Friday, February 19, 2016

Apple's Stance on Privacy

Three days ago, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, sent an open letter to customers stating the company's opposition to the Department of Justice's request that Apple develop software to implement a backdoor in the iPhone. The next day, The Daily Beast published an article, Apple Unlocked iPhones for the Feds 70 Times Before, which, on the surface, would lead the reader to believe this predicament is no different from the scores of previous situations when Apple unlocked iPhones for the authorities. But there's a key difference between then and now in that iOS security was weaker, in the past. Currently, Apple has not developed the technology to circumvent their own security in order to extract the encrypted data. The Department of Justice claims their request falls under the All Writs Act and the has government ordered that Apple Inc. create a special version of its iOS operating system, with certain security features removed.

Keep in mind that strong security is similar to a wall safe. The only two ways to penetrate strong security is either with the key (combination) or through brute force. Even if the hacker has the blueprints to the safe or the software source code for the encryption it doesn't help with the attack.

Hard Come, Easy Go

Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Apple's stance against the federal government stems from the NSA's PRISM program. The Daily Beast article points out, "It wasn’t until after the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that Apple began to position itself so forcefully as a guardian of privacy protection in the face of a vast government surveillance apparatus."

While federal officials speculate that access to the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone data might be a national security issue, that's not enough to warrant the creation of a backdoor. Keeping America safe is not the oath that elected officials or military officers take. Rather, their oath is to support and defend the Constitution. It is not a stretch to see how America could be much safer by curtailing our Bill of Rights. Saudi Arabia is a safe country to live in, with low crime.

Update 21 Feb 2016: Another point to consider is that Apple Inc. is a multi-national corporation located in different countries and jurisdictions. If one argues that Apple has to develop a special iOS version for the US government, in this single case, in the name of terrorism, then should Apple also develop special iOS versions for, say, France or China if requested? As the New Yorker’s Amy Davidson writes, “If it [the government] can tell Apple, which has been accused of no wrongdoing, to sit down and write a custom operating system for it, what else could it do?”

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How to Sell: Kickstarter Video Marketing 101

The key to selling is to point out the problem you're solving and then highlight the benefits before moving on to the features. Here's a perfect example in a two minute video.


For the past two years I've been co-coordinating a Kickstarter meetup. What started off as a monthly affair has expanded to fill the three weeks in-between the main events with working sessions for our group of entrepreneurs. Our focus is on all crowdsourcing platforms and my personal goal is to be the entrepreneur mentor I needed 10 or 15 years ago. The key transformation I've seen over the years is taking the "maker" (engineer, artist, designer, etc), who typically has an inwardly focused career as an individual contributor, and teaching them to focus outward on marketing, manufacturing, and customers. And, ultimately, turning them into sales people. At the end of the day, you have to sell, especially if you're a solopreneur or, in a team environment, you'll need to hire the proverbial rainmaker who believes in your product.

Real World Formula

I've mentioned the importance of the Kickstarter video before. Today, I came across a perfect example of how to pitch your product, through video, in an "As Seen On TV" format. (Although this video might seem a little cheesy, it's effective and, more importantly, it's not misleading.)

1. Start with the problem you're solving. (30 seconds in this example Dash Cam Pro video commercial)

2. Show your product's benefits in a way that customers can relate to so they can imagine themselves using your product to make their own life easier or more enjoyable. (30 seconds)

3. Cover the key technical features. Don't make the mistake of the "Microsoft iPod." (45 seconds)

4. Imprint a higher price on your customer before revealing your true, lower price. (15 seconds)
Here's why: Show the Highest Price First

This can all be accomplished within 120 seconds. The key to telling a good story is by editing away all the cruft.