ENTRIES TAGGED "crowdsourcing"

9 branding trends for startups in 2014

Laura Busche looks at trends through a Lean Startup lens

320_lean_brandingYour code can be clean as a whistle and your software deployment on-time, but if you’re a startup, branding is as vital to your success as any non-crashing app. The following trends are discussed through a frame of Lean Startup practices, relevant to any startup.

I sat down with the one-in-a-million Laura Busche, author of the upcoming book Lean Branding, at the recent Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. We talked about what she sees as important branding trends for 2014. Those trends follow below, in both text and video formats.

You’ll find one additional surprise trend covered below, the video portion of which you can see in the Top Lean Branding Trends for 2014 compilation video below.

Are there any patterns within the nine trends discussed? Considered as a whole, a feeling of intimacy and intrigue certainly stand out. The intimacy element comes in the form of big brands trying to let customers feel closer to them by acting like smallish local brands, as well as the intimacy of working directly with customers to create the message of a brand (crowdsourcing) rather than lecturing potential customers about the merits of a brand. The intrigue element comes in the form of the use of images rather than words to communicate brands, playing on immediate emotional response, and also from brands surprising customers with their unusual personalities and intentional quirkiness, as well as by turning up in customer conversations to solve problems.

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Survey on the Future of Open Source, and Lessons from the Past

Quality and security drive adoption, but community is rising fast

I recently talked to two managers of Black Duck, the first company formed to help organizations deal with the licensing issues involved in adopting open source software. With Tim Yeaton, President and CEO, and Peter Vescuso, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, I discussed the seventh Future of Open Source survey, from which I’ll post a few interesting insights later. But you can look at the slides for yourself, so this article will focus instead on some of the topics we talked about in our interview. While I cite some ideas from Yeaton and Vescuso, many of the observations below are purely my own.

The spur to collaboration

One theme in the slides is the formation of consortia that develop software for entire industries. One recent example everybody knows about is OpenStack, but many industries have their own impressive collaboration projects, such as GENIVI in the auto industry.

What brings competitors together to collaborate? In the case of GENIVI, it’s the impossibility of any single company meeting consumer demand through its own efforts. Car companies typically take five years to put a design out to market, but customers are used to product releases more like those of cell phones, where you can find something enticingly new every six months. In addition, the range of useful technologies—Bluetooth, etc.—is so big that a company has to become expert at everything at once. Meanwhile, according to Vescuso, the average high-end car contains more than 100 million lines of code. So the pace and complexity of progress is driving the auto industry to work together.

All too often, the main force uniting competitors is the fear of another vendor and the realization that they can never beat a dominant vendor on its own turf. Open source becomes a way of changing the rules out from under the dominant player. OpenStack, for instance, took on VMware in the virtualization space and Amazon.com in the IaaS space. Android attracted phone manufacturers and telephone companies as a reaction to the iPhone.

A valuable lesson can be learned from the history of the Open Software Foundation, which was formed in reaction to an agreement between Sun and AT&T. In the late 1980s, Sun had become the dominant vendor of Unix, which was still being maintained by AT&T. Their combination panicked vendors such as Digital Equipment Corporation and Apollo Computer (you can already get a sense of how much good OSF did them), who promised to create a single, unified standard that would give customers increased functionality and more competition.

The name Open Software Foundation was deceptive, because it was never open. Instead, it was a shared repository into which various companies dumped bad code so they could cynically claim to be interoperable while continuing to compete against each other in the usual way. It soon ceased to exist in its planned form, but did survive in a fashion by merging with X/Open to become the Open Group, an organization of some significance because it maintains the X Window System. Various flavors of BSD failed to dislodge the proprietary Unix vendors, probably because each BSD team did its work in a fairly traditional, closed fashion. It remained up to Linux, a truly open project, to unify the Unix community and ultimately replace the closed Sun/AT&T partnership.

Collaboration can be driven by many things, therefore, but it usually takes place in one of two fashions. In the first, somebody throws out into the field some open source code that everybody likes, as Rackspace and NASA did to launch OpenStack, or IBM did to launch Eclipse. Less common is the GENIVI model, in which companies realize they need to collaborate to compete and then start a project.

A bigger pie for all

The first thing on most companies’ minds when they adopt open source is to improve interoperability and defend themselves against lock-in by vendors. The Future of Open Source survey indicates that the top reasons for choosing open source is its quality (slide 13) and security (slide 15). This is excellent news because it shows that the misconceptions of open source are shattering, and the arguments by proprietary vendors that they can ensure better quality and security will increasingly be seen as hollow.
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Seeking prior art where it most often is found in software

Open Invention Network plans to mine open source projects for patent busters

Patent ambushes are on the rise again, and cases such as Apple/Samsung shows that prior art really has to swing the decision–obviousness or novelty is not a strong enough defense. Obviousness and novelty are subjective decisions made by a patent examiner, judge, or jury.

In this context, a recent conversation I had with Keith Bergelt, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Invention Network takes on significance. OIN was formed many years ago to protect the vendors, developers, and users of Linux and related open source software against patent infringement. They do this the way companies prepare a defense: accumulating a portfolio of patents of their own.

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Developer Week in Review: When game development met Kickstarter

Developer Week in Review: When game development met Kickstarter

From games to reference books, crowdsourcing is shaking up industries.

Crowdsourcing is changing how software development gets funded. It's also driving one of the great reference guides of the 20th century out of print.

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