Low-Cost PCs

Al Hammond discusses the various alternatives coming up (including Novatium’s solutions) and writes:

Two points to underscore here. First, the majority of firms leading this market are not Western-based. When the first initiatives to dramatically lower the price of PCs were announced in 2000, they were met with a lot of skepticism among the established computer manufacturers. At the time, the base price of most PCs hovered around $1000. Although the first efforts failed to scale, both the number and size of manufacturers tackling the BOP market has expanded significantly, and what they are offering far surpasses the earlier initiatives. Western-based manufacturers initially reluctant to cannibalize their own market by offering cheaper systems may soon find themselves behind the competition when local firms that are producing low-cost systems globalize their operations.

The second thing to take note of is that most of the low-cost PCs discussed use open-source software to reduce their costs. This has implications for both software and hardware manufacturers. When the government of Thailands Peoples PC initiative began selling a subsidized Linux-only PC aimed at the masses, Microsoft dropped the price of its Windows/Office package in the country 85% from nearly US$600 to $37. However, most first-time PC users in Thailand found that the free Linux Thai Language Edition was easier to use than Windows, and the dramatic price cuts were not enough to allow Microsoft to retain a majority share of the market. Moreover, local Linux-only PC manufacturer Laser Computer replaced HP as Thailand’s top PC seller. Microsoft is now competing more strenuously for this market with low-priced, reduced feature, local language versions of Windows XP Home and is testing other products and services for low-income market segments.

Consumption as Communication

Nivi writes:

Kids can spend $50 a month on ringtones because their ringtones are communication. Theyre a fashion statement just like the brand of jeans they wear. Their ringtones are real world avatars: a ringtone says this is what I am to their friends and the girls they like.

Consumption is communication (sometimes).

You invest your time writing your blog because the thoughts on your blog tell people who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in.

Your blog entries communicate that you are smart, funny, charming, and well endowed.

Now imagine if someone followed you around with a megaphone and recited your blog entries to anyone within earshot. You would make damn sure you had a good blog. You would make sure your blog was up-to-date, well written, tasteful, and a reflection of who you are.

Thats what a ringtone is: a blog with a megaphone.

Web 2.0 Gold Rush

Richard MacManus discusses whether the Web 2.0 land-grab is an opportunity or absurdity:

‘m sensing a backlash about the rising VC interest in Web 2.0.

Well I’m right in the middle of Silicon Valley as I write this post. I’ve had a great time over here and I’ve felt lots of energy and enthusiasm from all the Web people I’ve met here. I’ve seen a Flock employee sleeping on the floor of the garage-office Flock occupies in Palo Alto, in mid-afternoon, due to overwork no doubt. People are putting in a lot of effort to build new Web-based businesses. It’s OK to be slightly skeptical about the long-term value, but I have to say I still think it’s a land of opportunity rather than absurdity. Admittedly I’m a pretty naive person when it comes down to it – or maybe just happy (as the Nirvana song goes).

OK so there’s a lot of hype. So the VCs are throwing money around. So get to work. Build something Web-based that mainstream people will need and want. Now’s the time to do it.

Google, Microsoft and Security Services

Sramana Mitra has an interesting point in the ongoing discussion about the Google-Microsoft rivalry:

My assessment, however, is that Googles opportunity to hit Microsoft (and other large players) where it hurts is much more in inherently subscription-based product or service areas like Security, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spam, Anti-Spyware, Online Back-ups, etc. which could be rolled out to their widely and easily accessible user base, and immediately monetizable.

Now, that would hurt Microsoft ($40 Billion Sales; $273 Billion Market Cap), but it would destroy Symantec ($2.6 Billion Sales; $27 Billion Market Cap), and McAfee ($1 Billion Sales; $5 Billion Market Cap).

What would it do to Google ($5 Billion Sales; $87 Billion Market Cap), if a fast growing but diversified, and also highly profitable revenue stream were introduced, and it were not Office (which would generate only hype, not high velocity $$$)?

Microsoft trades at 7 X Sales, Google at 17 X.

Entry into Security, I submit, will be the fastest way for Google to overtake Microsofts Market Cap, because besides enhancing its own, it will also deliver a blow to Microsofts futures.

Youth Publishing Online

Sadagopan writes about a Guardian story that third of all young people online have launched their own blog or website and adds: “This trend towards online communication has already manifested itself among music fans, with enthusiastic new communities forming around the latest bands often before they have even released a single or been heard on the radio. The explosion in cheaper high-speed internet access, which allows quicker access to music and video files and is typically charged at a flat monthly rate, has led to an upsurge in the time web users spend online. Some will have started personal sites with rudimentary personal information or centered around music or sport, while others have become mini publishing magnates before leaving school. Advertising is rapidly migrating online. Online advertising market will double in next four/five years.”

TECH TALK: Web 2.0: Conference Highlights (Part 5)

Richard MacManus wrote about the talk by Yahoos CEO:

Semel thinks there is a big change happening on the Internet – deeper engagement, more time spent, more user satisfaction will be keys in the current and coming era. Things like personalization, community, content on platforms, search. He thinks Yahoo! has a “much richer experience” than Google – and that Yahoo! has much more diversified model, which is well-positioned for user-generated content, community, etc. Indeed he said that user-generated content is “of utmost importance” to Yahoo! – “gigantic piece of what we do”.

“Content in general is going to be more and more important”, said Semel. New media requires new paradigms, going forward. And Semel thinks Yahoo! won’t have to choose between user-generated and professional content – the market and users will decide and Yahoo!’s goal is to monetize as much as possible.

Vinod Khosla had this to say about the evolving culture of participation:

I do feel the Yahoo approach of authoring top-down content is no longer relevant. Most of the creativity is out there. Even if its just a few people, the few that are out there will be discovered by the Web, not by us centrally dictating that.

The psychology of this generation has completely changed. Watching my kids, they think everything is Flickrable, even their parents. I was talking to the Fox people, and they did not realize how many people used IM while watching TV to have this always-on friendship. They are completely the remix generation. They started with audio but now it is everything. That is where success will come from,

[Success] is going to be in the companies that can maintain and grow audiences and are not trying to control content. I think we will start to see companies aggregate audiences in interesting ways.

Jeff Jarvis has some comments:

Yesterday, Id had it with hearing content moguls talk about how all the value is in content and how they plan to use user-generated content. That means means theyre using users. Thats us.

So I got to the mic and said what many have said on blogs: that the phrase user-generated content makes our spines twist. We call it sharing. We call it conversation. They call it content. And they call us users.
Its made of people.
Ill say it again (and again and again): Who wants to own content?

: Or see Web 2.1 whose new slogan is: The point is people.

So, 10 years after it all started, I guess we are finally getting to the We part of the Web.

Continue reading TECH TALK: Web 2.0: Conference Highlights (Part 5)