Monday, December 29, 2008

Digital Media & Web 2.0: Trends To Watch in 2009

One of the strongest drivers today—is creating new forms of communication, causing drastic market shifts, seeing massive innovation and opening up endless opportunities for entrepreneurs to both develop and take advantage of the technology.

Web Apps

Web apps are hot. But what does this really mean for entrepreneurs? Three things:

1. Lots of room for start-ups: The barriers to entry are low, but the way to stand out is by “solving a real customer problem,” says Michael Mace, principal at Rubicon Consulting. If a web app solves the user’s problem, he or she won’t hesitate to use it over traditional software.

2. Existing software companies beware: Because web apps replace the functions of traditional software programs sans occupied disk space,many PC users may decide to switch. So Rubicon advises adopting web app technologies and practices ASAP.

3. New tools for growing businesses: The myriad business tools in web app form, such as video, accounting, CRM and so on, can help businesses be more efficient, says Mace, saving them money and making various information accessible anytime, anywhere.

Mobile Apps

As more and more people rely on their mobile phones and the web moves to wireless, the mobile apps industry is growing by epic proportions. And the exciting part for entrepreneurs wanting to dial into this hot industry:

Millions in investment money is flying around.

• Apple and Google have launched third-party mobile app markets. Microsoft will release its version next year.

• The technology is only going to get better. “Mobile is a fresh canvas,” says Jim Brady, 51, founder of Earthcomber, a mobile app that combines mapping and user interest data.

Online Video

Folks, it’s not just about YouTube anymore: Growing businesses must use video. Business websites with video directly translate to increased traffic, says Benjamin Wayne, founder and CEO of Fliqz, a provider of plug-and-play video solutions.“You unlock markets you never had access to.”

There are lots of opportunities for start-ups, especially in the niches, says Wayne. But he warns that it’s very expensive and better suited for venture-backed businesses.

Mark Gray, 38, and Michael Hoydich, 37, saw a niche opportunity and launched San Francisco-based Unknown Vector Inc. last year. Their product is uvLayer, an interactive presentation layer for watching, organizing and sharing videos.Gray, who expects to have 1 million uvLayer users by next year, believes current video host sites are constrained and not user-focused, so he sees lots of room for innovation. Online video must deliver instant gratification to the user, says Gray, “allowing them to get [it] when and where they want.”


In the blogosphere, the opportunity for entrepreneurs lies more in the implementation of blogs than in starting a blog-related business. “People are thirsty for knowledge and want their voices to be heard,” says Karen Jackie, a blogging expert and principal at Content Robot. com, and starting a blog “is an easy way for small businesses to tell their story and [let customers join] the conversation.” Leveraging this powerful tool requires ongoing commitment, but blogging will become easier with evolving technology, multi-author efforts and mergers with social networks. Blog-powered websites will phase out the lonely, static corporate website.

Web 2.0 Consulting

If your Web 2.0 geek-speak is sub par, then maybe you should hire a knowledgeable outside party. But if you live for all that is Web 2.0, then actually being that knowledgeable outside party could be a profitable venture. That’s what Laurie Lohner, 40, did when she startedWi5 Connect with Rico Celis, 31, last year. “Everyone in the business community is scratching their heads,” she says. “They know things are important, but don’t know what it means for their business.”Her Provo, Utah-based firm helps clients employ Web 2.0 tools. Says Lohner, who projects 2008 sales of nearly $5million,“The companies that are going to succeed in the next three to five years are those that embrace Web 2.0’s power.”


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