Mobile and Internet

Dana Blankenhorn writes:

Mobile phones are what the Internet was because the industry lives in dog years.

The difference is that while the Internet was defined by server software, mobile phone change is driven by devices.

The specific phone you have defines everything about your mobile experience. What you can do, where you can do it, and what you can buy are all defined by the particular phone in your hand at any one time.

So, unlike the situation on the Internet, not everyone is on the same page. Not everyone is in the same year.

If you want to be in this business you have to be up-to-date with it. That means having the latest phone in your hand, the fastest network available. That is the state of the art.

But it’s important to understand this if you’re trying to analyze the market. Unlike the Internet in the 1990s, not everyone is doing the same thing in the mobile universe. Not everyone is on the same page. Not everyone is living in the same dog year.

I agree. When I bought the Nokia 6600 a few months ago, it made me think about the mobile world very differently.

Pricing Software

Joel Spolsky has an excellent piece on how to price software. He also discusses two bad ideas:

Bad Idea #1: Site Licenses.

The opposite of segmentation, really. I have certain competitors that do this: they charge small customers per-user but then there’s a “unlimited” license at a fixed price. This is nutty, because you’re giving the biggest price break precisely to the largest customers, the ones who would be willing to pay you the most money. Do you really want IBM to buy your software for their 400,000 employees and pay you $2000? Hmm?

As soon as you have an “unlimited” price, you are instantly giving a gigantic gift of consumer surplus to the least price-sensitive customers who should have been the cash cows of your business.

Bad Idea #2: How Much Money Do You Have? Pricing.

This is the kind used by software startups founded by ex-Oracle salesmen where the price isn’t on the website anywhere. No matter how much you search to find the price, all you get is a form to provide your name, address, phone number, and fax number, for some reason, not that they’re ever going to fax you anything.

It’s pretty obvious here that the plan is to have a salesman call you up and figure out how much you’re worth, and then charge you that much. Perfect segmentation!

This doesn’t work so good either. First of all, the low end buyers are just going to move on. They will assume that if the price isn’t listed, they can’t afford it. Second, the people who don’t like salesmen harassing them will just move on.

So, don’t do site licenses, and don’t try to make up prices as you go along.

Urbanisation Trend

SiliconBeat writes about a talk given by John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins: “Lately, the firm has started prowling for energy deals, a departure from its traditional focus on information services and healthcare. ‘Thats a left turn, a new initiative for Kleiner,’ he told the audience, made up mostly of other venture capitalists and investors. Most of Kleiner’s investments in energy so far are still in stealth. Urbanization will be one of the biggest global trends between now and 2030, Doerr explained, citing several studies including one by the National Academy of Sciences. Asia, in particular, will be creating scores of huge cities, he said. Theyll need clean water, power and transportation.”


Fast Company has a special issue on creativity. One of the articles busts six myths:

1. Creativity Comes From Creative Types
2. Money Is a Creativity Motivator
3. Time Pressure Fuels Creativity
4. Fear Forces Breakthroughs
5. Competition Beats Collaboration
6. A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization

TECH TALK: On Watching Swades: Preamble

I watch very few movies. And when I do watch them, besides seeking out the entertainment value, I also try and see what we can learn from the movie and the characters. Movies bring alive on wide screen a part of our hidden (and sometimes unknown) selves. What I did know about Swades from watching the promos and reading some of the reviews was that it was set in rural India and was about this NRI (Non-Resident Indian) who comes back.

My connection with rural India is very limited. I go to Rajasthan visiting temples for 3-4 days in a year. [I wrote about last years visit.] Rural India is far away from my life. Yes, there is an idealism of wanting to help transform it, but theres little that I have done towards that other than pointing to Atanus paper on RISC (co-authored with Vinod Khosla) and his writings. Yet, for the most part, Rural India is another world. As my aunt put it when watching the movie: it is a world which people in their 60s know intimately. Those in the 40s may know a little bit of it. Those in the 20s dont care. I could add: those in their 30s (people like me) know a little and care a little, but dont do anything.

I was an NRI for four years (1988-1992). I was among those who knew they would return they left. My father had done the same in the 1960s and that was what was expected of me. So, I did return. In the past 12+ years that I have been in India, there have been a fair share of ups and downs. But not for a moment have I regretted the decision. India is home. I even wrote a Letter to NRIs to think about coming back!

I had liked Ashutosh Gowarikers previous movie enough to write a full Tech Talk series on it: Leadership Lessons from Lagaan. So, going into the movie, I was somewhat positively biased.

When I went to see Swades in the previous week, it was already into its third week. The reviews had not been encouraging. In fact, in India, the movie had not become the hit that had been expected from the maker of Lagaan. The movie had done somewhat better abroad.

I found the movie which I found refreshingly different. It has its flaws feels like a documentary, slow pace, and all that. But if one looks past all of that, Swades is a movie from the heart of Ashutosh Gowariker which not only brings out Shah Rukh Khans best performance to date but also is a call to arms to all of us to bring about change. It has multiple messages not just for NRIs to return home and work towards making difference, but also of how one determined person can transform a community.

If anything, Indias revolution is going to have to come from the grassroots we need a million Gandhis, not just one. Overall, Swades is a movie Id like to recommend to everyone forget its documentary-like feel and other negatives. Look closely at a part of India thats long been disconnected from us. And think what each of us can do to bring about change around us.

Tomorrow: The Story