India and Web 2.0

iLeher’s Madhur writes:

If you put the above pieces together in todays situation, you have at least 20 players in a market of 8 million users, who are using Internet for less than 10 hours per week vying for a few million dollars of revenues? You can extrapolate the above numbers to 2010 and still the picture wont look any prettier. I would love to hear any catches in the above analysis, but given this data I would not invest or start something that relies completely on ad for revenues from Indian markets, unless there is a killer app in mind that will acquire a really massive number of users quickly and probably get acquired by a big company. I think in India it still makes more sense to start web services with alternative sources of revenues – more like traditional ecommerce services . Not surprising that most of the VC money is going to such services. Of course there is need for sites where youth generation hangs out or where people share bookmarks or latest stories, but the market is small and it will be very interesting who emerges out as the winner. More interesting to see will be what innovations come out considering these facts about the Indian market, both in terms of type/quality of service and in terms of business models.

End-to-End Experiences

The Guardian writes: “In a marketplace that offers a bewildering array of hardware, software and services, the company that prioritises ease of use stands a chance of winning.”

According to Ted Schadler, an industry analyst and vice-president of US-based Forrester Research, that’s the new trend. “Consumers hate complex things,” he says. “They want to be handed a working solution.”

Last December, Forrester published a research note: “Sell digital experiences, not products.” It points out that consumers buy products but often don’t buy the content and accessories they need to get all the benefits. For example, half the US consumers with high-definition TV sets don’t subscribe to HDTV programming. The conclusion: “Digital industries must stop selling standalone devices and start delivering digital experiences – products and services integrated end-to-end under the control of a single application.”

Marketing Process

Seth Godin provides some ideas:

1. Dont run out of money. It always takes longer and costs more than you expect to spread your idea. You can budget for it or you can fail.

2. You wont get it right the first time. Your campaign will need to be reinvented, adjusted or scrapped. Count on it.

3. Convenient choices are not often the best choices. Just because an agency, an asset or a bizdev deal are easy to do doesnt mean that they are your best choice.

4. Irrational, strongly held beliefs of close advisors should be ignored. It doesnt matter if they dont like your logo.

6. Focusing obsessively on one niche, one feature and one market is almost always a better idea than trying to satisfy everyone.

Beyond Search

Dave Winer writes:

Many years ago, when the Internet was still the domain of geeks, researchers and college students, the smart folks often said that the opportunities for new software companies were over, it simply required too much scale to compete in an industry dominated by Lotus, Microsoft and Ashton-Tate. Now it’s clear how ridiculous that was, even though it was correct. The next layer comes on not by building on the old layer (a trick, the guy you’re building on will eat your lunch), or re-doing what they did (what the naysayers correctly say you can’t do), but by starting from a different place and building something new, and so different that the old guys don’t understand it and don’t feel threatened by it.

At first, the Internet, the market dominated by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon (and others) was about the web, a publishing environment, then it became two-way, and search developed as a core but adjunct feature, much as the OS of a personal computer is part of the package, but the spreadsheet, word processor and other productivity apps are really what it was about. There will be new technology enterprises that make the search engine as humdrum as the desktop OS is today. Bet on it and win. Think that all innovation must come in the form of applications of search and you’ll be left in the dust.

MySpace to Facebook to

Washington Post writes:

Teen Web sensation MySpace became so big so fast, News Corp. spent $580 million last year to buy it. Then Google Inc. struck a $900 million deal, primarily to advertise with it. But now Jackie Birnbaum and her fellow English classmates at Falls Church High School say they’re over MySpace.

“I think it’s definitely going down — a lot of my friends have deleted their MySpaces and are more into Facebook now,” said Birnbaum, a junior who spends more time on her Facebook profile, where she messages and shares photos with other students in her network.

Such is the social life of teens on the Internet: Powerful but fickle. Within several months’ time, a site can garner tens of millions of users who, just as quickly, might flock to the next place, making it hard for corporate America to make lasting investments in whatever’s hot now.

TECH TALK: Good Books: The Go Point (Part 2)

Knowledge@Wharton interviewed Michael Useem, the author of The Go Point. Here are some excerpts:

We all make decisions all the time and most of them are highly personal — [such as] what we put on this morning when we got up and got out of the house. A small subset of our decisions, though, has ramifications for people around us, and sometimes those are people we are responsible for. They work for us, we command them, and they may be in our community in some way.

There is a strain of thinking that is probably summed up with the psychologists’ clinical term “decidophobia”; some people,[in considering] even what color clothing to put on in the morning, just simply balk at that decision. If it’s highly personal, that’s OK. The consequence is you don’t get out of the house on time. But when it affects other people, you cannot suffer from that particular clinical syndrome, because you are going to ultimately cause others around you distress, maybe even harm.

Decision making and leadership can be difficult, but it can be learned. And I think the basic premise that underlies the book — I think it just underlies reality — is that decision making as a skill is learned really by making decisions. Critically though, [it means] looking back on those decisions, to make certain we don’t make the same mistake twice, that you have some sense for what went right as well.

By way of example: I interviewed the chief executive of Lenovo — which is of course China’s big PC maker — on this very topic for a couple of hours recently, and I put the question in summary this way (his name is Liu): “Mr. Liu, you came out of a state owned and operated research center. The government of China funded you, that was where your budget was from, but 22 years back you broke off with a couple of friends to create what is now the world’s third-largest PC maker. How did you learn to make decisions along the way — the decisions being how to market, how to brand, how to price, how to hire — when you were doing none of those, making none of those decisions before?”

The answer really has stuck with me. At the end of every week, going back now more than 20 years, on Friday afternoon, he sits down with his direct reports, his top team, the five or six people he’s closest to. They take time to review everything they’ve done that week — what decisions were good, which ones were terrible. He has no MBA degree, no formal training in decision making, leadership, or management.

I say all that by way of coming back to the main point, which is decision making is a learned skill. You’ve got to make decisions and look back on them.
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But in addition to that, becoming more self-conscious about getting the right data, having the right timing, talking to people who you know will not provide a biased read or filter through which they’re going to pass their advice — these are among what I would end up calling in the book the tools of leadership. So on the one hand, intuition is very important.

On the other hand, a set of tools is quite important also for helping all of us make good decisions. And just to come back to the main point: they’re all learned.

The book can be especially good reading for entrepreneurs. I have faced (and continue to face) go points all the time. One has to make decisions and live with them. For an early-stage company, a single wrong decision can make things very difficult. Hopefully, Useems book will help us decide right.

Tomorrow: Winning Decisions

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