Sean M Everett

^Humanizing Technology   |   Table of Contents

You Can’t Do Anything You Want

Don’t even try it.

That’s crazy.

You’re not that good.

Besides, nobody really cares about you.

Look at how much better they are anyways.

Are you really going to give up your nights and weekends?

Just turn on the TV for a little bit and relax.

Seriously, you can’t make a living doing that.

The first battle always rages inside your own mind. You have a choice. You can listen to it, bow down to it, and become a slave to it. Or you can stand up straight and yell back:

"I can’t hear you. I’m too busy riding the noisy rollercoaster of my dreams."

- Sean

How to Monetize Your Mobile…

In one word:  ads.

I know, I know. It makes for a horrible user experience. Other than the SuperBowl, nobody will ever tell you “I tuned in for the ads”.

And yet, Facebook just made $1.4 billion (yes BILLION!) on mobile ads in the first quarter of 2014.

Let me restate that so you understand the power of relying on advertising. Facebook, which got onto the mobile bandwagon late, just made $1,400,000,000 in the last 3 months from only their mobile app. That’s equivalent to someone paying you $160 per second, every second for 3 months straight.

And that’s not even from their desktop website.

The true holy grail of advertising is to make an ad that doesn’t look like an ad. Something so great that people seek it out. Like the little babies in the E-Trade commercials or pretty much anything Apple does anymore (like their holiday home video TV spot).

Consumers don’t want to pay for anything. They don’t want to pay for your app. Heck they don’t even want to pay for TV and it’s something they spend 6 hours a day watching.

The only way you’re going to make money online is to:

  1. Sell a product, either SAAS or something physical (and take a %),
  2. Process a payment (and take a %), or
  3. Sell ads (and take a %).

Google is the perfect case. For all the crazy zany products they’ve produced over the years, their ads product results in almost all their revenue in the history of their business.

Have you found another way that I missed? If so, lets discuss in the comments.

- Sean

What Popcorn Time Means for…

The Verge has a post describing how the various developers of the various forks of Popcorn Time have gone radio silent. They wouldn’t say the reason publicly but it’s pretty obvious why:  flesh-eating lawyers.

If you haven’t heard of Popcorn Time before, think of it like Napster but for new movies that just hit the theaters. Want to watch Wolf of Wall Street or Captain America from your computer in stunning HD quality? Just a few Netflix-style clicks and you’re off.

It does this magic by searching for and compiling malicious-free torrent files and playing them out as a video stream, completely abstracting all that techy mumbo jumbo for everyday people. Just search, click, watch. It’s that easy.

Over the last few months I’ve gone about as deep as someone can in a short time in the video market, save for actually writing code, which I’ve done a bit of on the side.

And here’s my prediction for the future of digital video.

No one will pay for movies or for video content outright anymore, unless there’s an experience wrapped around it. Like a movie theater with popcorn and a big screen with gimicky 3D lenses. People won’t pay for Netflix anymore either.

It will be a bit like TV, with commercials paying the way.

You’ll get to watch the brand new Captain America from whatever device you want, with your place synced across devices and your account. The only difference is that you will have to watch a few 15 second ads at key moments during the movie. Don’t like it? Pay to remove it. But you won’t pay. You’ll just complain. Because consumers are cheap, at least en masse.

This is the only way that something like Popcorn Time, the something that everyday people actually want, can afford to exist. After all, it takes $100s of millions of dollars to make Transformers 17 and Rocky Versus Alien 2.

I have a few friends in the movie industry. The builders. The creators. They don’t see any of those millions. The people who actually make the content get none of the reward.

In a perfect society, they would create self-forming teams around the best movie ideas, raise money from viewers who are interested, make it themselves, then give it away for free with embedded advertising to make more money on the back-end forever.

Get ready for the future. Just like a woman in an emotionally draining relationship, consumers and creators alike can only stand so much for so long. Eventually the flood gates break and we all feel FREEEEEDOM!

- Sean

On Nike Getting Rid Of The …

When I first read this (…) I thought it was a bad April fool’s joke. I mean, read the headline, first few sentences and you’re like whaaaat.

First, Nike doesn’t make the hardware. That’s RGA who does that, a hardware-focused agency. So they shouldn’t be too worried about the design process. And I’m sure with their massive manufacturing capabilities and decades of experience they had a pretty good idea how much it was going to cost and complexity of the build process.

Nike, much like Coke, is almost more of a marketing company these days than a Product company. Sure they make shoes and clothes but other than dryfit (polyester marketed positively) and the flyknit (shoes made from socks), they don’t really have that much true innovation.

The FuelBand was the market-leading and first-to-market product that got the wearables market started with mainstream consumers. I’ve had one for two years. Heck, even my dad has one.

I do still have people that ask me what it is, which means it’s still a totally new category. And everyone’s always confused by fuel. “Why do I want it? What is it?”

It’s just points people, to track how active you are.

But then I remembered that Tim Cook, who’s famously been wearing one as long as I have, is on the Board of Nike. I’ve been in massive company boardrooms before of some of the biggest retailers on the planet. I’ve heard what gets talked about because it is tied to company financial goals and executive incentives.

However, to think that Tim Cook would have told a different Board about an upcoming Apple wearable device is a normal thought for most boards. But Apple would likely not do that. It’s Apple after all.

So the only reason Nike is shutting down the division and keeping the product and support is that they weren’t creating a positive ROI and wanted to stop the bleeding but without the negative marketing associated with shutting down the division.

So it’s a bit of a weird business situation that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Sure they’re not a traditional hardware company, but they’re also most definitely not a software company. My gut says they think they can get away with putting their software on other people’s hardware. I don’t buy that for a minute. Unless it’s Apple. And only then it’s all speculation.

Only time will tell and hopefully we’ll know more from both companies come October.

- Sean

Quantum Entanglement & Arti…

My previous post, A New Programming Language for Artificial Intelligence, Part 1, laid out the problem and a potential direction for how we might create a new system for developing AGI.

I was waiting for this post, which is from the smartest webzine on the internet:  Quantum Entanglement Drives the Arrow of Time, Scientists Say (seriously, if you’re into this stuff you need to subscribe to their RSS feed. It’s incredible.)

It will describe why coffee eventually becomes the same temperature as the room and why we can only “remember” time going forward. In short, it’s because of (get this) correlations. Yep, it all comes back to mathematics.

We as humans like to organize and departmentalize things. Like separating mathematics from philosophy from religion from physics, but in reality it’s just one massive system all working together as one giant “being”.

The implications for quantum computing and entanglement for a new programming language for artificial intelligence are huge. If you don’t have to choose between a 0 and 1 before you know any information, but can wait until more information becomes clear and slowly ease into a decision based upon highest correlations, then you know that whatever “decision” you’re about to make becomes correct.

It’s slower, but more accurate. It’s precisely how the human brain works and how we intuitively make decisions every day.

Go forth and read, think, and let’s figure this thing out together.

- Sean

Why Consumer Apps Must Focu…

First, let’s define the lizard brain. It’s a Seth Godin term. You may have also heard it called the old brain. What they’re both referring to is our caveman/cavewomen brain that drove all our decisions. Sex, hunger, survival. These core human drivers that logic just can’t compete with.

I was having a short convo last night over text with a friend and we were debating whether it’s necessary to activate these core human drivers in new apps we’re building for consumers.

I would argue that we most definitely do. It’s how Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram all got started and kept going to get big.

Facebook, at first, let’s the kids at Harvard see who was single and who was in a relationship. It was the most engaging aspect of the platform (and page stalking still is). Twitter let you feel like a mini celebrity, the alpha dog. Snapchat lets you send silly or sexy selfies without fear or losing your place in society’s good graces (eg, modern survival + sex). And Instagram lets you show off only those things to the world that make you look greater than you are.

Sure, there are philosophies and true human connections that happen as a result of these networks, which is the reason I got into software in the first place. But, that only comes AFTER you have millions of people using the service. And you only get millions of people by offering a service that activates the lizard or old brain.

If it’s not connecting one human to another and doesn’t offer some penance to core ham behavior, then it just won’t be successful.

I lived through it with StoryApp. It was something that was philosophically pure but didn’t address sex, hunger, survival or celebrity every moment of interaction.

It’s a hard, and sometimes sad, lesson to learn. But you  can’t find gold until you first dig through some dirt.

- Sean

How to Identify A Market In…

Steve Jobs famously said in an All Things Digital interview that Apple only builds products in a market in its ascendency.

What he meant by that was they look for a consumer spending line that has a very steep slope upwards. The market size might be small today but it’s trending to be huge tomorrow.

Remember digital music and mp3s? Not a lot of people were buying MP3 players in 2000, but then came the iPod shortly after, jump starting the market, and now the iPhone nearly killed it.

But how do you identify one of these markets before the iPod comes out and sets the market on fire? Even better, how do you know when to build the iPod in the first place?

The short answer? Signals.

The long answer? It depends.

Seriously, it does. What industry are you playing in? Who are the customers? What’s wrong with the current products and solutions? How many people are actively buying these solutions? Have small informal groups come together to begin hacking solutions? Are people coming to you asking for help? How many times do you come across the topic in industry trade publications or the mass media at large? Are there competitors playing in the space or announcing solutions? And, is it something you’re an expert on and have the resources to build and service it? Do you have customer connections who are willing to give you money today to build it?

If the answer to all of these  questions are yes or can answer distinctively, then you might have an opportunity on your hand.

If any of them are no or ambiguous, you might want to wait.

- Sean

Apple’s Plan for the Wearab…

If you think Apple won’t play in this market because they already have the iPod, iPhone, iPad and computer lines you’ve forgotten about the innovator’s dilemma. Of course, by now (and if you read this blog), then you already knew that.

But, maybe you didn’t know that Tim Cook has been wearing a Nike Fuelband for years. As I’ve said many times before, it’s the most intimate piece of hardware I’ve ever owned. It goes with me to bed while I’m sleeping and with me in the shower when I’m getting clean.

Think about that for a moment. It’s damn near sexual. Sleeping together. Showering together.

No wonder Apple would want a piece of this consumer market. The iPhone stays on the nightstand when I sleep or shower and indoors when I go running. The Fuelband doesn’t. It comes with me.

But it’s a tiny market, you say, not a large market. Of course it is. Now, anyways. It’s new. But it’s on its ascendancy. And that’s the key point. They don’t play in speculative markets. Just like Apple TV. Imagine what will happen when they open the TV App Store. Or an App Store for the Apple iBand.

Yep, that’s what I’m calling it. It’s not going to be the iWatch. Too hard to spell compared to “band”. Watching is creepy. Besides, “band” is a musical double entendre and we all now how much Apple loves music.

So as Rihanna says, c’mon rude boy, giddy up.

How much would I charge? If I were Apple I’d start a bit higher than the Fuelband reference point. Maybe $199 for the premium version and $99 for the non-premium.

The premium would have an led display with biometric readouts and tracking. It’s resting right next to a pulse point of course. The basic version would just be basic calories and step counting, plus clock. Of course Apple’s the type of company that would focus on just making only 1 version right out of the gate so my gut goes with the premium version, then making it cheaper over time.

The wrist is a powerful area. It’s the only place where men have worn jewelry for decades. And men have been wearing that darn Lance Armstrong rubber band bracelet for almost a decade. Even with business suits to the office. I don’t think Apple would make a necklace or some other clip-on device. Men just wouldn’t wear it, and they’re most of the early adopters for tech, even if women are the early adopters for social services.

Want an Apple iBand? Stay tuned, you’re going to salivate over it. After all, they hired the former CEO of Burberry to run their retail and online stores and the former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent (a Chicago Booth alumn, holla!) to design it.

Personally, I can’t wait to strap one on.

- Sean

How to Be Married 42 Years

Two of my heroes have been married for 42 years today.

It’s the single most impressive thing I’ve witnessed every single day of my 32 years on this planet. Want to know how to do it right? Look no further than Kev-bone and Sal-gal.

They’ve never done anything without each other and have been each other’s and my rock for decades.

Most people have been marketed to so much that they think the wedding day is the most important moment. Or maybe the proposal. What I’ve witnessed is that society has it mostly wrong.

It’s not about one moment, but the trillion tiny moments strung together over time. It’s a line, not a dot. It’s the minor moments every day. It’s not the grand gestures that happen once a year. It’s about consistency.

If there’s one thing my parents taught me, it’s that to be successful, whether in your working life or love life, you need to string together a million little moments over decades.

It’s true. Love, like life, is a marathon.

Happy Anniversary mom and dad.

- Sean

Why Instagram Going Down Ye…

  1. Look at all the free press, blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates written about them. In a few weeks people will forget that the service even went down, but Instagram will still have the positive benefit of being front of mind for consumers.
  2. It turned people into crackheads. Pull to refresh. Pull to refresh. PULL TO REFRESH. Just give me my damn Instagram!!! Guess what that does. Makes it even more of a habit. Tell a smoker he or she can’t smoke. Tell a workout freak they can’t go to the gym. Tell a woman she can’t go shopping :) In each case, it makes them want it even more. Stickiness.
  3. When it finally came back up, there was a floodgate of held-back photos. The explosion of content was extreme and people were more likely to post again just so they could get their “fix”. This upped engagement and retention for them, at least in the short term, especially considering all the people saying “Instagram’s back up!” driving even more traffic to the service.

Side note:  this “going down” strategy (and I highly doubt it was a strategy) only works with already successful products. If your product goes down a lot and it’s not already amazing and incredibly sticky, it will hurt your brand and its perception with customers. In Instagram’s case, though, they can get away with it because they have an already incredible and highly engaging product. As always, focus on quality first. It solves all problems.