Tim O’Reilly at OSCON

The presentation is here. It discusses what’s on Tim O’Reillly’s radar. From a report by Daniel Steinberg:

The platform is the Internet and not the PC. These applications are built on top of open source but are not themselves open source. Tim says that’s OK because they have built tremendous value. More importantly, if we want to move open source forward, we have to understand that the whole model of what constitutes open source doesn’t work. For example, you could give away the Google code and still not be able to implement Google. If we’re thinking of openness we have to ask what openness means in that context: a world where an app runs on 100K servers and Richard Stallman cannot run it on his personal machine.

As you create your web-based applications, ask how you might build a participatory level around the data in the same way that eBay and Amazon.com have done. Tim left this topic asking who is going to control the key namespaces and who will integrate the entire open source stack. He suggests we think beyond Linux and ask who is going to be the Dell of open source and make sure that evrything works well together.

From one of the presentation slides:

– The Internet, not the PC, is the platform
– Apps are built on top of open source, but not
themselves open source
– Doc Searls DIY-IT a key to success
– Services, not packaged applications
– Source code + compilation ≠ application
– Exploring how to become platform players via web services APIs
– Data aggregators, not just software
– User contributions key to market dominance

There’s also a discussion about social software.

Apple as the Microsoft of Music?

Fast Company quotes Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich who said that the recent alliance between Apple and Motorola could turn Apple into the “Microsoft of music” and make the iPod the “defacto standard in digital music.”

Milunovich says the 0.5GB of memory for songs of Motorola music phones is a different market from the 4GB iPod mini or 20GB and 40GB fourth-generation iPods. “Getting users to try iTunes on their cell phones introduces them to portable music the Apple way,” he says.

As a result of the alliance, from early next year Motorola phone users will be able to transfer music from iTunes to a new mobile version of the software on the phone. Music, including paid-for downloads from the iTunes music store, will be transferred via USB or Bluetooth, and the mobile player will be the standard music application on all Motorola’s phones.

The Network Computer

Dare Obasanjo speculates in the context of Google: “A friend of mine, Justin, had an interesting idea at dinner yesterday. What if Google ends up building the network computer? They can give users the storage space and reliability to run place all their data online. They can mimic the major desktop applications users interact with daily by using Web technologies. This sounds far fetched but then again, I’d have never imagined I’d see a free email service that gave 1GB of free email.”

This is what we want to do in Emergic – for people in emerging markets who cannot afford access to expensive thick desktops.

There is a follow-on post by Dare Obasanjo which has a longer discussion on what Google is planning to build.


Jon Udell switches to Bloglines for his aggregator and writes: “Like Gmail, Bloglines is the kind of Web application that surprises you with what it can do, and makes you crave more. Some argue that to satisfy that craving, you’ll need to abandon the browser and switch to RIA (rich Internet application) technology — Flash, Java, Avalon (someday), whatever. Others are concluding that perhaps the 80/20 solution that the browser is today can become a 90/10 or 95/5 solution tomorrow with some incremental changes…It seems pretty clear to me. Web applications such as Gmail and Bloglines are already hard to beat. With a touch of alchemy they just might become unstoppable.”

MTV India

[via John Robb] Fortune has a fascinating look at MTV’s experience in India.

Seen from afarsay, from the executive suites atop Viacom’s building in Times Square or NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters or Disney’s base camp in BurbankIndia looks like a great place to be in the television business. More than one billion people live in India, and while most remain poor, the middle class is expanding rapidly. The economy grew by 8% last year; advertising grew faster. Consumers are getting their first credit cards and buying mobile phones, motor scooters, CD players, and of course TV sets. What’s more, unlike China, where the central government tightly controls television and print, India enjoys a robust democracy, a boisterous press, and a vibrant film and music industry. So it’s no surprise that every one of the global entertainment giants, whose businesses are maturing in the U.S. and in Western Europe, have journeyed to Indiaand to the rest of Asiain search of growth.

What they have found upon arrival is a media landscape unlike any otheras noisy, chaotic, overcrowded, and impossible to navigate, at least for a stranger, as the streets of Mumbai, the nation’s entertainment capital.

India has about 100 channels vying for $600 million in ad revenue. MTV gets about $25 million. The key point in the article is the need to localise and be patient.

TECH TALK: A Tale of Two Summers: 2004

Just as I had spent the two-and-a-half years prior to the summer of 1994 working on a variety of things in my first years as an entrepreneur, I have spent the past three years doing a similar set of varied activities in search of the vision for tomorrows world. I am one of those people who need to imagine a new world reasonably well to get started. Of course, part of the way of learning is to keep doing some things. Which is what we have been doing for the past few years. Thin clients, server-centric computing, weblogs, digital dashboard, messaging, security, collaboration softwarethere has been a lot of seemingly unrelated diverse activities. And out of these experiences, I knew, will emerge a vision for the future.

In some ways, the ideas have all been there how do make computing more affordable for the worlds next markets and users. This was a slight variation on my original idea in 1991 which was to make a low-cost eBusiness suite available for small- and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets only to discover that the primary problem that needed to be solved was that of making computers affordable enough so that every one in the business could afford to have one on their desk. It is hard for even an application as basic as email to make useful internally if only one in five of the staff have computers.

The past few months have helped in widening the scope of the problem and given enough pointers to the solution that needs to be put in place. Affordability is just one of the dimensions of the challenge. There are three other issues that need to be tackled desirability, accessibility and manageability. Taken together, these are the ADAM of computing (as I discussed in a recent article in Business Standard).

I set myself a goal: how do we make computing (or better still, commPuting) available as a utility for Rs 700 ($15) per month per user. This would make it close enough to the pricing of a mobile service. It would also mean taking a wholistic view and focusing on the total cost of ownership computing did not just need a rented computer (or a computer paid for on installments) or just connectivity. The full solution comprises of the access device (the computer), the software and the content that users need, broadband connectivity (512 Kbps or higher) and support.

This is a non-trivial challenge considering todays reality. PCs today cost Rs 15-25,000. Software is largely pirated which has limited in the applications that are available in the Indian context, always-on narrowband connectivity (64-128 Kbps) costs Rs 500-1,000 (and has data transfer limits), support is sketchy, and locally relevant content is largely missing.

This has been the vision of what I have called Emergic over the past couple years. Initially, the focus was narrower just hardware and software. My solution has been thin clients, server-centric computing, open-source software and remote server management. But as I contemplated these issues this summer, I realised that we would have to create nothing short of a completely new ecosystem for computing. Solving one or two of the challenges would not be enough all of them needed to be addressed simultaneously.

Tomorrow: Bridging Two Worlds

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