CEO Blogging

The New York Times writes:

When Mr. Schwartz was promoted to the top job at Sun this spring, he automatically became a member of an elite group: Fortune 500 C.E.O. bloggers. He is the only active member.

Where is everyone else?

Capital markets function as they should when the flow of information is strong and unimpeded. Mr. Schwartz has shown ably that for the chief executive sincerely interested in increasing information flow to the fullest range of stakeholders, a blog is a hydraulic wonder.

My No. 1 job is to be a communicator, Mr. Schwartz told me last week. I dont understand how a C.E.O. would not blog if committed to open communication.

New Media Moguls

WSJ writes:

As videos, blogs and Web pages created by amateurs remake the entertainment landscape, unknown directors, writers and producers are being catapulted into positions of enormous influence. Each week, about a half-million people download a comedic video podcast featuring a former paralegal. A video by a 30-year-old comedian from Cleveland has now been watched by almost 30 million people, roughly the audience for an average “American Idol” episode. The most popular contributor to the photo site just got a contract to shoot a Toyota ad campaign.

While online stardom can sometimes be fleeting, and some measures of audience size are subject to debate, a look at the rising stars in this world shows how the path to entertainment success is being redefined. Traditional media companies and marketers are already in pursuit of some of these new faces.

OLPC Debate

Ethan Zuckerman writes [in response to a post from Atanu Dey]:

The larger problem is the problem of educational priorities. For the laptop project to make sense, it needs to be in the context of widespread educational reform in developing nations. The project carries the hope that schools in developing nations can train students at the same level as schools in wealthier countries, giving students a chance to use computers at least as much as students in the north. This is a radical idea, and one that demands thinking beyond the paradigm of textbook replacement that OLPC has been using to open conversations in developing nations. Yes, the funding the laptop demands will be counterbalanced, in part, by reduced textbook costs. But embracing the potential of the project requires increasing educational spending so you can attack the problems Atanu talks about, as well as the problems of training teachers to utilize this new tool in the classroom.

Ive got high hopes that debate over the laptop will soon change from whether it is technically suited for use in developing nations (it is, certainly to a greater extent than any other machine Ive seen at a price point below consumer devices in the US) to conversations on the sorts of issues Atanu brings up. And I hope that my friends in Cambridge will bring in interested critics like Dr. Dey to ensure theyve got answers for the hard questions hes asking, as well as questions like how can we make this machine use only 2 watts of power?

Microsoft and Free PCs

Barron’s writes about an Information Week story based on a Microsoft patent application, which reads: ” Computer executable modules and an associated method for delivering computer resources using an advertising based model may use a local database of advertisements and locally collected user profile data for selecting targeted advertisements for delivery to a user. A user may be allowed to select what or how much user profile information to share with an advertising provider. The local database of advertisements may then be downloaded corresponding to the amount of user profile data shared. For example, when less user profile data is shared a larger database of advertisements may be downloaded. The advertising database may also be attached to a software update. Presentation of targeted ads may be verified and reported to an advertising provider allowing revenue-sharing to compensate the computer resource provider.”

Problem with Portals

Jeff Jarvis writes:

The problem with portals is that they arent portals at all. The windows are nailed shut. Theyre traps. They want to lure you in and then not let you leave.

When Yahoo was young, cofounder Jerry Yang told me that his sites job was to get you in and out as quickly as possible. That certainly changed. Now Yahoo licenses and creates content and services to keep you in front of its ads as long as possible; it is known for collecting and not sharing traffic. I say that Yahoo is the last old-media company still trying to get viewers to come to it but it is successful because it is unencumbered by presses, towers, talent contracts, and other media legacies.

TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: NTT Docomos i-mode (Part 2)

Docomo put together an end-to-end solution to provide services on the go for mobile users. By using CHTML, it provided a language that was easy for content providers to use. It shared 91% of the content revenue with the provider while keeping the data access charges to itself. It also took care of billing for the various service providers. For end users, handsets came with an i-mode button which made for easy access. I-mode succeeded because its openness created a thriving industry of service providers. Docomo succeeded in using the open principles of the Internet and applying it in the mobile context.

Mike Gauba thinks that i-modes was an accidental success. He said in an interview (Sep 2005) with i-mode strategy:

A superficial success analysis of i-mode may conclude that it was the right thing at the right time and at the right place, hence the success. i-mode was an initiative to develop new revenue streams in a saturating voice market. Mobile Internet was a good solution for a market that lacked fixed Internet infrastructure. Japan has high adoptability for technology so much so that even the toilet seats are digital, rapid adoption of technology was not an issue. Japan is also a thickly populated collectivist society, where the “must have” “mass” phenomenon could be very strong.

In European markets, Internet was well entrenched when i-mode was first introduced and thus the challenge at that time was to migrate users from applications on Internet or other technology platforms to i-mode.

After discussing with a couple of i-mode service providers and also from the media reports, I gather the factors like low notional thresholds, technology disruption and network effect had not been considered for designing the value proposition of the service. If these factors came into play by themselves in Japan that does not mean that this will also happen in other markets too.

This is in fact my basis for calling it an accidental success.

To date, Docomos success with i-mode has not been replicated elsewhere. The mobile Internet, for the most part, remains something which is a mirage. Mobile data services are restricted to services provided by the operators. The walled gardens do not encourage independent service providers to come in. India, along with most other countries, is in the same boat.

So, what makes me think that things will be different going ahead and that India has an opportunity and the environment to replicate i-modes success.

Tomorrow: India Scenario

Continue reading