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IPAD/FB Seminar- Thoughts on Pulse News

Monday's presentation was full of interesting sparks. Of all the eleven teams, only one chose to present FB app, which is Sims Social. The others all chose to present ipad apps. That's not so surprising as Ipad(Tablets) is the most recent platform and there are a lot of blank spaces for us to fill in. The ten ipad apps shared in the seminar covers various fields like e-payment, news-media, education. What surprised me most is that many of us find education a very promising area for mobile app development...As ipads are being utilized as an educational tools in various educational levels, education is really going to be a great pie. Wait, I need to finish comments for my assigned app first. Pulse News, a news media app with good social features.

News media are getting more social and mobile and probably "cloudy" in the recently years. Organizing news media contents can be a promising area since there are always interesting things happening around and people just have the great pain to organize large amount of information from various sources.

Like many news media apps, the technology behind Pulse News is not really that profound. It is just a RSS reader with more customization and social features. Compared with many news media apps like Flipboard, the UI is not really that awesome. However, it's good, in a way that users know how to use it the first time they try this app.But unfortunately, other news media apps also have got a very good user experience.

What is really bad about it is, as mentioned by Vaarnan, the search contents cannot be customized. It implements Google to search the relevant contents, which is not really that customized for users. Filters and more customized algorithm should be implemented in this app.

Vaarnan has also introduced a great feature about Pulse News-Users will not be redirected to a web browser for an external URL. The Pulse News has made a very good integration for information retrieval from external links. That's really really great.

Some original thoughts:
One idea comes to my mind. As the Mac OS Lion and the coming windows 8 is adding gestures and touch features on the desktop system, a news media app in other platforms (like the desktop app in these new systems and web browsers) with social features and touch experience can probably be very popular.

Another thought:  How to compete with other apps with a better UI and UX? Compared with Flipboard, Pulse News is really not that outstanding. As is mentioned by Deepan, Flipboard team consists of many great programmers and they believe valuation without monetization. How can other news media app survive if there is such a great competitor? Probably no other way but to differentiate oneself in a way that fits the target group and fully customize the group' needs.


  1. I guess since Windows 8 will be tablet-optimized, the news apps on it will still be considered a tablet app (imagine Pulse for Windows 8). Your idea actually got me thinking of whether there are currently any news readers that attempts to replicate Flipboard's UI (probably through the touchpad's swipes, more for Macs).

  2. Thank you Xianyou for your comment. It's really possible someone else will replicate Flipboard's UI on other platforms if Flipboard doesn't take the action first.I tried Pulse news on my ipad, the UI is pretty much like an app on ZUNE/WP7. I guess it might have a better market in the coming Windows tablets than ipads.

  3. I think the problem with pulse ui is cluttered. One look at it, you will think that it's very messy that prompted the need for a quick tutorial on how to use it. However, i think it's because i was exposed to flipboard that influence my view on pulse. I not exactly sure which app was launched first but i use to like pulse when I didn't discover flipboard yet. I guess one way is perhaps to change the background to white which will give it a cleaner look and provide better gestures for navigation.

  4. Thank you for your comment, Yao Long. I agree with you that a more customized background can be a good choice for Pulse. From your comment, I realize what Prof. Ben mentioned in the class when WP7 was introduced. iphones and android phones have a similar user experience, but WP7 is different. It really depends on whether the user will accept it or not.

  5. As the Mac OS Lion and the coming windows 8 is adding gestures and touch features on the desktop system, a news media app in other platforms (like the desktop app in these new systems and web browsers) with social features and touch experience can probably be very popular.

    So how? Do you plan to build one?

  6. Maybe, I'll ask the peers whether they are interested or not. The Windows 8 itself has a RSS reader but not that user-friendly yet.I think it's possible to make a Pulse news on Win8. The final project can work on Win8 as well, isn't it?

  7. Hi Prof. Ben, Can you help have a look at this idea? I came up with it myself and I find it a very promising one. It's written in my newest blog.
    f. My own thoughts.

    1.All About Sales

    As Milton has mentioned on Monday, sales people brought a great great value to a company. It would be very profitable if we create a site that offers great sales people to help sale products for a retailer.

    I came up with a business plan: We make a SalesPerson website that allows retailers to offer a deal on the website, if the deal was successfully made by a sales person(a user registered on our website), the retailer need to share 20% of the total income to our website and the website can share 80% of the income to the sales person who actually makes the deal happen. That is to say, the sales person is actually like a part-time employee of our website and we make profit out of every successfully deal the sales person has helped other retailers. Even if the sales person buys the deal himself/herself, he is like paying 16%(1-20%*20%) less than the usual price for a certain deal. This website then benefits 3 groups of people: the retailers(they may not be able to sale some items by themselves), the sales people(they can get money on the deals they help made and they can receive discount if they buy the deals themselves), the website(we make money by the successful deals these sales people contribute). That would be so great,why not have a try!

  8. The final project can work on Win8 as well, isn't it?

    Yeah, but I wouldn't recommend it. We don't have Win8 phones around and there really aren't that many of them around. I think you're better off with Android or IPhone or both (HTML5).

    Can you help have a look at this idea? I came up with it myself and I find it a very promising one.

    The problem is that it is not easy to find good sales people. I think your idea has some potential, but you will have to find retailers who want to sell through your site and also salesmen who want to sell for you.

    Also sales is also not so simple. The salesmen have to be trained about the product in order to sell properly. There's a training cost.

    Overall, I think there's potential in the idea, though as with all ideas, execution is key. Not clear to me how to execute it well.

  9. Thank you, Prof. Ben.

    I agree sales is not that simple.Initially, I thought the website will attract a lot of retailers and salesmen since the website offers a pretty good payment for the salesmen and the retailers can expect a higher price by employing a good salesmen in our website.

    It's true that the quality of a sales person matters a lot and we may not find good sales people at the beginning. However,I personally think it is the DEMAND in a certain region that really determines whether a product can be sold or not, not the quality of a salesperson(though it is also very important).
    To the retailers, they don't really care how the proficient the retailers are,as long as there products get sold. It's really how large our market can be that determines whether it will successful or not.

    Above are just some random thoughts. I'm also not that clear how to execute it well.May ask more friends:) Thank you again!


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