• Do You Sell Multi Year Contracts?


    Photo Credit: Pandell.comOne of the key selling point of SaaS is the pay as you go model. In fact, some people even consider this to be part of the very definition of cloud computing. Yesterday, Phil Wainewright wrote a post about SaaS vendors selling multi-year contracts. He quotes a talk given by CEO of Workbooks.com, John Cheney, at the EuroCloud UK meeting where Mr. Cheney talks about the advantages of selling such multi-year contracts to the customers.

    He argued that the high startup costs of operating and growing an as-a-service business generate such a huge funding requirement that you have no choice but to sell one-, two- and three-year contracts to get cash in the business. Booking long contracts doesn’t increase the bottom line — the revenue can only be recognised as it is incurred — but getting the upfront payments in the bank certainly boosts the cash balance.

    This is not a new argument per se. Salesforce.com took the same approach when they were faced with crunch after the dot com bust. In fact, we can even attribute the longevity of Salesforce.com to this move to selling multi-year contracts (Read Marc Benioff’s book Behind The Cloud for more information on this strategy by Salesforce). In fact, I also share Phil Wainewright discomfort towards this approach but I also how this could help a SaaS startup plough through the marketplace with limited access to cash.

    I am not religious on the pricing model as such. However, i feel that a customer, at least in the initial stages, will be empowered if they stick to the pay as you go model. Once they are convinced about the service and reliability of the vendor, they could go for a long term contract. I am pretty convinced on the right path from the buyer point of view. However, I would like to hear from the SaaS vendor side. If you are a SaaS vendor, I would request you to take the following poll. I would also appreciate if you can offer your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

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  • Video: A Comprehensive Video Guide For Google Voice

    One of my favorite apps from Google is their Google Voice service. It has completely transformed how I handle phone calls. Today Google has posted a comprehensive list of videos explaining how Google Voice can be tapped to your advantage. We don’t want to post the videos here. We will just post one video and lead you to their blog for other videos.
    The rest of the videos can be viewed here .
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  • IBM Targets College Students With Free Cloud Offerings But ….

    Image representing IBM as depicted in CrunchBase

    Image via CrunchBase

    College students are always attractive targets for software vendors. Whether it is the effective targeting of college students in the desktop era by Microsoft or Google’s attempt to enter the market in this cloud era through their #gonegoogle campaign, there is no denying that software vendors find the route attractive from a marketing perspective. It gives them an opportunity to hook the young minds into their technology (philosophy) easily so that they can reap benefits later when these kids get into decision making positions in the industry, academia or government.

    Last week IBM announced an initiative under the Smarter Planet campaign to help academic institutions get IBM software in the cloud computing environment. This will allow professors in these institutions to incorporate technology into their curricula. The idea is to let students of any discipline learn these technologies and use them effectively in their work.

    IBM is initially working with 20 colleges and universities and have plans to expand it further in the future. The offering called, Academic Skills Cloud, will provide academia an opportunity to use IBM software on their cloud computing environment at no cost. The fact that it is running on the cloud ensures that there is no maintenance overhead for these institutions. This initiative will help college students gain experience in the newer technologies.

    The advantages of using IBM Academic Skills Cloud for students include

    • learn the latest technology skills, such as software development and practical use of information management, Web 2.0 and cloud computing and how they can be applied for decision-making
    • access IT curricula and courses from anywhere using their laptop or netbook
    • differentiate themselves from other graduates by gaining key IT skills to better compete for jobs

    From the professors point of view, it helps them to

    • quickly integrate new IT courses in their curriculum, regardless of subject taught
    • more easily facilitate group and long-distance learning programs for students
    • free-up existing university technology infrastructure resources

    With this offering, IBM is all set to capture the minds of young students and a chunk of marketshare in the future.

    I am pretty excited about how we can tap into cloud computing to change the face of education. Our own Dan Morrill is working on an effort that could potentially change the way our kids will get educated in the future. i will let Dan talk about the initiative when he is ready but I want to emphasize that cloud computing has a potential to overhaul the entire education system. If cloud computing is going to change the way education works, it is only natural that these institutions would want to give hands on training on these technologies to their students.

    I really want the young kids to learn about these newer technologies very early in their life. In fact, it is my strong belief that such an early exposure will help them compete at the highest levels easily. But I am worried about molding them so early to a technology of a particular vendor. Whether it is IBM or Microsoft or Google, forcing vendor specific technologies down the throats of young students could be counter productive. Rather, the education institutions should expose the students to a wide variety of technologies from different vendors and open source projects. This will help students gain valuable experience on wide ranging platforms, an experience that could come handy for them even if they specialize on a specific platform in the future. Instead, drilling down specific vendor based technologies may even have undesirable side effect of hindering innovation.

    Education institutions should not encourage such practices because this leaves their students unexposed to some amazing technologies available with smaller vendors who are lacking the money power to offer freebies like IBM, Microsoft or Google. Even though some people in this country think that the idea of capitalism is about winner taking it all, I have a different approach to capitalism. I am convinced that Adam Smith had the my kind of idea in mind when he promoted the concept of free markets heavily. My idea of capitalism involves having a level playing field where vendors, big and small, compete purely on the merits of their products and services. Any playing field that is skewed towards vendors with big money goes against the very spirit of free markets. Education institutions, by joining hands with such big players, are contributing to the very decline of the freedom in the marketplace.

    Yes, this is a rant. Yes, this practice has been going on for quite a while now. Yes, it hasn’t completely killed innovation. I am just throwing this idea out in public so that some of us can take a moment and think about the impact of having an education system not influenced by powerful players. Well, I know that such initiatives help education institutions already burdened by lack of funds. But there are ways to work around such issues. For the very success of a markets based system, we need an education system that is vendor neutral. Keeping in mind that this is a rant and not an analysis, please feel free to jump in and offer your thoughts on this topic.

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  • Dropbox – Envisaging a Future Well Beyond Files


    I’ve been talking a lot recently to cloud storage, cloud synchronization and cloud backup vendors (all variations on a theme but they all have a different emphasis to what they do).

    Recently I had a couple of opportunities to talk with Dropbox, first with founder Drew Houston, and later with recently appointed SVP Marketing and Sales, Adam Gross.

    First some history, Dropbox, founded in 2007 out of the Y Combinator is a file sharing and synchronization product now backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. In its first seven months it grew impressively – expanding from 100000 users to 1 million. In the past seven months it’s continued its stellar rise, having north of 3 million users now.

    When I asked Houston to differentiate his product from the other offerings, he did so by making two comparisons:

    1. The big boys haven’t made a product that users really love
    2. Dropbox is (in his opinion) far simpler than the other startup offerings

    I took a deeper dive when talking to Gross, who parsed their product in terms of situational storage, and pointed out that the metric of importance to Dropbox is the number of devices per person – while today that stands at two for many people (PC and smartphone), Gross recounted his experience at this years CES show where almost every product on display had a network connection – it’s when this vision of hyper connectedness is realized that Dropbox sees itself really starting to change the way things happen.

    At face value, cloud storage is kind of.. boring. I asked Gross what takes a seven year SFDC veteran into a startup like Dropbox. Gross went on to describe his own personal opinion that in the future, successful online storage will be a sort of a mesh that contextualizes the data passing through is into something of relevance to any particular device. He talked of data that will be:

    ubiquitous and seamlessly available no matter what device is being used

    The holy grail then is a kind of semantic nirvana where. for example, I could view a recipe on my online storage platform and my refrigerator can automatically evaluate what ingredients I have and what I need to buy and then pass that information onto my smartphone or directly to an e-tailer. It’s this sort of vision that keeps the Dropbox crew inspired.

    Of course all that is decades (or at least a decade) away – until then Dropbox need to create a product that people actually want to use, and somehow figure out how to make some money out of people using it. To this end, beyond the aspirational discussion above, prospective users need to know how Dropbox works as a product. Well it works just fine – like other offerings of this type I’ve reviewed – Dropbox does a stellar job of just doing what it does in the background – it just works. Of course this is something of a barrier to uptake – Dropbox is remarkable quite simply becuase it is unremarkable – it’s the sort of product people forget about (until it isn’t available any more!)

    In terms of dollars, Dropbox uses a freemium approach. A 2GB account is free while it’s $10 and $20 for the step up to 50GB and 100GB respectively. As a comparison, Syncplicity, whilch also has a free 2GB account, is $15 for 50GB (it has to be said that Syncplicity is integrated with web apps such as Google docs).

    I have Dropbox and Syncplicity running side by side on my three laptops and one desktop – and they both worked fine. I also use SugarSync from time to time – you can’t say I don’t have all my bases covered! There were the usual hassles when folders got shifted – from time to time I’d have to perform a complete sync. Most of this has to do with user interference rather than a failing of the products per se.

    So who will “win”? Well luckily for all concerned this is a big space and is in no way a zero sum game. There’s plenty of room for all concerned to carve out a niche. Most important will be for the vendors to define exactly what their message is, stick to that message and execute well. Watch this space.

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  • NetSuite Finds Partner, Needs to Tackle Verticals


    I had an advance briefing yesterday from NetSuite who are announcing this morning a new partnership with Hein & Associates. Hein is a full-service public accounting and advisory firm with offices in Denver, Houston, Dallas, and Irvine, California. This…

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  • Cloud Pricing War Begins

    Diagram showing economics of cloud computing v...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Finally, the cloud pricing war has begun. I have been complaining about the AWS pricing here at Cloud Ave for some time. In my Sept, 2009 post, I argued that Amazon needs to price aggressively to capture more market share.

    However, I would like to to use this post to once again voice my concern about Amazon’s EC2 pricing. For example, if I setup a small on-demand linux instance and not send ANY traffic towards or from it, I would have to pay $72.00. In my opinion, this is pretty expensive and I am hoping that the competition will eventually drive down the prices. In fact, Amazon has cut the prices of reserved instances by 30% but it is not very appealing to me because on-demand pricing, which is at the very heart of cloud computing, is still expensive. In the case of reserved instances, I am left with the traditional hosting economics and not cloud economics. If Amazon is serious about getting more SMBs and, even, enterprises, they have to price their EC2 offering aggressively.

    Finally, with the official launch of Windows Azure on Monday, the competition got heated up. Microsoft priced its cloud offering very aggressively compared to what Amazon was offering at that time. For example, Windows Azure compute pricing was as follows:

    • Compute = $0.12 / hour
    • Storage = $0.15 / GB stored / month
    • Storage transactions = $0.01 / 10K
    • Data transfers = $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB

    In November 2009, Amazon cut down their prices by 15% across all on-demand instance families and sizes. Today, Amazon countered the impact news cycle regarding the official availability with further reduction in their AWS data transfer prices. The pricing for data out has been reduced by 2 cents per GB. The first 10 TB has been reduced to 0.15 per GB from 0.17 per GB. The next 40 TB has been reduced to 0.11 per GB from 0.13 per GB and so on. Similarly, they have reduced Amazon Cloudfront pricing also by 2 cents per GB.

    According to ChannelWeb, Microsoft is also running an Azure promotion for customers who sign up for a 6 months subscription.

    For $59.95 per month, developers can get 750 hours of Azure compute time, 10 GB of storage, and one million storage transactions, along with 7 GB of inbound data transfers and 14 GB of outbound data.

    The competition is really getting interesting and we can expect to see further reduction in prices by all these providers, leading to an all out pricing war. With Amazon coming up with the innovative idea of spot instances to increase the efficiency in the usage of their resources, further reduction in the pricing is possible in the future. Microsoft, with all its cash reserves and a strong desire to win the cloud game, will hit back with its own price reductions. With all these back and forth pricing reductions, the ultimate winner will be the customer. Long live price wars.

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  • RIP: Sun Cloud


    In March of last year, then independent Sun Microsystems announced their plans for cloud computing. There were some people who dismissed it outright and many more who were skeptical of Sun’s plans. I was in a minority and was pretty excited about the announcement because of its potential to keep the clouds open. In the post I wrote immediately after the announcement, I went gaga about what Sun’s Cloud can do for the cloud ecosystem, in general.

    In fact, when Sun made their announcement last week, the first thing that struck me was it was a good step in the right direction. With their emphasis on openness and interoperability, they are helping the idea of Federated Clouds. If we do not push for this idea of Open Federated Clouds, we will end up with a monopoly of one or two providers in the infrastructure space. Such a monopoly goes against the open federated structure of the internet. The very foundation of Cloud Computing is on top of the internet and it is only natural to take the same open federated structure to Cloud Computing also. In this sense, the announcement of Sun Microsystems is exciting and I hope they follow through on their promise. This announcement should serve as a wake up call to other vendors too. If they don’t embrace the idea of openness, they will end up losing in this new world where the idea of interoperability and dataportability are already intertwined with the consciousness of the users.

    After the announcement, Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems and they went silent on their cloud plans. My attempts to elicit information from them fell flat and I had a chance to talk to some Sun folks during Structure ‘09 conference and they told me that Sun is rethinking their cloud strategy. They tried hard to emphasize that it has nothing to do with Oracle’s plans but they are assessing whether they should go with the public cloud or focus on helping enterprises build private cloud.

    When I was in Structure ’09 conference last week, I had a chance to talk to some folks from Sun and I asked them about what happened to their Cloud Computing plans. Their response got me intrigued. They told me that Sun is rethinking their Cloud strategy. They told me that Sun is now discussing whether they should continue with their plans for public cloud offering or focus only on what is known as Private Clouds. However, they put in lot of efforts to emphasize that their engineers are still continuing with their work on their promised public cloud offerings but there is no final decision on the path Sun will take in this regard. I asked them if it has anything to do with Oracle and they replied in negative.

    Then Oracle-Sun merger ran into problems with European Union and everything on Sun’s cloud side went silent except for some good Whitepapers. In my year end post talking about the Winners and Losers of 2009, I added Sun Microsystems in the Losers category. I was pretty convinced that the game is over for Sun public cloud.

    Now, it is officially over. According to The Register, Sun executives had shot down the plans unequivocally.

    It took a major acquisition to finally deliver a dose of reality, but Sun Microsystems’ me-too Amazon-style cloud is finally dead.

    On Wednesday, Edward Screven, Oracle’s chief corporate architect, said unequivocally that the database giant would not be offering Sun’s long-planned and highly-vaunted compute resource service.

    It looks like whatever I heard from Sun folks during the Structure ‘09 conference might stay on their roadmap.

    “We don’t plan to be in the rent-by-minute computer business,” Screven said. “We plan to provide technology for others that are in the rent-by-minute computer business and lots of other business you might call cloud computing.”

    With Larry Ellison going nuts about the idea of Cloud Computing, this announcement is expected. It is sad to see a giant of yesteryears go down like this. It is sad for the open cloud evangelists. RIP – the sun cloud.

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  • Zoho Reaches Out To Open Source Community


    It is a common knowledge that Zoho (disclaimer: Zoho is the exclusive sponsor of Cloud Ave), the company offering SaaS applications to both consumers and businesses, uses open source for all their backend needs.

    How is Zoho built on the back end? I wasn’t surprised to learn that it is built entirely on open source software and open standards. The server farm they use runs a highly customized version of Linux (CentOS), recently migrated to the 64-bit edition. They originally ran Debian, but were disappointed with the glacial pace of security updates and other fixes, and so switched away. Security on the back end was hugely important for them, and they weren’t comfortable with what they got from Debian in that regard. The rest of the stack consists of things that should be familiar to any open source guru — like MySQL and Tomcat.

    The company is also contributing back the security fixes to the community in the spirit of open source. Recently, they started offering Zoho Discussions, their online forum like service, to open source community free of charge. So far, many of the open source communities are using forum software which they host on the webhost’s servers. Off late, some of the communities have moved to Google Groups. Google groups presented two problems for these communities.

    • Branding was a problem. Google recently added groups to be part of the Google Apps for the domain but it is not available for Google Apps Standard Edition. Many communities didn’t want to pay for Google Apps premier edition.
    • Spam was a big problem in Google groups.

    Sometime back, Zoho announced the release of Zoho Discussions. In fact, it got the attention of many people because it was loaded with features that goes well beyond the ordinary mailing list or forum software. It is designed in such a way that it could as well serve as an excellent tool to connect with and engage customers, offer customer support, receive feedback about their product and services. It could also serve as an intranet and extranet enabling customer and partner communities. This feature packed offering from Zoho can serve as a handy tool for any community with deeper levels of collaboration. Open source, by its very nature, is entirely dependent on the huge number of geographically distributed participants. Zoho Discussions fits very well as a collaborative tool for these communities.

    If any open source project needs a feature rich forum using the Zoho Discussions, they should contact Zoho and can get help for setting up their community. They offer an extensive free plan exclusively for the open source projects, as well as a deep discount on their advanced plans, in case if any project needs additional features. This free offer for open source projects is different from the free version Zoho currently offer to all their customers. They will custom fit the Zoho Discussions for the needs of the open source project and offer the best package suitable for the project. Check out this page for more information on their offering.

    Recently, an open source project, jQuery, took advantage of this offer and switched their forums over to Zoho Discussions from Google Groups. jQuery had significant amount of data in Google Groups as well as mailing lists, approximately over 51K posts and over 116K responses. Zoho team helped jQuery move to Zoho Discussions. The interesting part about this move is that their forum has a theme that closely matches their website, something which they cannot get with Google Groups. jQuery put up a blog post on this explaining their reasoning behind the move.

    • Zoho Discussions seamlessly integrates both regular, forum-style, discussions and Q&A. Additionally, all the moderation and administration tools are designed around building and managing a slick workflow for answering questions and concerns.
    • The Discussions team at Zoho have been incredibly accommodating. They are not only providing all the hosting for free but going out of their way to fix concerns and integrate our full Google Groups back history. We’ve been working very closely with them, and they’ve fixed, or are fixing, every issue that we’ve brought forward

    In short, it is a good move by Zoho. On one hand, this offers them a chance to give back to the open source community and on the other hand, this also serves as a pretty good marketing vehicle for them. For the open source community, they get a free, powerful, feature packed forum without any of the headaches associated with maintaining the forum software and the infrastructure. If you are part of any open source project, I strongly urge you to check out Zoho Discussions and see if it will fit the needs of your project community.

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  • IBM Gets Serious With SaaS

    Image representing IBM as depicted in CrunchBase

    Image via CrunchBase

    When everyone thought IBM will never get the SaaS game, they jumped in with their Lotuslive offerings. They followed it up with the addition of a social component, called LotusLive Connections, to help businesses of all sizes to work beyond their corporate firewall. At Lotusphere 2010 this week at Orlando, IBM announced some additions to their LotusLive Cloud Collaboration Platform which now provides integrated email, Web conferencing, social networking and collaboration with emphasis on security, reliability and enterprise integration. Essentially, this is IBM’s attempt to push SaaS into the enterprises to maintain their marketshare.

    In doing so, IBM has taken a page out of Google’s playbook and announced LotusLive Labs, a collaborative effort between teams at IBM Research and Lotus. LotusLive Labs will offer LotusLive customers access to pre-alpha technologies just like how Google is offering with their products like Gmail and Google Calendar. This announcement follows last week’s dramatic announcement that they have poached a big enterprise customer away from Microsoft Exchange. They announced that they are going to start with one of the largest cloud deployments for Panasonic with more than 300K seats. At that time, they announced that the LotusLive platform is extensible and it would allow Panasonic to build extensions to its infrastructure without increasing the resources of its IT departments. Their announcement on Monday further reveals IBM’s strategy of releasing their own extensions through LotusLive Labs.

    Currently, they have made a handful of such technologies available and this portfolio will grow in number pretty soon. The technology previews available right now are

    • Slide Library, a presentation library using which one can search through libraries of presentations to gather useful information and ideas. And when the presentation is done, it can be uploaded and shared with colleagues and clients.
    • Event Maps, an easy way to browse conference sessions, organize sessions by categories and provide feedback to conference organizers. Event Maps supports collaboration features such as commenting, rating and tagging on conference events.
    • Collaborative Recorded Meetings is a collaborative media and meetings service that records and transcribes the entire meeting presentation which allows one to locate and share part or full presentation with others.
    • Composer lets one create new applications by mashing up all sorts of services from the Web, e-mail, forms, collaboration tools and backend systems.

    None of these are new to many of us from the consumer-centric world. However, enterprises are taking a slower path to adoption and IBM is trying to convince them that they should continue trusting IBM even for their SaaS needs. In fact, soon they will be releasing a collaborative app similar to Google Wave and offer support for LotusLive mobile from iPhone.

    They also announced that they will make APIs for LotusLive services available to any IBM business partner in the second half of 2010. In fact, three of their partners will soon be announcing integrated solutions based on LotusLive APIs.

    • Silanis Technology, which offers electronic signature process management to be integrated with LotusLive Files and Activities
    • Skype, for making voice and video calls with LotusLive contacts
    • Prolifiq, a sales messaging platform integrated with LotusLive Contacts and Files

    Interestingly, IBM will soon move LotusLive offerings to a multi-tenant system much like other SaaS vendors but they are also planning to offer a hybrid solution for enterprises insisting on keeping some of their data on-premise. Another interesting change in IBM’s strategy is the reduction of minimum number of users for a LotusLive Notes subscription from 1,000 to 25. This will help even small businesses take advantage of the same technologies used by big enterprises.

    The economics of LotusLive is still unattractive to smaller businesses and, even, some enterprises. Google and other smaller players like Zoho (disclaimer: Zoho is the exclusive sponsor of this blog but this is my individual opinion) will gain big in these segments. However, with these new offerings, IBM is positioning itself to offer SaaS solutions to their existing customers and also to those enterprises still having difficulty trusting new age companies like Google. IBM’s strategy may not be innovative but it will help them stay in the game and, with some luck, get to eat a reasonably larger share of the pie.

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  • Magazines On The Cloud: Barnes And Noble Should Get Their Act Together

    Barnes & Noble Nook

    Image by somenametoforget via Flickr

    Being a cloud evangelist and an eco-conscious person, I embraced the idea of ebooks early on. After playing around with Sony ebook reader for some time, I jumped over to buy Nook as it had wireless and 3G capabilities. Well, this post is not about Nook per se but my experience with Barnes And Noble eMagazine subscription for Nook. In short, it is a frustrating experience.

    For Nook owners, Barnes and Noble offers eMagazines and eNewspapers for subscription on their site. According to their website, readers will get  14 days free trial and their subscription will be charged at the end of 14 days. Their collection of eMagazines and eNewspapers are nowhere close to what Amazon.com has for Kindle but, nevertheless, I was bought into it because I have plans to go completely paper-free before the end of 2010.

    Screen shot 2010-01-18 at 12.47.24 PMOnce my Nook arrived, I logged into Barnes and Noble website and subscribed to couple of emagazines. In spite of their ad touting 14 days free trial, my credit card was charged. But I was ok with it because if I like the experience, I was anyhow going to pay for it. Later, I decided against one of the emagazines I subscribed and cancelled it on their site. After I clicked through the link, it gave me a notification saying that the subscription will be cancelled in a hour. It never happened. I went ahead and tried to cancel another magazine I had subscribed. The same thing happened. I gave them couple of days time and tried again. The same thing happened again. Frustrated, I contacted Barnes and Noble customer service through email and they replied back saying that the eMagazine subscriptions are handled through Zinio and asked me to get in touch with them (email content reproduced below. The names and order numbers x-ed out for privacy sake).

    We have received your inquiry regarding your order #’s 12xxxxxxx and 12xxxxxxx.

    We are sorry you are having trouble with your magazine subscriptions. Your orders were fulfilled by Zinio, our third party partner for digital magazine subscriptions.  The Zinio Team can provide you with answers to all of your questions about your subscriptions.

    Please contact Zinio?s Customer Service Center at 1-888-946-4666 or via email at: BNsupport@zinio.com 10AM to 9PM EST Monday through Friday. Email assistance will also be available between 12PM to 8PM on Sundays

    Visit www.bn.com and click on the options that appear in the upper right-hand corner to view information about your order.

    We look forward to your next visit.



    Customer Service Representative
    Barnes and Noble

    I was terribly frustrated because when I signed up, Barnes and Noble never told me that my emagazine subscriptions are processed through Zinio. Still, I contacted Zinio support through email and I got the following response.


    Thank you for contacting Zinio Customer Support.

    I apologize but Zinio does not handle eMagazine subscriptions for Barnes & Noble. We do Digital Subscriptions for them which can be viewed on a computer. The eMagazines are a different type of magazine that is for the nook or their eReader software. I’m sorry you were sent to us but unfortunately I will need to direct you to them for resolution. Since we don’t offer eMagazines, I can’t even see the order to help you cancel it.

    You can contact Barnes & Noble at 800-843-2665. I also copied them in on this email to assist them in handling this case and cases like it in the future.

    If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

    Kind regards,

    Mxxxx Cxxxxxxxxxx
    Zinio Customer Support

    When I complained about my experience on Twitter, they took note of that and responded immediately saying Barnes and Noble has given me wrong information.

    @krishnan Nook mags are ‘eMagazines’, we sell ‘digital subscriptions’ on B&N, agents can confuse the two. Sorry you were given wrong info

    I really appreciate Zinio taking time to explain what is going on and this brings into focus some of the questions related to how business is conducted by Barnes and Noble in this cloud based, social media driven world.

    • Did Barnes and Noble learn anything about web based business, in general, and ebooks, in particular?
    • How are they going to compete with the poster boy of the web and leader of the Cloud, Amazon.com, on ebook readers, ebooks, emagazines, enewspapers, etc?
    • While Barnes and Noble took a long time to respond to my email, Zinio responded immediately during the weekend. When I complained about this issue on Twitter, Zinio was monitoring their brand and responded to me explaining the situation. I am wondering if Barnes and Noble even gets social media in this cluetrain based world of business.
    • Irrespective of whether it is a cloud business or a web business or, even, a traditional brick and motor business, training the customer service representative properly is imperative. Especially, when a company is venturing into a new kind of business, they have to go an extra distance to educate the customer service representatives properly about their offerings. Already consumers are confused about new technologies due to confusing levels of information from the media and if the customer service is going to mislead them further, it doesn’t augur well for their business.

    I am glad more and more companies are jumping in to offer services tapping the advantages of cloud (I am using the term cloud a bit loosely here) but it is also important that they do it right and not confuse the consumers.

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