Persistent Search

Bill Burnham thinks it is the next battleground.

Persistent Search allows users to enter a search query just once and then receive constant, near real-time, automatic updates whenever new content that meets their search criteria is published on the web. For example, lets say you are a stock trader and you want to know whenever one of the stocks in your portfolio is mentioned on the web. By using a persistent search query, you can be assured that you will receive a real-time notification whenever one of your stocks is mentioned. Or perhaps you are a teenager who is a rabid fan of a rock group. Wouldnt it be nice to have a constant stream of updates on band gossip, upcoming concerts, and new albums flowing to your mobile phone? Or maybe you are just looking to rent the perfect apartment or buy a specific antique. Wouldnt it be nice to get notified as soon as new items which roughly matched your criteria were listed on the web so that you were able to respond before someone else beat you to the punch? Persistent search makes all of this possible for end users with very little incremental effort.

SaaS Limits

Lee Gomes writes in the Wall Street Journal about software-as-a-service:

AMR analyst Bob Bois blames what he calls an “expectation gap” between the just-add-water marketing of SAAS suppliers and the hard realities faced by companies — especially big ones, with complex needs — when they try to actually implement a program.

One indication of the growing complexity of SAAS software comes from the Web page of itself, which lists scores of consultants, integrators and add-on pieces of software that work with the core offering.

Looked at one way, it’s evidence of a thriving “ecosystem” of products and services. But it also suggests that as SAAS companies grow to serve more users, they increasingly take on some of the complexity of the software approaches they are trying to replace.

Retailing in India

The Economist writes about the growth:

Only 4% of India’s shops occupy a space of more than 500 square feet (46 square metres). Even in Delhi, some upmarket shopping centres, such as Khan Market, are clusters of tiny shops. In grocery shops boys perch precariously on ladders to fetch jars from remote crannies. In the bookshops browsers brush bottoms as they squeeze past each other in crowded aisles. Some of the poshest clothes shops are reached up narrow, twisting staircases.

Most Indian shops belong to what is known, quite accurately, as the unorganised sectorsmall, family-owned shops surviving on unpaid labour and, often, free land for a small stall. Organised retailing accounts for only 2-3% of the total, and of that, 96% is in the ten biggest cities, and 86% in the biggest six. However, organised retailing is growing at 18-20% a year and inspiring a rush of property development. Shopping malls are springing up in every big town: some 450 are at various stages of development.

Future of Media

John Hagel writes:

randing in the traditional media business still remains largely with the talent rather than the intermediary. Few people go to a movie because of the studio that produced it, watch a TV show because of the network that broadcast it, buy a CD because of the music company that produced it or read a book because of the publisher that issued it. Magazines and radio are partial exceptions that prove the rule it is not accidental that these are the two traditional media businesses with the most micro-chunked content.

As content proliferates, this is going to change profoundly. The most powerful brands in the media business will be held by successful intermediaries that help to consistently improve return on attention for audiences. In the process, the nature of the brand promise will change in a profound way. It will be a massive opportunity for media companies that understand the shift in economic and competitive dynamics and that focus on the rebundling plays required to build these brands.

TECH TALK: City Wi-Fi Networks: The India Opportunity

In emerging markets like India, there are five elements that need to come together to provide an end-to-end solution for computing and connectivity.

First, build a city-wide wireless mesh network. This will provide the connectivity fabric and provide an alternative to getting DSL or cable (or waiting for WiMax). The key price point for this connectivity needs to be around Rs 200-250 ($4.50-$5.50) per month.

Second, use a variety of access devices to connect to the network. These could be PCs or network computers. (One of the companies I have helped co-found, Novatium, has just such a solution the Nova NetPC.) We will also see mobile devices like the Nokia 770 and phones with Wi-Fi built in connecting to the mesh network.

Third, provide a backend computing and storage grid. This helps centralise computing and provides for seamless mobility for users. It also makes computing much more affordable and manageable.

Fourth, provide applications and content from a centralised grid to users over the wireless mesh networks.

Finally, use advertising to reduce the price that users have to pay for the service.

The key is to be able to offer the base service for no more than $10 (Rs 450) a month for the entire solution (device, connectivity and services), with additional revenue possible through value-added services.

This is what will make computing and the Internet take off in India. At Rs 450 a month, computing will become much more affordable. The wireless mesh networks help in rapid deployment. Customers can buy the access device (PC or network computer) independently and ‘plug’ it into the wireless envelope.

India needs to rapidly proliferate broadband and computers across homes, schools and small- and medium-sized enterprises. The use of network computers along with city wireless networks is a giant step in bringing tomorrow’s world to life. From a laggard in broadband and computing, India can be a leader in this space and a beacon for other emerging markets.