Rich Media

Mark Cuban writes:

What we did learn at Broadcast.com, is that people will search , even if it takes some work, to find things they are passionate about that arent on TV. If you are into bridge, you will find websites with videos pertaining to bridge. If you are into Tall Ships, Collecting Coins, whatever. The beauty of the net is that you can find any and every kind of video. Its the definition of Long Tail.

And those viewers wont care if they are watching on their PC screen, a laptop screen or even an IPOD. Post it and they will find it.

On the net, the value is in the network aggregator. On tv the value is in the show. The broadcasting network is not really a big deal.

Lego Software

The New York Times writes:

THE Internet is entering its Lego era.

Indeed, blocks of interchangeable software components are proliferating on the Web and developers are joining them together to create a potentially infinite array of useful new programs. This new software represents a marked departure from the inflexible, at times unwieldy, programs of the past, which were designed to run on individual computers.

As a result, computer industry innovation is rapidly becoming decentralized. In the place of large, intricate and self-contained programs like Microsoft Word, written and maintained by armies of programmers, smaller companies, with just a handful of developers, are now producing pioneering software and Web-based services. These new services can be delivered directly to PC’s or even to cellphones.

Power of the URL

Robert Young writes:

each and every URL should be viewed as a container for content that, in turn, can be distributed and redistributed. And the control of such distribution is increasingly in the hands of consumers, not corporations. For instance, if NBC.com puts up a video on their site and I points to the URL in a blog entry, I have exercised my influence over the distribution of that content. And if my blog post subsequently starts a huge viral redistribution of that URL to millions of other people, my control and influence over the distribution of that NBC video will have been at the expense of all other distribution outlets that are under the control of NBC. Therefore, when one is attempting to analyze the business model potential of Internet-based media, it is critical to understand the power and control any party may have over URLs. Consequently, the total share of the URLs under the control of consumers should also include all the outbound links that are included in the pages authored by users (whether they own the destination URL or not, users are controlling the traffic by posting hyperlinks and directing other users to them).

New York Times Digital

New York Magazine suggests that the paper should ditch print and go all-digital:

It should abandon newsprint and force everyone to the Web. It should make a stand against Google, using its About.com divisionsomething with real growth, and which is actually working out despite the $410 million in debt taken down to buy the thingto lead the way. Maybe it should even take the revolutionary step of blocking Google from accessing its content, something no one else is willing to do. Or maybe it should at least say, This is the deal: You want our stuff, you must share much more with us than you are willing to share with others. It is worth it to preserve value for the future, to make it so our kids dont think, Let me go to Google for all the news thats fit to print. Heck, in another couple of years they wont even know that the New York Times exists as anything but private-label news source for an Internet portal.

Wipro Interview

Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Azim Premji and Pratik Kumar, Wipro’s head of human resources. An excerpt:

Knowledge@Wharton: What leadership qualities do you look for in executives you hire at Wipro?

Premji: We have defined seven or eight leadership qualities. We have defined those because we needed some consistency in terms of what we measure against when we recruit; what we measure against when we promote; and what we want our training to be oriented towards in terms of the skills and competencies we want to build into people. Pratik, could you add more about the leadership qualities?

Pratik Kumar: We look for people who can work effectively in an unstructured environment, who have great adaptability and who can be reasonably comfortable in situations that are not crystal clear and where there is a level of ambiguity. We also recruit people who have a lot of self-initiative because these are qualities that will lead them to succeed in our kind of environment.

In addition, we have a clearly crafted list of leadership qualities with which we measure our own managerial talent and I will touch on those very quickly. One is customer orientation, because we believe that for an organization to be successful, this is a particularly important rule. Strategic thinking is becoming more and more important; we need people who can balance short-term and long-term goals, and who are ready to sprint and run a marathon at the same time.

Self-confidence is another quality that I think is becoming increasingly important.

TECH TALK: City Wi-Fi Networks: Unwiring India

One of the challenges facing India for last mile connectivity to homes and offices is the stranglehold that the government owned telcos (BSNL and MTNL) have. While both are now pushing DSL to the home, the pace of deployment is not as rapid as India needs. In this context, what is interesting are the plans by many cities in the US to deploy wireless networks to provide a blanket of connectivity. This has two implications for India: first, we should be looking at similar technologies and plans; and second, the US deployment (along with usage in other international cities) will drive the cost of equipment lower making it much more affordable. Given India’s lack of legacy network infrastructure, city Wi-Fi networks make a lot of sense.

Recently, even as San Francisco announced that Google and Earthlink had won the bid to provide Wi-Fi across the city, Intel announced that it is working with Pune Municipal Corporation towards building the first Wi-Fi Indian city. The Economic Times wrote about the initiative:

The Pune municipality and Intel have reportedly teamed up to envelop 400 sq km of the town in Wi-Fi connectivity. That it will make Pune the first city to be so enabled is just one aspect of this development.

What is more important is the implication this development holds for telecom policy and regulation and for competition between different cities fighting to be the most attractive IT destination. This proposed Wi-Fi network, in one stroke, forces home the message that it is foolish to bet solely on traditional telecom networks.

Not only does a Wi-Fi enabled city offer subscribers wireless access to the internet all over, it also opens the doors to a widespread voice network based on voice-over-internet protocol (VoiP). Handsets that tune into Wi-Fi networks for VoiP calls have already been launched abroad. For traditional access networks, whether fixed or mobile, this surely is bad news.

That the Pune project will start off with an initial investment of just Rs 7 crore clearly implies that newer technologies such as Wi-Fi and Wi-max can perhaps be a cheaper option for rural telecom expansion.

India needs to leapfrog into a world of ubiquitous broadband connectivity and we need all the options we can get. Whether the last mile is DSL, cable, Metro Ethernet, fibre, or Wi-Fi, the next 12-18 months need to see Indian cities enveloped in connectivity. This digital infrastructure is as important as the physical infrastructure that is being developed. It is in this context that we need to look closely at Wi-Fi and its mesh variants.

Tomorrow: The US Scene