Thursday, July 2, 2009

eDoorways Part 3 - Target Market

According to this eDoorways page, the company's target market is the 47 million "micro-boomers". The young adults who grew up during the Internet Age are seeking out hip new sites and services like Twitter, Facebook, Hunch, etc. They have a new lingo of 'tweets' and 'googling'. They spend their days on sites that look clean, slick, and easy to use.

It is hard for me to reconcile that target market with what I see on eDoorways. First of all, the terminology is like something my parents would find appealing: Doorways, portals, . Doorways? Really? You want hip young adults to talk like grandpa? "Well, I finally got onto the Internets and opened a door to a site where I could ask questions. They had little rooms that I could sit in and other doors for me to go to when I had other questions. Then I cranked up my iPhonograph and listened to the hot new single from Fats Domino."

You might as well put a midi file looping on every page so that you create that great elevator music atmosphere. Or post phone numbers so that users can just call each other with questions. Or deliver a delorian to each user so they can go back to 1993 when a concept like doorways would have been cool.

Web 3.0
The easiest way to spot a person with no clue about technology is when they say a site will be so 'Web 3.0' and go on to talk about unified services and real time collaboration. That phrase was picked up by Microsoft to dismiss its utter failure at recognizing Web 1.0 and it's struggle to compete in a web based desktop world of Web 2.0. So if you can't compete with current technology, grab some new nonsense term that fools some people into thinking you're actually on a new level.

There is a general theory behind the next iteration of the web (which some dub Web 3.0). Whereas the current iteration (Web 2.0) is about connecting people, the next iteration will focus on connecting people with complex questions to information. In other words, you'd type in a complex question into Google like "I want to go to Paris for less than $2000" and it would immediately spit out a link to a cheap flight with a package of low cost hotels.

The inference is that the future search algorithms are much more aware of colloquial human speech and are populated with common outcomes to human decision making.

Doorway to the 90's
And that is everything that eDoorways isn't. eDoorways starts by playing catchup to the social networking game. Then they depend entirely on a live database of humans to answer questions in near real time. That is a huge step back to Web 1.0 style message boards. A true 'Web 3.0' company would be far more automated and semantic.

If eDoorways really wants to be hip and relevant, they should model a mix of and At Hunch, people can and do type in complex questions. They are then presented with a set of questions to clarify and narrow their needs. After a minute of questions, they are presented with three answers that most closely resemble their needs. The answers are a combination of paid ads that qualify with the semantics of the question and user defined criteria.

Suggested Actions
eDoorways is really close to the mark. They've got to figure out a way to solidify a purpose and interface that matches their target market. If they continue to focus on "micro-boomers", they have a long road to hoe. If instead they focus on older users that are relatively new to the web, I think eDoorways will be much more successful in that niche.

Update: 7/7/09
eDoorways just hired IRG (Investor Relations Group) to manage their public image. Excellent move. At the very least, IRG will be able to generate a smokescreen of good press for the short term. Even if the web service doesn't take hold, they should be able to bring in enough traffic to hold a sustainable mass.

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