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Lightweight models and cost-effective scalability !

The final element in Tim O’Reilly’s web 2.0 patterns is “Lightweight models and cost-effective scalability”. Before web 2.0, companies need to create large scaled, complex, and costly websites with distributed computing that are difficult to manage and upgrade. Scalability in web 2.0 means making changes to cost efficiency, re-usability, processes and strategies in a business system, so that they can scale according to the size of the business. This makes for more flexible system management and makes it future-proof in sustaining business growth. Tim O’Reilly stated that scalability in web 2.0 can not only be applied to business models, but technology as well. Websites utilizing web 2.0 should be lightweight and cost-effective, as well as having the flexibility to scale up for larger operations. They should also have the ability to adapt to emerging technologies.

The benefits of Lightweight Models and Cost Effective Scalability include:
-Faster time to market
-Faster ROI through reduced cost and time
-Reduced risk of project and product failure
-Greater adaptability

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Gumtree is a great example of a lightweight, cost-effective and scalable web 2.0 model. The website was founded in March 2000 by Michael Pennington and Simon Crook, and was at first designed to connect people who had just arrived in a new area and needed help with accommodation, getting a job or meeting new people. As the number of users continued to grow as it gained more popularity, Gumtree created additional websites across the globe including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and France. In May 2005, Gumtree was purchased by Kijiji, eBay’s internal classifieds group. It has continued to expand and now covers 60 cities across 6 countries.

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Scale with demand – Started as a website that only catered for London users, Gumtree expanded its system as popularity increases so that it can handle the load of more users, and is now used in over 60 cities worldwide.

Syndicate business module – While starting out as a website only for accommodation finding or job hunting, Gumtree expanded its business services to include other advertisements such as electronics, furniture and etc. It also provided a forum for users to communicate and discuss products, as well as the ability to link ads to Facebook or Twitter.

Outsource whenever practical and possible – The community in Gumtree is already maintained by various buyers and sellers. However, Gumtree is still able to outsource its advertising services to different partners e.g. shopping.com, ebay and etc. to promote its advertisements. Gumtree also outsources its infrastructure to various cities to locally host Gumtree websites in order to strategically reduce costs and maintenance support.

Provide outsource infrastructure, function and expertise – As stated above, Gumtree provides outsource support for local hosts of Gumtree websites in various cities in a similar way as franchising. This provided Gumtree with new revenue opportunities as Gumtree websites are set up in new cities.

Scaling pricing and revenue module – Gumtree has an excellent advertising model, as it provides scaling advertisement prices for various users, from free advertisements to business rental rates.

To conclude, a business that follows this web 2.0 pattern is able to create and introduce its website to the market quickly, as well as utilize a lightweight module that is cost-effective and scalable to adapt to changes and new technologies. This allows businesses to achieve more with less, and is able to adapt to changes in the market rapidly.

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Leveraging the long tail !

Leveraging the long tail! Nowadays, with the power of the Internet, people can just almost buying anything they want online. The Internet allowed products and information to be spread globally to different range of people. While common products have a broad range of market, unique and niche items usually have specific sub-groups of people they aim to sell their products to. The term ‘long tail’ can be described as the retailing strategy of selling a large range of unique items in relatively small quantities, in contrary to selling popular items in large quantities.

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According to Chris Anderson, as the costs of production and distribution fall, there is a less significant need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In providing niche or unique products, manufacturers allow buyers of the targeted market to find the products that they require. Leveraging the long tail is one of Tim O’Reilly’s web 2.0 pattern that websites should adopt in order for business to thrive. Tim O’Reilly’s lesson for this pattern is that web 2.0 should leverage a customer-self-service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web: to edges and not just the center, and to the ‘long tail’ and not just the ‘head’.

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Bonanza.com is an online marketplace similar to eBay that aims to offer unique items to buyers, as well as making selling online easier for users. Bonanza was first launched in August 2008, and it renamed itself from Bonanzle.com. Bonanza allows users to display their items on their own “booth” to create their own version of an online store. By comparing the list of best preacties from leveraging the long tail against Bonanza.com:

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Build on the driving forces of the Long Tail – Bonanza provides a large range of niche products from any sellers; users can even import items they were selling from eBay and Etsy. Bonanza is democratizing tools of production by letting users introduce the range of products they want to sell. It adds dynamic to the range of products and ensures that if there is a demand, there is supply, as consumers are also the suppliers of the market.

Use algorithmic data management to match supply and demand – Bonanza helps buyers to search and find the products they are searching for easily by categorising the product into collections and hand-picked lists. Bonanza also allows consumers to find products that are sold by the same users.

Use an architecture of participation to match supply and demand – Users and consumers are allowed to post feedbacks on the message forums to talk about what item that they are looking for.

Leverage customer self-service to cost effectively reach the entire web – Bonanza allows users to create and manage their own unique “booth”, which provides them with a unique way of presenting their products. It also allows consumers to have real time chats with sellers to discuss about their products. This will provide a faster feedback as well as minimize the risks and costs for consumers.

Leverage the low-cost advantages of being online – Bonanza, like its competitors eBay and Amazon, utilizes a self-service model for their website that allows the users to manage their own inventory that they want to sell, as well as choose the amount of advertising they want. This reduces the support costs for both Bonanza and its clients, and give clients greater control over their own products. The lack of physical counters and shops also reduces costs of support.

Reference:
http://www.facebook.com/BonanzaMarket
http://www.examiner.com/article/what-is-bonanzle
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/B/Bonanzle.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Anderson_(writer)
http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2010/09/21/bonanza-for-bonanzle-startup-changes-name-buys-1000markets-leads-social-commerce-wave/

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Perpetual beta !

What is Perpetual Beta? Perpetual Beta is one of the web 2.0 patterns mentioned by Tim O’Reilly. When the word “beta” was mentioned in any software, most people think it is going to contain new, unstable and most of the time, incomplete features. However, “beta” doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. Perpetual Beta is keeping the software/application constantly at the beta development stage for an indefinite period of time. Developers often continuously release new features into the system even prior to testing it fully. Generally speaking, perpetual beta is an application or software that is constantly developing during its delivery process. Although there may be incomplete features in the software or a number of bugs may be found, new features and functions are being added continuously. By following this web 2.0 pattern, developers find this is a rapid and agile approach to developing and deploying software.

Applications which follow this pattern will gain the benefits of:
– Faster time to market – earlier release date
– Reduced risk – bugs feedback
– Closer relationship with customers – engage with users
– Real-time data to make quantifiable decisions
– Increased responsiveness – increase willingness of changing the software

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On June 23, 2011, an instant messaging application called LINE was launched. It was developed by Naver of NHN Corporation in Japan. Since then, LINE has grown into the best competitor against WhatsApp Messenger. In November 2012, LINE had more than 74 million users worldwide across 230 countries; and by January 2013, LINE had reached 100 million users and was gaining about 400,000 users daily. As of now, 150 million of people are using LINE. It has a range of functions such as free voice calls, voice messaging and photo sharing. LINE was initially developed for smartphone devices only, such as IOS and Android. However, on 7 March 2012, LINE expanded their service to desktop platforms such as Windows and Mac.

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Release early and release often- After LINE has had launched, it had 3 major updates across different operating systems. The current versions are 3.6.1 on IOS and 3.6.7 on Android devices. Naver made more than 20 updates to LINE since its first release. Significant updates include adding the feature of sending Stickers, and most importantly, Timeline , which aims to be a competitor for facebook by letting users blog about themselves.

Engage users and co-developers and real-time testers – LINE encourages users to test out their new features and other similar products such as LINE POP, LINE Camera and LINE Tools. With the feedback given by the real-time testers through ratings on app stores or other channels, LINE are able to improve and update their products.

Incrementally create new products- Line does not only have incremental updates with new features, it also has created a range of new products such as LINE Brush, LINE Antivirus and LINE card, as well as other games.

In conclusion, I couldn’t find how LINE make operation a core competency and instrument the product, however LINE has followed the pattern of “Perpetual Beta” by allowing users to rate and test out their products, releasing new updates and creating new products. This allows LINE to continue update, refine and add new features, as well as provide reliable service to the users.

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_(application)
http://www.slashgear.com/line-messenger-hits-150-million-users-02280237/
http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/01/line-messenger-has-more-than-150-million-users-because-we-all-l/

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Software Above the Level of a Single Device!

Steve Jobs had said that “everything around you, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that people can use.” Jobs’ vision was to build a phone that not only serves as a communication device, but is also able to have other functionality, such as 3D gaming, music, web browsing, everything one can possibly do on a computer. On the 29th of June, 2007 the first generation iPhone was released. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, he had to explain what it was due to the fact that the device was so different from other phones. It had introduced a new concept of mobile computing. From then on, the iPhone had opened a whole new world for applications. Applications are no longer accessed by only a single operating system such as your laptop or desktop computer. Although smartphones like handheld computers had been around for quite a while, the iPhone is really a game changer as Steve Jobs have suggested, in that it had brought Software/Applications to another level. We can now access our applications connected by a single account across multiple devices such as smartphones or tablets. This gave us the ability to access our data anytime and anywhere; it can be described as “Software above the level of a single device” from Tim O’Reilly’s pattern.

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Google Chrome is a free internet browser developed by Google, and was released September 2, 2008 as a beta version for Microsoft Windows. Now in 2013, Chrome has over 37% of usage worldwide, making it the most widely used web browser in the world. Google Chrome is not limited to its web browsing function; it offers a variety of features including bookmarks, extensions, apps and customization. In 2012, Google released a mobile version of Chrome for both Apple iOS and Google Android operating system, extending its reach to tablets and smartphones.

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1. Design from start to share data across devices, servers and networks – Through the use of their own data servers, Google Chrome allows users to synchronise their bookmarks, browsing history, and even username and passwords across multiple devices (e.g. open pages from your pc on your smartphone), even if they are on different networks.

2. Think location Aware – Based on your location from GPS or Wifi, Google Chrome can customise its search results and suggestions. For example, if you search for an item on Chrome, you may get search results of Australian websites or shops selling the item that are near your location, instead of the U.S or anywhere else.

3. Extend Web 2.0 to devices – As mentioned before, Google Chrome allows users to sync their web content across multiple device platforms. Users can continue browsing a webpage on their mobile phone where they left off on their computer, or access bookmarks that were saved on their mobile phones from their computers.

4. Use the power of the network to make the edge smarter – Based on the recent advancements in networking technology, Chrome allows users to translate websites from other languages to their native language, e.g. translate Chinese websites to English and etc.

5. Leverage devices as data and rich media sources – By synchronising with Google user accounts, Chrome can provide users with access to their Gmail, Youtube, or Google Drive accounts, maximising productivity. In addition, Chrome allows users review or comment on websites with the embedded Google+ functionality.

6. Make one-click peer-production as priority – Chrome boasts simplicity over other browsing applications by having one-click access to different tabs and settings, built-in Google search functionality in address bar, as well as one click access to other apps linked with Google accounts, e.g. Google+, Google Drive and etc.

7. Enable data location independences – As mentioned before, Google Chrome allows user data synchronisation from multiple devices by their Google account.

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Rich User Experience!

In the previous blog, I have discussed three Web2.0 patterns that was defined by O’Reilly: Harnessing collective Intelligence, Data is the next “Intel Inside” and Innovation in assembly. This week I am going to blog about the next Web2.0 pattern, which is “Rich User Experience”. Websites nowadays has the ability to combine new technologies to offer better capabilities for the users. By following the “Rich User Experience” pattern, application can gain numerous advantages such as improved website performance, higher user satisfaction rate, lower website abandonment and reduced IT infrastructure and support costs.

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Prezi is a web based application that uses a single canvas to produce a presentation. It allows user to zoom in and out of their presentation instead of the traditional slide like PowerPoint going page by page. User can add a variety of media such as text, images, videos and other objects to create a non-linear presentation to enhance the visual experience. Prezi also offers a cloud system that allows you to access your presentation on different devices as well as inviting colleagues to collaborate and brainstorm in real time.

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1. Combine the best of desktop & online experiences – Prezi provides users with a platform to create presentation on multiple devices. Users can also collaborate their presentation with their account online or offline.

2. Usability and Simplicity first – Prezi offer users to experience a better usability and simplicity by making the creation process as easy as Microsoft Powerpoint, allowing users to add information by just clicking and dropping.

3. Match the technology usage to the environment – There are more than 18 million registered users in 2012 and it is growing in a rapid rate. To keep up with the technology usage in the environment, Prezi has implemented a Cloud-based application to its system which offers users to collaborate online in real time using multiple devices. However Prezi does not support HTML5, it only support in Flash.

4. Search over structure – Prezi does not embed a search over structure pattern. There are no search functions embedded into the system. This is a feature that Prezi should consider to implement to their website in the future.

5. Preserve content addressability – Prezi does not require a longer click & load model like old applications. It ensures that the content are still findable by allowing users to log in to their account.

6. Deep adaptive personalization – Since Prezi does not provide a search function, it does not save data to improve on user experiences: users will not be experiencing any anticipated needs, remembers preferences, and adapts as appropriate from Prezi.

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Innovation in Assembly !

Innovation in assembly is one of the key web2.0 principle that O’Reilly mentioned. Why waste time building a new service when there are already a lot of components and multiple platforms available online these days? Through assembling abundant components,new platforms can be created to provide a valuable service with innovation to benefit users, which we call “innovation in assembly”. With Web 2.0, websites are changing from simple online applications to platforms that are able to create valuable information data. By adding an Application Programming Interface (API), developers are now able to reassemble features from other website to extend the usability of their own.
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Google Maps is a mapping service application and technology provided by Google, and it serves many map-based services and maps embedded on third-party websites via the Google Maps API. Google Maps API provides its web service as an interface to request API data to external service that can be used at your own application. The Google Directions API is a service that can calculates the directions between locations, and these services are designed to be used in conjunction with a map. Through the Google Directions API, you can search for directions in different modes of transportation and estimate travel time in several path.
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1. Offer APIs to your service – Google provides various advance APIs such as directions API, Distance Matrix API, Elevation API, Geocoding API and Time Zone API.

2. Design for remixability – Google Maps API offers customisable content and information in different practical unit such as, 3D buildings, traffic, photos and direction to make data uniquely addressable for developers. This is designed to maximise their remixability.

3. Apply API best practices – It has provided genuine developer support with showcases, documentations and videos to aid developers in embedding functionality into their own websites.

4. User Existing Standards – Google Maps API uses JavaScript as a existing standard to allow easy adoption for developers.

5. Build your business model into your API – Merchant and other developers are allowed to add their business information on its Maps API to advertise their own businesses. A fee of $10,000 per annual is applied for an advance API.

6. Use web 2.0 to support your platform – Google allows users and developers to update and make correction of the information on their map. This allows users to help in improving the accuracy and usability of the maps services.

7. Be your own platform customer – Google reuses its Maps data to provide location and direction service for Google+, Google Navigation, Streetview, Google Earth and the upcoming Google Glass.

8. Granular addressability of content – Google Maps provides its service in different layers to enable users to view the map in 2D, 3D and Satellite view, and even showing traffic information.

9. Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty – Google builds customer trust and loyalty by continuously updating their data and providing accurate service. By doing so it will gain satisfaction from customers, thereby to build up trust and loyalty.

10. Learn from how customer remix – Google has learnt through other developers such as Intersante, WhatsApp, Facebook and etc. how they remix the data, therefore providing a better service.

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Data is the next Intel Inside !

O’Reilly mentioned Google, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay has used their database efficiency to build up their popularity of the website, meaning that Web 2.0 applications are essentially data-base driven. Every day, users from all around the world are uploading and downloading valuable data online. Web 2.0 has become a tremendously development resource for people to connect with each other and gain information. Data is one of the most important value for Web 2.0 applications to be efficient and convenient to attract number of individuals to the website.
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TestFreaks is a website that gather information about digital electronics, it provide manufacturers descriptions, specifications, user/professional reviews, prices, blog posts and more. Data is the most valuable asset in TestFreaks, as it gather user experiences on products to help others in maximizing the usability of the product.
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1. Seek to own unique, hard to recreate source of data – the information available in TestFreaks allow user to post and comment on a product by analyzing the information from users, it has a unique review system.

2. Enhance the core data – TestFreaks has enhanced its data by asking reviewers to rate the product and create a “TestFreaks Badge” system. It allows users to effortlessly to view the score and reviews the product from other consumers in other e-commerce websites.

3. Let users control their own data – User are controlling the rating score of the product as well as their own comment.

4. Make some right reserved, but not all – TestFreaks has “All Rights Reserved” policy.

5. Define a data strategy – “TestFreaks” has created their website so that their data can be easily shared to other websites allowing consumers to view the pros & cons of the product.

6. Own the index, namespace, or format – “TestFreaks” doesn’t own any of the comment and its format are simpler compared with some other rating website.

7. Design data for reuse – The data in TestFreaks.com.au can not really be reuse, these data are only for users to review.

8. Outsource or supply data access management – “TestFreaks” supply their information to other e-commerce websites such as the Badge system.

“TestFreaks” is an excellent Web 2.0 application that demonstrate Tim O’Reilly’s ”Data is the next Intel inside” pattern.