There are comments around whether the MacBook Air is a companion product for power usesr.
I only want one computer, my life is in the cloud anyway, but this highlights a problem with Apple that has been bugging me for a year.
The Apple Software is designed for a single user and that scenario is just incorrect for many home users. iPhoto and iTunes (to a lesser extent) are the classic example. My wife and I both take photos, I want some of them on my laptop and we want all of them backed up and deduped etc.
With Time Capsule there is a single household NAS for backup. So the hardware and network is in place. iTunes supports an easy-to-use interface for syncing collections down to your iPod and AppleTV so you can manage storage limits on multiple devices - but this is off your library on your primary Mac. The next step has to be an iPhoto and iTunes home server.
Not only is this required for the 2+ user scenario, it is now required by the smaller disk size of the MacBook Air when you cannot possibly hold all of your photos or music.
I think it should work like this.
- iTunes gets a ‘New Media’ section. Photo’s or new Tunes are loaded onto your working Mac as per normal but identified as a collection of ‘New Media’.
- When you connect to your local network, all that New Media is seamlessly loaded back to your central Library. iTunes allows you to categorize and tag it from your local machine.
- Multiple Mac’s can use the same home library. Content is de-duplicated as it is uploaded.
- Just like with an Apple TV you set the sync rules but the central library is the master and your working Mac only gets a subset sync’d down so you can manage the size of files you carry with you.
Sort of like this …
Apple software right now is lagging behind the hardware. What do you think? Is it so obvious they must be working in it?Marketing operations opportunity
Just before we put this opportunity on Seek etc, we have a fantastic opportunity at Xero for an execution focussed, mid level marketing person. Our working title for the role is Marketing Program Manager (happy for guidance on what this type of role would be called). This is a person that actually makes the marketing programs happen so would suit a very organized doer with a solid practical marketing experience.
Here is the Job Spec so far …
The Marketing Program Manager is a key operational position focused on executing Xero’s diverse and innovative marketing programs. This is a challenging and exciting role that includes:
- Liaising and building marketing relationships with key partners, and executing on joint marketing programs
- Developing advertising opportunities, which can involve placing adverts in national, regional and specialist publications and media
- Managing the production of marketing materials and coordinating in-house design resources
- Arranging for the effective distribution of marketing materials
- Maintaining and updating email and mailing databases
- Organizing and attending participation at events and exhibitions
- Carrying out market research and customer surveys to assess demand, brand positioning and awareness
- Contributing to long-term marketing plans and strategies
- Search Engine Marketing
- Reporting on marketing effectiveness
If this sounds like you, or you know of someone who we should talk to, please make contact at careers [at] xero.com. And of course we are always looking for developers. Front end dhtml wizards and back end dev guru’s for our lolly swilling dev team in the Old Bank Wellington.
We must have a relaxing environment as this item of Xero Art constructed from old business cards appeared on the wall today.
We believe Adam has a master plan to create his own Island somewhere north of Great Barrier.While you were out.. the mobile internet took off
Excellent post up on Vision Mobile
A fundemental reason why things are taking off in Europe and the US is …
Unlimited and affordable data plan, and efficient bandwidth and coverage
Mobile data pricing is holding back the development of the mobile Internet in New Zealand and will make us uncompetitive. Other countries are moving ahead quickly and we are being left behind.
We used to want to lead the world in this stuff.These will put a smile on your dial
Was shown these two movies from ‘Britain’s got Talent’ over the weekend. Very cool.
andHead Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote
I’ve been enjoying Fake Steve Jobs lately. This video linked to today is amazing.
More of Johnny Lee here …This is cool
Just watched the Apple Keynote.Â Bitsy on quicktime but got most of it.
MacBook Air was cool but I think the most significant product was AppleTV - take 2.
The product has shifted entirely from an accessory for a PC download then sync to the lounge experience to a set top box that directly talks to the world.Â From your AppleTV you can now download movies (in HiDef) and access thousands of video podcasts and lots of other services.
The movie rentals goes international later this year.Â I hardly ever rent movies. By the time the kids are in bed the good movies are gone. That all changes with AppleTV take 2.
Unless movies are blocked - which it may be.Â I don’t need Sky movies. I’ll never set foot in a video store again.Â If we could get all the US TV programs I’d even question what I need anything but free NZ TV for. Why are we waiting for broadcaster to go HiDef? The content is arriving it’s just a delivery issue. That problem just got solved.
Should TVNZ just publish the 6:00 news to iTunes?Â Is that so crazy when Apple got every major movie studio signed up?
The direct internet connection from the Apple TV bypasses directly the existing terristial and sattelite broadcasters. It even by passes physical DVD’s.Â Why do I want to own a movie I watch once.Â iTunes is a direct competitor to Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and even standard DVD’s.
Today iTunes even delivered an iTouch Software upgrade. What is stopping me buying Mac Office 2008 over iTunes.
The iTunes grand plan is now clear.Â It is an Internet delivery platform and billing engine. Apple have inserted themselves into the middle of the global content industry by owning the consumer device.Â Starting with the iPod, and over several years now directly connected to your TV. Your viewing portal. AppleTV take 2 unlocks the investment in iTunes.
While I was watching the keynote I had an email from Telstra saying I had exceeded my monthly download limit.Â If this catches on it challenges our internal internet infrastructure.Â The broadband demands of an average NZ household just went up times 10. Here is a great example of a foreseeable but largely denied game changer that makes our internet capacity planning look woeful.
It’s a game changer and a direct threat to the incumbent broadcast model. Sky, TVNZ, Video rental shops and of course carriers -Â you have some thinking to do.Chorus
Telecoms new access network business unit and national field service team (the bit now being run by Mark Ratcliffe) is to be called Chorus.
“Chorus will give all service providers equal access to the local network
through its exchanges, and take the lead on significant developments like
access fibre and Telecom’s cabinetisation programme. This programme will
deliver high-speed broadband to New Zealanders.
“Chorus also represents the culture we want to build with our customers
and within our organisation,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
“We are committed to a collaborative way of doing things and look forward
to working together with the industry, central and local government and
all telecommunications companies to bring better services to all New
Mark Ratcliffe also commented that while the Chorus name emphasises an
industry perspective, it also has an equally important human tone.
“With more than one million on-site visits a year, a personal brand was
needed to identify the Chorus field services team. The brand gives us just
that, and it’s great to be getting on with it,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
Another significant step in NZ telco history.Apple thoughts and questions
Well the day arrived and as expected the FlashMac was announced as the MacBookAir.
Some really cleaver stuff here like Remote Disk where you can install from a shared PC Optical Drive, multi-touch trackpad looks great. Wireless migration also very clever.
Disappointments are that the video card will only drive a 24″ monitor, and you get the feeling that as soon as you lay out your $NZ5k+ for the 64GB model there will be a 128GB SSD. One USB is going to be a pain so you’ll carry a hub in your bag I guess. But of course I’ll get one.
I tried to upgrade my Touch. Clicked the link, started the process, had to upgrade iTunes, clicked the link again, think I paid this time for real (maybe I paid twice - not sure - was around $NZ27 from memory), upgrade downloaded, I think it said hit sync, screen gone, hit sync. Nada. So my Touch upgrade was unsuccessful. Boo.
A bunch of questions though. Love your thoughts.
- When will the new MacBook Pro’s be announced.
- Will their be an Air Pro?
- Does having a USB drive on my existing airport extreme give me wireless Time Machine like Time Capsule?
- Where is the server side bits for iPhoto and iTunes. How do me and wifey have a single server side photo library on TimeCapusle? This is a big hole. Especially with smaller SSD disks.
- When will we have movie rentals in NZ?
- How big is a movie? How long will it take to download? What will the downloading the stream cost on NZ dataplans? Will one movie blow your broandband data cap?
Great see a lot of innovation. Still AAPL went down 6%. Hopefully not for long. Some analysts are calling $225.Running out of space?
I am on my MacBook. Found this great utility WhatSize, which allows you to see immediately what’s chewing up disk.
I found an 9GB XP image on Parallels which I’m not now using and near 3GB of Entourage 2004 storage not touched since moving to Entourage 2008.
I’m now back to reckless storage.Series thanks
Phew. The Herald series is done. Lot’s of positive feedback. Thank you.
The entire series is here.Â How to start a business.
Special thanks to Chris Brown from Sputnik who came up with the idea. Liam Dann from the New Zealand Herald who ran with it, and Kate from Xero who helped pitch it and checked I was making sense.
Hopefully it motivated you to start a business or work on your existing business. And if it did, of course you would use the worlds best online accounting system to manage it.6 of 6: Selling strategies
In my final NZHerald article a few things to think about when selling your business.
There are lots of good reasons to sell your business. Hopefully you’ll use a portion of the money to fund the next one and build something even bigger.
But selling is a huge distraction because it places your business at risk. There is uncertainty with staff and even family can put the wrong sort of pressure on you, as they mentally start to spend the money.
A normal sale process might include an offer being made in principal, followed by the development of a detailed contract and a period of due diligence. Then the purchaser tends to cool off a bit and look to discount the original offer based on what they found during due diligence. Because of the distraction, the monthly numbers have headed south, deal costs put costs up, and if a deal is transacted, it can end up well south of the original number. Often no deal is done and the vendor is left picking up the pieces.
Often you are selling out to a competitor - and now they have been right through your business, learned how it works, and left you struggling at the end of the process.
Deals get tougher and less likely to close the more they drag on. An alternative to the process above is to flip it around and bake certainty into the deal right at the beginning.
Under this model you provide key metrics about your business up front to give the intending purchaser enough information to submit an unconditional offer containing all deal terms. You warrant that there is nothing they will discover during due diligence that will have a material impact on the transaction. The materiality threshold is set as part of the deal - of course you set that materiality threshold as high as you can.
This offer needs to be binding as soon as you sign it. Then the due diligence process can commence and, as soon as the period is complete, the deal can close. This might be time limited to one month.
This means they have all board approvals, financing in place, and are 100 per cent committed at the time the offer is finally presented.
This restricts a competitor to only headline information before they are committed so is a good way to protect your intellectual property.
A key aspect of the deal will be if the founder stays in the business or not. It can be very frustrating staying in a business that you no longer control. For this reason it is important that as part of getting a business ready to sell, you put good management in place and spend more time working on the business rather than in it.
The purchaser should want to put their stamp on the business, and should see that you are no longer critical on a daily basis. You should set the expectation you will stay around only long enough for a graceful handover. This may be as short as 1-3 months.
Finally, it’s important to have good advisers. Find a lawyer with a good track record of business sale transactions - they will create and preserve value in the deal. When your life’s work is being sold, you need someone who is objective on your side.
The deal is never done until the cheque is in the bank. When it is, make sure you take a holiday - something I keep forgetting to do.Newsgator RSS clients are now free
Newsgator has server side accounts so you can download the Windows, Mac, iPhone or BlackBerry clients and be fully sync’d across all devices. They also have web access.
I’m really excited about being able to quickly check feeds on my BlackBerry and having them marked as read on my Mac.
I’ve been using NewsFire for a year now. While it is nice and simple there has been no innovation. So Newsfire out and Newsgator in. Will download BB client as soon as I get near GPRS again.
Killer move by Newsgator.Â I bet their servers are getting hammered.Surprise, surprise
29th November: Southern Cross: ‘No point’ to new subsea cable
10 January: Southern Cross considers additional undersea cable (subscription required)
I believe that is called “The writing is on the wall”BillG retirement video
Noticed on Lance but so good I had to repost. Excellent.
5 of 6: Selling overseas
Hopefully some useful tidbits to help you get some runs on the board in overseas markets. We had a lot of fun and met some great people doing the UK road miles with AfterMail.
Text of the article …
All New Zealand business people should be looking at how they contribute to exporting. It is so important for us as a country that we earn foreign currency.
In the online world you can put up a website and you’re immediately global, but many businesses rely on people selling to people. So how do you go global?
The normal path is seeking distributors in overseas markets who can provide you with a low cost way of getting coverage internationally.
The United Kingdom, for example, is full of people selling things. There are thousands of people looking for new opportunities to monetise their relationships. This selling industry is added to every year by displaced executives with extensive networks looking for products to represent.
Conferences and industry events are common ways to meet people and you can often find these people online. In the UK, business networking site Ecademy (ecademy.com) is popular.
There are often two tiers - distributors, and resellers. Distributors may hold a master distribution relationship for the country and have access to a network of resellers.
Some distributors - many at it for their first time - will work on a 100 per cent commission basis and cover their own costs. If there are two tiers, expect to give 50 per cent of your sale price away as margin. Normally the distributor will get 40-60 per cent of a sale and the reseller 20-40 per cent.
In a single-tier model just think of it as the distributor.
While they will want you to be exclusive with them, often they will represent several other opportunities as well. Therefore, you will be competing for shelf space - attention - with the distributor, so you want to make sure you are paying a good margin. They will focus on whatever makes them the money, and you want to make sure that whatever else they are selling is complimentary.
Experienced distributors can point to a track record of success. In the UK, they will probably seek a few thousand pounds each month to cover expenses. New distributors will be more desperate to represent your product, but they may be unproven.
It is important to put a performance clause in any contract, which can become your way out if the distributor does not perform. Put a schedule of low sales numbers in for the first few months so it looks comfortably achievable. This should ensure that you get some mutual quick wins and if they fail to fire you have an out for later.
You must treat the distributor as another type of customer. Give them all the sales aides they need and concise information, so with minimum effort they can appear knowledgeable about your product.
You might want to plan a two-week trip with them in a month and have them fill the diary with appointments. This is a good early test and allows you to get to know them and show them how to sell your product. You’ll also learn a lot about the market.
A useful practice is deal registration. You give the distributor another 5 per cent of margin if they register each deal. This avoids channel conflicts and gives you a basis for measuring effectiveness of conversion and pipeline.
Selling overseas can be a lot of fun. Getting the right engagement of place will allow you to minimise costs and risk, while providing opportunities to be wildly successful.
Always ask around for advice - Kiwis are always willing to share overseas selling war stories.Mommy, Where Do Servers Come From?
This is wild …
“Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?” is a children’s book dedicated to “Helping Your Child Understand the Stay-At-Home Server.” At first we snarked at this over-the-top marketing propaganda. But then it made us crap our pants with laughter.
You can see the entire book here.4 of 6: Angel investors
Are everywhere, they just don’t know it yet.
The predominant form of investment funding in New Zealand comes from angel investors.
Angels are typically more early stage investors than venture capitalists, with the biggest difference being that angels are spending their own money.
Angels are normally successful people in their own right. They like doing business and are often looking for something interesting to be involved with.
The New Zealand angel scene seems to be splitting into two tiers - formal angel groups and individuals. Angel groups provide deal syndication, where the risk is shared between angels. They have more formal processes and they are continuing to mature, so they have administration support and over the past year have started to fund deals.
These groups can be quite social, and the members enjoy the contact with each other. It is important to determine whether the angel group has actually done any deals. It might be that the process of looking at companies is satisfying their need for an interest. The total numbers of deals funded by formal angel groups is still very small, perhaps in the tens. Stephen Tindall, who has funded scores of companies, is an exception.
In my experience as an angel investor and watching companies that have been angel funded, I believe angel investing is hard. The companies often take much more time than the angel initially planned for and need more cash than forecast to get to further funding or liquidity. The vast majority of angel deals do not proceed well.
Angels often only do one deal before being scared off. The ones that have done it a few times are battle-scarred and experienced.
The other side of this coin is that most angel investors are first-time business investors. Therefore, the person you approach for funding may not even know they are an angel investor yet - anyone moderately wealthy could potentially be your angel.
So where do you find these people? Well, you need to look for where the wealthy people are. They may be at boating clubs, golf clubs, or they are parents of kids in your children’s sports teams. Potential angels are everywhere.
As well as cash, the best angel investors will bring with them experience relevant to your business, and access to networks. This might help narrow your focus on wealthy individuals from your industry. Angel investing is often more emotional than analytical so building a relationship where the angel wants to give you the resources and support to succeed will give you a good chance of success.3 of 6: The pitch document
My third NZ Herald article series is around preparing your pitch document.
Having started your business - shareholders are in place, and you have a few runs on the board - you now need to think about how to present your business for funding.
You need to put yourself in the position of the person you’re approaching. What do they want?
If they are financially motivated, then they want the biggest return in the shortest possible time. Your business is a vehicle to do that, so a large part of your pitch needs to be about how you will give them a return. Many business plans I see are all about what a great idea it is - but an investor will be looking for return, so focus on that.
Many ideas get shot down because someone knows another business in that space. Positioning yourself against competitors shows that you understand your market. An ecosystem diagram, showing where you sit, is a great way to add interest to your presentation and pack a lot of information in a small space. And it gives you a platform to talk to.
Investors will judge you on your ability to concisely present your idea. They have a very short attention span. Having the discipline and skill to pare your life’s work down to a three or four page document that gives the investor the ability to understand your concept quickly speaks volumes. It demonstrates you understand the process and have thought about their needs and it gives you a much better chance moving to the next stage in the discussion.
It is worth investing in a designer to lay out your document, preferably with a few diagrams because the format and presentation of the document has a disproportionate impact on your first impression. The investor’s default expectation is that it will be stunning. Anything less and you already have a few points dropped from your scorecard.
Never send a document in Word format. You do not have control of how it will open on the recipient’s computer, and what’s worse, you may have forgotten to clear your document changes. Documents should be sent as an Adobe PDF so you have complete control of the format - it looks more professional, and makes you appear more professional also.
Before approaching investors, you should have your document ready to go. You must be ready to strike while the iron is hot. So many times an investor will hear from someone at a function that they have a great idea, and there is no follow-up.
New Zealand is a very small place and the investment community is very connected. Once your document goes out, it’s likely to be forwarded around for comment and advice. Quite often I see the same deal from four or five different parties over the course of a few months. Deals get tarnished. It’s obvious that earlier investors have passed.
Therefore, it is important to polish your pitch because you have to be successful in your first few approaches or you won’t get it funded at all.
Preparing your pitch document is one of the most important things you can do. You need to work on it to get to the essence of your idea in a way that is attractive for investors. Test, pare back, clarify, and test. The process may take as long as a month.
When you think it is ready, you’re ready to start looking for investors.Blu-ray won
Phew, it appears the HD format wars are over. Apple is about to push Blu-ray and it sounds like the XBox will go Blu-ray at some point as well.
The industry woke up …
…. consumers were holding back from buying either one of the two formats … we thought it was the right time to act,” Tsujihara said, noting that even sales of standard DVDs were affected because consumers appeared unsure over which format to go with. “That was kind of the worst of all worlds for us,” he said.
I tend to agree. I was too confused but now I’ll happily grab a Blu-ray player.