Crippling the Internet through SOPA could kill off the next industrial revolution(s)






The shortsightness of the old media companies and often politicans has been illustruated by many as I pointed out in my last post on SOPA and the SOPA debate threatens to get ugly with Google threatening to break ties with the US chamber of commerce which supports SOPA  (and yahoo has already left)

But there is more ..

I believe that the short sightedness of the old media industry and SOPA could actually destroy two emerging business models based on the Internet

In the recent past, I have seen two convincing arguments for business models  based on the Internet that could be disruptive and beneficial for the economy
Firstly, Chris Anderson calls the next Industrial Revolution or ‘the long tail of things’  (and you could extend that to include also 3D printing ) 

Both of these models depend on the Internet 

These are growth sectors and SOPA could kill them because it effectively cripples the Internet

There is a chasm between the cause and the effect in the old media arguement.Yes, content sales are down. yes there is piracy.But that’s not the only reason for the lack of content sales.A more likely cause is the sheer choice that people now have to watch content.Which means that the old media industry should change their business models instead of proposing draconian laws which hamper the consumers, sabotage innovation and destroy the competitiveness of our economies.Also see Web censorship day and Dan Gillmor in the Guardian


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:

Why the two sided business model does not apply to telecom operators

I have been thinking of this since I attended the LTE world summit in Amsterdam.

The two sided business model has been used by many in the industry, especially @Telco2, to point to a potential gold mine for Operators by comparing to the Web.

While the concept has been popularised recently by Telco2, the two sided business model is a generic idea in macro-economics and in this post, I am going to consider the two sided business model from first principles.

I believe that it is wishful thinking to consider that the two sided business model applies to Telecom Operators.

Two-sided markets , also called two-sided networks, are economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits. Credit cards are one such example: Consumers prefer credit cards honoured by more merchants and merchants prefer cards carried by more consumers.

When applied to Telecom Operators, the two sided business model is perceived to have two sets of customers: The downstream customers (millions of consumers) and the smaller set of ‘upstream’ customers – specifically verticals such as healthcare, retail, media etc

However, when we look back at the definition of the Two sided business model, the Operative word is to ‘gain network effects’ i.e. the platform, in this case, the Operator, is supposed to facilitate network effects on both sides

The reason I question the feasibility of the two sided to Telecom Operators is: I do not see how the Operator provides network effects on either side.

A classic example of network effects is the fax machine or the telephone. The more people own a fax machine or a telephone, the more valuable it is to each owner. In other words, every subsequent user adds value to the whole system.

Do we really believe that subsequent users of the Telco platform add value to all other users of the platform?

Now, consider the ‘other’ side.

When considering network effects(fax machine concepts) to two sided business models, the members of each group exhibit a preference regarding the number of users in the other group (cross-side network effects). If firms account for the fact that adoption on one side of the network drives adoption on the other side, they can do better.

We are not seeing any examples of such behaviour (cross side network effects) when the Telecom Operator is a platform

So, not only is the Telecom Operator platform not demonstrating scale (on it’s own side of the platform) but nor is it demonstrating cross side network effects on the ‘other side’.

Let’s consider a concrete example: Network APIs (when applied to Operators)

Yes, network APIs have value to the customer but they do not provide network effects.

Contrast this to Apple and it’s developer ecosystem

Here, we do see a two sided business model ..

By many standards, that ecosystem is also ‘closed’ (ex approval of apps) but, critically, it DOES achieve scale on both sides of the platform (In this case, developers and consumers).

In contrast, the Operator as a platform is (relatively) closed, fragmented and not globally interconnected. The Telco platform is confined in most parts to one country or a group of countries where the customers are not necessarily constrained to using the Telco app (ex they could get the same service from an app from the device maker or from downloading the app from the web on to their phone). The same applies to all such ‘upstream’ customers – ex Retail, health care etc etc in relation to the Operator.

The fallacy lies in applying the ideas of the two sided business model to the Network Operator just because ‘Google / Facebook etc are doing it’. .

Ironically, the Apple developer ecosystem succeeds even when it is closed precisely because it manages to use the principles of the two sided business model to create network effects

Taking a more formal, mathematical approach in the paper Two-Sided Markets: A Progress Report – pdf Jean-Charles Rochet Jean Tirole conclude that

Because all markets involve transactions between two (or more) parties and therefore are potential two-sided markets, it is useful to circumscribe the scope of two-sided-markets theory.
The first objective of the paper has been to propose such a definition: A market is two-sided if the platform can affect the volume of transactions by charging more to one side of the market and reducing the price paid by the other side by an equal amount; in other words, the price structure matters, and platforms must design it so as to bring both sides on board.

Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole ‘s formal mathematical analysis makes a lot of sense to me because it takes network effects into account and in that context, I cannot see how these ideas apply to Telecom Operators.

To conclude:
The idea of a two sided business model is intertwined with the idea of creating network effects.

The two concepts (two-sided business models and network-effects) cannot be separated.

Hence, the two sided business model does not apply to telecoms because there is no evidence that the Operator platform can nurture scale on both sides of the platform (cross-side network effects)

Image: the roman god Janus – who can see on both sides – but is mythical :)
Image source: flickr

This network based API feature could be a game changer .. but I doubt the Telcos can deliver it ..

@peggyanne invited me to a tweetchat today, What are the key issues and trends in the mobile app economy? my first.

It was a great experience with some good, insightful conversation and great people in the discussion

After the chat, I thought of this:

I would love this network based API feature but I doubt the telcos can deliver it ..

The feature is: Use network based APIs to tell me in advance the cost of a service OR tell me immediately afterwards the cost of the service.

- How much did the last web session cost?

- How much will this MMS cost?

- How much will this photo cost to upload?

If that happened, it would be a true game changer

Operators would be truly solving a customer problem and would get the customer on their side.

Services like Facebook would have to work with network APIs to help customers better

Services that hog network bandwidth would be transparent

All would benefit

I am pessimistic though

It would require genuine interconnect between operators and transparency and a desire to act rather than react ..

That’s why I doubt Operators could deliver this ..

But if they could, it would be a game changer ..


Why did Gartner fail to spot 77 million devices and what it means for prediction methodologies ..

In a recent analysis, Gartner failed to spot 77 million devices from emerging Indian and Chinese manufacturers

Unverified sources in the Guardian article point to a leaning towards: preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. and . Thing is, real executives got real compensation based on our numbers ..

Then again, over at Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt was contacted by someone who says they used to work at Gartner, and analysed the PC market – “but the methodolgy is the same for phones”. (You can find their comment below the main article, timed at 11.29; the comments run in reverse chronological order.)

S/he says, inter alia:

“So, in 3Q98, I analyzed the “choke points,” those parts of the supply chain where the channel narrowed enough to get a definitive count. At the time, it was OS, processor, graphics, and hard drive. As I recall, I found 20 million processors with no homes. The market at the time was about 100 million, so this was a 20% discrepancy.

“The process that ensued was a marvel of obfuscation. The leader of the Tracker team figured out a way to rationalize away all the extra units (e.g., multiprocessor servers, inventory, speculation, etc.). It was politically impossible to force the extra units on the regions because it would introduce gross distortions to the historical trends.

So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. Even the growth rates are fiction. The fudge is in the “others” category, which is used as a plug to make the numbers work out. In fairness, we did do survey work, calling around, and attending white box conferences and venues to try to get a feel for that market, but in the end, the process was political. I used to tell customers which parts of the data they could trust, essentially the major vendors by form factor and region. The rest was garbage.

The industry itself was aware of these issues, but agreed to maintain the fiction because it was convenient. Most vendors kept their own numbers, but referred to IDC for public purposes. Thing is, real executives got real compensation based on our numbers. There were other games played, but that’s for another time.”

This is familiar territory. The analyst forecasts for Location based services in early 2000s are now laughable

“Successful plays in mobile data will ultimately exploit that which makes wireless unique. There is an element inherent to wireless that wired networks, by definition, will never possess – untethered mobility. Mobility, and hence location, is therefore a critical attribute to be exploited by all involved in the wireless value chain,” said Cliff Raskind, Sr. Industry Analyst with Strategy Analytics.

My view is:

Analysts can work on incremental trends

These are nice to ‘model’

These models have their accompanying assumptions

Mainly to protect the analysts anatomy ..

But ..

Disruptive trends are not incremental ..

The cannot be modelled by applying an incremental formula to a historical trend

Thats why LBS trends were so wrong(Google, foursquare etc are the big winners for LBS) and thats why the unconfirmed report in the Guardian “So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers” about Gartner’s methodology is so interesting .. more so because much of the industry analysis is geared towards what the industry(in this case Operators) want to hear

But its not only Gartner ..

The process which analysts use to ‘predict’ works only under incremental conditions where it has limited utility for sure, but the methodology fails to detect disruptive trends

See also: With the warp speeds of android, can Klingons win or do we need faster features?

Image: rajkumar1220 on Flickr

Would you hire a woman who maintained a f**k book in college

Tony Fish has a set of new rules for the social media age.

As a collection, they are interesting but they made me think ..

We value ‘online reputation’

We ask the younger generation to be careful ..

We threaten them that NO one would employ them if they found out about what they did in college ..

Now .. consider this recent incident ..

Duke university graduate Karen Owen, 22, put together a mock “thesis,” comparing and rating her sexual conquests from her sophomore year to her senior year of college. The elaborate Powerpoint presentation included names, pictures, graphs and ratings. This ‘fuck book’ went public on the Internet with predictable concerns on privacy violation and outrage from the University.

One could say that the fuss was more because she was a woman.

Some of this is not safe to read at work but the links are
Karen Owen’s Duke Sex-Rating PowerPoint Goes Viral

And the title of her thesis is colourfully entitled: “An Education Beyond The Classroom: Excelling In The Realm Of Horizontal Academics,”. In the report, she describes the men she’s slept with in near-scientific detail and even provides charts ranking their sexual prowess.

Qs is:

You could argue that she has LOST her reputation.

BUT Would you HIRE her as an employee after she left college?

My view is: Why not????

Who cares what she did in college?

For that matter, who cares what someone posts in their private life even if they are employed as long as it does not affect the work?

For the record, I believe she has got a few publishing offers and the sheer imagination and innovation should be commended

(Note that in this post, I am not referring to the privacy of the other people affected – I am discussing the reputation of the writer of this document – also note that she did not publish it herselves but rather a friend did, hence a far lesser crime)

So, would you employ someone with a similar history in college?

Is this whole trend hyped?

Are we forcing our values/norms/morals on the next generation?

Image – huffington post

Would we need wikileaks if journalists did their jobs?

Whichever side of the argument you are on, you have to wonder: Would we need wikileaks if mainstream journalists did their jobs in the first place?

It seems that all the journalists are left reporting on wikileaks when presumably they are paid for getting the truth ..

After all, in 2003, we have ‘embedded journalists‘ for the first time covering the war

Interesting that none of them seem to have discovered anything unusual and all their stories were remarkably consistent

The next time Rupert Murdoch talks of the value of journalism, we should remind him of this .. i.e. by all means journalism has value but what we saw recently was definitely not valuable journalism which is why charging for online news and content will be increasingly a poor model since in retrospect, there was little of value getting one sided information

The Web, thus upholds the values of society such as freedom and liberty much better than what the old media could

The converged future of the Web, Cloud, mobility and sensors: A polymath approach

I am an inventor.I became interested in long term trends because an invention has to make sense in the world in which it is finished, not the world in which it started Ray Kurzweil

The title of this blog was inspired by the quote from Ray Kurzweil who could be considered one of the few polymaths today. In an age of specialization, there are very few polymaths who can see many different domains and more importantly can see the interconnections between these domains.

In a recent talk, I used this quote and then proceeded to elaborate the interconnections between the Web, Cloud and Sensor networks. So, I am trying to outline a converged vision and then work backwards to ‘connect the dots’ so to speak that point to the vision i.e. how would a polymath (someone like Ray Kurzweil) do this?

This blog is based on that talk.

The blog is really a collection of key links / interconnections and trends that I see today which point to a converged future in the evolution of the Web, Cloud, Mobility and sensor networks.

So, the talk combined both long term trends (evolution of the Web, Cloud, Mobility and sensors) but also short term trends that I see today which point to that future.

What would this converged vision look like?

Here are some pointers. Some initial notes for what this vision could mean

1) I used the analogy of a magic want based on a childhood favourite cartoon character Wendy the good little witch to illustrate the idea that interconnect for Internet of things could be achieved via the Cloud by using sensor based mobile devices – kind of like waving the phone as a magic wand to trigger sensors via the cloud which will trigger new services … If we swish our phone and all these new services are triggered off, then the vision of converged services is fulfilled. If we ‘swish’ and nothing happens, we have effectively failed to get convergence and interoperability

2) Secondly, If all media were to be converged, then I would have a ‘wikipedia’ button on my Sky Remote
I don’t need two government funded TV channels – I need a wikipedia button on my Sky remote ..

3) But against this is the privacy equation which I summarize in the Silence of the Chips

So, if we then work backwards, there are some key areas which impact this vision:

1) The Ecosystem and Open source

2) Connected devices + Sensors

3) Web + Web run time

4) Privacy

5) Capturing context

I then worked back to see which are the key trends in these areas that I see today.

This is the content of the talk and this post.

The Ecosystem and Open source

Shrinking value of twitter ecosystem ..
When twitter starts to assert itself in it’s ecosystem, the value of it’s ecosystem declines

facebook uses open source to scale
Facebook is using a whole range of open source technologies to scale.
LAMP stack + Memcached: memory object caching system: Hadoop develops open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing : Cassandra: Distributed storage system for managing structured data: Hive: data warehouse infrastructure built on top of Hadoop : HipHop: which transforms PHP source code into a highly optimized C++.: Scribe: Facebook logs approximately 25 terrabytes of data a day. so Facebook developed Scribe to log data streamed in real time from a large number of servers: Thrift: Thrift provides a framework for scalable cross-language services development in C++, Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby.

open source givers and takers
There is a mismatch between Open source givers and takers
while 69 percent of the companies Accenture surveyed plan to increase their open source investment in the next year, only 29 percent plan to contribute back to the open source community.


On Aug 10, 2010, machines outnumbered humans as subscribers for both AT&T and Verizon human subscribers for ATT and VZW – Aug 10,2010

Trailer for arduino documentary gets 75,000 views in a day

HP CenSE, IBM Smarter cities and Pachube

The data explosion Mayer (Google) 5 exabytes of data online in 2002, which had risen to 281 exabytes in 2009.
That’s a growth rate of 56 times over seven years.
Partly, she said, this has been the result of people uploading more data.
The average person uploaded 15 times more data in 2009 than they did just three years ago.
Speed (real-time data);
Scale (“unprecedented processing power”);
Sensors (“new kinds of data”).

The European Parliament takes the view that Internet of Things will be intrinsically linked to the trust
“(The European Parliament) takes the view that the development of new applications and the actual functioning and business potential of the Internet of Things will be intrinsically linked to the trust European consumers have in the system, and points out that trust exists when doubts about potential threats to privacy and health are clarified“

AT&T sees M2M as high value bits
AT&T said it was providing connectivity to everything from dog collars that broadcast a pet’s location to pill bottles that will remind you to take your. The irony here is that M2M connectivity in many ways represents the dumb pipe future that AT&T is so worried about but AT&T executives explained that the number of bits sent via the network are high-margin bits and the machine-to-machine clients have very low churn. Total wireless operating margin rose for the carrier to 44.5 percent.


“Privacy was once free. Publicity was once ridiculously expensive.
“Now the opposite is true: You have to pay in a mix of cash, time, social capital, etc. if you want privacy.”

Ping wants to make privacy an asset so does Diaspora; Facebook continues to go the other way By allowing your friends to check you in at a location ; Quit facebook day – only 34,000 users vowed to “quit Facebook” and remember, committing to quit and actually quitting aren’t the same thing.

Privacy violation vs privacy harm – Dr Ryan carlo

FTC – “We’ve put too much burden on the consumers to understand these policies,”

There are other ways in which data benefits society
There are other ways in which data benefits society.
benefits as: Shopping, Relationships(dating), Business deliveries(ex courier services), Maps, Education(schools), Politics(openlylocal), Society (social and spatial relationships through location data), War (wikileaks), Advertising, Linked data and the future.

Danah Boyd Privacy Is Not Dead
The way privacy is encoded into software doesn’t match the way we handle it in real life. The reason for this disconnect is that in a computational world, privacy is often implemented through access control. Yet privacy is not simply about controlling access. It’s about understanding a social context, having a sense of how our information is passed around by others, and sharing accordingly. As social media mature, we must rethink how we encode privacy into our systems.

Web run time, HTML5 and the evolution of the Web

The power of HTML5 Arcadefire

Hardware acceleration

Chromium labs – open source browser that Chrome is based on

Chrome web store

But imagine if Verizon offered Chrome OS netbooks at a subsidized price if you buy a data plan.

Cloud-to-Device Messaging — Through an API, (from froyo)

Google TV – developer ecosystem(also browser driven?)

Web TV The race for £117bn global TV advertising market


One of the best definitions of mobile context from my good friend C Enrique Ortiz

A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data Bruce Schnier

Bruce Schnier’s taxonomy of social data Service data, Disclosed data, Entrusted data, Incidental data, Behavioral data and Derived data

So, thats how I see the vision and the trends today which point to that vision. Comments welcome

Image: Ray Kurzweil

AT&T, Easyjet and fixed rate pricing: Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it

wishing well easyjet fixed tiered pricing.jpg

Earlier this week, I was speaking to a telecoms exec who said that the biggest problem in the industry is lack of spectrum, the data tsunami etc etc etc .. (Same old story – seen mainly from the Operator perspective .. ). At which point, I interrupted him and asked him:. Did he not mean that it was LAST week’s biggest problem?

In other words, now that the industry has accepted tiered pricing last week with AT&T (and I don’t have any objections to it as long as it is transparent and specific applications are not banned) .. The data tsunami problem may be behind us ..

So, NOW, the onus is on the Operators to deliver .. Since the tiered pricing structures exist. (Or will soon exist) everywhere.

Ironically, this means that there will be MORE customer and regulatory pressures on Operators to be transparent and clear about their pricing

All networks have a very basic problem i.e. it is hard to price a network service since it does not follow a basic ‘cost plus’ model.

That simple reality is painfully apparent in another type if network.. Airlines ..

On a recent trip to Berlin, I realized that the airline easyjet charges 19 pounds for a single piece of checkin baggage (i.e.. the first bag we check in). This is very ridiculous and adhoc and there is no real justification for that price (The same idea applies to pricing tickets very expensively close to the time of departure i.e. the pricing is independent of the cost of the ticket and also to complex tariffs on mobile devices)

In fact, that’s why fixed rate pricing worked in the first place i.e. customers understood it (the option was pricing which customers never understood and that meant they never used the services)

Now that we have tiered pricing, we have the following effects:

a) Operators will see profits and returns from their network investments

b) But on the same token, they have now lost the excuse of the bandwidth hogs

c) This means, they need to be more responsible for their shortcomings(there is no one to blame)

d) Operators will need to be more transparent with their customer since there is an element of complexity

One effect of this scenario is: Operator may ACCEPT the ‘golden pipe model’(a money making pipe!).

In other words, they will see a steady income from the tiered pricing structure and not be motivated to compete on the services front (which they will leave to handset vendors and developers since carriage will be more profitable). They will EXTEND the network to domains where the network itself has an advantage since once the network investment is made, the incremental costs are zero. This means areas like Machine to Machine – Internet of things/ Smart Grids/Secure Cloud/Mobile healthcare/ Digital signage/ Smart cars etc will be a priority

Ultimately, this is good for the industry and also good for the Operator itself.

But now that tiered pricing is being accepted and it has implications as I indicate above, the Operators may well be reminded of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it :)

Image: A wishing well Source Stonehillgraphics

The holy cow of net neutrality: Should Operators be the only ones feeling guilty about net neutrality and are we confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing?

holy cow of net neutrality and tiered pricing.jpg

This could be an interesting and controversial blog ..

It elaborates a question I asked at the LTE world summit event in Amsterdam where I was an analyst / speaker. BTW, The Informa LTE world summit event is fast becoming a must attend event in the Telco space globally. It brings the Operator community together but also the rest of the ecosystem thinking about the ‘Beyond 3G’ vision. And it was a great event!

I asked this question in the panel session Open Networks and Net Neutrality – Does it Prevent Operators from Developing a Subscriber Centric Pricing and Service Strategy?.

The panelists were: Kim Kyllesbech Larsen, EVP Technology Service & International Network Economics,T-Mobile International, The Netherlands; Jonathan Morgan, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Starent Networks, USA(now Cisco), Dimitris Mavrakis, Senior Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media, UK, John Yeomans, Director, First Capital, UK and Jean Claude Perrin – Vice President of LTE at Gemalto

Essentially, my question was: Should Operators be the only people feeling guilty about net neutrality? and by extension – are we confusing tiered pricing with net neutrality?

Below is an extended version of my argument elaborating the question ..

The concept of Net Neutrality for Telecoms cannot be viewed in isolation ..

According to wikipedia: Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet Service Providers or governments on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as communication that unreasonably degrades other traffic.

For most people, this is a valid definition ..

However, putting this in content, Net neutrality originates in context of the Web/Internet. And today, ironically we find that the Web players are violating the net neutrality principles.

Here are some examples:

If Twitter is a platform, then Twitter should be agnostic of services i.e. in a purest sense, Twitter should let OTHERS create services on its platform and should itself focus on creating the ideal/agnostic platform. However, we find that increasingly Twitter is getting into the services game – for instance in its acquisition of Tweetie. NY times says(and I agree)

Twitter, which has flourished thanks to tools built by outside developers, is taking more of those tools under its own wing. In a move that is sure to rattle its developers, Twitter has agreed to acquire Atebits, the start-up that makes the Tweetie apps for using Twitter on Mac computers and iPhones. The acquisition price was not disclosed. This signals a new strategy, as Twitter makes its first foray into providing a mobile and desktop client itself. On Friday, Twitter also announced that it helped Research In Motion build an official Twitter app for BlackBerrys.

Also consider the Facebook-Zynga episode(Zynga is makers of Farmville based on Facebook ) and Zynga almost came close to leaving Facebook and now the two have a five year truce. The issue centers around Face book credits(facebook’s currency) which FB wanted to push upon the developers(of which Zynga is one). Gigaom says ..

By way of background, though Facebook and Zynga have had a mutually beneficial co-dependent relationship for the last couple years, it’s gotten ugly lately. Facebook wants to push forward with its own standardized currency — Facebook credits — within applications on its platform. It sprung this on app developers at a particularly bad time, just after reducing functionality for them to notify their users, resulting in significant active usage drops. And worse, Facebook is taking a 30 percent cut of all credits, just like Apple does on its iPhone platform, but without justifying such a large share by adding new functionality or marketing beyond what it’s long given away for free. App developers were particularly concerned that Facebook would, as it fully rolls out the credits program, require them to use it exclusively and disallow cheaper options like PayPal.

Commercially, the key observation is: while the innovators and early adopters might care two hoots about using an “official app”, it is the next wave of people that are the low-hanging fruit.

So, we see that the NET players are violating the net neutrality principles ..

Now, what are the implications for Telecoms?

1) By net neutrality principles, any device should be able to connect to the network. The network should not discriminate against a specific device or a service

2) However, in my view, that does not rule out tiered pricing. If we start with the proposition that the cellular network is not free i.e. it has value and if we agree to the idea that the network should not discriminate against a SPECIFIC application, then there is nothing which says that a network can have tiered pricing for ALL applications provided it is transparent to the customer. In other words, the idea of net neutrality needs to be separated from tiered pricing and this works as long as specific applications are not blocked and there is transparency for the customer

3) What could this mean in a wider context for Telecoms? Consider that any device can attach to the network. That’s fine. But now, suppose the Operator sells a camera with a priceplan. The camera allows you to take video and pictures and upload them on ‘one click’ to the network. To do this of course, we need the network to be used. So, there needs to be a ‘policy management function’ on the camera which provides the network services for a fee. That may well be the SIM card but conceptually, such a policy management function could exist. Note that this is not to say that ALL cameras should have a SIM card. It is saying that the NETWORK OPERATOR could get in the business of selling connected cameras. Conceptually, this is the same as what Twitter and Facebook are doing

4) There are other ways of course to handle the whole issue of data deluge which is also related to the whole subject. Example – Fixed line demise: Could we be wrong after all?

5) One could argue that the net neutrality argument strictly applies to the packet level and not always to the service layer. This would put DPI (Deep packet inspection) under net neutrality scrutiny and that’s a valid argument

I had to leave the conference after this session so could not stay much longer for other questions but someone asked me outside what Operator I worked for :) They don’t read my blog(OpenGardens) obviously. But seriously, its exactly BECAUSE I talk of OpenGardens that I can see both sides of the issue that I could raise the question

To conclude:

1) Net neutrality is a word which comes with too much baggage. Perhaps it is time to create a new term and to reframe the discussion. At the LTE conference, Dean Bubley mentioned ‘Happy Pipes’ instead of ‘Dumb Pipes’. That overcomes the dichotomy of ‘Over the top’ vs. ‘Under the ground’. I posted this same idea in 2006 when I said that Pipes are so Mobile Web 1.0 … because in a user generated content world, there is no ‘un pipe’

2) If viewed in a wider context, then no one really is ‘net neutral’ including many of the Web players like Facebook and Twitter

3) Transparency is the key .. as is customer acceptance. Today, when people talk of moving away from fixed rate pricing .. they forget the options (non use by the customer – as many Telecoms services like MMS will testify). Nothing will work unless we get the customer on our side!

In either case, a debate is valid and I think we are mixing two things: confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing and maybe they need to be separated.

Comments welcome

Image source: Rick London/Joel Coughlin