It looks like TSF have made a clever choice of opening their campaign with the Sony Ericsson suite which I think will be given away as a 'freebie taster'. I say clever because the Sony Ericsson brand is very popular brand. Disney, too. They will both have large Worldwide appeal. Whereas MyColors seems to currently be mainly but not wholly 'US biased' towards US brands i.e NFL, NBA, US Colleges etc.
You think that there's a huge demand for people to dress their computers to look like a Sony Ericson? Really?
The Disney argument is more valid but it isn't apparent yet whether the Disney themes will be available on release.
However how many people do you know want to make their Windows PC look like one of the Disney priincesses? Do you? Does anyone reading this? Or do you think that the female demographic for skinning PCs is large enough to offset the fact that essentially no males (or straight males anyway) are going to want to have a Cinderella desktop or something.
Will TSF be paid or receive revenue from the two aforementioned companies? In which case this will offset some of their 'start up' costs whilst they get a foothold into the market.
It depends. I'm not privy to TSF's books. But in my experience, companies won't pay that much. I know how much TSF received from Alienware when they did themes and it's not enough to help "launch" anything.
Moreover, how exactly do you envision them getting a foothold? Right now, their "marketing" consists of Jeff, the owner, going onto forums giving sneak peeks. When the NHL series of skins was released, the NHL put MyColors up on every team website for a month. That's a launch. Is Disney going to put Hyperdeks on their main home page? I highly doubt it.
Despite what you think, companies are always looking for different ways and channels to get their 'brand awareness' out there. The media, internet and other sources are no longer enough for the big players in this world. They are looking to exploit every opportunity of getting their brand in your face and what better way than having a professionally done computer desktop screen sitting looking you in the eye rather than the boring luna/aero interface. If Sony Ericcson and Disney have put money into TSF on this venture then it will be peanuts compared with their overall advertising budget. And what a clever way of getting their brand in front of your face on a day to day basis.
Wow. You speak as a real authority on the topic. On what basis do you think you are more familiar with these issues than I am?
I didn't say that companies arn't looking for ways to increase their brand awareness. I said companies with existing huge distribution channels are generally not looking to. There's a big difference.
And you make some big assumptions there about TSF funding.
Let's be accurate here: I obviously believe in the concept of companies creating branded PCs. I was, after all, the guy that started that. But branded content is only one piece. You have to have distribution channels too.
You speak as if we're not already doing this today. We're not running around forums hyping up MyColors. It exists. Today. It doesn't have 2 brands. It has hundreds. You may poo poo the NCAA teams, NHL teams, NBA teams, Corvette, Mustang, Camaro, and so on but these are pretty major brands, certainly bigger than the Sony Ericson brand.
You also aren't addressing the major challenges they currently face which does them a disservice when you sweep it under the rug. They're XP only. They have no Vista version coming any time soon. I know this because as recently as a couple weeks ago they were emailing people asking for help to write a Vista version. A vista version is a prerequisite for any serious distribution.
And as if the above wasn't enough, the uxtheme patching disqualifies them from a lot of major channels. Hackers may not think patching system files is a big deal but it is for technically savvy companies. I.e. don't expect to see this on Dell or HP or Gateway or Toshiba or other technology company's lists.
The bottom line is TSF are in this to make money, like any other business.
Of course. But lots of companies lose money too. I run a $20 million company that I founded myself. TSF, after 8 years in business, still hasn't broken a million - not for lack of trying. I think that qualifies me as someone who knows a bit on business.
I don't think the distribution issue will be quite as tough as you seem to think but only time will tell.
And you think this why? Because you like The Skins Factory? Just faith? I put forth concrete, specific, reasons. We've already gone through this with MyColors. The challenges I mention that they face are significant.
Sure, time will tell but no one does them any favors by just closing their eyes and hoping for the best.
Jeff is a talented art contractor manager. No doubt about it. But I think it's pretty obvious he's not a very good business man. Stardock Design made more than TSF in its first year. Like you said, there are huge opportunities out there. TSF could be making a fortune on the opportunities out there. But I don't think Hyperdesk is going to succeed.
I'll happily eat crow if I'm wrong. But when it comes to business, I'm not often wrong.
The interesting part will come when they offer the 'paid for' suites. There is substantial income in this area to be made if you can a) produce a suite with popular appeal and good artistic content,
pitch it at the right price and c) protect it. c) is becoming a big player as the loss of income from pirating has become more than a big headache for a lot of companies.
Again, you are an expert..how?
Let me give you some very basic business advice: The sales of a product or service are dependent on the combination of content, distribution, and marketing. All 3 have to be in place to succeed. Missing even 1 is doom. Hyperdesk has none of the 3.
He's launching with, at best, 5 or so "hypersutes" (recoloring the Ericson suite 4 times does not count as 4 suites). That is about 95 short of what he needs to have enough content to be a major player.
He has no likely major distribution channels. No major OEMs, no major channel partners. He won't even be on Alienware which would have been low hanging fruit.
And he has no marketing. His marketing consists of hyping his relatively unknown website and making repetitive forum posts on skin sites. No magazine ads. No TV ads. No retail promotions, etc.
I know Stardock were going to introduce some form of protection and encryption for MyColors suites but there are many pirate sites around the world offering these suites for free and using even more clever methods of covering their tracks so an search engine won't find them. You don't have to look hard to find half a dozen Sins of Solar Empire suites on different sites and judging by the comments left by some of the downloaders, they are fully functional and virus free.
Leo, I really respect your earnestness here, but you need to come out of the time machine here.
MyColors protects its content TODAY. Its skins are encrypted TODAY. You can go on any bittorrent site and try to find a MyColors theme. Good luck. they aren't there. Feel free to post a link to a Sins of a Solar Empire MyColors theme here.
I just checked the major torrent sites and binary news groups. They'e not there. That doesn't mean someone somewhere hasn't pirated it. But let's face it, piracy is about reducing lost sales through illegal distribution. Unless Hyperdesks protects its content, the .msstyles files will be out all over the place pretty quickly. After all, he's trying to sell .msstyles into a market that is full of people used to cracking system files and doing so for free.
Personally, I'll be sticking with Object Desktop and Stardock as it gives more of the 'experience' that I am am looking for. I think Hyperdesk will bring more people into the world of customization and many of those people will go on to want more than the Hyperdesk 'experience' can offer. That's where your product comes in and so in a way - if Hyperdesk steals a bit of your thunder from MyColors it may well ignite interest in Object Desktop. Let's face it that's how I and many others like me came to be here. We started changing wallpapers, then got into mss/visual styles and found that we wanted more and then tried Object Desktop and never looked back
Hyperdesk could bring more people into the world of customization if it had a real business plan behind it.
I obviously believe in the concept of Hyperdesk, we've been doing it successfully for over a year now with MyColors.
The problem isn't the quality of the themes. It's not the idea. It is that any successful product must have content + distribution + marketing. Without those 3 things, it's doomed. Doesn't matter what the product is, how good it is, or how cool the idea is. Success requires those 3 things. It's basic business.
I think I began to think Hyperdesk was doomed when I started seeing Jeff personally making multiple "teaser" posts on WinMatrix. I think that was the point we realized that Hyperdesk was in trouble.
Can you imagine if Stardock Design went around to WinMatrix and made a post each time a new MyColors theme was released? There's like 150 of them with new ones coming out each week. Hell, how often do you even see Stardock itself promoting a particular MyColors theme. Not too often, not even on its own sites. That's because these websites are simply not big enough to "get the word" out in a meaningful way. We only need to promote MyColors as a whole.
Like you said, Leo, time will tell. But the issues I brought up in the article have to be addressed as well as the basic business model.