shaping up to be even better.





Face recognition (Riya, MyHeritage) – Living in the real world?

9 11 2006

If you’ve been at least remotely touched by the Web 2.0 promotion engine, you’ve likely heard at least part of the Riya story, the startup that moved from face recognition that was reported to have been close to being acquired by Google to a broader visual search engine shortly after its face recognition product launched.  CEO Munjal Shah has done a great job chronicling his strategy shift on his blog for startups everywhere.

Now they’ve launched Like.com, a visual, vertical search engine for women’s fashion items. It’s undoubtedly an interesting choice that I’ve not settled on a full judgment on, although I’ve certainly seen the arguments hailing Like and others that question how ready for prime time face recognition really is. I personally like the vision of visual imaging and similarity matching, however imperfect it may be.

The initial version is missing some simple things that will be key, such as being able to upload a photo that you can then match against products. Undoubtedly, these will be drivers towards making this a more useful application. It seemed initially redundant to have to search through celebrity photos, then through item photos that may or may not closely match.

I originally thought Riya was moving towards a broader similarity engine. I still think this is where they’ll need to go to stand a chance to monetize fast enough against what is probably a fairly significant burn rate.

MyHeritage is an Israeli face recognition startup that was mentioned to me for its cool face recognition and person-to-celebrity matching tools, among other geneaology related applications.

So my question here is whether these startups are living in the real world. To a geek like myself and others, this is undoubtedly cool. But the question remains: is this a geek phenomenon? I like to be firmly rooted in the real world.  iLetYou is rooted in the real world. I prefer real people over avatars, social settings over social networks, etc. I like cool things, but I love things that make my life easier or better.  It’s not about being unnecessarily physical, but realness is about modeling natural human behavior not radically flying in the face of it.  The iPod is not an adjustment of human behavior, just a much nicer model to fit human’s quench for music.

So many Web 2.0 startups feel unnatural, which is my personal litmus test for longevity in Web 2.0 companies.

How do you root something like Riya in the real world?  You make it natural. Eventually, people may be able to use their cell phone cameras to quick snap pictures they can more easily research online. This is where Riya’s concern has to lie and I’d be most concerned that with such a big problem that you might be too far ahead of the mainstream audience.

So for all it’s coolness, you have to ask yourself with all these Web 2.0 startups: are they living in the real world?





iLetYou.com has launched!

3 11 2006

iLetYou.com has launched.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be inviting people to try out the Private Beta.  We’ve also launched an iLetYou blog, The Rental Economy, that will discuss the burgeoning online rental economy.

Do you have 10, 100 or 1,000 DVDs or games?  Whether you own a physical store, small or big collection, check out iLetYou and find out how you can make real money or earn credit from you collection through online rental, no matter what the size.  I would definitely like to speak with and help you directly – please write us at beta –at– iletyou.com.





Brightcove – Smartest TV and Video Distribution to Date

2 11 2006

Brightcove has always been a company to watch in the online video space, with a concentration on building its strong distribution network and led by a stellar management team.

They’ve recently announced a self-service TV and video marketplace. You publish your video content and take 50% of ad revenue and 70% of paid download revenue (blog coverage here) . What strikes me positively about this news is that Brightcove has set reasonable standard terms – these are not token pennies paid to content producers. You can finally envision digital content producers finding their way to real substantial income someday.  So while there’s no arguing the greatness of YouTube’s distribution – this is even more exciting to me because it can become a win-win-win-win…. for all.

This is reminiscient of Google AdSense. AdSense existed in its self-service form far before any big MySpace-style advertising deals were announced. The exact revenue share details aren’t necessarily what matters (terms eventually will vary from partner to partner as the market dictates) – only that we are in the ballpark where you can see this becoming a winner not just for Brightcove, but for video content producers everywhere.

The two key components are ease-of-use of the self service model and a substantial revenue share. I haven’t done the usability testing for Brightcove to make any judgments there, but as I’ve said, I’m keen on the start to the revenue share.

We’ve done the same with iLetYou, coming into Private Beta soon, and have tried to follow a similar ease-of-use and substantial revenue share model. I think you’ll see this combination of key components as a successful model moving forward.