Video on the Internet

Robert Cringely writes about an innovative solution to the bandwidth needs of video on the Internet: “At the basis of NuMetra’s view of the marketplace is a paper by William B. Norton of Equinix that is included as one of this week’s links. Norton presents an analysis of probable video distribution costs using different loads and network technologies, including: 1) continuing to use the current transit model; 2) using content distribution networks (CDNs) like Akamai; 3) inventing new CDNs, and; 4) using peer-to-peer (P2P) distribution technologies like BitTorrent. Norton’s analysis, which appears to me to be well thought-out, concludes that P2P is vastly cheaper than any of the other approaches. He concludes that distributing a 1.5 gigabyte movie over the Internet in high volume will cost $0.20 using the current transit model (a single huge distribution server), cost $0.24 using an edge-caching CDN like Akamai, cost $0.17 with a homemade CDN like I used last season to distribute NerdTV, or cost $0.0018 to distribute using P2P. That makes P2P 35 times cheaper than any of the alternate approaches.”

Microsoft, Vista and the Future

Paul Kedrosky points to a post by Roger Ehrenberg: “We may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, which takes place in every generation. Remember IBM? They were invincible. How could they be beat? By a couple of geeks in a dorm room, that’s how. Microsoft rises. And then another snot-nosed kid with a great idea and a dorm room made it happen in the box business, enter Dell. Then others got wise and squeezed their efficiency-based margins to nothing. Apple rose like a phoenix, crashed and rose once again, by virtue of innovation and a customer-centric ethos. Sony was like IBM. Now they’ve been bloodied by the customer-centric and community-oriented Nintendo. And now there’s Google, the poster-child for the democratization of the Internet and the ever-flattening, increasingly frictionless world. When put in this context Microsoft just seems so big and slow and old, hidebound by 30 years of culture and organizational silos that seem impregnable. And it appears that Vista – the product, the PR, the marketing approach – is the result of such an organization. At times brilliant, very heavy, complicated and expensive. This is not a product for today. This is a product for an era when the desktop ruled. And that era is long gone. ”

Web-Search Queries

WSJ writes:

People conduct hundreds of millions of search queries daily, many looking for goods or services to buy. Businesses in the U.S. this year will spend an estimated $8.3 billion to have their ads displayed alongside the results offered up by search engines, according to eMarketer Inc. Now, some companies such as National Instruments are figuring that what users type into search boxes offers insight into what people are actually interested in buying.

Businesses are learning to use Web-based services from Internet companies Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. and other independent tools to evaluate the volumes of searches conducted on any given keyword. While few businesses say search data are their only source for product research or decision-making, some say it plays a useful role.

Mobile Content Market

Xen Mendelsohn talks to Michele MacKenzie of Ovum: “Although the availability of mobile content has taken big strides forward in recent years, we expect revenue growth to be steady rather than spectacular over the next few years. We forecast that global revenues will grow from around US$31bn in 2005 to US$55.5bn in 2010. In 2005 and until the middle of the forecasting period, personalisation applications continue to dominate. But from 2007/8 onwards other application groups such as Alerts and mobile TV and video will increase their contribution to revenue growth. Ovum expects revenues from rich content – music, games and video and TV – many of which are core 3G applications, to drive wireless content revenues from 2008 onwards.”

India Inc as Buyer

The New York Times writes in the wake of Tata Steel’s acquisition of Corus:

The takeover of Western companies by Indians is seen by many here as a reversal of fortune: a once-proud civilization that became a colony is now buying out the once-hallowed corporations of the West.

Now, in the takeover boom, are portents that as economic fundamentals change, culture changes with them.

A pulsating, dynamic new India is emerging, Amitabh Bachchan, a Bollywood actor, says in a television ad for The Times of India. An India whose faith in success is far greater than its fear of failure. An India that no longer boycotts foreign-made goods but buys out the companies that make them instead.

TECH TALK: 3GSM Mumbai: Looking Ahead

The mobile user growth in India from 2007-2010 is going to come primarily from rural India. The focus now for mobile operators is to increase their footprint across rural India, and offer even more affordable plans to the next 100 million users in 2007 and then another 250 million users in the following 3 years.

In urban India, one of the key issues being faced by operators is the lack of spectrum. Because of the high number of operators (seven in a city like Mumbai), there is limited spectrum available for all. This has resulted in service quality being impacted. 3G promises to solve this issue, but it all depends on how the government gives out the licences. A number of presentations dealt with the 3G issue and what the approach needs to be for India.

What struck me was that the operators did not seem that excited about 3G other than from the point of view of getting additional spectrum. Since many GSM operators already have launched 2.75G (EDGE), 3G will only be incremental in terms of the data speeds but will mean a huge new investment in technology. Until the conference, I was quite optimistic about the prospects of 3G. But now, I think it will be a while before we see 3G deployed nationally. My perception of 3G was that it would make possible the always-on mobile Internet, and thus facilitate the creation of a wide range of data services akin to what happened in Japan. Now, though, I feel that we are stuck with the current infrastructure for some time.

There was quite a bit of discussion about wireless broadband, especially WiMax. BSNL, among others, has planned huge rollouts, especially for rural India. This may bode well for increasing the reach of data services across India.

The last issue I want to take up is value-added services, but I will do that tomorrow. For now, here is a quick summary from the 3GSM Mumbai press release:

Stream A was dedicated to Strategy & Services, featuring a wide variety of senior speakers up to CEO level, all keen to offer insights around optimising profitability of mobile services in South Asian markets. Stream A also provided a forum for debating the business case around imminent 3G deployment. Umang Das, Managing Director of Spice Communications, discussed the potential of infrastructure sharing and while a lively panel discussion at the end of Day One focussed on widening access for rural communities in order to meet the Indian Governments target of connecting 500m users by 2010. Day Two saw discussions around the question of whether MVNOs can add value to the Indian market, with ValueFirst giving an illuminating case study of their recent SMS MVNO launch in the country.

Stream B focused on Technology Evolution, addressing a number of important issues including technological measures necessary to enable a smooth transition from 2G to 3G and beyond, and how competitive technologies such as WiMAX might complement and further extend the reach of existing networks. In a particularly well received presentation, Kunal Bajaj from BDA India also posed challenging questions around the availability of sufficient spectrum for the economically viable deployment of WiMAX and other broadband wireless access technologies.

Stream C, dedicated to Mobile Entertainment, featured energetic and lively debates on the likely consumer appetite for services such as Mobile TV, richer mobile games and mobile community applications. It was a case of standing room only in Stream C, an encouraging reflection of industry confidence in the services needed to boost ARPU and open whole new revenue streams.

Tomorrow: Value-Added Services

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