Web 2.0 Operations

Tim O’Reilly writes:

I spoke last week with Debra Chrapaty, the VP of Operations for Windows Live, to explore one of the big ideas I have about Web 2.0, namely that once we move to software as a service, everything we thought we knew about competitive advantage has to be rethought. Operations becomes the elephant in the room. Debra agrees. She’s absolutely convinced that what she does is one of the big differentiators for Microsoft going forward. Here are a couple of the most provocative assertions from our conversation:

1. Being a developer “on someone’s platform” may ultimately mean running your app in their data center, not just using their APIs.

2. Internet-scale applications are pushing the envelope on operational competence, but enterprise-class applications will follow. And here, Microsoft has a key advantage over open source, because the Windows Live team and the Windows Server and tools team work far more closely together than open source projects work with companies like Yahoo!, Amazon, or Google.

VCs and the New Young CEOs

WSJ writes:

Startup founders today often don’t need as much cash to launch Web firms as businesses had to spend in the go-go years of 1999 and 2000, thanks to the declining cost of Internet infrastructure. And they are choosier about the financiers they work with.

Many older tech investors, eager not to miss out, are going to great lengths to shed fuddy-duddy images and ingratiate themselves with this younger generation.

Coghead

Om Malik writes:

The three-year-old company, has combined various technologies – Ajax, RSS, and what not – with open source platforms and has developed a web based application development environment.

Like Ning, Coghead is also a web application development environment. Those who are familiar with Ning know that the Palo Alto-based company has created an environment where almost anyone can clone-and-customize applications to create their own social networks, community sites or even bookmarking services. DabbleDB is another company that can be loosely placed in the same class of start-ups.

Coghead, on the other hand is targeting corporate work groups who need custom applications developed and have to outsource that work. In this environment the the traditional customer software development model doesnt make sense because it takes too long, says McNamara. On-demand is the best option, since it doesnt interfere with the existing IT infrastructure, says McNamara. We are going for smaller groups, and not the IT department.

Mobile Internet

The Pondering Primate outlines a presentation on the physical world connection:

A physical world hyperlink (PWH) allows any physical object to be linked directly through and to the Internet, to specific content/info/URL when accessed with a specific tools.

PWHs already exist and there are trillions of them.

A Physical World Identifier is/can be:

A barcode (UPC/EAN, Code 128)
2d code (data matrix, QR code)
Fingerprint
RFID tag (many forms)
Word
Number
Image
Sound
Many others to come.

They will require a different browser, or tool, but this tool will be mobiles search engine.

TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: All-Software

The second approach eschews hardware for an all-software approach. YouTube, video services from Google and Yahoo, Brightcove and Entriq are examples of this approach. The challenge here is to ensure that the content can be protected, necessitating the need for a digital rights management module as part of the software.

Brightcove launched last year and offered content providers a white-label platform to create their own video storefronts. This is what PaidContent had to say following the launch:

The Cambridge-based company wants a hand in all facets of IP video or Internet TV — creation, delivery and monetization.

Think of it as RealNetworks done right with a consumer video service, a backend service, and other allied services needed for everyone from small publishers, like bloggers, to small-to-mid sized media companies and online VOD startups, develop and distribute video easily and cost-effectively. In essence, an open-publishing model.

[CEO Jeremy] Allaire explains: “The online service will operate with a consumer-facing service that provides access to programming and content published in the service, and will also provide a very rich service to publishers and rights-holders interested in a direct-to-consumer distribution path for video products. The service will also provide tools to website operators generally, who are interested in economically participating in the online video revolution.

Om Malik added: Instead of developing a hardware platform, the company will base everything it does on open standards, and will essentially be a software platform that will run on any kind of device – Microsoft Media Centers to TiVo to connected DVD players. In other words, he is gunning for a market that is the super nova of consumer-acquired devices.

Oms blog post expanded:

Though many might confuse Bright Cove as the culmination of all Long Tail and Exploding TV prayers, in reality, and Allaire was quick to point out that this is really a platform for the little guy. Someone who is interested in video blogging, short form film and other downloadable forms of video. For live broadcasts, cable and service providers there is no substitute, and it is not feasible, he says, Network PVR and connected DVD players and other devices that are connected to open Internet will be able to use this to deliver content. It is through this consumer electronics proxy, the video content will be delivered to the only screen that matters for video: the television.

Allaire succinctly put it when he says that his model is no different from that of a software developer who writes a program for say Windows or a Mac platform. We are building all the pieces which are going to be needed including billing and DRM infrastructure, he says, We are piggy backing on platform where we dont need distribution agreements. We are focused on open platforms and ultimately that is the model that is going to succeed.

Esther Dyson wrote about Brightcove in the March issue of Release 1.0:

Brightcove allows content producers and video rights holders to have a direct relationship with the viewer rather than dealing with intermediaries such as cable operators, distributors or retail stores (in the case of DVD sales). The small guys especially are excited about distributing directly to consumers, but theyre ultimately looking for help with marketing, discovery. . .and frankly,with just getting paid, says Allaire.

The idea is to use the Internet to eliminate current scarcitiesor bottlenecks, says Allaire: The limited number of theaters that can support limited studio output, retail constrained by need for physical presence and reach as well as limited physical inventory (biggest retailers have fewest titles), and broadcast and cable limited by spectrum scarcity and scarcity of user-premises devices.At the same time, Brightcove enables the producer to reach the consumer more directly, whether through a direct sale, an ad-supported channel or Brightcoves own ad-supported syndicated search service. It parses what it can of the text and data around the videos and supplements that with the producers own metatags.

Among other solutions, Entriqs MediaSphere platform also offers an ASP service for video. Microsofts Media Center Platform is in a similar space, providing video playback capabilities on the client (the PC).

Next Week: Video on the Internet (continued)

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