Posts Tagged 'Products'

User interface and content discovery in video sharing applications

I’ve came across TVTonic after watching an interview with their president on The ScobleShow (great show by the way, add it to your favorite RSS reader).

TV-Tonic has a media center approach to user interface, as you can see in the screenshot below:


As such, the interface itself is clean and aimed at remote control usage. It offers thematic channels, that are combined of specific shows (that from some strange reason are also called shows) . It has a small client that mainly handles video prefetching, and the user interface itself is based on Internet Explorer.

Democracy player has an application that has full functionality as a guide, video downloader/prefetcher and channel guide. Its user interface looks like a website, with various interest area, as you can see from this screenshot:


Who cares?

As I’ve mentioned before, content discovery is a major problem in the industry today. There are a lot of shows, in various topics, and new ones are added daily. How can a user find a new show to watch?

The fact is that I’ve almost never managed to find new interesting shows in Democracy guide. the UI is too clattered, to many moving objects are distracting my attention, and the guide never fits the screen. Two minutes after installing TV-Tonic, I’ve found 7 new ones (I will write about them in later posts). All due to the clear and clean interface, strong channel distinction, and easy signup to new shows. This fact should not be taken lightly.

My main takeaway from this experience:

1. In some cases, less is more, especially when talking about UI

2. Always try new video sharing sites and products. There is still room for innovation in this space.

3. Sometimes complicated issues such as content discovery have simple solution

4. Watch the Scobleshow – you never know what will happen next 🙂

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Update: Jaxtr – Free calls made better

Yesterday I talked for almost half an hour with Jeff for free. No news here. But the fact that he called me from his mobile to my mobile, without the aid of computer – that’s something else.

Jeff and I were using a new service called Jaxtr (can someone please explain to me why all these new companies have to find strange, unpronounceable, stupidly spelled names?). The service is very simple – you sign in, invite your friends (yes, I know, another annoying 2.0 feature), and get a local number to call your friend. From that point onward, you don’t need to use the computer anymore – just call the number and you get to the guy you want, in local call fee. It is easier to use than Skype, cause you don’t need a client, and simpler than Jah-Jah cause you don’t need to go to the website every time you want to make a call.

Cool isn’t it?

Well, nothing is perfect, as they have a strange credit system. When I signed up, I got 100 credits. After Jeff and I talked, I had zero credits. Jeff called me – and I lost my credits. Mmm… a bit stupid isn’t it? If these guys want me to use their service, I shouldn’t pay if someone calls me – it should be the other way around. For years, one of the major obstacles for mobile adoption in Israel was the fact that call receivers had to pay for each incoming call. That caused people to ask their friends not to call them on their mobile. Not really the best way to encourage usage isn’t it?

Another interesting question is how these guys are going to make money. It’s hard to find a reason to buy new credits, now that the free ones are used. Jaxtr have cool widgets for blogs and email signatures – but so do Skype. So, if I want someone to call me, I just put my Skype widget (as you can see already on the right) and get the same functionality. I hope that this is not another free-as-a-business-model companies.

Anyway, now I can get 20 credits for each new person I invite as my friend. If you are interested in this service, or calling me and wasting my credits, please leave a comment below and I’ll happily invite you.

And if anyone from Jaxtr is reading this post – I’d love to have a short chat with you guys, and better understand your business.

Notes – Jeff wrote about these guys, and also Mike. The company is stressing their social network affiliation as main value proposition and differentiation. I am still not convinced that they have a real edge on Skype and others.

Update – Konstantin Guericke, Jaxtr CEO left me a comment several hours after the original post was published:

“…Free calling is a feature of jaxtr, but so are things like being able to receive calls on your phone while keeping your number private and controlling who gets through to voicemail and who gets to ring your phone (and which phone). Also, you can do more with your widget than just receiving calls–for example, you can record an update in your own voice. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but some of our users like this as much as the “Skype without the hassles” feature. Like LinkedIn, we plan to offer our basic service for free, but charge for premium features (and integrate some advertising to support the free version)…”

Scoble interviewed him here .

Paris Hilton

Hey, Even I Can Use Jaxtr!

First look (for me) at Microsoft Deepfish – Cool Unfriendly Technology

Deepfish is a new mobile browser from Microsoft, aimed at their windows mobile edition and Smartphone OS. I was lucky to get a test version and play with it a bit:

Installation – I had to install .net framework on my laptop before I could install the application on my synced i-mate KJAM.

First activation – worked like a charm, though the activation code is 16 digits. I had to use my fingernail in order to type it. Why can’t they do shorter codes?

Usability – the application is based on a nice concept. When you download a page, you get a lossy-compressed version of it, so it pops up quickly. Then you can zoom on specific parts of the page, using the phones joystick and tapping the screen.

It really looks great on paper (or post) but after working with it for 10 minutes I gave up. It took me a lot of time to understand how to operate the zoom window, and it is not intuitive at all (contrary to their description). Also, the concept of zooming around the page is not the way I am used to read web pages. A web page is not a newspaper, where you can zoom on specific articles. In most cases you want to see the full landing page, before reading specific article. In the lossy compression mode, it is impossible to read texts, and you can hardly identify faces in pictures. Furthermore, links behave inconsistently- not all links are working, and when tapping the zoom window, sometimes you find yourself in linked pages.

I played with it for a while, using GPRS network, and the first impression is very good, because sites appear almost instantly (in GPRS terms). But still, the zooming mechanism just gave me sea-sickness.

More to come…

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