Mobile Web Megatrends: Our vision for the new year ..

Happy New Year.jpg

This post gives my thoughts for the new year and also outlines the thinking behind our new site Mobile Web Megatrends – which has evolved from our first Mobile Web Megatrends event at the University of Berkeley California last year. I am posting draft copies of my forthcoming books on this site along with other content like videos from our Berkeley event. More details below along with why I think the Mobile Web will be significant going forward this year

Also, this is my second recession/downturn as an entrepreneur in the last ten years. This can be a scary time – it is also a time where co-operation and collaboration can make a big difference. So, I am happy to help you if I can – with any way possible – contacts, introductions, job changes etc etc. You can contact me at ajit.jaokar at

Firstly, wish you a Happy New Year ..

For many of us economically, the last year was difficult .. and the next year may be more so .. and we all know that the mobile and telecoms industry cannot be immune to these global trends ..

Yet, the Economist sounds an optimistic note with the prediction that – from the world’s poorest countries to the very richest, the demand for mobile phones will not be derailed by tougher economic times.

Another reason for optimism is – much of what we as an industry have been predicting(hyping :) ) for the last few years(like Location based services) is finally becoming mainstream. The recession does not really impact that trend.

Nonetheless, it will be a time to look at technologies and trends which are already mainstream and do not require additional significant investment to get started.

One of these is the Mobile Web.

I have been an advocate for the Mobile Web for quite some time and last September, along with Larry Lockhart , I created a conference called the Mobile Web Megatrends – which we launched at the University of Berkeley – an apt place to launch radical concepts! With participation from Nokia, Opera, Gemalto, Michael Mace, iLoop mobile, infoGin, OMTP, MyNumo, Skyfire, Oracle and many others – it was a great event. Subsequently, it was a pleasure to collaborate with Chetan Sharma who has now also partnered with us in creating the Mobile Web Megatrends report

As we saw at the Mobile Web Megatrends conference, the ‘Mobile Web’ has become more complex – and includes many elements like Offline processing(Google Gears), APIs(GSMA Network APIs, OMTP Bondi etc), Cloud computing and many other ideas. Going forward, I expect that the Mobile Web will be an even more exciting place as these trends evolve to become mainstream. This blog gives a complete taxonomy of the Mobile Web we are considering for Mobile Web Megatrends Mobile Web Ecosystem – taxonomy

This year promises to be even more significant with Device manufacturers like Nokia introducing innovative services like image based mobile search applications , LG introducing the first 3G+HSDPA phone , the definition of the ‘Web’ extending to the SIM with Smart card web server technologies and so on.

And all this as the true impact of Android will be fully felt in 2009

Since September, we have been evolving the site and the conference. The conference is now global with the next event in Singapore in April 2009. The site also has a lot of (free) content to the site.

Already the videos from the Berkeley event are live and starting in January, we also launch our free fortnightly newsletter covering the latest Mobile Web trends. This will be a personal viewpoint but you can also suggest links for consideration. I also plan to post draft chapters from forthcoming books – starting with the book Implementing Mobile Web 2.0 – which is on the site now.

So, you get a free fortnightly analysis on the latest developments and trends within the Mobile Web( as per the comprehensive Mobile Web Ecosystem taxonomy ) , Free videos and draft copies of my forthcoming books.

Chetan Sharma and I are also creating a report called Mobile Web Megatrends where we model the uptake of key technologies and you can get a discount on this report when it launches.

This will be free (ad supported) and we would also be grateful if you can contribute to some surveys.

You can register free at Mobile Web Megatrends

So, many exciting times ahead for 2009 ..

Wish you a happy new year again and it’s a great pleasure to work with Larry and Chetan and

I also look forward to seeing you at Mobile Web Megatrends

Also speaking at the following conferences:

I will be also speaking at the following conferences and would be great to meet up if you are there. Please email me at ajit.jaokar at

Mobile World Congress 2009 ,

CEBIT Hanover ,


The 6th IMS World Forum 2009, 28th – 30th April 2009, Barcelona, Spain

Mobile Social networking forum

If you wish to advertise on the site, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at or Larry at

Image source:

Every single one of us initiative/site

I blogged previously about Jonathan’s new book Every single one of us and now Jonathan has launched it into a bigger venture called Every single one of us

More details as per this press release from Peggy Ann Salz

About EverySingleOneOfUs

EverySingleOneOfUs is a communications movement with a vision to enable and enhance interaction between people and commerce. It is a collaborative venture created to safeguard user experience in the ultra-connected world. Global objectives include market research, seminars, consultancy, workshops, master-classes, and platform development. By promoting and authorizing best practice, EverySingleOneOfUs intends to provide a central access point for positive and progressive communication activities focussed on citizen engagement. As a collective, EverySingleOneOfUs will facilitate and accelerate commercially viable and mutually beneficial communication. To learn more, visit

Contact: Peggy Anne Salz

+49 172 245 1028

[email protected]

Unharnessing collective intelligence: A business model for privacy on Mobile devices based on k-anonymity

Web 2.0 – harnessing collective intelligence? – Do we want to be harnessed?

Web 2.0 has taught us the concept of harnessing collective intelligence . Companies like Google with Page Rank, Amazon (with Amazon reviews) and others have benefited from the idea of harnessing collective intelligence. So, the business model for the provider in harnessing collective intelligence is proven. We i.e. creators of data own the copyright to the individual data elements (for instance reviews of customers) but the providers own the value gained from harnessing that granular data. Providers of services would postulate that the granular data elements don’t hold commercial value – it is only the aggregated elements (harnessing collective intelligence) that has value.

Or Does it?

In other words, is there any value in the granular data as opposed to the aggregated data?

Let us put this in perspective,

a) Currently, providers can (largely) provide personalised services and some form of targeted advertising and also segmentation. That does not need customers to ‘own’ their own data

b) This blog is not about scaremongering, conspiracy theories or even privacy per se. The risks to privacy have been explored in detail many times in relation to Location based services etc. This discussion relates more to anonymity of data collected from individuals.

The real question is: Is there a model which would enable the providers and customers to both benefits if data is owned and managed by the customers themselves?

To explain this issue, we have to understand the problem of k-anonymity. The problem and solution of k-anonymity relates to re-identifying individuals from multiple datasets even if the data is (supposedly) anonymised. As we become creators of data with Web 2.0 and especially Mobile Web 2.0, the problem becomes significant because data is collected by providers at a phenomenal rate. It is then possible to potentially re-identify people from datasets. This discussion explores the possibility of making the problem of anonymization into a business opportunity.

Essentially, if data is anonymised at the source and is under the control of the customer, the customer will trust the provider who anonymises their data. In return for that trust, the customer could volunteer to reveal attributes about themselves which would enable the provider to create personalized advertising campaigns and also to be used in segmentation. This benefits both the providers (protection from legal action, personalized advertising, segmentation) and also the customers (anonymised data, personalised services etc)


k-anonymity is summarised in a paper by LATANYA SWEENEY(k-ANONYMITY: A MODEL FOR PROTECTING PRIVACY) School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as pe the paper abstract

Consider a data holder, such as a hospital or a bank, that has a privately held collection

of person-specific, field structured data. Suppose the data holder wants to share a version of the data with researchers. How can a data holder release a version of its private data with scientific guarantees that the individuals who are the subjects of the data cannot be re-identified while the data remain practically useful? The solution provided in this paper includes a formal protection model named k-anonymity and a set of accompanying policies for deployment. A release provides k-anonymity protection if the information for each person contained in the release cannot be distinguished from at least k-1 individuals whose information also appears in the release. This paper also examines re-identification attacks that can be realized on releases that adhere to kanonymity unless accompanying policies are respected. The k-anonymity protection model is important because it forms the basis on which the real-world systems known as Datafly, -Argus and k-Similar provide guarantees of privacy protection.

Keywords: data anonymity, data privacy, re-identification, data fusion, privacy.

Full paper :

The problem -location based services but also for all data ..

As we become creators of data with Web 2.0 and especially Mobile Web 2.0, the anonymising of data becomes a problem. Historically, data has been anonymised by removing explicit identifiers such as name, address, telephone number etc. Such data looks anonymised but it may not be when co-related with another dataset which may help to uniquely identify people.

For example, as per the paper, in Massachusetts, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) is responsible For purchasing health insurance for state employees. Because the data were believed to be anonymous, GIC gave a copy of the data to researchers and sold a copy to industry. It was then possible to co-relate it with normal voter registration and the rightmost circle in Figure 1 shows that these data included the name, address, ZIP code, birth date, and gender of each voter. This information can be linked using ZIP code, birth date and gender to the medical information, thereby linking diagnosis, procedures, and medications to particularly named individuals. For example, William Weld was governor of Massachusetts at that time and his medical records were in the GIC data. Governor Weld lived in Cambridge Massachusetts. According to the Cambridge Voter list, six people had his particular birth date; only three of them were men; and, he was the only one in his 5-digit ZIP code.


source: k-anonymity is summarised in a paper by LATANYA SWEENEY(k-ANONYMITY: A MODEL FOR PROTECTING PRIVACY)

The solution can be explained in an example from another paper

ℓ-Diversity: Privacy Beyond k-Anonymity Ashwin Machanavajjhala Johannes Gehrke Daniel Kifer Muthuramakrishnan Venkitasubramaniam Department of Computer Science, Cornell University

we divide the attributes into two groups: the sensitive attributes (consisting only of medical condition) and the non-sensitive attributes (zip code, age, and nationality). An attribute is marked sensitive if an adversary must not be allowed to discover the value of that attribute for any individual in the dataset. Attributes not marked sensitive are non-sensitive. Furthermore, let the collection of attributes {zip code, age, nationality} be the quasi-identifier for this dataset. Figure 2 shows a 4-anonymous table derived from the table in Figure 1 (here “*” denotes a suppressed value so, for example, “zip code = 1485*” means that the zip code is in the range [14850−14859] and “age=3*”means the age is in the range [30 − 39]). Note that in the 4-anonymous table, each tuple has the same values for the quasi-identifier as at least three other tuples in the table.


source: ℓ-Diversity: Privacy Beyond k-Anonymity Ashwin Machanavajjhala Johannes Gehrke Daniel Kifer Muthuramakrishnan Venkitasubramaniam Department of Computer Science, Cornell University

The solution – a policy manager managed by the user which anonymises data

The solution is to have a policy manager designed to

a) Be controlled by the user i.e. user sets the policies

b) Manage all data – not just location

This is a potentially win-win situation because essentially, if data is anonymised at the source and is under the control of the customer, the customer will trust the provider who anonymises their data (and in turn protects them). In return for that trust, the customer could volunteer to reveal attributes about themselves which would enable the provider to create personalized advertising campaigns and also to be used in segmentation. This benefits both the providers (protection from legal action, personalized advertising, segmentation) and also the customers (anonymised data, personalised services etc)

Note the context again, it is not about privacy – it is about anonymising data.

Also, the approach potentially provides a compelling argument for both the provider and the customer. In doing so, it is different because at the moment, advertising, segmentation etc can be implemented on a best case basis – but a trust based approach will benefit all parties.

I called this Unharnessing collective intelligence for the lack of a better word – but we can think of it as ‘policy based anonymising of data’

Update: Also CDT to Obama: advent of “the cloud” makes privacy laws dated

Merry Christmas to all ..

Wish you all a Merry Christmas

happy christmas.JPG


Net neutrality is like capitalism ..

cuba refugees.JPG

Last week, the Wall street journal has put Net Neutrality in the public limelight with a strangely misinformed article on which the Guardian sheds a lot more light( Bloggers trash Journal’s tale of cyber queue-jumping). I agree with the Guardian article which seems to be much more balanced and informed considering that most people would consider co-locating servers to be different from Net neutrality and co-locating is similar in approach to Akamai which has been in use for a long time now.

The WSJ article has pushed net neutrality in the limelight though .. And that’s a (good) side effect of the (poor) article.

Net neutrality reminds me of capitalism .. I.e. it is based on freedom of choice for the consumer and I like to think of it as ‘All packets are created (commercially) equal’.

The lack of choice (or restrictions on packets) reminds me of the old Berlin wall. As far as I know, people have not attempted to cross the wall the other way round(go into East Germany from West Germany) and people risk their lives to build boats from Cuba to the USA.

You don’t see any boats going from the USA to Cuba!

The point is: People will gravitate towards freedom – either in a political system(Capitalism) or in connectivity(Net Neutrality) and the customers/people are the main drivers to Net neutrality as I see it(as they were responsible for the fall of the Berlin wall and of an outdated ‘business model’ i.e. communism)

And this rate of change can only accelerate

As per the Law of Disruption (Unleashing the killer app), the rate of change of technology is exponential in contrast to the rate of change in society which is liner. But we are also seeing change in technology accelerating a change in society in many ways. So, I expect that there will be a greater push to open systems, Net neutrality etc.

Take this example from my own experience:

Like many travellers I depend on WiFi at airport lounges. That was two years ago. Now we have Mobile Broadband(HSDPA) in the UK. I don’t need WiFi. In fact, the only reason I need the comfortable seats in airport lounges(provided by the WiFi providers) is for their power supply! I.e. I will sit on the seat provided by the WiFi provider, use their power supply :) but connect to my Mobile Broadband networked(which is fixed price!).

All this for a network(WiFi) which was installed in the last two years which has now become ‘outdated’ by Mobile Broadband. That’s sad for the provider but it is the way networks work!

And remember that Internet is not the Information Superhighway – because a Superhighway implies a single path and that means toll bars! There will always be alternate paths for people to choose freedom and connectivity ..

Note that I do not say that there should be no business model for Telecoms networks. In fact, the biggest business model for data networks at least here in Europe is Mobile Broadband/ HSDPA. This is a pure network strategy. It is commercially very lucrative and it is likely to be more so in future. Similarly, I see a business model for network in devices such as Amazon Kindle and they provide a strong motivation for carriers to Open up

So, this is not a ‘lack of business model’ issue but rather ‘holding on to a flawed(arcane) business model’ issue

The power of connectivity to transform lives is immense! I find this story about the growth of RareShare: A Community For People With Rare Medical Problems inspiring .. . We need global connectivity since it benefits individuals and promotes freedom of thoughts , ideas and enterprises.

New business models are also emerging for the network providers .. the flaw lies in clinging to arcane business models defying the wishes of the customers worldwide who want to connect.

Let us end with capitalism vs. communism debate. Not many people know that when computers were first introduced in India, the Left parties opposed it on the grounds of job losses(aka protecting arcane business models) .. if that would have prevailed .. India would have missed out on the billions of dollars of technology and grassroots benefits and would not have uplifted a whole generation within such a short time ..

The promised land as it turns out is not ONLY of milk and honey .. but of computers, mobile phones and as yet unknown devices and business models .. all connected .. globally .. and in that sense Net neutrality is like Capitalism as I understand it ..

The picture shows Cuban refugees trying to cross into America using a modified craft

Imge source:

Good interview with Mark Selby – Nokia .. Long live the citizen

Mark Selby Nokia.JPG

Good interview with Mark Selby – Nokia .. Long live the citizen

I love Mark’s thinking and have learnt a lot from Mark. This is a great interview


looking for freelance editor for mobile/social media books ..


We are looking for a freelance editor for mobile/social media books …

You must have writing/editing experience ideally in Europe or North America

If interested please email me at ajit.jaokar at kind rgds Ajit

LTE specs frozen ..


LTE specs have been frozen. Its amazing how a bit of competition(wimax) can focus the whole industry. I remember how long 3G specs took and there was little talk of services – today things are a lot more mature and thats good for all of us as an industry!

Happy holidays to Carmen Sandiego

This is a fun blog .. meant for a friend ..

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Drinking too many Caipirinhas!

Enjoy and celebrate!

Happy holidays :)

Tintin movie coming soon ..

Tintin movie coming soon.JPG

A new Tintin movie is coming soon .. Its Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s treasure – which is great – but I would have thought maybe some day to see Tintin in Tibet – widely regarded as the best Tintin ever – but nevertheless – any Tintin movie is welcome :) – The good thing about Red Rackham’s treasure is – it is the first appearance of Professor Cuthbert Calculus – but then Calculus is best in Destination moon with the ‘goat’ episode .. so I guess you want to see them all!