"slingshot" proves Facebook still doesn’t understand photo messaging apps

Yesterday, Facebook published a new app called “Slingshot,” which is their second attempt at the photo messaging industry that Snapchat currently dominates. After the failure of Poke (which none of my friends knew even existed), they’re at it again with a supposedly “unique” take on ephemeral photo sharing.

In Slingshot, the only way to view the photos your friends share with you is to send a photo to them first. “Reply to Unlock,” it’s called. Witty and results in a great amount of content, right? Wrong. It’s direct evidence that Facebook still does not understand what they’re getting into.

Snapchat and its comparable competitors are messaging platforms at their core, not photo sharing applications. Yes, Snapchat just added their Stories feature which allows you to send out photos indiscriminately and indirectly to all of your friends. However, the core use case for Snapchat is a messaging platform - keeping in contact with your friends or even holding full-on conversations. Evidence of this core direction includes the new video chatting service, which is an extension of messaging.

Slingshot, on the other hand, sees Snapchat as a photo sharing competitor just like Instagram or even Facebook’s built-in Photos service. When you log in to Facebook, you can see a bunch of pictures that your friends posted with you not in mind.

The “Reply to Unlock” requires you to send a message before even seeing what the other person sent. This is the messaging platform best suited for psychics. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and answered their question or replied to them before they even said anything? Didn’t think so.

Snapchat is succeeding and will continue to succeed in this new breed of messaging applications. Replying to a photo message after you receive one is the natural experience.

Can you imagine if you had to post content to Facebook.com before you could go through your News Feed of items that people posted without truly thinking of you or wondering if you really cared about the content? That’s the approach that Slingshot is taking. It’s bound to fail due to, once again, Facebook’s lack of ability to grasp the true characteristics of Snapchat’s industry and even the category (photo messaging) that Snapchat sits in.

Provide solutions, not answers

Over the past week, I’ve been on the hunt for an office location for Luminary. We’ve been growing and it’s time to collaborate in an office together.

We found one location in the Scottsdale airpark area and contacted the broker for the building. I was told that the broker was unavailable until “early next week” (this week) and he’d contact me once he was back.

Today, I emailed them asking for an update and received the following email from his assistant:

"[The broker] has advised this property is in lease negotiations for the full site and therefore no longer available. Thank you for your consideration." 

No mention of another location. No mention of a follow-up. No mention of the next steps. No mention of a solution.

As a provider of services, your job is to provide solutions for people. My problem is that I need an office space. The solution is an office space - even if that means the broker refers me to someone else or lets me know about other available space. 

When you provide solutions, there’s a good chance they’ll call you again even if you refer them to someone else. You are a problem solver, and that’s what customers look for.

I met with a client at a coffee shop to go through his PHP business application that has been experiencing some complex bugs over the past couple of weeks.

A lady a couple tables over waves at us and says, “Fixing his computer? Sign me up! I need help, too!”

best new ios 7.1 feature: “HFP” option

Prior to iOS 7.1, your iPhone had to be your car audio system’s selected source in order for navigation prompts to play. Now, there is an option for “HFP Prompts” which allows you to listen to audio through another source (terrestrial radio stations, etc) but interrupt the other source whenever a new prompt is to be heard.

To set this option, connect to your car’s bluetooth system and start navigation. Press the sound icon on the bottom right and allow HFP Prompts.

Find me on Twitter: @swb1192


Don’t Hire Fanboys

My friend hates Apple. He uses an android phone and loves upgrading it whenever anyone comes out, and is never afraid to whip out his Windows computer. But one day he had a confession.

“I’m applying to work at AppleCare.”

Wait, what? 

Is he only going to be there to sabotage the company? To make fun of its customers and see if you can convert them over to Android?

“I got the job.”

Months went by. He still hated Apple, iOS, annd all that the company stands for.

“I just had my review. I’m one of the top reps in my region.”

Wait, what?

Even though my friend had no interest in Apple, he managed to represent the company well and please its customers with great support. It seems so backwards, yet it follows right along with the advice that I believe:

“Don’t hire fanboys.”

No, this advice doesn’t mean that you should go out and hire people that completely disagree with you, and are in fact fanboys of your competitors. Rather, there are a multitude of benefits that come with the hiring staff members that range from loving your company to those who are perhaps annoyed with its overarching morals or its product lines. The one kind of person that a company cannot afford is a fanboy.

A fanboy believes that a company has done no wrong, is doing no wrong, and cannot do wrong in the future. A fanboy does not believe that the company should change or reconsider any of its products or its way of business. Of course, this stifles innovation. This hinders the company, which now gives a biweekly paycheck to a corporate cheerleader, not a worker who believes in the company but understands that the market is always changing and the company always has to adapt.

The better employee, rather, is the one who cares about what the company stands for, but sees the need for constant scrutiny of all aspects of the company. That’s the employee you want to hire and, most importantly, that’s the employee you should be.

pricing and numbers | a wedding ring mini-case study

My plan was to start blogging a lot - possibly even every day - and then I managed to get into a nice motorcycle accident and break my thumb at a place in my hand where I can’t even use my left hand right now. Thankfully, dictation is my friend so I’ve been able to speak my e-mails for the past week and this blog post will be purely spoken as well.

With that preface out-of-the-way, I’d like to analyze a peculiar wedding ring commercial that I saw last week. At the end of the commercial, the contact information for the jeweler was displayed alongside the range of their pricing.

"$2,599.99 to $9,000"

That’s odd, and quite inconsistent… right? Just a gaff by the commercial’s editor? Perhaps not.

Usually retail businesses will lean towards the “xx.99” pricing model, since the brain automatically thinks that it’s a lower price even know it’s only a penny cheaper than the next dollar or 100 or thousand.

However, this retailer only chose to use this pricing technique in one pricepoint. It’s quite deliberate, actually, when you consider the differences between each potential customer.

The $2,599.99 customer is looking for a wedding ring that costs a large amount, But still does not break the bank. While obviously that is still a large amount of money, this customer is looking for affordable quality. They are one who may look for special deals at the grocery store or negotiate for hours at the car dealership.

The $9,000 customer believes that the more money they spend on A ring, the more their future wife-to-be will appreciate it. They are the ones who aren’t apt to purchase generic brands, even if there exactly comparable to brand-name products. These are the customers who see large prices equivalent to high quality and, perhaps, an expression of their love.

Applying this case study

If you’re a business owner and get to set your own prices, consider where your target market resides in this wedding ring case study. No, it’s not just about whether to end your prices with .99 or .00. 

It’s also a matter of considering your prices and how they reflect upon your potential Quality and the experience your customer will receive. Over five years ago, when I first started building websites for clients as a high school student, I charged just $20 an hour. I thought that businesses of all sizes would see me as affordable and choose me as their developer. I soon learned that some leads were calling me “too cheap” and chose more expensive developers solely because they charged more.

Your hourly rates and the prices you charge are a reflection of your experience, quality, and the value you will bring to your clients - whether you like it or not. Personally, I was actually able to gain additional clients once I raised my rates. 

In a non-services market where the supply vs demand chart is a bit more static and the overall product experience and quality is the same from retailer to retaler, that increase will rarely happen. However, all service-based businesses should return to their rates every few months and consider how they compare to the brand’s desired image.

Perhaps it’s time for you to charge $1,000/hour like some have chosen to do

updating my résumé

As of December 31, I am no longer a part of 9to5Mac/9to5Google. My participation on the site definitely tapered over the past few months since I left the full-time post, but an official goodbye felt more impactful at this time. Leaving my 9 to 5 job and going full-force with my new project, addiction.to.

Most of my Twitter followers don’t even know about my main position as CEO of Luminary Web Strategies, a website development and consulting firm. I’m usually not one for self-promotion or nagging followers to purchase my products, so my work at Luminary has been pretty quiet. 

However, the team at Luminary is growing and we’re building tremendous products for our clients. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the work of my project manager, Matt Chinander, and how he’s worked so diligently with our contractors and clients to move the company forward while I spend many of my days and nights focused on this new project.

About addiction.to:

Our life shouldn’t be revolved around technology. Instead, technology should be amplifying the beauty of life and adding value to what we do. 

In addition, there has been a push for more technologies that are temporary/”ephemeral” or apps that provide us with benefits beyond the operating systems they run on. 

Addiction.to is a social network where you can feed your [nightlife / sports / hobbies / music] addictions in real life with fellow addicts. Once you sign up, put in a couple of your addictions and follow your friends, you’ll be notified whenever a nearby get-together related to your addictions is created.



Gathering a bunch of friends to play kickball has always been impossible, even with all of the event tools out there. None of your friends are as passionate about kickball as you at the same exact time. With addiction.to, you can create a get-together and automatically notify all nearby kickball addicts so they can join you tomorrow morning. Just like that, you’re making new friends and enjoying what you love right at this moment.

Who are you?

If you try to figure out who someone is based off the things they like on Facebook, it’s impossible. The value of a like has diminished into nothing. With addiction.to, you can only have ten addictions at a time. If you want to add another, you’ll need to remove one of your ten.

As a result, addictions have tremendous value. You can find out exactly who someone is and what they care about right at this moment by scanning their list.

The launch

Addiction.to will be launching February 13 at Arizona State University exclusively. If you’d like addiction.to at your school, please vote for your school and tell your friends.

To support me and addiction.to, please follow @addictiontoapp on Twitter. Thanks for all of your help - I am grateful for everyone helping to make this a successful transition for me.

webhosting gone wrong

My client’s old webhost was a one-man shop who reselled hosting through another service provider. Unfortunately, the man died suddenly and, as a result, the service provider’s bills went unpaid.

From there, my client contacted the service provider directly and paid the reseller’s bill to make sure that their site was restored. In addition, the provider also granted them full access and ownership of ALL of the other reseller’s client sites and accounts.

They are now looking for a new hosting environment, and I’ll be taking the time to contact all of the other site owners and giving them information about how to buy their own hosting environments. It could have been much worse for them - their domains could have been stolen or their websites defaced if they were put in the wrong hands.

Hosting gone wrong indeed. Amazing how messy things can get.

'it's not a bug, it's a feature'

One has to wonder if iTunes Match and iTunes Radio have so many bugs that stop playback to ensure that you’re still actively listening. Since every played song costs them money, it could be that intermittently flaking and being unable to load songs until you press the ‘next’ button could be a feature rather than a bug. Gotta keep those expenses down.