Tag Archives: Books

E-Commerce Platform Maturity: Reviews, and MP3 Cloud Players

I have read a few complaints on line regarding book reviews, specifically, it seems most  E-Commerce platforms have given the user carte blanche on entering the rating products, i.e. they have the ability to rate any product, without proof the’ve read / used the product.  This approach does encourage the user to have a user friendly experience to add ratings, as users are mostly discouraged to populate any surveys, i.e. time is money, and people just rather do something else, unless they are very motivated.  Some of those motivation reasons: they are passionate about a book, for example, with great distain, or passionate about the material, typically passionate readers.  Historically, in the early days of E-Commerce platforms, ease of entry of ratings, and encouragement was the mantra to make sure users are able to guide fellow users.  We now have matured E-Commerce platforms that don’t necessarily need, en-mass ratings, i.e. sales tool to show potential buyers that people buy from their site.  An issue has arisen especially with amateur writers that have spawned up everywhere, or even with mature publishers, and social media, just like we see in negative political campaigns, mud slinging, so justified, some not, or at least may be interpretative, it gives less credibility to the politician, or book, in this case, and not necessarily for the correct reasons.

It sounds like mature E-Commerce platforms should probably start taking the high road, and give confidence and credibility to the reviews, and not just by relying on standard deviation, and outliers on the bell curve being negated.  This is also amplified with products that have fewer reviewers, i.e. budding authors trying to get their break.

One suggestion, for a book, for example, an author may provide a list of 100 questions or so regarding parts of the content of the book, and before being allowed to rate the book, the reviewer must answer three random multiple choice questions correctly.  Of course, they may have at least two or three sets of questions to press on with the review.  The author, especially the startup authors, would probably be encouraged to write the questions, and attempt to deflect invalid mud slinging, i.e. person never read the book.

The other topic I wanted to touch upon was Amazon’s MP3 Cloud Player.  I have come to rely on Amazon’s player, and my kids use it on their iPod, iPads, computers, etc.  Two small issues I have at least on the Mac Safari browser, I think it also is lacking on my Windows computer, a) I cannot sort any of the columns within any of the filters.  I am unable to select Artist, for example, in a playlist, and resort by the artist name, as one example.  I may be doing something wrong, but it seems like a basic feature.  b) my own personal ratings, like we see on iTunes do not appear as a column that I can sort upon, as well as other meta data available, seems skimpy, both to enter, as well as to sort upon.  As this product seems to have matured to the point to justify it’s existence seems only logical these two features must be on their road map.  I won’t rip the Cloud Player apart, because all fairness, Apple iTunes had a leap on these folks.  It would be cool to actually see lyrics automatically imported with purchased songs.  I haven’t checked iTunes in awhile.  At some point, Apple made a free form text field where you could copy in the lyrics, but you would need to paste in the lyrics yourself.  Yes, there are third party apps that display it, and they actually follow along on the lyrics, which is super cool, but nothing in the cloud player itself.  Oh, well, my two bits for the day.  Note:  this takes into account the premium player only offers additional storage, as implied by their sales and marketing, not features

Ride the Near Field Communications Wave

At the 2013 Computer Electronics Show, there were only a few vendors touting Near Field Communications (NFC) technology integrated into their products, that I could see, and I did try to get to as many booths as possible.  Last week I mentioned people in Korea use NFC business cards to exchange and play music on their devices.  After that post, I did see a company’s tweet saying they were going to get into the distribution of NFC cards to store music, movies, and more, as the advertisement stated.  The benefits of this technology over Bluetooth simply low / near null power signature, inexpensive relative to the Bluetooth technology, and the potential shortcoming is it has a very short range.  Smartphones equipped with NFC can be paired with NFC tags or stickers which can be programmed by NFC apps to automate tasks.   NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. NFC peer-to-peer communication is possible, provided both devices are powered. NFC tags contain data and are typically read-only, but may be rewriteable.  I also had a conversation with someone that implied the storage on the NFC tags may be limited, so an easy workaround would be to store unique keys, such as a reverse domain name, and other pointers to data in a structured storage data web cloud, which is hosted by any number of verticals.

In this post I wanted to highlight a few potential uses.  Unfortunately, this is the second time I am writing the blog post because the first one didn’t get saved.  Annoying!

Automobile Servicing

Instead of the sticker a car dealer, or your mechanic, may put in the top left hand corner of your window to remind you to change your oil at N miles or Z months, an NFC sticker can be encrypted with your car’s VIN number, the complete required and suggested maintenance for the vehicle, as well as when and by who these services were completed.  The NFC Sticker may be placed in the console where you might place your smartphone.

Food Storage, Food Savings

On your refrigerator, you may place an NFC Sticker, that is overlaid on a magnet.  Every time food is removed or placed in a refrigerator or pantry, you can swipe the food NFC tagged with the cooperation of the food manufacturer.  An average usage model can be derived and encoded on the tag, as well as a proximity timer.  If the food item, such as milk, is not returned to refregerator within a given period of time, a notification on your smartphone, and/or a depreciation counter can be reprogrammed on the NFC tag to indicate approximate usage.  Once the item needs to be restocked, or placed back, a notification may appear on your smartphone, and/or added to your shopping list.

Books, Music, and Movie Samplings from a Store

If you’re in a store, and pass by a book, music CD or movie DVD, an NFC tag may contain a URL to download a PDF sample of the book, a music track from the CD, only available in stores through use of the NFC tag, or bonus material from a movie that only can be accessed through the NFC tag in stores to drive traffic into a store.  I specified a URL to link to the content because the current specification seems to limit the amount of storage on the NFC tag, however, specs can change, and I might be a bit conservative on the amount of storage necessary, but with a ‘secure cloud’, the storage shouldn’t be a factor. Any information on the NFC tag can simply be pointers to unique keys to data in tables within the cloud, such as a VIN number, or other generated unique keys.

Accessory Matching

Imagine your in a store by yourself, and trying on an article of clothing, if the dress, pants or skirt contains an NFC tag, you can touch it with your smartphone, which links you to either advisors or AI,  perhaps sponsored by a fashion magazine, that may provide you with with ideas to match that article of clothing, such as complementary accessories.  This could be accomplished through a video camera, front facing camera, perhaps ads float across the bottom of the screen, and/or it could be a subscription service.

 Meeting People / Dating

If you find yourself in a crowed bar, or party, and want to exchange information with someone you just met,  you have an NFC tag or sticker placed on the back of your hand, or on your purse, when bumped, will automatically exchange a brief bio, picture, likes, interests, and an email address.  If your smartphone is GPS compatible, the data is loaded onto your smartphone with the captured NFC tag data in addition to the location, so you never ask, so where did I meet this guy again?

Supply Chain Management and Shortages

Every person in the supply chain from manufacturer to retailers may have an NFC tag embedded within their employee identification tag, and as each individual handles the product or package, they swipe their card to the other NFC tag, and their employee unique identifier, along with date time and location (optional) may be rewrite the tag to append the new information.  This may prevent product shortages, as well as help further optimize the supply chain.