The Fourth Screen

The New York Times writes:

The world of desktop computing is finally going mobile, and the shift can be seen in the explosive growth of wireless data for cellular carriers.

To handle functions from text and instant messaging to mobile MySpace and ESPN, computer users are increasingly turning to the cellphone.

We are seeing the emergence of a fourth screen, said Jerry Panagrossi, vice president for operations at Symbian, a developer of advanced cellphone operating systems, citing a historical progression of movie, television, computer and now the smart-phone screen.

The newest screen is evolving to adopt more and more characteristics of a personal computer. And many believe that the next big shift will be the convergence of many forms of communication encompassing voice, e-mail, instant messaging and video telephony.

Yahoo’s Mobile Initiatives

WSJ writes:

[Yahoo] is hoping that, while second to Google in Web search, it can lead the market for mobile search and associated advertising with a new offering tailored for use on handsets.

Where search engines typically give computer users a list of Web sites, Yahoo is trying to provide more specific answers to cellphone queries so consumers don’t have to click around as much to find what they’re looking for. A search on the word “49ers,” for instance, immediately brings up the San Francisco football team’s scores and schedule, photos, and headlines from two news articles rather than forcing users to jump to other Web sites for such information.

Social Networks Monetisation

Robert Young writes: “The bottom line of all this for anyone running a social network already, or if you are in the process of building a new one make sure that everything you do is designed to maximize monetization, as the difference between success and failure will rest on this metric. For instance, if you are creating a niche social network, do so in order to fetch high CPMs. If you are going to widgetize profiles, make sure it results in an enhanced path to monetization. 2005 and 2006 were years that proved that social networks were not a passing fad, but superior monetization is what will prove key for social networks in 2007.”

Enterprise IT

[via Sadagopan] Robert Metcalfe says: “From my point of view, there’s little new in IT, particularly in enterprise software. Video might take Computerworld readers by surprise. There are three major forces – video, mobility and embedded – all three of which are nipping at the edge of IT. Video burdens IP networks, and they haven’t quite seen the value proposition, but CIOs will eventually have to embrace it instead of fighting it. For mobility, the platform of choice is increasingly cell phones and less desktops. Cell phones are now a platform for enterprise applications. Embedded software, such as RFID, hasn’t quite made it yet. To make enterprise applications more aware of inventory or the supply chain through RFID and sensor networks – of the three things, this is the furthest away from impacting CIOs.”

2007 VC Predictions

TechJournal South has an article in which Jason Caplain asked four VCs to look ahead. The VCs:

– Roger Krakoff, Venture Partner, Sigma Partners: “Tech IPO Market Returns; Web 2.0 Takes on Real Definition and The Internet Emerges as a Replacement for TV”

– Jack Biddle, Co-Founder and General Partner, Novak Biddle Venture Partners: “Web 2.0 and Google Both Collapse; Institutional Investors Realize Investing in an Important Space Isnt the Same Thing as Actually Making Money”

– Jo Tango, General Partner, Kepha Partners: “Splintering of VC Firms; Seed Stage Companies Continue to be Underserved”

– Mike Elliott, General Partner, Noro-Moseley Partners: “The Year of Apple; Investment Opportunities Emerge Around Search and Filtering Tools Allowing Users to Cut Through Massive Amounts of ‘Garbage’ on the Net”

TECH TALK: 2007 Tech Trends: 2006 Review (Part 2)

3. Mobiles are becoming the next platform. Mobile phones are not only more visible but they are also becoming more powerful. The positive feedback cycle between the mobile devices capabilities and network speeds is akin to the hardware-software combo which powered the personal computer revolution. Mobiles phones are now becoming replacements for watches, cameras, photo albums, MP3 players and even credit cards. In emerging markets, they are becoming the lifeline for millions bringing forth not just connectivity to those whove been deprived of it for long but also the potential for increasing incomes and opportunities. The next big thing will be around mobiles and data. The promise of 2000 when i-mode became the envy of the world is all set to be realised.

Update: Mobiles are becoming portal multimedia computers which are available to us all the time, and can be connected to data networks wherever we are. I believe that in countries like India, it is the mobile which will be the primary device for people to connect to the Internet. Mobile data services are going to be the next big opportunity.

4. The digital home is the next big technology battleground. The iPod and the Xbox 360 were the hottest selling items during the Christmas season in the US. They are harbingers of change. Music is no longer being consumed on big boom boxes. Rather, people are starting to carry it with them on their iPods. The Xbox 360 is the first of the next-generation gaming consoles with graphics which mirror the visual reality of our world and the ability to connect multiple players into fascinating online virtual worlds. Intels year-end redesign of its logo and byline are but the start of the home wars. Call it convergence or divergence, the stakes are huge. For us consumers, it is a world where the digital dreams that have been talked about for long finally start becoming real.

Update: Microsoft launched Zune this year to compete with the iPod, and Nintendo and Sony launched their new gaming consoles. Given the gadgets that are now with us, we are digital consumers. With storage becoming increasingly portable, we can take our media with us all the time.

5. Search is at the heart of the rise of online advertising. Apple and Google were among the two best performing stocks on Nasdaq. Apples comeback and prospects reflect the promise of the digital revolution. Googles growth mirrors the shift in advertising dollars from traditional media to the online world reflecting the increasing time and importance of the Internet in all that we do. The simple search box has become the start of most of our online explorations. The contextual ads become, for some, useful content. Matching profiles and searches to showing relevant ads has now become a science. And it all begins with the humble search box.

Update: Contextual, performance-based advertising is what is now driving the shift of advertising dollars to the Web. Google is the dominant player here, converting each of its searches into 20 cents of cash through advertising. Others have a long way to go to catch up, and this dominance in search and advertising is giving Google the platform to build the next era of server-centric computing.

Tomorrow: 2006 Review (continued)

Continue reading