The iPod is ubiquitous. It is so popular that it has sold over 100 million units and spawned a whole new industry around the iPod, with entrepreneurs coming up with a myriad of products and services created especially for the Apple portable music player. Sales of such iPod-inspired ideas are growing in tandem with the iPod’s popularity:
LoadProng’s iPod loading service boasts a network of more than one hundred service professionals throughout USA who can be dispatched to pick up your iPod and your CD collection at your home or office. For $1.59 to $1.89 a CD, LoadProng will load all the songs from your CDs into your iPod and return all equipment to you within five days. You can save on the 60-100 hours which are otherwise wasted on filling up your 40GB iPod.
Fancy having a (virtual) personal trainer giving you exercise instructions at the gym while your favorite music plays on? PumpOne (pictured above) has designed a range of workout programs (with names such as PumpedForLife and PumpedForSummer) so that you can focus on weight loss or cardio health while listening to music on your iPod. Each workout includes instructions, tips and visuals you can watch at your own pace.
Levi’s is joining the iPod craze too. The RedWire DLX is a new range of ‘iPod jeans’ featuring built-in headphones, joystick and docking cradle. Designed for men and women, it has a special side pocket with a white leather patch to store an iPod. A four-way joystick on the watch pocket allows the user to control the iPod without removing the player. Retractable headphones have been built in, together with a docking cradle that allows users to look at their iPod screen and control it via the jeans.
The iRosary has an odd religious twist: it converts the iPod’s white headphones into a hybrid prayer bead that can be shifted and then heard as an “audio bead” during prayer. Users can choose from “Infidel”, “Believer” and “Shepherd” settings; the iPod will play back the matching MP3s as the bead is moved. Perhaps it can help make the rosary more attractive to younger iPod-toting believers.
Can you come up with unique products and services pitched at the millions of iPod users out there in the world? Or have you come across other iPod-inspired business ideas in your country? Share them with us!
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This New Business Ideas Report is compiled specially for Small Business Trends from the editors of CoolBusinessIdeas.com.
Even great products need marketing to really succeed. Having the right message, and delivering it to the right people, will help take your great product and turn it into a great small business with great sales. The product alone isn’t likely to do that.
With all of the information floating around on the internet (and in the real world), it can be tough to figure out what is and isn’t good for your small business.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about small business marketing and talk about why it might be a good idea to abandon them.
Myth #1: Designing ads yourself is a good way to save money
Unless you know the difference between a vector and a bitmap, understand the rule of thirds, and know about kearning, it probably isn’t a good idea to design your own ads or corporate identity. The public has a very sharp eye, and will quickly see the little red flags that show the true origin of your marketing materials. Having a home-made logo will tell people that you aren’t well established and can’t afford a professional. It’s a much better long term decision to just pay for it to be done right.
Myth #2: The bigger the audience, the more customers you’ll get
A bigger audience is usually a less targeted audience. A less targeted audience will get fewer conversions. In the end, a large audience means you’ll spend a lot more money for the same number of interested potential customers.
Myth #3: All publicity is good publicity
Since small businesses generally operate in smaller markets, bad publicity can really hurt. A bad rap can travel very quickly through local circles and can easily damage your sales. On the flip side, a good recommendation can just as easily boost your business.
Myth #4: You only need to market until you build up momentum
Having momentum is a good thing, but it’s very important to keep on the ball. Markets can change quickly, and people get bored fast—so stay on top of things to make sure your business continues growing over the long haul.
Myth #5: A really great product will sell itself
Even great products need marketing to really succeed. Having the right message, and delivering it to the right people, will help take your great product and turn it into a great small business with great sales. The product alone isn’t likely to do that.
What do you think about these small business marketing myths? Have you heard them before? Are there any other myths you want to mention? Let’s discuss them in the comments.
Also, something new we’re doing for subscribers. If you subscribe to our feed (either with rss or email), you’ll get 3 more bonus myths. Look out for more of these subscriber extras in future articles.
Here are 3 bonus myths only for rss and email subscribers:
Myth #6: You don’t need marketing, word of mouth is enough
This one is a tricky—you see, word of mouth is actually a type of marketing. A lot of people don’t realize that you can control and manage word of mouth marketing, and that it’s really beneficial to do so.
Myth #7: Marketing ends when the sale is made
The quickest way to lose clients is to stop marketing to them once they’ve bought something. Generally people buy into your company, your marketing, and your product. If you quickly pull one of those out from under them, it’s not likely to be pretty.
Myth #8: A website isn’t necessary if you have a local product
This one used to be true, but nowadays, websites aren’t just for selling or getting leads. Websites have become a form of “check” to see how established and trustworthy a business is. If there isn’t a website, the business is probably really new and not established. Is that how you want your customers to think of you?
Mac only: Get a dynamic list of recently accessed files using Smart Folders in OS X. MacWorld magazine explains how:
Create a smart folder in the Finder by selecting File -> New Smart Folder, or by pressing Command-Option-N. You’ll see two lines of criteria in the folder. In the Kind criterion, select Any, or, if you want to limit it to documents, select Documents. Set Last Modified to Since Yesterday, or if you want to go back further, Within Last N Days, where N is the number of days you want to use.
Click the Other button in the location bar, then click the plus (+) button to add folders.
A “Recent Documents” Smart Folder is a great one-stop access point for files you’re currently working on but that are located in different “actual” folders. Here’s how to save searches as folders in Windows Vista.
In many situations web designers should avoid Flash and prefer usual text-based presentation. For instance, in most tasks related to pure text presentation Flash is neither necessary nor user-friendly, and it also has some serious accessibility problems: in fact, “pure” text is easier to maintain and easier to copy and paste.
However, if you’d like to present some multimedia-content, particularly images, Flash can often be a feasible solution, with flexible image management for web designers and impressive visual presentation for users. Used moderately, Flash-based galleries can give the presentation a fresh spark and create a rich visual experience you might want to offer your visitors.
Polaroid Gallery offers a quite unusual way of presenting a bunch of photos online. The script loads images and image titles dynamically from an external XML file. Then the script processes the data and creates an interactive flash gallery in which all images are presented as Polaroid-photos.
The images are kind of thrown on the the table randomly and create a beautiful mess — the idea resembles BumpTop, physics-driven 3D-desktop with draggable folders and files. You can move the polaroids around with the mouse, and you can double click a Polaroid picture to zoom in.
To use the gallery you simply need to define your images and your galleries by modifying the XML-file accordingly. You can also define the legend to describe the content of the images. Besides, you can specify your Flickr ID and the gallery will automatically load the latest pictures from your Flickr RSS-feed. The loaded pictures are automatically scaled, centred and smoothed.
The script is free and open-source, and the .zip-package includes a .fla-file you can modify to improve the script. To ensure an optimal presentation your images should have a square format; otherwise the Polaroids don’t look particularly pretty.
The Flash XML Gallery offers a flexible solution for integration of multiple albums into one single gallery. The script can integrate popular photo sharing communities such as Flickr and Picasa. You can use a wide range of transition effects.
The images can be read from RSS or added manually. To add the images you have to upload them to the specified directory and define them in the XML-file. The only usability issues of The Flash XML Gallery are the facts that you a) can’t navigate through the gallery by clicking on the images and b) you can’t get back from the fullscreen to the overview simply clicking on the image. In both cases you have to use the navigation slider below the displayed image. The slider informs the user whether the next image is already loaded.
dfGallery is probably one of the most powerful Flash-based gallery solutions out there. It supports the instant integration of Flickr, Picasa , Fotki and Photobucket; of course, you can add your custom images as well or add an RSS-feed from which the images should be taken.
The gallery is easily customizable, meaning that you can e.g. define the time duration of the slideshow, hide menu system and scale the images from RSS feeds. dfGallery also enables you to switch between the single view mode, full screen mode and the print screen mode.
Apart from wide language support, the gallery makes use of a liquid layout and therefore fits to any size you specify. And it’s also possible to define the background mp3 music for your galleries. The full manual for dfGallery including examples and necessary code snippets for customization is available in the dfGallery Reference Documentation.
Flash Page Flip is a Picasa template based on the free version of the FlashPageFlip flash engine on Flashpageflip.com. It lacks the advanced functions of the commercial versions but still makes a very nice photo album on your website. You can see and hear the pages flip.
The download offers two templates: one for a landscape oriented album, the other for a portrait oriented album. Sizes can be changed by editing the header.xml file in the template folder.
Picasa Flash Photo Stack Gallery is a simple Flash template that enables you to click through a stack of your favourite photographs. Unfortunately available only as plug-in for Picasa.
Carousel is another interesting approach for showcasing images. The script reads the data from a HTML- or XML-file and displays the images in a circle. Similar to iPhone, visitors can browse through the gallery sliding the mouse along the screen; alternatively also the keyboard can be used.
You can define an automatic rotation of the images (max rotation set to 90°/sec counterclockwise). New modified versions are coming soon - as well as a detailed documentation on how the XML-files should be structured.
This technique will work with either an iPod Touch or an iPhone, so there’s no more waiting around for Apple to release a 3G iPhone. In fact you don’t even need to fork out for the expensive iPhone contract at all, when you can just buy an iPod Touch and turn it into a 3G iPhone! Note that no hacking of the iPod/iPhone is required at all! So you are perfectly safe to try this without any risk to your lovely Apple device.
I recently purchased the iPod Touch and was very impressed with it. It makes a wonderful web tablet. I found the on screen keyboard entry to be so good that I found myself wishing this was a full PDA. In fact it could easily be so, except that Apple have artificially restricted it to be a media player.
I immediately had the idea of using web based applications to obtain the PDA functionality. So I tested it out on Writeboard, and found that Safari was quite capable of editing my documents on there. This was very exciting, but left a couple of problems:
Problem 1 was very quickly solved when I googled for iPhone applications, and found that many people have started working on PDA apps more suited to the iPhone/iPod screen. A good example is iPhone WebDocs.
Problem 2 meant waiting for the European iPhone to be released and then spending lots of money on another contract. Even then it would only be usable via the ancient slow 2G network for some reason unfathomable to anyone except Apple. However I quickly had an idea, and set about investigating the possibility!
My idea was to use a Windows Mobile phone as a bridge from 3G to WiFi. Then you could just buy any cheap rubbish Windows phone, stick it in your pocket, and access the net at full 3G speed from a slimline iPod Touch that’s even better than an iPhone and without all the cost! The iPod Touch doesn’t have a microphone of course, but for voice calls I’d much rather use the normal phone and not look like a total dork by holding an iPod/iPhone to my head
I only needed to find out if the WiFi bridge was possible and how to do it. A quick trawl of my favourite sites, and I was in luck! I came across the solution on the XDA Developers Network. It took me a short while to set this up and test it, and suddenly I had my iPod Touch accessing the net at full 3.5G HSDPA speed via the Windows phone in my pocket! Below is my step-by-step guide on how you can do it too.
Our love of Quicksilver, the sometimes inscrutable application launcher (and much more) runs deep, but Daniel over at waferbaby has us beat. It would seem Daniel isn’t a big fan of the Finder and he is crazy for Quicksilver. Clearly, it took the next obvious step and replaced the Finder with Quicksilver. Read his post for the details, but be warned it isn’t for the faint of heart.
Google Earth has integrated YouTube, allowing you to view videos from specified locations around the world. A new “YouTube” button in Google Earth places icons on a map to show you where the videos are located. Upon zooming in, you will see more videos for the location of interest. The YouTube videos are plotted according to geotags that YouTube users have placed on their content.
This is a really clever integration between Google products. Versus the Street View feature of Google Maps where the company is sending camera crews around the globe, all of the content here is user-generated. In other Google Maps developments, the company has also added community maps to find things like places to eat, events, and activities, also submitted by users.
Could Google Maps be turning into one of the major social initiatives at Google? Between integrating YouTube videos, user-generated local maps, and potential presence features from the recently acquired Jaiku, it seems like there might be something brewing here.
Every month we take a look around and select some of the most interesting web-development-related web-sites. We read articles, check out tools, analyze the advantages of new resources. Below you’ll find useful references, tutorials, services, tools, techniques and articles we’ve found over the last 30 days - an overview of web-sites you shouldn’t have missed in September 2007.
All images can be clicked and lead to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken. We’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments!
CSS Pricing Matrix A CSS-based matrix in which clicking on a highlights the associated cell in the top row and left column giving an indication of relationships among the provided information. Similar solution: Tablecloth.
CSS Diagnostic Styling Eric Meyer presents a diagnostic CSS-file; its primary goal is to have a set of rules that can be applied during the development phase of a new layout. These rules’ aim is to visually highlight problems in the markup.
Honeypot Captcha Instead of modern CAPTCHA-solutions supposed to prevent comment- and e-mail-span, you can use a slightly different approach. You can create a honeypot form field that should be left blank and then use CSS to hide it from human users, but not bots. When the form is submitted, you check to make sure the value of that form field is blank.
CSS List Expander So, we have an unordered list that can go on in depth as much as we want. The script analyzes the list tree and applies toggle functions for expanding/collapsing child objects.
Google Presentations Google has extended Google Docs with the functionality of creating presentations online. Whether imported from existing files or created using the new slide editor, presentation are listed alongside documents and spreadsheets in the Google Docs document list. They can be edited, shared, and published using the familiar Google Docs interface, with several collaborators working on a slide deck simultaneously, in real time.
StyleIgnite The project offers a platform where web-developers can upload their CSS-Snippets, rate them and share them with other developers. While other projects collected single elements such as forms or tables, Styleignite offers an overview of CSS Layouts, navigation menus, text styles, site elements, forms, graphics and further scripts.
Windows Live Writer Microsoft released a free desktop application that simplifies the process of publishing content to your weblog. Whether you are using WordPress, Moveable Type or even blog hosters, you can prepare, preview and publish your content with Windows Live Writer without using your weblog-engine. Features: WYSIWIG-Editor, powerful editing features and offline editing. Beta, for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista. Various plugins can extend the functionality of the tool.
AutoHotkey AutoHotkey is a free, open-source desktop-tool for Windows which can automate almost your tasks by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder. You can also expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”. Alternative: Texter.
Flickr Foldr Monitr Foldr Monitr is a free tool that runs in the background and watches a selected folder (and optionally subfolders) waiting for you to add photos to it. When photos appear in the folder, Foldr Monitr automatically uploads them to your Flickr account for you. Time-saver.
Free CSS Toolbox Free CSS Toolbox is a freeware desktop-application for web developers who work with CSS code on Windows. Free CSS Toolbox includes a number of tools for fast-tracking and enhancing the development of style sheet code, such as an advanced CSS Formatter, CSS Validator, CSS Syntax Checker and automatic code completion.
Firefox-Extension Book Text Mark If bookmarks aren’t enough, Book Text Mark can help. You can use this extension to set mark lines within long pages and navigate to marked pages and to the marked lines. Unfortunately only one bookmark per page is possible.
FirePHP - Firefox Extension for PHP Development FirePHP is a Firefox-extension which is supposed to help developers analyze, debug and optimize their PHP source code. The tool allows you to take a deeper look at all the work your PHP code does to generate that page you are currently looking at. To use the tool you have to install the PHP PEAR Package and add few lines of code to your PHP application.
oSkope Visual Search oSkope is a visual search engine you can use to search for images on Flickr, products on eBay and Amazon as well as videos on YouTube. The search is more intuitive; the results are displayed as thumbnails; the details are displayed once an item is hovered. Also various views are possible; e.g. you can select whether you’d like to sort products by price or its popularity.
CoScripter CoScripter is a system for recording, automating, and sharing processes performed in a web browser such as printing photos online, requesting a vacation hold for postal mail, or checking bank account information. Instructions for processes are recorded and stored in easy-to-read text here on the CoScripter web site, so anyone can make use of them. The site currently includes over 860 scripts. CoScripter requires a free IBM ID.
Yuuguu This tool expands the “standard” functionality of Instant Online Messengers like ICQ or MSN with a further components. Users can not only communicate and exchange data, but also edit the same documents simultaneously. You can remotely control another computer (if you’ve been given permission). You can also remotely control a Mac from a PC and vice versa. Free, for Mac and Windows.
Only2Clicks Only2Clicks is a “different” bookmarks-collector. The web-service uses Instead of text links snapshots of bookmarked pages; these snapshots can be moved with drag’n’drop similarly to Netvibes or Pageflakes. You can place the bookmarks on your personalized start page or in your categories.
flauntR A free web-based image editing tool with thousands of one click effects, photo frames, filters, overlays and digital scrapbooking styles.
FeedHub If you are subscribed to dozens of RSS-Feeds an information overkill is definitely just a matter of time. This tool evaluates how interesting every single article of your RSS feeds is for you, ranks it and presents you an overview of the articles which you probably would like. FeedHub permanently studies your preferences and updates their internal presentation depending on your reading- and clicking-behavior.
CSS Tools and Services
CSS Sprite Generator This tool allows you to automate the process of generating CSS sprites. Simply give it a ZIP file containing 2 or more images (GIF, PNG or JPG) and it will generate a sprite image and the corresponding CSS rules to target and display each component image.
CSS Menu Generator The tool generates standards-based navigation menus based upon 11 horizontal and 6 vertical templates.
Premailer This script prepares html-pages for the best HTML e-mail delivery results. CSS styles are converted to inline style attributes, relative paths are converted to absolute paths, CSS properties are checked against e-mail client capabilities, a plain text version is created.
CSS Layout Generator Generates CSS-Layouts online. You can define a number of properties for your header, footer, sidebar and content column. You can also make sure your columns have the same height (Faux Columns).
CSS Redundancy Checker You can use this tool to find CSS selectors that aren’t used by any of your HTML files and may be redundant. Alternative: Dust-Me Selectors, a Firefox-extension by Sitepoint.com.
FancyUpload Swf meets Ajax. An upload widget that allows queued multiple-file upload including progress bars.
Accordion v2.0 A lightweight accordion that is built with Scriptaculous, has vertical, horizontal and nested styles and works properly in every browser.
Open external links in new window Concerned about people leaving your site when navigating to offsite links? This script lets you either automatically have all offsite links open in a new window, or let the user decide, via a checkbox.
7 Rules for Communicating Clearly and Concisely in Email People don’t have time for long emails, and they don’t have time to try to find out exactly what you want. You have to tell them, in as short an email as possible. 7 guidelines for effective communication via e-mail: among them — use the minimum amount of sentences, state what you want right away, write about only one thing, use “If … then” statements.
How to price your web application In the world of free, pricing isn’t given much attention. But if you’re looking for a real, sustainable business, it’s unavoidable. Paul Farnell’s gone through it all with his app Litmus and breaks it down for you here.
Tips for Keeping Forms Accessible This article’s main objective will be to offer some tips for keeping your forms accessible, and in some cases, making them even more accessible than they are by default.
Thinking in the Right Terms: 7 Components for a Successful Web Site Redesign A redesign can both bring advantages and result in new problems. To make sound, bulletproof and future-oriented decision you might want to consider seven essential long-term components; they can help you to reach a successful redesign project. Among them: make sure you have a vision, spend time with your users, reduce risk by working in little bits, understand the internal processes.
Get Out from Behind the Curtain “When used at critical points in the design process, these sessions build strong, respectful relationships. Since clients directly experience the design work, you don’t need to sell clients on an idea—they were with you the whole time.”
Visualizing Fitts’ Law Back in school, I remember that it wasn’t until I started taking classes in physics that calculus made any kind of real sense to me. I just need diagrams to function. In that spirit, I thought it would be nice to go over Fitts’s Law, a staple in the HCI diet, with a few visuals to explain both the concept and why it’s ideas are a bit more complicated than most would have you believe.
Getting a startup right the second time The road to success is hard. We all know this, but still hope for the quick success of a Twitter instead of the starting and stopping of a flickr (started as a game). ImThere is a startup that started and stopped, and David Gorman documents their eventual success.
User Experience Metrics and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) The Net Promoters Score (NPS for short) is a really simple, yet quite powerful metric for measuring customer satisfaction. To calculate your Net Promoters Score, you ask your customers “how likely they would be to recommend you to a friend”, and get them to grade their answers on a scale of zero to ten.
Learn Apache mod_rewrite: 13 Real-world Examples Apache’s low-cost, powerful set of features make it the server of choice for organizations around the world. One of its most valuable treasures is the mod_rewrite module, the purpose of which is to rewrite a visitor’s request URI in the manner specified by a set of rules. Besides: Mod_Rewrite Cheat Sheet for printing out, learning and looking up.
Take the Leap: First Steps in Freelancing [Find Clients] You’ve decided to become a freelancer. How should you start to achieve optimal results? What problems do you have to be prepared for? An excerpt from Brendon Sinclair’s “The Web Design Business Kit 2.0″, in which the author shows how to start, build, and expand your own freelance or small web business.
Using Psychology to Create a Killer Sticky Website I set out recently to understand what makes some web apps irresistibly sticky and why others can’t seem to gain traction. It didn’t take me long to get totally obsessed with understanding this stuff because the deeper I got, the most interesting it all became.
Showcase Point A showcase of… design showcases. Dozens of CSS-, Flash- and inspiration-galleries are divided in categories, reviewed and can be sorted by their PageRank.
Vector Logo Database 670 professional vector logotypes, in 20 categories and high resolution — for free download. To download the source files for the images you have to register on the web-site which is full of disturbing advertisement.
Collection: Design Patterns Brian Christiansen collects design elements which are typical for modern web sites and application — on a regular basis. Among other elements one can find 404-errors, alerts, blog editors, calendar views, comment form design, tag clouds, tagging interfaces, pagination, tab design patterns, upload interface and much more.
Most Sliced | Design slicers reviewed Most Sliced is a directory of slicing services with details on pricing, turnaround time, and additional services they may offer. This information along with user submitted ratings & reviews, is all the information you need to select the best slicing service for your needs. We’ve already presented some of them.
The Holy Mail Recently newsletter design is becoming more and more important. There is a showcase of newsletter-designs and professional solutions for testing newsletter-designs on cross-browser-compatibility. This article present a bulletproof template for HTML-E-Mails, which are displayed identically among popular mail-clients and services such as Gmail, Outlook 2007, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, Thunderbird, iPhone etc.
The Last Click
ThinkGeek :: Wi-Fi Detector Shirt This shirt for geeks shines once it detects Wi-Fi-signals around the person wearing the shirt. The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding Wi-Fi signal strength changes. It can be useful if you don’t want to crack open your laptop just to see if there is any Wi-Fi access. The shirt runs for hours off three AAA Batteries which are unfortunately not included. However, you have detailed washing instructions instead.
John Maeda: Simplicity patterns (video) Minimalism and Simplicity have become a trend. In this TED-Talk John Maeda, the author of the book “The Laws of Simplicity”, speaks about “Simplicity” in our everyday life.
Presentation Zen: Learning from Bill Gates & Steve Jobs In their Talks Bill Gates and Steve Jobs behave themselves quite differently. They both try to communicate their ideas effectively, and even use the same tools, however the way these tools are used defines the impression Gates and Jobs make. This article analyzes this difference and describes what Bill Gates can learn from Steve Jobs.