Google Universal Search

Danny Sullivan has a backgrounder. “Google is undertaking the most radical change to its search results ever, introducing a “Universal Search” system that will blend listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among those it gathers from crawling web pages…The move potentially should be a huge boon for searchers, while search marketers who have paid attention to the importance of specialized or vertical search will see new opportunities.”

Enterprise Software Mirroring Home Usage

Barrons’s writes: “Ted Schlein was making the point that enterprise software will increasingly look like what consumers do at home. He notes that the two enterprise applications he uses the most are e-mail and Google. Look for examples of software that mimic what consumers do at home and do it within the enterprise, he says. Corporate directories of the future will look like MySpace. College grads of the future, he says, are not going to want to use the dull enterprise applications now is use.”

UK: SMS replacing Voice

Tomi Ahonen writes: “Consider that voice calls for the majority of UK users – prepay (voucher) customers declined over the past year by 28%. Voice calls by postpay (contract) customers declined by 22% last year. But over the same time SMS text messaging grew by 43% ! The UK now averages over 6 text messages per day ! That is rapidly catching up with world leaders where in South Korea they average 10 SMS per day per phone subscriber, Singapore averages 12 per day and the Philippines average 15 SMS per day. The European average is under 2 SMS per subscriber per day (and American averages are still near the one half text message per cellphone subscriber per day rate).”

Home Servers

Popular Mechanics writes: “The technorati among you may protest: Why do we need home servers when everything is migrating online? Google has a full suite of productivity software available that works through a Web browser, and services like .Mac function as an online virtual server for home and small business users without bringing IT problems home. Combine that with a general trend toward higher bandwidth, and the distinction between your network and the Internet becomes almost academic. Nevertheless, the end result is the same: a server — massive, networked, securely backed up and well-managed storage that is accessible from anywhere. Without it, the era of movie downloads and the networked home will never evolve beyond an early adopter novelty.”

Jaiku vs Twitter

Marko Ahtisaari writes about why he prefers Jaiku over Twitter:

For me Jaiku is about:

1. Silent sociality – checking up on what my friends are up to when convenient, and posting my own state knowing that I won’t be disturbing others (unless they have explicitly asked to be alerted).

2. Small-group sociality – Jaiku is not about celebrity. I’m interested in sharing state with a small group I’m nearly always in contact with, what Mimi Ito has called full-time intimate community.

3. Mobile sociality – Jaiku was designed with the mobile “living phonebook” interface in mind. SMS alerts crowding the inbox of one of the few working personal and functional communication channels is not my idea of improving communication. I use the SMS-in posting to Jaiku when I’m using my Nokia 8800 and with my N70 I use the Jaiku phonebook.

4. Background sociality – Jaiku allows me to integrate other online identities and feeds (including delicious, flickr and any RSS) into my single jaiku presence feed. This is done in a way that do

TECH TALK: Indias Digital Infrastructure: Overview

Recently, Business Today asked me to write a column about the Internet in India. This is what I wrote.

The Internet is back! There’s a buzz among entrepreneurs as venture capital companies are putting money into companies focused on the Indian market. Online advertising (display, search and classifieds) is growing. Users are starting to spend on transactions going beyond ticketing. All in all, the long-promised boom of the Indian Internet is underway. What needs to be done to ensure that the boom isnt just a transient bubble?

There are, in reality, two Internets segmented by the access device and the type of connectivity. The PC-based wireline Internet has about 30-40 million users, with a majority of the users using cybercafes. With only 7 million computers in Indian homes, this Internet is still a long way from becoming a utility in people’s lives. The mobile-centric wireless Internet can potentially reach a significant portion of the 165 million cellphone users in India. However, the reality is that other than voice, there are only two services which touch a large fraction of this user base SMS and ringback tones. The mobile-as-India’s-computer paradigm still has a long way to go.

Looking at it another way, for the real boom, the wireline Internet needs more devices (home computers) and the mobile Internet needs more services. What will it take to make both happen?

To solve the device problem, one needs to rethink computing in a world where broadband exists and thus make computers affordable and manageable. For this, the answers lie in borrowing two ideas from the mobile industry create a device that costs Rs 5,000, and combine it with a monthly service charge of Rs 500, and make the device simple to use without requiring its owner to become a technology expert!

The solution to these twin challenges lies in thinking ‘thin’ computers for Indian homes connected over DSL or cable to servers over high-speed networks. All the computational processing is done at the server-end, and the network computers become simple ‘on-off’ devices without compromising on the performance that current desktop computers offer.

To make the mobile Internet a reality in India, two changes need to happen, and they have to be driven by the mobile operators since they are the ‘gatekeepers.’ First, an open publishing platform is needed to allow anyone to create a mobile website that is accessible by everyone just like on the PC Internet.

Second, mobile operators need to change their billing philosophy for value-added services. The bulk of the revenue that users pay must be given to the content providers. Mobile operators should, instead, charge for packet data flow through their ‘pipes.’ At a broader level, just like NTT Docomo did with its i-mode service in Japan in 1999, Indian mobile operators need to encourage the creation of a value-generating ecosystem.

Taken together, these innovations can help build India’s digital infrastructure, create a framework for other emerging markets to emulate and provide a large domestic market for companies to finally think India First.

There are a number of ideas which I did not have the space to expand upon in the Business Today column. I will use this Tech Talk series to elaborate on the various points mentioned.

Tomorrow: PC Internet