Around the Dot

29 August 2005

Customer Des-orientation
My bank is trying to buy itself a better image with customers. Instead of dealing with the real problems (like how customers are dealt with by bank managers), they decided that the real solution to implement was… to change logo and name.

Yeepee! LCL is really a great bank with stellar customer service compared to the Crédit Lyonnais that it was until this week. Customers won’t notice. And let’s kill a brand with more than a century of history in the process (certainly not an asset in retail banking).

I’m astonished by the lack of serious of large institutions in that regard. What kind of groupthink and logic is behind this?

I don’t know if this is a French problem or not, but recently, the SNCF (our monolithic prehistoric train state company) decided to change logo. I talked to several people around me and we all liked the old logo better. But I guess it’s easier for them to put a new sticker on every train than making them arrive on time every time.

Still, one of the first lessons of our core marketing course was about product orientation vs. customer orientation. So maybe what France needs is more MBAs and less Polytechnic graduates at key positions… ;)


Note: a last but older example is the state body in charge of unemployment (ANPE) which has changed its logo on several occasions in the last decade while what its “customers” want is just to help them find a job (at least officially, because this is a more delicate subject).

Update: FeedDemon’s creator Nick Bradbury claims that “one way or another, customers will talk to you”, citing the example of iTunes users who “are creating iMixes for the sole purpose of letting Apple know which bands they want added to iTunes”. FeedDemon is an RSS aggregator so you have to moderate Nick’s point of view: France or non-pure tech services industries are not there yet (no digital feedback right in your face). And I doubt me posting (in English!) about the issue will raise a red flag anywhere.



26 August 2005

The Butterfly and the Tsunami
I just read this morning here (Yahoo, fr) and here (MSNBC, en) that a team of scientists looked at the propagation of last year tsunami all over the globe.

(...) Scientists, led by Vasily Titov of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also used tide gauges throughout the oceans to measure the height of the traveling waves. These readings yielded some surprising results in a detailed map.

For European countries, this is like a reverse Butterfly effect. The wave was measured at only 8.1cm in Brest, France, while it was (sadly) a terrible monster in Asia (9m). In the words of Aesop, a mountain giving birth to a mouse?


24 August 2005

Walkie talkie
An addition to my last post.

There is no smoke without fire. Yes, the rumour was true: Google Talk is out. You can IM, you can talk. At least to your friends with a Gmail account for the moment (including me: my first name dot my last name at gmail.com).

Even if Google spokepersons have kept a low profile, there are a lot of implications to that launch. Isn't it tempting to add Google Ads in the bottom of chats? They are already doing it in Gmail.

From what I read, Google is proposing a common technology for all IM clients. If they are able to federate the industry/market, then they will have a platform as strong as the web and stronger than RSS to push targeted advertising.

From Business Week today:

Georges Harik, Google's director of product management, says the company has opened communications with AOL and Yahoo, offering them interoperability on the Google Talk network free, and it will soon contact Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether these big players, especially AOL, which runs both its AOL Instant Messenger service and the globally popular ICQ service, will take Google up on its offer.
(...)
One thing Harik says Google Talk won't have is advertising. "You have to be careful about advertising with IM," he says. "It's not necessarily the right platform to insert advertisements." Yet it's an important question for all the IM players because although millions of people use IM, so far it has yet to be a significant profit center for any of the services.

Note the "necessarily" (emphasis added).

As I explained in that short presentation about DRM, I believe that, in technology at least, first entrants have to use proprietary formats and standards to protect their market and then their market share. The later entrants have to build on standards to develop theirs. So it's still not clear to me whether Google wants a popular IM service, a new output for ads,... or both.

To end that addendum, I suggested a Google/Skype "merger" yesterday but some at O'Reilly have other views.



23 August 2005

Of Google Talk... and Skype?
There is much blogging going on about the to-be-released-tomorrow "Google Talk" (check here or here and in the press: LA Times or NYT).

Why not ask the current Google Talk project (a "Google Hack" iterating search on your original words)? Weird idea, I know, that's my geeky side.

So I asked:

google talk is

which was expanded in a few iteration in:

google talk is a long- Time Ago In A galaxy Far, far Away By SOON to be released!

Hmm... can we rely on computers as oracles?

Let us (good old human beings) use our superior intellect instead:
1. Skype's team didn't sell at $3bn.
2. Google wants to raise $4bn.
1+2= Could Google be buying Skype in the near future?

Is the human brain (or at least mine) too prone to imagination? ;)



13 August 2005

Ahhh windsurfing...
I've been windsurfing the whole afternoon. That's so great. One more reason to make a fortune and retire soon. :)

I'll put a nice picture that my lovely wife has taken while freezing in the wind on the nice beach of La Gauterelle on the Oleron Island (I'll put a link on Google Map?) - for now, I'm just blogging through a good old phone line (33Kb/s, yeepee).

Viva the 35hr workweek (you can take one day off per month). It's good to have some vacatations before going back to London Business... what? Sun, wind have some effect on my mind. :)

That's all folks...



09 August 2005

Skype...Out?
Skype...Out? So, it seems Skype turned down something like $3bn from News Corp. Not their exit strategy then.

I hope they had a good reason or good faith in their future. With IM rivals becoming serious on transmitting more than text (like the new Yahoo!Messenger with voice - more here), it’s a bold bet, especially as it is a game Microsoft is already in.

But then, I haven’t done any research on the subject. My guesses:

  • Maybe the 42 million users are turning a nifty profit.
  • Maybe subscription figures are growing exponentially – hard to sell when this kind of figure is through the roof (the kind of problem I wish to have one day).
  • Maybe they think they are worth more than 72$ a user. I know that’s a GONE(c) (Good Old New Economy) way of putting a value on a company. Of course, at 500$ per user, they would be worth $21bn.
  • Then maybe, Niklas Zennström has a huge ambition for his company – he does look like Bill Gates.
  • Finally, maybe they didn’t like the idea of being bought by Murdoch. Not everyone is sharing his political views. Following MySpace acquisition by News Corps, users have been complaining among other issues about that new ownership.
SO, maybe I should read this piece when I have time (train to the coast on Thursday?) where Zennström is reported to have said “I don’t release any financials unless I have to”.

Amusing fact: Skype founders are 29 and 39. So are MySpace co-founders.