iTunes Downloads- 5 Billion Served

Apple announced today that iTunes downloads have now topped 5 billion. I posted back in January 2007 that iTunes had hit 2 billion purchases…

I note we’re now comparing downloads with purchases- which may or most likely may not- be the same thing, but the growth curve looks very impressive:

It’s worth highlighting that the number of weeks required for the second 2 billion downloads took less than half the time that it took to reach the first 2 billion…hence the exponential curve, not a straight line…the rate of change growth is accelerating… Ray Kurtzweil would be pleased to see exponential growth in action.

You might like… Recommendation Engines

If you're reading this blog, then you might like recommendation engines.

I've been continuously impressed by Amazon's recommendation engine. As I've expanded what I buy through Amazon (heart rate watches, cooking utilities, computer peripherals, etc.), Amazon has done a very good job of processing those likes -across categories- and making very intelligent suggestions that have resulted in purchases.

Apple, on the other hand, can't seem to figure out what MUSIC I like despite having bought numerous albums and even being signed up for their artist alerts… Apple constantly alerts me to new hip hop and r&b content. I bought some snoop dogg two years ago…but I'm no big hip hop fan. What about Dave Matthews? I've probably bought about 5 albums. Alerts about Dave? Zero.

I'm aware of the "gift drift" that you can get with Amazon if you buy a friend's kid a copy of The Gruffalo- for the next several months you get offered children's books non-stop (I've actually never had a problem with Amazon's recommendation engine).

Looking forward to the mobile internet, recommendation engines- or agents- are going to become even more relevant- who's around you, what they are listening to, and why you might like it, that your favorite store (based on transaction history) has your favorite stuff on sale and the bus is 12 minutes away… etc.

Apple is smart (understatement), but the problems they have with recommending good music underscores the challenges facing recommendation engines.

If this is something that you're particularly interested in, O'Reilly has published a great book on the topic:Programming Collective Intelligence.

Highly recommended reading.

First-time Entrepreneurs?

Library House's newsletter yesterday (free registration req'd) highlighted an article by David Storey in the FT- making the case that there is no correlation between an experienced entrepreneur/management team and a company's success.

Storey summarises this belief [that failure is accepted in the US, and that it is a source of learning] to dismantle it, arguing that knowledge gained from a failed business makes little difference to future business success, due to the unpredictability of starting a business. ‘The best analogy is with a lottery,’ Storey writes, ‘it is not possible to learn to win a lottery.’

Storey points to research in the UK and Germany which indicates that experienced founders are no more or less likely to succeed in starting a new business than novices. It goes against one of the basic tenants of venture capital investing – focusing on the experience of the management team

At first, I thought that was the stupidest thing I had read in a very long time.

However, after giving it some more thought, I actually agree:

I'm not too worried about entrepreneurs being young or old; experienced or novice. I *am* worried about very large markets where an investment can be the leader (or at least one of the top 3). I'm also worried about great products and real, unmet needs…

An entrepreneur's experience? I've never lost any sleep over that one.