Creating New Markets

[via Anish] Guy Kawasaki interviews Bob Sutton:

Question: What does a company do when theres no evidence because its trying to create a market that doesnt exist yet?

Answer: Great question. There are two kinds of approaches. One is to look for a market that might want your product that doesnt have it yet. There is a Stanford grad, Brian Rikuda who started a hip-hop company called Conduit Entertainment. Brian got angel funding for it after the dotcom he was working at went bust. He figured out that there was no Little Rock, Arkansas sound, and it was a decent sized market, so he started there. It was successful because he had no competition and could start his own sound. Now its moved to a larger market.

Or you can do all sorts of little experiments. In fact, what it takes to test a market on the web and what is considered valid evidence has changed. John Lilly was CEO and founder of Reactivity, a company that did web design and incubated new companies during the dotcom boom. Its now an enterprise software company. Lilly recently explained how Reactivity generated ideas for new companies and why the approach they used would never work today. His team generated thirty ideas for new companies to pitch to venture capitalists in thirty days. Each of these prototypes was a PowerPoint deck.

Universal Library

The New York Times writes:

When Google announced in December 2004 that it would digitally scan the books of five major research libraries to make their contents searchable, the promise of a universal library was resurrected. Indeed, the explosive rise of the Web, going from nothing to everything in one decade, has encouraged us to believe in the impossible again. Might the long-heralded great library of all knowledge really be within our grasp?

Brewster Kahle, an archivist overseeing another scanning project, says that the universal library is now within reach. “This is our chance to one-up the Greeks!” he shouts. “It is really possible with the technology of today, not tomorrow. We can provide all the works of humankind to all the people of the world. It will be an achievement remembered for all time, like putting a man on the moon.” And unlike the libraries of old, which were restricted to the elite, this library would be truly democratic, offering every book to every person.

Info Pad

Michael Mace imagines a new product:

What [information lovers] want is something that can go with them all the time, and that will function as an extended memory and as a way to capture their ideas. Specifically, they need to capture notes, sketches, and documents; work with databases; and look up information instantly. They need a brain extender, a true information appliance.

I call it an info pad. That’s the product I want someone to build.

New Media Companies

Jeff Jarvis quotes Terry Semel of Yahoo: “The 20th Century media companies had great content and they had great distribution. The 21st Century media companies also have great media companies and they either license it or aggregate it They have global distribution, which is even more powerful They also have technology and to drive and create an experience on the internet, content alone will fail, content and distribution will fail, you have to have technology.”

Adds Jeff: “Hes right that content and distribution are not kings. But I disagree about technology, which will come and go and be copied and bested along the way and will never distinguish you. Its the relationships trust that matters. Thats what the internet really enables that old, one-way media only thought it enabled.”

Microsoft’s Challenges

Robert Cringely writes a backgrounder to Microsoft’s challenges:

Right now in computing and the Internet, there are four fundamental forces to be reckoned with — Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Yahoo. I know there are a hundred or more companies that sprang to your mind, but they can each be factored in terms of these others. AMD, for example, is more like Intel than it is any of the others.

Microsoft tends to assume that if the PC goes away it will be replaced by something — ONE thing — when in fact it looks like the platform will be at least bifurcated between televisions and mobile phones, neither of which Microsoft dominates and neither of which it is likely to dominate.

Here’s a question I hope Bill Gates has asked himself: “What’s the likelihood that 10 years from now Microsoft will have 70-plus percent market share in; a) television software, and; b) mobile phone software?”

In both cases the odds are very much against Microsoft, yet Microsoft’s theory of business absolutely requires that it succeed spectacularly on at least one of these platforms and preferably both.

TECH TALK: Four Blog Years: Thinking Evolution

The blog reflects my interests. These have changed somewhat over the past four years. The focus on emerging markets and the use of new technologies has, however, remained constant. This is what I wrote in one of my early posts: Emergic is at this stage a concept. It means combining emerging technologies to create solutions for emerging enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets like India. Emergic is about taking the vision of “computing and communications for all” to the next 500 million users in the world — most of whom are in the world’s developing markets. They cannot pay for technology denominated in dollars. They need cheaper hardware, software and communications. Some of the key ideas in Emergic are Thin Client-Thick Server, Digital Dashboard, Integrated eBusiness software, WiFi for Community Networks, Weblogs (BlogStreet and Emergic.Org) and SME Clusters.

My focus now is around two broad themes: building the mobile internet appropriately for users in emerging markets, and enabling computing as a utility. The first is about ensuring that the services that we use on the Internet via the PC can be made available to users suitably on the mobile. The majority of new Indian users will experience the Internet more on the mobile than on the PC. India has an excellent mobile data infrastructure, and that can create the foundation for a set of compelling information, communication and entertainment services primarily centred on the mobile.

The computing as a utility idea is about using thin clients connected to servers over high-speed networks. It makes computing affordable and manageable. I believe that if we can reduce computing price points to that of the mobile ($100 for the device, and $10 per month for the service), we will see a rise in the use of computers similar to what we have experienced with mobiles in the past four years in India. Broadband is critical for this to happen whether it is over DSL or mesh wireless networks or alternate technologies.

Taken together, mobile data services and server-centric computing (with network computers) can create the next-generation platform for making computing ubiquitous on both small and big screens. This can then help transform different verticals especially education, healthcare, and commerce, where India needs significant investments going ahead. The new digital infrastructure that this twin-track approach can enable will position India as an example to emulate for other developing economies. This is what I want do accomplish through the Emergic ecosystem of companies in the next 5-7 years.

Tomorrow: Looking Ahead

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