Notes: Let me say at the outset that I am a big fan of Google. This blog uses Google as an illustration in answer to the question Operators often ask; What can we do to differentiate against the Web (an euphemism for Google). Similarly, I have used Motorola’s Seamless mobility ideas since they are closest to what I am trying to illustrate on the network side. I am also reasonably familiar with the ideas of Seamless Mobility from the time I was on Motorola CTO Padmasree Warrior keynote panel at Javaone
I have historically had an interest in Wimax and believe in its disruptive potential. One of the themes of the conference was : ‘Operator strategies for mobile broadband’. So, I discussed the following idea in my talk
P2P may be the killer application for the mobile networks because P2P is the biggest weakness of Google(and other web based services)
To illustrate this, I used the example of ‘Seamless mobility’ from Motorola – because in it’s ultimate incarnation; Seamless mobility is a very disruptive idea if deployed by visionary Operators.
Firstly, seamless mobility, as I understand it is: A user should be able to go from one network to another without any disruption to their experience. In an IP world, intelligence will always shift to the edge of the network. Hence, to devices and services. Thus a service layer that spans different network types will be a needed in more complex scenarios.
I have been speaking of a the need for a new type of value chain in my blog Isn’t it time we put the customer at the centre of the mobile data value chain:A new value chain for the Mobile data industry
What would be needed in such a scenario from a network standpoint?
The device should be able to choose the optimal connection type from a range of connections possible. The connection /session should be managed across heterogeneous networks. Physically , that means a seamless integration between network types like Wimax and IMS/NGN.
If this scenario is realised(even partially), the next question is: How will it be used?
We can extrapolate existing business cases (for example corporate users etc ) and those are all well and good ..
However, the ubiquitous and plentiful availability of broadband connectivity may trigger a fundamental change in user behaviour and applications – the likes of which we don’t see at all currently.
Specifically, we may see true Peer to Peer applications.
To recap from wikipedia ..
A peer-to-peer (or “P2P”, or, rarely, “PtP”) computer network exploits diverse connectivity between participants in a network and the cumulative bandwidth of network participants rather than conventional centralized resources where a relatively low number of servers provide the core value to a service or application. Peer-to-peer networks are typically used for connecting nodes via largely ad hoc connections.
Sadly, operators and many in the industry don’t think in this way – if you say ‘P2P’ people think Napster ..
That’s sad because the telecoms industry has an identity crisis between content and contact .. i.e. many in telecoms forget that the industry is all about connecting people and not about playing second fiddle to the content industry (and all the baggage that comes with it – such as DRM)
A true P2P ecosystem triggered by the idea of seamless mobility and plentiful bandwidth can be very disruptive indeed …
And what has this got to do with the Web and Google?
Think server farms ..
Google is client server .. It has to be .. if it needs to store, manage and index the Web. Indexing the Web, as we know it, has to be centralised ..
Consequently, if a decentralised – P2P architecture takes off – then Google cannot match it because it is not in Google’s DNA to do so(just as the Web was never in Micosoft’s DNA) .. And furthermore .. it will be a service which people will want(Doubt that? – My Skype account shows 8,663,106 online at the moment!)
This is classic Sun Tzu ..
Unfortunately, more strategies are driven by Mickey Mouse than by Sun Tzu ..
And I mean that quite literally .. in the sense that it is driven by the content industry aka the Disney’s and the Warners of the world.
The telecoms industry sadly does not realise that it is in the communication business – and not the content business.
That should however not detract us from the vision of P2P triggered by the concept of Seamless mobility .. which, in my view, is perfectly valid and highly disruptive .. especially since it is a unique advantage which the network can foster ..
Which was the original question I was addressing: What can Operators do that is unique and different in a Web world and still add value?
Thoughts and feedback welcome ..
Image source: http://www.anticlockwise.com/farm2.jpg
Update on comments ..
Many thanks for the great feedback
I agree with Tope in the comments (and which was my point) i.e. we can’t look at the future with the ecosystem of the present. P2P is highly disruptive and no one really knows(and I dont claim to make any predictions either) how users will use all this bandwith and connectivity in a P2P mode.
I am however a BIG believer in the power of grassroots and in the belief that empowered,connected individuals can drive grassroots change(much the same optimistic view I take for Africa and mobile technology – of which I am a big advocate) i.e. the more links you can create between people, the more the emergence of an ecosystem which will be truly vibrant – and whose ultimate form we cannot see based on the views of today .. Thanks all – appretiate the feedback