Asian Economic Engine

The Economist writes:

The real driver of the world economy has been Asia, which has accounted for over half of the world’s growth since 2001. Even in current dollar terms, rather than PPP, Asia’s 21% contribution to the increase in world GDP exceeded America’s 19%. But current dollar figures understate Asia’s weight in the world, because in China and other poor countries things like housing and domestic services are much cheaper than in rich countries, so a dollar of spending buys a lot more. If you want to compare consumer spending across countries, it therefore makes more sense to convert local currency spending into dollars using PPPs rather than market exchange rates.

Across many other Asian countries, the notion of the frugal Asian consumer is equally flawed, says Mr Anderson. Although consumption has fallen as a share of GDP in most Asian countries, this does not mean that households are saving more. Excluding China and India, household saving has fallen sharply, from 15% of GDP in the late 1980s to 8% today. The paradox is explained by the fact that wage incomes have risen more slowly than GDP as production has become more capital intensive. But this means that Asian consumers are spending a rising share of their income by borrowing or running down their savings. Amazingly, the savings rate of Japanese households has fallen more sharply than that of American households over the past decade.

Yahoo’s Small Business Opportunity

Screenwerk writes:

Yahoo! Small Business has self-service templates (380 of em) that allow for a pseudo-customized site. What Ive argued to Yahoo! is that most businesses want simplification in terms of choices and only need customization at the margins. But they want true customization capabilities (i.e., logos, photos and some measure of control over formats and colors). Yahoo! has some of this but with its Flickr, mapping and other assets should be able to offer much more.

Now that were in the realm of drag and drop functionality online with AJAX somebody is going to come along with a very simple application to enable SMEs to create sites in an intuitive way using simply WYSIWYG text editing and drag and drop widgets or modules.

Yahoo! is in a position to be that company. They have the resources and a trusted brand. Having domain registration, site building and hosting is a perfect channel for search and other online marketing.

Sun’s Project Blackbox

Jonathan Schwartz writes:

the future of the web is clearly moving toward horizontal or grid computing. In a grid, a conventional network is used to connect collections of smaller, general purpose elements (like Sun’s Niagara or Galaxy systems). The question of “what’s the biggest grid?” has no obvious answer – they can be as big as you want. Just as at TACC, where they’re building the largest supercomputer on the planet out of general purpose elements.

So a while back, we asked a few talented systems engineers a simple question: is there an optimum size for a horizontally scaled system? Interestingly enough, the answer wasn’t rooted in the Solaris scheduler or a PhD thesis. It was rooted in the environmental realities faced by the customers I cite in the second paragraph. And perhaps more interestingly, in your local shipyard.

Esther Dyson on Office 2.0

Esther Dyson writes:

[Office 2.0 is] about the way the platform allows the sharing of information, but the trick is managing the processes, not managing the content.

That is, we need tools that will help us keep track of the workflow. For example, I send a blog post out to three people to make sure I quoted them correctly. Now I want a way automatically to ping the ones who haven’t responded. That’s a minor problem. But I have 20 or 30 of them a way…so I want a process spreadsheet, a tool that lets me set up little processes, copy and modify and re-use them. I want to be able to share them with other people. And, perhaps my company wants a way to create them and distribute them.

But in general, as we think about Office 2.0, we need to avoid the trap of thinking that work rules are centralized and hierarchical. Rules can be peer-to-peer too-if we have tools to create and share them in a bottom-up way.

Second Life

The New York Times writes:

It has a population of a million. The people there make friends, build homes and run businesses. They also play sports, watch movies and do a lot of other familiar things. They even have their own currency, convertible into American dollars.

This parallel universe, an online service called Second Life that allows computer users to create a new and improved digital version of themselves, began in 1999 as a kind of online video game.

But now, the budding fake world is not only attracting a lot more people, it is taking on a real world twist: big business interests are intruding on digital utopia. The Second Life online service is fast becoming a three-dimensional test bed for corporate marketers.

TECH TALK: The Rise of YouTube: Impact for China and India

SeekingAlpha [David Wolf] wrote: Apart from the fact that the deal needs to close, Kai-Fu Lee and the team over at Google China are wise enough in the ways of the Middle Kingdom to know that YouTube in the form that it operates in the U.S. would not fly with the Chinese authorities. A website that plays videos but is not a licensed broadcaster? That’s a no-go: we know that from the way the IPTV trials are being handled. A foreign website? Playing foreign videos? Or worse, self-produced videos from local Chinese? Even worse, owned by a foreign company with huge resources?…China is not the only place Google is likely to face challenges as it makes plans to take YouTube global. In Singapore and in other countries where Google does business, there will be authorities who take issue with the concept of a video sharing site, and Google will face a choice: don’t launch YouTube at all, or launch a localized version that operates in accordance with local laws and sensibilities. I’m betting on the YouTube Local approach, especially in non-English-speaking territories.

The real opportunity is likely to be around the mobile. SeekingAlpha again: Mobile content has its own particular requirements – small screens, short programming, and loads of choice. From that perspective, YouTube is brilliantly suited to mobile television: short duration videos, lots of low-definition stuff that people are used to seeing in small screens, and content that is mostly already formatted for wmv and RealPlayer. Launching YouTube in China as a video wireless value-added service provider [V-WVASP?], combined with some clever advertising techniques developed by YouTube and Chinese mobile TV pioneers like 21cms, could be the ticket.

The mobile angle was also discussed by MocoNews:

The biggest indication of any mobile results is in the content deals announced by both companies just before the merger, which is mostly with music labels and is for music videos. Theres talk of free music videos supported by Googles advertising nouse. Music videos, as well as the user-generated content which made YouTube so big, is perfect for mobile devices. For me, the question is not what will they do but why havent they done anything yet?, and if the answer is anything other than the fact that theyre still sorting out online video any speculation would be premature. But if its something they just havent got around to Im sure they will at some point. Because of data charges syncing is the most obvious delivery technique at this point, but that leaves a few issues such as the difficulty of syncing. With the higher speed networks planned Im sure therell be over-the-air downloads that dont cost to much, which could see it take off. The revenue model could be paid for content (such as some of the new music video deals) or ad-sponsored (which is Googles strength, after all) or a mixture of the two. Perhaps the biggest thing Google could bring to the deal is an easier way to find videos that interest you, which is of particular interest in mobile where you want to download only what you like.

My view is that the deal highlights the importance of social networks and community. It also brings out the coming age of video on the Internet. In India, we are still in the Web 1.0 world, so we have a long way to go before we start realising the benefits on this new Internet. But, we do have an opportunity to leapfrog to Web2.0 if we build it our around mobiles. As I have often said in the past, there is an opportunity for the next YouTube or Google to come from emerging markets like China and India. Instead of looking at what companies in the developed markets are doing, the focus needs to be on the needs of the large user base in the domestic markets. If there is one key takeaway for entrepreneurs from the YouTube-Google deal, it is this (from Evan Williams): It’s a great example of how and why a focused startup can compete with the big guys. Google not only had a video product that was a competitor, they started it before YouTube existed. Then YouTube came along and kicked their butt into paying through the nose for them. One game is over, new ones are ready to begin.

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