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

Category: web

Mobile Web Requests India ???

First it was Admob and now it is Russ with Mowser (long ago it was Scott Rafer) who is saying that India generates a large number of mobile web requests.

This is quite very puzzling to me as it is to many. I have never witnessed use of GPRS/WAP or have not used it myself much (which by no means is any indicator as I also don’t use CRBT, wallpapers etc). Personally what I do with GPRS connection is check mails and occasionally read blogs and that happenes only when I am travelling.

I am trying hard to find out who are these people generating so many requests and what are they looking for. Just yesterday I happended to read a slightly old post from Amit @ Labnol about about how to use Mowser and other proxy based mobile content adatation engines to view regular websites through dialup connections. More than one third of the 9.2 million (pdf) internet users that TRAI estimates (pdf) India has are dialup users.

Many of these requests that Russ is seeing could be regular web users on dialup using mowser to enhance their browsing experience. (if it is really the case then I think it is really cool – IMHO it’s an Indian Jugaad). Russ did you check the hits that you are getting are really from mobile browsers ?

Nokia Research Centre , Racoon, CBP and NokiaCV

I am very excited and impressed by the folks and work that is coming out of Nokia Research Centre. The kind of products(prototypes)  that they are rolling out are amazing and at times just mind blowing.

A little old news by now but nonetheless a very significant release is  the release of a  mobile web server (called Racoon) running inside a Nokia phone ( like N80, E60, N93 & N95 etc). The thought of putting a mobile web server in a phone is wierd at the first glance but it really opens up endless possibilites. Check out this post by Symbian Guru on  potential applications and use.

A very nifty and powerful application using the web server is the Contacts Browser Plugin released by NRC.  Check out this description from their website about the usage of Contacts Browser Plugin.

“So there you are browsing the web with your PC looking for a place to eat

With the help of modern search engines you find the contact information easily. So what do you do next? You grab your phone and start entering the number you have found manually to your contacts. After entering the information you probably call the restaurant to reserve a table or send an SMS to your colleague.

What if you could simply just click the number and select what you want to do? 

This is what Contacts Browser Plugin allow you to do. For this you should have Firefox with GreaseMonkey, an S60 phone (3rd Edition) with Racoon and Python for S60 installed .

Lets assume that you want to book a table at a Restaurant . First you find the web page, for example with Google search in your Firefox. Then you click the phone number, which brings up a pop-up containing the phone number and you click on it

Clicking the call-button will initiate the call from your S60 phone lying next to your PC.

For full details on how it works refer to the project page at NRC.

Now something like this is just  mind blowing,infact  nothing short of a magic(Just like what Sir Arthur said any sufficiently advanced technology should just be like magic). I think these are baby steps towards nokia’s new strategy ( “Mobilizing Internet” ) to completely redefine themselves.

Today Nokia made another release called the Nokia Computer Vision library. Pretty cool ! New user interfaces ( building blocks of which would some of these libraries) are going to be extremely important in how we interact with an mobilized internet.

Is Web 2.0 bubble being burst elsewhere and what can India learn.

First there was kiko which was bought by Tucows a few days ago for 250,000$ and now another a so called web 2.0 company (HuckABuck) is listed on eBay with its current highest bid is about 9300$. Now Is this a burst of a bubble or the end of the web 2.0 era. Moreover Is there some lessons that India can take from this which is now entering the web 2.0 fray.

Bubble

My opinion on these companies is fairly straightforward, these companies can’t be called 2.0 in truest sense. No I am not arguing semantics here, my point is that these are merely features and none of them have fundamentally created new value which is required to be called a 2.0. Features don’t create big business but rather they naturally chart their course to get attached the product that they are a feature of (or should’nt it be the other way round). Now kiko is a feature which fitted naturally into tucows and they have had a more than fair return. Bubbles are condition when there is a market failure due to multitude of reasons. So this is certainly not a bubble but market at its work and hence HuckABuck would find the right buyer for the right price too.

Coming to India and web 2.0 my general observation has been that India is typically about 36 months behind the valley in any of the trends (Europe is generally 18 months behind valley). This happened during the dotcom days and now the same with web 2.0. With the recent business world article on web 2.0 entrepreneurs we could say that web 2.0 has entered Indian mainstream. The web 2.0 trend had started in US around 2003 and it got fancy name coined by Tim O Reilly in 2004.

Now what is that we can learn from web 2.0 that has happened in Valley and Europe so far. One thing that is certainly undeniable is that there are some fundamental changes that are happening. (See my opinion on web 2.0 & mobile 2.0 on top right side bar) During this tumultuous times we could either choose to build features (call it web 2.0 or not) for becoming a part bigger platforms or build some innovative platforms and unlock great value. To be very frank I am not way too impressed by the list in the BW article, though I have not tried any of the service listed there but one look at most of them will tell you that they are like what Bazee was a few years ago. No doubt that they may walk their way to riches but then they have quickly look out for their Ebay (or GYM). Kanwal Rekhi when I met him once had an interesting name for such Bazee kind of companies, he called them YAFO(yet another fad opportunity) companies. But then India does not have ( & may not have for a while) any incentive to fundamentally innovate. As one of my VC friend sums up very nicely why would anyone risk his neck when he can make huge money by just sitting on a couch and tapping a few buttons.

The reporter from BW did not seem to do thorough research on web 2.0 and hence did not cover couple of other significant players in India, two of my top picks would be the Ashish & Gaurav from tekritisoftware (ourmedia.org that they built a while ago is more 2.0 than you could know) & cleartip.com ( I just can’t stop gushing about these guys, infact they should add a caption to themselves – ‘Clear the pain from booking a Trip’)

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.

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. 

Picsquare advertorial

Bear with me for this one piece of advertorial, I am trying to do my two bits to popularize a service launched by two very young dynamic entreprenuers(Karthik and Mansih) whom I met & became friends with a few months ago.

Picsquare launches in India
with a new look…

Introductory India Launch Offer!

Get Prints of your favorite photos for just

Rs. 2.25 / 5 cents

 

Picsquare now accepting payment in Indian Rupees.
Get Prints In All Your Favorite Standard Sizes
posted to you or your friends & family all over India.

Hurry! Offer valid till March 15th, 2006.

Let your friends and family know of this great Offer!

If you no longer wish to receive Picsquare promotional emails, please login and uncheck the box for promotional mails in ‘My Information’ under the ‘My Account’ tab.

End of advertorial

MMOG just got ninged

Virtual worlds as I had previously noted are going to be one of the next big things but building a MMOG is obscenely expensive. Multiverse currently running in its beta aims to reduce that cost by a huge margin.

” You can build your game with whatever revenue model you want–subscription, flat fee, in-game micropayments, whatever works for you. Multiverse handles consumer billing and credit card processing. You don’t have to worry about deadbeat charges or any of the other pitfalls of financial transactions.

Publishers usually only let you keep 8% to 20% of the money your game makes. Multiverse increases that amount to 50% to 70%! We will announce more details about pricing soon.”

The aribitrage here is the high amount of ownership offered to the creator of the game, a typical publisher would be allowing only upto 20% of the rights to the creator and multiverse offering upto 70%.
“Multiverse’s unique technology platform will change the economics of virtual world development by empowering independent game developers to create high-quality, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and non-game virtual worlds for less money and in less time than ever before.”

This certainly is going to be a huge web 2.0 play and it has the potential to scale as bigger than as suggested by Reed’s Law (> 2^n)

Time to move

   A good article on web developers moving away from Java . My take is that unless you are one of those who are writing enterprise apps for banks & other big organization you  should already start picking  up Ruby on Rails

         I am liking ruby the best among any scripting language that I have used so far. OO is so simple & excellent in Ruby, you will agree to me if you have tried to do OO in perl 😉

Claim to first

         Contentsutra profiles a hyd based company NowPos which claims to have relased the world’s first voicemail service. Karat then casts some doubts about the b-model about it, inserting a 10sec ad into the voicemail.  Is’nt it is so easy to claim to be the “world first” without doing any looking around. Check out slawsome ( a web 2.0 play) by Nivi which was relased a few weeks ago.  

AAI

  Seemingly simple but very effective idea.  Amazon launched a new service called Mechanical Turk . Basically it is like putting an interface to humans and exposing API’s of the work that they can do.( Modularizing humans work).  And thats why they call it Artificial Artificial Intelligence(AAI). Check out a detailed report on it at techcrunch.

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