Tron Lightcycles, here we come!

Just saw on C|Net today that a company in Germany had the brilliant (ha-ha) idea of adding a LED layer UNDER a normal gym floor so that you could change the layout to support any sport. They also noted you could use it for advertising…but I am almost gaga with ideas for gaming. They claim the image can change…assuming the frame rate is not horrible (15 fps) you could do some amazing things.

They joked about Tron’s lightcycles (which would be insanely cool), but off the top of my head thought up about a half-dozen others:
1. Positions – Have new players be able to see rotation positions on the “floor” with circles with their jersey number on it.
2. Hit Persistence – Allow players of fast sports to see a persistent mark of the “hit” of the ball (imagine tennis and volleyball) if you have a tie in with cameras or hyper-accurate detection on the ball.
3. Timing – Allow people to see different current “records” on the floor such as showing longest 3 point shot, or a moving line while you are running similar to the olympics…but showing school record or specific split time.
4. Polar integration – imagine a situation where each player had a Polar heart-rate detection device on and you could “see” as a coach how winded players were and adjust appropriately.
5. Dancing – imagine how the old paper “footsteps” could be used to help pre-marriage nerves go away :-)…or (god save us) a GIANT game of Dance Dance Revolution.
6. Board Games – imagine how much fun you could have in a “real world” board game where you got to play the pieces. Giant “Chutes and Ladders” could be a killer game for young kids.

Minimum vs. Maximum Viable Product

There has been a great debate going on in the last year about the “philosophy” of product development for internet products. There are basically 2 camps:
1. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – as championed by Agile Development, this concept is that you should create and launch the minimum version of your product to get user feedback to ensure you are focusing on the core idea, and not the side features. Doing this also ensure that you add the side features your users need…not what you THINK they need.
2. Maximum Viable Product – as championed by companies like Apple…the idea is to plan, plan and plan and then release the “right” product. The idea here is that only by focusing on the full package can you really disrupt a space or create real innovation.

has had several great threads on this.

My impression is the you really have a deep understanding of your space, and technology megatrends in order to understand what you real goal with a product is.

Early Concept – If you don’t know if your core offering makes sense…you can make a great case for minimum products. They help you move swiftly to understand what the real value is. I think companies like Zynga did great job of this early in the social gaming space.

If you know the core offering is stable, but you are bringing a new advantage to play, then doing Maximum can allow for an “integrated” advantage. Apple is a great example here. You have to remember that they didn’t INVENT mp3 players, or smart phones…or decent laptops. Their value was the overall experience and ease of use which they melded together into a 1+1=3 solution.

Once you’ve launched I think you could make a case (if you could afford it) to do both. Have the major releases done by a Maximum team…but the point releases done by a very customer-focused Minimum team.

Playing with analytics again…2012 version

So, a long time ago in a galaxy far away…in a place called Infonautics…I helped with “web-bug” based analytics. Back then it was HitBox vs. WebTrends. Web Trends would crawl our Apache logs every night…a painful process that took hours and if you messed it up, you were really sad (right Chris?). The funny part was that we were quickly getting to the point where it was going to take 24 hours to process the daily logs, which for you math whizzes out there means we’d never finish…ever.

In our quest to solve this we looked at the obvious: faster machines, smaller logs, etc…but we didn’t like the options. Enter HitBox, who was doing a neat trick (back in 1998) of having a tiny chunk of javascript in your template that would open an image from their site. But the image on their site was tied to their (monster) backend system that would distribute logging to a database that gave you (gasp) REAL-TIME analytics. Similar to good marketing…at the time “real-time” was 15 minute delay, which did feel like real-time to us then. Little did I know then that this was going to eclipse the world of WebTrends, effectively shattering the former innovator, and one of the first publicly traded internet software companies.

Fast-forward almost 10 years and I’m working as head of product at Oberon Media, where we were an early adopter of Omniture, who really perfected the web-bug method. Now, the world had evolved and the commerce-focused features allowed a huge range of features. Competing with the smaller-scale Google Analytics, Omniture was rapidly getting to the point of being our real data warehouse…foretelling the rise of this technique as a method for “Big Data”. Like all great companies, Omniture leveraged their success by getting purchased by Adobe about 2 years ago for a LOT of money…but leaving the market in a place where the new giant Google (fresh after buying and closing open-source leader urchin) has now taken pole position. But, there is a new wave arising of “niche” players who are tying to chip away at them.

Into this frucus I’m now looking at the players again to see who is the best analytics provider for a web-application company who wants to “buy” analytics for embedding into a SaaS solution.

Still in progress, but I’ve reviewed:

1. Google Analytics

2. Piwik