The Perils of JavaSchools

Joel Spolsky writes about today’s computer education:

When I started interviewing programmers in 1991, I would generally let them use any language they wanted to solve the coding problems I gave them. 99% of the time, they chose C.

Nowadays, they tend to choose Java.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with Java as an implementation language.

Wait a minute, I want to modify that statement. I’m not claiming, in this particular article, that there’s anything wrong with Java as an implementation language. There are lots of things wrong with it but those will have to wait for a different article.

Instead what I’d like to claim is that Java is not, generally, a hard enough programming language that it can be used to discriminate between great programmers and mediocre programmers. It may be a fine language to work in, but that’s not today’s topic. I would even go so far as to say that the fact that Java is not hard enough is a feature, not a bug, but it does have this one problem.

Microsoft’s Multi-Player Gaming Bet

WSJ writes:

The appeal of online play is that users can quickly find human competitors — whether they’re friends or strangers — without having to gather in someone’s living room. For instance, a user wanting to find a competitor in Electronic Arts Inc.’s Madden football game late at night easily can log on to Xbox Live and find a foe within seconds. Each player would coach a virtual team in the same game.

More than two million users of the original Xbox have subscribed to Xbox Live, or about 10% of the customer base. Adoption has been “much faster than expected,” said Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s group marketing manager for Xbox Live, who declined to say whether the service is profitable. With the Xbox 360, Microsoft hopes to persuade 50% of users to hook up to the Internet, he said.

Microsoft’s ability to convince more users to pay for the online service will play a key role in the Xbox’s profitability. While online gaming is growing in popularity U.S. revenue is expected to climb to $1.6 billion next year from $1.1 billion this year, according to Dallas research firm Park Associates — the concept remains unfamiliar to many users of console machines like the Xbox. And while many of the most popular PC games incorporate online play, such features are often included for free. An exception is multiplayer PC games designed for thousands of players, in which publishers typically charge a monthly subscription fee of about $15.

The Faith of Entrepreneurs

[via Atanu] Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. writes:

“What distinguishes the successful entrepreneur and promoter from other people,” writes Mises, “is precisely the fact that he does not let himself be guided by what was and is, but arranges his affairs on the ground of his opinion about the future. He sees the past and the present as other people do; but he judges the future in a different way.”

It is for this reason that an entrepreneurial habit of mind cannot be implanted through training or education. It is something possessed and cultivated by an individual. There are no entrepreneurial committees, much less entrepreneurial planning boards.

Mobile Operator Walled Gardens

Ed Sim writes: “Why do we need MVNO’s specialized and targeted to every slice of America when we should just be able to download and access what we want, when we want, and from any device. Let’s just hope that as we move into the future device manufacturers, carriers, and software vendors will get smart and find ways to create a truly open platform to break down the walled gardens of wireless, to allow end users to install any software from any vendor on any device, and thereby enable a wireless data explosion bringing lots of revenue to the carriers and lots of happy customers.”

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: Emergic Ecosystem and Netcore

2005 also saw me help co-found a few companies and make investments in others. Each of the three co-founded companies (Novatium, Seraja and Rajshri Media) have strong leadership and great market opportunities ahead of them. Novatium makes network computers. Seraja is building the EventWeb. Rajshri Media is creating and aggregating content for tomorrows mobile-centric and broadband world. All of these three companies will face the market in 2006. That will be the real test.

I wrote about my thinking in a Tech Talk earlier this year:

Over the past 18 or so months, I have been working to bring the “Emergic Ecosystem” to life. I see this future as built around thin access devices [“teleputers” or mobile network computers the intersection of network computers and mobile phones] connected to centralised services over broadband wired and wireless networks. This two-way, multimedia web will get created first in emerging markets like India where there is limited legacy.

Every once in a while comes a platform shift in computing which creates new opportunities. We saw that shift in the early 1980s as the personal computing platform started to replace the world of centralized mainframes and mini-computers. We are in the midst of another such shift now as network-centric computing (with Ajax-ish interfaces) and broadband networks convert the desktop computers into terminals to connect to the Internet. The PC world shifted power away from the likes of IBM and created Intel and Microsoft. For the past two decades, Microsoft has reigned as the king of the computing world. Now, Google is the challenger and potential heir to Microsofts throne.

I believe that even as there is the shift taking place to network computing and virtual applications, we are seeing the emergence of the next platform. This platform will take root first amongst users in emerging markets those who havent completely experienced or benefited from the computing and Internet revolution. This leapfrog represents an opportunity to build the next computing and media giant. This new platform is what I call the mobile network computer.

Netcore is the keystone of this ecosystem that I am working to build. We need to create platforms for enabling solutions for consumers and small- and medium-sized enterprises, both on PCs (and network computers) and mobile phones. The focus is on building what I think of as EMMIC an Emerging Market Mobile and Internet Conglomerate. If done right, this is a company which can be the Google for the Emerging Markets (GEM) in terms of impact and influence. We have the ideas, and have worked to build the early prototypes and platforms for much of 2005. It is a very ambitious strategy but one I believe we can make work. That is my greatest challenge in 2006.

This quote by Daniel Burnham (via Atanu Dey) sums up my philosophy: Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir mens blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

With this, I wish you all a wonderful New Year. May all our dreams come true in 2006.

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Predictions for 2006

David Kirkpatrick writes in Fortune:

Google will stumble in 2006.

My second prediction is that Amazon will re-emerge as one of the web’s most powerful properties and provide increased competition for Google in 2006.

My third prediction is that telcos will become more powerful Internet service providers.

My fourth prediction is that Apple is likely to introduce a cellphone next year.

Mobile TV

Tech Review writes:

Mobile TV is exciting. But for me, the daily thrill of playing around with phones that serve as teeny TVs began to fade just around the moment I crossed the threshold to my apartment after work. That’s because at home, I have absolute control over what I see and how I see it. I have a Hewlett-Packard Media Center PC, a buggy but powerful machine that, in addition to serving as an ordinary computer, utterly blurs the distinction between streaming Web video and broadcast television. It allows me to watch, record, and organize video content from any source — the Web, broadcast TV, or DVDs. And because I also use the Windows Media Center Extender, I can have all that content streamed directly to my television.

Simply put, mobile television is, for the moment, the exact opposite of that experience. While Comcast may own the pipeline into my home, it doesn’t control the information that goes through those pipes. With mobile television, the only way to get content on phones is through the gatekeepers. That means that Sprint, Verizon, and Cingular can potentially dictate what you see and how you see it.

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: Abhishek

For me, 2005 was an eventful year. Abhishek was born, the Emergic Ecosystem came to life, and Netcore began its metamorphosis.

Abhisheks birth this year was perhaps the most important personal event in my life for a long time. I wrote about the circumstances leading to his birth in a post (not a Tech Talk) which got me the most feedback amongst all posts Ive written. Entitled The Making of Abhishek, it was the the story of one couples dream to have a baby and another couples determination to make that happen.

On April 19, 2005, Abhishek came into the world as a six-and-a-half pound baby after a Caesarian. I could not believe it till I saw him and held him in my own hands. He was a survivor, having seen the death of two of his siblings, and braved the odds to come into this world. Five years after our first meeting with [IVF specialist] Dr. Aniurddha Malpani and eleven-and-a-half years into our marriage, Bhavana and I were parents.

For me, the lasting memory of April 19 is when both the Malpanis came (separately) and held Abhishek in their hands. He is, after all, their creation. He is a triumph of their determination as much as he is our dream come true.

I followed it up with a Letter to a 2005 Baby. I wrote: Through this letter, I want to share some of my thoughts on this changing world. Hopefully, by understanding where we came from, you will also be able to make this world better. Because there is still a lot to be done. From tackling poverty to searching for sources of alternative energy, the world needs even more innovation and entrepreneurship. There are so many elements in todays world that are unrecognisable from the world in which I was born. For example, desktop computers, mobiles and the Internet didnt exist when I was born and already today, I cannot imagine a day in my life without any of them). I wonder what the equivalent innovations and advances will be in your life. Nanotech? Intelligent Machines? Quantum computing? Or something we cannot even imagine today? Whatever it is, you are going to grow up in amazingly interesting times. Because the only constant in this world is Change. And you are going to get plenty of it even as you grow up.

Abhishek is now eight-and-a-half months old. He is a livewire. His day begins around 5 am. He plays for a couple hours or so with his toys, and then sleeps for 30-45 minutes. He then has a little breakfast, goes to the temple (with his parents), come back home, gets a bath and massage, and then sleeps for 2-3 hours. The rest of his day is full of activity interspersed with a late afternoon siesta. He crawls, stands up with support, and climbs the stairs. He keeps his mother busy all day until he goes to sleep at about 7:30 pm. I try and get home a little before he sleeps so I get to interact with him for a few in the evening. I am looking forward to 2006 knowing fully well that Abhishek is perhaps the most important start-up of my life!

Tomorrow: Emergic Ecosystem and Netcore

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Web 3.0?

John Hagel writes:

What Phil really seems to be talking about is the migration into the enterprise space of many of the technologies that are shaping Web 2.0 in the consumer arena. As Phil suggests, this is part of the broader consumerization of IT. This is an important development and it is only in its earliest stages.

One significant barrier delaying deployment of these technologies is the cultural gap separating many of the early pioneers of Web 2.0 initiatives and enterprise CIOs. The pioneers of Web 2.0 generally view large enterprises as dinosaurs. Enterprise CIOs, if they are even aware of developments associated with Web 2.0, tend to dismiss them as marginal novelties with little relevance for real business.

Mobilcasting

Rob Greenlee writes: “The bottom line for me is that mobile Internet connected cell phones are today able to extend our ability to communicate with each other and that Mobilcasting can be a great way to stay up to date with friends who may be experimenting with making Podcasts. The number of people and companies making audio Podcasts is growing fast and thus the listeners to Podcasts are also growing fast. I am a firm believer that podcasters listen to Podcasts and maybe the largest group of Podcast listeners. I think the growth in Podcasting is more about creation and personal connection.”

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: SMEEMs, India and Entrepreneurs

A common theme this year has been the rise of service-based computing. I wrote about The Coming Age of ASPs in May:

Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises in Emerging Markets (SMEEMs) have a twin focus for their business: how do they grow, and how do they ensure that they manage this growth efficiently. Business growth comes from getting new customers and retaining existing customers (and upselling to them). One of the key ways to bring in efficiency in operations comes from automation. Smaller companies are more focused on generating newer business opportunities since they have a greater control on costs. Mid-sized companies need to more focused on ensuring business efficiency they already have business coming in, and that needs to be managed better. So, the basic mantra for SMEEMs can probably be summed up as: automation for growth.

Technology can play a role in helping SMEEMs achieve both the objectives. Business growth can be enhanced via the use of the Web through a website, email newsletters, use of CRM (customer-relationship management) software, and search-engine marketing. Automation can be achieved by streamlining the flow of information across the value chain to complement the flow of products and services, and money. What the right use of information technology can do is to ensure that the right information is available to the right set of people at the right time so that decisions can be made appropriately. In essence, what IT can do is to enable SMEEMs to become event-drive, real-time enterprises.

India is never far away from my thoughts. How can we build a better India? I wrote in a September Tech Talk on the same theme:

In India, we now have 60 million mobile phone users. By end of 2006, this number will have reached close to 100 million. This will mean that one in 10 Indians will have the power of two-way communication using a device they always carry with them. This is one of the fundamental building blocks for bringing about the citizen participation in ensuring a better India.

The second building block is the aggregate of software tools like blogs and wikis which enable people to write and share with others. While these are for the most part Web-based, it will be increasingly possible to read their content on mobiles and even write from the phone itself. Mobile phones equipped with cameras can be used to take pictures. Posting to photo-blogs like Flickr and using syndication technologies like RSS helps keep people abreast of whats happening. An SMS can be sent to people whenever there is an update on specific sites or an opinion is needed.

Taken together, these technologies will help citizens collaborate much more easily. That is a step towards co-ordinating action. What is now needed is for government documents and decisions to be made publicly available. Some of this is already happening. But if citizens can be made active participants in the debate, they can help shape their own future.

I built on the India Empowered theme in an October Tech Talk: India Empowered is thus Indians Enlightened so that they can combine Insight and Experience with Inspiration and Emergence resulting in Incomes Enhanced. India Empowered is a land where Irrational Exuberance Is Encouraged!

To build the New India, we need more entrepreneurs. 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 marketsI 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.

Tomorrow: Abhishek

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People Power Vs Google

Om Malik writes:

Will a peoples collective be able to beat Google at the search game?

Thats the proverbial $64,000 question, and venture investors are trying to answer that by funding start-ups such as Wink, that plans to go live perhaps as soon as Thursday, according to Silicon Valley sources. The company has been in a limited beta since October, and today conducted a major update to its infrastructure and interface, according to their blog.

Wink is not alone in taking on Google. Of course, there are others like Activeweave, Jookster, Kaboodle, and Rollyo which are taking human cycles and trying to come-up with better results than Google.

Yahoos MyWeb effort, so eloquently detailed by Erick Schonfeld in Business 2.0, and its recent acquisition of Del.icio.us are part of this people versus Google movement.

I am a tad sanguine about this trend, because I have not seen the mainstreams get interested in the bookmarking and tagging as yet.

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: Search, Memex and Mirror Worlds

Search is undoubtedly the big story of 2005. I wrote about The Future of Search in March, linking it to my earlier ideas of the Memex. I ended with the following comment: Some of the underlying ideas to execute the Memex may have changed, but the building blocks remain the same blogs, RSS and OPML. What is different is how we assemble these elements together. There is little doubt in my mind that the Web is due for an upgrade given the spurt in user-generated (folk) content and the rise of mobile phones. The Memex is what will emerge as Information Dashboards and Marketplaces become more popular. Thus, the future of Search lies in it enabling the creation of these new platforms to help us tackle a problem which has been with us for a long time lot of information and limited time. Finally, we have the tools at hand to tackle the challenges. Smarter Search is just a beginning, and the Memex is the endgame. Information Dashboards and Marketplaces make up the middle.

In an August Tech Talk entitled Internet Tea Leaves, I wrote about the Memex and Mirror Worlds:

The Memex (meaning memory extender) can be thought of as a sort of forget-me-not. Today, we use Google as the window to the world of information. But search is just one way to navigate the web. Consider the analogy with a printed book. A book has 3 ways to browse it: table of contents (think of this as a directory or outline), index (the equivalent of search), or jumping to a page (typing a specific URL or finding it, quite literally, via a bookmark). On the Web, the index/search option has become the primary mechanism.

What the Memex does is make possible the option of navigation via directories. Users can create their own trails through the web of information. Others can follow these trails. For example, if my passion is science fiction, I am likely to have created a set of links and comments on books and ideas which would also be relevant to others interested in that topic. Others can include my directory and build further. This is how the Memex can get constructed through the creation of millions of directories.

Mirror Worlds are, quite literally, a replica of what we see happening around us. With a mix of user-generated content from their mobiles along with webcams and sensors, it will be possible to almost recreate the real world in the Grid. Mirror Worlds are, thus, microcosms of all that we see around us as updated as the real world that they resemble. They are accessible to us through screens on the devices we have our mobiles, computers, and perhaps, networked TVs.
From an enterprise perspective, the equivalent of the Memex-Mirror World combo is the real-time enterprise. It is a theme that has been talked about for a long time. Software along with the access devices and complements like RFIDs will go a long way in making the RTE a reality.

In this context, my discussion on Mirror Worlds as part of the Tech Talk on Next-Generation Networks is worth repeating: Over the past decade, we have been spending an increasing amount of our time in so-called cyberspace. Companies and individuals have created virtual representations of their products and services. Our communications have also moved to conversing with identities (email IDs, IM monickers, SMSing to mobile numbers) rather than directly with people. David Gelernters idea of Mirror Worlds takes this to its logical conclusion: we will have a parallel world that we will increasingly inhabit which is a copy of the real world. Today, maps can provide us the spatial copy. But they do not give us the real-time component. That is where a mix of next-generation mobiles, sensors and user-generated content will come in and embellish the other world. So, Mirror Worlds are microcosms of all that we see around us as updated as the real world that they resemble. These Mirror Worlds are accessible to us through screens on the devices we have our mobiles, computers, and perhaps, networked TVs For the first time in human history, we have a device that is part of our body it travels with us everywhere. It is a two-day device in the sense that it has both eyes and ears, along with an output mechanism. We also have increasingly ubiquitous networks. What has been missing are the applications to leverage this emerging new order.

Tomorrow: SMEEMs, India and Entrepreneurs

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Microsoft and the New Internet

Washington Post writes:

The center of the computing experience is rapidly moving from the desktop of the PC, which Microsoft largely owns, to the Internet, which it does not. With Internet connections getting faster and more able to handle large volumes of information, whole software programs can be delivered or used online.

Thus, in what is known as the Web 2.0 world, a start-up aptly named Upstartle LLC offers an online program for creating, writing and sharing documents. Whereas the Microsoft Office suite that includes such tools costs more than $140, Upstartle’s Writely.com service is free, with add-on features to be made available for a subscription fee later.

“Where I do my word processing, how I collaborate, maintaining my social network . . . those things are shifting away from Microsoft,” said Tom Bittman, a research fellow at Gartner Inc., a market research company.

George F. Colony, chief executive of Forrester Research Inc., which analyzes market trends, argues that companies that serve consumers via Web pages will begin to do so using actual software programs, to increase the services they provide.

Dubbing the trend “X Internet,” for executable Internet, Colony said it is a revolution being led by Google, at the expense of Microsoft’s hegemony.

PS: This will be a week of light posting.

Internet Yellow Pages

ClickZ writes:

But as they try to retool to improve their competitive position, the IYPs should ask themselves: Are bells and whistles what local searchers are really looking for? What are the signature strengths that differentiate IYPs from other local search offerings?

Searchers use phone directory listings in two ways: to find the phone number, address, or driving directions to a business they already know; or to search for a business based on a category or keyword. To remain competitive, IYPs must focus on matching the searchers’ needs with the merchant’s capabilities. Inclusion of locator information in a listing is more critical to a retail establishment that relies on walk-in traffic, for example, than it would be to an on-call service provider, such as a plumber or an electrician. Even a business without a Web site may have e-mail capability. Perhaps it would be a likely candidate for a pay-per-call service (that’s another column or two in itself). An IYP can offer enhanced listings or business profiles to provide searchers with simple but vital information, such as business hours and payment options. In some cases, that eliminates the need for a Web site.

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: Disruptions and Mobiles

Search, Internet Computing, Software-as-a-Service, Web 2.0, and Mobility defined 2005. Google continued its rise and increased market share even as Yahoo and Microsoft are launching aggressive counter-attacks. The Internet is becoming the computing platform replacing the desktop era. This is leading to software-as-a-service, first popularised by Salesforce.com, and now being brought to the fore with a wide range of Web 2.0 services. The mobile is becoming the one device which can do it all, even as the iPod remains the other choice among gadgets for the ones who can afford it.

All of these topics were covered in Tech Talks during the year, along with articles on entrepreneurship and other topics. In this last Tech Talk of 2005, Ill quote from some of my favourites during the year. It is now more than five years since I started writing Tech Talk as a daily (Mon-Fri) column to better understand and explain the world of technology, especially from the context of emerging markets.

I covered a number of Disruptions in a Tech Talk series in July:

  • Access Devices: PCs to Mobiles
  • Next-Generation Networks: Separate, Disparate to IP-Core
  • Connectivity: Intermittent, Narrowband to Always-On, Broadband
  • Info Access: HTML, Search to RSS, Subscriptions
  • Publishing: Top-down, Broadcast to Bottom-up, Narrowcast
  • Software: Packaged, Silos to On-demand, Suites
  • First Markets: Mass-Market, West to Micro-Markets, East

    I summarised the essence of the new opportunities thus: The three key building blocks for my thinking about the future are broadband, mobility and emerging markets. Broadband will enable on-demand, net-native services. Mobility will empower users with computers in their pockets. Much of this future will begin and spread faster in emerging markets because they have very little legacy.

    The opportunity for India is clear. We have one of the worlds largest populations. We now have in The Times of India the worlds largest-selling English language broadsheet newspaper. And amongst all the enterprises that Indians have been known for, it will be good to also build one of the worlds largest corporations in the next decade. Ambitious, yes. Earlier, it would have taken decades to build the next-generation conglomerates. But now, disruptions provide an opportunity to compress time. Google has become the largest media company (in terms of market capitalisation) in about 6 years. We in India should set ourselves the goal of doing so in even less time. Let us embrace Aggregate and Brainstorm Coming Disruptions, leveraging Entrepreneurship to Focus on building the next Googles. Hear me, India?

    In this context, the mobile phone is going to be an important platform, as I wrote in February in a Tech Talk entitled The Mobile Phone Platform.

    The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the uber-device the one device that seems to have it all and becomes even more indispensable than it is now. The mobile phones have already started functioning as more than just communications devices. Already, mobiles serve as watches and alarm clocks. Even with the limited free games that come with basic phones, they are already good for time-pass. They can also function as calculators. In unfamiliar neighbourhoods, they tell us where we are. The address book and contacts list on phones is our social interface. Without the phone, many of us would be quite lost in connecting with other people! The calendar function on the mobile phones can help us track our lives. Phones can also function as radios. For some, the mobile phone also becomes a notepad send an SMS to oneself and make it a reminder service. Owners also have tended to customise phones with their own ringtones, themes and wallpapers.

    While the mobile phone is likely to have a much larger user base than computers in emerging markets for some time to come, there are tasks for which the computer is ideally suited and the inherent limitations of the cellphone become obvious. But that in no way diminishes its use or capability as a personal device. Thus, even as the computer provides access to the world outside, the mobile phone provides us a view of our world. Both are needed and important in their own place.

    Tomorrow: Search, Memex and Mirror Worlds

  • The Evolution of Man

    The Economist has a survey in its year-end double issue: “New theories and techniques have revolutionised our understanding of humanity’s past and present.”

    The proverbial Martian, looking at that darkened Earth, would probably have given long odds against these peculiar apes making much impact on the future. True, they had mastered the art of tool-making, but so had several of their contemporaries. True, too, their curious grunts allowed them to collaborate in surprisingly sophisticated ways. But those advantages came at a huge price, for their brains were voracious consumers of energya mere 2% of the body’s tissue absorbing 20% of its food intake. An interesting evolutionary experiment, then, but surely a blind alley.

    This survey will attempt to explain why that mythical Martian would have been wrong. It will ask how these apes not only survived but prospered, until the time came when one of them could weave together strands of evidence from fields as disparate as geology and genetics, and conclude that his ancestors had gone through a genetic bottleneck caused by a geological catastrophe.

    Mobile Marketing

    WSJ has a Q&A:

    The Wall Street Journal Online: How does mobile marketing differ from traditional marketing?

    FAREENA SULTAN: The personal nature of the [handheld] device makes it one in which the user is very attached — and at times emotionally attached — to the device. It’s an extension of their personality and of their being, which is particularly true of the youth market. So when a marketer is trying to approach a consumer through this very personal device, they have to be extra careful not to overstep the boundaries. A consumer has asked to be sent information or content or entertainment, so anytime this user receives information that they do not want — it’s bad enough when you are looking at email and getting spam — it’s even worse because it is such a personal device and there’s so much [emotional] attachment to it.

    WSJ.COM: So how are advertisers and marketers approaching this situation?

    DR. SULTAN: A marketer might think, “Here’s a device, it’s in the hand of my target audience 24-7, and most people are not a foot away from this device 24 hours a day,” so I can reach this person at various locations. A person is in a mall and you send them a solicitation for a coupon for a sale that’s going on nearby. So your ability to reach people is immense and perpetual. But at the same time, you only want to reach the people who want to be reached. If you cross that boundary, the reaction is much worse.

    Venture Capital in South Korea

    Forbes has an interview with venture capitalist Tae Hea Nahm. Excerpts:

    Q: How is technology being used differently [in Korea]?

    Two areas in which they are technologically ahead of the U.S. is broadband penetration and broadband wireless. They’ve had 3G since late 2002, and Verizon is just deploying it now [in the U.S.]. Because they have an advanced infrastructure, it is interesting to see what new kinds of services are popular there with the understanding that it could happen in the U.S. or other countries. On the wireline side, what is popular is massive online gaming. Broadband enables you to do that. The U.S. is more console-based or PC-based, but I think the same thing will happen here because is it is more fun to play games with someone else than it is just with a computer. That’s what ubiquitous high-speed broadband allows you to do.

    On the wireless side, what we’ve seen from Korea is that mobile video has not taken off as fast in Korea as we first thought it would. What has taken off is mobile music [over cell phones]. It makes sense–people spend a lot of time walking or waiting, and you can listen to music, then when someone calls it immediately switches over to the cell phone. You can carry an iPod, but it’s harder to carry multiple devices. If it’s all on a cell phone, that becomes the most convenient way. I think that a cell phone music player will become the dominant form. At the end of the day, you always have your cell phone.

    Q: What sorts of interesting technologies are you seeing here in the states?

    Mobile apps are one. Also, trying to use an ever-improving infrastructure to deliver more services and solutions for enterprises and consumers. We invested in 5Square Systems; it’s a company that automates the front end of auto dealerships. It provides the software as a service solution to dealerships so they don’t have to build their own IT department. It’s also a way to simplify the whole sales process and make it more user friendly.