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The Roundup August 10

$20 bill
Buy it now! (Don’t see it, don’t drive it, don’t kick the tires, just click and it’s yours!)

This isn’t the GM your father knew.

About 225 of California’s 250 GM dealers are set to take part in the program. They will be selling Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Pontiac vehicles on cobranded Web sites through eBay Inc.’s online auto marketplace, eBay Motors, until Sept. 8. The cars will also be searchable through eBay Motors and eBay’s main site.

(“EBay, GM to start car-selling trial Tuesday,” San Jose Mercury News, August 10) Potential buyers will be able to bid on cars or opt for the “Buy Now” price. This will only work if the transaction is simply a “promise to sell” rather than a completed transaction (you want to buy a car without every seeing it or test-driving it?) Now, why is this a big deal? Because a million opportunities just opened up for people who are, or who are planning to be, in the car buying information space. Expect sites like and even Angies List to get some extra traffic off of this. You want to make money? Set up a GM eBay buyer’s guide online. When people change their buying habits (such as buying cars online), they change their other habits, as well. Are you ready for it?

THIS is how you use iPhone and social media marketing . . . get out your notebooks and get ready to take notes!

Haworth business and IT personnel worked together to create the “Spaces” iPhone application, from conception to distribution, in less than four weeks. Key to that speedy development was iRise, visualization software that lets developers share and get fast feedback from users about application usability and presentation.

The free Spaces app lets potential customers view high-quality photographs of Michigan-based Haworth’s furniture displayed in 15 showrooms in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Customers can click through to Google maps of showroom locations, and place a call to a specific showroom from within the application.

We know a number of those people who downloaded the app simply stumbled on it” while perusing the iTunes store, she said. “If we were targeting distribution and controlling it ourselves, we wouldn’t have the advantage [of attracting] those fishing around iTunes .”

But Haworth didn’t sit on its laurels, either. Some personnel at the company posted subtle “leaks” about the application on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. App downloads spiked particularly after the Twitter post, said Brad Ruiter, Haworth’s manager of advanced customer technologies.

(“Manufacturer Looks To iPhone To Help Boost Sales,” Information Week, August 10) It is a rare pleasure in reviewing all the news and info across dozens of sources each day to light upon a real lesson in how to do business. iPhone apps are relatively easy to create (Haworth is, after all, a furniture maker) and Twitter as easy to master as sitting in a chair. While tons of ink are spilled on iPhone apps as a business end in themselves, here’s someone who thought of a cool iPhone app that supported a completely different revenue stream. Read the article. Take notes. Think. Change.

Facebook puts one more piece in its Twitter-killer strategy.

Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, said it will buy FriendFeed, netting a group of prized ex-Google engineers in the fast-growing Internet business.

FriendFeed, an up-and-coming social media startup, lets people share content online in real time across various social networks and blogs.

The service is similar to, though less popular than Twitter . . .

(“Facebook buys social media start-up FriendFeed,” Reuters, August 10) Facebook really, really, really wants to be Twitter. Sure, Facebook is a Heather just like Twitter, but it really wants to be the Twitter Heather (obscure pop culture reference, sorry). Now, it doesn’t matter that Facebook is actually making some pretty good money and Twitter is, for all practical purposes, a charity for the world financed by VC’s who aren’t hot on being a charity. Twitter, as we all know from its silly crash a couple days ago, is really one of the biggest gears in the information economy. And Facebook covets its neighbor something fierce. They tried the shortcut (offering $500 million for Twitter in 2008); they tried the kinda-sorta copycat route (changing the “wall” to a “feed”); now they’re going the Borg route with FriendFeed (“we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own”). If they’re really serious about unseating Twitter (and it’s entirely possible), they’ll go the open-source route and adopt the OpenMicroBlogging (OMB) standard which allows microblogging feeds in one twitter-like network to post across all other twitter-like networks. If you want to make money — and no-one, despite their Stanford, Harvard, and MIT degrees has, after two years of trying, figured out how to make any money whatsoever from microbloggging — owning Grand Central Station is a more lucrative proposition than owning the train.

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