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Building the right mobile app November 2, 2006

Posted by rajAT in india, mobile, startup.
1 comment so far

Well the title over promises. I am not going to dole out lot of gyan for building the right app for the mobile. Just narrating some experience that I had in Delhi. One of the mobile enthusiasts there asked me if I can give some feedback on their idea that he and his friend have been mulling over. I was delighted as he thought me worthy enough for the job. We met at PVR Saket. I bet not a great place to meet and discuss mobile VAS. There is so much girls around ‘Value getting created‘ and we are missing all the fun ‘Value not captured‘ :). The idea was interesting and guys have done some homework as in how to build the app. I was impressed at that. But then when I asked some of they important questions as in

a. What is the business model ?

b. How the value is getting created in the value chain ?

c. Are they capable to capture that value for themselves ?

d. What is the USP ?

And numerous others on the same lines. There were no clear answers for any of them. They were mixing the USP with other things and there were whole lot of other issues. Guys took it coolly. Meeting ended.

Today while browsing I found some more interesting tips by Sprint’s Vice President for Partner Development and Product Innovation Paul Reddick. Here they are –

1. Know thyself — consider your scope carefully and be specific of what you do that is better than everything out there.
2. Know if you are a mass market or a niche application — mass market is hard to get right, because it has to be popular to such a wide audience. But also if you’re a niche application don’t expect to be placed on the deck.
3. Educate objectively before selling passionately — carriers see a lot of ideas, don’t oversell it.
4. Admit what you’ve accomplished versus trying to sell what is really a work in progress.
5. Be specific about what you want from the carrier. And know what the carrier has deployed in the market — at CTIA he says he had a guy pitching him an application that they had launched three years ago.
6. Provide differentiation.
7. Adapt to new models — he gives the example of Sprint bundling applications with the handset, which he says is a risky move and a big shift for Sprint.
8. Leverage new capabilties — like WiMAX.
9. Avoid asking him why your application can’t be on the Sprint’s deck — he says he hears a sense of entitlement. Go off deck.
10. His team focuses on finding innovation that can fix technology and service bottlenecks. Keep that in mind.

But all salutes to the guys for their passion. I sincerely hope they might be either refining their plans or thinking on new lines.

All luck.


W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries October 4, 2006

Posted by rajAT in bangalore, digital divide, india, mobile, w3c.

The “W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries” aims to understand specific challenges of mobile Web access within Developing Countries, in terms of their needs, blocking factors, and potential usages.The aim of this workshop is to gather experts in Mobile Web technologies and experts in Developing Countries and on the Digital Divide so that challenges and issues are clearly identified and tackled appropriately in a near future with the help of standardization bodies like W3C and its Mobile Web Initiative.

The goal of the workshop is to provide input to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative to identify which areas would be most important to focus on to help bridge the digital divide. The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Analysis of the potential demand for data service / mobile web access in Developing Countries
  • Key applications to leverage the development/use of mobile web in Developing Countries
  • Regional differences in Asia/Africa/Central Europe/Middle East/South America/…
  • Analysis of Mobile Web usage in Developing Countries
  • Real-world projects relying on Mobile Web access in Developing Countries
  • Usage of Mobile Web technologies in emergency responses in rural areas
  • Analysis on the way the Mobile Web could improve people lives in Developing Countries (education, healthcare,…)
  • Challenges to make the Mobile Web really useful (not just usable)
  • Analysis of the main value added of the Mobile Web vs. a mobile phone (voice only) vs. a computer in an Internet cafe? :
    • Are cheap PC a competing platform to web-enabled phones ?
    • can a web-enabled phone play the same role in Developing Countries as the PC at home in Western Countries ?
  • Role of voice and multimodal technologies/applications
  • Technical challenges to have web-enabled phone being the alone/primary way to access the Web
    • Content authoring from a mobile phone ?

Date – 5/6 December 2006

Venue – Bangalore, India

Mobile as Universal Remote Control @ Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, barcamphyderabad2, IIIT, intelligent buildings, mobile.
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Prof. Vishal from  Centre of IT in Building Science, IIIT-H gave a very interesting talk. It added a whole new dimension to the things that can be done with the mobile phone.

The idea of Mobile as a Universal Remote is not new but the thought that your mobile will talk to the buildings is definitely interesting.

The best part of using mobile as a remote control is that you doesnt have to learn new interfaces. I personally have found it very irritating whenever I am at a new place and I have to get my way through a new remote control.

And remote control clutter is surely increasing, there should be a way to get rid of them.

A demo was also given by Prof Vishal and was appreciated by the audience.

Barcamp Hyderabad 2 July 14, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamphyderabad, mobile.


All are welcome for the event.

Lots of interesting talks, discussions and demos are lined up.

Registration is compulsary, please do it at wiki.

Above poster is done by Krishna.

Webaroo @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, entrepreneur, india, internet, mobile, technology.

webaroo.JPGWebaroo guys explained about their product. I have ranted about it earlier here.

Webaroo is a free software program and service that lets you search and browse real web pages without a connection. It lets you take the web with you. Webaroo stores searchable web content on your laptop, PDA or smart phone.Your content is updated every time you connect to the internet.

Well the idea of carrying a copy of internet on your laptop or pda is mind boggling. Yeah , yeah they don’t put the whole world wide web but the subset you are interested in.

I am not sure how much of a success will it be in developed societies where connectivity is not a problem. But yeah in India it does make sense.

They are trying to moentize by showing the contextual advertisements along with the content you are seeing through webaroo. Some debates have cropped up that how can you monetize by showing someones content and putting you own advertisements. Rahul from Webaroo gave the example that Google is doing the same. Hmm.

It is an interesting start. Lets see how things will go for them in future. All the best guys. 🙂

PS: Webaroo is started by IIT B alumni and is incubated at SINE – IIT Bombay.

Mobile Computing @ Barcamp Pune June 18, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barcamp, barcamppune, mobile, technology.

The first talk I attended was of Atul Chitnis. The topic was Mobile Computing – Think beyond the PC. Atul has given an excellent talk on the topic. He used no jargon butatul1.JPG lots of examples to explain the idea that in coming times digital accessories will be very much part of our lifes. He defined digital accessories as the small gizmos which are always there with you. You don’t go to them. e.g. To switch on a music system you will go to it and switch it on. I know remote is there but maybe switch the main power. I think you got the idea what I am trying to say. But digital accessories like pda’s are always there with you in your pocket like your wallet.

Normally people complain that these gizmos have got small screens or are clunky and are slow or have less space. The Moore’s law will take care of the latter. Memory is getting cheaper. Technology is improving day by day which will surely improve the mobile digital experience. Coming on to the screen part. Atul has used very interesting examples to explain that size doesn’t matter.

A cinema hall screen when viewed from 30-40 feet away has the same impression on a viewer as compared to small pda screen when viewed from a distance of less than a feet. Interestingly, Mobil Extra is running a campaign where the long distance is crunched between a thumb and an index finger. I think that will give you an idea of the perspective. In short, a small screen if it is in your hand will give you the same if not more experience as compared to a bigger experience kept at a distance.

I agree to all this but I think the renewed interest in mobile computing is not because that users have suddenly found them interesting. Users have always rewared them – case in point Sony Walkman. If there is a compelling use case and there is a gizmo that accomplishes it beautifully, consumers are going to just buy it like crazy.

After the presentation I and Atul discussed what is going to be the next Mobile Computing device. Atul is all for the Personal Media Device sans Mobile Phone but I think that the next generation Mobile phones or Smart phones will have all the capabilities of Personal Media device. It makes a lot more sense for a person to carry a single device. Otherwise he will carry a mobile phone, iPod, another gizmo with big screen for movies and browsing the web. This seems a bit far fetched to me. It is difficult to maintain 3 devices – one has to check that they are all charged up. Just couple of times if you found that your favourite, next generation, portable, music player is dead ( no charge ), I am sure you will become a convert i.e. get hooked to converged, smart mobile phone. 🙂

In the end, how much space does a woman has in her purse anway. 😀

Indian Outdoor Advertising June 12, 2006

Posted by rajAT in advertising, india, marketing, media, mobile.

oac2.JPGThis weekend I attended Outdoor Advertising Convention in Mumbai. The conference was a great learning experience. I am a technologist, the insights that I got in the conference about the evolving outdoor advertising industry in the country was worth the time and the money. 🙂

The first question that will come to everybody’s mind is what I was doing at an advertising conference and too a specific one – Outdoor. Let us take them one by one? Why an advertising conference? The only sustainable business model on internet is selling advertisements. So why not learn a bit more about it from the pundits itself. Oh yeah, I know they all are traditional model and will not work on the new media but it is important to know the roots. And why outdoor ? The only niche in the ad industry which has remained untouched by new media is the OOH (Out of Home) media. Outdoor ad spend has only increased over the years, but print and TV are fighting a dull and losing war with the internet.

Conference started on a high note as Rahul Welde, GM, Media Services, HLL tried to reinforce the point that Indian outdoor could soon become a $1 billion industry. His growth strategy was two fold – Value and Volumes, only latter was high on his agenda. More volumes will come as new roads are being laid in the whole country, big malls are coming everywhere. So he stressed there is a need to come up with a strategy to tap these new opportunities. How more value will be delivered from the existing urban billboards or street furniture, his answer was not very conclusive. There is so much litter these days in the urban outdoor space. The only strategy that is used to attract people attention towards a billboard is putting up a beautiful model. Interestingly, throughout out his presentation he kept on stressing that outdoor is passive and static. During the question answer round I asked him that why cannot we use barcodes to make outdoor interactive. He said he cannot comment on barcodes but bluecasting might work.

There were lots of foreign companies (Clear Channel, News Outdoor Group, Kinetic, Aconda SA, Out of Home Media SA, Posterscope) that are trying to get a pie of Indian Outdoor advertisement market. In their presentation they tried to answer why they are here – Because India is growing, Because Indian GDP is yada yada. Clear Channel the world leader in Outdoor media is in India from last 8 years and has not been able to make a great impact till now. The reasons are unknown but it seems they are not able to understand the Indian market or come in terms with it. But the good point is that spirits are still very high and they still see a good future in India ahead.

Eric Newman, Global CEO of Kinetic showcased some of new things that will be coming in digital billboards. The thrust in digital will come because the product companies want to change their messages daily. The days of 6 months or 3 months campaign are out. These days the campaigns run in weeks. This kind of flexibility and speed is possible only with digital billboards. But the next big thing will be interactive. How that will be achieved he was totally silent on that? I don’t know that these biggies were not having clues or they were silent deliberately.

Number 1 problem that is holding the growth of outdoor media is – there is no measure. There is no concrete way to know that a particular campaign was seen by so many people hence it becomes difficult to justify huge marketing spend on outdoor. If some kind of measure can be associated with outdoor there is a great chance of double digit growth.

Undoubtedly, the biggest thing that is missing in outdoor experience is interactivity. Mobile phones can be used to fill that void. It will not be long when all these giants will wake up and figure that out. Sometime back even TV was considered passive and static. Now sms (e.g. Indian Idol) has changed the way people experience TV. So guys wake up before it is too late. 🙂

Webserver on Nokia Cellphone June 5, 2006

Posted by rajAT in mobile, nokia, technology.

Nokia has ported the Apache webserver to Symbian, in order to enable mobile phones to serve content on the World Wide Web. Many mobile phones today have more processing power than early Internet servers, suggesting that "there really is no reason anymore why webservers could not reside on mobile phones," according to the company.There are some companies in Hyderabad who are trying to port a J2EE server on the mobile phone. So there is lots of activity in this area.

But only thing is there are no good use cases where they can be used.
Nokia has listed few use cases here –

Nokia notes that websites hosted on mobile phones enable phone owners to inter-actively participate in content generation. For example, Nokia has written an application that prompts the phone owner to take a picture, which is then relayed to the requester as a JPEG.

Another touted advantage is that the amount of personal information stored on mobile phones makes it easy to "semi-automatically generate a personal home page."

So far, Nokia's "concept demonstration applications" include:

* Interactive, contextual, and location-dependent content
o Use the phone as a webcam
o Find other mobile web sites in the proximity
o Find out the location of a mobile website (cellid)

* Enabling new communication means without operator involvement
o Send instant message
o Leave instant message in the inbox
o Leave a note on a mobile weblog

* Access core data
o Access favorites, contacts, calendar, logs, and messages
o Download images
o Mount a read-write view of the root webserver directory and edit pages directly using WebDAV

But these all I would say are Vitamins and not Pain killers. No technology for that matter gets widely adopted untill an unless it solves one customer pain point beautifully.

Though a webserver or J2EE server on a mobile phone can be big thing but we have to think a big customer pain point.

So lets put on our thinking hats. 🙂