First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: Technology

Best time in Mobile Industry

2008 has been the year of open source causing serious impact in the mobile industry but I could not imagine Symbian getting open sourced and that is exactly what Nokia has announced to do after acquiring Symbian. This has very long term implications for the mobile industry.  One can expect to see business model innovation happening in this industry that has been bereft of innovation for more than a decade. Now this is is why I think now is the best time to be in this Industry. (Business model innovations are the most scarce form of innovation and is one of the toughest to make happen).

As always the best commentary about this development in the mobile industry is available at VisionMobile.

Video of the week

“Here comes another bubble“, this is simply just too hilarious.

Finally Om in India.

           Recently learnt that Shailaja Neelakantan is joined as a contributing blogger to GigaOm from India. As far as I understand she is based out of Delhi which is not precisely all the technology action is in India but I am glad that atleast she is based out of India. I have ranted many times earlier about the lack of an Om Malik in India and she seems to have filled that gap.  

           Of late I have got very sick by viewing the picture painted by the blogosphere (of the rest of world) about India which is so distorted from reality. (am referring to what is written about the technology scene, entrepreneurship ecosystem ,  friedmanesque inspired imagery of India blah blah). Absolute rubbish is produced about India by folks who look at India either through their 2-day holiday visit window or their blogroll/feedroll telescope which is then churned ad-nauseam by the echo-chambers of the blogosphere.

             I am hopeful that with her physical presence in India she will be able to present the real picture and not a knitted tale. I enjoyed this post of hers on IPTV play in India, no hype but ground reality.

Webyantra – Techcrunch for India

I keep complaining about the need for a gigaom for India, it is great to see a techcrunch coming up. Amit Ranjan an entrepreneur, who heads the Indian office of Uzanto has started a separate blog called Webyantra which is poised to act as the techcrunch for India.

 

   I like the name webyantra very much.  It has the Indian flavour in it and the word 'Yantra' literally refers to an instrument or a means. I think the  name trys to convey that this site is means to new in the Indian web(2.0). Check out more from wikipedia about the meaning of yantra

 "The yantra is like a microcosmic picture of the macrocosm. It is a focusing point and an outer and inner doorway. The yantras are often focused on a specific deity and so, by tuning into the different yantras you can tap into certain deities or creative force centers in the universe"

  There are exists so many yantras bhagyodaya yantra, vetaal yantra, sri yantra etc etc and now we have web yantra to connect to the Indian web 🙂 
  In a post amit goes on to mention some of the reasons which made him start webyantra.

“At a gross level, I am a trifle disappointed by the US (Silicon Valley) fixation that most Indian tech bloggers have. Everybody’s blogroll is a laundry list of the same set of SiliconValley bloggers and all blogs rave about Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Flickr, Scoble, Techcrunch, Delicious, Youtube et al. True, we all are global citizens in the web2.0 era, but should we not also focus on Indian web content and initiate dialogue or discussions to improve it ? I am yet to find a single forum that attempts specifically this

I could’nt agree more.

   Great Work Amit !!You could start profiling the web 2.0 companies in this list.

 Amit was also one among the first to bring barcamp to India and organize Barcamp Delhi.

Easy way to get job in Google

Many computer science students ( B.Tech, Masters or Ph.D) dream of going to work for Google. Few friends I know whhave already interviewed for google and are going to join google in short time in both bangalore and hyderabad. But I am amazed at how much amount of time google spends in interviewing them. They have more than 10 interviews , and take 100+ days to reject or select someone. That sounds very ridiculous to me.  Easier way I think these days would be is to create a startup(web 2.0 probably) and get bought by google :D. The most recent example to cite to illustrate the point is that of Ori Allon from Australia university. This 26 year old spent 6 months developing a software which is now been bought by google and Ori Allon is a Google employee. 🙂

web 2.0 in India

   Alok Mittal at Venturewoods refers to recent buzz/rumour about Facebook being valuated at 2 billion $. Certainly Facebook valued at $ 2 billion is a little too high and if one does calculate it should be around $ 750 million. IMHO these valuation are not a sign of bubble. I think these days anything that is not understood well is termed as a bubble given that we had a history with a bubble. 

   Alok mentions that this may get a few in India to roll out something simillar to it. Yeah he could be right but I am not too thrilled about it. India is more than 18+ months behind the valley & other places in web 2.0. Sure blogs picked up & there are a couple of simples aggregators around but then that how far things have gone. Whil valley already has many now 2nd generation of web 2.0 entreprenuers but here in India we are yet to see atleast one good web 2.0 play.

   Someone might just plainly copy myspace or facebook without getting to know what it takes to build these plays and that kind of an approach I am sure goes nowhere. Anyone remembers vQube built out of IISc to compete with Skype way back in 2004. I have not heard of any one single person in India who used it so far. Skype made a few billion $ exit but where is vQube now ? But if someone builds myspace for India the right way then that would no doubt lead to terrific amount of value creation for everyone 🙂 Did someone hear Subhash Chandra say "It’s the beginning of the end of television" a few days ago. Myspace for India could be very well positioned in a few years for Subhash to do a Murdoch. 

   As Alok I would love to see some kick ass action in this space in India. One of the primary pillars of web 2.0 is its colloborative & sharing nature. Infact the key element of any technology culture like in the Valley is that the folks there are super connected to each other. That is one key thing I feel we are missing in India. To help create such a culture a few of us have been trying to put up a barcamp together here in hyderabad which is to be held tommorow. Theme of this barcamp is "web 2.0 and the next generation internet". We might also jump into the barcamp at bangalore as well. It is been very hard for us to reach out to interested people but now we have close to 150 registered to attend the barcamp. Hop on to the event by registering yourself in the wiki, it would be a fun event to attend. 

Talk on “Open standards and open source”

Attended a talk yesterday on open source and open standards by Dr. Bob Sutor who is the VP of standards and open source at IBM. He is evangelizing open source and open standards in a pretty big way. Open source is one of those often discussed and debated topics all the time and hence I was not very enthused to pay good attention to this talk. But interestingly the talk was very refreshing. Bob presented what could be a very techically and drab topic in a easy to understand way for a non technical audience.

Some of the salient points of the talk were

  • Open standard: A standard is a blueprint. How things are built and talk to each other,which should by no means be closed. Open for standard means development, maintaineance, accession and implementation and modification is done in transparent way.
  • Open source: It is code which is built in a colloborative way by a community. It could be **free** and may or may not implement open standard.
  • Open source and open standards leads to tremendous amount of value creation.
  • Consumer are becoming smarter and smarter, they don’t trust software companies for ex when companies say “we will take care of your security” or “you need these new features”
  • For governments it is highly important that they follow open standards, data/information generated by an individual is something that belongs to him but the data created by governments is a public good.
  • There are various different Business Models that can be used to build open source companies
  • Support
  • Maintaineance
  • Services
  • Patronage
  • Open source should not be done just for the heck of it, many players in the industry have observed that open source creates tremendous amount of value but a firms decision to go do open source should be aligned to its business and strategic objectives.
  • Open source will not happen in just one single day, it will take a long time for a majority of things to become open.

The talk had a lot of strategic insights embedded in it but explained in a lucid way 🙂

  • Open standards should be followed because they add value through economies of scale to all the players in the value chain.
  • It’s been proven beyond doubt that open source leads to tremendous amount of value creation. Software companies who gets this and play their cards leveraging it will stand benefit in the very long run. Few smart folks in IBM have realized this and thus IBM has invested heavily in open source.  Thus open source is not just about geekery but its about economic value creation. 
  •  No one(especially the corporates) should be given the right to impose exclusivity to government created information. If a vendor uses properietary format it is essentially imposing an exclusivity those making the good non-public.
  • Value creation is undoubted in open source but how is a lion’s share of this value getting capture for the person who coordinated this value creation is an not well solved equation as of now. Couple of methods mentioned above (viz business models) are not very compelling so many are figuring out viable business models in open source. [ One easy & successful but extremely myopic option that comes to mind immediately is for one to build a Gluecode and sell it to IBM 🙂 ]

Barcamp Hyderabad

I had ranted earlier about how cool barcamp would be and my not being able to go to Delhi to attend it, since then a few of us here in hyderabad got together and thought of getting a barcamp organized here in hyderabad and voila we have BarcampHyderabad now :D. We originally thought of having it in the third week of march but it has got now finalized to April 8th. It is also great to know that Barcamp Chennai ha got announced and is held on that same day. If it where on some other day I could have thought of hopping in there as well 🙂
I was asked offline by someone as to what is the etymology behind barcamp. Following is what I had gathered on gigaom many months ago when barcamp was getting born.
Tim O Reilly who has built is his vast publishing empire based on geek love hosts (for business reasons) once a year invite only event called FooCamp. Every year Tim would invite some alpha geeks in various technical field and let them talk about their field and provide a common platform for them to interact with each other.

Many felt left out and thought Foocamp it is too restrictive, expensive and discriminative and also it does not let the best ideas emerge. So a bunch of folks started an alternate camp which would be free for all to participate and let the interested collective of people decide what they want the conference to be. Thus they came up with the name Barcamp

BarCamp – Lowering the bar and allowing everyone to participate in the camp.

Barcamp everywhere has largely been made possible through their spread in the blogosphere. One issue that we face is that we do not have a comprehensive list of tech nology bloggers whom can be reached in and around hyderabad. We know there are very many bloggers but not listed at one single place hence we have put up a blogroll to get a list of technology based bloggers.
Here is the barcamp url again – BarcampHyderabad.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions
Ramesh (rameshl AT progress DOT com)

Rajan ( thiyagarajan AT gmail DOT com )

Kopos ( poorna.shashank AT gmail DOT com )

Rajat ( rajat.gupta AT hotmail DOT com)

To All My Geek friends and other Geeks in the World

I had been thinking to write this post for very long and I could pen it finally today.
There was a chapter in the book of my life when I was a geek (an undoubted one at that, I can produce proof of it if you want me to 😀 ). It was chapter 4 mainly and a few pages of chapter 5  to be more precise 🙂 But slowly I stepped out of it knowingly or unknowingly initially but deliberately later. Maybe though unlikely that it was due to because I have that little bit of that vision thingie. I should tell you though that I strongly strongly(even more strongly) suspect that my vision thingie is just my wishful thinking but anyways. Btw please don’t get it the wrong way it is not to say that geeks are not visionary, I have seen, met and interacted with great geek visionaries and I love them for dreams they set forth and some of them who made it a reality.   Infact you know what I love all the geeks, all of them and I still do !!!. What I mean here is looking slightly out of the geek box/world.
Coming back to what I was saying that I moved slightly out of the geekery and moved away from being a full time geek.  Geeks live in their world , speak  their own language  – l337speak ofcourse, always help each other (unlike in the real world ) and help others too, have a strong sense of community and the most important of all they create huge amount of value. But the one thing which is my biggest complaint is that they wont ever do is to talk or mingle with others (anyone who is not a geek), infact it is really really degrading for them to talk to other lower forms of organization and in particular they have an enemity with the droids/suits. Because of this nature of geeks, i.e they surround themselves in a castle which limit the terrific value that they tend to generate does not get spread well and sadly it is the droids/suits how capture that value (my observation is that this happens not only in a business scenarios but also in a generic case.

So I tried to peep beyond the iron gated castle of the geeks and peep around, explore and bridge with other spaces. This I could say made me step a little out of the geek world and see if could propogate/spread the value created by geeks.

But as any geek knows a person is a either a true geek or no geek at all. So when I tried explore outside their castle and said I want to keep one step here and one elsewhere they literally threw me out :D. What I mean by that  is  that of late when I meet my geek friends, colleagues and other geeks they treat me an outcaste and they totall dismiss me 😦

So here is an appeal to all my geek friends and other geeks in the world.
Yeah I am not a geek, not in your truest sense but I love what you do and geekery, so please don’t disown me :). I can geek it out but don’t do it to make a balance in both the geek and other world. For instance please don’t seperate me when I say think econ/strategy when we discuss about AJAX, Web 2.0. Please don’t think that I am nuts like a driod when you say GPL, open source and I say property rights, transaction costs and use value discounted at exchange value (aka Marxian economics). I really want you guys to leverage for yourself a lot of value that you create and also spread the value generated to many others around which normally does not happen.

I know that you hate the droids/suits but since I have’nt baptized myself in to the Membership of Beancounters Association, atleast not yet so I clearly think you should have no reason to hate me :). All in all I am asking you treat me the same way that you would treat another geek even if I am not a geek ( in your truest sense 🙂 )

Thanks
Rajan

Mauj may have mauj

But only for a short while.

Just read this piece of news on contentsutra that mauj had a 10 million round from westbridge, sequoia & intel capital ! I don’t think it’s a news to celebreate.
Because the business of mauj(ringtone) has already reached its peak if not started its decline. Also the business model of mauj is not in tune with the way the dynamics of this industry is shaping up. Their model is is attuned to the walled garden approach of the telecom industry. They are signing up big actors and studios to run their businesses which is their core competence now and source of competitive advantage no doubt but this very thing will be lethal to them leading them into a competence trap.

The walls of the telco garden are being teared down which means a huuuuge structural change of the Industry.It is happening elsewhere in the world and it is just a matter of time that this starts happening in India. Remember Friedman who told us last year that the world is so flat that you release a marble in Europe/US and it will roll down to bangalore.
Shawn Cohnan has made his bets in spaces leveraging these structural changes and puts these perspective very nicely in one of his posts. Btw did I ever mention that cohnan is very very sharp.(He used to run  a ringtone  business once  and now focusses his attention elsewhere – user generated content)

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