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Quora is a New Way To Learn

Quora is my new favorite iPhone application.

It feels like a game, an interactive mixture of answering, asking, and reading questions that other people have specialized opinions and knowledge on.

You also get rewarded for participation with votes.  If you want to learn and stay on top of the latest news on anything broad and specific (tech, politics, Steve Jobs), download the app and stimulate your brain.

I know I’m getting smarter for it.

My Quora Profile

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SMS is Dead

Dump your SMS plan, you no longer need it.

iMessage is coming out this week.  GroupMe, Kik, Facebook messenger, and BBM are already viable alternatives.

The record labels know this:  you can’t fight free.  And the providers know they can’t just raise the data plans to accomodate for billions in lost text dollars.  Bad customer experience risking backlash.

Traditional texting is over, move on without it, and force everyone else to come along for the ride.

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People Just Want The Points

I saw Kiip CEO Brian Wong speak this week at the iCitizen conference.

He spoke about the humanization of technology.  At the end of the day, the customer just wants to be rewarded with points for participation.  Some people care more about gathering points than getting a discount.

To Gary Vaynerchuk’s point (no pun intended), we are in a Thank You Economy and points are just another way of saying ‘thank you’ even if the points amount to nothing.

We can now win instantly in the digital world and share reward notifications with our friends via Facebook, Twitter, and email.  The gamification of shopping, tying consumers from their mobile to the store, represents the shift into social commerce.

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Let’s Get Back To Work

It’s time to step up our game, do the opposite of what the mainstream is doing and try to create all we can to make lives better for other people.

That’s what I learned from Steve Jobs.

Now let’s get back to work and encourage those around us to do great things.

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Why Apple is Like Michael Jordan

Apple is in its Michael Jordan career phase, fully aware of its tremendous success but never stops trying to get better.

Proprietary

Michael Jordan was vertically integrated within his brands, never licensing his image to video games in the 90s.  In the same way, Apple wants to own everything from the retail experience to new technology.

Consumers/Stockholders

Michael Jordan played each game like it was his last, knowing it was his duty to make sure fans (and Jerry Reinsdorf) got their money’s worth.  Each new Apple product is just as amazing as the prior release, demonstrating perpetual improvement.

Branding

Michael Jordan made the Jumpman ubiquitous, and what now should be the new NBA logo.  Apple made the iMac which mainstreamed the “i” concept and was used by Apple in other popular products (iPod, iPhone, iPad).

American Dream 

Michael Jordan was the American dream, combining success, class, and above all, hard work.  But he got cut from the High School basketball team. Apple suffered a dip in the 90s, only to come back having more cash than the US government.

Legacy

Michael Jordan defined a new era of basketball, combining athleticism, style, leadership, and endless trophies.  Apple is hoping to define a new era in mobile computing today with the announcement of its iPhone 5.

Do you think Apple is like Michael Jordan? Please comment below.

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On Startups, Be Wary of What You Read

Just because a company gets featured in a major publication, doesn’t mean it has made it.

It could mean one of two things: (1) that the company is profitable or (2) the company is turning heads with a revolutionary product but still has a lot of work to do.

The startup world is mostly a mirage, with many young businesses touting their user base and showing off successful case studies.

More investors should learn how these new technologies actually work before writing the big checks.

There’s always three good questions to ask in a VC evaluation: (1) Does the product make people money, (2) save people money, (3) and does it provide a good customer experience.

Checking two out of the three is a guideline for smart investing.

We all want to prove our idea and product is a game changer and we do that by getting national features and raising more money. Just be aware of the hoopla.

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Daily Deals or Spam?

Have you ever purchased from one of those daily deal websites, Groupon or Living Social?

Discount sites used to be the talk of of the Internet, the new commerce, half price off on everything.  But New York Times reports that only 20% of Groupon email subscribers actually bought a deal.

The growth of daily deals exploded and turned the scarcity of hot online coupons into spam; turning off the consumer as a result.

The few people I know that actually check and act on Groupon and Living Social deals are tech nerds looking to leverage their Internet addiction by buying a discounted activity that offers a fun weekend or dinner outside the computer.  The REAL market for daily deals are the everyday working semi-connected people with Smartphones that don’t use Foursquare or the Groupon or Living Social app and often look for something to do with their disposable income.

Until Groupon or Living Social can send me an email offering a discount on Arsenal tickets at the Emirates in conjunction with cheap tickets to London I have no interest.  My daily deals interests are very specific.