Screenagers – Brands and Trust











Brands and Trust: A background

Trust and Brands are interwoven like the double helix of DNA.. A Brand is much more than the image, logo, name, awareness, experience, campaign, product or trademark. Whilst all of the above (and more) are essential components of a brand, the brand itself is the meeting of an ‘intention’ and a ‘promise’, a confluence that involves Trust. A recent Interbrand survey valued Coca-Cola at US$73 billion, Microsoft at US$70 billion and IBM at US$53 billion. Underpinning that value lies the experience the brand provides to it’s customers. The consumer experience comprises many things.

Today, the iPhone is a textbook case of a brand leveraging a consistent customer experience for it’s customers. The iPhone, and many other leading brands, provide both the experience and the Identity for the customer. My favourite example of a brand with timeless trust is Patek Philippe. The watch is called a ‘chronograph’. There are no prices on the site as far as I could see. The advertising shows that the watch is yours to experience and to ‘hand down to your child’ i.e. a tradition/legacy. This type of branding and the promise it depicts is truly timeless and will remain so.

Thus, Trust is beneficial for brands. Brands want to be trusted and indeed, some are trusted reflecting their market value.

But at the same time, the values, traditions and norms of society are changing and brands are reacting to that change. We see this in many ways – for example – Brands are displaying their “environmentally aware” credentials in response to greater awareness among consumers. The 2011 Edelman survey on Trust ranks financial institutions at the bottom of the ‘Trust’ scale. The survey  also indicates  attributes like Quality, transparency, Trust and Employee welfare as valued attributes by customers. It goes even further by finding that reputation enhances believability i.e. customers have to hear something about a specific company multiple times for them to believe that information. 26% have to hear the message 4 to 5 times and 59% have to hear it 3 to 5 times. In an era of current media scepticism, customers are influenced by multiple voices and multiple choices and the need for authority and accountability set new expectations for Brands.

The Algorithm lens, the Local lens and the changing balance of Power

However we define Trust, we acknowledge that Trust is  a two way processes.  Brands need Trust  and indeed customers trust some brands which is reflected the high market value of the best known brands. However, the nature of Trust in a brand is changing. The Web has led the first phase of this change as customers have become active and vocal. They are no longer passive consumers. The information they contribute transforms their relationship with brands and in some cases the Brand itself. Beginning in 2005 with the emergance of the Web 2.0 generation, two shifts happened: Firstly, Customers contributed data .Secondly, search engines harnessed that very data to create a ‘filter’ for our online world based on our data. Today, we are living the Social or Facebook era which takes the sharing of data to the personal level and by extension, extends the filter to the our social graph

Increasingly, with the greater availability of data, firms are simply ‘harnessing’ all this data which customers share. Today, the balance of power rests with the providers and with the firms which have the ability to capture data. We do not see the current generation (which we call ‘Screenagers’ – i.e. people who grow up interacting with multiple screens daily), sharing less data. On the contrary, the trend to share more will continue. We also see that companies will continue to harness that data and will provide more  services based on Data. This gives the perception that the balance of power has shifted away from the customers and towards the providers (such as Apple, Google, Amazon).

But the balance of power shift may not be so one sided.

Web orientated search engines put an ‘algorithm lens’ over online content. Mobility adds  a ‘local lens’ over both physical objects and online content. In other words, the web and mobile based search engines created rankings and thereby a filter or ‘lens’ for search results based on analysis outside of the control of the user. In a multiscreen world that the Screenagers inhabit, these multiple screens will be generative i.e. they will create their own data and by implication contribute to the  filters. This filtered data will be used by everyone, which means it could also be used by customers themselves. Customers will be able to see their world through this ‘lens’ of someone else’s data. Customers’ data could be harnessed by others but customers could also easily choose to share key data components and / or create a set of preferences that would ‘colour’ their world through their own data lens to their own benefit

This paradigm could bring back control to customers even when their freely available data can be harnessed by others. Thus, in this phase, all brands will be affected. Just like the Web 2.0 phase produced brands like Amazon and eBay, we will see the rise of new brands which will serve the customer especially when the Screenager mindset will be the dominant paradigm for societies (especially in cities) which affects our physical space. The foundation which drives this relationship will be data.

The Screenagers hypothesis

Data is already changing many areas that we once took for granted – ex Data driven journalism . Data is being released by governments, individuals and companies at a phenomenal rate. Over time, we expect that Open source, Open standard, Peer to Peer initiatives will arise to create this ‘lens’

So, the Screenagers hypothesis is:

a)    Brands will be expected to fulfil their promise but that will be only the minimal requirement

b)    Customers will continue to share data about themselves and about their brand preferences. This data will continue to be harnessed by providers. The rate of this behaviour (both sharing and harnessing) will increase

c)    Simultaneously, it will be possible for customers to harness their own data

d)    This data will act as a lens/filter for services

e)    This will profoundly change the relationship with brands and new brands will emerge to take advantage of this paradigm and serve the customer better

The screenagers event will explore this hypothesis in detail and will look at three axes i.e. Data, Benefits and Services to create a model to explore this hypothesis

We will explore these ideas in the Digital Footprint Summit Learnings and Insights from the Screenagers – Thursday, November 3, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (GMT)

Standards, Mobile, Transparency and IPR






Last week, I attended the The 7th International Conference on STANDARDIZATION and INNOVATION in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (SIIT2011) in Berlin hosted by Berlin Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Technical University Berlin) and Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems.

This conference comes at an interesting time in the standardization debate and there are three undercurrents in this debate

a)    The EU standardization package with the notion that standards from EU bodies should have some form of preference in EU standardization

b)    The inclusion of IPR in standards, a perennial debate in all recent standardization events

c)    Both of the above are tied to the third theme – innovation. Innovation was the third undercurrent in this conference. There was even talk of ‘first mover advantage’ for standards and ‘fast standards’. Both of which are a curious anomaly when you look at standards historically i.e. by that I mean words like ‘fast moving’ and ‘first mover’ are not normally applied to the placid world of standardization


Let us start with innovation and three events that occurred at the same time in the ICT world

a)    Joe Hewitt, the creator of Firefox posted a sad but insightful post saying the Web is dead unless it gets a new owner

b)    The passing away of Steve Jobs

c)    The impact of mobility – The iPhone has made mobile cool but it has also raised the profile of IPR in mobile devices

If we explore these further,

a)    Joe Hewitt: In his post (link above), Joe Hewitt argues that: The Web has no one who can ensure that the platform acquires cutting edge capabilities in a timely manner (camera access, anyone?). The Web has no one who can ensure that the platform makes real developers happy and productive. The Web has no one to ensure that it is competitive with other platforms, and so increasingly we are seeing developers investing their time in other platforms that serve their needs better.. The arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering. The counterpoint to this discussion is: The web is only interesting because it is a standard. However, whichever way you look at it, the discussion of standards and innovation is at the heart of innovation and developers i.e. if standardization is not fast enough, it risks becoming irrelevant.  To move faster, we need to look at the opposite end of standardization i.e. innovation. Innovation needs incentives and IPR and patents provide that incentive -which brings us to the second point above i.e. the passing away of Steve Jobs.

b)   Steve Jobs: The world mourns the death of Steve Jobs. The guardian claims that Steve Jobs has ushered in a new form of capitalism  - The Telegraph asks: Where will we find the next Steve Jobs? and the New York times and the New York times posts a beautiful, browsable graphic of Steve Jobs’s 317 patents .

Steve Jobs impacted many domains of the ICT industry, but most recently through the iPhone, Steve Jobs’s legacy will have a lasting impact on innovation for mobile devices. The impact of the iPhone and it’s shifting of the IPR scene for mobility is the third development which impacts the standards discussion

c)    The impact of mobility – The iPhone has made mobile cool but it has also raised the profile of IPR. Mary Meeker says that we are at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle and that mobile devices will surpass PCs and other wireline devices. Many people, including me, have long been discussing this ‘cross over’ and its implications. The cross-over point would come around 2014. IDC said the total number of Internet user will grow from 2 billion in 2010 to 2.7 billion in 2015, with 40 percent of the world’s population online.

Obviously, Mobile is important and some would argue that it is more important than the Web itself (to the extent of influencing the future direction of the Web). When the ‘Web meets mobile’ we have two implications: Firstly, the Open vs. Closed argument which has long been talked of but secondly, the IPR implications.  While most companies such as facebook agree that within 1-2 years, they would be a mobile company, (   most analysts agree that to be a player in mobility today, you have to be a major player in intellectual property (Wanna be a mobile player? Get ready to spend on IP ) and that the value of intellectual property has never been higher in the market (Intellectual Property And Patents Are BIG BUSINESS – All By Themselves)

In a sense, this is not new. Standards like GSM have always included IPR but it has been a closed club of players who cross licensed IPR but shared it with each other to keep others out. This created a successful standard (like GSM) but today, that approach may be too restrictive.

This explains the value and litigation related to IPR in the mobile industry today. Nowhere is this apparent than with Android. History may look at Android as the tech industry’s Helen of Troy: The OS that launched a thousand suits. (Patent madness! A timeline of the Android patent wars).  While at SIIT, we heard that the patent cloud surrounding Android isn’t lifting even with the Motorola acquisition and its top manufacturer (Samsung) signs up with Microsoft by agreeing to pay royalties for Android (Samsung shows lack of confidence in Google)


Based on the above background, let us now consider the two questions of EU standards bodies and IPR within standardization and the complexity involved

1)    Policy makers have to balance a number of considerations: Innovation, Local needs (EU), Social good – need of the public and the rate of change

2)    To quote another Jobsian quote: A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be – Wayne Gretzky. The puck is definitely going towards ‘Mobile’  and here IPR has historically had a role to play

3)    These discussions of competing/collaborating are normal and we see them in the Open Source community as well. There is a discussion brewing in the Open source community as to – who contributed most to hadoop. Yahoo/Hortonworks claims that they are the major contributors but Mike Olson of Cloudera disagrees. (Who Wrote Hadoop? It’s the Community, Stupid. ).  Also, Rackspace to spin off Open stack project to a foundation and  PhoneGap to become an Apache project as Adobe acquires Nitobi.  All three push the limits of collaboration in the open source community.

4)    Industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC are entering into IPR agreements for android but also companies like Samsung are hedging their bets by joining Intel to help develop Tizen, a new OS that merges MeeGo and Limo.

5)    The position to limit / prefer EU bodies only for standardization is complex and confusing. Even on the stage, there were clear conflicts within EU mandated standards bodies and with national standards bodies.  The three EU bodies CEN – European Committee for Standardization (CEN), CENELEC –  European Committee for Electrotechnical Standards and ETSI – European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) had a view but DIN – Deutsches Institut für Normung – the German national standards body – which was a member of CEN had a different position – and a conflict due to its membership at EU level (CENELEC) vs. national level(Germany)

In light of the wider speed of the industry (ex Joe Hewitt emails) and considering that we have a recession, many of the issues of restricting standards bodies seemed surreal and out of place. If diversity reduces risk, then variety is better when it comes to standards bodies.

Comments welcome as usual

The opportunities and challenges of White Space spectrum applications


Google founder Larry Page calls White Space as ‘WiFi on steroids’ and Microsoft calls it ‘White fi’. Policy makers are excited because White Space remains the best option for providing broadband connectivity to rural areas including services like remote healthcare. In a nutshell, White Space networks take advantage of the empty fragments of spectrum interspaced between frequencies in use. White Spaces are significant because regulators in UK and USA have opened up portions of spectrum originally used by analogue TV for use by White Space applications. This has the potential to bring new innovation to the market and provide new services to customers. This article explores the opportunities and challenges for White Space spectrum applications.


White Space frequencies occupy the ranges traditionally used by Analogue TV in the UHF range. In the United States, this is 698 – 806 Mhz and in the UK it is 470 – 790 Mhz. Many other European and North American countries are expected to follow suit.  There is considerable momentum behind White Space technologies currently. Through the White Spaces Coalition companies like Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Philips, Earthlink, and Samsung Electro-Mechanics are involved in developing the White Space ecosystem.

White Space devices are expected to have a range of miles instead of feet (in comparison to WiFi). They are expected to travel through physical obstacles like walls, trees etc just like conventional broadcast signals. Also, they are expected to deliver network speeds comparable to current 3G and 4G technology.

Despite these advantages, White Space spectrum has some unique limitations. These limitations arise primarily from the need to avoid interference with existing services like broadcast. Avoiding interference is a complex and dynamic process. The challenge is not only to find empty frequencies but also to refer back to an online database to see if things have changed. Thus, some White Space radios have a GPS inbuilt in it in addition to the radio functionality. A project from Microsoft called Networking Over White Spaces (KNOWS) is a pioneer in this domain. The project enhanced the basic ‘detect and avoid’ sensing technology by using the database approach.  According to the KNOWS project, the White Space spectrum is fundamentally different from the ISM bands where Wi-Fi operates along three main axes: First, it exhibits spatial variation since a channel available at one node might be occupied by a primary user (TV, microphone) at another node in the network. Second, the spectrum is not contiguous. Some channels might be occupied by primary users hence causing the spectrum to be fragmented. Finally, there is temporal variation since an available spectrum might be occupied at a later time by a primary user, e.g. wireless microphone.

The success of the initial tests in Redmond in overcoming these technical challenges has led to more trials and research especially in Cambridge and Wilmington (North Carolina). The FCC has mandated that all White Space devices should be able to refer back to the online database, so these techniques are now an integral part of White Space technology. Of course, White Space applications have wider implications than rural broadband. Google has a clear business motivation in expanding the uptake of the Web and vendors like Dell and Microsoft could see PCs enabled by White Space technology (just like almost all PCs and laptops include WiFi today).


Any device that intends to use White Space channels for communication is deemed to be a White Space device.  White Space devices will be cognitive radio devices. In wireless communication, cognitive radio is a transceiver that can intelligently detect what communication channels are in use and what are not. It can then instantly move into vacant channels and avoid occupied ones. This optimises the use of available radio frequency spectrum while minimising interference to other users. All mobile devices are cognitive to some extent for example a cellular handset will select one of many frequency bands and standards or use Wi-Fi depending on the networks it finds. Cognitive technologies have been used in DECT phones and other devices to a smaller extent, but with White Space radios, cognitive technologies are an integral part of the operation due to the need to dynamically sense and select the frequency.


In the UK, Ofcom have issued a test/experimental licence around Cambridge. This allows companies in the UK to demonstrate White Space technology and its applications.

On June 29, 2011, one of the largest commercial tests of White Space Wi-Fi was conducted in Cambridge, England by a consortium comprising Microsoft, Adaptrum, Nokia, BSkyB, the BBC,  BT and Neul.  In the demonstration, a client-side Microsoft Xbox was able to stream live HD videos from the Internet and also a live Xbox/Kinect video chat was established between two Xbox/Kinect units connected through the same TV White Space connection. These applications were demonstrated under a highly challenging radio propagation environment including buildings, foliage, walls, furniture, people etc.. The objective is to test if White Space radios can coexist with each other, and with the existing broadcast transmissions.

In another trial conducted in the city of Wilmington, N.C, White Space wireless connectivity was used in surveillance cameras and environmental sensors in a smart city deployment. The network was used for three main applications: traffic cameras at intersections to provide real-time traffic monitoring, to wirelessly connect cameras in city parks to police for surveillance and to remotely monitor and manage wetland areas.

In another UK trial conducted by Cambridge consultants, social media tools like Twitter, Skype and YouTube were used over a White Space network. Similarly, Google and the Hocking Valley Community Hospital used White Space technology for various medical uses like First responder and its outdoor video surveillance system.


White Space networks ‘democratise’ wireless networks. Anyone can deploy a network without the need of a nationwide contract. This makes a big impact in the deployment of innovative applications especially where traditional networks do not extend easily. This includes pop-up (ad-hoc) networks for concerts. It also could include network applications in specific scenarios for instant connectivity for example ability to stream video from a fire fighter’s helmet to the fire engine outside.

Companies like Neul are deploying a ‘White Space network in a box’ through NeulNETNeulNET enables customers to operate your own White Space network that delivers up to 16Mb/s over 10Km range with excellent in building penetration. NeulNET uses frequency-hopping, by using different vacant 8MHz channel for each frame of data.


White Space devices have some unique characteristics. They need to transmit small amounts of data in ‘data gathering’ applications while operating in a chaotic/hostile environment. They need to have low power requirements and the ability to operate more than a decade. Neul has proposed the weightless protocol to cater for these requirements. Similar to the Bluetooth SIG, Neul will launch a SIG to standardise the weightless protocol. According to Neul, a Weightless network which can cover the entire country would cost only £50 million, and the spectrum to use it is free.

The IEEE 802.22 standard is designed for TV White Space frequencies also applies to White Space networks.


Based on the above, here is my analysis about White Space networks:

-       The industry has now moved beyond the political arguments of Broadcast networks/White Space networks and we are now moving to an era of actually building real networks and solving customer issues. This is a good development.

-       White Space networks have potential to unleash innovation by creating a new class of applications based on deploying networks in areas where traditional networks cannot be easily deployed(rural deployments, M2M etc)

-       The early impact of White Space networks will be in rural areas benefitting the consumer.

-       An ecosystem is emerging around white space applications with considerable support from traditional and new wireless entrants.

-       Many questions still remain – both technical and business model related. For example, should the database be bi-directional? Who will maintain such a database?

-       Finally, could the principles of cognitive radio be adopted into the wider telecoms spectrum management? Chunks of spectrum are claimed by Operators but remain unused. Will White Space technology and Cognitive radios cause a change in better management of Spectrum?

About Ajit Jaokar

-       Ajit Jaokar is an analyst and researcher. He blogs at His PhD research involves White Space applications for healthcare and privacy. He can be contacted at: ajit.jaokar at or via twitter @AjitJaokar


1)    First “White SpaceNetwork Launched – Technology Review

2)    White spaces (radio) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

3)    Microsoft, Dell, Spectrum Bridge launch first public white spaces

4)    White Space: The Next Big Thing in networks • The Register

5)    TV white space networks tested | Signal Strength – CNET News

6)    First “White Space” tweet suggests a solution for rural broadband

7)    Neul Launches ‘Weightless’ White Space Network | eWEEK Europe …

8)    Test networks offer glimpses of “white space” future

9)    First Tweet over White Space network demonstrates real solution for …

10) Networking Over White Spaces (KNOWS) – Microsoft Research

11) White space startup launches M2M network products » telecoms …

12) SenseLess: A Database-Driven White Spaces Network

13) Neul opens up on ‘white space‘ radio network

14) What You Need to Know About White Space Wi-Fi | PCWorld …

15) Is white space the key to greater broadband access? | Technically …

16) Cambridge Consultants send first tweet over white space – 29 Jun …

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 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 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:

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 ( 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( (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.

The spirit of London will prevail ..

There is an enchanting exhibit at Madame Taussads in London called ‘The Spirit of London’.

The spirit of London is a ride in a ‘black cab’ that takes you on a journey back in time through the history of London from Sir Francis Drake, Shakespeare, wars, famines, the blitz, the swinging sixties etc.

The point of that brief but magical ride is: The spirit of London prevails despite all that it encounters ...

Since the first time I saw it, many years ago, it has remained unchanged and I have seen it many times when I take visitors to Madame Taussads

Ironically, over the last three months, I happened to see the same ride thrice.

Once with my son, then with my sister when she was here from India and finally with my godson, when he was here from Germany.

After seeing it three times in as many months, I was getting a bit bored of it ..

But today, that ‘spirit of London’ has taken on a new meaning ..

The last week has witnessed unprecedented scenes of riots in London

The riot, as the great Dr Martin Luther King said, is the voice of the unheard ..

But the revered Dr King was referring to human rights and not the ‘right’ of the rioters to help themselves to designer shoes and HD TVs

Being born in India, and having seen real poverty, there is something strange about watching these rioters helping themselves to designer branded goods i.e. they are not helping themselves to ‘food’. (And in a curious twist, the homeless who probably do really lack food, are not rioting!)

In most parts of the world, poverty means ‘no food’.

These riots was not poverty driven

Strangely, in a span of a few weeks, we have gone from Royal weddings to riots.

But the spirit of London is strong in my view

As someone who runs a niche business in London, I am happy to call myselves a ‘capitalist’.

By that I mean, a capitalist is a ‘cathedral builder’ – someone who looks at a block of stone and adds value to it to build a cathedral.

And the strength of London, and its spirit, rests in that basic ‘creator’ ethos over the millennia

By capitalists, I mean the businesses like 150 year old House of Reeves, which was burnt down, but I am sure will rise from its ashes stronger with the support of the community and the small Turklish shopkeepers who defended their businesses

While even the likes of Robert Mugabe has taken it upon themselves to remind us that there are ‘no fires in Zimbabwe’ (but we should remind him that there are no free elections in Zimbabwe either!), this is a time to remind us of the spirit of London.

Finally, I cannot ignore the role of ‘mobile’ and ‘ad hoc networks’ in this riot.

What to make of the malevolent ‘flashmob’ driven by Blackberry messengers?

Mobile devices and technology are tools but they lead to fundamental changes in society (and I have been saying this in my books and blogs for a while – Would you hire a woman who maintained a f**k book in college and The girl named Facebook: The Russians (and the Egyptians and the Libyans and the Tunisians and ..) love their children too ).

Specifically, Internet related technologies are breaking down hierarchies and creating fluid, often ad-hoc networks, for better or for worse.

While our prime minister calls for a ‘fightback’ (and people in the UK will support any such efforts), the reality is: We are living in a new era where politicians are demonstrably less empowered.

What is the solution?

Maybe a decentralization of power and a reduction of hierarchy (aka – a more network oriented governance) – and there is already talk of that idea –  In this crisis, our cities need local leaders with real power and even ultimately to a more Swiss canton like system of government ?

This debate will continue but I believe that the spirit of London will prevail and will see us to a great Olympics in a year’s time

Image – Madame Taussads

Mobile mindshare: strategies for exploiting mobile web and applications for customer conversations By Ajit Jaokar and Nick Allott

All marketing is now dominated by two trends: Marketing is  becoming social and also Marketing is becoming  influenced by mobile devices.  Qs is: How can brands gain customer mindshare in this scenario?  Earlier this year, I announced that I will be working with Nick Allott on a new book and I am happy to announce the first of our two books.

Mobile mindshare: strategies for exploiting mobile web and applications for customer conversations By Ajit Jaokar and Nick Allott is all about using the mobile device to gain customer mindshare.

We address a simple question: If you have a business and you want to formulate a mobile strategy, what should you do to maximise customer mindshare?

After a long wait, the mobile era is well and truly upon us. But the age of mobile payments is still a year or two away. Instead, the mobile device has now become a ‘must have’ ingredient for interfacing with your customers, simply because most customers are accessing your site from mobile devices (including tablets)

This book first looks at what is mindshare (the customer behaviour) followed by customer touchpoints. We take a holistic view of the customer interaction and thus the customer touchpoints include: Mobile Web, Blog/wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, Google/SEO, Mobile apps(iphone, android, Blackberry and Nokia), Foursquare and Google Plus.

The real value lies in the connections between these touchpoints when linked to mobile devices i.e. using the ability to integrate and connect the dots between all of the above (which is the theme of the book)

We next discuss the Mobile Web and Mobile apps ecosystem including cross platform strategies (ex phonegap) and then the Principles of mobile experience and mobile design.

With this background, we can now discuss the core theme of this book i.e. how to maximise mindshare using all the customer touchpoints based on a mobile strategy i.e. connecting the dots

Finally, customer touchpoints would not be complete without the content, specifically content curation.

The book is based on live deployments of our apps

If you wish to know more about the book or it’s related workshop, please email me at ajit.jaokar at

A row of electric buttons – Google is not making us stupid it is making us like Henry Ford ..

My latest book is about the mind, meditation and its implications for human evolution..  Hence the findings that Google Is Ruining Your Memory to be interesting ..

A recent study suggests that even if you may have a little deficit in your memory with age, the internet is speeding up the process. Not because it’s damaging your memory, but because you’re simply using the internet as a crutch. The information is at your fingertips, so you don’t have to remember.

In my view, this ‘study’ follows a long line of similar work that states the obvious.

Others who have engaged in this scaremongering include the likes of  Nicolas Carr ( who seems to have made a career out of Internet bashing and Google bashing ..)  and the  neuroscientist Susan Greenfield who claims that social sites such as Facebook are causing alarming changes in the brains of little children.

But I believe that instead of making us less intelligent, the Internet is making us more intelligent by being selective .. and the model for that type of intelligence is Henry Ford

The findings of this study made me remember a section in Napolean Hill’s classic – Think and Grow Rich in which he describes how lawyers for a Chicago newspaper attempted to prove that Henry Ford was ‘ignorant’.

The attorneys asked Mr. Ford a great variety of questions, all of them intended to prove, by his own evidence, that, while, he might possess considerable specialized knowledge pertaining to the manufacture of automobiles, he was, in the main, ignorant.

Mr. Ford was plied with such questions as the following: “Who was Benedict Arnold?” and “How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?” In answer to the last question, Mr. Ford replied, “I do not know the exact number of the soldiers the British sent over, but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back.”

Finally, Mr. Ford became tired of this line of questioning, and in reply to a particularly offensive question, he leaned over, pointed his finger at the lawyer who had asked the question, and said, “If I should really want to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts.

… Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action.

There is a lot to be said for this response from Henry Ford and it indicates an optimistic evolution path for humanity!

That row of buttons is now Google and you don’t to be as rich as Henry Ford to have access to them at your fingertips. Thanks to the Web and the Internet, Information is now democratised ..

Book review – Internet of Things – Global Technological and Societal Trends Smart Environments and Spaces to Green

Book review: Internet of Things – Global Technological and Societal Trends Smart Environments and Spaces to Green ICT by Ovidiu Vermesan and Peter Friess

I have an interest in the Internet of things both from a business perspective but also from a PhD / research perspective. I have covered IOT before for ex How would the Internet of things look like if it were driven by NFC (vs RFID). Hence, I was interested in the book and the publishers kindly sent me a complimentary copy for review.

At around 95 euros, the book is clearly a reference book and I asked about the pricing / positioning of the book. The book is a collection of papers specifically written for the publication by various experts. In that sense, the papers are not available elsewhere (for example on Google Scholar) as I understand it. The editors, who are clearly well known in this space, have thus created a collection of papers on IOT with a specific perspective.

So, with that in mind, here are my comments

The book is a collection of papers each focussed on specific themes:

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 – focus on the IOT vision in Europe. IOT in Europe has a lot of visibility at the European commission and FP projects and EU documents are often complex and hard to read. Hence, these three chapters provide a good view of EU priorities, themes and research clusters

Chapter 4 is from Dr Alessandro Bassi of the iot-A project. This project is an ambitious attempt to create a reference architecture for IOT but the chapter itself is quite high level

Chapter 5 is from a good friend Rob van Kranenburg and as usual Rob takes a visionary, socio economic perspective of IOT and does a good job

Chapter 6 is from Prof Ken Sakamura who is one of the best known experts in this space. He provides a Japanese/ uiD perspective

Chapter 7 governs technologies, applications and governance in the Internet of things. This chapter covers technologies in detail but it is also written by Chinese authors. This makes it even more interesting for me since IOT has a lot of emphasis in China.

Chapter 8 discusses IOT from a perspective of mobile. This could be a whole book! But the chapter is very interesting albeit limited by the structure of one chapter.

Chapter 9. Opportunities and challenges for IOT technologies is a long chapter about technologies and future challenges like security, privacy etc. Again, this could be a whole book!

Chapter 10 is about IOT and network virtualization written by authors from ETRI in Korea, ETRI does some very cutting edge work so it is insightful

Chapter 11 is about interoperability, standardization and governance about IOT and chapter 12 is about Ipv6, IOT and M2M

My analysis:

This book is an excellent reference book and its core strength lies in providing a ‘on ramp’ for IOT and in multiple perspectives. IOT is complex and will develop differently in various geographies (for example China and EU). Each topic can be explored in detail but its nice to have a quick starting point for sectors(anyone who has seen IOT FP7 projects will agree that there is often too much documentation – rather than too little!)

Thus, there is a lot of value which the book brings

My only suggestion would be that perhaps that the editors could have provided greater editorial across the papers – ex their view on China, Japan etc. Since each of the authors are also well respected, readers get value from the specific chapters but maybe there could be more across the chapters.

Also, I could not find any emphasis on ‘Green ICT’ although the title suggests that. In any case, if you have a commercial/ research interest in this space, I would recommend it.

The publishers link is: River publishers – Internet of Things – Global Technological and Societal Trends Smart Environments and Spaces to Green ICT

Must read – Open Source – Sustainable Development by Nick Allott

Nick Allott writes a great blog (and it’s very long but well worth a read) on his blog about Open Source sustainable development

A synopsis is:

New software technology, whether PC or mobile, is now dominated by open source. Android, Chrome, Symbian , Webkit, Apache, Eclipse, Meego, Linux, Limo, Ubuntu, Mozilla, QT, Phonegap collectively and individually are powerful forces that determine not only the future directions of technology, but by implication the future successes of companies involved in any of the industries touched by these projects.

This article has a singular purpose: to explore what the shape and structure of a successful open source project looks like. And by success I mean not only, where is it today, but are the incentives there to sustain interest and development in the platform. For every open source success, there are many stagnating in a source code repository graveyard

In the context of webinos, the project I am currently working on, this is relevant for two reasons

1. We need to build on top of other open source operating systems. When we make the selection of which platforms to prioritise, we need to be aware of the risks and benefits of different open source project configurations
2. Webinos will itself be and open source project. When we construct the mechanics of its operations, we want to do so based upon best practice.

The reality of open source projects is that they require significant investment: hundreds of thousands of man hours in many cases. And this investment is in most cases corporately sponsored. Corporates require a return on investment; whether you can see it or not the company investing effort into a collaborative initiative such as an open source project is doing so for financial gain. Moreover, corporates are “compelled” to compete; shareholders expect returns above the market norm.

These considerations are essential if we are to build a sustainable healthy, open source community.

A successful, sustainable open source community requires that multiple competing companies must continue to invest, on and ideally equal basis, into the collaborative activity.

In this article, therefore I am going to cover several points.

1. Go over some of the theoretical background on and why companies do (and don’t) invest in open source, and also look at the principle dimensions of how they are legally constructed
2. Business models: an effective collaborations of corporates, more so than individuals, requires that all parties are comfortable with each others motivations. Why am I engaged? Why are you engaged?
3. Finally, Ill look at some evaluation metrics – can we establish the parameters by which we can evaluate the probable sustainability of an open source project. And to validate this look at how different platforms measure up.

The full post at: Open Source – Sustainable Development