wants a date with your desktop calendar
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
October 21-27, 2008; issue 991
High Tech Office column
Last September (BIV 934 to be
exact), I wrote about local software developers Calgoo Software (a.k.a.
Time Search, Inc.). Its same-named product offered users a desktop
calendar, but before you roll your eyes, thinking that you’ve already
got one, with Outlook, or iCal, or Google Calendar or whatever, Calgoo
lets users synchronize multiple calendars across multiple computers.
Work and home, Windows and Mac (and Linux), online and offline. Members
of a workgroup could co-ordinate schedules.
Like many software
companies looking to build market share, there was a usable free
version along with a paid version offering added capabilities.
July, the Yaletown-based company sent out a press release: effective
immediately, all its products would be available free. Users who had
bought a copy of the software would receive e-mail support not
available to freeloaders.
Free would seem to be the best price
of all, but Calgoo’s announcement left me with a question. In dropping
the price to zero, what was the business model? Google offers a host of
free products, but gets revenue from ads. Microsoft uses free software
to lock users into the Windows ecosystem. Many open-source projects can
provide useful free software, because they’re built by developers
co-operating in their spare time.
According to Calgoo CEO
Andrzej Kowalski, the company justified the move to free to drive up
user numbers. It seems to have worked. Traffic on its servers increased
fivefold after the announcement.
But moving the product line to free
software is just the first step in the company’s evolution. Rather than
focus on stand-alone calendars, the company is using the expertise it
developed in synchronizing a wide range of desktop calendars to roll
out what Kowalski calls the first in-calendar marketing service.
an example of what that means, Kowalski points to Calgoo client, Maple
Ridge Golf Course’s booking service, Teetimes.net. Using Calgoo
software, Teetimes.net offers what it calls golf course calendar feeds
that give users the ability to check availability and book time at
local golf courses from within the calendaring software they already
use. In most cases, users don’t need to install additional software.
Instead, users – who have to opt in; no spam here – set their Outlook,
iCal, Google or other calendar to subscribe to the service, viewing
availability at the course of their choice when they want to book.
helping users to book 18 holes, in-calendar marketing is a useful idea.
Calendar entries would become, in effect, the best kind of ads –
targeted directly, in a time-sensitive way at potential-customers who
have asked to receive them. I know I would be happy to be able to view
in my calendar announcements from a number of businesses: information
on new products, sales, events and more – as long as I had the ability
to turn them off any time I was no longer interested in receiving them.
notes that organizations using Calgoo’s service will have access to
real-time analytics. They’ll be able to see how many people are
subscribing to their calendars and see how many click-throughs they’ve
received as a result of any calendar event.
Using calendars as
marketing tools is not new. I’m sure we’ve all received free calendars
from insurance brokers, car dealers and other local businesses.
Calgoo’s service takes this several steps further – making it possible
for businesses to use calendars to provide ongoing updates of the
information they pass on to potential customers, not just once a year. •