Search Predictions

John Battelle looks ahead to 2005 (and also analyses his 2004 predictions). Among them:

1. We will have a goat rodeo of sorts in the blogging/micropublishing/RSS world as commercial interests push into what many consider a “pure medium.” I’ve seen this movie before, and it ends OK. But it’s important that the debate be full throated, and so far it looks to be shaping up that way. I’m already seeing these forces at work over at Boing Boing, and I am sure they will continue. We’ll all work on figuring out ways to stick to our principles and get paid at the same time, however, I expect that things might get more contentious before they get better, and 2005 may be a more fractious year in the blogosphere as we evolve through this process.

7. Yahoo and Google will both test systems that combine local merchant inventory information with search, so that merchants can use search as a direct sales channel. By the end of the year, there will be no question that the search companies are in direct competition with the ecommerce companies, but it won’t matter – there’s room for them all.

15. Mobile will finally be plugged into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user and a major mobile innovation – the kind that makes us all say – Jeez that was obvious – will occur. At the core of this innovation will be the concept of search. The outlines of such an innovation: it’ll be a way for mobile users to gather the unstructured data they leverage every day while talking on the phone and make it useful to their personal web (including email and RSS, in particular). And it will be a business that looks and feels like a Web 2.0 business – leveraging iterative web development practices, open APIs, and innovation in assembly – that makes the leap.

WSJ’s 5 Tech Trends for 2005

WSJ has a look-ahead by Tim Hanrahan and Jason Fry:

1. The PC price wars will flame up again.
2. The tension between the established press and blogs will ease.
3. Search and advertising will get more local and personalized.
4. Information really wants to be free (as in freely available).
5. Microsoft will get pushed (a bit) off the desktop.

Location-based Services

Netimperative writes:

[So far,] the market for what came to be known as Location Based Services (LBS) has only truly taken off in the area of Business-to-Business navigation, fleet and asset tracking – which is thriving and is already a multi-million dollar industry. But the market for other applications, so enthusiastically promoted a few years ago, seems to have stalled. Why?

In the consumer sector, operators simply dont prioritise LBS, preferring to focus on proven revenue streams, like SMS and ringtones. But unless successful applications can be launched, theres a real danger that LBS using operator networks will never happen.

The first LBS applications were technology-led concepts. If we build it, people will use it and pay to use it the thinking goes. This led to flawed concepts like nervous parents tracking children, Find my nearest X and the Starbucks Scenario. Lets briefly look at why these ideas fail.

So, what might work? As usual, the true innovation in this sector is happening outside the operators influence and thats where the clues to future successes might be.

The key seems to be less obvious applications that bring the real world and the digital one closer together to form the seamless new reality.

Dream Features of an All-In-One Handheld Device

From the results on an AvantGo Mobile Lifestyle Survey:

1. Calendar/contact list
2. Easily syncs with PC
3. Great battery life
4. E-mail/messaging
5. Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
6. Compact size
7. MP3 player
8. Phone
9. Large screen
10. GPS locator
11. 20+ gigabyte memory
12. Camera

A comment from Blackberry Blog: “If you just take the top 4 and assume that those are the most important, it seems the users are saying something different than the market. More and more devices are coming with color screens, big harddrives / memory cards, MP3 capabilities, video playback and cameras, but users still just want to be able to maintain a list of contacts, synchronize those contacts with a PC, not have to charge their device and be able to send and receive email and SMS. No wonder Blackberry sales are going through the roof!”

TECH TALK: On Watching Swades: Directors Cut

The film’s director, Ashutosh Gowariker, talks about the movie in various interviews.

Screen: The story stems from our basic self-absorption, our disregard and dismay over situations surrounding us Its about how easily we accept all the wrong doings About how we always wait for someone else to clean up the system.

Rediff: I believe individuals can make a difference. The film’s protagonist Mohan Bhargava has lived in the US for 12 years. When he revisits India, his journey reaches him to a (fictional) village, Charanpur. It is governed by the panchayat, which attempts to solve the problems of the village but is orthodox in its approachMohan is confronted with several social ailments: caste system, illiteracy, child labour. He decides to be proactive and better the lives of the villagers.

RadioSargam: There are lots of issues that face our people. But no one takes an initiative to resolve them. All of us wait for the other person to do it, but nobody becomes the person. In Swades, Shah Rukh plays that other person, who tries doing his bit to help out people of his village.

From an interview with Subhash Jha of IANS (via the Bollywood Blog):

I wouldn’t like to see the ideas in “Swades” as propagandist. But it definitely projects nationalism. It begins as a story of an individual’s growing consciousness and then gets more societal.

The poverty that I discovered isn’t restricted to rural India. Even at the traffic signal in the city when a child comes with outstretched hands, it’s an image that affects your conscience if you allow it to. We should stop believing that a change in the social order is someone else’s problem.

The era of looking back in anger at social problems is over. We need to look back emotionally. That’s the need of the hour. That’s what “Swades” does. There’s mass scale migration from the villages to cities and from cities to abroad. We say that’s because there’re no job opportunities. But these opportunities need to be created.

In “Swades” I wanted all of us to revisit old-world values. So no… I’m not preaching. I’m reminding you of what we’ve lost. I want the audiences’ conscience to be pricked.

Every time I leave the theatre after a movie, there’re questions in my mind. I don’t want questions any longer. Let’s have some solutions. Each one of us is an expert on the problems faced by our country. But where are the solutions? To me the country’s main issue should be education. And it should be pushed as hard as possible.

Tomorrow: Reviews

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