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Think Big. Move Fast.

While it almost seems hard to believe, it was just five years ago today that the first iPhones were sold.  I remember the enormous amount of people lined up outside of Apple Stores eagerly waiting for their new device.  It was easy to understand the hype of the device, but what many did not predict would be the way it would shape our behaviors and give birth to an entire industry.

The iPhone itself is a game changer, few could deny that, but much like iTunes was the real power behind the iPod, the App Store has been the big game changer for our industry.

We didn’t all immediate realize the power of the App Store, in fact my partners wrote an interesting post in 2009 about how little revenue Apple was making from apps.  But today, we have seen companies emerge as App providers and other that have started as popular Apps and then expand to other platforms.  Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, Pulse*, Instagram, Uber and Foursquare are just a few examples of companies that have seen incredible success as mobile apps.

In addition, the iPhone has played a big role in reducing the friction for consumers to use products from businesses that were previously web-centric such as TaskRabbit*, LivingSocial* and GrubHub* as well as retailers like Gilt.  These companies not only built better customer engagement through the iPhone but also attracted new users who discovered the brand for the first time on a mobile device.

Despite all of these early successes, the market is still in its infancy in many ways.  While it may seem that everyone we know has an iPhone or Android device, Nielson recently reported that only about 50 percent of US consumers have a smartphone today.  As that number grows, the audience and demand for new applications and types of mobile solutions will grow too.

For my part, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to watch the market emerge and evolve and help companies take advantage of this amazing platform.

*Lightspeed portfolio companies

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I posted recently about discovery being the challenge in gaming. This is very true of mobile gaming where the level of noise is very high.

I think that iPads, and tablets broadly, present a current opportunity for game developers. According to Pew Internet Life, one in three Americans owns a tablet or ereader as of January 2012. Many publishers acknowledge that tablets are going to be very important gaming platforms. John Ricatello, CEO of EA, recently said that iPad is EAs fastest growing platform. Says the International Business Times,

Reuters reported Gonzague de Vallois, senior vice president of publishing at Gameloft, saying: “The iPad is the fourth step in the gaming evolution. The first being the microcomputer, the second being the game console and the third being smartphones.”

Even Microsoft, with it’s new Smartglass product, acknowledges that the iPhone and iPad will be important gaming platforms.

Yet today, there are far fewer games built specifically for iPads. Discovery is substantially easier for iPad than iPhone as it is less crowded. And even most “HD” iPad games are simply upresed version of the iPhone game. Yet tablet gaming has the opportunity to be quite different to phone gaming:

  • Longer session times
  • More screen real estate for display
  • Multi-touch and other more complicated gestures more feasible
  • Opportunity for co-op and competitive play with another person sharing the same device

If the tablet is fundamentally an entertainment device that lives in the living room (versus the phone being a utility device that lives in the pocket and is frequently used out of the home), then you would expect different use cases to emerge, and different games to address those use cases. There is a window where better products can lead to better discoverability. I expect this window to close over the next 18-24 months.

Who do you think is doing the best job of optimizing the tablet gaming experience?

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I’ve posted before on how tablet and kindle are changing reading, and how fan fiction is changing writing. The WSJ has another good example of how writing is changing, when it describes how Seth Godin used Kickstarter to estimate demand for his latest books.

Mr. Godin began his publishing experiment in June on Kickstarter, a website that enables people to solicit funds from individual investors. Before agreeing to his new deal with Portfolio, an imprint of Pearson  PLC’s Penguin Group, Mr. Godin hoped to gauge interest from readers in the three new projects he had in mind. To potential backers, he presented a variety of pledge packages—that is, different levels of financial support for the projects bring perks for individuals, such as previews of the books and copies autographed by the author.

The two way interaction between writers and readers that the internet enables is allowing more real time feedback that can actually affect the book. We see exactly the same behavior, more systematically organized, at wattpad.

It makes sense that user feedback can change a writers direction, just as it does all the time for bloggers and web publishers.

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This weekend I had the opportunity to join AngelHack, a hackathon event that took place in Palo Alto, New York, Boston and Seattle, to help judge the finalists in Palo Alto.  Over 1,500 people participated in the event around …

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As a follow up on my guest post at Pando Daily about why ecommerce startups come in waves, I did a follow up post making the case that celebrities will drive the next wave of ecommerce startups. Check …

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Check out my guest post on Pando Daily about why ecommerce startups come in waves.…

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I’ve posted in the past about how tablets and kindle will change reading. Friday’s WSJ had a big story on the fan fiction phenomenon that is well worth reading. One of the companies that they call out is Wattpad

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A couple of years ago I did a post on how to estimate lifetime value for a subscription business where I uploaded a sample cohort analsyis that others can use as a template.

I’ve been asked several times how the …

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In 2009 I wrote a guest post at Industry Gamers about why social gaming is so attractive to investors, where I talked about the three key elements oin gaming: Development, Distribution and Discovery. Basically, I compared circa 2009 social …

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Earlier this week I had the opportunity to help judge a session on Media & Mobility at the LAUNCH Silicon Valley Conference in Mountain View. Five companies presented:

  • AppSmyth which provides a mobile loyalty platform for retailers and brands
  • KlickEx

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