Archive | September 2014

Social media and citizen protests

Internet, now available to the majority of people, ensures that information can be accessed from everywhere and shared with anyone. By breaking the psychological barrier of fear (Kassim,2012),  the internet plays a big role in expressing one’s dissatisfaction. Social media gives enormous powers to protesters by enabling them to communicate at a high speed and creating worldwide awareness concerning the (perceived) unjustness of the status quo. One famous example is the role of Twitter and Facebook in the Arab Spring.

FireChat, previously used in Taiwan to protest a trade agreement, is currently driving the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations. Initially, the nonviolent protesters were using Instagram to communicate and posted many photos of the police suppressing them by means of tear gas. As a result, China blocked Instagram and increased censoring search results on Baidu (the country’s largest search engine). This resulted in more than 100,000 FireChat downloads over the past weekend (Forbes, 2014).

FireChat is an instant messaging application comparable to WhatsApp, however what makes it so popular during protests is that works without WiFi or a carrier connection. Due to this disruptive application, China will not accomplish anything by shutting down the web further and they will have to come up with something new. One risk for the (Chinese) user is that everything typed on FireChat is completely public and messages can be traced back to their phones. At this time, Chinese ISPs are blocking FireChat users, however these blocks can be avoided by using virtual private networks. Simultaneously, FireChat is working on an encryption and private messaging feature to increase safety of its users.

The question is, what will China do next? What do you think of China’s actions?

Personally, I believe that China’s blockages and censorships make the problems only worse. By blocking the communication channels, China demonstrates that the protestors are right and that they are desperate to silence them. FireChat is the evidence that the protestors will always find a medium to communicate their ideas.

Chatting off-the-grid: a useful tool for crowds


You may have read about Hong Kong on the news or on social media these past few days. In a nutshell, there are pro-democracy demonstrations happening in this special administrative region of China. However, I’m not here to write about politics. What I am actually presenting to you is the following application: FireChat. Why? The Hong Kong people massively downloaded FireChat to be able to keep in touch with each other during the demonstrations (The Independent, 2014). So what is special about FireChat? Keep on reading.

What is FireChat?

FireChat is an application for iOS and Android that gives users the option to chat without Internet or cellular connection. It is free of cost and the only requirement is that the person you want to chat with must have the application on their phone as well.

How does one use it?

You can instantly message people that are near you; we’re talking about a 70-meter radius (Forbes, 2014). However, when connected to the Internet, the distance is of course not limited. Besides the ability to work “off-the-grid”, it has the features of a normal chat application. You can enter into group conversations, and send all sorts of media files to each other.

Why should you use it?

During demonstrations, large masses of people gather in a small area, which can negatively affect the cellular networks. The app can help you to keep in touch when you are in these areas. It can be useful when you are on holiday with family or friends to a place where you have no cellular network on your mobile devices.  If you are at a festival, it can help you find your friends. If you are in a demonstration, it can help you communicate with other protestors. As one can imagine, there are a number of occasions where FireChat might come in handy.

Why shouldn’t you use it?

There is a privacy concern with this application. The contents of FireChat are made public so users should not share personal details such as their actual names. That is also the reason why the app does not have login or password details (Open Garden, n.d.). However, the owners of FireChat, Open Garden, are currently working on encrypting the messages so this problem will hopefully be solved in the future (Forbes, 2014).


Forbes, 2014. FireChat Prepares Encryption Feature As It Drives Hong Kong Protests. Retrieved from:

Open Garden, n.d.. Open Garden launches FireChat for iOS: Chat off-the-grid! Retrieved from:

The Independent, 2014. Hong kong protests: Demonstrators turn to ‘off the grid’ messaging app FireChat. Retrieved from:

Windows 10 and how sometimes April fools jokes become real

By the time of this writing it’s been 2 hours since Microsoft announced their new product durring a press event in San Francisco. Everyone was expecting a demo and details about Windows 9. However, Microsoft decided to surpise the public with the announcement of Windows 10.

Yes, you read this right – 10! They decided to skip 9 and jump directly to 10.

Microsoft have stated more than once that they have teams working on the next Windows version even before the previous one is released. The point is to release new versions and upgrade the OS as fast as possible. Despite this, they decided to skip a whole version on which a dedicated team has been working for who knows how long and focus on the one after that. No one gives explanations why they did so but the 10th version is already being called “The best Windows yet”

In the live event when asked about the naming difference they answered:Windows10 Start Menu

Q: Can you talk about the name? Seems weird going from Windows 8 toWindows 10.
A: This product, when you see the product in your fullness I think you’ll agree with us that it’s a more appropriate name.

They even released a small introduction video showing some of the changes in the new OS. Windows 10 will reintroduce an enchanced version of the old start menu that we all loved before Windows 8 removed it. They are also distancing the product from the Metro style which was by and large optimised for Mobile devices. However, according to Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, the OS is designed to run on even more devices than the previous version.

I am sure in the following days and weeks we’ll get a tone of information about the new Windows. Meanwhile, I found this interesting article dating from 1st of April last year. The author, Pete Babb, jokes about Microsoft skipping a version of Windows and goind directly to 10. Is this a an inside information that no one saw comming or is it just a very lucky guess? 🙂

What do you, dear readers think? Is reintroducing old features going a step backwards or is it just a clever marketing strategy? Express your feelings in the comments below!

Ello: The ‘Anti-Facebook’? – Ello’s Ad-free policy draws in users

The world of social media networks is changing and innovators are constantly searching for market gaps and new opportunities. With the social network market in full swing with dominant players such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, it is difficult for a new player to enter the online world of networking. However, one company has achieved this: Ello.

So what is Ello? Ello is a new private social network that promotes itself on being ad-free. Network membership is invite-only, with tens of thousands of people on the wait list. Ello is based on the concept of privacy, and that selling ads on social networks is ethically wrong.

Practically all other social networks are run by and for advertisers. Users’ private information is auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers, and everything is tracked and recorded. Though these online networks are offered under the pretenses of being free services, users end up paying a high price in lack of privacy. As Ello states in their manifesto: “You’re the product that’s being bought and sold.”

Though other social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) also started out ad-free, overtime they modified their privacy policies and started selling the information of their users to third parties. Ello argues to never fall into the pit of advertising, as their structure is based on a ‘no-data mining’ policy. They argue that if they ever do so, they will lose most of their users.

Despite Ello’s determined ad-free concept, some argue that Ello’s privacy policies are not without caveats:

  • Ello still gathers data of its users, and under certain circumstances (e.g. legal), may share it.
  • Ello uses cookies, which may be embedded in users’ emails.
  • If you delete your account, Ello stores backups of your data on its servers.
  • Ello uses Google Analytics (however, you can opt out of it in your settings).

Many wonder whether Ello will be able to maintain its ad-free policy in terms of financial feasibility. The company has been coined the ‘anti-Facebook’, and while it is determined to remain a better version of current social networks, only time will tell whether Ello will be successful in doing so.


Project Ara: a modular smartphone

In 2008 an Israeli company called Modu announced they would be launching a phone with the same name as the company. The phone at the time didn’t have the appearance of anything special, however there was something quite unique about it that made Google acquire some of Modu’s patents. The phone had a jacket that could be swapped by the user for another one, but with the Modu this wasn’t purely cosmetic. Swapping the jacket could allow for the addition of actual phone functionality, for instance adding a camera.

In 2013 Dutch designer Dave Hakkens announced that he would be working with companies to try and develop a fully modular smartphone under the name Phonebloks. The idea behind the modular smartphone platform is that it would include a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of the owner’s choice. These modules could be a CPU, camera or an extra battery. It would allow users to upgrade individual modules, for instance when there is a malfunction, as innovations emerge, providing longer lifetime cycles for the smartphone, and potentially reducing electronic waste. At the same time Motorola announced project Ara, the company’s project to develop a modular smartphone, and that it would work together with Hakkens in developing it. Motorola at that time had already been acquired by Google.

One of the interesting things about this project is that, from the get-go, the intention was to make this an “open source hardware” platform. Open source hardware means that the technical information, schematics, source codes, integrated circuit layout data and the software that runs the hardware are made publicly available. Third party developers can then use this information to design their own modules for the platform. The project stayed with Google after it sold Motorola to Lenovo and in 2014 Google is organizing multiple developers conferences for which over 3300 developers have subscribed.

Why would Google give away their technical know-how, when it could manufacture and sell the platform and its modules herself? I think that it is Google’s strategy to create a smartphone platform that has the largest adoption rate possible, Google itself has stated that its goal with the Ara project is to create a smartphone that could be used by “six billion people”. If Google would choose to make its own modules, the amount of individual modules that would be available on the platform would be limited, which means the value of the platform would be limited. The value of the platform increases by having third parties developing and manufacturing modules for it. Google could still require developers to sell their products through their channels, which would generate revenue, but I don’t think this is Google’s ultimate goal. What I think is Google’s ultimate goal with this platform is to enlarge the adoption rate of its Android platform. In the end, Google generates revenue by selling advertisements and information, and one of the ways it is able to do so is through its Android platform. If this platform is more widely spread, Google is able to sell more advertisements, and gather and sell more data gathered from this platform.

The first model of the modular phone is set to release in Q1 2015, for an estimated $50


Netflix takes a new aim at Hollywood. Industry changer again?

We all know Netflix as the streaming services which defeated Blockbuster. With their innovative business model they were able to build up a huge customer database making it almost impossible for competitors to catch up with them. With their limitation to content (provided by the studios) they decided to take action into their own hands with the production of ‘House of Cards’, ‘Orange is the New Black’ and such shows. They were distributed exclusively by Netflix and thus excluding the big tv studios. And now they are back with something even bigger: they closed a deal with the Weinstein Company to release next year’s sequel to the movie ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ at the same time as they are released in the movie theaters. Reasons for Netflix to come up with this is to be a game changer in Hollywood. The chief content officer (COO) at Netflix, Ted Sarandos, says that Hollywood has to adapt to the changing demands from movie fans. They want to change the traditional method of film releases: theater, dvd or blueray and later on availability for streaming services.

I personally think this is a great step taken by Netflix. First the own tv-shows really showed a legal alternative and with the release of Hollywood movies at the same time as in movie theaters I think the illegal pirating of copyright protected content could be hold back. As you know in Holland it’s forbidden to download illegal content as of jurisdiction from the European Court. The problem in my opinion is that people are willing to pay for content, but don’t want to wait for the content to be released in their region for too long. This way, by distributing Hollywood movies all at the same time, I think it would prevent more people from illegally downloading content and thus the authors and actors would get paid rightfully for their work. Downside of the Netflix distribution would be the lack of income for movie theaters, but what do you think? If we would make a industry wide cost/benefit analysis would the benefits of legally distribution by Netflix outweigh the missed income by movie theaters? Would more people subscribe to streaming services? Would Netflix’s increased market power be a bigger threat?

Valentijn Valstar 360290vv


The Attention Economy

The online advertising world has been grappling with the page view advertising model. The visitors are increasingly being fed information through multiple pages just to generate more impression. If you are looking click on a web-page describing something like “10 most famous …”, it is highly unlikely that you will get the list on one page. There will be multiple pages for the list so that maximum impressions can be generated from one visitor.

But are this type of page views really valuable for the advertisers? Are websites focusing too little on quality and more on gaining page views?

The answers to these questions are of importance to both the advertisers and users alike. Finding good quality content on the web will become even more rarity if this trend continues.

blog post

A break in this trend is anticipated if the Chartbeat ( real-time analytics model gets widely accepted. A major accomplishment for the analytics firm was achieved recently when it got accreditation from the Media Rating Council for attention-based measurement of both content and advertising. This analytics model by chartbeat claims to move the trend away from page view and clicks advertising. Chartbeat is certified to measure the reader attention.

Unlike pageviews which just measures whether a page has been loaded or not, this will measure what is the actual time that a user spent on a specific content by measuring whether they were actually looking at the page. If the advertisers see value in this metrics then it would lead to better quality content on the websites. 21 metrics have been accredited which include metrics like ‘viewability’, ‘Active exposure time’ and ‘Lifetime exposure’.

If this gets widely adopted and the reader attention is used as a more effective metric by the advertisers then we can see a shift happening to the Attention Economy.


Triposo – Your very own Travel guide !

Are you the curious traveller who wants to amass as much information as you can about a city? Now, there is an answer to that – Triposo!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 4.56.24 pm

The features:

This application just like many others of our generation is one which provides information about well, more information! It is an aggregator which uses a crawling functionality to scour websites like Google Maps, Wikipedia and Flickr. The coolest bit about the app is that you can download information about an entire country on your phone. It will then give you information about the place without an internet connection!

The application also prompts you and gives you recommendations on places to go. The technology built into it takes into account the weather, time of day and your present location. After noting all these it will suggest which places are the best to visit. For example: On a rainy day it would suggest a museum, but on a sunny day, a park where you could picnic. Triposo chooses destinations by using an algorithm whose main input is photographed. The more number of photographs, the more recent and which day determines the importance of the place.


The challenges:

With the already competitive tourism industry, Triposo is another application which has thrown its hat into the ring. The app has been developed by 2 ex-googlers and raised $3.5 Million in 2012. With Triposo being fully funded, it is a free offering. However, going forward, the developers will have to enact a revenue model. The strategies being talked about range from paid features to the app becoming paid to paying for certain cities in countries. Since Triposo crawls open websites and brings information to one interface, they face a language barrier problem. The application is only available in English at present, however, the developers are still trying to solve for that problem.


Who owns the Internet?


For the past couple of months a lot has been happening centering around two words: Net neutrality. Net neutrality stands for equality and it leads to what we call the Open Internet: web traffic is treated the same.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) challenged this ideal that makes the Internet the worldwide success it is today. So what is the problem?

These new rules would allow internet providers to charge premium rates for those companies who need and are willing and able to pay for faster speeds (e.g. Netflix).  Net neutrality leads to all packages being delivered at the same rate, but with the new rules if a company pays extra they could get their packages delivered first. What does this really mean? The epic dynamics of innovative creations online would cease to exist.

This goes further than just movies, what about sending a simple message? What if someone’s content would reach others quicker than your own? What would happen to the instant communication we have today? Twitter? Facebook?This could indeed have implications even in a political and socioeconomic sense.

Over 100 companies including Google, Yahoo, and Facebook support net neutrality but on the other side are cable companies such as Comcast and Verizon who are for enforcing new rules. Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of FCC, was a former lobbyist for the cable industry. This is quite dangerous as he is likely to be biased in the whole rule creating process.

As Barbara Ann Luttrel stated in a recent submission to the FCC:

“If Comcast and Time Warner — who already have a virtual monopoly on Internet service — have the ability to manage and manipulate Internet speeds and access to benefit their own bottom line, they will be able to filter content and alter the user experience”

As stated by KSN, broadband providers have been lobbying Congress aggressively to avoid being designated as a “common carrier” under communications law. This would subject broadband services to tougher regulations. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the organizations most active in filing lobbying reports on net neutrality in recent years are Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Wheeler’s former employer, the NCTA.

What do you all think about net neutrality? Should internet providers be able to charge companies for faster speeds? What would this mean for the Internet of today? Let me know your thoughts!

Cool video explaining net neutrality:


‘Make it wearable’ finalist: The Nixie drone

Have inventors gone to far by making a drone that makes selfies? Or is this the gadget that everybody needs to have in the near future?

We already heard plans from Amazon for using drones for it’s prime air delivery, and plans from Google to develop drones that can take wireless internet to remote area’s. But now the inventors of Nixie have plans to use drones for another purpose: to make ‘selfies’. Below you can see a movie from the inventors of the Nixie.

For now they only have a prototype, but as you can see in the movie they have plans to create a good looking drone camera that can be worn around your wrist. The drone has to recognize a certain movement from the user, and will fly in the air to make a ‘selfie’, after taking the shot the drone will fly back to the owner. If Nixie manages to win the ‘make it wearable’ context they will be granted $500.000 to realize the Nixie drone.

Amazon is still having issues with the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), because drones cannot be used for commercial purposes yet. The Nixie however will not be having any of these issues, so in theory it could be produced and sold right away. One might wonder though if it is save to have drones flying all over the place. Imagine yourself in a high school, with teenagers all wearing the latest trend: the Nixie drone. You don’t want Nixie drones to fly against other people. One possibility is to limit the use of the Nixie drone for outdoor purposes of couse, but this would also limit the potential market. I personally think that with the possibility of making a drone like this, the inventors should also think of the social impact it might have.

Do you think that a flying selfie robot is preferable?


The End of Universities

Ruin lecture hallThere has been an increasing interest for massive open online courses, or so called MOOCs. They enable people all over the world to enjoy previously inaccessible levels of higher education. Registration is free; everything you need is an internet connection and e-mail address. Upon successfully completing a course a certificate is awarded. Does the growth in MOOCs indicate a revolution in higher education?

College fees

A significant rise in costs of US-education has occurred in recent decades. These costs have increased with a multifold of the inflation rate and tuition has risen from 23% of median annual earnings in 2001 to 38% in 2010 (The Economist, 2012). Student debt has risen to $1 trillion and universities are trying to attract the best and brightest – professors and students alike – with financing their investments by ever increasing debt. With governments cutting down on education budgets the situation seems unsustainable. Are students willing to bear these increasing costs of a degree, an investment with an ever decreasing ROI?

MOOCs might give the answer as the developments as stated above provide a fruitful environment for the innovation in online education, often referred to as disruptive (Forbes, New York Times, Wired). Online platforms such as Coursera or edX give access to courses ranging from physics to business strategy, provided by top institutions such as Oxford, Harvard and MIT. These established names are on board because they recognize the importance of the new development in education. Three characteristics are fundamental to MOOCs. The online platform enables a scale at which classes can be taught which is impossible in the conventional ‘Socratic’ education system. Furthermore, students are able to tailor programs to their needs by selecting specific courses creating a unique curriculum. This customization can include courses of multiple universities which means a shift of bargaining power to the student. Lastly, MOOCs create an environment for continuous learning in a facilitated network. It becomes easier to combine studying with working creating more demand for just-in-time, on the job courses (Wired, 2013).

The developments of MOOCs facilitating easy accessible, customizable and continuous learning opportunities will have its impact on the education system. The only obstacle is the recognition of the obtained certificates by employers. It will take some time but classes as we know them will become a relic of the past.

Goal line technology in football: innovation vs. tradition

Football has always been a sport slow on innovations. While tennis and volleyball have already introduced technological improvements to the game, football has only recently decided to implement similar “challenge technologies”. The truth is that many football rule makers are conservative former players, who believe that the sport should be played as it always was.

No technologies in football back then...

No technologies in football back then…

However, due to numerous controversies in recent years, in 2014 the governing body of the Premiership (the most watched football league in the world) decided to introduce the long-awaited Goal-line technology. With the experiments with goalside referees and television replays considered flops, it is high-time the sport evolved.

The main idea behind the system is that it informs the referee whether the ball has crossed the goal line and therefore deciding whether a goal should be awarded. The system communicates automatically with the referees watch, sending an alert indicating “Goal” or “No-Goal”.

However, not all goal line technologies work in the same way. There are two types of systems implemented around the world:

  1. A camera-based system (14 high-speed cameras mounted around the stadium – GoalControl)
  2. A magnetic field/chip based system in which footballs themselves contain chips, which respond to the magnetic force field on the goal line (Cairos Technologies with Adidas)
Adidas has developed the goal line technology in cooperation with Cairos Technologies.

Adidas has developed the goal line technology in cooperation with Cairos Technologies.

Although the system has proved successful in the recent years around the world and months in England it induces mixed feelings in footballers, experts and fans. Some believe that referee mistakes are part of the sport that should not be changed due to the game’s history and tradition.

I believe that the goal line technology is a step in the right direction for football. Mistakes have always been a part of the sport, however with so much money and feelings dependent on the results of games there is no room for mistakes. Just ask Frank Lampard.


Fierce Competition Uber is facing in China

In four years, as a start-up company, Uber’s valuation has reached more than 18 billion U.S. dollars. Uber catched on thousands of eyes and became a phenomenal product based on demand services, as well as gave birth to a number of interesting personalized services. However, when entering China, Uber faces severe competition. This article will disucss the competition landscape Uber is facing in Chinese market and analyze Uber’s competitive advantages.

On February this year, Uber officially visited China, and named itself “good step”.On April, Uber officially visited Beijing, mainly for the CBD and Sanlitun district-the richest areas in this city. It is said that Uber’s management team regard Beijing as one of the most important oversea battlefield in the world. Nevertheless, in China, competition is more fierce than other countries. With a large population of 20 million in this city (Beijing), the overburden transportation gave birth to flourishing taxi industry. In Beijing, there are more than 60 thousand taxi cars and 100 thousand taxi drivers, not to mention thousands of illegal taxis, which are called ‘Black taxi’ in Chinese, which pose a lot of competition to Uber. In recent two years, as the LBS(Location based service) boomed, ‘Didi taxi’ and ‘Kuaidi taxi’, the apps that connect passengers and taxi drivers dominated 80% of the market in China(The passengers can use these apps to call a taxi at once or reserve it). Chinese citizens are more familiar with taking taxi to their destinations instead of business cars. Also, educating drivers are still costly in China. Moreover, ‘Yidao car rental’ and ‘AA car rental’ run similar business model as Uber, but they are more localized and have better relationship with government – which is significant for policy-restricted industry. The Uber’s management refused to give any data about Chinese business development.

Anyway, Uber stiill has its own competitive advantage, and thee most precious one is the greatest user experience. One of the reason why people like Uber is that it always offers a variety of interesting surprise demand services, such as ice cream and desserts delivery, home-moving services, express delivery lunch, etc. It is heard that recently Uber is creating more innovative ideas. However, Uber’s localization in China is quite slow. People cannot share Uber’s information to wechat, renren and weibo – China’s facebook and twitter. Until this June, Uber’s UI in China was still mixed with English and Chinese. However, Ben, the CEO of Uber in Chinese Region, is fairly satisfied with the current pace of development. ‘Usually exploring a new market will be relatively slow at start. But it becomes faster and faster after building basic infrastructrue.’

1. <Uber’svisit in Beijing>
2. <The legal issue in taxi industry>

The Future Hotel – CitizenM

Suppose that here is a hotel:

– you can check in by yourself without waiting in line and showing your ID to foreground lady. You pay by credit card and take the room card from card box. The check-in machine will give you receipt with your room number.
– You can sit in sofa, cook, drink, and use iMacs in lobby.
– You walk in the room and the light will turn on automatically.
– You use an ipad to control light brightness, temprature, curtain, and television. You can find thousands of movies and watch them on room’s TV.
– You have a very large bed as soft as at home.
– You can check out by yourself: just leave the card to the machine.
– You can choose late check-out, special services, 24hour foods and drinks, etc.
– It has lots of interesting designs and details for you to explore, such as ‘avoiding disturbing card’ with naked girl and a sentence ‘Someone is naked inside! Don’t come in’.

It is not a virtural picture imagined by travellers. It is real.

The hotel is called ‘Citizen M’. It is a Dutch hotel opened in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The slogan of Citizen M is ‘Welcome to a new kind of hotel’ & ‘Even the hotel of the future has to start somewhere’.

Internet is changing people’s life in various areas. For example, for eating, we can search and make comments on Yelp. For living, we can use booking and airbnb to make reservation. For outing, we can use uber or lyft to quickly get a car. It is unbelievable before smartphone and 3G connection appeared. However, I believe that internet’s influence on people’s life cannot be just like this. As citizenM, amazing user experience is not only in online side, but also on offline side. The real competitive advantages of building O2O business are definitely in offline side. After seeing ‘future hotels’, I have lots of imagination on ‘future restaurant’: ordering by iPad in table (or even via phone before getting in), paying by scanning QR code, etc. The best user experience deserves our effort for our life-time.

2. <Which specific area has the opportunity for O2O?>

Adblock: a blessing or a curse?

We probably all know or knew the situation, just comfortably browsing your favourite website, when all of a sudden one of those annoying popups, side banners and other forms of advertisements make navigating the website nearly impossible. Since 2006 this problem can be resolved in a very easy manner, when Adblock Plus was initially released. Adblock Plus blocks all those annoying advertisements for you, making sure you do not have to see and be bothered by them anymore.

Adblock Plus

But what are the effects of Adblock Plus on certain websites? It is a well-known fact that survival of many websites depends on revenues generated by advertisements displays. So does blocking advertisements hurt these websites in any specific way? According to the still relevant article that Fisher, founder of technology website ArsTechnica, wrote in 2010, it is. In his article Fisher states that blocking advertisements is like eating at a restaurant and subsequently leaving without paying. Furthermore, an experiment was conducted and is described in this article as well. The 12 hour experiment consisted of making some content of the website invisible for visitors using Adblock Plus. Reactions to this experiment were mixed, with some visitors even criticizing them although they were in fact the ones doing the harm. To me, this sounds like the world on its head.

So now that we know blocking advertisements can be potentially harmful to websites, are there any measures these websites can take? There sure are. Although you might think Adblock completely removes all advertisements for you and is providing you with a service targeted against websites, this does not appear to be true. Google for example, simply pays Adblock to have them show at least some advertisements on the Google website. In their turn, Adblock states that they need funds to stay in business.

Although I will probably not stop using my Adblock, I realize that blocking advertisements can be harmful to websites. What do you think? Will you consider turning off your Adblock, or aren’t you even using one because of the aforementioned?



Donating to Charity, One Tab at a Time

How many tabs do you have opened in your browser right now? Three? Eight? If you’re anything like me, this number is probably constantly above a good 20 tabs.


The tabbing function itself was first introduced to our lives by Mozilla in 2002 and has since been turned into the web browsing standard of the 21st century. What’s now new is that there’s a few guys out there that enable you to not only benefit from this feature yourself but do good with every single opened tab.

Who are they?

The minds behind this innovative way of donating money are two Silicon Valley residents called Alex Groth and Kevin Jennison. They founded the company in 2011 and called it “Tab for a Cause” (TFC), which is probably literally what you will be doing right after reading about their idea.

Tab for a Cause

TFC is a young charitable organization that ever since its inception monetizes our tab-opening habit for a good cause. It makes the process of donating to charities so simple and effortless for us that no good reason remains for us not to install this extension to our browsers. Even the installation only requires very few clicks, so the only thing you need to keep doing is browsing the web and opening tabs. What’s even more appealing about this application is the fact that the user does not actually need to donate a single cent of his own money in order to do good. This makes the extension especially interesting to people whose pockets aren’t deep enough to give money away to charity.

How does this work?

After the installation, every tab you open will show a few advertisements in the corner of your new tab. TFC is paid for these displayed banner ads and donates between 1/10 and 1/3 of each cent to charitable organizations such as, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children and many more. What may at first seem like an insignificantly small amount of money raised over $12.000 for charity in the second quarter of 2014. The amount of donations is continuously growing and the exact distributions are shared after each quarter.

When will you start donating?

Newspapers: The End of an Era?

Newspapers have been around for centuries and are a common sight in everyday life wherever you go. Despite the emergence of the internet age, newspapers have established considerable market share. Although several (often smaller) newspapers have gone out of business due to online access, the larger and traditional newspapers have survived. The question that I will raise here is whether newspapers and tabloids will still be around in their current form within 20 to 50 years.

In current day and age, people grow busier and more demanding. With the information technology around people demand easy access as well as a perfect fit with their needs. The same demands will hold for newspapers and tabloids. Because let’s be honest; how often is it that you read your local newspaper (if you even have one) from cover to back? The people that have a newspaper quickly skim to the articles and topics they like before heading to work. On the other hand, people that don’t have a physical newspaper skim articles of lesser quality on free online websites. In order to address this problem, a new player has entered the Dutch market: Blendle.

With Blendle you can access and read articles of every quality Dutch newspaper and tabloid. But, instead of paying for all these different media, you only pay for the articles that you are interested in. Instead of buying a newspaper for €2,-  and only reading the 4 articles that you are interested in, you can now just buy the 4 articles for, for example, €0.15 each. With Blendle you can see the title of an article and the first paragraph; if you’re interested you can opt to buy the entire article. Even if you click the wrong article, you can still go back because the first 15 seconds are free of charge. Blendle is compatible with phones, tablets and regular computers and laptops. Right now, they are a small player compared to the large Dutch newspapers. Will Blendle catch up with traditional newspapers and tabloids, or will it slowly dissipate?

The combination between social media and a local kiosk has not gone unnoticed. Advantages are that it saves people time and money while giving them access to all quality newspapers and tabloids in the Netherlands. Other people argue that this could mean the end for several publishers, because as a result of Blendle, people might cancel their normal subscription. I, however, believe that for now it is an aid to newspapers and tabloids. Because of Blendle, people might become interested in your medium.

I believe that this idea may globally evolve. A concept like Blendle could serve as an iTunes or Netflix for news articles. I do not, however, think that it will disrupt and overthrow the traditional newspaper market. There will always be people who prefer to have a physical newspaper in their hands.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of paying for certain articles, or do you prefer having physical newspaper of tabloid with the risk of not reading more than 50% of its content?


Facebook launches new advertisement platform

Facebook wants to use the knowledge and information it has gathered from its 1.3 billion users to place more targeted advertisements on websites outside of the social network. With this new platform, Facebook increases the competition with Google.

The advertisement platform, Atlas, gives advertisers the possibility to target advertisements on thousands of websites (Atlas Solutions, 2014). This behavioral advertising, which is one form of targeted advertising, is the practice of collecting data about an individual’s online activities for use in selecting which advertisement to display (McDonald and Cranor, 2010). Mobile apps will also be capable to place the advertisements and Facebook’s daughter Instagram will play an important role in the development of the advertisement program.

Since the data of smartphones and tablets is all collected, Facebook is able to offer advertisers a better targeted form of advertisement on specific user groups. Additionally, Facebook will be able to generate more revenue when it finds enough partners to participate in the new advertisement program.

With Atlas, Facebook is competing with Yahoo, but mainly with Google, a company that also possesses an enormous amount of data of its users. Facebook might even have a slight advantage because it forces users to use their own name. Behavioral advertising creates profiles for Internet users based on a variety of different data types and inferences drawn from those data. Next to that, Facebook is also able to follow the online activity of its users on mobile platforms.

One important thing to take in account, however, is the privacy aspect. A Big Brother perception is the side effect of such precision, says analyst Rebecca Lieb from the Altimeter Group (Goel, 2014). People are concerned that you know them. Facebook however states that it never passes the identity of users to advertisers. Advertisers can for example target their advertisements on Dutch 18-year old who like the series Breaking Bad, but they can’t see who that are precisely (, 2014).


Atlas Solutions, (2014). Meet the new Atlas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2014].

Goel, V. (2014). With New Ad Platform, Facebook Opens Gates to Its Vault of User Data. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2014].

McDonald, A. and Cranor, L. (2010). Americans’ attitudes about internet behavioral advertising practices. pp.63–72., (2014). Facebook start uitrol nauwkeuriger advertentieplatform. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2014].

Roger that: phone conversations for deaf people


“For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” – Mary Pat Radabaugh

Have you ever imagined how it would be to have a telephone conversation with a deaf person? To me questions come to mind as: is it even possible to have a telephone conversation with a deaf person, how would we communicate and what are the possibilities for ‘calling’ a deaf person?

Well, I can tell you that there are not many possibilities for calling a deaf person. The most common solution is using a third party (like KPN Teletolk) who either types out the spoken text or uses a sign language interpreter to convert the spoken text into video. While both are indeed solutions, neither is effective, since they always require a third party and are not real-time.

So there are no possibilities for deaf people to have a real-time telephone conversation?

Guess again. There is a new start-up in town called RogerVoice, they developed an app which lets deaf people read what their correspondents say by sending instant live text transcriptions. The only thing that has to be done is install the app on a mobile device and run it while making a call, the beauty about is that only the audient disabled person has to install the app.

How does it work?

The technique behind RogerVoice is not new or innovative though. What they did is integrate automatic speech recognition into a VoIP platform, the latter already used by Skype and Viber, enabling them to convert speech to text within 100 milliseconds and eliminating the third party. Besides, the delay of 100 milliseconds is so minimal that the conversation is experienced as real-life. Regarding the profitability, -there are relatively not many deaf people worldwide, making it more a niche than mass targeted tool, the app is also very useful for people with hearing loss. Combining the two categories leads to a worldwide target market of approximately 360 million people, which then make me believe that the tool indeed has potential.

Having that said, my question to all is: what do you think about this application -is there market potential for this start-up, will this speech-to-text application result in a breakthrough in the telecom industry, or do think that there are other (more promising) industries in which the tool can be implemented?


An Outline on Two Actors on the B2B Electronic Markets

The Premise:

In the old world, a time before the internet, businesses in search for supplies would often rely upon an established local supplier for its purchases. Different methods would be employed to carry this out. A predominate one being a representative of the supplier periodically visiting the facilities of the different business and taking the orders, quoting prices, concluding sales and after waiting for the orders to be processed and delivered, only then is the job done.

The Twist:

With the advent of the Internet, the world has changed. E-commerce has become a viable alternative to the traditional model of direct sales, and organizations can now access a more cost-effective, self-served, online environment (Walker, 2014). The business searching for suppliers can now go online and access dozens of competitors from an online portal. It provides more options and extensive information on all desired assets, reducing information uncertainty and search costs.

The Myth:

This results in the so-called ‘Disintermediation phenomenon’, where firms bypass traditional middleman, like the wholesaler or the distributors, to interact directly with producers through e-markers. The providers of the online platforms, or market enablers, allow the exchange to take place, ensure the quality of market actors, and capture value through brokerage fees (Wise, 1999).

The Skeptic:

On the other hand, the growth in B2B e-commerce does not necessarily mean the end of the wholesaler. Some products are complex and differentiated that customers still want to experience them in detail, via physical interaction. At the same time, once a local supplier achieves operational efficiency, proximity becomes an asset and an easier means of delivering value to customers. The intermediation is less valuable for generic goods, but there is still vast room for specialized dealers who can focus on acquiring and retaining higher-margin and higher-volume key account customers (Brynjolfsson, 2013).

The Two Actors

The connection and relative position of two actors in this space was explored: and Handshake. For the analysis only the B2B online web portal “” was considered. Whereas, Handshake Corp. with use of its Web and Mobile app makes writing sales orders and presenting a catalog easy for representatives and sales teams on the road, at trade shows or in showrooms.

The Challenge

The business model for and Handshake was evaluated using the Business Model Canvas as proposed by Osterwalder et al. (2010). The business model canvas consists of nine building blocks



The Verdict: and Handshake appear to deliver different services to their clients despite being a B2B company. The key activities of both companies do not differ vastly, as they fulfill similar requirements to their end user. Due to their virtual presence, their cost structure is to a certain degree similar. The costs saved from warehousing and logistics is better used in their upkeep of data centers and investing in customer service.

In contrast, has no dedicated mobile app to address mobility issues that Handshake resolves with its Omni-channel approach. Their revenue structure is significantly different with a common subscription versus commission per transaction.

The Future:

By 2020 it is predicted that there will be 520 million average active buyers for Alibaba’s Chinese marketplaces coupled with increased in average spending per user (Forbes, 2014). Handshake has just entered the B2B market for a few years and is already establishing a strong market for high future potential growth.

– On Behalf of Team 20 RSM01BIM

The Scrolls:

Brynjolfsson, E. et al (2013). Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing. [Online] 21 May 2013. Available from: [Accessed: 23 September 2014]

Forbes (2014) Initiating Coverage Of Alibaba At Price Estimate Of $80 Per Share [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 27 September 2014]

Osterwalder et al. (2010). The Business Model Ontology: A Proposition in A Design Science Approach Business Model Generation. [Online] 30 January 2010. Available from: [Accessed: 27 September 2014].

Walker, B (2014). Why E-Commerce Still Isn’t Clicking with B2B Executives, 5 June 2014. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 22 September 2014]

Wise, R et al (2014)Beyond the exchange–the future of B2B. Harvard Business Review, 1999 [Online] Available from [Accessed: 22 September 2014]

Say goodbye to job security

Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss? Well, maybe we will all be forced to become entrepreneurs of some ilk if these new electronic (auction) freelance markets become the norm for hiring new staff. For our (team 24) technology of the week discussion we decided to dive into a complicated area, namely that of electronic markets for freelancers. What explains the emergence of these electronic freelance markets? Who are the key players in this game and what do they do differently?

Grounded in theory
The emergence and growth of online markets are driven by the electronic brokerage effect, among others (Malone et al., 1987). Our selected companies, Elance-oDesk and, are prime examples of the brokerage effect. These electronic markets reduce search costs of finding a match between labor supply and demand due to a decreased need for intermediaries and the creation of an open channel between players because all the information required to reach a ‘purchase’ decision is readily available through better information technology.

We see that these electronic (auction) markets reduce seller uncertainty due to the implementation of systems governing perceived trust and reputation levels (Dimoka et al., 2012), such as feedback text comments, ratings, and similar information signals. The biggest threat to electronic markets is, however, product uncertainty as part of the information asymmetry present in electronic market economies. Buyers are unaware of the hidden defects of the ‘product’ (i.e. person they are considering for a project) due to description uncertainty and performance uncertainty (Dimoka et al., 2012), which influences price premiums negatively as uncertainty begets caution, especially when people are risk averse towards buying high-valued ‘products’.

We have therefore considered several opportunities to reduce product uncertainty, spread between two major categories: 1) efforts to reduce information asymmetry through better information signaling, and 2) the development of better information technology to reduce coordination costs. Some examples include providing third party assurances to increase perceived reputation levels, and tools to enhance the textural context to allow for greater degrees of asset specificity.

It’s in the way they attract users. Their information signals are different. has gained a lot of traction through the use of a heavily “gamified” process, while providing just enough feedback signals. The adoption of video game mechanics in value driven business processes encourages people to make continued use of the service (Luminea, 2013). Whilst Elance-oDesk provides simple metrics only (e.g. text feedback comments, ratings, search tools etc.) to help the market coordinate itself, but isn’t incentivized like


The freelance economy is here! At least, that’s what we might see happen in the future if these trends continue. Because of the increasing capabilities of information systems, more complex tasks will find their way to online intermediaries as the technology makes them seem less complex. The coordination costs of markets will fall due to the presence of increasingly better information technology, thus online intermediaries seem to become more attractive (Malone et al., 1987). Therefore we expect the online staffing market to increase vastly in the coming years.

The Circle: One Online Identity

Last summer I read a book called “The Circle” written by the author Dave Eggers. This book was just a roman, so there isn’t anything academic about this book, however I found the ideas of this book very interesting, innovative, radical and terrifying.

I am not going to tell the whole clue of this book, but the main idea: in this book there was one company, called The Circle, that actually gained a Monopoly over the whole internet. It started with having one account for literally everything you do on the internet (online banking, web surfing, social media, online shopping, work, study, governmental institutions) which later on took an extreme form by trying to make the whole world transparent by tracking everything people do online and offline. The book’s ending slogan is: “Privacy is theft”.

The ideas and developments in the book are absolutely not realistic and it is all very extreme, but it made me think about a few things. I would never like to live in a world like this, but I think the idea of having one account for everything is very interesting. Wouldn’t this be very efficient if everything was integrated? Google is already doing this, Facebook is integrating with a lot of other websites / applications and PayPal tries this too. People will never ever have struggles with their passwords anymore, since you have only one password (this raises a security issue of course). People will be more aware of which information of them is actually available, since nowadays people have so many different accounts, not knowing that those different platforms also exchange information about you. If you would have a very secured system (which is hardly possible to be honest), it would exclude hackers, since you can only operate under one identity.

So leaving all unrealistic things about how extreme it is and the security issues for what it is, what do you think of the idea of having one identity for everything do you online?

Sanne Amber Maas – 342466


Click to access WebsitePaymentsPro_Datasheet.pdf

Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo

In our Technology of the Week (group 25), we compare two firms operating in an Electronic Market for crowdfunding. We choose for Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Electronic Markets, or E-Markets, are virtual environments on the internet which allow individuals or firms to conduct business electronically, usually through the form of a website or smartphone application. Both companies make use of a new business model.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are both companies that have developed a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding platforms give people who have an idea for a project, cause or undertaking the opportunity to present their ideas to the world on a digital market and collect money or knowledge to further develop their ideas. Crowdsourcing platforms use IT technology to make the ideas of creative entrepreneurs public to anyone with an internet connection.

So what are the differences?

Read More…

Team 26: Technology of the Week.

For the technology of the week we (team 26) decided to compare two big players in the Dutch event ticket industry; Ticketswap and Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster was one of the first players in the electronic market for tickets. More recently Ticketswap proved to be a new (disruptive) player, profiling themselves as a trustworthy reseller of tickets.


Ticketswap is a small Dutch company with only ten employees that acts as a trusted intermediary between sellers and buyers of second-hand tickets. In just two years they have grown to 100.000 users and they are expanding to Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Belgium.


Ticketmaster is a well-known company for people who have been to an event in the past. They started in 1978 already with one of the first online ticket selling systems. Currently they are one of the biggest players in the world and more recently they became also active in the second-hand sport ticket market in the US.

Ticketswap and Ticketmaster compared

Business Models

Ticketmaster charges a service fee on top of the ticket price but they also make use of exclusive right of sales contracts. These measures are driving the ticket price up and new business models are emerging that cut out the middleman, like Ticketmaster.

Ticketswap, in contrast is the middleman in second-hand tickets and also charges a service fee. The users rely on the verification process of Ticketswap to get real tickets against a fair price. Dangers for Ticketswap its business model, of course are companies like Ticketswap setting up their own electronic secondary market.


Ticketmaster and Ticketswap show a clear distinction in their pricing strategies. The service fee of Ticketswap is variable and can go up to 25% of the ticket face value while the Ticketswap fee is fixed for both parties (seller and buyer).

This leads to a greater profit for Ticketmaster since the primary ticket market is always larger than the secondary market. Ticketmaster is also in position to adjust the service fee depending on the popularity of the event.

 Brand image

Ticketmaster is less popular amongst the greater public because of its dominance in the ticket market. It is almost impossible to work around Ticketmaster when aiming for a ticket for a popular event.

Ticketswap is a fair company with fixed service fees and a 125% price cap for their tickets. People perceive this safety as positive.

Social Media

This summer almost everyone must have had a friend wanting to buy or sell a ticket via Ticketswap. Ticketswap makes great use of social media to let its user base and reach grow. Ticketswap is rather passive with its social media strategy.


Ticketswap is a new and fast company using a disruptive technology, but their business model is somehow easy to copy making big players like Ticketmaster a threat to them. We will see what the future will bring us. Will Ticketmaster acquire Ticketswap? Will Ticketmaster have to change its business? Technology will show.

Amazon optimizes delivery time through anticipatory shipping

Anticipatory shipping When you wanted to buy a CD or a book a couple of years ago, the fastest way to get your new product was going to a shopping mall or the city center and buy it there from a bricks-and-mortar shop. With regard to the time passing betweeen your buying decision and holding the product in your hands, online retailers have still been at a disadvantage. This is changing now with advancing digitalization – especially in the books and music segment.

Nowadays, products in the form of downloads can be bought by and delivered to the end customer instantly; it merely takes seconds before, for example, an e-book appears on your kindle e-reader. But what about other, physical products? Do bricks-and-mortar shops still beat online retailers delivery time-wise? Currently, they certainly do – but for how long?

Exactly this issue just described has been on Amazon’s mind for a while now. After all, no company knows its customers better than Amazon does, so it should be possible to turn this into an important advantage, exploiting its possibility to gather big data on customers to render one of the last pro’s of bricks-and-mortar firms insignificant. Amazon’s answer to this problem has become manifest in a patent that they filed in December 2013; the solution seems to be “anticipatory shipping”. Anticipatory shipping means packaging and sending out a product before a customer even hits the “order now” button. More specifically, products are sent – in advance – to a warehouse in a region where Amazon expects an order according to their internal CRM system, thus optimizing the dispatch route. This way, Amazon wants to leverage its immense knowledge about its customers, so that in some cases where they could be very sure of a future order, they would already completely package a product and put a full address on the parcel before the order is fulfilled. When the order then reaches Amazon’s system, the parcel can be sent out directly and on the shortest possible route, making same-day delivery the norm rather than an exception.

According to Amazon, the technology already works well with very popular products, allowing people to receive items like a new iPhone on its release day. With Amazon’s possibilities to collect data however, it should be possible to extend this opportunity to less popular products. Order histories, product searches, wish list and shopping cart analyses, and even the time your cursor is directed to a certain product – it all helps to make you the ultimately transparent customer. Each click and each order helps to refine your profile and to anticipate your next order.

Until this point, it is not sure whether Amazon will exploit their patent and implement the idea of anticipatory shipping. But if they do, it might be possible that Amazon knows its customers – you – better than they know themselves. How long will it be until a mailman rings at our door before we even hit the order button?


Wall Street Journal: before-you-buy-it/

United States Patent and Trademark Office: