@Jennifer and @Jess — the FreeStyle machines are great, and I’ve seen a ton of them, particularly in movie theaters. I assume they’re not in wider distribution yet because they’re more expensive to install. The real value of these machines is not to allow customers to mix Sprite and Diet Coke (yikes!), but rather to gather really granular data on customer preferences by time of day, flavor mix (maybe Cherry Coke is most popular fruit Coke, but Orange Sprite is most popular Sprite beverage) at low cost — Coca Cola produces all of these syrups anyway, having them in one dispenser is easy, but making the investment to bottle and market a certain combination could be costly without the data to back up demand first.
Love this, and the idea of splitting up math into smaller pieces. This makes me think of the process of studying for the math component of the GMAT — because the GMAT is an adaptive online test, many of the training programs can break down a precise area that you need to focus on (e.g. you keep making fraction mistakes across various types of questions). I remember thinking that that kind of focus would have been helpful earlier in my math education, and that sounds exactly like what KnowRe is doing.
I disagree with AJ that expanding to other disciplines would make it commoditized… In fact I think if you could expand into language skill and pinpoint repeated mistakes, be they punctuation, grammar, conjugation, etc., this could be of tremendous value, especially if paired with other online learning tools (i.e. Khan Academy).
It is interesting to me that most visitors even know about this (I went to the Guggenheim this summer and had no idea these beacons were in place). I feel if someone has taken the effort to download the museum app they probably don’t mind getting push notifications, and if they haven’t downloaded it, the museum can gain data by tracking them without ever letting on that they are doing so… I think privacy concerns of this type are overblown — no one cares which piece of art you slow down to observe on an individual basis, but in aggregate the data becomes a powerful tool for design and marketing, as you mention.
How cool! As you mention in your post, I usually am pretty annoyed about filling in the word-identification forms; I wonder how many users drop out of a purchase or sign-up puzzle at that stage (probably small, but still significant on aggregate) for that very reason. I also wonder whether ReCaptcha could both decrease annoyance and capture even greater value by somehow publicizing or informing users that they are helping to digitize the world’s books. A simple one-liner with hyperlink to a different site could lead users to a page where they can de-code even more text (for free) should they want to help.
Very cool – had never heard of GasBuddy before, but it seems to fit really well into the Waze type of app. As a consumer, what I think is missing from their model is some kind of internal calculator that tells me if it’s worth driving 10 minutes out of the way for a few cents of savings… If I could input my car make and model and indicate my gas mileage, it would be amazing for the app to calculate for example that net of additional driving to a station that’s out of your way, you could save $2.34 on your fill-up.
I also wonder whether gas stations might be interested to use the app information to influence their own pricing decisions — would a competitor under-price a nearby gas station upon getting an update on the app for example?
Great post, and absolutely agree with you that the quantity vs. quality trade-off was a big part of their downfall. Do you think perhaps the platform was too broad in allowing would-be inventors to submit designs for almost anything? It seems to me that if large manufacturing companies wanted to jump-start some of their innovation or manufacturing pipeline, Quirky could have been more focused by asking for submissions in a particular area (e.g. improve vacuum cleaners, or toaster ovens).
I have heard of (and used!) Duolingo, but had no idea they sold translation services to large companies — how cool and compelling. I feel like this topic could be an interesting lead-in to our crowdsourcing module…
Traditional network effects absolutely make sense for malls, but the way you’ve described MOA, I begin to wonder whether e-commerce really is their biggest threat. I confess I don’t know Minneapolis very well, but could it be that there simply isn’t another indoor space (important for cold climates!) for people to socialize? Would this job be fulfilled in other cities by outdoor spaces (e.g. parks in SF), or other amusement destinations (e.g. movie theaters). If that is the case, I would be less worried about Amazon cannibalizing sales or offering retail coupons, and more interested in continuing to attract the latest revenue-generating attractions that can’t be replicated online.
I didn’t know that WeWork had started offering other value-added services to its members, but that makes a ton of sense — there are pretty low barriers to entry to just providing a physical space (judging by the number of people on laptops in various coffee shops, I would stay that’s still the preferred free alternative), but making their platform more ‘sticky’ by adding other complementers is an interesting business move. You’ve identified fixed real estate expense as the largest business risk; could WeWork take on less of this risk somehow, and modularize the spaces it leases?
I’m not surprised to hear that Pinterest is so much more profitable to advertisers than Facebook because most content on Pinterest is explicitly items to be purchased, creating a direct value link. Is Pinterest’s platform unique enough to survive a full-on assault by Facebook? If Facebook were to offer pinning ability, would they not ultimately win out by having a larger current installed base?
My first reaction to this post was also the average basket size… So many of my grocery purchases are based on browsing aisles, and finding inspiration there. This argument is similar to the one people make about e-books replacing bookstores and libraries: though there is a lot of adoption, there’s nothing that quite replaced scanning a row of books to find something new, and glancing through the first few pages before you take the plunge to purchase. I wonder if Instacart and other food delivery apps could find ways around this, perhaps with a ‘recipe suggestion’ algorithm? For example, if you put kale and dates if your basket, it might suggest you make a date and kale salad with almonds and goat cheese, and perhaps even offer you a $0.50 discount on those items.
Great read – do you think Weight Watchers was stuck in the middle ground of not being fully digital/mobile (i.e. FitBit), and not being fully physical (i.e. meal delivery plans such as Jenny Craig). Assuming people will continue to struggle to eat well (which they almost certainly will) even as they gain better digital tools to track their physical activity, what role could/should digital play in evolving the nutrition landscape?
News of the merger is still very recent, but Murdoch has publicly stated *so far* that he doesn’t intend to mess with or interfere with the editorial content of NGS – in theory, Fox’s extensive resources could help spread NGS content even further, but of course that’s still to be seen…
Interesting idea, but how defensible is this? Beyond the curbside pick-up/ drop-off (which you’ve identified as one of the bigger pain points of scaling this model), I don’t see anything that a giant like Avis or Hertz couldn’t replicate very easily. If one of these larger companies were to roll out a more user-friendly booking app that offers a “default” car rental option with all features listed above, wouldn’t they easily win the war on price, and cost through their scale?
I wonder — does trying to incorporate digital into Starbucks’ existing operating system risk alienating current ‘traditional’ customers? Most Starbucks have many 2-3 baristas making drinks at any given time; if I walk into Starbucks 10 minutes before a meeting and see 20 people ahead of me in line, I know to turn around and leave. In a world where 50%+ of consumers are now ordering their drinks on the app, I might choose to stay in line because I only see 5 people ahead of me, when in reality there are still 20 drinks ‘ahead of me’ in the queue. I can guarantee that I will storm out very pissed when my barista is making drinks for other people who aren’t there. So the question for me is: do most people WANT to order their drinks on an app, and is Starbucks willing to lose a big portion of consumers who aren’t?