In the coming weeks, I need to decide the approach we are going to take. My target is that by Decmeber-end we should decide what path(s) we will follow. We are too small to run after every possible opportunity at this stage. A few general thoughts which I want to keep in mind:
We must look at whole solutions for vertical markets. We have something missing in every segment we look at. In corporates, we cannot run DOS and Windows applications. The government market is attractive, but Microsoft is very well entrenched there. We cannot provide support in remote areas (there is a fear of Linux, and there are few Linux technical staff available). We do not have the widespread applications base for different verticals for example, in the education segment, we cannot run existing CD-ROMs. We do not have a billing and management solution for cybercafes. Schools and training institutions have limited interest in teaching anything that is non-Windows because the market demand is not there. In rural areas and government, we need support for local languages. Also, it is not clear where the used PCs are going to come from there is no organised market for them. In addition, we do not have a standalone single PC solution our cost advantages kick-in only when there are multiple computers. So, we get stuck we are 70-80% there in terms of the generic functionality, but customers need much more than that. To put it simply, we are unable to cross the last mile.
We need something distinctive in what we are offering. We have not yet succeeded in making Emergic Freedom desirable. Cost will come after people want our solution. Today, that inner want is missing. That is one of the reasons the demos die quickly. There is no killer app which makes people want to use it after we leave having set up the demo.
We have to build out a platform, on which new additions can come over time. I can think of two platforms which Id like to see us learn from Microsofts Windows and Google. In both cases, a solid base works to provide leverage in search for new opportunities. Microsoft owns the command line to the desktop and Google for the web.
We have to create awareness of the availability of an alternative. So far, the belief has been that there is no alternative to the new Intel PC and Microsoft software combination. This is where we have to make people at various levels aware that Emergic Freedom and the thin client-thick server offers a very effective and viable alternate computing platform. My talks and weblog have helped, but that is just the tip. A bigger effort needs to be undertaken in this regard.
We have to look at building an ecosystem and create a tipping point. The full solution needs many entities to come together. This is not a game for one company alone. For example, how do we provide support and training in remote areas? The role we can play is that of a hub. As a friend put it, we have the opportunity to be the Walmart for low-cost computing. But to do this we need to bridge the low-cost hardware and software through distribution points to end-users.
There is an interesting digital divide I see in targeting the bottom of the pyramid: between software developers like ourselves, the people with the money who make deployment decisions but understand little about technology, and finally the ones who know the actual needs of the end-users. As a result, money is getting spent, but the solutions are not solving the needs of the end-users.
Tomorrow, I will outline some of the ideas that have come up in thinking and discussions over the past few weeks.