When selling virtual products abroad, don’t put prices on autopilot — Joey Conway and Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

From TechCrunch

If you have a physical product that you want to sell in more than one country, determining the price in different markets can be challenging. You might have to open an office in each country, or at least hire a consultant to assess local demand and analyze the competition.

But if you have a virtual product — say an app for a mobile phone — setting the price for it in different countries is easy. Using the individual exchange rate, the app store instantly will convert the price from your home country to any of the world’s many currencies.

This is, very likely, how prices are set for most smartphone applications sold in different countries. As developers prefer to spend time solving technical challenges, it is all too convenient to leave the responsibility of currency calculations and pricing to Apple or Google or some other virtual marketplace.

But is this the best approach when sellinginternationally? Is there a more profitable way to price virtual products sold in different currencies?

We explored these questions in an experiment that was both a real-world business trial and an academic exercise. We wanted to see whether we could boost revenue for a virtualproduct, Root Checker Pro, an app that helps Android users customize their phones. The app is sold through Google Play — the app store for Android devices — in more than 130 countries.

For our experiment, we selected six different currencies — Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, British pound, Mexican peso, Malaysian ringgit and Saudi riyal. Over six months, we charged various prices for the app in each of the currencies to see how sales and revenue would respond.

Read the full post at TechCrunch.

Joey Conway is creator and owner of Android app Root Checker Pro. He received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management in May 2015.

Catherine Tucker is a Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan.  She is also Chair of the MIT Sloan PhD Program.

You can prevent a ‘Panama Papers’ scandal at your law firm — Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From Huffington Post

The data breach at the law firm of Mossack Fonseca in Panama sent shock waves around the world recently with the prime minister of Iceland stepping aside, Swiss authorities raiding the headquarters of the Union of European Football Associations, and relatives of the president of China linked to offshore companies. The size of the breach was also shocking with 2.6 terabytes of data leaked. That’s 30 times bigger than the WikiLeaks release or the Edward Snowden materials. However, the most shocking part of the “Panama Papers” story is that the breach and exploit of the popular open source project Drupal was totally preventable.

Everyone knows that law firms manage large amounts of highly sensitive information. Whether the data involves an individual’s estate plan, a startup’s patent application, or a high-profile merger and acquisition, clients expect their information to be secure. Indeed, lawyers are required to keep this information both confidential and secure. Yet, despite the very high level of security owed this information, many firms lack an IT staff and outsource the creation and maintenance of their data management and security services. Once outsourced, there is an assumption that someone else will effectively manage the data and ensure its security.

This is many firms’ first mistake. Even if they aren’t managing their own IT, law firms still have an obligation to make sure that data is properly secured. This means asking frequent questions about security and ensuring that the vendor is implementing reasonable security measures.

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How a technology-push process led to the reboot of Google Glass — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From Wired

Google Glass exploded into the tech scene in 2012 with the pomp and circumstance of an Apple product unveiling.  It put “wearable technology” into the lexicon of the masses.  Accolades poured in from both the technology world and the fashion world.  Celebrities, politicians, runway models, even Prince Charles wore them in public.  And yet, as of January 2015, Google Glass as we knew it was no more.

There are many great articles that explored what went wrong. I will not repeat the many excellent points made.  Instead, I would like to explore how Google approaches new technology development, and how that approach, together with the initial public relations hype and the lack of a killer app, ultimately led Google Glass down the path of a reboot.

GOOGLE AND THE TECHNOLOGY-PUSH APPROACH

First of all, Google is fundamentally a technology company, run by technocrats. They even make product manager candidates do whiteboard coding during job interviews.  Google does not define and develop products like Proctor and Gamble: through market pull and problem identification.  Instead, Google consistently pursues products as technology pushes.  This approach often results in solutions that are either in search of a problem, or solves a problem in a less-than-effective manner. Think about Google+,Google Wave, Google Health, or other former Google projects which were subsequently shelved.

A technology push process is not necessarily an invalid strategy for Google.  With an R&D spend of $2.18B in Q4 2014 alone, Google can afford to take large-scale risks.  So, they try many things – and some fail.  Project Glass’s first incarnation happened to be one of them.

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Robo-Sabotage is surprisingly common — Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

From MIT Technology Review

As you probably know by now, HitchBot—a device made of pool noodles, rubber gloves, a bucket, and the computer power needed to talk, smile, and tweet—was deliberately decapitated and dismembered this week, only 300 miles into its hitchhiking journey across the United States. HitchBot had successfully made similar journeys across the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada, relying on bemused strangers for transportation. The geek-o-sphere is up in arms, claiming that this violence reveals something special and awful about America, or at least Philadelphia.

I think perhaps there’s something else at work here. Beyond building robots to increase productivity and do dangerous, dehumanizing tasks, we have made the technology into a potent symbol of sweeping change in the labor market, increased inequality, and recently the displacement of workers (see “Who Will Own the Robots?”). If we replace the word “robot” with “machine,” this has happened in cycles extending well back through the Industrial Revolution. Holders of capital invest in machinery to increase production because they get a better return, and then many people, including some journalists, academics, and workers cry foul, pointing to the machinery as destroying jobs. Amidst the uproar, eventually there are a few reports of people angrily breaking the machines.

Two years ago, I did an observational study of semiautonomous mobile delivery robots at three different hospitals. I went in looking for how using the robots changed the way work got done, but I found out that beyond increasing productivity through delivery work, the robots were kept around as a symbol of how progressive the hospitals were, and that when people who’d been doing similar delivery jobs at the hospitals quit, their positions weren’t filled.

Most entry-level workers did not like this one bit. Soon after implementation, managers at all my sites noticed that some of these workers sabotaged the robots. This took more violent forms—kicking them, hitting them with a baseball bat, stabbing their “faces” with pens, shoving, and punching. But much of this sabotage was more passive—hiding the robots in the basement, moving them outside their preplanned routes, obscuring sensors, walking slowly in front of them, and most of all, minimizing usage. Workers and managers attributed these stories to an ongoing, frustrated workplace dialogue about fair work for fair pay.

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