Archive for August, 2010

Billings Pro hits the shelves

August 31, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Marketcircle released Billings Pro today.  It’s a multi-user time-tracking system based on the quite successful Billings application.  We’ve used Billings for some time and are quite pleased with the workflow.

The main problem with Billings is that it is very inelegant at handling time from multiple workers.  It’s not even just that Billings runs on a single computer.  Billings simply doesn’t allow for multiple workers to be handled in a simple and transparent way.

Billings Pro aims to solve all of that, allowing multiple workers to enter their time from their OS X computer, via the web, and on their iOS devices.  But it’s not cheap.  Billings logs in at a svelte $39.95.  By comparison, Billings Pro costs $199.95 per user.

Given all that it Billings Pro does, the price is probably about right.  But small firms with only a couple of billing workers face a steep price climb by using Billings Pro, from $39.95 (lumping work for two people into one timesheet in Billings) up to $399.90 (managing two workers properly with Billings Pro).

But that one-time bump in cost may be worth it.  I’ll be checking it out over the next few weeks and report back.

Apple: It’s about much more than just the products

August 7, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

I’ll admit it.  One of the reasons I like using Apple products is that Apple really gets it.  When I bought my first Mac back in 2003 (a Mirror Drive Doors PowerMac G4), I was just looking for something new.  I had followed the technical development of Mac OS X and was quite impressed.  But I was mostly just taking a leap of faith.

Today, Apple has so much more to offer.  But it’s not just about the products.  Apple is arguably the most successful company in the US right now.  And that means there are lots of lessons to be learned from Apply for any business, including a law firm.

In the past week I came across two articles that delve into the marketing of Apple computers.  Neven Mrgan posted this quick comparison of the all-in-one computer web pages of Apple, Dell, and HP.  It’s fascinating to see the difference in approach taken by Apple.  Dell and HP seem to assume that you’re only going to visit their website if you have already decided to buy one of their computers.  For all the talk about the Steve Jobs reality distortion field and Apple “tricking” people into buying their computers, it often seems to come down to Apple’s competitors completely forgetting about this thing called “marketing.”

Case in point, a post on Minimal about product lines.  If I wanted to go shopping for a Dell or HP today, I wouldn’t have any idea where to start.  They both decided to copy Apple from the early 1990s — the time when Apple had completely different model numbers for computers that only differed in their amount of memory and storage.

Dell has the following small and medium business laptop lines:

  • Latitude
  • Vostro
  • Inspiron Laptops
  • Studio Laptops
  • Precision Mobile Workstations
  • Gaming Laptops
  • Studio XPS Laptops
  • Mini Netbooks
  • Adamo

Has Dell really identified nine discrete markets for their laptops?  And, if so, why do they does their website do such a terrible job of telling me which line is perfect for my needs?  It’s important that a product or service speak to the customer’s needs.  Dell and HP seem to really be lacking there, whereas Apple has really hit the mark.

Apple is clearly worth watching.  They’re not without fault.  But there is a lot to be learned from observing how they do business.