Learning from competition – Marco.org by Marco Arment

Reacting well to competition requires critical analysis of your own product and its shortcomings, and a complete, open-minded understanding of why people might choose your competitors.

Hmm … this one will stick with me all day. I don’t sell a product but one could argue that I sell my services to my full-time employer. What am I going to do today that will help me understand and overcome the shortcomings of the service I’m selling to them?

Shifty Jelly’s challenge to Marco Arment to write an Android app.

… we’d like to publicly challenge Marco Arment to bring Instapaper to Android and drop the negative attitude. We’ll bet you one large cup of our finest Australian Coffee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how great the Google Market is. In many ways it’s a better place to be than iOS, since so many developers are ignoring it, and yet there is a massive install base waiting to give you their money. (via Shifty JellyAnd Marco’s response: So I’ll make it more interesting. Instapaper has a public API. I’m not aware of any good, >stable, feature-rich Android Instapaper clients that actually use it and aren’t just ripping off my iOS app’s private API. If you make the first great Android Instapaper client that: uses the official API contains a significant portion of the iOS app’s features, the details of which we’d work out privately runs on a wide variety of Android devices and OS versions including modern smartphones, the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, and whichever 10” tablet matters at the time of completion is priced at $2.99 or higher in the U.S. with approximately equivalent pricing elsewhere, and satisfies requirements to be sold in the Google Marketplace, Amazon Appstore, and whatever B&N uses for the Nook Tablet I’ll call it the official Instapaper app for Android, I’ll promote it on the Instapaper site, I’ll drop the subscription requirement for its API access, you’ll answer all support email that comes from it, and we’ll split the net revenue 50/50.

My title is Senior Advisor. Outside of my employer, I've never seen it used to describe anything I do. Most of my peers in the industry go by the title Senior Analyst. At least with that title, people assume I spend my time analyzing something. But in fact, both titles are generic. They don't mean much of anything. Even after I tell people I work in the Information Security department I still get blank looks. Senior Advisor in Information Security doesn't improve understanding. I usually end up having to add more detail. Here's what I came up with after a few years of trying to explain it.

I help develop security strategy, architecture, process and policy to manage the security risks associated with employee access to the Internet and serve as a advisor to the Network Security and Security Awareness programs.

Does it work? Sometimes. But then I have to explain Security Awareness.  Am I proud of what I do?  Yes, but explaining it to non-technical folks isn't always simple.