Continuing with the thinking around the decision to launch free SMS subscription services in October 2006, it seemed such an obvious decision to make given what has happening. But there is always legacy that one has to deal with. In my case, the legacy was wanting to focus on the mobile Internet — I always believed that the way the Internet (fixed line, PC) grew, it was only a matter of time before the mobile Web could become a key part of my daily life. And I knew how to do portals — I had 13 of them in IndiaWorld in the late 1990s. All one had to do was create content for the small screen — and people would come. I was very wrong then.
There was another legacy that was there — that of doing things with RSS and the PubSub paradigm on the fixed Internet using Ajax. We had spent a lot of time and effort developing some very innovative sites to showcase the “new new” stuff — along the lines of a public aggregator. But, given limited development resources, we had to make a call a few months earlier then — do we focus on the desktop Internet or the mobile Internet. I picked the latter.
All this time, SMS was very marginal in my thinking. It was good for person-to-person interaction, but too limiting, especially for one coming with the email-PC Net view of the world. Luckily for us, we had done some work around SMS in the company over the past few months — so we had an option available for us to quickly do more with it. It is one thing I have always believed in — in the early stages of a venture when one is not sure of what will work, one needs to be able to create options and opportunities to figure out the best path forward. Just the opposite of focus, I guess! It is something which has served me well over the years.
In my mind, at that time, doing SMS services was actually going a step backward. But I put my ego aside and decided to give that approach a try. It did come down to a decision I had to make — Go or No Go. Luckily, I chose Go despite some misgivings. And that was how MyToday Dailies was born.
The Mobile Web dream has not died — it remains. And there are some very interesting things we will be doing soon, which I will share in the days to come.