Monday, November 30, 2009

Collaboration and Contribution

While Google Wave is opening more and more some people still struggle with what it is for. The main reason is that collaboration isn't quite common and often misunderstood.
I just had the case when someone was think that collaboration means everyone is allowed to do everything (or even nothing). That might be a nice view in some political systems (end even there are different pigs as we learned), but actually collaboration means working together to build something. It comes from the latin word of labor, which means work. You create something together. Thats why collaboration and contribution is kind of tied together. Without contribution there is no collaboration.

So what is contribution? Let's say you want to build a house together and you ask your friends to help. You need an architect, someone who knows what kind of material you need and how to get it and then you need people to put brick on brick. The goal is to have a nice house. It's not how much someone contributed, it's about the quality of contribution. You would not see a lot of help if someone is always saying that he did it different or even better. You would like him to do better with your house, make a better design or mix the cement better or whatever.

That's why people who see Google Wave as a chat fail. That's why people who see a volunteer project as a chat fail. That's why you fail in your company when you not raise your hand when tasks need to be assigened. It's not just giving your opinion. It's about taking action.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Apple and the app store discussion

Just got a link to Paul Grahams essay about why Apple is doing wrong with the approval of apps.

He writes:
The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed their reputation with programmers more than anything else they've ever done.

Although many programmers are using Apple, it's not only build for them. I guess the problem why programmers are complaining is simple greediness. They expect their share from the big app business and wonder, why apple shuts the door.

Paul says:
Their fundamental problem is that they don't understand software...They treat iPhone apps the way they treat the music they sell through iTunes.

Yes, and this is understandable. Because it's their shop and they are responsible. Yes, they are doing mistakes with delayed approvals and some denies were wrong. That happens. But in general, from a users perspective, I totally agree in Apples rules.

Another quote is about the delayed appoval of updates:
By breaking software development, Apple gets the opposite of what they intended: the version of an app currently available in the App Store tends to be an old and buggy one.

So Apple says to programmers, please develop the best product first and submit then, instead of being fast and then send update after update. That what I would call Quality Management. Yes, I do like updates when the fix bugs, But I like more products with no bugs at all and updates with new features.

The misconception is that programmers might see themselfs now as part of Apple, not as the community anymore. Before, they may developed Software for Apple Computers, but not for Uncle Steve himself. Now they may see themself as kind of freelancers and wonder, why Steve still doesn't like to talk to them.

It's kind of simple today to have your own iphone app done within days. That makes things messy. It's like maintaining a big market hall: Once people selling rotten beef, you need to take action. If they don't keep their booth clean, they need to be punished. If they cheat as well. It's your market hall. They can make some nice money. But they can't takeover.

P.S.: One more thing. Paul says:
The main reason there are so many iPhone apps is that so many programmers have iPhones. They may know, because they read it in an article, that Blackberry has such and such market share. But in practice it's as if RIM didn't exist. If they're going to build something, they want to be able to use it themselves, and that means building an iPhone app.

I disagree. I think the reason is because the SDK is a great tool for programmers, iphone is a consumers phone and not a business phone and it has a great usability. That's why Nokia Ovi store is still struggling.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Andrea Hamilton at Yoko (Saigon)

Just a snippt form a concert by Andrea Hamilton, US singer/songwriter. I kind of like her music. Find more at


Monday, November 16, 2009

Customer relations

I have probably 20 different discount cards in my purse. Usually I collect stamps and have to give the coffee shop, supermarket or what ever my email, phone number, address. That's what the text book says: Collect customer data.
Unfortunately the 2nd edition seems not available in Vietnam (as in many other countries as well) or it's just to expensive: It's the one that tells you what to do with this data.

Today I got a email from Just Men Spa. I was a customer until one day I got the worst service ever (yes Tim, I learned my lesson). I complained, they send me an email and apologized in a very general way - and that it. Today they told me they have a new email address.

For any reason businesses are trying to avoid any direct contact with customers. Again, not only in Vietnam. What's the reason for that? They just don't care? They don't know how to do? It's to expensive?

Technology nowadays makes it so convenient and easy to communicate with your customers in an individualized, personalized way - but instead companies throwing all the money into advertising and - in Vietnam - promotion girls.

I guess, we have to develop this market.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My new english podcast

I decided to use Audioboo for my new english language podcast from vietnam. Have fun with maximum 3 minutes episodes about living in Vietnam (what is a great pleasure), getting news from Vietnam and my thoughts.

That's an audioboo about noise (I loove that topic):

Monday, November 2, 2009

Superrich expats need urgent....

... an ironing lady. Before I came to Vietnam I don't even knew that this exists. But apperently it does. Found this in my mailbox:
Hi all,
I am looking for a person who can help out with the laundry, or just
ironing. Two mornings a week could be good enough. If you know some
one with good references please let me know.

Notice the "just ironing".

My wife and me are both working and I always do the ironing by myself. I just wonder if all these expat have a ironing lady at home as well?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Marketing in Vietnam

My friend Matt will laugh again, because I am again complaining about something that is very common in Vietnam: loud music. Whenever I see (or in that case) hear something new and different, I ask why it is like it is. So why there is so much loud music here?
First of all I learned that there are different ways to play loud music:
In Bars/Coffee shops
During any kind of public event
In shopping centers
In front of shopping center

Only bars and restaurants use the music as a (kind of) entertainment for customers, everything else is the so called marketing. Yes, even public events want to attract people with the music.

In Vietnam, people are used to get "information" through loudspeakers since the communist party made public announcements and broadcasts of important speeches of the leader for years (and still do it). While it's not so common in downtown Saigon and modern residential areas anymore, you will still have this experience in provinces and especially in Hanoi.

What we would call propaganda was the first step into marketing in the Vietnamese understanding. Peopel are used to get announcements through loudspeakers.

But why so loud?
My theory includes two reasons: One is: The louder the music, the more people in far distance will here it (what is usually technically wrong since they use loudspeakers who don't really take it for a far distance but were built to provide a clear sound). So actually it's more a stopper when you pass by.

Second reason is: If it's loud, people don't have to talk to each other. That may sound a bit like conspiracy, but I believe there is some truth behind. Silence means you can reflect yourself, you can think. Noise is exactly the opposite. So if you don't want that people think too much, make some noise.

So marketing in Vietnam means "getting attraction" Nothing more. Maybe "be the loudest and the most impressive". You will not see any real branding behind this, no product information, not even anything that is building an emotional relationship to the product.

The best example is the Saigon Paragon Shopping Center (here it comes, Matt, thanks for waiting). They try to attract customers by putting huge loudspeaker systems in front of and right beside a Rolls Royce. The message: "Hey stop, there is something special".
I am sure the Rolls might be special enough as it is the impressive building. But still not customers. So they try the Vietnamese marketing way. Loud music and banners. But still no customers. Why?

Just because they target the wrong audience: If you are selling cheap shirts on Trang Hung Dao it would make sense to attract the commuters with a sound system outside. Because they are your targeted audience.

At Saigon Paragon, most of the people passing by are residents of Riverside and Canh Vien or construction workers and service staff. The latter just can't afford the Saigon Paragon, while the residents already know that it's there.
Also, the products are high price products. Omega for example, well known parfum brands. Luxury and noise doesn't really fit (except you buy a Ferrari). Silence is a luxury itself, as you can see in 5-Star-Hotels all over the world.

Customers who can afford the products at Saigon Paragon will compare this to the shopping centers outside Vietnam (like the real Paragon in Bangkok). And the one in Vietnam just fails. Not enough choice, nice design, but not for a shopping center as you can't really see what kind of shops are there, because the view is blocked by escalators, bored and totally untrained staff and a so called food court where I am sure - they planned the garage for motobikes.

I am pretty sure that Saigon Paragon and the shops inside don't even make enough money to pay the rent. and that's mainly because of wrong concept and a wrong understanding of marketing.

Oh, if you don't believe me, have a look on Julian Treasure TED talk, where he spoke about the effects of sounds. A bad sound environment drops down productivity in offices by 66 percent while sales in retail by 28 percent.