Four Curves of Want and Get

Seth Godin writes about the four curves possible when you launch of product or service. “The challenges are pretty obvious. First, how do you decide where to put the dotted line? Second, how do you avoid killing something too early, or celebrating too early. And last, how do you know when to kill a dud? The odds are with those smart enough to launch something new tomorrow.”

Ajax and Beyond

InfoWorld has a special report on building rich applications with previously unheard-of functionality.

AJAX is the newly minted acronym encompassing a fresh vision of empowered browsers: Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Before AJAX, Web pages displayed links, forms, and buttons. When a user clicked on a link or a button, the browser sent a message to a distant server asking what to display next. JavaScript would typically be used for nothing more than to check form inputs. Web pages were as static as pages in a book.

The post-AJAX browser can think on its own without saying Mother may I? to a distant server. Processing threads running in the background preloads page content. If a user clicks on a link or a button, the browser can update page content using JavaScript. Googles Gmail, for instance, hides or displays parts of an e-mail thread without waiting for a response from its server, eliminating network lag. If information must go to the server, it too is sent by a background process.

SMS-to-TV

Tomi Ahonen writes:

SMS-to-TV is already one of the largest “Value-Add Service” revenues for the mobile telecoms industry, right behind ringing tones, logos and games. Already a billion-dollar business in ts own right. Endemol, the producer of “Big Brother” earns 25% of its revenues from SMS voting etc. In An Italian SMS dating service on TV generates 5 million Euros per year, while the birthplace of SMS-to-TV has innovated with over 20 separate “shows” and content all based on SMS-to-TV. Starting from the rapidly world-conquering SMS-to-TV chat, to SMS games to the latest, SMS-to-TV Rap. Yes, if you feel you would make the next 50 Cent, Nelly or P. Diddy, then just send your lyrics to the TV screen where the animated digital rapper will perform your rhymes.

Sound implausible? SMS-to-TV is the most profitable TV content of all time. With premium SMS charges anywhere from 5 times to 10 times to even 20 times more than regular SMS text messages, and as 1000 messages come in per hour, 5 hours per night, 365 days a year, on three commercial networks in Finland, YOU do the math.

Because of SMS-to-TV, Finland became the first country where TV industry erned more from mobile revenues than advertising, two years ago. Now we find SMS-to-TV chat appearing everywhere from Belgium to Malaysia.

Enterprise Software Is Not Dead

Bill Burnham writes:

[The] critics are correct that the old enterprise software model is highly challenged these days, but its not like there are no clear replacements for that model. For example, Software as a Service (SaaS) is quickly gaining acceptance as not only a viable way to deliver software but as a viable way to grow a profitable business. In fact, rightly or wrongly, SaaS-based software companies such as Salesforce.com, Concur, and Websense are some of the most richly valued software stocks in the stock market right now. Other viable models include appliance-based software and open-source (aka services/maintenance revenues). The point is that just because seat licenses for shrink-wrapped disks are dead that doesnt mean that the whole industry is irrevocably screwed.

Fact is, there is plenty of demand for good enterprise software out there, vendors just need to re-architect their business models and market approach so that they can deliver their software in a way that best meets the needs of customers while conforming with the new business realities of the market.

Video Search

The Economist writes:

Searching video clips or streams is…much harder than searching text. There are three main approaches. The first, and simplest, is to search the closed captioning, or subtitles, that are broadcast alongside television programmes. In America, most television programmes already include captions; by law, all will have to do so starting in 2006. In Europe, captions should be broadly available by 2010. Such captions are not perfect, however, especially for live television, so searching using captions can be a hit-and-miss affair. The second approach uses software to listen to the video’s soundtrack. Turning spoken dialogue into text requires fancy algorithms and is not always reliable, as anyone who has ever used a speech-recognition system can testify. But the resulting text is then simple to search. The third approach, called semantic tagging, involves applying tags to video clips, either manually or automatically. Tags may describe the genre of a clip, which actors appear in it, and so on. The tagged video can then be easily searched.

TECH TALK: Disruptions: Access Devices, Networks, Connectivity

Access Devices: PCs to Mobiles

Consider this amazing fact: last year, mobile phones drew nearly a million new users every day. 2005 will see the global mobile user base cross two billion. In comparison, the installed base of computers is about 700 million. The contrast is even more stark in the emerging markets. By 2005-end, India will have about 16 million computers, and over 60 million mobiles. China has 40 million computers and 350 million mobiles. Any way one slices it, for an increasing majority, the mobile phone will be their first and only computing device.

What is interesting is that the mobile is always-on, always-available and a personal device. Never before in our lives have more than two of these conditions been met and now suddenly, all three are met simultaneously. This makes possible all kinds of new applications. Consider this view [as mentioned in Business Week] from Qualcomms Paul Jacobs about features of the cell phone of the future: smart wireless TV broadcasts, built-in glucometers that help diabetics track blood-sugar levels, restaurant reviews that zap onto the screen as you walk past a joint. “The phone will be your personal alter ego in cyberspace,” Paul says. “Whether it’s finances, or my music, or my blog, all those kinds of things will happen through my phone.”

Next-Generation Networks: Separate, Disparate to IP-Core

For the most part, voice has been carried separately from data, while video has had its own network. Now, it is all changing as next-generation networks built around IP at their core, and voice and video are digitised. Voice becomes yet another application as is already happening with VoIP, and network TV shifts to networked TV (to borrow a phrase from Esther Dysons Release 1.0). IMS, MPLS and SIP are some of the building blocks for these networks.

This triple play is becoming a quadruple play with the integration of mobility, as this note from Nortel outlines: New Converged services are value-rich services which enable both seamless mobility between the wired and wireless worlds as well as application ubiquity – all translating to any time, anywhere, any device access to applications. These services represent a blend of multimedia services which will enable carriers to offer differentiated quadruple-play services. For example, in the future, consumers can experience our Multimedia Communications Services features over their televisions, including the ability to answer email, instant messages and conduct a teleconference – all from the comfort of a living room sofa. Users in the future also will be able to access their subscription television service from multiple different devices instead of just their home TV.

Connectivity: Intermittent, Narrowband to Always-On, Broadband

For all of us in India long-used to dial-up and unreliable Internet access, hope is at hand. This world of occasionally-connected computing is giving way to always-on connectivity over DSL and cable. In addition, the 2.5G wireless networks also ensure that our mobile phones are also always connected. The other thread is the increasing availability of bandwidth. Even as users in South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong experience affordable multi-megabit access, this will extend to other markets also. And change life and lifestyles forever.

In an always-on world, data and applications can reside in the cloud, and we as users can access the information we need from the device we want independent of location. This has been talked about for long, but the next few years are seeing the mix of access devices and networks to bring us truly ubiquitous and pervasive connectivity.

Tomorrow: Info Access, Publishing and Software

Continue reading