Sazze: Like Yelp For Products

While Yelp is an online place to read and write reviews of businesses in your city, Sazze is an online place to read and write reviews of products. It moved from closed to public beta yesterday.

As Mashable Paul just noted, there are many product review sites on the web already. Sazze sets out to be “more of a social, well-networked atmosphere for its users than the average consumer is likely to encounter through many existing services.”

Sazze has an obvious bootstrap problem, in that the quantity and quality of reviews need to be established in order to bring shoppers to the site. There are already many products there, but there seem to be almost as many opportunities to be the first reviewer of a particular product.

I took the opportunity to write the first review of the SanDisk Sansa Clip (1 GB) MP3 Player. I liked the ability, the encouragement even, to link from the review to a URI outside the Sazze site. That said, once the review is published, the relationship between the on-site review and the off-site page to which it links isn’t clear.

Sazze has a “blog” that seems to lack two of the essential features of a blog: a permalink for each post, and a feed.

I think it’s unlikely that Sazze will manage the difficult task of boostrapping within a crowded market segment. Being like Yelp is all very well, but Sazze doesn’t have Yelp’s local angle, and so it’s unlikely to develop Yelp’s local sub-networks of members.

Sazze might be hoping that sub-networks will form around product categories. However, most product categories already have their own specialized sites and activity at existing super-sites. For example, last night I did some research on headphones to go with my Sansa MP3 player. I found plenty of reviews at Head-Fi and at Amazon.

Andy Grove’s Book Survives

A dozen years ago, Andy Grove’s Only the Paranoid Survive came out. I had cause to pick it up again today.

You can find (most of) the preface online at Intel. Here’s the key definition: “a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.”

In order to describe the fundamentals of a business, Andy extended Michael Porter’s Five Forces of Competition model into a Six Forces model. The force he added was that of complements. For example, Microsoft Windows was an important complement to Intel’s chips, and remains so today.

OtPS is a Six Forces account of Intel and its environment. That said, it is a dozen years old, and that’s a long time in a tech industry. The risk of obsolescence is particularly acute when we realize that the last chapter is “The Internet: Signal or Noise? Threat or Promise?”, opens with the then-recent story of Netscape’s IPO, and goes on to explain what the internet is. But the chapter stands the test of time remarkably well.

So does the book as a whole. I expect to be able to rate OtPS as highly in another dozen years, for the clarity of the six forces framework and Andy’s exposition.