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E-book Battlefield: Kindle DX ($489) vs iPad ($499)

by Vincent Chan on Jan 28, 2010

Early last year, Tim O’Reilly boldly predicted that the Kindle could be gone within two or three years. After the iPad announcement today, it seems that his words will soon become reality.

With the same 9.7″ display size and similar prices, it’s hard to believe anyone would pick Kindle DX ahead of Apple iPad. And the biggest weakness of Kindle is the file format. Amazon forced publishers to user their own file format which can be read on Kindle only. Basically, all your books will be locked to Amazon which is the single point of purchase.

Tim O’Reilly believes:

what Amazon seems to have missed is the important role that “free” played in the success of the iPod. People didn’t populate their iPods solely with music purchased from Apple. It was easy for them to “rip” their own CDs into the standard mp3 file format and load their entire music collection onto the device.

On the other hand, iPad is using the ePub format, the open format from the International Digital Publishing Forum which is supported by a lot of e-book readers.

In this way, Apple can play the same game with their new iBooks Store. Although there is no easy way to “rip” a book, customers can load some of their own epub-based e-books purchased from other vendors onto the iPad. So no single bookstore will take over the e-book world.

According to Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild:

Amazon is selling e-books at a loss in order to spur Kindle sales – it sells books for $10, but pays publishers more than $10 per copy. But once Amazon gets control of the market, it will be free to impose price reductions – to force publishers to reduce their e-book rates to less than $9.99.

I am sure publishers don’t want to see that happening.

Although Amazon is the pioneer in this category, it seems they still haven’t found the best way to sell digital contents effectively. They should know that if books are not shareable and controlled by one vendor, the marketplace for books will be diminished eventually.

Both Amazon and Apple want to become the nation’s largest e-book retailer. Both of them have revolutionized their own markets with amazing innovations. Who will win this battle at last? While Amazon is the leader now, I am sure Apple will catch up soon, very soon.


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Preview: Backbone – a better way for small business to manage workforce

by Vincent Chan on Jan 13, 2010

It’s not a secret that we are working on something cool in the past few months. I am extremely excited to tell you that our little startup company, Primitus, is almost ready to launch. One year ago, Primitus was only a dream. But thanks to our investors, it’s becoming a reality now. After getting some early feedback on Hacker News, we have decided to build our first product – “Backbone“, an easy and affordable Human Resource Management tool for small business. Today we announced that we’re just few days out from beta release.

Let’s show you some of the basic features, benefits, and a few screenshots.

Why?

We believe that traditional enterprise HR management systems are too expensive and difficult to use, especially for small business. Because of these reasons, many small businesses hack together solutions for many of their HR problems with Microsoft Excel, pen and paper, or nothing at all. We want to reduce the massive technology gap between large enterprise and small business.

In this talent age, companies with the best talent win. Small business cannot ignore the importance of talent management. We want to simplifies HR management so small businesses can focus on developing their talented workforce.

Unlike complicated enterprise HR systems, Backbone is built for small business from day one. It was created to make solving simple HR issues simple. We looked at the needs of small business managers, included the best features, and take away everything else.

Benefits

Below are some of the goals we want to accomplish with Backbone:

Help small businesses gain control over and do more with their workforce
– Give managers rich insights into their workforce
– Save time, improving HR operational efficiency
– Foster a more inclusive and collaborative culture
– Better retention and higher productivity
– Make information about company activities more visible, accessible and measurable

Twitter-like Microblogging Feature

Like Twitter and Yammer, Backbone allows users to post updates of their activities, follow others’ updates, and share great resources. Unlike Twitter and Yammer, Backbone also combines other business activities into the news feed. In the Backbone’s activity feed, users not only can see group and personal updates but also other business activities happening inside the application. In this way, managers can monitor all activity in one single place.

Employees Database 2.0

In the web 2.0 era, the old boring employees’ profiles don’t work anymore. Backbone tries to redefine what a worker’s profile should be. We make it easy to identify employees’ hidden talents through the tagging feature.

Analytic Dashboard

Our analytic reports help small business better understanding of HR’s overall performance and employee productivity.

Expense Reporting

Our application enable workers to take care of their own expense reports. Moreover, Backbone streamlines the processes for submitting and approving employee leave. Employees use it to view their absence balances, record their time off requests, and track the approval process of their requests. And managers can look at employees’ current, planned, and historical absence events; monitor absence trends as a predictor for employee engagement.

And more…

Company goals management, group management…etc.

Interested?

If you want to sign up for the private beta, simply go to our pre-launch page and fill out the sign up form:

http://backbonehr.com

The product is free during beta and we will donate $1 to Kiva.org for each qualified beta account. If you got a special demo invitation code from other blogs, you will get a special discount in the first year after the introductory period.

We look forward to hearing your feedback and incorporating your suggestions.

Thank you so much for your support!


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Success is All in the Attitude

by Bob Reiss on Jan 13, 2010

bootstrapping101This guest post was written by Bob Reiss (@bobsreiss), the author of Bootstrapping 101. Reiss is an Army veteran and graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Business School. He has been involved in 16 startups and is a three-time INC 500 winner. He has been the subject of two Harvard case studies and is a frequent speaker at University Entrepreneurial classes.

This article is based on the contents of the book Bootstrapping 101.

What’s important to the success of small-business owners and entrepreneurs? Knowledge, skill and talent.

However, many competitors have the same traits you do. The key to beating the competition and achieving success is mental, reflected in one’s attitude, totally controlled by the individual and requires no cash. This holds true in most human endeavors besides business–in sports, the arts and politics.

How many times have we seen the underdog team or player win over the more talented opponent? The difference is often attitude.

These 12 attitude attributes can put you in the right mindset for achieving entrepreneurial success.

  1. Have passion for your business.
    Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can’t be taught. When it wanes, as it surely will in difficult times, take some quiet time. Whether it be an hour or a week, take inventory of all the reasons you started the business and why you like being your own boss. That should renew your passion.

  2. Set an example of trustworthiness.
    People have confidence in trustworthy individuals and want to work for them in a culture of integrity. The same is true for customers.

  3. Be flexible, except with core values.
    It’s a given that your plans and strategies will change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.

  4. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.
    Failure is an opportunity to learn. All things being equal, venture capitalists would rather invest money in an individual who tried and failed founding a company than in someone who never tried.

  5. Make timely decisions.
    It’s okay to use your intuition. Planning and thought are good. But procrastination leads to missed opportunity.

  6. The major company asset is you.
    Take care of yourself. Your health is more valuable than the most expensive machinery or computer software for the company. You don’t have to choose between your family or your company, play or work. Maintain your health for balance and energy, which will, in turn, enhance your mental outlook.

  7. Keep your ego under control.
    Don’t take profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities. This also means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.

  8. Believe.
    You need to believe in yourself, in your company, and that you will be successful. This confidence is contagious with your employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers and everyone you deal with.

  9. Encourage and accept criticism graciously. Admit your mistakes.
    You need to constantly work on convincing your employees that it’s okay–even necessary–to state their honest opinions even it if conflicts with the boss’s opinion. Just stating it once or putting it in a mission statement won’t cut it for most people.

  10. Maintain a strong work ethic.
    Your employees will follow your lead. It will also help you beat your competition by outworking them, particularly when your product or service is very similar.

  11. Rebound quickly from setbacks.
    There surely will be plenty of ups and downs as you build the business. Learn from the setbacks and move on. You can’t change the past.

  12. Periodically get out of your comfort zone to pursue something important.
    Many times you will feel uncomfortable in implementing a needed change in technology, people, mission, competing, etc. For the company and you to grow personally, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone.

Many organizational and leadership shortcomings can be overcome or mitigated with the good attitudes described above. All can be learned except passion, which comes from within. Take time out of your hectic schedule to periodically reflect on these attributes. You may be inspired to act.

(This article first appeared at www.entrepreneur.com-1/4/10)


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