Microsoft’s future biz visions

GermanThis posting is also available in German.

Stephen Elop is the president of Microsoft’s Business Division – naturally, he’s more interested in business innovation than in shiny customer gadgets. In this 6 minute interview, Elop talks about the deep-rooted change companies currently face as the underlying question “how do we deal with this vast amount of information in an efficient way?” is an ongoin project:

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eBook: Chinese online markets and copy-catting

National markets beg to differ: it’s not only about languages, but about the subtle cultural differences which make the difference between top and drop. That goes especially for Asian markets. And there is another specialty about the largest Asian market: Chinese government strictly controls all internet access. This kind of censorship not only influences the political but also the economic sphere. Juergen Hoebarth, who knows the Chinese online market like the back of his hand, wrote a white paper about Chinese start-ups which is definitely worth a look (especially since it’s a free download!).

In Don’t forget China, Juergen talks a lot about the copycat situation – when it comes to net business, in many cases the copycat does a lot better in China than the original competitor:

As we can see in China there is definitely a copycat of every success story form the west and they are doing very well. This last case concerning the video portal sector in the Chinese market is really interesting, because it is a battle where an international site like YouTube has more or less no chance to win. Bureaucratic restrictions by the Chinese government just kick them out of the market. Once there is a copycat brand for a service that is better known, it is hard for the original to get into the market again, even when the restrictions are removed and an agreement is reached between Google, who owns YouTube and the Chinese government. The reason, for censorship at the moment, is that there have been regime critical videos between the millions that are offered on YouTube.

The Chinese government announced that in 2010, broadband net access will be available in every single village. If you’re founding an internationally oriented start-up today, you cannot afford to overlook China, argues Juergen:

As we live in a global world we are in a global competition as well, and so I would say the fast, smart and clever one will win the race and those who are thinking from the beginning on about a global strategy when they found a company will survive and if they are well prepared and know the rules of the Chinese internet market and adapt some issues, they definitely will have a chance to survive in this country as well and will not get kicked out as easily as the big global net giants have been before by their Chinese copycats.

eBay had to learn this lesson the hard way: after their total failure they completely abandoned the Chinese market. apparently, the company had overlooked two major problems: credit cards are not too widespread in China plus the direct contact between buyer and seller (via messaging services) is a vital trust-factor.

So if in the future you do not only want to reach Mary, John and Jack but also Bao, Fang and Wei, take a look at Juergen’s whitepaper: Direct Download: Don’t forget China

Contenture – Support the sites you love

Usually, I don’t get too excited about new ad networks – but since Contenture has been developed by the team behind Clicky, I’m quite sure that this service deserves a closer look. The idea is simple: by paying a monthly flat fee to Contenture, users help webmaster make their sites sustainable. Via a JavaScript-Snippet, the Contenture networks measures users’ visits to participating sites and spreads the money accordingly.

Basically, Contenture is reversing the classic ad model: instead of generating indirect revenue streams via AdSense and affiliate banners, webmasters profit from their regular users. I think that Contenture enters the stage at a quite early time, but basically the financial sustainability will become one of the key questions of the future web. There are some caveats involved though: such a network can only bring benefit to its webmaster if enough users are willing to pay – since most surfers are even reluctant to pay for online-services, I doubt that the big rush will take place instantly.

contenture anti-ad network

But the team has obviously kept that challenge in mind and came up with a *very* tempting idea:

Contenture is a new way to monetize your web site. Ad revenues are poor, unless you’re a big name – and even then, they’re still not that great. With Contenture, you make money for every visit to your site from a Contenture user. Furthermore, Contenture makes it dead simple to add premium level features to your web site with very little work. Think of it as a way to take your site Freemium. For example, you could give paying users priority access to new articles, exclusive access to your archives, an ad-free experience, and more. These features are built right into Contenture, but you can do even more with a little work on your end.

Now what’s so special about that? Think about it this way: during the last weeks, a number of big affiliate networks – especially Clickbank – have got into a struggle with several kinds of malware-clean-up software: once those programs start deleting CB-cookies, the fun part is over. Contenture offers a much more stable system and establishes a monetization system which doesn’t require any ongoing user actions. Once a couple of popular bloggers start posting mini-tutorials or premium contents (Twitter reports are still pretty hot), Contenture will experience a massive grow:

Contenture offers web sites the ability to (optionally) add premium level features to their web site. One of these features is to remove ads, but that’s just one of many. For example, a site could give paying users priority access to new articles, exclusive access to their archives, special commenting abilities, and more. These types of features are built right in to Contenture. In other words, we’re bringing the Freemium business model to the masses.
Here’s another way to look at it. Contenture is the first that lets content providers create premium “micro services” throughout their sites. This is a crucial variable that other micropayment services have failed to implement.

And this is just the beginning – there are more features to come, like pay-per-article, tools for subscription-based models and much more. In this respect, Contenture not only is the first “anti-ad-network” but at the same time a valuable toolkit for developing micro-payment models.

The pricing seems rather reasonable to me – the minimum fee is $6,99. Users can pay more on an optional basis. Contenture keeps 20% of the revenues, which is very low compared to the standard 50% of most ad networks. Contenture works with all types of sites, but there are plugins for WordPress and Drupal – the integration is one in two minutes. There is no approval system, but Contenture reserves the right to delete accounts.

Conclusion: Contenture arrived a little early, but the idea is great and from my two years of Clicky experience, I definitely know that these guys understand how micro-traffic analysis works. There are no downturns involved – I activated the Contenture plugin on datadirt today and I’m not expecting a massive income stream yet, but I expect this to grow quite big. So it’s probably a good idea to jump on the band-wagon as soon as you can.

More reviews:

Stefan Jacobasch on Contenture [in German]
Micropayment-Based Freemium Models For All. (If People Use It.) on TechCrunch
The anti-ad network
Monetize content without ads?

Kiki and Bubu part 5: Christmas and the system

“The answer is the same as always: the system!” Furthermore there is, as we all know, no right life in the wrong one. So actually it’s not a big surprise that Kiki and Bubu, monochroms ever-motivated fighters against capitalism, crave some Christmas carol spirit:

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBP5OPLzlq8[/youtube]
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How to finance microcredits with a fake beard

  1. Choose a beard that fits your needs.
  2. Stick it onto your face, either virtual or cut it out and take a picture.
  3. Mail the pic to couple65months@photos.flickr.com – for each fake beard, atto will pay 1$ to kiva – those guys give micro-credits to small business start-ups in developping countries.
  4. Do it!
ritchie mit bart

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Pillar-Content: How to write a blog sentence

Yaro Starak, the Aussie “make-more-money-online-you-dimwit” guru tells me I gotta have pillar content for my blog. These articles constantly are going to drive unwanted traffic to datadirt. And Yaro says that How-to postings are a good way to achieve a strong pillar effect, so first I wanted to blog about how to blog (how to find the proper topic, that is.), but then it suddenly hit me: first things first, mate! All postings consist of proper sentences in the first place, so I decided to go on rambling about how to write a blog-posting sentence. I hope this will drive all desolate creatures out there – SEO dogs, bloggers and the like – to my blog for eternity.

Maybe I’ll tell you how to find proper topics later on. And thanks for the reminder, but yes: I know that all sentences start with words, but I’ll tell you how to find the proper word later. Maybe this is even going to turn into a pillar-content-series. No fillers, promised! (But there’s tons of affliliate links to come.)

So first, we gotta ask ourselves: what exactly is a sentence? English teachers tell us it’s basically a big or small bunch of words, thrown together in proper order and finished by an infinitessimaly small dot. Or a question mark. Or an exclamation mark. Generally, it’s a good idea to first choose a proper stop-mark for your sentence in order to let the read know that a new sentence is about to begin. Once you’ve managed to complete this extremely important task, you should now go for…

The first word of the sentence

There are many words, you can find some of them online. But be careful: not all words are apt as a starting point. Like “crud”, which is a word but yet again a whole sentence in itself. Or cunt, which is not so good for more obvious reasons. Personally, I prefer words beginning with the letter A or T, for example “Asfixation” or “Tourette Syndrome”. If you’re totally undecided, you can always go with I – but not every time, as changing the so called ferstwerd (author slang) is vital. Sometimes it’s even enough to just change the ferstwerd and put add a simple “,too” at the end of your second sentence:

Asfixation kind of sounds like ass fixation. Tourette Syndrome kind of sounds like ass fixation, too.

Young sentence builder, you’re good to go now: once the first word has been written down, it’s very easy to complete the sentence. Don’t get distracted by style guides and know-it-alls you tell you to put focus on the verb. The verb totally doesn’t matter. For the first couple of weeks, “to be” will do:

I am being totally happy. Christmas is this year.

That’s what pros call the “ontological writing style”, which is totally uber-important for all pillar articles, as you’re trying to define something here, right?

Multi-sentenced sentences

Once you advance in writing level, you’ll probably want to start using commas as well. But be carefull though: stick to one sentence whenever possible, or you’re bound to confuse your readers:

I am suffering form asfixation, I am suffering from Tourette syndrome, too, I decided to write this article, I hope you are now reading it.

Most writers tend to over-use new tools, it’s basically the same problem with people who start using word and insert a wordart graphic on every single page. Just keep these advices in mind and your sentences will rule supremely over anybody else’s!

Wanna know more? Enlist in my online course “How to write other sentences than all most other people.” The course covers a variety of vital topics (sentences that don’t start with I, other verbs besides “to be” to name just the two most important ones.) It’s just 300 dollars a month, or you pay me 3.000 dollars upfront – and you’ll see where this gets you. Just look at me. If I hadn’t paid for my own course, I could have never written this many sentences! And don’t forget: once you know how to write succesfull sentences, the money will come back to you. No, it will flood you. You’ll wish you never made so much money as you gonna need a way bigger flat to store all your brand-new 100 dollar bills. And a bigger car to transport them. And a bigger anus to stick your own head into, as you gonna be so self-satisfied that it actually hurts.

Don’t even think of blaming me if you scheme won’t work. It it doesn’t, it’s purely your fault, you dimwit. Didn’t I tell you to stick to simnple sentences for the first few weeks?