TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2005: Disruptions and Mobiles

Search, Internet Computing, Software-as-a-Service, Web 2.0, and Mobility defined 2005. Google continued its rise and increased market share even as Yahoo and Microsoft are launching aggressive counter-attacks. The Internet is becoming the computing platform replacing the desktop era. This is leading to software-as-a-service, first popularised by, and now being brought to the fore with a wide range of Web 2.0 services. The mobile is becoming the one device which can do it all, even as the iPod remains the other choice among gadgets for the ones who can afford it.

All of these topics were covered in Tech Talks during the year, along with articles on entrepreneurship and other topics. In this last Tech Talk of 2005, Ill quote from some of my favourites during the year. It is now more than five years since I started writing Tech Talk as a daily (Mon-Fri) column to better understand and explain the world of technology, especially from the context of emerging markets.

I covered a number of Disruptions in a Tech Talk series in July:

  • Access Devices: PCs to Mobiles
  • Next-Generation Networks: Separate, Disparate to IP-Core
  • Connectivity: Intermittent, Narrowband to Always-On, Broadband
  • Info Access: HTML, Search to RSS, Subscriptions
  • Publishing: Top-down, Broadcast to Bottom-up, Narrowcast
  • Software: Packaged, Silos to On-demand, Suites
  • First Markets: Mass-Market, West to Micro-Markets, East

    I summarised the essence of the new opportunities thus: The three key building blocks for my thinking about the future are broadband, mobility and emerging markets. Broadband will enable on-demand, net-native services. Mobility will empower users with computers in their pockets. Much of this future will begin and spread faster in emerging markets because they have very little legacy.

    The opportunity for India is clear. We have one of the worlds largest populations. We now have in The Times of India the worlds largest-selling English language broadsheet newspaper. And amongst all the enterprises that Indians have been known for, it will be good to also build one of the worlds largest corporations in the next decade. Ambitious, yes. Earlier, it would have taken decades to build the next-generation conglomerates. But now, disruptions provide an opportunity to compress time. Google has become the largest media company (in terms of market capitalisation) in about 6 years. We in India should set ourselves the goal of doing so in even less time. Let us embrace Aggregate and Brainstorm Coming Disruptions, leveraging Entrepreneurship to Focus on building the next Googles. Hear me, India?

    In this context, the mobile phone is going to be an important platform, as I wrote in February in a Tech Talk entitled The Mobile Phone Platform.

    The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the uber-device the one device that seems to have it all and becomes even more indispensable than it is now. The mobile phones have already started functioning as more than just communications devices. Already, mobiles serve as watches and alarm clocks. Even with the limited free games that come with basic phones, they are already good for time-pass. They can also function as calculators. In unfamiliar neighbourhoods, they tell us where we are. The address book and contacts list on phones is our social interface. Without the phone, many of us would be quite lost in connecting with other people! The calendar function on the mobile phones can help us track our lives. Phones can also function as radios. For some, the mobile phone also becomes a notepad send an SMS to oneself and make it a reminder service. Owners also have tended to customise phones with their own ringtones, themes and wallpapers.

    While the mobile phone is likely to have a much larger user base than computers in emerging markets for some time to come, there are tasks for which the computer is ideally suited and the inherent limitations of the cellphone become obvious. But that in no way diminishes its use or capability as a personal device. Thus, even as the computer provides access to the world outside, the mobile phone provides us a view of our world. Both are needed and important in their own place.

    Tomorrow: Search, Memex and Mirror Worlds

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.