Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Editorial: The Future of the Interface

Currently I am working on a report that summarizes what new directions interfaces are going in the future. I wanted to write a quick update about where I am at so far and what interesting information has come up. By the way, I love bullet points, but I'll get to that in another post.
  • Interfaces as we know them will be re-imagined
  • Pioneers will be young engineers with crazy ideas
  • Interfaces will interact with the user
Interfaces as we know them will be re-imagined
One thing that you can always count on is for new, innovative technologies to replace old ones. Innovation has changed the landscape of almost every industry in the world. Innovation often changes the players in the industry because new players simply think differently. Old-timers in an industry are generally stuck in a way of thinking.

Pioneers will be young engineers with crazy ideas
It happened with Microsoft, HP, Google, and almost every other "eBusiness" or tech company. But the fascinating thing is that interfaces that get picked up will be something different than what we think of. We think of using a mouse, then a natural progression is using a "finger" as a mouse, such as MultiTouch. Of course, MultiTouch is a great interface for many applications, but is that all that is new? Engineers will be inventing things we haven't even though of. I could list gesture interfaces, hologram interfaces, and all kinds of crazy things. Of course, if an engineer is inventing something I haven't thought of it makes it very difficult to mention it here.

Interfaces will interact with the user
Currently, most interfaces are static. How have they interacted with the user in the past? Keyboard do offer a tactile feedback and the best example of tactile is ForceFeedback found on joysticks. But do interfaces actually interact with the user? Not really. Interfaces in the future will evolve with use. They will learn how you use the computer. They will help determine optimal placement of each menu item, each key, and each button. They will determine which gestures work best for you.

The last point, that interfaces will interact with the user, is the most interesting to me. I imagine a world where a computer analyzes how you input commands and then optimizes itself to make it easier for you to use. Wouldn't that be amazing?

OLPC 2.0

So the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program has unveiled its next project. It wants to make a $75 laptop that mainly functions as an eBook reader. Have a look at the two functions it will have:

The first function is an eBook reader and is the main priority. The second function is a standard laptop with a touchscreen keyboard, similar to how the iPhone works. This is very innovative, which might also be a problem. Because of the full touchscreen it could be far costlier than project (currently $75) if the displays are not available for cheap. The new project's display depends on the pricing of High Definition (HD) displays manufactured for portable DVD players.

It is definitely a possibility that if large numbers of the new laptops are not ordered, which would have provided economies of scale, the total cost will be much bigger than the estimated $75. OLPC thought they would have millions of laptops sold within a year, which is far from reality (currently around 600,000 units), so not reaching economies of scale is certainly reasonable.

Link: Forbes OLPC 2.0

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Upgrade to Vista?

Microsoft is beating the horse to death in the Windows XP vs. Windows Vista debate with Windows XP's Service Pack 3 (SP3) increasing the already-faster Windows XP by more than 10%. In fact, Vista is now 2x as slow as XP (according to this test). Of course, there are so many variables that could be influecing this test, but the PR message certainly looks bad.
Link: Windows XP SP3 Performance Graph

So What Does This Mean?
Luckily for Microsoft, you can't buy a new PC without Vista, reinforcing their near monopoly on the Operating System (OS) market. Without a high level of reinforcement and with their current lack of customer loyalty, it appears that Microsoft would be losing market share if there was a serious OS competitor. Although this is against Apple's ideology of controlling everything in-house, if they released OSX to run on non-Apple computers it would be a prime time to start grabbing marketshare from Windows Vista.

What Else Does This Mean?
One way in which the SP3 of Vista could be a boon is in the very small PC market, such as the Asus Eee PC, where any speed advantage would be helpful. Microsoft doesn't want to have another OS be popular for consumers in any way, if they can help it. They don't want people to have a mental "break" with Windows and start finding other OSes acceptable, and the Eee PC is no exception.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Social Media Analytics - Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia & LinkedIn

Here is a Short Executive Summary for a Social Media Analytics project I recently did. I measured the composition and level of traffic, including unique monthly visitors, demographics, and much more:

Short Executive Summary
This report is an analysis of social media communities in the 2008 digital landscape. It goes over the process of comparing various online user bases through looking at traffic rankings, user demographics and viewing habits, and other useful rankings that can be used to create a website profile.

The sources used include,,,, and various domain registration sites. The websites that were profiled were Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia and LinkedIn. After analyzing data for the five communities, suggestions were given on how to solve the issue of drawing in new users.

Each website has an inherent weakness and needs to cover it up before it negatively affects its growth. The recommendations were that:
  • Facebook should market to Hispanics
  • MySpace should organize its page views and layouts
  • YouTube should create new video-focused features, such as mash-ups and exclusive video series
  • Wikipedia should create a news-related list of entries and encourage frequent updates to this list
  • LinkedIn should target not only the professionals of the world, but also those on the precipice of starting a career: soon-to-be college graduates

The recommendations should boost the user base of each website without negatively impacting any significant numbers of uses. To thrive in the competitive market of social media websites an organization must continuously innovate to both keep and attract new users. Many additional changes could be made to further improve the entertainment value or usability of each site, but the suggestions laid out appeared to be the most cost- and time- efficient.

Every community has the potential to continue to grow, gathering more and more users and becoming more valuable in the process. This analysis demonstrates the usefulness of understanding a target market and catering to that in new ways. Doing this will ensure not only a healthy community but also a vibrant and profitable one as well.

Sources (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2008 from (2007). Annual Population Data. Retrieved April 26, 2008, from (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2008 from (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2008 from (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2008 from

Whois.Net (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2008 from

Regular Postings

Hello everyone! Sorry, but I haven't been posting regularly. I'm going to get on a schedule of posting at least every Mondays and Wednesdays.

Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New NewEgg Developments vs. Amazon

To further prove the Competitive Landscape analysis that I performed on NewEgg recently, I just read this post:

The new NewEgg site is and it is in beta at the moment. Currently I don't think it is anywhere near as usable, friendly, or product-rich as Amazon. But NewEgg has been very successful in the consumer electronics segment and they will probably exit their beta phase as a pretty interesting competitor.

Amazon should keep close tabs on NewEggMall as it could potentially shuttle standard NewEgg customers into NewEggMall, purchasing more than just electronics. Here is a breakdown of their strengths/weaknesses. The NewEgg strengths and weaknesses will probably transfer into NewEggMall, although hopefully they will improve their weaknesses.

NewEgg strengths:
  • Excellent customer service
  • Powerful rating system
  • Powerful search function that "homes in" on the item qualities you care about
  • Fast 3-day shipping at good prices

NewEgg weaknesses:
  • Mostly deal in electronics, unproven "non-tech" e-tailing
  • No auction systems / user selling systems
  • **70%+ of revenue comes from repeat high-tech buyers

Amazon strengths:
  • Powerful rating system
  • User learning with"Personalized Recommendations" after you purchase items
  • Large user base
  • Free shipping over $25

Amazon weaknesses:
  • Low margins already, so can't drop prices much lower
  • Not all items are sold "in house" and free shipping doesn't apply to everything

An important thing to realize is that Amazon does not generally make a lot of mony. NewEgg has continually been profitable since their inception. Amazon is relying on eventual volume sales and if NewEgg erodes even a portion of that, it can be very painful for Amazon.

Competitive Landscape Analysis

I recently did a Competitive Landscape analysis for NewEgg. The Executive Summary is below, and I think it is a pretty good read if you have ever been a NewEgg, Amazon, or eBay customer. If you are interesting in how to performance the analysis in detail, shoot me an email at: mario dot j dot campos at gmail dot com

Short Executive Summary
Analyzing one’s competitors is both a beneficial and necessary part of business. Electronic businesses are no exception, and evaluating their online presence in relation to competition can reveal startling truths about what battles you are fighting and where you are fighting them. This report profiles the e-commerce company Newegg, which sells a wide variety of electronics while emphasizing their personal computer component roots.

Newegg’s top ten competitors are analyzed, and their relation to the company may be surprising to a reader that assumes Newegg is still primarily competing with computer component e-tailers. In fact, besides mainstream desktop and laptop manufacturers, Newegg has no major competitor that focuses on the PC component market. Their competition is as diverse as Ebay to Wal-Mart and many companies in between.

Three chief findings are available from this competitive landscape profile. The first is that Ebay is Newegg’s top competitor, beating out a host of other companies, even Second, Newegg is no longer a boutique PC component seller. It is a fully-fledged electronic e-commerce website. Lastly, Newegg’s web traffic comes almost entirely outside of its competition and so cannot merely ‘soak up’ the traffic from users that are unsure of which to choose. Newegg is the undisputed underdog in its competitive field.

To respond to the threats in this landscape, Newegg should instigate a three-pronged approach to defending its territory, expanding its user base, and increasing its profitability. First, Newegg should launch an e-marketing campaign aimed to boost it over Ebay in terms of safety, security, warranty, refunds, and customer service. Second, its mainstream non-PC component electronics should be advertised to purchasers of such products as DVD players, digital cameras, and TVs. Finally, Newegg should launch an online music and DVD distribution service to get a cut of the lucrative downloadable content marketplace. By establishing itself as an early key player, Newegg will be ready as consumers keep steadily switching to digital media.

These findings and recommendations are available to make Newegg more competitive and better able to defend its territory against in-roads from its competition. Newegg has the ability to continue to expand, both in terms of profitability and consumer demographics. The three recommended initiatives will set Newegg up for future long-term growth options while retaining their core spirit of enthusiast personal computer components.

Alexa. (2008). Retrieved April 13, 2008, from

Newegg. (2008). Retrieved April 13, 2008, from