WebOS

Jason Kottke writes in the aftermath of the launch of Google’s Sidebar and IM application:

Aside from the browser and the Web server, applications will be written for the WebOS and won’t be specific to Windows, OS X, or Linux. This is also completely feasible, I think, for organizations like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, or the Mozilla Foundation to make happen (more on this below).

Compared to “standalone” Web apps and desktop apps, applications developed for this hypothetical platform have some powerful advantages. Because they run in a Web browser, these applications are cross platform (assuming that whoever develops such a system develops the local Web server part of it for Windows, OS X, Linux, your mobile phone, etc.), just like Web apps such as Gmail, Basecamp, and Salesforce.com. You don’t need to be on a specific machine with a specific OS…you just need a browser + local Web server to access your favorite data and apps.

For application developers, the main advantage is that instead of writing two or more programs for multiple platforms (one for the Web, one for Windows, etc.), they can write one app that will run on any machine with the WebOS using the same code base.

Rural Africa and Mobiles

The New York Times writes:

Africa [has become] the world’s fastest-growing cellphone market. From 1999 through 2004, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa jumped to 76.8 million, from 7.5 million, an average annual increase of 58 percent. South Africa, the continent’s richest nation, accounted for one-fifth of that growth.

Asia, the next fastest-expanding market, grew by an annual average of just 34 percent in that period.

“It is a necessity,” said Ms. Skhakhane, pausing from washing laundry in a plastic bucket on the dirt ground to fish her blue Nokia out of the pocket of her flowered apron. “Buying air time is part of my regular grocery list.”

Internet Phoning

WSJ writes that VoIP is becoming a way of life:

Just when the rise of email and text-messaging began eroding traditional phoning, voice communication is staging an online comeback — in a variety of unlikely ways.

Facilitated by broadband Internet connections, computer users are talking to each other as they play games, arrange dates and conduct business. All of these activities are available now because advancements in digital technology have made it possible to transfer voice in information packets, just like an email.

With these Internet companies “going down that route, it’s very clear that Internet phoning will be very important,” says Weiyee In, a managing director at New York Global Securities Inc. “It’s inevitable that everything will migrate” to an Internet-based platform, he says, referring to television and phoning, among other applications.

Why Yahoo! bought Pixoria

Phil Wainewright writes: “I have a feeling though that Yahoo! realizes exactly how powerful this technology could be. Imagine building AJAX capability into Yahoo! Widgets, so that a widget could directly query an XML source for specific data, exactly as browser-based AJAX applications like Google Suggest have been doing. To the chagrin of some users, Pixoria hasn’t prioritized this in the past, but in a longstanding thread on this topic in the company’s discussion forum, company founder Arlo Rose disclosed last month that, “SOAP and XML-RPC are on our roadmap. Can’t tell you when they’ll show up though… but hopefully sooner rather than later.” The timing of that revelation, especially when put together with Tony Schneider’s comments above, tells me that Yahoo! fully intends in due course to promote Widgets as a user-friendly desktop front-end to enterprise-class web services applications.”

Shorter, Faster, Smaller

Chris Anderson writes:

As we leave the era of one-size-fits-all distribution, we’ll increasingly see the end of one-size-fits-all content. Indeed there’s an increasing amount of evidence that this is already underway:

* Music: Consumers are moving from albums to singles.
* TV: Networks are looking for short video that works as well online as on broadcast.
* Movies: Online distribution is creating a big new audience for short films.
* Videogames: Between cellphone games, “casual” web games and downloadable content, smaller games are on the rise.
* Magazines: Reflecting the pace of a browse-and-skim culture, articles are getting shorter.

Note that this increased range of distribution options can allow for longer content, too, with the rise of TV shows on DVD (where you can watch much of a season at a single sitting) as a prime example. But the overall trend is toward shorter, faster, smaller everything.

TECH TALK: India Needs More Entrepreneurs: My Dreams

My decision to be an entrepreneur was made for me very early in my life. I saw my father as an entrepreneur, and I knew thats what I would be. So, even when I went to the US in 1988 for my MS to Columbia, I was quite sure Id do what my father did in the mid-60s: work for a few years and come back. In May 1992, I was back in India with big dreams. I wanted to build a software company which would be among the best and biggest in India.

Less than 30 months later, that dream lay in shambles. I had a choice then: either I could curtail my dream and build something smaller, or continue dreaming big but with a difference. This time around, I had to make sure I would avoid many of the mistakes I had made in my first entrepreneurial venture. When I re-started in late-1994, the dream was to build an electronic marketplace that connected Indians worldwide. That was what came to be IndiaWorld. It grew to be Indias largest portal and was acquired by Sify in November 1999.

In early 2001, as I re-started on my path as an entrepreneur, I thought a lot about the big challenges. Over the next three years, we tried many different ideas but none worked. I wanted to build a tech utility for SMEs. I wanted to build out server-centric computing. I recognised that blogs and RSS would be another big area and we started an initiative there. The problem was that I did not back up my ideas with strong execution. My own strengths are in envisioning and thinking about the future, and not as much in execution.

Sometime last year, I decided to change my approach. I started thinking of putting together an ecosystem of ventures to make real the world of tomorrow. At the same time, I did not want to become just an investor. I am, at heart, an entrepreneur!

Out of that thinking and decision have emerged a multitude of companies and investments. My dreams havent changed if anything, they have become bigger and bolder over the years. The blog has played no small part in helping me form my ideas about tomorrows world a world where network computers and mobile phones connected to centralised services over next-generation networks will make possible a very different world. India, because of its backwardness and limited legacy, offers a great first market for bringing this new infrastructure to life. India has to be the first market, but then we have to also extend these solutions to other emerging markets.

I believe that the next Google-like company can emerge out of India or China. I hope we can make it happen from India. And with the wealth generation out of that we can get down to the business of nurturing more entrepreneurs in India and also playing an important role in helping India develop. Indias politicians have, for the most part, failed us. Indias entrepreneurs cannot afford to.

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