Knowledge@Wharton Interview

Knowledge@Wharton interviewed me recently. Here is the introduction they wrote:

Rajesh Jain has a lot in common with Marc Andreeson, co-founder of Netscape. Just as the Netscape IPO in 1995 is widely believed to have sparked the Internet boom in the U.S., Jain ignited a dot-com storm in India when his portal — IndiaWorld — was sold in November 1999 for $115 million to Sify, an Internet service provider. That deal signaled to millions in that country that the web was not just a passing techie fad and that entrepreneurs could make serious money from it.

In recent years, Jain, 39, has deliberately kept a low profile in the media, though he makes his views on technology issues widely known through his blog, Jain, who is now the CEO of Netcore, a Linux-based messaging software company, was a panelist earlier this year at the 2006 Supernova conference in San Francisco. He met with Knowledge@Wharton in his offices in Mumbai to discuss how mobile phones could hold the key to the Internet’s evolution in India and other emerging economies.

Here is a quote from me:

I believe another dimension will define the future of the Internet in India, and that’s going to be built around the mobile phone. Given the way that mobile phones have taken off in India during the past four to five years, I am convinced that more people in India will access the Internet through mobile phones than through computers linked to narrowband or broadband connections. We need to start thinking about the mobile Internet differently than we do about the PC Internet.

For me, three words help define the mobile Internet. They are: now, near and new. “Now” is about what is happening right now in real time. Wherever I am, I can find the latest cricket scores or the top news stories because my mobile phone is always with me. “Near” is about location — it can be as small as a neighborhood or it could be a city. If I’m about to take a flight this evening, could I get an alert on my mobile phone if the flight is delayed? Some of this is starting to happen, but it needs to happen a lot more. It could make a real difference to people’s lives. Finally, “new” is about new stuff in which I might be interested. Just as a search engine like Google is a good way to find material that has been published in the past, the mobile phone is a great way to keep in touch with future or incremental content. If there is a sale, it should be possible for my book store to send me an alert and suggest business books that I might find interesting.

Telecoms Convergence

Tomi Ahonen has an extensive critique of the telecoms survey published in the Economist last week:

They write 25 pages on convergence and the future of telecoms. The Economist is clear that convergence consists of internet, TV, fixed AND mobile telecoms. The Economist tells us that users migrate from fixed to mobile; traffic migrates from fixed to mobile; and revenues migrate from fixed to mobile. Yet they all but ignore the impact of mobile telecoms to this converged future?

A story about the future that ignores its biggest component

So here is my big gripe with this Special Report on the Future of Telecoms. If the trend of customers is from fixed to mobile; the trend of traffic is from fixed to mobile; and the trend of revenues is from fixed to mobile; why does the Economist Future of Telecoms, NOT discuss what mobile is and will be for telecoms?

The 4 Cs

Vinu writes:

All the excitement in the internet world now (sometimes termed as Web 2.0) according to me can be summarised in 4 Cs:

* Content (Micro chunking. tagging)
* Connectivity (Communication, Mobility, RSS, Voip)
* Community (Collaboration, smart mobs, user generated content)
* Commerce (platform providers, Craigslist)

Internet is a Car. Content the driver. Connectivity which is the engine. Community the passengers. And Finally Commerce the spark! After you start the car – you actually may not need the spark.

Mobile Ajax

C. Enrique Ortiz writes:

Mobile AJAX is mobile browsing, but mobile browsing is not necessarily Mobile AJAX. Mobile AJAX is not services on the web, but might be used to consume such services on the web. With their small screens, does AJAX really matter for handsets? Will it have the same effect as it did on the desktop? The answer is that it will matter for mobile, but it won’t have the same effect as in desktops. Not until 1) AJAX is consistently supported across micro-browsers, and 2) not until the primary screen on handsets are large enough to make it exciting (and the day the mobile handsets primary screen become large, then the whole mobility thing may have been defeated).

Mobile AJAX today is not mainstream, and is not ready to deliver the goodies it has delivered on the desktop, not because the technology per-se isn’t ready, but because it is not consistently offered across handsets, and because its effect (and experience) on Mobile is just plain different from the desktop. So when can we expect Mobile AJAX to go mainstream? Well, the sooner the better, but it will probably take about 2 years — hopefully I’m wrong and it’s before that.

Skills Gap in India

The New York Times writes:

India still produces plenty of engineers, nearly 400,000 a year at last count. But their competence has become the issue.

A study commissioned by a trade group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or Nasscom, found only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations.

The skills gap reflects the narrow availability of high-quality college education in India and the galloping pace of the country’s service-driven economy, which is growing faster than nearly all but China’s.

TECH TALK: The Rise of YouTube: Comments(Part 4)

The Economist commented: [The] pairing of Google and YouTube may come to be remembered as the moment Web 2.0ie, the web, version twocame of age…The main benefit of the deal, however, may be the difficulties it creates for Google’s rivals. Yahoo! and Microsoft, as well as News Corporation and Viacom, two media giants, all wanted YouTube. But Google pre-empted them, just as it denied them access to AOL, another portal, in which it bought a defensive stake last winter.
ForeverGeek discussed video ads (among other things):

While Yahoo and MSN may make noise about Oventure and AdCenter respectively, AdWords is the king of textual keyword based ads. Yet a juicy new frontier awaits – video. YouTube did prove one thing – people like viewing videos online. Even taking out all the copyright material out of YouTube, a lot of legitimate videos are quite popular. Instead of waiting around to see if there is market for video (which should command *far higher* prices than text links), Google has opted to take the bull by the horn. While Google may never directly put video ads on its core products, it now has one of the largest inventories of video on the internet. was a massive testbed for AdWords before it was distributed to publishers small and big. Consider YouTube as a massive testbed for Video AdWords before distributed to publishers small and big. (Note: I do understand that you cannot directly compare text-ad inventory and video-ad inventory, but the analogy serves as a useful example regardless).

Mark Cuban, who has been critical about YouTube’s perceived flouting of copyright laws, outlined how he things the battles between the media companies and Google-YouTube will unfold:

Rather than suing Gootube, the media companies will first sue several of the imitators and competitors that have no money whatsoever. They wont sue those companies to get money, they will sue a bunch of those companies to build precedent. In particular, they will sue to get clarification on the DMCA Safe Harbor laws. Are these little companies, that do basically what Youtube does, protected by the DMCA safe harbor rules ?

If they can win some judgements saying these little sites are not protected by Safe Harbor rules, then they have all the leverage in the world to dictate licensing terms to sites that until now have not proactively enforced copyright but have instead chosen to rely on rightsholders takedown notices. If one of those sites has deep pockets, then it could turn into a payday for rightsholders, whether via lawsuit or licensing terms.

There has been a lot of discussion about whether Gootube, together or seperately would qualify under the safe harbor laws. Some think yes, others like me, think not. But the reality is this. Whatever copyright owners let Gootube get away with, there will be an unlimited number of sites that copy that approach.

Tomorrow: Impact for China and India

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