The Sub-$50 phone

Om Malik writes:

Despite a lot of attention being paid to high end smart phones and 3G handsets, the next big thing in wireless could be cheap sub-$50 phones. If you look at the wireless markets worldwide, you can easily see that big wireless growth is coming from markets like India, China, Brazil and parts of Africa. In these countries, cellular services so far have been favored by consumers in the upper end of the economic spectrum, folks who can afford $200 phones.

The next phase of growth is going to be driven by the mass market which is looking for cheap and affordable phones to complement low-cost calling plans.

Hop-On is a good example. At CTIA next week, it is going to introduce a $36 handset.

Vertical Search – Not!

Tom Evslin says theat there won’t be vertical search (responding to a Jupiter report): “My prediction is the opposite of Jupiters. The web isnt going to become more like TV. TV is going to become more like the web. The next generation of DVRs with an ability to pull content from anywhere on the web and to serve specialized ads will make TV channels increasingly obsolete. Programs will matter but channels will disappear as an unnecessary vertical construct in a horizontal world.”

Tom has another post on the same topic.

Email Needs

Jeff Nolan writes about what he’d like from email:

* better spam and spyware detection baked in, 100% effective with no false positives
* inline messaging… in other words, if I see something on a web page or doc that I want to email, let me add a header right there without opening a new window and send it
* instant messaging built into email as an alternative. Someone’s online and I try to send them an email, open at IM window instead at my option.
* better support for file attachments, with indexing and searching of the attachments embedded in messages
* while I’m on attachments, if an email has a copy of an attachment in an earlier message, pull the old one and link to the newest copy (there was a company doing this called Attachstor)
* better searching, period. Integrated with desktop search, and p2p (like what Blinkx) is doing would be a bonus
* better mobile integration, take email with me everywhere
* integrated Web and RSS feed browsing


Russell Beattie writes about the tagging enabled hyper-forum:

The core of the idea which Anthony implemented and expanded upon was this: introduced (or at least popularized) the concept of tagging as a way of organizing links. Tags in my mind are flat-namespace meta data that can help identify a piece of content in an almost democratic fashion. Flickr took the concept and applied it to photos, so that people could organize photos based on this simple meta data. I didn’t grok this at first, until I had created a new flickr user called MobileMonday and blogged that people should send me their photos of the event and I would post them under that name. That’s when Mike Rowehl responded and said, more or less “hey moron, everyone can post under their *own* name and just tag them ‘mobilemonday’ instead.” And that’s when a little light went on over my head about tags.

So I thought, what happens if you apply tags to messages as well? “Messages” being things like comments and blog posts, but in a forum-like structure, where you could follow threads in x dimensions. Add in Alerts (IM, email, etc.) and RSS and it becomes really useful as a discussion tool. Once we started working on that idea we expanded on it, and added URLs and user names to the tag namespace, now I can include URLs, but not just as way of sharing that link but of *commenting* on it. Then as a publisher, I can watch different tags, URLs and if someone responds my posts or puts my name in the tag, I get notified of those messages.

TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Whats Changing (Part 3)

4. Broadband

Pipes connecting our computers (and mobile phones) to the network have been growing fatter and fatter. Affordable Broadband is the buzzword even in countries like India. What always-on, broadband does is fundamentally change our expectations of content in three ways: the network is always-available and so we turn to it for even the most trivial of queries, the content offering can be beyond text and combine the rich media elements, and it allows consumers to also become producers of content.

In the developed markets, the talk of IP-TV is the talk as phone companies seek to muscle into the territory traditionally dominated by the cable companies. Consider what SBC wants to do in the US (as elaborated in the Wall Street Journal): SBC wants to fulfill an age-old dream of offering a bundle of consumer services through one high-speed pipe, something that some cable companies are already doing. To catch up, SBC plans to bundle its TV offering with phone, wireless and Internet services in a package that could end up costing about $100 a month. Competing with cable and satellite television, SBC wants to offer viewers the chance to watch TV on demand, rather than at scheduled times, as well as hundreds of channels, many geared to niche audiences.

As TV becomes digital, it becomes searchable. The likes of Blinkx, Yahoo and Google have launched video search (even though they are quite rudimentary). Another dimension in which broadband will make a difference is the interface that we use to interact with the results of the search broadband will make it possible to have rich, interactive, video-game-like environments.

5. Internationalisation

The Internet was for long the domain of the English-speaking developed markets. No longer. Even as content in other languages has grown, we are now seeing millions in countries like China and India get online. (The Internet user base in China is estimated to be 80 million, while that in India is put at over 30 million.) English is no longer the first language of the Internet as the non-English-speaking world goes online. This internationalisation of the Internet also brings up a couple of other interesting challenges and opportunities.

The first deals with the language issue and the availability of content. Ramesh Jain explains: A serious problem in most of the emerging world that does not speak English and is not exposed to computers as we are is that most, almost all, information is not in the cyberspace and is not likely to get there due to language and resource hurdles. People living in developed countries, particularly countries like USA where I live, assume that every thing important happens in cyberspace. We will have to go beyond that misconceptionIt will be interesting to think of innovative ways to combine computer network, phone network, and human network to perform searches in real world.

The second challenge deals with the suitability of the keyboard itself as the right medium of interaction. Once again, Ramesh Jain: I find it exciting to think that I could browse Internet using voice and get voice or pictorial responses rather than having to read things on a small screen and struggle to type in using a limited keyboard. In fact, a major attraction of advances in phones to me is the possibility of no keyboards. Keyboard is the biggest hurdle in advancement of Internet technology for utilization by people living in all parts of world.

Tomorrow: Web and Information Models

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