Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Quick notes from a Web 3.0 panel discussion that I participated in [ at the Red Herring ATRE Conference in Mumbai y’day ]

1. Satya Prabhakar (Founder and CEO, Sulekha.com) mentioned: “Scarcest commodity in the world is human attention”
2. Seth of meebo.com talked about meebo and the challenges of monetising web 2.0 startups/ user traffic
3. Gerard Rego (MSC Software) spoke about the bottom of the pyramid markets
4. Gurudatt mentioned how the NetAlter.com might transform the current Internet architecture

I was on the panel that discussed Web 3.0.

I mentioned how:

1. Non-US users of internet (86% of total) growing at 30% vs. 3% growth of US
2. Epicentre decisively moving to Asia (driven primarily by large user base in India and China (e.g. Japan’s lead in mobile payments/ S Korea in broadband

and shared my thoughts on Web 3.0/ and how it is marked by three main features:
1. Internet Unplugged (i.e. going wireless and accessible not just through your PC/mobile but also through your game console, e-book, TV, fridge)
2. Internet 3.0 = Its all about the consumer (Consumers #1 users of semiconductors in the world (vs. IT + Government) AND  Consumer IP traffic expected to surpass enterprise in 2008
(ARM has shipped more than 6bn microprocessors to date, mainly due to mobile and the microprocessor in consumer goods )
3. NOT just about the consumer BUT its all about *me* – personalised everything (search, contetnt incl news)

The Challenge is to “How to make it pay?”

Advertisements

I have long believed that it would become increasingly difficult to charge for content and there was only direction in which this was headed: all content (well, almost) becoming “officially” free.

Two recent developments look like nails being driven into the coffin of paid-for content:

1. Beta testing begins for Hulu and

2. How Radiohead killed the record labels 

Many of you must have also read about Prince’s giveaway and FT’s about-turn 

…and at least some of you would find this interesting:  Why Newspapers Are Screwed

Thoughts & comments welcome…as always.

P.S. The alert amongst you must have noticed that I have switched AdSense off – more on that later.

A few days ago I met Matthew Scott for lunch.  Matthew told me the story of “Mighty Light“.

MightyLight aims to bring “light” (literally) into the lives of millions who live in remote parts of the world and don’t stand a chance to get grid connectivity. It aims to do so by a clever product that is solar-charged and uses energy efficient white LED for lighting.

It got me thinking on how innovation in distribution channels is probably as critical as innovative product design in the context of domestic consumers in emerging markets (and particularly so in the case of BOP consumers…)

Now, if you are a purist – this may not count as true innovation.

Distribution channels (or even innovation in distribution channels) is not something that you can patent…and yet there is no doubt that products like these are capable of transforming the lives of millions through clever combination of technology and distribution which hitherto was not possible. 

In other words, they fit the criteria of high-impact and definition of a “breakthrough product” – and possibly innovation.

What do you think?

On a related note, I also spoke with Alok Singh, CEO of Novatium a few days ago – they too are doing something that is fairly unusual and exploting a business model around services that has not been tried in the PC industry before . Will it work? We dont know yet.

Is it an innovative approach? I certainly think it is.

Related Post: Has the $100 PC finally arrived?

…here it is.

From “Who Captures Value in a Global Innovation System?” – The case of Apple’s iPod, this table that details “the geography of $190 of the captured value in a single $299 video iPod” (Thanks, Jason).

Apple iPOD Innovation 

.

and from “Dreamliner 101: All About the Boeing 787“, this picture showing where the parts for 787 come from.

Boeing 787 Parts

A few weeks ago while I was in Japan, a mini-storm was brewing up in the blogosphere precipitated by the somewhat careless choice of words by Daniel Altman on the IHT blog.

In a piece on the occasion of Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to India, Daniel wrote:

“…Not so long ago, there were only two countries that collected client states around the world: the United States and the Soviet Union.

These days, it seems like anyone with some economic clout can join in the fun. China has Sudan, Venezuela has Bolivia, and now Japan has India.”

Predictably that kicked up a furore (and not just because of the ill-considered comparisons).

Our friends at Wikipedia describe “Client States” as:

“Client state is one of several terms used to describe the subordination of one state to a more powerful state in international affairs. It is the least specific of these terms and may be treated as a broad category which includes satellite state, puppet state, neo-colony, protectorate, vassal state and tributary state.”

Clearly this was not a flattering description.

Daniel went on to say that, “One day, India’s economy may be bigger than Japan’s. But for now, the Japanese government is happy to underwrite India’s growth, in return for a share of spoils.”

The brief post elicited several comments with readers pointing out that:

  • Japan’s increasing interest in India was also at least partly due to its growing suspicion of China
  • A $100bn investment does not make a client state make
  • On a PPP basis, India’s economy is now larger than Japan (link courtesy Suraj Swami on the IHT blog)
  • Sino-Japan economic trade and ties dwarf the relationship between Japan and India (A related piece on IHT had noted Japan’s trade with India was about $6.5 billion in 2006…about 4 percent of Japan’s trade with China)

On the Indian Economy Blog, Shefaly posted a more balanced perspective. In her post she pointed out several flaws in Daniel’s hypothesis, notably:

  • …the assumption that investing in infrastructure is going to produce spoils worth sharing, and produce them post haste
  • Daniel’s diregard of the “strategic” reasons for such a investment and the influence that sovereign states wish to exercise through such measures

Shefaly had kindly asked me for my take on all this. I decided to wait for the dust to settle down before jumping in.

Here is what I think (in “ugly” bullet points; sorry for not crafting this more elegantly – I am fast loosing whatever skills I had learnt in the diplomatic service!):

  • Whatever Mr Altman might think, India is unlikely to become anybody’s client state – ever
  • Daniel’s piece was meant to provoke – which it did. It was not meant as a serious expression of opinion – hence it is best ignored beyond a point
  • Financial aid is – almost always – linked to political objectives (however strenuously denied) and rejecting it also sends political signals
  • Japan’s increasing (and belated; in my opinion) interest in India has as much to do with geo-politics as it has to do with economics & trade
  • Japan’s investments in India – as elsewhere – are based on economic as well as political considerations and a combination of perceived political & economic benefits
  • No doubt many people see the shadow of China looming over this relationship – but clearly that is not the only factor driving trade and commerce between the two countries

I will stop here.

P.S. For more on client states, read “We are now a client state” by David Leigh and Richard Norton-Taylor that talks about how “Britain has lost its sovereignty to the United States”

Will we ever see that kind of relationship between India and Japan? I think we all know the answer.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis has posted a great piece on his blog re. The US, China & Indian Innovation Race.

I am taking the liberty of reproducing it in full. Read on (emphasis mine):

***

A good friend of 2point6billion, Nick Polimeni, is an experienced QC engineer and conducts work in both China and India. He’s had some interesting comments to make recently to us about Engineering standards in these countries, and the potential competition with the US in technological innovation. I quote:

I’ve been working in China for the last 4 years, and have met more ‘engineers’ than I had met in the previous 30 years. Chinese students who graduate as engineers are not what we call engineers in the west. Chinese Engineers “specialize” in a given application. They’re more like technicians, by U.S. standards. They do not seem to be trained in basic engineering science, and are very deficient in such things. I have yet to meet a single one who has any familiarity for example, with the laws of thermodynamics. I’ve worked with a wide variety of them in various fields. The few who know enough to think with science, have acquired it after years of experience.

Here’s an illustration for a different field. Dentists are not trained as complete medical doctors; they’re just trained as teeth repair technicians. They are quite good at what they have been trained; but they’ve no rounded knowledge of medicine.

So, even the reported statistics, do not tell you what engineers look like.

I once gave a class on database design to a group of Indian engineers. I have to tell you, they had formulas for everything I only had generalized logic from experience. In fact, if you gave them a stringent academic test, they would all pass with flying colors, where I would most likely fail. Yet, I could design databases, and they came to me to learn it.

Now I’ve had Indian engineers sitting next to me in working environments, and I have to say that overall, they’ve been a notch above some of the American counterparts.

What is in the future? In my opinion, the Chinese will take a very long time to catch up, because there are cultural, and educational system barriers which produce a way of thinking that prevents Chinese engineers, bright as they truly are on a personal level, from competing in development with the west.

Indians are top notch when it comes to raw technology, so they are likely to catch up faster if they are not there with US engineers already.

U.S. Engineers possess something, however, which I don’t think either Indian nor Chinese has, which I believe is “educated out of them,” and that is, a thirst for going outside the box, and breaking the mold, and moving beyond the conventional.

Before counting engineers, we need to define what one is.

That is an interesting observation, and touches again on a subject that came up a few months here – political systems affecting development strategies. With the Communist system, all if for the greater good of the society, and individualism is discouraged. Yet in a democratic system, the individual is given rights and can prosper.

When we analysed this in Nobel Prize Winners between India and China, both nations ran up a total of six each. Yet tellingly, the Indian Nobel Prize winners had all been educated in India, while the Chinese had been educated overseas, primarily in the US, with one of them (for literature) having his works banned in the PRC.

This negative aspect of communism also seems to have spilled over into engineering development issues, and as Nick points out – it is India that is closing the gap with the US in terms of the development of innovative technologies, with China far behind.

***
Do also have a look at some of the comments on the 2point6billion blog.

Related Posts:

China, India and the “3D Advantage” and

Why India will* overtake China – II 

Happy Independence Day to all fellow Indians… Here’s a “cool” way to celebrate it!

.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis has posted a great piece on his blog re. The US, China & Indian Innovation Race.

I am taking the liberty of reproducing it in full. Read on (emphasis mine):

***

A good friend of 2point6billion, Nick Polimeni, is an experienced QC engineer and conducts work in both China and India. He’s had some interesting comments to make recently to us about Engineering standards in these countries, and the potential competition with the US in technological innovation. I quote:

I’ve been working in China for the last 4 years, and have met more ‘engineers’ than I had met in the previous 30 years. Chinese students who graduate as engineers are not what we call engineers in the west. Chinese Engineers “specialize” in a given application. They’re more like technicians, by U.S. standards. They do not seem to be trained in basic engineering science, and are very deficient in such things. I have yet to meet a single one who has any familiarity for example, with the laws of thermodynamics. I’ve worked with a wide variety of them in various fields. The few who know enough to think with science, have acquired it after years of experience.

Here’s an illustration for a different field. Dentists are not trained as complete medical doctors; they’re just trained as teeth repair technicians. They are quite good at what they have been trained; but they’ve no rounded knowledge of medicine.

So, even the reported statistics, do not tell you what engineers look like.

I once gave a class on database design to a group of Indian engineers. I have to tell you, they had formulas for everything I only had generalized logic from experience. In fact, if you gave them a stringent academic test, they would all pass with flying colors, where I would most likely fail. Yet, I could design databases, and they came to me to learn it.

Now I’ve had Indian engineers sitting next to me in working environments, and I have to say that overall, they’ve been a notch above some of the American counterparts.

What is in the future? In my opinion, the Chinese will take a very long time to catch up, because there are cultural, and educational system barriers which produce a way of thinking that prevents Chinese engineers, bright as they truly are on a personal level, from competing in development with the west.

Indians are top notch when it comes to raw technology, so they are likely to catch up faster if they are not there with US engineers already.

U.S. Engineers possess something, however, which I don’t think either Indian nor Chinese has, which I believe is “educated out of them,” and that is, a thirst for going outside the box, and breaking the mold, and moving beyond the conventional.

Before counting engineers, we need to define what one is.

That is an interesting observation, and touches again on a subject that came up a few months here – political systems affecting development strategies. With the Communist system, all if for the greater good of the society, and individualism is discouraged. Yet in a democratic system, the individual is given rights and can prosper.

When we analysed this in Nobel Prize Winners between India and China, both nations ran up a total of six each. Yet tellingly, the Indian Nobel Prize winners had all been educated in India, while the Chinese had been educated overseas, primarily in the US, with one of them (for literature) having his works banned in the PRC.

This negative aspect of communism also seems to have spilled over into engineering development issues, and as Nick points out – it is India that is closing the gap with the US in terms of the development of innovative technologies, with China far behind.

***
Do also have a look at some of the comments on the 2point6billion blog.

Related Posts:

China, India and the “3D Advantage” and

Why India will* overtake China – II 

Happy Independence Day to all fellow Indians… Here’s a “cool” way to celebrate it!

.