India Mobiles Growth

The Economist writes that India now leads the world in mobile-phone subscriber growth (with 6.6 million additions last month):

The boom has become the source of much national pride. It is arguably a more widely celebrated example of the New India than the high-tech offshoring industry centred on Bangalore, because poorer Indians are participating in it too. Industry bosses are quick to point out that the spread of mobile phones is bringing labourers, farmers and fishermen into the economic mainstream. An unemployed person with a phone suddenly feels part of the nation, says one top executive.

Indian firms claim they offer the cheapest mobile services in the world, with outgoing calls for as little as $0.01 a minute and second-hand phones for $15 or less. But cheap does not mean unprofitable, and the industry leaders, including Reliance Communications, Bharti’s Airtel and the telecoms arm of Tata, are believed to earn a pre-tax profit margin of around 40% before interest and depreciation.

IT Predictions for 2007

InfoWorld writes about what to expect:

Content kings: We’ll go with the forecast of analyst Leonard Fuld of Fuld & Associates in Boston that an ongoing story and trend we’ll follow in 2007 will be “the world of information and how it’s monetized.” And we’ll put our money on Google Inc. to continue to lead the pack. The YouTube Inc. acquisition will be but the tip of that iceberg. Google will scoop up other content providers with an eye on their advertising revenue or potential advertising revenue. “There will be other mega deals,” Fuld said in a recent interview. News Corp. undoubtedly will be another company to watch in 2007 when it comes to content, with mergers among more traditional media companies that find themselves increasingly forced to compete with Internet content providers, not to mention the blogosphere and specialty content providers.

Spam spam spam spam: It’s going to get worse before it gets better. (Yes, we know we said this last year and we expect we’ll say it again at the end of next year.) We’ll be so bold as to say the way it will get better is that ISPs (Internet service providers) will make it terms of service that users adequately protect their computers (see also “Hacker’s paradise above”) and ISPs will (gasp!) cancel accounts of users whose computers are overtaken by spam-sending zombies. Meanwhile, prosecutions will continue under various national and state laws aimed at putting a lid on spammers.

Search Timeline

Brady Forrest links to a Danny Sullivan post which looks at the history of search. As Brady puts it: “The past provides context for the present and thus it is crucial reading for anyone who’s business is affected by Search. As you can see from some of the highlights below the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Microsoft and Vista

Robert Cringely writes why Microsoft will win:

Those who are trying to figure out if Vista will be successful haven’t yet grasped the concept that Vista will be forced on the market, and in time it will be the only operating system you can buy from Microsoft. Of course it will be successful. Will people upgrade their existing systems? Of course not. Microsoft operating systems are always designed for future PC’s, not for the installed base. Part of the plan is to make Vista work poorly on current computers so we’ll all have to buy new ones. This strategy has been around for years and there is no reason to believe we won’t fall for it again. Sure, some percentage of people and firms will upgrade, but most of the upgrades will come with whole new computers.

Think back to the Windows 95 introduction, where one of the selling points was that the new OS would work fine on a 66 MHz 486 computer. The truth was that it would RUN on a 486, but not well, so after a try of Win95 on our old hardware, rather than go to some other operating system we all bought new machines. And we’ll do that again with Vista.

Health URLs

Nicholas Carr writes about a talk given by Adam Bosworth of Google:

Lets put the patients in charge of their health and medical information. Lets build a system which puts the people who are sick in control. For every single medical and health-related event, lets make sure that patients can effortlessly retrieve and share their information in its totality and then use it to ensure that they get the best quality of care possible. It is their health. The people who treat, diagnose, test or dispense medications to patients should be required to deliver, instantly, over the net, at the speed of light, that information to those patients to use as they see fit. If these patients choose to share it with caregivers or health coaches or nursing services, that should be their right …

Every ill person needs a health URL, an online meeting place where their caregivers with express permission from the ill person can come together, pass on notes to each other, review each others notes, look at the medical data, and suggest courses of action. This isnt rocket science. It is online web applications 101.

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani has been advocating the use of personal health records for patients for a long time now.

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2006: The N3 Web

Over the course of a number of columns, I elaborated on the Now-New-Near Web ideas:

Now Web: Now is about incremental in Time. It is about events that are happening now. Other words to describe this web are real-time and live. The World of Now is the world around us. Watching a cricket match on TV or a business channel with its constant updates of stock indices and prices is a view on whats happening now…In the enterprise context, the Now Web can be thought of as the ability to get real-time updates from business applications for decision-making. In the consumer context, the Now Web can be thought of as being able to get a view of what Ramesh Jain (with whom I have co-founded Seraja) has called the EventWeb.

New Web: The New Web can be thought of as incremental in Topics. Topics relate to our interests. The New Web is about tracking people or topics. RSS (or a feed) is central to this Web…The New Web also lets us pursue our micro-interests. RSS feeds let us change the granularity of what information is updated. On the Reference Web, I will only know that a page has changed if at all. In the World of Now, the granularity can be for the microcontent think blog posts. A legacy search engine will index a page, but an incremental web search engine will focus on the feeds. Feeds are the containers and carriers for microcontent.

Near Web: The Near Web can be thought of as incremental in Space. It is the Web that is around where we are physically present. It is a world of shops, malls, schools, hospitals, traffic, and much more. In India, much of this Web does not have an electronic presence. It needs to be created…PIN-News is about building a bottom-up community information system. It is built around PIN codes. Neighbourhood events can be posted on to specific pages, organised in a weblog-format. By using standardized forms to do the post, it is possible to capture the information in XML format and use a matching engine to send out alerts to people. For example, if I am interested in book exhibitions or special offers, I can set up an alert on a few PIN codes around my home and workplace. When the book shops in the area do their updates, I can be immediately alerted. PIN-News thus fills the gap in communicating dynamic information to people who are most likely to benefit from it.

I ended by discussing the relevance for India:

India needs to leapfrog to the Now-New-Near Web. This is a web that will be built around mobiles and with a significant contribution coming from user-generated content. It will significantly improve life by bridging the information gaps that exist. It is a Web in which India can be the leader. The digital infrastructure and the devices to create and consume content are in place. What is missing is the set of services.

Another barrier to the creation of the Reference Web for the mass-market has been language. India has a multitude of languages. The computers that exist do not make it easy to create local language content. By adopting multimedia content creation techniques, India can break this barrier. Mobiles are the ideal devices for the creation of such content.

The Now-New-Near Web will be at the heart of the New India. It will be a virtual mirror of the physical world around us, accessible via the device we already carry and over networks that already exist. It will be the next big upgrade to the Web and one which India can lead.

Tomorrow: Network Computing

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