Internet De-Portalisation

Fred Wilson writes:

Today, we shop directly with the Internet merchants we like or we use a shopping search engine to find what we want. We can look for jobs on Indeed, meet people on MySpace or Facebook, find roomates on Craigslist, and use Meebo for instant messaging. It’s rarely true that the best of breed service exists on a “portal”. The portals continue to buy best of breed services like Flickr, but now they let the service continue to exist on the web with its own look and feel and URL structure.

The other thing that Google did to foster this de-portalization was introduce a monetization system that existed off its own network. Dave Winer says that “web 2.0” is really nothing more than “an aftermarket for Google”. While I don’t agree with that assessment at all, it does point out how critical an effective monetization system Adsense has been and how important that money has been to building a de-portalized web. What Adsense does is provide a revenue stream early on in the life of a new web service, long before the founders can focus on building their own monetization system. And that has led to a proliferation of high quality web services that do not ever need to end up on a portal.

Second Life

Forbes writes:

Second Life, created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, is both easy and difficult to explain: Science fiction fans will recognize it as an attempt to create the visions of cyberspace described in novels by authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. Another explanation: Its a video game, like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto, that lets players wander around doing whatever theyd like. Except its not a game–theres no goal to accomplish and no one to beat.

It is easier to describe Second Lifes growth: Very fast. Second Life went live in June 2003. Last December, it had 92,000 users, and about 4,200 typically played at one time. Now the site has topped a million unique customers and on Sunday crossed the threshold of 18,000 users at a single time. Half are from outside the U.S.; almost 44% are women.

Spam Trouble

The New York Times writes:

Antispam companies fought the scourge successfully, for a time, with a blend of three filtering strategies. Their software scanned each e-mail and looked at whom the message was coming from, what words it contained and which Web sites it linked to. The new breed of spam call it Spam 2.0 poses a serious challenge to each of those three approaches.

Some antispam veterans are not optimistic about the future of the spam battle. As an industry I think we are losing, Mr. Peterson of Ironport said. The bad guys are simply outrunning most of the technology out there today.

Alternative Energy

WSJ writes:

The alternative energy field “is almost like the Internet in terms of the pace of how fast all this is changing,” says Chris Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute, an environmental organization. He believes that new technologies could help resolve some concerns over collateral damage. One of the hottest, for example, is called cellulosic ethanol, which uses different kinds of waste — including municipal garbage — to create fuel.

In the U.S., questions about corn-based ethanol are swirling in academic and agricultural circles, in part because of the work of a Cornell University professor. David Pimentel, who teaches environmental policy, has long held doubts about the fuel’s value. He argues that expanding corn production for biofuels would deplete water resources and pollute soils with added fertilizer and chemicals. It would also require huge volumes of traditional energy for farming equipment and ethanol-conversion facilities — a toll that could nullify gains from the less-polluting fuel produced.

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2006: Mobile Internet

The opportunity in India lies in addressing the twin needs of the mobile web and home [server-centric] computing for the middle of the pyramid.

My belief is that the real opportunity for the mobile Internet will be in the middle of the pyramid at the 30 million users who have access to both the mobile and the computer, and whose digital lives are being built around the mobile. These users are less likely to live in South Mumbai than North Mumbai and perhaps even more likely to be in tier 2 cities in India. For them, ubiquitous PC-based Internet remains a distant dream.

[As an aside, I think what will change the balance is the combination of three innovations: network computers, city-wide broadband wireless networks and a business model which makes computing a utility. These are some of the ideas that we are working on in Novatium.]

For the middle of the pyramid, the ability to access the Internet via their mobile phone will open a new world of opportunities. Whether it is making use of lifes empty moments or getting answers in lifes know-now moments, the mobile Internet will become an integral part of their lives in the coming years.

Here is a broader perspective:

To understand the mobile internet opportunity, it is necessary to take a wider perspective. In tomorrows world, all info and services will reside in the cloud. Users will connect to this cloud via two possible devices a mobile phone [or laptop computer] which they carry with them all the time, and a desktop computer with a bigger screen and better input capabilities. Both will be connected devices and in that sense, thin clients to the thick servers that reside in the cloud with near-infinite computing and storage capabilities. Connectivity can be via DSL or cable in the wired world, or via WiFi, WiMax or mobile operator data networks (2.5G and higher).

The essential difference from the PC-centric developed world users is that this user base assumes the presence of the network and is therefore comfortable with keeping the information in the cloud, knowing that access to it will be available anytime and from anywhere. In the PC-centric world, there is still a legacy of local applications and storage which fragment a users information and life. This lack of legacy is what can be used to advantage by service providers in the emerging markets. The goal should be to create network-centric services which are accessible from both the mobile and the PC but primarily focused around the mobile. The mantra needs to be Mobiles First.

Tomorrow: Incremental Web

Continue reading