Archive for April, 2009

Brand Awareness and Perception

Awareness and Perception are the two key metrics that any company would use to measure their brand strength.

Awareness in simple terms – how many people know my brand? Usually, awareness is measured through surveys that asks participants a series of questions like “What brand comes to your mind if you want to buy shoes? In general, companies measure unaided awareness- what % of survey participants mentioned the brand without any kind of hint.  For top brands like Coke, McDonalds the awareness will be close to 100%.

Perception is the values consumers attach to a brand.  For example, perception for Volvo will be safety.  To measure perception of a car company, survey will have questions like “How do you rank car brands in terms of safety? And various questions will be asked on quality, performance, or green. Outcome of the survey reveal the brand perception. List of questions depends on what is goal for the brand and how you want customers to think of your brand.

Studies have shown that awareness and perception plays a big role in the market share of a product. What is important? Awareness or perception?  For a growing company (trend) like Twitter, awareness would be the prime driver to grow the product usage. As more people are aware of micro blogging and Twitter, more people would use Twitter. Hence % of awareness level would decide Twitter’s growth and penetration among online population. On the other hand, for a mature business segment like ’cars’, awareness may not be the major driver of market share. Close to 100% of people might be aware of Pontiac but many would not buy Pontiac cars. Hence perception matters the most for Pontiac. Not only the stage of company and industry, other factors such as type of product, level of competition, switching cost, risk of switching also drive the importance of awareness vs. perception.

Generally, it takes at least frequency of 5-6 ads through various mass media to gain 1% increase in awareness among population. Cost for such a campaign will be close to $100M. Since consumers are constantly bombarded with huge number of ads, new products and brands, cost for gaining awareness is constantly going up. Given the high cost involved in conventional mass media, small startups leverage non conventional and inexpensive media like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and Youtube to generate brand awareness and perception. Most importantly, companies leverage current user base to generate awareness and perception. Facebook and Twitter effectively used their user base to increase awareness. Services like Facebook  are useful to consumers only when more people use the service. Hence users inherently have an incentive to popularize the service. For any company to be successful in the future, its product or service should have some way to provide an incentive for the users to recommend the product to others.

Couple of decades ago, building a brand like Twitter or Facebook would have required multibillion dollar investments. However, these brands were built with faction of the cost by aligning user incentive correctly and leveraging the users.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too


Web apps are desperately trying to leverage the full power of the desktop. We had JS, Flash, Silverlight, all technologies that run locally on the client while still keeping your data on the server.

Here’s one more from Google called Google Native Client (NaCl). This is a browser plugin that allows websites to run full blown native apps on your PC through your desktop. Apps are written in C++, but have several restrictions on what they can or cannot do.

It does sound interesting and very cool (especially the C++ part), but here’s the real question. Web apps do want to use your bandwidth and now do want to use your computing power, but why don’t they want to give up control over the data? There seems to be an unhealthy interest in centralizing the data while not centralizing the computing resources.

For all intents and purposes, the direction of some of these technologies seems to indicate that we soon will have apps that will be downloaded Just-In-Time and run on your computer when you open the website in a browser.

But wait a sec, I thought these were called Java Applets. :-)

Announcing Tonido Plug – small, low power, low cost Home Server

CodeLathe is proud to announce the launch of Tonido Plug – small, low power, low cost home server for public . Tonido  Plug will be available for pre-order shortly at Tonido Plug’s website.

tonido_plugWhat is Tonido Plug?

Tonido Plug is a small form factor computer (size of a power adapter)  based on a powerful 1.2 GHz Sheeva processor. Tonido Plug  consumes less than  5W power consumption on average and one can run a Tonido Plug 24/7. Tonido Plug comes with a  Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 connector.  Connect your Tonido Plug to an external USB hard drive and to your home router you instantly get a low cost, low power home server for less than 100$. Tonido Plug comes pre-installed with all your favorite Tonido Applications – Photos, JukeBox, Webshare and Workspace, Thots all running on embedded Ubuntu Jaunty Linux OS. Tonido Plug allows you to access your Tonido apps, files , music and media from anywhere – Intranet and Internet. For more info on Tonido Plug please check out

Technical Specifications

  • 1.2 GHz  Sheeva Processor, ARM compliant
  • 512MB Flash
  • 512MB DDR2
  • USB 2.0 and Gigabit  Ethernet
  • Power input: 100-240VAC/50-60Hz 19WDC Consumption: 5V/3.0A

What is Tonido?

Tonido is an extensible and open (available under GPL and commercial licenses) platform that allows you to run your own personal web applications on your desktop and form your own private Tonido network. Applications and data are always local.Since Tonido is extensible, you choose the applications that you want to install and run. Current applications include a browser-based personal information manager (PIM) , a browser-based media player, a direct Tonido-to-Tonido photo sharing app, a personal blog and note keeping app and an application to share any desktop folder directly to the web. For more info on Tonido please checkout

How does Tonido Plug work?

Step 1: Connect Tonido Plug to your home router and to any external USB hard drive.

Step 2: Connect Tonido Plug to power socket.

Step 3: Connect to Tonido Plug from any device with a web browser using Tonido Plug’s local IP address and create a Tonido Profile.

Step 4: Access your Tonido Apps, files, music and media from anywhere using your Tonido URL (

That is it. You are done.

Who can use Tonido Plug?

Tonido Plug is ideal for homes and small businesses looking for an inexpensive home server or network attached storage. With Tonido Plug you can have your own reliable storage at a fraction of cost of your on line backup service providers while providing 24/7 access to your files from anywhere : intranet and internet.  With Tonido Plug, your data never flows through a third party server or storage which offers complete privacy and absolute control over your private data.

When Tonido Plug will be available?

Tonido Plug will be available for pre-order shortly. Once you pre-order Tonido Plug you will get your device approximately within 4 – 6 weeks. For initial few orders we are offering  Tonido Plug for a special introductory price of $89.99.

Where can I pre-order Tonido Plug?

You can pre-order Tonido Plug at

Tonido: Q and A

I thought this would be a good place to do a mini faq on some of the general comments and issues raised by various people around the net.

1) Is Tonido about Cloud Computing on your Desktop?

No. I don’t think we ever told anyone in any message that Tonido is about Cloud Computing. For some reason, blogs chose that as their headlines (cloud being the hot topic of the day). We can say that Tonido is an alternative to web apps and is another way to access, communicate and collaborate directly without data flowing through a thirdparty.

The whole cloud notion is nebulous at best and confusing at worst. It is used interchangeably to mean different things, so we don’t want people to think Tonido is somehow related to Cloud computing.

2) What is the motivation to build Tonido as a platform?

If you read my previous blog on the future of software apps, you will agree that the future is clearly browser based. We wanted to build an alternative to web apps hosted elsewhere (where you will end up losing control and your data) . And to do that requires thinking a little bit more than just building a bunch of apps. So we took a lot more time, put a bit more thought into it and built it as a platform where apps can reuse the common components and don’t have to reinvent the wheel once again.

3) How do I trust the Tonido platform?

The short answer is that the Tonido platform SDK is becoming open source. I really can’t see a better way for gaining trust. We also plan on allowing users to run their own Tonido DS server. When that happens, your Tonido instance is truly private.

To add to that, Tonido as a product and its code, before release was audited by a security audit company for security issues.

The longer answer is that trust usually comes based on experience with a particular product or company after a while. So you just might have to look at the track record of the people behind Tonido etc and the products they worked on before. If you can trust that then you can trust Tonido.

4) Why is there no download for my favorite Linux distro? Mac OSX on PowerPC?

In making the decision to go with 3 main OSes, we had to cut some corners. We picked the best option in all three and went with them. We figured the important thing is to release it and then slowly getting it right. Besides, how many products do you know that release on all 3 OSes on day one? We are actually proud that we pulled it off. You should see the number of machines we have to get it going. (topic for another post)

5) Why is there no feature X yet or feature Y yet?

The simple reason is that we wanted Tonido to go out and evolve based on user feedback and user usage patterns. We wanted feature X and feature Y to be driven by strong feedback from our users. So by just asking us why something is not there, you are actually helping us make a decision on prioritizing and implementing those features. So be vocal, complain and let us know.

6) When you say Tonido Platform is open source, does it mean the apps that are being shipped with it?

No, currently only the Platform is open, which means that developers can build new apps on top of it easily. The individual apps shipped currently are not open source.

If third party developers want to build great Tonido apps and want to get paid for their efforts they should be.  If they want to release it open source they can too. We didn’t want to limit the type of apps only to be free ones.

7) Why does the Tonido Platform require apps written in C/C++/Lua and not in Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP?

The overriding consideration for Tonido was that it should be light weight. We could only do that with C++. 5 apps now weighs less than 10 MB download, less than 20 MB in memory. Trying to use any other language required a lot more baggage and setup. Besides, I am not sure how easy it is write a P2P library using other languages (like PHP). Finally, C++ is a language I love and what I know best and it allows me to be 10x more productive than anything else. (even if I have to type 10x more lines than perl to get the same thing done). So even though C++ may not be the best language, it certainly allowed us to build Tonido in half the time it would have taken otherwise.

Besides there are a lot of C/C++ programmers out there who may not have transitioned to the whole web application development, we are hoping many of them do find Tonido Platform easy to to build apps on top of.

Finally, just because C/C++/Lua is available today doesn’t mean that is the only environment that will ever be possible. We are looking at embedding Python or PHP inside Tonido. So look out for that. Having C/C++ being the core of Tonido allows all kinds of language bindings tommorrow, so it is definitely a little limiting today, but not tomorrow.

Have more questions? Please post in comments and we will answer in Q and A part 2.

So much to do, so little time…

Our blog has been pretty quiet the last few days. And the reason is a good one, we have just been swamped with great response to the Tonido beta.

Since being published on a bunch of big blogs(MakeUseOf, LifeHacker), there have been a huge number of people downloading, creating profiles and getting in touch with us.

A big thanks to all who sent in comments that made our effort in the last 1.5 years worthwhile.

Frankly, it is all a little overwhelming. For the first time in the last 1.5 years, programming came to a complete standstill so that we could digest and chew on all that came pouring through. And it has been pouring as never before from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, comments, forum postings, direct emails. Just a lot of feedback.

We are trying to pull everything together and organize it in one big list. We are also trying to figure out what is the next most important thing to do. And believe it or not, we have plenty to do, upto 3 new plugins are in the works, 2 more in the pipeline.

We are also amazed by the interest in the Tonido platform, so that is one of our priorities. We are planning to get at least the Windows SDK version out quickly and get the other OS versions later.

We also have a significant product announcement coming within this week. So stay tuned.

Now let me get back to work.

The Tonido platform is going open source

It is going to be a month since we released the public Tonido beta. Since then we have got great response and feedback from everyone who has tried Tonido.  We even recently crossed a milestone with the number of Tonido Profiles created as well as number of people online.

At CodeLathe, we believe in the power of the open platform as well as in the open source movement.

We think that there is great potential in the Tonido platform and really like the power and flexibility that Tonido offers to end users. We also believe that there are many more applications waiting out there that are yet to be developed by creative developers for Tonido. We want those applications to come alive on the Tonido platform.

As a first step towards that goal, we are happy to announce that the Tonido platform will be available under a open source license (Most likely the GPL v3). This means you can download the Tonido Platform SDK and develop applications based on it completely free of charge.

Not only do we want to get more users to try the Tonido platform, we also want developers worldwide to develop on the Tonido platform.

If an open source license doesn’t fit your needs, the Tonido Platform SDK will also be available through other licenses.

It is going to take a short while to get the SDK ready for download and all the licensing legal stuff worked out.

If you would like to sign up on our developer mailing list, please do so. We will send out information once the SDK is ready.

Betting on Cloud Services? Think again.

“Microsoft confirmed on Monday that Azure users suffered an overnight outage over the weekend during which their applications weren’t available. “
ComputerWorld Mar 19, 2009

“Business and personal users of Gmail suffered an outage starting about 1:30 a.m. PST Tuesday”
CNet News Feb, 24 2009

“Amazon storage ‘cloud’ service goes dark, ruffles Web 2.0 feathers”
CNet News Feb 15, 2009

“ was down for under an hour on Tuesday, leaving many users in the dark. “
PC World Jan 6, 2009

“According to reports on Friday, cloud storage provider FlexiScale (, a unit of UK-based web hosting provider Xcalibre (, has been hit with its second outage in two months, leaving some customers without access to their servers for more than 18 hours.”
Web Host Industry Review Oct 31, 2008

“Recent unreliable commercial e-mail service from Google has underscored the need for enterprises to develop contingency plans for software-as-a-service applications.”
Gartner Sep 3, 2008

“Outage Forces Cloud Computing Users to Rethink Tactics – IT Departments scramble to devise backup plans following service disruptions at Amazon, Citrix and Google.”
Information Week Aug 16, 2008

“Microsoft Windows Live Services Suffer Global Outage.”
Channel Web Feb 26, 2008

When the system is down and when the business is idle for more than 30 minutes, the reputation suffered is priceless.

Despite the possible privacy issues, businesses and individuals are lining up to get a spot in the cloud. There are a number of advantages listed for cloud services – Reduced Cost, Increased Storage, More Mobility etc., Well… the goliaths and proponents of Cloud Services are yet to prove that they can deliver their service in a reliable fashion.

Did you lose your tweets recently?

We have lost all our tweets that we have written between  (March 17 – April 4, 2009 )  from our twitter account. We again lost some tweets after April 4th.

Did it happen to any of your tweets? or  Is it just a random occurrence?

One billion dollar valuation is all fine and dandy. But first Twitter need to make sure that their messaging platform is scalable (You guys must have seen Twitter Over Capacity Message!) and stable.

If it happens again, probably we need to think about releasing our own peer-to-peer twitter clone on top of our Tonido platform to talk with our followers. Let us know whether we are alone in this twitter episode.

Tonido Thots – Your personal WordPress

In our continuing roundup of Tonido applications, we covered Tonido Jukebox, Tonido Webshare, Tonido Photos and Tonido Workspace.

The newest application that is part of the 0.2 release available now is Tonido Thots.

As a long time WordPress user, I love how WordPress works. The ability to post interesting things to your blog and share them with the world as a thought stream is such a simple and powerful concept.

Over time, as I used WordPress, I wished I could organize all the information that I keep around in my own personal WordPress; without necessarily needing to share this to the world. This was a little impractical as WP or any modern blog software requires setting up a web server (Apache and likes + MySQL + PHP) which is a little too much to run on a regular basis.

Now there is a way using Tonido Thots.

If you like WordPress, you will love Thots.

Tonido Thots is a private blog or journal, which you can use to store notes, bookmarks, web clips, and other random pieces of information. Thots is deliberately simple and easy-to-use and uses the familiar blog UI that has become so common these days.

So what could you use Tonido Thots for?

  • Keep a personal journal to record your moods, your insights, events in your life
  • Keep track of what you are working on each day as a work record
  • Use it as a store of interesting web URLs that you come across when you browse the web (easy to do with the ClipThots Firefox plugin), that may or may not be worth sharing publicly via or such services
  • Use it to store clips of web page text (again with ClipThots) that you find interesting
  • Use it as a research tool to organize information you discover and to keep track of, irrespective of whether you are working on a PhD or researching the next car to buy (Not that you will buy a car during this economy)
  • Use it to track various events in a chronological order
  • To post individual posts to Twitter, thus keeping a backup of your tweets.

Your Thots data is completely private and resides only on your desktop. And since this is a Tonido application, you can access it and use from anywhere, online or offline.

Here are a few screenshots of Thots in action.

Thots Main Page


You can see Thots looks identical to a WordPress blog (Which is not a bad thing), with full search, categories, timeline, RSS feed etc. You can directly add Thots and edit thots without a separate admin interface.

Editing a Thot


You can see the editor in action, allowing you to set a date and time, as well as change categories for this thot. A simple text editor is available for now, but look forward to more advanced features in the near future.

Firefox Integration


If you use Firefox (and you should if you are not) Thots makes bookmarking and clipping text from webpages easy-as-pie. Once you install and setup the plugin, you can simply right click on any web page to bookmark effortlessly. Bookmarks are automatically categorized in a ‘Bookmarks’ category that you can later file away in better categories. The same for clipping web text.

Thots is a simple application, but its simplicity is it’s strength, allowing you to do what you want to do without getting in your way.

Like Thots, get it now.

Announcing TonidoFox, a Firefox Extension for Tonido

CodeLathe is proud to announce the general availability of Tonidofox,  a Firefox addon for Tonido. The aim of the plugin is to help automate monitoring tasks for Tonido and provide useful shortcuts for Tonido and its plugin applications. Some of the features of  Tonidofox are

  • Monitor local or remote Tonido server for new messages or group invites
  • Provide easy shortcuts to directly open Tonido applications using right click shortcut

Future versions of Tonidofox will provide greater integration with other Tonido features. Tonidofox is currently supported on Firefox version 3 and higher.

Once installed, Tonidofox will show up as an icon in Firefox’s status bar (Right bottom corner)


The interactions with Tonidofox is via right and left mouseclick on the Tonidofox icon. Right click on Tonidofox will display Popup with option to set Tonido server information and Access Tonido Application shortcut menus.


In order to set the Tonido server information, select the “Set/Change Tonido Server” option.  When no Tonido server is set (as in the case after a fresh install), left click on Tonidofox will also display a dialog box to set the Tonido server information.


Once the Tonido server information is added, Tonidofox will monitor the Tonido server.  Currently, Tonido server monitors for new messages and new group invitations.  Tonidofox icon color will change to indicate whether Tonidofox is able to connect to the Tonidofox server instance, new notifications available or otherwise.


Note that once a new Tonido server information is added, it will take few seconds for Tonidofox icon to change  color because of the periodic checks.

When a message or a invite is received by the Tonido server being monitored by Tonidofox,  the Tonidofox icon will change color to indicate that notification is available. Left clicking on the icon will show additional information.


Tonidofox also supports updates and any new updates to Tonidofox can be easily applied using Firefox’s add on update mechanism. We hope to provide powerful features at regular intervals to enhance the Tonido experiance.

Interested ? You can download Tonidofox here