Business Week writes about the new search engines: “The result is likely to be a move away from a single ubiquitous search box, away from the reflexive hop to Google to find info on the Net. Instead, people may use several different search engines, each tailored to a specific task. One might specialize in blog postings, another in video clips, and a third in general information. The shift may look like the evolution of TV, from a world dominated by the Big Three networks to one in which hundreds of cable channels specialize in topics from cooking to history.”
What it seems to represent is essentially open-source journalism. People fight to make their submission the one out of those 700 each day that will make it to the front page with a byline. “The ego value of that is huge,” says Jeff Bates, OSTG’s vice president of editorial operations and one of Slashdot’s two co-founders.
Creating something of tremendous widespread utility for the ego value is a new phenomenon in contemporary business. It’s part of what motivates open-source software programmers. As a well-paid professional journalist, when I hear that ego alone motivates contributors to a news site with 5.5 million unique visitors a month, I find it a bit unnerving, but unquestionably exciting.
Alex Bosworth writes: “There are three factors to viral user growth. The first factor is invitation and promotion: people who use the service reach out to people they know to spread the word. The second factor is message reception. Reached by invitation and promotion, some percentage of people decide to sign up and become part of the viral pattern. The third and final factor is reproduction: some of those signed up begin to repeat the cycle by inviting and promoting to new people.”
Welcome to the conundrum that is mobile Web access. While there’s obvious utility in accessing the Internet via a handheld device, Web content remains ill-suited for most handsets, network coverage can be spotty and keyboard controls are frustrating, Dave Buschmeyer, a database and billing manager based in Mount Pleasant, S.C., said.
According to Pat Smith, a general manager at wireless CRM (customer relationship management) software maker Vettro, a Salesforce.com partner based in New York, a lack of solid browser technology forced businesses to adopt client/server architecture in the first place.
As current browsers can’t handle the level of back-end systems integration that mobile business applications demand, he said, customers will be reluctant to change their approach.
“If you look at wireless as it matured in the late ’90s, everyone was building WAP versions of their applications and that failed miserably, because they were trying to repurpose something from the PC screen to the small screen,” Smith said.
“That’s why we had to use client/server architecture; you can leverage a lot more technology in a client application than you could ever do on the device Web browsers available today, and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.”
The Pondering Primate writes:
The PWC is when a mobile phone (or other computing device) is able to scan/read a machine readable identifier and link the object to the Internet. The most visible application is scanning a barcode with a camera phone and comparing prices.
The first issue, and probably the biggest, is the lens on the camera phone. Have you ever tried to take a picture with your camera, close up? Zooming in doesnt make any difference either. This issue should be resolved soon.
The second obstacle the PWC faces is the handset. A PWC application has to be designed/programmed to work on the endless number of handsets. If you look at some of the PWC company websites , pay attention to what and how many phones, the application is available for. The handset availability is pretty limited. This isnt a simple program that every phone can download, it has to be programmed to meet EACH handset specifications.
The final obstacle is the network itself. The wireless/mobile Internet isnt like the PC Web. Every PC with a modem can surf the Web. With the mobile Web, each provider (Sprint, Verizon etc) has their own restrictions. (thats something that can be resolved easily).
In recent months, there has been a lot of commentary from venture capitalists and others on the Indian market. To provide an alternate set of views to my own, I have aggregated these together here.
ContentSutra reported on Ram Shriram (Sherpalo) and John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins) said recently at a TiE event in Delhi:
According to Shriram, India will see a big company emerging in the mobile space. “India is adding 4.5 million phone connections a month. Mobile is India’s PC. So I see the next big company emerging from this area.” But he didn’t specify which area of mobile space they could come from. There are operators, bandwidth providers, and then content companies (how big can they be?). The bottomline is mobile is where the next big thing will happen.
Shriram also mentioned that there could be some interesting ideas in e-commerce or online shopping. All this is part of the consumer web (includes mobile) which he has been talking about as a growth area for India.
John Doerr said that Internet is “underhyped”. According to Doerr, internet will be the largest and the biggest creator of wealth on planet. Doerr also emphasized on mobile as the next big thing in India. He is particularly impressed with the concept of bollywood/entertainment on cell phones.
Pramod Haque in an interview with Business Line:
As mobile users in India are increasing, wireless data services and products continue to be extremely interesting investment opportunities for our firm. India also has low credit card penetration, and we believe there are opportunities for companies to create alternate online payment methods.
There are also tremendous opportunities in the media/broadcasting sector. Broadcasting is changing. In the past it was done through satellite and cable. In the future it will be done over the Internet. This will be taken one step further than what IPTV providers are talking about when they say they want to control the content (as satellite and cable providers have).
The Internet will become the transport mechanism for delivering television, movies and news. You will see a lot of new channels that will start to use the Internet as the platform for communication like publishers did when they first used the Internet to deliver content.
Imagine a world where we will be able to watch any local channel from India, China, the UK or the US, using the Internet.
New technology also will change the way content such as news, reviews of information, breaking stories, research reports, opinions, is transformed, aggregated and distributed over the Internet. In the past, finding important news or information was limited to some Web sites. The landscape has changed and we are seeing more local, user-contributed, content. Building on the blog phenomenon, there will be more uses and models for this technology.
Rafat Ali (of PaidContent.org):
Technology is such a leveler [in India], and is bringing so many economic changes that it is a shame that we in U.S. can only boast about how iPod changed our lives.
Ask the farmers of India who are using simple voice technology (well, cellphones) to cut out the middleman (and yes, it is always a man here) out of the agricultural selling and procurement process. People are getting informed, and for once, can take informed decisions about their livelihood. This is the real revolution here, not just the metro-big-cities based outsourcing that we all hear and read about in the media in U.S. and Europe.
The time to invest in India, if you are interested, is now. Both on general technology level, and more specifically in mobile and online media (in that order) here. What we consider content (entertainment and news oriented) in U.S. is not necessarily what will work here. Informational services which help people make decisions and cut out the middleman — that is where the huge opportunity lies. Anyway, I can go on and on, but make a trip here if you want to get the real feel of the changes here.
Tomorrow: What Others Say (continued)