Rise of the Platforms – Atmosphir Launches

Lost in the whirlwind of launches over the past few days including the iPhone 4, its new operating system iOS4, Salesforce Chatter and Google Voice; a small gaming company’s public launch got lost in the mix from the tech blogosphere.  Atmosphir is more than a game, it’s a platform for gamers to customize virtually everything including their characters and new levels.  Once a user has created a new level, that user can share the level with the entire community.

It’s truly unique gameplay and shows promise that the game won’t stale over time.  In comparison, Zelda has 16 titles while Mario has god knows.  What if these two classics allowed you to extend the game, or allowed users to create a bundle of levels that could be brought together to create new stories so the game would never end?  The game manufacturers, like I would expect Atmosphir is doing, could simply enable new features of game play while maintaining the service.

This brings up an interesting thought; What’s the point of building something that isn’t inclusive of a platform or at least contains a fully open API to build on top of?  Creating software today that doesn’t allow strangers the ability to tinker seems like a road to failure.  I can’t think of a company that is creating cutting edge stuff that isn’t working on a platform.  Yahoo! has BOSS(Build your Own Search Service), Salesforce has Force.com, Microsoft has Azure, Amazon has AWS and Pervasive (the company I work for) is even getting into IaaS or Integration as a Service with our DataCloud2 platform.

It doesn’t stop there, smaller companies are also jumping on the bandwagon to extend their niche.  The hottest thing in mobile right now is location, but developers don’t have to worry about curating their own location data or features; Simple Geo, Geo API and Location Labs all have platforms with location data and services ready for consumption.  Further proof is what some companies are calling Font as a Service or FaaS.  Fontdeck and Typekit allow web designers access to an encyclopedia of fonts via web services which should help push the adoption of HTML5 and CSS3 further faster.

Here’s a video overview of Atmosphir

Everything can be simpler

I often help prospects fix something here or there with an implementation before they buy my software.  When I do, I use a tool called GoToAssist to remote into their system to see and fix issues quickly.  I launch the application which instructs me to tell someone to go to www.fastsupport.com and give them a nine-digit support code.  This is what the customer sees:


The first few times I was asked “What do I put for Customer Name?”  I’d immediately respond with their name wondering how someone found it so difficult to place their name in the box.  After two months of using the product I no longer think the issue lies with the user as this question has been asked all but one time I’ve used this service.  The field name should say “Your Name” then possibly display a grayed out example “Doug Johnson” in the field itself.

This goes back to my post about “Overcoming the Learning Curve” and why you need to try and understand your customers better so you can support them better.  Don’t always assume that you can predict what someone will think or how they will use something.

Brave with Technology

I used a mobile boarding pass (shown) for the first time today and it was a reminder of the learning curve. My mom is always timid with technology and claims that she “isn’t good with technology.” My experience today serves as proof that it’s not being “good with technology” but rather “brave with technology.”

When I checked in for my flight last night I saw a new option for a mobile boarding pass. “About time” I thought and eagerly chose that option, how many others would have done the same vs saying “I don’t know how that works so I’m going to go with the standard option.” When I got to the TSA agent and showed her my phone, she pointed to some free standing piece of machinery. I took my phone and began to flash the below barcode to various areas on the device that I figured might have been a barcode reader(I was way off). The TSA agent got frustrated with me and started barking orders at me until I got it right.

Needless to say I looked pretty stupid for a bit, but now it’s done and I know how to use it. It serves as a reminder to me that I need to always try the cutting edge stuff to stay an early adopter and not be complacent with what I’m used to. I invite others, including my mother to do the same.