Microsoft’s aQuantive Buy

Kara Swisher provides the context:

1. Spending by big advertisers online lags well behind what many call audience engagement. In other words, time spent on the Web has obviously been growing and taking share away from traditional media.

2. The time to act, then, is now, to lock up any and all available assets in this space, especially ones that give the buyer a big market share and critical mass. The three biggest online ad players, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, have snapped up the three biggest independent online ad agencies.

3. As more ad spending shifts online, the ability to have expertise and to innovate quickly will become critical. What all these companies are buyingbesides stronger relationships with advertising clientsare people and experience.

4. Most of all, there was no way Microsoft was not going to answer Google after it bought DoubleClick, especially if it wants (and it does) to stay competitive with the search giant in the online ad market.

Why Newspapers Are Sinking Online

Mike Markson writes:

1. Local brands don’t translate online. New mediums need new brands. Localnewspaper.com doesn’t work.

2. Local markets don’t exist online for users. The web itself is an aggregator – makes everyone a neighbor. Most of the audience to newspaper.com’s come from “out of market.”

3. Local markets do exist online for advertisers. Local advertisers only want to reach local customers. The newspapers can’t deliver that (see point #2). As a result, online, the newspaper has lost its unique value proposition.

Bauer’s Second Law

Will Price writes:

Bauer’s Second Law states that: “Talent migrates from areas of well defined and stratified responsibility to areas of expanding activity at a rate proporational to the rate of expansion. Or, stated more simply, talent goes where the action is.”

Today, the valley is witnessing an amazing migration of talent from Yahoo!, eBay, AOL, MSN, and other leading web properties to start-ups. The start-up economy is benefiting from Bauer’s Second Law in action. The best and brightest Directors and VPs are leaving large cap web companies at a rate proportional to the resurgence of the start-up landscape.

A few years ago, with low rates of start-up expansion, start-ups struggled to attract large company talent. Today, those days are a memory and incredible teams are coming together very early in a company’s life cycle. Bauer’s axiom helps make sense of the trend and the key driver for the migration of talent towards high-growth vehicles.

SMS Marketing

Tim Trent writes about what can work and what will not. “Since SMS marketing absolutely has to be permission based then it is no surprise to know that I, not you, will regulate what appears on my phone. Your issue is to interest me in your offering so much that I want to receive texts from you.”

The Other Mobile Data

David Beers writes:

There is another kind of “mobile data” that strikes closer to the question of user experience and solving real problems. That is the data that is stored locally on the mobile device. While everyone is focused on what will drive wireless data usage, mobile OS vendors like Microsoft, Symbian and ACCESS have made some interesting changes in how your data may be stored on your mobile and what you will be able to do with it: each is baking a relational database engine right into the next versions of their operating systems.

One important kind of data that users generate constantly is rarely captured despite the fact that it is tremendously useful for personalizing and simplifying the user experience: data about usage itself. Information concerning how often certain pieces of information are accessed by the user or how they relate in actual usage to other bits of information should factor into how software responds to input. For example, if I’ve sent a lot of text messages to Linda this week it would be nice if my phone predicted that I was probably sending her another one when I entered just the letter “L” as the recipient and offered to autocomplete this information.

TECH TALK: Indias Digital Infrastructure: PC Internet

Let us start by taking a look at the PC-based wireline Internet. We have 7 million computers in homes in India, growing at around 2 million a year. (Indias total installed base of computers is about 20 million, growing 6 million annually.) Compare that with the mobile industry: it is growing at 7 million a month, or over 80 million a year, over an installed base of 170 million.

Because of the low home computer base in India, people largely use cybercafes to access the internet, paying between Rs 10 and Rs 40 per hour. Indias Internet user base is estimated at be around 25-45 million (depending on which source one believes). Broadband access in India too has been slow to grow in part because most new investments have focused on the mobile infrastructure. But the bigger issue has been that the new home computer market is only a couple of million. That severely limits the target market for broadband providers. (Yes, there are about 5 million computers still not connected by broadband. If these people have not gotten broadband access to the Internet now, then I can only surmise that either access is not available or they have no reason to get one.)

Of course, broadband in India is not really broadband. Although the advertised bandwidth may be 256 or even 512 Kbps, actual speeds are often a fraction of that. Furthermore, since access plans often have very low data transfer limits, broadband in reality is at best an (almost) always-on narrowband connection.

With MTNL and BSNL controlling the most-effective form of access in the form of DSL over copper (telephone cable), private providers (ISPs and the telcos) find it hard to get ubiquitous coverage and provide cost-effective connectivity. Cable companies have got into the fray but reliability remains a big challenge.

The Internet has myriad services. New sites keep popping up daily. It is almost trivial for anyone to create an Internet presence. So, even as services mushroom, the growth of the Internet in India is hobbled by the lack of connected access devices.

Computers at Rs 15,000 or more are, relatively speaking, much more affordable than they were a few years ago. The starting prices of computers have come down and income levels for the middle-class have gone up. Yet, people have not adopted computers like they have done with mobiles. I think there are two reasons for this beyond the affordability dimension. First, they lack desirability; they are not must-have devices. And second, they are perceived to be complicated to operate.

One could argue that the new generation of mobiles are in fact multimedia computers. While thats partly true, the experience of the big keyboard and display of a computer cannot be replicated with todays mobiles. One can imagine teleputers mobile phones which have the ability to connect to external keyboards and to large external displays. But thats not available today and perhaps lie some years into the future.

Whats needed for the PC-based Internet to take off in India is a solution that combines the affordability and the manageability of mobiles. With such a solution, it will be possible to take computing to 50 million Indian homes in the next five years.

Tomorrow: Mobile Internet

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