Revisit My Previous iPhone Needs

With the introduction of the iPhone 2.0 I think it is now time to review my previous iPhone ideas and needs. They may already be done by someone or they can easily be implemented with the new SDK. What do you think? Do you think you can give these ideas a shot or have you already seen them live somewhere?

http://www.cambrianhouse.com/member/fidoogle/

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A Business Model for Open Social Networks

Lately I have been very much interested in Lovdbyless and Insoshi for developing my own social network because they are based on Ruby on Rails, which make them super easy to extend and modify. However, there is one missing feature which I truly need. I need an integrated escrow service, as I explained in my previous posts. By exposing my need, I may be introducing a possible business model for these open social networks and I will briefly describe what I mean.

Based on current trends, we will be seeing many more new vertical social networks that revolve around a single topic, product, or service. We will also be seeing many more crowdsourcing sites. It is therefore easy to conclude that we will be seeing more crowdsoucing, vertical social networks. It is also to be expected that people will want to conduct shopping at these new sites. Some are coining these new types of sites “s-commerce” sites.

From an entreprenuer’s point of view, I would like an open social network to provide me an integrate escrow service that would appear seamless to my buyers and sellers. I would also like for the cost of the service to be under a dollar. The ultimate cost of the service is payed by the buyers, and I want this cost to be minimal to encourage a greater exchange of goods at my site. I would not mind this fixed fee, and perhaps a low percentage-based fee would be okay as well.

We now ask how an open social network could benefit by meeting this need. First, these types of sites can appeal to a global audience. Depending on the product to be sold (and crowdsourced), there is the possibility of a huge international exchange of goods between individual buyers and sellers. Read my earlier short story about this that points you to a story about the growing number of individual Chinese sellers. We therefore could be talking about billions of transactions.

Second, each transaction would be dependent on the escrow service for fulfillment, for both the buyer and the seller. If the escrow service collects even just a few cents for each transaction, the revenue would be tremendous. One possible service which may be seeing the potential in providing an escrow service is Alipay, which is providing such a service to the China market.

Here are some things which would make me choose to use your escrow service over another:

  1. The escrow service is integrated seamlessly into my social network. This provides a tight coupling with all the stored private messaging occurring on the site. It is during these conversations that the order details are ironed out and will serve as evidence of what was agreed upon in case of arbitration.
  2. It gives me a share of the escrow service fees so that I can profit, as the owner of the site. This would give me a very big incentive to keep the site running and to keep promoting it.
  3. The escrow service fees are below $1 to encourage more s-commerce on the site and a greater variety of products. Some products have very low margins and adding a very big fee for the escrow would not be good. A fee based on a percentage of the product price would also be okay, and this would encourage the sellers to keep the price down on their products.

Please let me know if you find this service for me or if you plan to develop one yourself and what is your expected date of availability. I am so eager to start using it because I may have the right product for it.

Social Network Escrow Service

This topic is quite extensive but I will keep my comments very brief. I am have much more information about what I write here and I may later include this extra stuff later. If not, feel free to ask me and urge me to continue to share more information about this.

First of all, I will be creating my own social network, possibly with Insoshi or with LovdByLess because they are both based on Ruby on Rails and are therefore easy to extend and modify. I haven’t decided which to go with. I would prefer the one with the most active developers on it. They are both open-source. LovdByLess seems to be further along. Lately, Insoshi has been getting a lot of attention and funding and the founder is the author of RailsSpace, which I first installed on my server and worked great.

After I create my social network, I have the need of allowing my user to sell “stuff” to each other. To safeguard, both sellers and buyers, I would like to integrate an escrow service. During the private messaging between buyers and sellers the details of an order are ironed out, such as pricing, shipping, delivery date, any additional customizations, etc.

After the details are ironed out, the buyer uploads the asking price to the escrow service and the seller sees the funds are now available to start production and/or delivery of the item. The seller know this is a guaranteed purchase because the funds have been allocated for this order alone. The buyer knows this is a guaranteed product because the seller must delivery the product according to the stored private messaging that has occurred prior to the order. Anyway, there are a whole lot of other benefits an escrow service gives, but I won’t get into that here.

What is interesting is that if you read about some trends with Web 2.0, you will see how providing an escrow service to other social networks would be a very lucrative business. My thing is that I am not interesting in developing an escrow service myself, because I do not want to deal with so many regulations concerning the privacy of payment information.

Summary of Immediate Needs

Here is a short list of some things I need as soon as possible. This is just a brief description of each need, and I intend to expound on these in later posts. For the moment, I only have time to offer you a small glimpse into some of my immediate needs.

Escrow Service
First of all, I am looking to find a very inexpensive escrow service with an API so I can tie it into my site and the whole thing will therefore feel seamless to the end user. I have been looking into present escrow services and other online payment systems, such as MoneyBookers, 2Checkout, PayPal, etc. I think the least expensive is about $5.00 for the range of dollar transaction I anticipate. However, there are additional fees and the sum total of using these services will discourage my users from participating with these escrow services.

Very briefly, I need an escrow service to alleviate the concerns of both buyers and sellers. When a buyer is interested in obtaining what the seller has, then the buyer uploads the total dollar amount to the escrow service. The seller can then see the funds are available and will therefore ship the product to the buyer. When the buyer receives the goods, the buyer releases the funds to the seller. In a subsequent post, I will touch on why I think escrow services will be much more important to a global economy.

Again, I need an inexpensive escrow service. Ideally, the cost of using the service should only be a few cents, under a dollar. In the end, this would be a very lucrative service because I envision transactions by the millions. I should also be able to integrate the service into my website with very little hassle. An API would be ideal.


SMS Gateway
Second, I need a cheaper global SMS gateway provider with an API. I am currently using ClickATell.com but their SMS credits costs me $0.06. When I do the numbers, this does not give me enough profit for the type of SMS service I have for my end users. I have been exploring other alternatives. One is to use a GSM modem or a CDMA modem hooked up to my server. The modem would contain the SIM card from my cellphone and I would pay my cellular service provider for the SMS credits, preferably under a text messaging plan. I have not tried this approach and am wondering if anyone can offer some advice.

I suspect SMS is very cheap but the current SMS providers have a monopoly on the pricing. I have seen various services and some upcoming ones, that offer some kind of service based on very cheap SMS rates. Some are Joopz.com, MindCaller.com, Group2Call.com.

If you have been keeping up with some trends, you may know SMS messaging is getting more popular around the world. Gen-Y is also using it as second nature. It is therefore obvious SMS will play an even more important role in the very near future.


Tag Clouds
Third, I need a very easy way to add tag clouds to my site. I have seen some really cool ways to add user comments and ratings to sites, and most of these are free. Some are js-kit.com, Disqus.com, SezWho.com, PowerReviews.com, and BazaarVoice.com. It is really easy to integrate any of these by just adding a few lines of javascript code to your site.

I envision I should be able to do the same with tagclouds. Of course, the service would need to collect data from my site and perform some kind of data aggregations before being able to present tagclouds. This is where I see RSS could provide this kind of data and meta-data. Everytime something changes on my site, the RSS feed would show the update and the tagcloud service could collect this new data. I will have more about how this kind of service could work.

Who am I and what are tech needs?

I work fulltime as a web developer for a major bank. I am a member of a small team that does all this bank’s  online banking programming. On the side, I work on my own personal programming projects. As I program, I come across pieces of functionality I cannot do myself because of resources or because I am not interested in getting myself into that type of technology.

These days there is so much technology out there that it’s really hard for any individual to know what is out there. That is my problem, so I have started this blog. I hope by exposing my needs, someone out there can help me find what I am looking for, if it exists. Otherwise, perhaps some of you will have an interest in some of these needs to go out and develop it yourselves for a possible profit as a solution to others with the same need.

While I have another blog at fidelguajardo.blogspot.com in which I list many technologies of interests to me, I think the wordpress format allows me to get much more feedback from readers. I am therefore choosing to express my needs here, but will nonetheless maintain my other blog as well.

Thank you ahead of time for taking the time to browse through my blog. I hope we can connect on some project together. When I have a technology need, I am so willing to pay for what I need or to work together to profit each other. Good luck to you!