Online Video Ads

The Economic Times did a story recently which had a quote from me:

As video content on the internet increases and high-speed connections force consumers to look for alternatives to television, online video ads will be seen as enhancing traditional TV advertising campaigns.

Also, with advertising offering an alternative revenue source, media com-panies are also becoming more open to making available video over the Internet, argues Rajesh Jain, author of Emergic – a blog on emerging technologies, enterprises and markets – and CEO, Netcore Software Solutions.

MerchantCircle and Local Ads

ZDNet writes:

MerchantCircle has a simple goal, but challengingdisplace the old fashioned printed Yellow Pages and bring local business into a more social Web of commerce. I talked to Ben Smith, CEO of the startup, who told me that the 14 million local merchants who advertise in the Yellow Pages (some online as well as offline) want a better way to express themselves online and to reach customers.

The startup hopes to differentiate itself with a social interface and a more effective ad model than that of big competitors. Merchants who sign up for the service can create ads, coupons, newsletters, blogs, reviews of other merchants, comments and enable RSS and local news feeds. MerchantCircle buys the inventory and does the placements and search optimization. A key differentiator for MerchantCircle is that each member can create and participate in local commerce networks. Members can include links to each others ads and business listings as a way to boost referrals.

SiliconBeat has more.

Nintendo’s Wii

The New York Times writes:

Trying to attract new fans and win back a growing population of lapsed players, the company is on an almost evangelical mission to rescue video games from the clutches of the sunlight-deprived, testosterone-addled, slightly gamy demographic group that has come to rule the gaming world. And the instrument of Nintendo’s mission is called the Wii (pronounced we, not why).

“We wanted to change the image that people have when you think of someone playing a video game,” Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s creative director (and the creator of the famed Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda franchises) said during an interview at E3. “There is always this image where you think of a young person holding a controller in two hands kind of in a darkened room with the light of the TV shining on his face, and it’s not a very positive image. We really wanted to break that by creating this interface that would allow people to be much more active.”

Marketing Lessons

Knowledge@Wharton asked four Wharton marketing professors — Eric Bradlow, Jehoshua Eliashberg, David Schmittlein and Bell — “to suggest strategies for launching two hypothetical products, a summer blockbuster movie and a cell phone. While each professor had specific ideas, all agreed that the best way to spend marketing dollars wisely is to know the potential upsides and downsides of your product, and identify your target audience as precisely as possible.”

WiFi Phones for Rural Connectivity

NextBillion.net writes:

Wireless networks have become the technology of choice for increasing access to phone and Internet services in developing countries. As we detail in our new report, A New Model for Rural Connectivity, they are not only cheaper, easier and faster to deploy than traditional landline alternatives, but also make possible business and service delivery models better adapted to rural, low income communities.

As Wi-Fi and WiMAX technologies enable the rapid expansion of telecommunications into rural developing areas, the market for Wi-Fi equipment will grow significantly. The resulting volumes will drive prices even lower, enabling many customers at the “base of the pyramid” to enjoy the benefits of mobile services for the first time.

TECH TALK: Computing for the Next Billion: The Blue Ocean

I will be participating in a panel at Supernova on June 23rd in San Francisco on The Next Five Billion Users. The backdrop to the description: As developing countries increasingly join the networked world, what will change? Globalization is already having a huge impact on economies and societies, and it is only getting started. Though Internet access remains out of reach for much of the worlds population, profound changes are occurring as connectivity spreads through India, China, and elsewhere, with significant ripple effects in the West. This session will examine both how to close the global digital gap, and what will happen if we succeed.

Computing for the next billion users in emerging markets is what I have been thinking and writing about for the past few years, starting with my first Tech Talk on the Mass Market Internet in November 2000. I have also co-founded and invested in Novatium, which is working on developing network computers. I have written a number of columns over the past few years, accessible from the right panel of my blog on the theme of affordable computing.

During the past year or so, the focus on targeting the next billion users with computing solutions has increased dramatically. The most high-profile effort is led by Nicholas Negroponte with his $100 laptop project. Intel has announced a billion dollar investment across emerging markets. Microsoft has recently launched with pay-as-you-go computing initiative called FlexGo. AMD has also been working in this area for some time, having launched the Personal Internet Communicator a couple years ago. Besides the computer, the mobile phone has also emerged as an additional option for connecting users to the Internet.

As Kevin Maney puts it: The big computer companies believe their growth opportunities are in the next billion computer users — people who so far have not been able to afford computers or Internet connections. The current computer market is basically saturated, and it’s getting harder to excite customers to buy new, more powerful machines because — for most people — their old machines are by far powerful enough.

Part of the motivation of the computer companies in targeting the next billion users is that the first billion or so users already have computers and therefore little reason to upgrade or buy new computers considering that the Internet, rather than the local hard disk, is increasingly the source of content and services. Faced with a slowing growth in their current markets, the computer companies are looking at blue oceans and these can be found amongst the users in the developing countries. Take India, for example. The installed base of computers is less than 20 million, growing at about 5 million a year. Compare that with the usage of mobiles 100 million, growing at just under 5 million a month. Nearly three-quarters of the Internet users use cybercafes rather than a computer at home for their access. Across small- and medium-sized enterprises, homes and educational institutions, India offers an opportunity for 100 million computers over the next 4-5 years.

Selling computers in emerging markets offers an excellent opportunity to do good and do well. In this series, we will look at the various solutions on offer and discuss which ones are likely to emerge as winners.

Tomorrow: Motivation