Always a favorite marketing guru around here, Seth Godin has a quick quiz with a surprisingly telling answer. Instead of trying to win over the whole world, you should aim for a select niche of customers.
True, you might have a smaller customer base as a result – but you will have greater loyalty amongst those few. Let’s take a glance at some fields where this works:
The “Twilight” fiction franchise – The majority of people just don’t get excited about vampire stories. So what? This series appealed to tween / teen girls with a vivid and somewhat macabre imagination. And now they’re rolling in the dough.
Ethnic restaurants – Sure, not everybody likes (or even understands) Mediterranean food. So what? When you want falafel, hummus, and babaganouch, you just aren’t going to get that appetite satisfied at McDonald’s.
Hot Topic – The mall-based clothing and gift franchise focuses on the “Goth” and “punk rock” demographic. The rest of the teens head for more traditional fare, but the headbangers and rivitheads all flock here.
Web designers, why, oh why, do you hate poor little Internet Explorer so much? It seems almost like it did something to you. Did a web browser bully you as a kid? Oh well, whatever the founding incident was, it’s good to see you all working your aggression out with these hilarious images…
IE fails on Jeopardy – We don’t even know how it qualified for the show
Microsoft tries to make it up to us – And fails, because it fails everything.
Microsoft’s error report process – Apparently they get a lot of duplicates?
Four web browsers at a drive-thru – And I want to go to this restaurant!
Browser-tans line-up – Apparently IE is a “butterface”.
The only reasons to use IE. – …and it’s a short list.
A Spanish example – Because IE is so hated, it gets insulted in every language!
Bonus buck! – A whole website dedicated to beating the death drum for IE.
But this is without a doubt one not to miss. HTML5 is sweeping the Internet. Both the desktop and mobile platforms are looking at the day when they need to upgrade their website code base to be up to date with the current web technologies. While it’s of course true that old websites will still function in HTML 4.1 and XHTML, web owners will want to stay competitive. And adoption is happening with surprising speed.
Assuming there *is* a 2012, that is, what with all the hugger-mugger about the Mayan calendar and the usual end-of-the-world predictions. Matt Cutts, Google blogger, asks for our 2012 wishlist. Oh, we could think of a few – but we’re going to think really off-the-wall:
A way to invert search results. So the lowest-ranking pages show first. Hey, sometimes we want to find out what the Z-list has to say!
A way to turn off second-guessing and mutations. Dangit, there was a time when you could type in anything and Google would only show pages that contained every single one of the words you’d typed in exactly as you’d spelled them. Oh, how we miss those times.
Bring back cache-view. In fact, make it automatic for every page – when a website is down, we want to just read what we came to find out and move on.
Better image search? We know, this is a developing field. We can’t wait for the day when we can find the bloke who stole our image even when he ran two filters on it and scaled it down.
How about using regular expressions? Yes, we know, most users would scream in terror, but those of us techies would love to be able to narrow searches down by clicking a regexp switch.
The big story lately is how tech investment and business is fixing to blow up another bubble, right up to where we were at the turn-of-the-century. Can somebody find that Pets.com dog puppet again? He’s the web-bubble mascot now.
Our latest hand-wringer is Techi.com, saying the tech 2.0 bubble is here. And you know what? Bring it on! Now, why do we say that?
As any economics student can tell you, bubbles and busts are part of any business. One growth and shrinkage doesn’t make an industry very legitimate, but now that the web business world is old enough to start showing some patterns, that tells us that it’s a little more predictable than anybody thought. It’s only the first fall that hurts you.
On a related note, Time thinks 4chan invented LOLCats. There’s published books of cat pictures with funny captions from the 1960s, at least.
There’s a website called ‘refreshthing’ that automates Google-bombing. Or at least (if you’re reading this a few days from now), there was.
4channers can’t hack for a damn.
This is a good time to look at web culture. It’s the street we do business in; being streewise is a good thing. It’s important because we’ve seen this scary glimpse into Internet mob mentality, and what basically amounts to Internet street gangs, and that tells us things about the future. It tells us that even greater control of the web frontier is in the future. As always happens, the hooligans of today will age into the uptight, conservative nannies of tomorrow. Coupled together with the moral panic over Internet bullying, we’re going to see a future where the overkill of the cure is worse than the disease.
Our favorite blogger who specializes in the human side of technology, Jeff Atwood, has brought to light the distressing story of how many candidates who show up for programming job interviews can’t program. He, and many of the comments appended, marvel at this phenomena. But it’s not so surprising, when you stop and think about it. They’re wannabe “hackers”.
Nobody wanted to be a hacker at first. Then trashy movies like “War Games” and “Hackers” came out, and people got the idea that hackers get to have sex with Angelina Jolie and start their own nuclear wars, so hence must be “cool.”
It’s a phenomenon older than civilization itself. It’s the same mentality that leads people to call themselves “geek” because they saw “Star Wars,” or call themselves “gangsta” because they wear their baseball cap backwards, or call themselves “bikers” because they wear a leather jacket, or call themselves “bi,” “poly,” or “kinky” because that’s the kind of porn they download.
Quite a few commenters on that site and others have down-played the vulnerability, saying things like “Meh, who uses 16-bit anyway?” Which goes to show that the home user doesn’t think like a hacker. Guess what? Most of the programs to exploit Windows security holes are 17 years old, too! In fact, if you were a hacker (we know, the correct word is “cracker,” but English is changing) downloading security-cracking software, you’d have more of a real problem getting updated software than you would getting legacy software.
Any website developer knows the drill: you put up anything requiring a login, and people are usually going to pick the laziest possible weak password. As documented in Ars Technica’s lament on the failure of the password model, this problem has existed unabated for 30 years. Users are still just as sloppy about password security as ever.
Future web application designers might need to start thinking beyond the password. For instance, what if we tried some other methods of user authentication along with the password:
Add telco services to the growing list of legacy systems that Perl can connect to, thanks in part to a software firm based in the farthest corner of the South Pacific.
Australia’s SkunkWorks focused on Perl and Linux to build its affordable appdev toolkit and engine for building and deploying telecom services.
SkunkWorks’ Whirlwind toolkit, which comes with the Telco Perl appdev engine, enables developers to use traditional Perl scripting skills to deliver a variety of enterprise-caliber telco services, including: voicemail play/record, fax, conference, text to speech, speech recognition, and even complex voice protocol conversions. The Perl-based system also supports all major providers of SS7 and VoIP solutions. Whirlwind also includes S.100 and VoiceXML interfaces. CPAN.org provides many plug-in modules for Perl to connect to third party and legacy systems. Examples of these modules are SMPP for SMS, DBI for database and LWP for web connectivity.