Month: May 2011

Skype ID will be a slipstream online login for Microsoft


I found the news that Microsoft is acquiring Skype interesting. Major acquisitions like this have all sorts of unexpected implications and ripples across many markets.

The blogosphere has been alive with the discussion over whether the acquisition makes sense or not and the sorts of things that Microsoft might do with the Skype technology, much of which is pretty cool, but in general somewhat hopeful. There’s also been some discussion over Microsoft ‘buying’ customers. While the acquisition is certainly multi-faceted, I suspect that buying customers is just about sufficient to justify the deal.

First, consider the value of an online customer for various types of business – the chart above gives some ideas – I’d tend to assume that the annual value of a given online user to Microsoft is somewhere between Google and Yahoo, both being advertising driven, let’s say $10 annually. Given which, it is well worth spending somewhere well North of $10 for each customer acquisition.

Skype apparently has 107m users who use the service at least once a month, and 663m registered users. Microsoft is paying $8.5b for the privilege of access to these users. Microsoft is paying as little as $8 per active user. However, conversion rates would dictate that only a portion of these users come across to the Microsoft services (if 10%, that’s $80 per user!).

However, I think that the conversion rate could be much, much higher. If we consider that one of the major challenges to customer acquisition is the effort involved in setting up a new account on a new service (I’ve called this friction in my last post).

Imagine if Microsoft were now able to do away with that process for new users. Rather the user, many of whom stay logged into Skype 24×7, is automagically provided access to the Microsoft online properties as a result of their Skype authentication. Indeed, one might modify some elements of Skype to make this an easy and perhaps natural extension of the Skype experience.

Notice that this scenario not only builds the user/customer base for the Microsoft online properties, but it also gives Microsoft a new way to compete with Google in creating data profiles of very large numbers of users.

Does this make sense to you?

Friction Free Computing

Friction free computing

Posted by Michael Harries on May 9, 2011

Does your software reduce friction?

Last week I used the Mac App store to install Citrix receiver for OSX. This is a such a streamlined experience. Start the app store, login with iTunes credentials, and I???m ready to go. Installing the receiver itself was trivial and it worked immediately. It was easy to purchase a bunch of other apps as well (Such as ???ommwriter???, another great simplicity app).

That was fun, but at much the same time I was dragged into the morass of reinstalling some other apps off DVD, network drives and the web. Having to find license keys, credit cards, and navigating different installation scripts.

Talk about different worlds.

This is a great example of frictionless computing. It rocks. And it doesn???t sap my energy on an activity that should be simple. Why waste creative focus on mundanities? If there???s any task that should be automated, it???s one that affects so many people, and costs productive time.

So, my question to you. Does your product or startup reduce friction? Are you making it easy for people to use your IT service? How much inertia do your customers need to overcome to get started? How much can you replicate the out of box experience of the Mac app store? This is the age of consumerization; The user is king; and there are any number of alternative distractions to the task of learning to find, install or enroll, sign in, let alone drive your software.

Citrix gets this simplicity. Do you?

Test-prep startup Grockit teams with charter network KIPP to gamify school | VentureBeat

If only schools were addictive like Farmville, maybe we could fix our education system.

That’s the thinking behind a partnership announced today between the high-profile charter school network KIPP and test-prep startup Grockit, which applies social gaming principles to studying. Grockit is backed by, among others, Marc Pincus of Zynga, the company responsible for our nation’s mass addiction to breeding virtual cows. Like Farmville, Grockit incorporates social-gaming elements such as badges, points and leaderboards, as well as live chat and rewards for social interaction to draw its users in.


Foursquare style check in with level up … like getting to level 80 in WoW


no matter how successful SCVNGR became, it was going to have trouble ensuring that people kept coming back to the local businesses they were checking-in/playing at. So he started a pilot program in Boston and Philadelphia that gives users better and better deals as they continue to come back to a restaurant. Priebatsch doesn’t say it explicitly, but it’s pretty clear he sees LevelUp/SCVNGR mashup as the company’s future. “Pure checking-in isn’t going mainstream,” he says, “Mainly because it gets boring.” LevelUp is a way to get around that.