Nscreenvision: Understanding open innovation using APIs in a multiscreen world







Over the last year, I have been thinking of the concepts in this blog with two motivations.

Firstly, working with Chetan Sharma on the idea of a community for ‘nscreen’ applications and

Secondly, my work with Webinos, which has evolved over that time.

By ‘nscreen’ applications I mean ‘multi-screen’ applications. Multiscreen apps are not new and nor are the issues multi-screen applications bring. On the other hand, Lady Gaga says that we are all ‘screenagers’ – each living with many screens. So, the world of ‘nscreens’ is already upon us.

However, with the idea of nscreenvision, I am trying to articulate a specific viewpoint which I hope to describe in detail below.

Chetan and I are evolving this into a community and if this is of interest, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com with the subject ‘nscreeenvision’. We are particularly interested in meeting people who are creating multiplatform applications and / or developers working with specific APIs

Open innovation

Professor Henry Chesbrough has written extensively about Open innovation.

As per What is open innovation and the era of open innovation

-       Open Innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation. With knowledge now widely distributed, companies cannot rely entirely on their own research, but should acquire invention or intellectual property from other companies when it advances the business model. 

-       “Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.”

-       “…Companies can no longer keep their own innovations secret unto themselves; … the key to success is creating, in effect, an open platform around your innovations so your customers, your employees and even your competitors can build upon it, because only by that building will you create an ongoing, evolving community of users, doers and creators.” 

-       In the past, internal R&D was a valuable strategic asset, even a formidable barrier to entry by competitors in many markets. Only large corporations like DuPont, IBM and AT&T could compete by doing the most R&D in their respective industries (and subsequently reaping most of the profits as well).

-       Toward the end of the 20th century, though, a number of factors combined to erode the underpinnings of closed innovation in the United States. Perhaps chief among these factors was the dramatic rise in the number and mobility of knowledge workers, making it increasingly difficult for companies to control their proprietary ideas and expertise.

-       At its root, open innovation is based on a landscape of abundant knowledge, which must be used readily if it is to provide value for the company that created it. However, an organization should not restrict the knowledge that it uncovers in its research to its internal market pathways,

Understanding open innovation using APIs in a multiscreen world
So, the question to address is:

How do we reconcile open innovation in a world of multiscreen/nscreen applications?

Here are some initial observations:
-  Convergence can happen at multiple levels – at the network layer (fixed to mobile convergence), at the services layer (cloud) etc etc.
-  One unlikely avenue for convergence may be apps.
-  However, most apps today are merely at the UI level. Valuable as UI is, when viewed across platforms (nscreen
applications), apps are far more complex
-  The common denominator for nscreen apps are actually APIs
-  All products could be platforms. In fact, increasingly, successful products will have to be platforms i.e. enable others to add value to it.
-  Value will shift to integration between platforms (Web, Mobile, TV and Automotive)
-  Products themselves will have little differentiation and value will be added by the community/ enhancement via APIs etc

What does Open innovation mean in a world of multiple screens?
-          How do we study it?
-          How would we quantify it?
-          How would we predict it?

If we could understand and study the evolution and usage of APIs, could we study and predict Open evolution in an nscreen world?

There are many things you could learn from APIs
-          What functionality is being abstracted?
-          What functionality is being used or ignored by developers even when available as an API?
-          What third party applications are being developed that are a threat to the platform?
(and not necessarily by their own API) Etc etc

For instance, here are some examples:
-  Payment APIs for mobile platforms have been around for a long time which means payment is an important function. However, there is still reluctance for their widespread usage due to various factors (fragmentation, cost etc). At the same time, we are seeing NFC APIs.
-  Specific platforms like Android with Android intents (see below), lend to integration across platforms.
-  TV as a platform is widely talked about but yet when TV does become a full platform, it is a threat to the business model of existing TV networks.

Abstracting the nscreen APIs

As I discuss below, the world of APIs can be complex. Drawing upon the analysis in Webinos, we could abstract this information i.e. view API functionality as a generic set of features and then we aim to discuss specific APIs within this context for distinct platforms

APIs could be divided into a number of generic categories:

-          Generic APIs for the core functionality of the product
-          APIs for service discovery and remote API access: APIs allowing applications to discover other devices and services/applications on other devices and on network servers and access these remote services.
-          Hardware Resources APIs: APIs allowing applications to access information and functionality relating to device HW resources such as GPS, camera, microphone, sensors, etc.
-          Application Data APIs: APIs allowing applications read and write access to application capabilities such as contact items, calendar information, messages, media files, etc.
-          Communication APIs: APIs allowing applications to communicate with other applications in the same or another device.
-          Application execution APIs: APIs allowing applications to launch other apps and native applications.
-          User profile and context APIs: APIs allowing applications access to user profile data and user context.
-          Security and Privacy APIs

You could further break down the APIs into the following:

HW resource APIs
-          Device Orientation API
-          Generic Sensor Actuator API: APIs which act on sensor data
-          Microphone API: Capture audio samples from microphone
-          Camera API: Capture video stream from device camera
-          Geolocation API: Access to device location information
-          Device status API: Access to device status information
-          TV and STB control API: Control TV/STB via API so other devices can act as a remote control.
-          Device interaction API: Access to apis for interacting with the end user
-          Barcode API: APIs for decoding barcodes using the camera of the device.
-          Vehicle API: Provides access to vehicle properties (e.g. current speed, mileage, fuel consumption)
-          NFC API
Application data APIs
-          Contacts API: Allowing access to calendar data
-          Calendar API: Description: Access/use to native calendar application
-          Messaging API: Description: Send and receive messages of type email, SMS, MMS.
-          Filesystem API: Access to device filesystem
-          Multimedia/gallery API: access to media on device including access to remote media, metadata etc
-          Payment API: APIs for payments including apps/in-app purchases etc

Communication APIs
These APIs relate to communication with other devices, other applications and servers. This could be socket based communication, communication for individual components or low level API communication relying on networking features like overlay networking

Application execution and Policy APIs
The Application Execution API allows discovery, activation and understating of policy issues related to applications installed on the device. It could also perform late run-time binding between different functionality similar to Android intents. These include APIs like Widget execution API, Application Launcher API etc

User profile and context APIs
The user profile API defines attributes and methods to access to user related information (e.g. name, nickname, gender birthday, etc.) while the application data API provide information about application related information (e.g. installed application).

Communication APIs: Include APIs like Event handling API

Security and Privacy APIs include Platform attestation API, User Authentication API etc
The above analysis provides a template for all APIs. But for deeper integration, these APIs will have to function across the four platforms. This will include cross-platform functionality such as:
-          Maintaining a common Identity across platforms
-          Discovery and Addressing objects and services across platforms
-          Remote Notifications and Messaging
-          Policy and Security across platforms
-          Negotiation and Compatibility
-          Lifecycle management
-          The ability to detect device and Service Functional Capability
-          Transfer and Management of State
Currently, APIs exist for many platforms across the stack for each of the four platforms: ex
Upnp, Dlna, Mozilla, Mozilla webapis, WAC, Chrome, PhoneGap, Titanium, Microsoft Media room , Philipps Nettv, Genivi alliance, ARM etc When viewed in the context of the above framework, many of these are at a very early stage and relate to specific platforms. As the functionality evolves and new services emerge, I expect we will see the need for cross-platform services, which leads to the motivation behind the nscreen vision community

The nscreenvision community

We envisage the nscreenvision community to be a niche group of people interested in the domain of cross platform integration through APIs. As these ecosystems evolve and integrate, we see value in a knowledge based community comprising creators of multi-platform applications. The initial knowledge base underpinning this community, especially the analysis of APIs, is derived from  my work with Webinos. However, the community differs from Webinos itself because it a narrow emphasis on APIs and also that it is not related to the Web alone.

We are familiar with this ecosystem based on our own work and by participating in this niche community, we hope to share our insights in this space. The community will include specific surveys, the summary results of which we will share with the community. As analysts, we will use the insights from the community to predict the evolution of Open innovation, as discussed above.

By keeping the community small and niche, we expect to work more closely with the members enabling us to share and learn from each other.

If this is of interest, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com with the subject ‘nscreeenvision’. We are particularly interested in meeting people who are creating multiplatform applications and / or developers working with specific APIs

Image source: http://www.webkitchen.be/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/multiscreen.jpg

assanka – FT app – welcome back to the web

I knew about the FT Html5 app but did not know the company behind it assanka

I love the strapline – Welcome back to the Web :)

That iconic apple ad ..

worth having a look again ..

MLOVE announces Mobile Report and Launch of MLOVE.TV












Our friends at mlove have announced the launch of Mlove TV and a new report which can be downloaded for free MLOVE report 

The MLOVE Report summarizes crucial topics for the Future of Mobile – as much more than a technical platform or a media channel: Mobile is becoming the remote control for our lives. The content features key insights from renowned international speakers of the MLOVE ConFestival 2011 and Illustrations by ImageThink, New York.

MLOVE also announced the launch of MLOVE.TV a platform to showcase background interviews and presentations by thought leaders and innovators about Mobile and the passion to create our Future. The first interviews published include Grammy-Award winning rapper Chamillionaire, United Nation Foundation Director Adele Waugaman and Peter Hale, co-founder of top creative agency GBH, London. A first keynote presentation is posted of Jonathan MacDonald (founder, Every Single One of Us), with more content to be added on a weekly basis. The evolving video channel is available at MLOVE.TV 

The MLOVE ConFestival features topics like communication, education, entertainment, Japan, mHealth, Singularity and Sustainability. Interactive formats included a first MLOVE Teen Camp, open space and ideation workshops called Future Cubes in the setting of a 200-year-old barn.


The MLOVE ConFestival has been named a ‘TED for Mobile’ and a meetup of the ‘IT avantgarde’ with an engaging and inspiring format in the setting of a 19th century castle in the former Eastern Germany. The MLOVE ConFestival, focused on innovative mobile opportunities for brands, entertainment and advertising and the impact of mobile as a social catalyst for positive change.

The MLOVE ConFestival brings together CEOs, innovators and entrepreneurs from across multiple disciplines to share, learn and cross-pollinate ideas with an array of scientists, artists and other thought leaders. The event exposes the mobile industry to the best minds outside of mobile to maximize the opportunity of creating life-changing services and applications that can impact us all for the better.

The MLOVE tribe started grass roots by an international group of “mobile passionistas” in 2008. Through MLOVE “camps” in Andorra, Barcelona, San Francisco, Munich, London, New York and Singapore the agenda for MLOVE evolved into more than mobile: the goal is to stimulate new ideas and thinking which you can apply to your life, your business and to inspire others. For more information visit www.mlove.com

Social Media:

Twitter: @mlovesociety and hashtag #mlove

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mlovesociety

Impact of the Google – Motorola deal – by Tony Fish






By Tony Fish

Surprised at the latest Google deal to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5Bn, you should not be; Eric Schmidt was very clear back at MWC in FEB 2007 “Mobile Mobile Mobile” and since then Google has focussed both time and effort to deliver andriod (which was itself acquired).  When Schmidt stepped down in saying “adult supervision no longer required” this left open the matured Larry Page to step up from being great at maths and a world leading entrepreneur, to take on the mantel of “world leading strategist and deal doer.”

This deal will be the discussion point for the next 3 months and already there are a lot of views circulating about what it means but there is no doubt that depending on your stance you can argue for change. However at Mobile 2 on 1st Sept in SFO – we get the first bite or Being Digital in London on 11th/ 12th October.

Mobile 2
: Business/ strategy
Date                  :  1st September 2011
Venue               :  Hyatt on Union Sq. San Francisco
Registration    :  http://mobile2event.com/registration
Discount          :  email [email protected]

Being Digital
Style                  : Business/ strategy
Date                  :  11th/ 12th October
Venue               :  London
Registration    :  http://www.beingdigital.eu/  

The Deal
Google purchased Motorola’s mobile business for $12.5 billion. In doing so, Google brought patents, hardware design, manufacturing and a seat at the patent table. However the context is… Oracle suing, Apple winning, eco-system struggling, Samsung annoyed and Microsoft attacking

Worthy of Note
Google has bought in cash and not shares.  This commitment will reduce their cash balance to $22bn from the mid thirties, but it is cash.  Given the issues that cash purchases delivered to telecoms in 2000/2001 this is an important fact as many ran into immediate issues and sold off key assets.  However, I expect the reason that this is cash is that Google are not expecting to hold the operational assets for long.  An equity purchase could have caused them problems from shareholders when they flip it assuming it completes in Q1 2012

Why now?
Porter 5 forces model is helpful here as it highlights the dynamic nature of the mobile market that Google faces.  Their power is low, their service fragmented and  they are being attacked.

Starting from the view of the world formed by ….

  1. Operators.  Deal does not change anything as we are the controllers of mobile – we keep all manufacturers below 30% market share and make sure it is a competitive supply market.  However, we are still worried about becoming bit pipe….
  2. Oracle/ Sun/ Java       Defence needed as android has been beset with legal challenges from all sides, including a multibillion dollar lawsuit filed by Oracle, but Motorola patents are about wireless tech and unlikely to help.
  3. Microsoft/ Nokia        Attention is off us – heads down lads and deliver. Worth reading the pervious insights on MSFT/ Nokia deal and how to befriend the operators.
  4. Apple  By purchasing a manufacturer, Google has admitted it needs more than just a free operating system and loads of partners to compete with Apple: they need to duplicate Apple’s successes by totally controlling both the hardware and software of their devices.
  5. OEM ‘s            “Google has gone from partner to competitor.”
  6. Media/ Content owners          According to Infonetics, Motorola Mobility was the leader in set-top box revenues last year, and was also tops in hybrid IP/QAM set-top boxes — that is, the boxes used by operators like Verizon that combine broadcast TV and over-the-top applications. By leveraging Motorola’s position with carriers, Google can better solidify its bid to expand Google TV and Android into the living room.”
  7. Developers      At least there is one less system to deal with

So here are some possible outcomes and scenarios

The production shop

In this scenario Google keeps Motorola as is and starts to manufacture it owns handsets.  In reality this could provide short term stability to the fragmented andriod market place and show case devices and move into other screen based markets, but in the long run looks like a new Apple and being open is probably not a true option. Probability in long run 10% as this would not elevate Page to world class strategist who is just following Jobs view of the world.

The negotiator tactic

This is the company official line that the acquisition brings 17,000 patents (but are they relevant) to Google and enables them to robustly defend their mobile position and also expand.  It is a $12.5bn investment to get a seat at the table.  Strategically there is a lot of truth in this as mobile will dominate long term strategy and value. Probability in long run 25% as patents only last for a period….

Power to disrupt

Imagine Google takes the patents, yes they are useful to defend/ negotiate but also to empower others if free and open. This would reduce the power of others in the market and change the dynamics
Imagine Google keeps the patents and sells on production to Samsung to create a global partner across all screens
Imagine Google Wallet becomes the model – forget small transaction fees – lets go for user data in every model
Probability in long run 65% and Larry Page is now the best strategist in the world and did it without adult supervision.


The mobile Internet will do more for Africa than live 8



Note: originally posted in July 2005 long before the OpenGardens blog was popular, this remains one of my favourite posts and in hindsight, with mPesa and others, has proved prophetic!

On a day when Africa is in the news .. here is a different perspective based on my own experience. It reflects my views – especially the ability of individuals to make a difference when they have access to knowledge.

I saw this phenomenon first in India in the early 90s when I was living in India. At that time, India was in the throes of a ‘cable’ revolution. Mind you, there was no ‘ministry’, which had sanctioned this. It was a grassroots phenomenon. I remember the local video shop owner suddenly started adding ‘cable’ to his offerings. And he was not the only one. Every colony(a group of buildings) had it’s own network. The legality of it all was suspect (although today it’s all pretty much corporate and legal).

The point is though, people were getting access to information(and this was not the government sanctioned media). Even in the smallest village – you could see ‘MTV’ – which was a bizarre phenomenon in some ways. More importantly, the villages had yellow PCO booths. So, you could call anywhere in the world.

Again more connections – more information.

This was early 90s. Today India is a force to reckon in technology

Is there a connection between people, technology and wealth?

I believe that there is … Which brings us to Africa ..

Lets contrast two bits of news.

A couple of weeks ago, Simpay (www.simpay.com) collapsed.

Simpay was a European mcommerce initiative. Typically on a grand scale – top down – with the big operators all ‘solidly’ behind it. It collapsed like a pack of cards when one operator pulled out. The end was so quick that many did not believe it.

But mcommerce itself if far from dead.

And where does it survive?

You would not guess – but it’s Africa.

According to the feature(www.thefeature.com) (no link exists – so I don’t know the author)

Although many Western research companies still stick to the idea that mobile usage remains the preserve of the relatively well off, many countries in Africa are showing through prepaid, handset sharing and the sheer desire to own a mobile despite having very little income, that mobile service can reach all parts of the populace. The great advantage for m-banking in African countries is that the conflicts between the stakeholders simply don’t exist in the same way as in Europe and the West. Most of those players have little or no current business in the area, and see m-banking as an opportunity, rather than a threat, to their business models.

The lack of existing vested interests(and for that matter an existing ecosystem itself) is creating a whole new value chain.

A company called celpay offers mobile phone-based virtual bank accounts with features like account transfers, bill payments, cash deposits etc. It has created a large retail base (shops, petrol stations etc) who will accept these transactions.(cellpay uses a solution from a South African company called fundamo

Also according to the feature

Celpay has also developed successful m-banking business services. This includes mobile phone-based order entry with cash on delivery payment functionality. Current users include Coca-Cola, breweries and a cement manufacturer. In DRC (Democratic republic of Congo) alone, there were over 80,000 transactions per day on the Celpay system in November 2004.

Read that last statistic again .. 80,000 transactions per day! – in the democratic republic of Congo!!

There is another big boom in voucherless topups

The agent simply enters the subscriber’s mobile number, amount of credit needed and the agent’s pin and the subscriber’s account is topped up.

The irony is .. the only other place where m-commerce is booming well is in the worlds most advanced markets for mobility – Japan and Korea. For example – in Japan, NTT docomo and Sony are running the felica trials

There are not many subjects where you can mention Japan and Democratic republic of Congo in the same context.

Ahh .. but you say .. Africa is not China(or Japan, or India or Singapore)

There is no culture of entrepreneurship.

That’s not quite true

According to GEM(Global entrepreneurship monitor) ..

Uganda has the highest Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) of all countries participating in GEM 2003. The TEA of 29.2 indicates that almost every third adult Ugandan is an entrepreneur. In comparison, the World average is only 8.8.

So .. it’s possible

This leads me to make the statement .. the mobile internet(and m-commere) will do more for Africa than anything else(commendable as these efforts always are). In fact, m-commerce is just the medium. The real people doing the work are the people of Africa.

Soon, they will learn from the Philippines and get rid of governments that do not serve them. Information will be impossible to contain

If Bill Gates’ dream was to have a PC on each desk running Microsoft software .. then EVERY person in the world could well have a mobile device(although they may not have a PC)That could do wonders for many countries in Africa – both commercially and politically.

My digital footprint personal data tradeoff report

Illustration for Analytic Hierarchy Process ar...

Image via Wikipedia

In an earlier post, I mentioned about the Digital footprint summit  for which I am working with Tony Fish

Here is another element we are considering as part of this event. For the lack of a better word, I will call it: My digital footprint personal data tradeoff report

The crux of the issue with My Digital Footprint is the propensity of customers to trade data for services

So, the question is: Could we predict the tradeoff between what elements of customer data would we share and for what services?

This is more than a survey and possibly involves techniques like the Analytic Hierarchy Process AHP  and pairwise comparisons

I seek comments on this if you are interested to know more





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Speaking at the Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam






I am speaking at the Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam which is one of the best known events in the Mobile Cloud space.

Some topics of interest include

The Defining Differences between ‘Mobile Cloud’ and ‘Cloud’

Building a Successful Business Model for Cloud

Mobility Services and Targeting Customers

Business models

Determining a Long-term Cloud Mobility Strategy

How Will Operators Make Cloud Business Profitable in the OTT Reality?

The Enterprise and Cloud Mobility

The Operators’ Strategy when Facing OTT competition

How do Third Party Providers fit into the Operator’s Business Plan?

Creating a ‘Cloud Active’ Environment

Security, Security, Security…What is the Key to Building Customer Trust?

Is the Security of Handsets Affecting the Adoption of Cloud Services?

Driving National Efficiency and Savings with Cloud Mobility

Dark Clouds and Rainy Days, the Bad Side of Cloud Computing  from our friend David Rogers

Cloud Services and Bandwidth: a Relief or Extra Burden? by me :)

Overcoming the Obstacles to Seamless Media Cloud Adoption

for more see  Cloud Mobility conference – 20 -21 Sep Amsterdam


Broadband world forum 2011

I will be attending the broadband world forum, the world’s largest broadband event, in Paris in September

Now in it’s 11th year, some of the topics of interest include:

Broadband & LTE Deployment Case Studies

Community broadband

Regulation & Universal Service

Implementing the transition to IPv6

Broadband Business Strategy Open Access Network Strategies

Operator Case Studies


IMS for voice & data

Content Delivery Network Implementation

Femtocells & Small cellular architectures

The role of WiFi off-load

OTT & IPTV: monetising online content

Beyond “traditional” PayTV

QoS as a service

Can Cable operators survive without offering Cloud services?

for more details see broadband world forum

The Great Dance – Sense Africa


Meditation in the age of Facebook and Twitter is now almost close to the full launch(Oct/Nov). I am getting lots of great feedback for this book even before launch. Writing about the evolution of meditation is a complex undertaking since you have to look at the past and the future(as I said in the subtitle: from shamanism to transhumanism).

I have long been fascinated by anthropology, as the blog has often covered related topics before ex Discovering Ardi, but this book gave me the opportunity to really explore some of these ideas.

In writing this book, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people beyond the technology sphere and follow their work, which had a wider impact on humanity.

One such online meeting was with the Foster brothers from South africaSense Africa

Brothers craig and damon foster are widely regarded as south Africa’s top documentary filmmakers. With over 16 years of experience shooting and directing, and having received over 50 international awards, the foster brothers have deservedly carved themselves a niche in global film circles.

For more than a decade the foster brothers have been at the forefront of the African renaissance, using media to turn the tide on negative attitudes. They have reached an audience of over 200 million by using Africa’s voice first hand. The brothers’ primary intent lies in telling stories with the voice of Africa herself, and creating film experiences that enable the viewer to gain an intense and deep insight into the natural and cultural dynamics of this ancient continent. They explore the timeless and universal themes of the relationship between man and animal, and the relationship between them and the environments that they share.

I referred to meditation as evolving from ancient Shamanic practices and in that sense, I was already aware of the San people of southern africa. Based on genetic studies, the San have the greatest diversity(hence oldest) genes (in general, greater the genetic mutations in a population, the longer it is established). And that makes the San people possibly the ancestors of all humanity.

And in trying to explore these ideas ie trying to find Shamanic roots for meditation, I stumbled on the Sense Africa site and related to the ethos from their site of: As we become aware of our threat associated with the “conquer by concrete” approach, it seems that we have the potential to awaken to the deep integrity of our original design- a design that accounts for all five kingdoms of nature- a sense of oneness- senseafrica.

Especially the documentary – the Great dance. This documentary is about an ancient practice called the ‘persistence hunt’  practised by the San and other tribesmen. As they say in the documentary, it is a strange and a meditative / trancelike process because : when you track and animal, you must become the animal .. tracking(animals) is like dancing, This is the great dance ..

From the Sense Africa site click on films and then – the great dance

Highly recommended especially if you like documentaries covering this subject

I travel a travel a lot and a visit to SA is long on the cards and this would be a real holiday to look forward to :) combining travel with a study of ancient cultures!

Below a video explaining the ethos behind the documentary