Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lets have a meeting

It is amusing to watch the new internet calendaring companies as they fumble around. Yahoo has one, Google now has something called C2 and there are many other sites out there such as 30boxes which all seem to do a good job as a calendar. Honestly though, most people don't really care to have a calendar. For those people that want to write out their schedule they will use a calendar on a piece of paper in their back pocket or a PalmV (which still rocks btw). You might convince a few of these people to be your customer, but after that you are dead in the water and have no revenue.

People keep creating calendaring applications because you typically use calendar apps to schedule to meet with other people in the office. That is where the tide of people are hiding (and money). The main reason you want your calendar online is so that others can find out when it is best to meet with you. Once you get one person using your site to schedule meetings then others might use it more and soon it will be a little virus sucking more and more users into using it because it provides a valuable service of having everyone else's calendar and a easy way to schedule. If you made the front page of your "calendar" site be four lines listing your e-mail/im, the person you want to meet with, date, reason and a big schedule button you probably would do better then a lot of calendar sites out there today. Google can no doubt leverage gmail and gtalk to make an easy scheduling system (and oh yah have a calendar too). If you go to 30boxes you can tell that scheduling a meeting is much more of just another feature and not the central part of the application.

What is the most surprising thing about meetings is that it is an amazingly simple way to grow your calendaring service exponentially. And if you get a manager that uses your calendar he might just tell everyone in a company to use your stuff and bam a lot of new users all ready to schedule weekend stuff with their friends, continuing the cycle of more users. Creating a community around your application is a good thing and is something that can get you laid.

If this seems familiar remember about a year ago now when Nat announced Hula. JWZ created a often referenced blog entry called Groupware bad telling how he was going to fail. The current set of calendars are better then Hula, but they still are missing the mark.

Of course I could be wrong and most people really do just want to have a calendar they themselves fill with things they are doing to view only by themselves, but I think that a much more likely answer is that calendaring sounds like a simple web2.0 company you could make and flip (how else would you come up with a horrible company name like 30boxes? And did you notice they have a gmail theme?). If that is your goal you don't think about growing users as fast as possible, but think about making a feature set that someone else would want to buy.

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