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Interesting Articles
Interesting Articles
Carte Blanche program on the Web 2.0 Revolution
Mobile applications are either dead or ready to explode
Africa: Google Sees Cellphone As Ticket Into Continent
Vodafone: Mobile web is the future
Google to focus on mobile internet in SA
Google SA mobile plans
"Mobile web will define the future"
Six Types of Mobile Internet users
Internet becomes increasingly mobile
Google Search on Mobile Phones
Mobile Internet, is it the next big thing in India?
Google: Mobile Phones Are The Future Of The Internet
The Meaning of Life - Interview with Rick Warren
20 Reasons why web based applications are better than desktop applications
Top 10 Mistakes in Online  
Mobile Internet, is it the next big thing in India?
Hot tips for creating simple tests that improve email marketing results, by Gail Goodman of
Are You Ready For The Mobile Computing Revolution?  
Interview on Moneyweb with Google  

The Web 2.0 Revolution, by Carte Blanche

Transcripts of a TV program produced by Barbara Folsher, aired on 2 March 2008, presented by John Webb, compliments of M-Net:

Rafiq Philips: "There's always someone up. That's the cool thing, there's always company online. Usually at night I say, 'Hi, who's awake?' You get responses, one from London, one from California, one from Florida. My phone basically lives next to my bed and when I wake up the first thing I usually do, before I go to the toilet, is check my mail. If there's anything urgent that needs to be handled. The next thing would be to greet the people, on Twitter or on Google Talk, and say good morning to friends and co-workers. I'm always connected, always."

John Webb (Carte Blanche presenter): "Rafiq Philips, on the face of it, an ordinary young man living on an ordinary street in Cape Town. But that's in the world that we see. In the parallel universe of cyberspace, Rafiq is known as a guru, and his habits point to a fundamental change in society. Rafiq is one of the drivers of the Web 2.0 Revolution. But what exactly is this revolution that is gaining force all around us?"

Web 2.0 sees the Internet as a platform for interaction and social networking. Anyone with an Internet connection can now be a publisher, a journalist or an advertiser. The phenomenal rise of networks such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace gives anybody a potential audience of millions. Some say the change to our society is as fundamental as the invention of the printing press. To Rafiq online communication has become more natural than talking.

Rafiq: "It's continuous, it's always happening. Someone is always asking you a question or asking you to send them an email. You're always communicating. It's not just like stuck in work and sealed off from the rest of it because you're always connected. In the office here, if you need anything, like let's go for lunch, you send them a message."

John: "And you don't find it strange that you don't actually get up and walk across the room to talk to somebody."

Rafiq: "Strange, how strange? That's the only way I've been doing it, ever. I don't know any other way."

Today he invites two colleagues to meet at a café with free Internet access. Hours later the meeting takes place, partly face-to-face, partly via laptops and cellphones. Rafiq has his own online business, writes a successful blog and works at an e-marketing company. He has won several awards for his work.

Rafiq: "I help clients or companies to be found on search engines for the products they offer."

In a world where over 6 000 Google searches are performed every second, that's a useful skill to have. In true Web 2.0 style, Rafiq posts a photograph of the meeting on the Web, friends respond, business contacts contribute and so it continues.

But what has this done to the 'old world', to traditional sources of news and communication? Some say today's seven-year-olds will never read a printed newspaper.

The country's largest media company, Naspers, is changing radically to adapt to the market. Arrie Rossouw, a former newspaper editor, has made the switch to digital.

Arrie Rossouw (Editorial Director: MHI Digital Africa): "The user is in control, more than ever before. They actually decide what they want to read, when they want to read it, how they want to consume media content."

Rafiq: "The news I want comes to me, I don't want to know about people taking showers. There's specific news that I'm interested in. When I get home at night and my Dad is reading the paper and I'm like, 'why is it so familiar?' But then I realise as it happened or the news is released I get it on my phone or on my feed reader. When the news gets published its old news."

Arrie: "We compete actually with Facebook and YouTube and MySpace. We compete with the Googles of this world. What we've learnt in a very short time, you have to be open to changes. Because what you've planned now, if you can't deliver that within three months, you've almost missed the boat. If you wait too long someone else comes along sitting in his garage or study somewhere and comes up with a neat new product, people talk about the new product, it gets traction and there you go."

But people do not only go to the Net for news and information. More and more people prefer to shop online. Rafiq's blog, which is a combination of an online diary, publishing platform and business tool, attracts thousands of new visitors every day. What is said about a brand or product on a blog like this is very influential.

John: "Web 2.0 is changing economies and mindsets. Its forces have the power to make or break companies within the space of a couple of hours. All over the world universities and business schools have recognised the urgent need to understand and navigate this new environment. Here at the Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, new collaborative ways of thinking and creativity are being introduced."

Dave Duarte advises big business and lectures at the GSB and elsewhere on the 'new' economy.

Dave Duarte (Lecturer - Graduate School of Business): "The pace of change now is not only unforeseen, it is unmanageable. So we've got so much stuff coming at us, the expectation for us to keep up with it is not really realistic. We've got to make choices and people like me help people to make the right choices."

John: "How much of a problem is it if businesses don't respond to these huge changes in the environment?"

Dave: "I think part of the big problem with companies who've got it wrong is that they saw an emergent crisis and they took it back to the boardroom. They discussed it and they formulated a strategy by which time the problem had morphed into completely something else. There will be a blogger who's connected and word will go to other bloggers and the inevitable result could be that over a few months a listed company can lose six percent of its share value."

John: "Would I be accurate in saying that South Africa is one step behind?"

Dave: "In some regards, yes, sure, we've got a horribly low rate of broadband penetration. But in regards to the mobile Internet and mobile applications, we are strides ahead to the rest of the world and we're doing stuff which isn't even seen there yet."

Never before have ordinary people as users or consumers had more power. A real shift of knowledge and power is taking place, followed closely by a shift in the lines of wealth.
The advertising world is reeling from the effects of the digital revolution. Senior advertising executive Gail Curtis says the industry will have to change radically if it is going to survive.

Gail Curtis (CEO Saatchi & Saatchi SA): "You can't just throw your budget out and hope you're going to get your consumer like we did before. It's about how you're going to get them to interact, that is becoming really, really crucial. It's: 'What's in it for me?'"

Interactive, personalised marketing means that people play with brands to create their own online identities. They choose features, they vote for products and take part in competitions - all of it feeding into the consumer's need to feel noticed and unique.

Rafiq: "What this technology enables us to do is it puts you in the centre. It's like you become more important. It's not about what everybody else thinks, it's about what you think and what you can do with it, because it's now focused on a market of one."

Gail: "The consumer is actually asking us, 'Tell me what it is you want me to know about your product'. As opposed to, 'Don't talk to me in a way that you think that I want to be spoken to because I can switch off very, very quickly to something else that is more exciting and more fun'. What the new generation is doing and particularly the youth market, they're doing their homework, they're talking on the mobile phone they're playing games and they're watching TV. So they're multitasking and working very, very quickly.

Rafiq: "Continuous partial attention, that's what it's about, because you're always busy with something."

The communication and social habits of an entire society are changing. In the US one out of eight couples getting married met online. Locally the trend is also increasing. Bradley Voges met his German fiancée Sarah on a South African social website.

Bradley Voges: "I saw her profile because I have a profile on the website as well. And so I contacted her and we started chatting on the site and we sent each other a couple of photographs and we started meeting each other in chatrooms."

Sarah: "You never really know, is it a 25-year-old guy or is it a whatever 45-year-old guy who wants to meet with you for a drink. I'm always a little bit careful with that but it turned out just fine."

Bradley and Sarah are getting married, but the inherent problems of too much personal information on the Web have been well documented, especially for younger users who fall prey to sexual predators. What has been less well documented is the psychological and cultural impact of a generation growing up communicating on screens.

Gail: "I think we do have to take care that they don't disconnect. Technology is there for ultimate connectivity. They sit on the beach and they don't swim, they're too busy smsing each other. They date one another and they haven't met each other. It's through pictures and smsing. You can say things via sms that you won't necessarily say to someone if you are looking across the room."

No one knows where the rapid development of the Internet is leading us. All we know is that the pace of change has exceeded our ability to keep up, plan and interpret its impact. We also know that the divide between those who are plugged in and those who are not, is widening.

Rafiq: "If you don't catch up, you're going to be left behind because the world is changing, or it has changed already. People need to plug in and continue."

John: "Web 2.0 may be changing the world in which we live, but I can't imagine a Sunday without the feel of the morning papers between my fingers. It may be old news when compared to what is available on the Internet, but at least its read in a world that I can touch and taste and smell."

Mobile applications are either dead or ready to explode, by MG Siegler 02.25.08

There’s a healthy debate going on right now about the direction mobile applications going forward. While the norm on mobile computing devices for a long time was native applications, the rise of Internet-enabled devices has brought with it access to web applications - and those web applications are increasing being specifically built for mobile usage.
On one hand, former Palm executive Michael Mace, believes native applications on mobile devices will give way to the web application variety. He speaks of the multitude of different operating systems and platforms we now see on mobile devices. He also talks of mistakes Palm made in thinking that mobile computing was different from the PC variety.
Mowser’s Mike Rowehl also believes this is very much an extension of the web application vs. native application debate going on in the desktop world. While he doesn’t believe it will be quite as simple as one killing the other he did tell us that going forward, “an increasing number of apps will be deliverable on the mobile web, with an increasing amount of revenue tipping that way.”
On the other hand, ZDNet’s Matthew Miller lays out some compelling points as to why he believes some native apps are here to stay. He contends that as easy as mobile web applications are to acquire sometimes (simply by going to their web address), that cannot replace the convenience of having it reside right on your device. He would willing to even pay for such applications versus paying nothing for the web-based ones.
Towards the end of his piece, Miller talks about Apple’s iPhone which is an interesting player in this debate. When it launched, Apple disappointed my developers by announcing that development on the device would only exist through its built-in Safari web browser. This basically meant that Apple was forcing developers to create web applications using languages such as JavaScript rather than allowing them access to all the bells and whistles Apple offers to its native applications on the device.
However, only a few months after its launch, Apple changed its stance on 3rd party native apps, and announced that an SDK would be coming in 2008 to grant developers access to the device. This is interesting in the context of this discussion because it would seem to indicate a trend that is the exact opposite of what Mace is saying (coincidentally, Mac formerly worked at Apple).
In fact, Miller believes that 3rd party applications on the iPhone will start a trend of people wanting more native applications across the whole spectrum of mobile devices - something which could make Microsoft happy if Google’s Android is too reliant on web applications to mount a quick charge on Windows Mobile.
Africa: Google Sees Cellphone As Ticket Into Continent, by Leslie Stones, Business Day, 19 Feb 2008

GOOGLE, the world's most popular search engine, had to tailor its offerings to work better on cellphones if it was to make real headway in Africa, the group said yesterday.
In a continent with a dearth of computers, the cellphone is the only way most people can get online. And as only 22% of cellphone users have computers, even in relatively wealthy SA, Google's local branch is making mobile search technologies its priority.

Google set up an office in SA last year, poaching Stafford Masie from networking company Novell as its country manager. Yesterday it held its first local media briefing, and was big on promises if thin on figures. Masie would not say how many people it employed in SA, although "a lot" were South Africans who had worked abroad for Google and had come home to launch the local branch.
Most of the staff are sales people out to convince advertisers to switch some of their adspend from TV and radio to online. "We are seeing an increase in advertisers in SA since we announced our presence here. We are building capacity because there's a need for direct interaction," Masie said.
"Our goal is to hire as many really brilliant people as we can," said Google's vice-president of engineering, Douglas Merrill.
Google was launched in the 1990s with the ambitious aim of organising all the information in the world and making it universally accessible. Considering that 80% of information is still not online, it has a long way to go. But the information already online had to be made available to everybody, and in Africa that meant via cellphones, Merrill said.
"The majority of people coming online will be doing it through mobile. We have to find better ways to conduct a search over a mobile phone."
That could involve entering key search words by SMS or speaking into the phone to tell the search engine what you are looking for. Users should also be able to consult maps on their phones and have the directions sent to them via SMS.
"We have a lot of work still to do on mobiles," Merrill said. The race to migrate traditional internet services to the far more densely populated cellphone market has already seen rival player Yahoo declare that more people would soon use its services via cellphones than through computers.
So far, 600-million people have downloaded Yahoo's oneSearch software so they can search for internet content via their cellphones.
Masie said he avoided a life of crime only by being schooled abroad and gaining a different perspective. He said he passionately believed that Google could expose young Africans to a better way of life.
Google's technologies allow people to create their own websites and conduct secure financial transactions on them. Google assists businesses to make the most of their sites and ensure a relevant search from anywhere in the world that would propel their website onto the results list.
Google is working with Internet Solutions and the internet division that Vodacom is due to launch this weekend to help companies get the most from their websites.
With hundreds of thousands of people due to visit SA for the 2010 World Cup it was crucial for companies to ensure their services received maximum prominence online, since most visitors would search for information before travelling, Masie said.
Entrepreneurs could also make money from their websites because Google shared the revenue from advertisements on those pages.
Google's support for multiple languages sees it offer its search services in Afrikaans, Sesotho, Zulu and Xhosa. Merrill said he was keen to add SA's other indigenous languages, but the local branch would guide how much priority that received, given SA's internet user demographics.

Vodafone CEO sees mobile Web as the future, Marguerite Reardon, 12 Feb 2008

BARCELONA, Spain--The Internet is the future of mobile and carriers need to be more selective about the technologies they choose if they want to succeed, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said during his keynote speech here Tuesday.
Sarin, who was speaking on the second day of the GSMA's Mobile World Congress, said that mobile operators need to be at the forefront of developing new services for cell phones, such as music, games, and video. If they don't take an active role now, he said, they risk losing their relevance in the market.
"Operators need to invest to bring important mobile Internet services to life," he said. "We can't sit back and become bit pipes."
Sarin also encouraged the industry not to get into a technology standards war between emerging 4G wireless technologies WiMax and LTE. And he called on the industry to combine the two technologies into a common standard so that the research and development community will not be split between dueling technologies.
"The old debates around TDMA, CDMA, and GSM weren't very productive," he said. "So we need to encourage folks to merge WiMax into LTE."
He also encouraged operators and handset makers to look at Apple's iPhone as an example of how to improve user interfaces. And he suggested that carriers consolidate the number of operating systems they use on their handsets to ensure that new applications and services are launched quickly. He said that Vodafone, which is the largest carrier in the world in terms of revenue, has between 30 and 40 operating systems working on its network today.
"I'd argue that is too many," he said. "There's no way that an application developer can develop applications for 30 different operating systems. We have to narrow the range to three, four, or five."
He was careful to note that the mobile industry is not looking for any one company to monopolize the mobile operating system market, the way Microsoft dominates the PC operating system market.
He said he welcomed new entrants, such as Google, which announced in November its Android mobile software. Several companies are showing demonstrations of the software on prototypes at the Mobile World Congress. But Google's emergence in this market has also sparked debate over how many open operating systems are actually needed. Sarin said he didn't care if operators and handset makers use Symbian or Microsoft's Window's Mobile--or Google's Android or the open Linux operating system from the Limo Foundation. Sarin said that the market will ultimately decide but also noted that the GSMA might provide guidelines to help narrow the playing field.
Google SA is mum about mobile plans, By ZWELI MOKGATA 19 Feb 2008

INTERNET search engine giant Google is accelerating its efforts to bring South African information onto the Internet.
The US-based company started operations in South Africa last year, but is tight-lipped about its intentions for the South African market.
Stafford Masie, Google South Africa’s manager, said: “We’ve been in talks with ISPs who do a lot of hosting in order to build a presence locally.
“We don’t want to say how many people we’ve employed or what Google products we’ll be bringing to South Africa, but we’ll be looking specifically at mobile usage.”
About 75 percent of mobile users in South Africa don’t own personal computers and out of that, 85% will never have a PC, according to Google’s vice president of engineering, Douglas Merrill. He said: “What people do with a mobile device is unique, and our goal is to communicate the potential for the South African market.
“There are many companies out there that are making money from our products, and we just want people to maximise their own businesses,” he added.
Google set up shop in June last year and brought back into the country South Africans who had left to work for Google in other countries.
The company launched a sales team that sold advertising space and advised on website construction that would lead more visitors to web pages.
Tshepo Tsele, Paperless Consulting director, said: “Google has moved on from just being a search engine to doing more research and census work. They haven’t placed themselves completely in South Africa, since a lot of their products are still broadly directed at an international audience.”
The search capabilities for South Africa are still scattered on, and many search results are still imprecise.
The company intends to collect key information about South African culture including tourism, traditional medicine and stories.
The company that hopes to make all the world’s information universally accessible has a long way to go.
Merrill said: “Over 80% of the world’s information is offline. We want to take all that information, especially in Africa, where a lot of the knowledge is passed down orally into people’s heads.”

Google to focus on mobile usage in SA, by Zweli Mokgata, 19 Feb 2008

Internet search engine giant Google is accelerating its efforts to bring South African information to the Internet.
The US company started operations in South Africa last year but is tight-lipped about its intentions for the local market.
Stafford Masie, Google’s manager for South Africa, said: “We’ve been in talks with Internet service providers to build a presence locally.
“We don’t want to say how many people we’ve employed or what Google products we’ll be bringing, but we’ll be looking specifically at mobile usage.”
About 75percent of cellphone users in South Africa don’t own a personal computer, and 85percent of them never will, according to Google’s vice-president for engineering, Douglas Merrill.
He said: “What people do with a mobile device is unique and our goal is to communicate the potential to the South African market.
“Many companies are making money from our products and we want people to maximise their own businesses,” he added.
Google set up shop here in June and launched a sales team to sell advertising space.
Tshepo Tsele, director at Paperless Consulting, said: “Google has moved on from being a search engine to doing more research and census work".

Mobile web ‘will define future’ Toby Shapshak, online services via cellphones is the key to the success, conference told, 13 Feb 2008

Mobile broadband has emerged as the biggest new development in the cellular industry this year.
Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin told this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — the world’s biggest telecommunications conference — that mobile Internet would define the future.
Cellular operators need to adopt new, data-centric business models, simplify their pricing and creatively integrate broadband offerings or risk losing their customers and revenue, he added.
In the main address at the conference, which attracted about 55000 visitors, Sarin said: “Our industry is at an important crossroads. Operators need to invest to bring important mobile Internet services to life … we can’t sit back and become bit pipes.”
Robert Conway, chief executive of the GSM Association, said: “The leading indicators show we have reached the tipping point with mobile broadband. We have the networks, we have the devices and we have the speed.”
Sarin agreed: “Customers want fast, wireless broadband. The new, new thing is Internet on the mobile.”
He added that Vodafone, the world’s biggest operator by revenue and a 50 percent shareholder in Vodacom, already has 21 million 3G subscribers and is looking at combinations of providing wired and wireless broadband.
He said that the current HSDPA technology has been an excellent investment that has lived up to its promises where previous 3G technologies disappointed.
Highlighting growth in emerging markets, Sarin said Vodafone’s Indian operation was growing well, while South Africa experienced 15percent growth. Vodafone’s data revenue has increased 40percent year on year, as call prices were dropping by 15percent to 20percent a year.
Rick Stevenson, head of Samsung’s US telecoms business, said mobile WiMAX would be a key driver this year, with 196 operators around the world running these networks, which use a super-fast wireless connectivity system that is backed by chip maker Intel.
He said: “We’re seeing a new business model. Operators are stepping away from the subsidy model. We’re seeing WiMAX- embedded devices sold through consumer electronics retailers [directly to consumers].”
Nokia chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said a Village Connection system by Nokia Siemens Network aimed to get emerging markets online. These first-time users would experience cellphones and the Internet very differently from the first one billion, as new technology would give them much greater opportunities, he said.

Broadband analyst group Point Topic says that it has identified six main types of users of mobile Internet, By Mark Sutton, 12 Feb 2008

With uptake of mobile Internet services growing rapidly, Point Topic believes that six distinct clusters of users are emerging - road warriors, gadget joys, MI lifers, mid-market moderates, entertain us and light & easy.

While categories such as road warriors, who use mobile Internet for business while travelling, and gadget joys, who are classic early adopters are already recognizable technology user types, there are new types of users emerging. Entertain us are predominantly young people using mobiles for entertainment, while light &easy are older users whose main method of Internet access is through mobile devices. Mid-market moderates are late adopters who have yet to find a compelling use for mobile Internet.

According to the company, around 83% of all mobile Internet users fall into these categories, and it is important that service providers understand them and their habits to target services effectively

"Think of them as like the audiences for different radio channels," said Tim Johnson, chief analyst at Point Topic. "You've got to have the right mix of content and features to get the audience to tune in. People can use the profiles of these clusters in the same way, to work out what they need to offer a particular segment of the market."

Internet becomes increasingly mobile, by, 18 Feb 2008

Mobile Internet usage in SA is increasing, providing several marketing opportunities.

The boom in mobile Internet use in SA is largely due to low data tariffs, and access to mobile Web and Web sites designed specifically for mobile phones, says Rian Groenewald, Multimedia Solutions operations director.

Admob, a mobile advertiser, says SA is ranked third in its worldwide advertising statistics, garnering 144 million impressions in December 2007.
Instant messaging service Mxit is also enjoying a boom, with six million registered users and a growth rate of between 10 000 and 11 000 new subscriptions per day.

This kind of traffic has caused mobile service providers to jump on the instant messaging bandwagon. “MTN has already launched its instant messaging (IM) service, NokNok while Vodacom announced it would be launching The Grid and Meep early in the new year,” Groenewald says.

This all leads to the conclusion that 2008 will be a good year for mobile, says Groenewald. But he questions whether South African retailers will be prepared.

According to Groenewald, retailers and corporates need to incorporate mobile Internet into their marketing plans for this year, because regular Internet users in SA number a few million, while mobile phone users number around 25 million.

“And a large percentage of the cellphone base is now starting to actively look for information online. While most are browsing mobile content, sports news, entertainment news, weather, etc, from their phones, they could just as easily be browsing retailers' mobi sites if they were available.”


Google Mobile Search, By Scott Van Achte, 2008-02-18

Google Search Offered on Nokia Handsets
Tuesday, Nokia announced a deal to offer Google Search to customers worldwide.

Google will now be the default search integrated into new select Nokia handsets. The deal will offer users faster, easier access to online information from their mobile devices as well as the ability to search the handset itself for any content they have stored within it.

Nokia offers easy searching only one click away from the active standby screen. By increasing the ease of use, ultimately it will increase the number of users taking advantage of the feature.
"Providing choices for our consumers is an important driver in Nokia's Internet service strategy," said Ilkka Raiskinen, vice-president, software and services at Nokia. "This integration allows our consumers the ability to use the innovative search technologies, which have made Google almost synonymous with Internet search.
Nokia and Google have had a previous relationship. Last year the Nokia N95 became the first mobile device to support YouTube, and Google Search has been available on Nokia Internet tablets for some time now.
Google Searches Abundant on iPhones
On Wednesday, Google reported that it has seen more mobile searches by users using Apple iPhones by 50 times that of any other mobile handset, according to the Financial Time. This shows that the increasing use of mobile search will prove to be a significant source of revenue for Google and others involved in mobile search into the future, but the statistic had Google second guessing.
"'We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again,' Vic Gundotra, head of Google's mobile operations told the Financial Times at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona."
Gundotra went on to note that the number of mobile searches could outnumber that of fixed internet searches "within the next several years" if other manufactures improve the ease of web access as Apple has.


Mobile Internet, is it the next big thing in India?

Published by Abhishek on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM

We had been struggling to increase our Internet base and PC penetration but slowly a new realization has happened to all the companies that instead growth lies in a format which has a much wider reach than any other medium in India and this medium is Mobile the fourth screen as this week's business world calls it. It has emerged as the alternative to cinema, TV and the computer screens — all put together. Now, it promises to change the way an average Indian entertains himself and conducts business.

Some of the reasons for the hype over mobile internet are

Total number of Mobile users in India are more than number of TV households in India .

India's internet based mobile revenues have jumped from anemic $150 millionto $700 million within 2 years.

Nokia's service Mosh's most users are from India and it is in talks with indian providers to offer its service Ovi in india.

Companies like Bharti are trying for licence from SBI that will allow people to remit money over mobile.

Reliance's non SMS services accounted for 75.4 % of total data revenues.

All the Internet biggies starting from Google and yahoo to portals like Cricinfo and startups like Mundu are creating applications for the mobile internet.

There are some serious drawbacks which are hindering the growth

Telecom Operators in India keep 70-80 percent of revenue compared to companies like NTT Docomo of japan which shares 90% of revenue with the operators and served as catalyst for mobile internet boom in Japan

Out of the 30 million subscribers figure 10 million belong to Reliacne's R world only.

Feature rich handsets are not affordable.

Lot of services including Google's local searches are pretty crappy on mobile

This is an example of how the Internet economy works

Satish K., a restless 25-year-old techie from a Gurgaon-based software firm, logs on to Airtel’s network using his Nokia N 95 handset. He gets to Google and searches for Nike, clicks on the latest offering from the world’s largest shoemaker, checks out its price tag and logs off without buying the shoe. What heisn’t aware of is that with his idle browsing, he has just triggered a transaction in the mobile internet space. Nike will pay Google a click-based fee for being the conduit for a potential customer and Google, in turn, will share an undisclosed proportion of the revenue with mobile operator Bharti Airtel.

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Google: Mobile Phones Are The Future Of The Internet

By Stephen Wellman, Feb 20, 2007

The future of the Web is smaller than you think. And also much bigger, according to Google Vice President Vinton Cerf. Cerf, speaking in India this week, predicted that mobile phones, not PCs, are the future of the Web.

Cerf said that while the number of netizens has rocketed from 50 million in 1997 to 1.1 billion today, it still only reaches one sixth of the earth's population. Compare that to the world's 2.5 billion cell phone users. India alone adds seven million new cell phone users every month.

Cell phones continue to outpace PCs in terms of growth in emerging markets and there is little reason to think that this will stop.

That's why the way to the remaining 5.5 billion people without the Internet is through cell phones. Mobile phones are cheaper than PCs and they are more ubiquitous. And thanks to the continued growth of 3G, mobile broadband will likely be a better bet for high-speed access in most of these markets than wireline broadband.

Last week at 3GSM, the wireless industry kept talking about emerging markets. This is one of the reasons the industry is so excited about the falling prices of smartphones. The more inexpensive, software-enabled phones there are on the market the easier it will be to get people in emerging markets online.

The Meaning of Life

This is an absolutely incredible interview with Rick Warren, author of "Purpose Driven Life" His wife now has cancer, and he now has "wealth" from the book sales. In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

"People ask me, "What is the purpose of life?" And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body--but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal.

God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain."

But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism?
Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list.

He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, Not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. Painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD. "

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20 Reasons why web based applications are better than desktop applications – by Vinny Lingham

Never installed

Browser based software never requires installation processes or hard drive space. It lives in a virtual cloud in the Internet and this means that whenever you launch it, it always has the latest version. Ajax has made it possible to deliver Desktop-like look & feel, and functionality, with no loss of performance!

Updates are seamless

Instead of having to patch each and every individual user, the patches/upgrades are applied to the server and each user received the updated version the next time they log in.

No legacy

This is a big issue for traditional software vendors. Users who purchase previous versions of a software almost always will result in legacy versions lying around which need support (which is costly). The problems relating to legacy software are almost limitless, and often is not efficient for both the vendor or the customer.

No admin rights required

Finally, a world where the network administrator in the company does not have to approve the installation of your software!

Available anywhere, anytime

Ok, so the anytime comment is a stretch, but that’s only until Adobe’s Apollo gets here (here’s hoping!). The same way that people access their email from any browser, web apps are exactly the same.

Platform independent

This opens a wider market for software vendors – no longer do they have to build technology around a specific platform and limit their market (or incur additional costs to build for another platform). The browser is the platfom and therefore I believe you will see increased uptake in OS’s like Mac OS and Linus, due to the increased availability of Web Applications.

Less environmental conflicts

There are certainly going to be a lot less bugs in Web based software, due to the fact that it is not depending on any of the hardware or environment settings in the OS that may usually cause a problem.

Enables social possibilities

Many Web Apps are creating chat facilities and the ability to share your work in real time. This removes the previous “stand-alone” functionality that use to exist with most installed desktop applications. The world is becoming more and more social - people want to collaborate and work online together - Web Apps allows this, painlessly.

Lower cost of sale

No boxes, printed manual, expensive shipping costs, CD’s, distribution channels, middlemen, etc. Desktop apps are going to be more economical to produce and will result in a lower cost of sale!

Usable from inexpensive PCs

$100 Laptops, here we come! What do you need a dual core processor for, if you’re running a thin client application? This opens up a world of cost savings for both companies and consumers, especially in the field of productivity apps (obviously, not gaming!).


Here is a big one. Imagine a world without software piracy. That world is here, and Web Applications are the solution to that problem. Next problem, please!

No bad debts

Sofware companies are often owed money from distributors, that invariably go bust from time to time. With Web Apps, the cash is collected upfront and as long as the customer pays, the account is in good stead.

Low-cost support and maintenance

Given that the browser is now the platform, operational support costs and maintenance for Web Application providers will drop substantially. No need to have expensive operating system gurus on hand to help with installation problems. Also, using products like the Amazon EC2 cloud, will allow scalability, without a proportionate increase in costs.

User’s data is kept safe in hosting environment

Although this is probably not going to be true for all Web App companies, but using providers like Rackspace or Amazon’s EC2 cloud will go a long way in reassuring your customers that their data is safer than on their desktop!

No Viruses

No installation, means no viruses. Start shorting all those Anti-Virus stocks! Enough said!

Low cost global distribution

No more channel reliance. Most software companies make it or break it, depending on their channel. Forget that – focus on the biggest channel of all – the 1 billion users online!

Lower software price entry point for customers

Given the benefits above, you will see more products such as Basecamp and Synthasite that will offer far greater value than their desktop equivalents.

Access to the entire assets of the Web (APIs, widgets, messaging, collaboration)

By being wired into the web, Web Apps are able to integrate seamless into API’s etc and are a lot more customizable, than traditional software applications.

Mobile is here

Compiled desktop applications are going to have a hard time being adapted for mobile devices. Web apps are ready made (in most cases).

Widest potential audience

For all the points above, this basically unlocks markets for software vendors that previously were inaccessible due to technical reasons.

Top 10 Mistakes in Online, compliments of Laura Chisholm of

It seems there are some frustrated web designers, consultants and engineers out there because, as history has shown us, the same classic mistakes are made (online) over and over again.

The following is a top ten list from the collective wisdom of 50-plus designers, engineers and consultants who have worked on thousands of websites for a combined total of over 500 years. Listen to them and don't make the same mistakes yourself.

Mistake #1: No vision or objectives

'We need a website!' I hear companies cry. Why? Because everyone else has one. All too often companies create websites without a clear understanding of the reason behind it. Not having a clear vision and understanding of your objectives can lead to a disorganised and purposeless site.

Take the time to think about your website's objectives and measure its performance accordingly. Is your website going to be used to sell products online, drive leads to your sales team, provide support or self-service, provide information or deliver online content? Every one of these objectives will require a different design focus and different methods of measurement.

Mistake #2: Forgetting the user

This is the most heinous of online crimes. After all, the user is the only reason we are here at all.

User-centred design is a philosophy founded on the users. It focuses on designing interfaces around how people can, want, or need to work, rather than forcing the users to change how they work to accommodate the system or function. Of course, this is a very difficult thing to do if you don't understand your audience. A good way to get a better understanding of your online users' needs is to develop personas. Personas, also known as user types, are fictitious characters that embody characteristics and attributes of real target user groups. Personas should be used to keep the user front of mind throughout the design process and to validate design decisions.

Mistake #3: Poor alignment and integration with other channels

Consumers these days switch between many channels to complete their tasks. They are just as likely to want to interact with your organisation on the web as they are in person or on the phone.

In most organisations the online channel is treated as a poor cousin to the other channels in the mix. It doesn't command the same respect as call centres or shops. It's time to face up to it; the web is now a mainstream channel and should be treated with the same respect as your other channels.

Integrate your marketing approach so other channels are driving traffic to your website and visa versa. Common mistakes are not including your URL in your offline marketing collateral or not providing your customer service number on your website.

Mistake #4: Neglect

A classic and oh, so sad mistake. Organisations too frequently invest in a beautiful new website only to ignore it from that point onwards. Websites are neglected in two major ways.

Firstly, most organisations seem to operate their websites under the assumption of 'build it and they will come'. Once the site is launched, no attempt is made to drive traffic to the website. My Creative Director likens launching a website to giving birth. The responsibility doesn't stop with the delivery, but continues for the rest of its natural life. At an absolute minimum you should ensure that your website is optimised for the major search engines. Not doing this these days is the equivalent of not listing your business in the Yellow Pages.

Secondly, the content on websites is too often out of date. An out of date website disappoints the user and makes your company look shabby. If a user has a disappointing experience in your online channel, t will lead them to expect a similar experience in your other channels.

Mistake #5: Content crisis

Too much, Not enough, Incorrect information? The most common mistake is to cram too much information onto one page, which makes it difficult to absorb and fails to get the message across to the user. However, it is not so much the content itself that tends to be the problem but the delivery of that content. For example, a 5,000 word report would be very difficult to digest online no matter how interesting it is. If the same report were transformed into a five minute podcast for users to download it would be ideal.

Mistake #6: Creative craziness

To all you creative folks out there, sorry but this one is going to hurt. All too often usability falls prey to gratuitous creativity. Very few websites have the objective of simply being cool to look at. Jazzy, flash-heavy websites almost always detract from the main purpose of the site. What is more, these sites have low accessibility and usually take a long time to load. Use creative design to help deliver your messages but do so judiciously.

Mistake #7: Poor usability

Usability is the key to successful website design. If people don't or can't use your website it is a waste of money.

To avoid making this mistake follow the 'Rule of Least Surprise'. - always do the least surprising thing in interface design. Break with tried and tested paradigms only if you have a very good reason to do so - not just to because you think it's clever or different. It takes users a long time to learn new paradigms and you don't want to be the one to teach them.

To find out how usable your website is, test it with some users. If at all possible run the designs past your grandmother. If they don't pass the grandmother test, you are in trouble.

Mistake #8: Navigation or orienteering?

Information architecture (IA) is the practice of structuring information for a particular purpose. Your website may be full of great content but none of this is worth a thing if no-one can find it.

A classic navigation mistake is for companies to organise the information on their websites according to their own internal organizational structure and terminology. This type of external projection usually makes very little sense to your common or garden website user and results in confusion. When developing your information architecture use personas and scenarios to test whether your navigation titles and hierarchies make sense for your user.

Mistake #9: Silver bullet syndrome

The silver bullet syndrome is the belief that your website site will fulfil all the needs of all users every single time they visit. There will always be at least one user with a quirky, out of left-field need that your website will not be able to satisfy. Make it easy for them to find your contact details - don't leave them banging their heads against a cyber brick wall.

And despite all your best efforts with the IA, navigational nirvana is hard to come by. There will always be someone out there who wants to take an alternative route to the information they are after. Providing good search functionality as an alternative is vital as it allows users to apply their own reasoning to the goal of finding information.

Mistake #10: Personalisation panacea

This mistake is to think that by allowing personalisation the user experience will automatically be improved. The undisputed guru of personalisation is This website knows what products you have bought in the past and matches that information with the purchases of others who bought the same books to recommend something else you will probably enjoy reading. Here, personalisation improves the user experience. Do not provide personalisation if it does not add value to the user's online experience.

Users will be annoyed if you make them jump through hoops for no apparent reason or value. Invest in core functions such as content, usability and information architecture before all the bells and whistles of personalisation.

So, how many mistakes does your company make? If you're not making any of these mistakes, enter some awards. You'll probably win. If you are making even one of these mistakes it could be putting the performance of your website at risk

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Hot tips for creating simple tests that improve email marketing results, by Gail Goodman of

What if you could make a slight change to one of your e-mails and get a 20 percent lift in opens or a 10 percent increase in sales? You would do it in an instant. But how do you know which element to change? That's where testing comes in.
E-mail marketing makes it easy to quickly test important elements of your e-mail at very little or no extra cost. With testing, you can find out what factors influence the success of your e-mail. Follow these five steps to create an effective and measurable test.

1. Decide what to test.
Because testing with e-mail is so easy, it's tempting to test many elements at once. Start by testing just one. Why? If you test more than one element in the same e-mail, it's challenging--and sometimes impossible--to determine what influenced the response. Here are some easy and telling tests:

Subject lines--Create two different subject lines for the same e-mail communication. For example, a boutique owner just added a home and garden section and wants to get the word out to her customers. Here are the subject lines she'll test.
• Subject line No. 1: New! Home and garden section added
• Subject line No. 2: Get what you need for your home and garden

Long vs. short copy-- Is less really more? Create a shorter version of your current newsletter with teasers and links to your website. Or create two versions of a promotional e-mail. Keep one very short and to-the-point and make the other a little longer by adding additional, useful information.

Special offers--Create two different offers. For example, an online bookseller wants to get rid of last season's bestsellers. He sends the following offers to see which one gets a better response.
• Offer No. 1: Buy three books and get one free
• Offer No. 2: Buy three books and get free shipping
Other tests could include the time of day or day of the week you send, whether you include an image, types of calls-to-action, and the placement of a call-to-action button or link. I'm sure that you will come up with other areas you would like to test as well.

2. Decide how to measure success.
What will you measure to determine success? Possibilities include website traffic, response to an offer, sales, opens and click-throughs. Whichever you decide on, be confident that you can attribute an increase--or decrease--in the area you measure directly to the e-mail you send. The easiest place to start is with your e-mail communication opens and click-throughs, data that your e-mail marketing service provider makes available to you.

3. Determine how to divide your e-mail list.
When it comes to who you will send your test to, you have two options. You can either split your entire list in half and test one half against the other or take a random sample and do a pre-test.
A pre-test is an excellent way to find out what works before sending the e-mail to your entire list. This knowledge can greatly improve your overall response rate. It also protects you from sending a poor e-mail test to a large portion of your list--and wasting your efforts. To pre-test, choose a random sampling of 100 people from your master list, then split that in half and send each half one of the two test campaigns.

4. Test, measure, and declare a winner.
Once you have everything ready, send your test e-mails. The great thing about e-mail is that you get your results quickly: within a 24-to-48-hour period you will know which e-mail communication got a better result. Declare your winner, send that e-mail to the remaining members of your list and watch the results come in.

5. Have fun and keep it up.
Did I mention that testing is fun? Make a guess about which version will win before you send and see if you are right. What's amazing about testing--and what proves its incredible value--is that many times the results are not at all what you expect.
Let your customers, clients or members tell you, through their actions, what they respond to best. This is an excellent and trustworthy way to improve your e-mails. Test often. You may be surprised every time.
Gail F. Goodman is the "E-Mail Marketing" coach at and is CEO of Constant Contact, a web-based e-mail marketing service for small businesses. She's also a recognized small-business expert and speaker.


Are You Ready For The Mobile Computing Revolution?
2007-09-08 Compliments of (by Peter Rysavy, summary by Art Wittmann)

We're on the cusp of a revolution in mobile computing and application deployment. That's the primary finding of our research on mobile applications. The question is, are you ready to keep your mobile workers competitive?
We don't use the "r" word lightly. But in an industry that tends to advance by evolution, this is something different. Several potent forces are acting in concert to dramatically expand the ability of mobile workers to access any information, at any time, from anywhere. Companies will function in completely new ways by streamlining business processes and extending them to a highly mobile workforce.

The challenge for IT will be to transition from tactical use of mobile computing to strategic deployments. Two of the three necessary pieces are rapidly falling into place: The latest 3G networks being built by carriers will have the reliability and bandwidth to support critical applications, and mobile workers now commonly carry 3G-connected (or easily connectable) laptops and handheld devices. What's missing is a wide selection of off-the-shelf applications as well as the mechanisms to easily create mobile versions of existing enterprise apps. Our survey results bear this out: While 70% of respondents said they were adopting mobile technologies, only 17% said they were doing it with companywide strategic initiatives.
While the game-changing value proposition for mobile applications is hard to dispute, there are also significant obstacles, notably complexity and the need for carriers to provide services over their 3G networks. With a little luck, advances in the latter may significantly help with the former, but until that happens, developing mobile applications is not for the faint of heart.
Carrier services will come in the form of the IP Multimedia Subsystem, or IMS. Today's networks primarily deliver packets or messages, but operators such as AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon are laying the foundations for more sophisticated communication. IMS is a (frame)work in progress, based on the Session Initiation Protocol. It will support the dynamic blending of a variety of communications components, including circuit-switched voice, packet-switched voice through VoIP, video, user location information, and messaging.
The first use will be providers creating their own services, such as video streaming and push-to-talk over cellular, but they also will open up IMS interfaces to third-party apps. The result will be rich, multimedia-oriented applications that will captivate consumers and, presumably, enhance enterprise productivity. Imagine an app on a desktop at corporate headquarters that graphically shows the location of an employee in the field and can initiate an IM session simply by clicking on that person's icon.
Given today's 3G networks, powerful laptops, and handheld devices, we already have the systems and infrastructure to extend data to mobile workers. However, running applications designed for always-connected, high-speed networks with low latency over wireless links usually results in sluggish and unreliable behavior. It's common to experience temporary loss of connectivity, reconnections with different IP addresses, and inconsistent throughput levels because of high network load or poor signal conditions. All of these will flummox today's desktop applications.
Older networks, such as GPRS, simply moved packets too slowly (tens of kilobits per second) with too much latency (hundreds of milliseconds). Dealing with the foibles of 2G wireless often meant employing wireless middleware, which could involve rewriting the application or developing custom apps using programming interfaces specific to the middleware. The result: Expensive and cumbersome application deployment, often justifiable only for focused vertical-market applications, such as dispatch or field service.

Three factors are working to improve the situation. First, 3G networks are much faster than their predecessors. Second, wireless middleware has become much more sophisticated and can often be deployed without changing the overlying application. Third and most important, application and software-as-a-service vendors are finally delivering versions of their enterprise apps that directly support mobile devices. Effectively eliminating the mobile middleware component makes IT's job much easier. In some cases, you may still want middleware to provide security, management, or mobility features, but the good news is that increasingly, you won't need it.
This doesn't spell the end for third-party gateways, at least not right away. Some enterprises will always be willing to pay a premium for greater networking efficiency, support for a broader set of target devices, increased security, and better configuration policies and inventory management. What this change does mean for IT, however, is an easier path to initial mobile application deployment. As part of our request for information, we sought to uncover the extent to which major software application vendors have developed support for mobile systems.
While the situation is getting better, serious impediments to mobile application deployment still exist. Multiple mobile platforms, wireless network foibles, and challenging integration translate into complexity for IT managers and CIOs. It's this complexity, more than anything else, that's inhibiting broader deployment of optimized mobile applications.
An optimized mobile app works within the constraints of mobile devices, especially handhelds, and makes effective use of available wireless networks. For smartphones, the user interface is particularly important, because entering text is cumbersome and the display is small. Differences in form factor, types of operations, and the manner in which users interact with the devices will be inherently different than with larger laptop platforms. A well-designed mobile application won't require any more user input than absolutely necessary and should go to the network only for the information it needs.
Applications should operate fundamentally differently on a mobile device. For example, desktop applications leverage free bandwidth to poll servers for information, but in a wireless environment, it's more efficient from both network utilization and power management standpoints to dispatch data to the mobile system only when there's new information. The most vivid example is wireless e-mail, where today's systems push messages in real time, but the concept can apply to any dynamic information that mobile workers need to receive right away. Currently, however, it's only e-mail systems that widely employ this push model. Other mobile applications and middleware generally use time-based polling.
Security requirements also are fundamentally different than on a desktop. People constantly lose their mobile phones, and that's bad news for IT given the huge amount of storage available on these devices combined with their ability to access sensitive data. The big question is, should your app incorporate native security features, or will you employ a separate security system?
Features to look for when deciding include encryption of data on the device itself and while in transit, user authentication with an inactivity time-out, and the ability to remotely wipe data on devices or kill them entirely if lost. Note that VPNs protect data transmission but do nothing to safeguard information on the device. The trend is for mobile applications to incorporate security capabilities.
For enterprises willing to take on the development task, there are numerous architectures for mobile applications. The simplest uses Short Message Service, or SMS, to send text messages to the mobile device. Cellular operators also offer gateways where, under a contractual agreement, you can dispatch messages via your application in a more controlled fashion through a well-defined interface. The advantage is that the system will work with almost any cell phone.
Browser-based applications make for a better user interface. Using a mobile browser for an application is relatively straightforward so long as the application takes into account screen size--and minimizes the amount of data presented. Over 3G networks, browser operations are fairly snappy, but on slower 2.5G systems they can be quite sluggish, with users often waiting tens of seconds for screen refreshes. Like SMS, the advantage of using a browser is that you can support a wide range of devices, independent of the underlying operating system.
For local code, a Java client works across the greatest number of mobile devices. One common Java approach uses Java 2 Micro Edition in conjunction with specifications that define a complete mobile application run-time environment for mobile systems. J2ME has seen its greatest success with consumer applications, but it's increasingly viable for enterprise apps. Another Java approach is the RCP (Rich Client Platform), based on work by the Eclipse Foundation. Performance tends to be significantly better than for browser-based applications, but on some devices the Java environment itself is sluggish.
The most effective mobile applications are those developed for the native environment. They can leverage all the capabilities of the platform with the least processing overhead. However, developing native apps requires substantial expertise; it's no small feat to become familiar with all the development tools and debugging approaches required. It's therefore not uncommon for developers to target just one mobile platform, most often Windows Mobile in the United States and Symbian in Europe.

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Interview by MoneyWeb with Dr Douglas Merrill: CIO & VIP of Engineering, Google, and Stafford Masie: Country manager, Google SA, 18 February 2008

MONEYWEB: I spent an evening, rather a very interesting... [audio loss] the campus, Dimension Data's huge office park in the north of Johannesburg, where Google made its first appearance, publicly anyway, in South Africa. It was a fascinating discussion, and we're going to be taking that through for the next half hour, because it's not every day that you get the chief information officer or the "head geek" of Google joining us here in this part of the world - indeed, in this continent. But Dr Douglas Merrill is with us now in the studio, as well as the South African manager, the country manager, Stafford Masie. Google, if you don't know much about it, is quite an incredible company - it was only launched just over a decade ago. There is, well, almost a fantasy-type story that happened, about two guys who went to university together, found a new way of doing things and are changing the world. Douglas, good to have you here in the studio. Google - how many employees do you have today?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Just north of 16 000 worldwide.
MONEYWEB: And the market cap at the last count?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Something north of $180bn.
MONEYWEB: The Google Story. David Vice made a lot of money out of this [book] - if you can just pick it up there on camera three? - if you've never seen it before, is this prescribed reading to anybody who joins your company?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: We actually spend a great deal of time with new hires - we call ourselves the Googlers - we spend a lot of time teaching people what our culture is about and how do we think about the world, and how did we get where we are, because it's so important to us. Our culture is our greatest single asset. So, although it isn't prescribed reading, a lot of people have read it. It's a great book and there's a lot of discussion internally of who we are and why we are.
MONEYWEB: The question was because there's a lot of interesting information in there. Is it true, is it factually accurate?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: I'm sure a lot of it is.
MONEYWEB: All right, let's move on to something else. On Friday we had the dean of the local business school in here, discussing The Future of Management, a book that Gary Hamel has put together - I'm sure your top team at Google has also had a look at that, because you are one of the three companies that he has analysed.
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Gary Hamel is brilliant.
MONEYWEB: He is, and the stuff in that book, can we believe that as far as Google is concerned?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: It feels pretty right. Google has a pretty interesting management culture. Our belief is that traditional hierarchical organisations are really quite good at doing the same thing multiple times. The problem is and problems many face, and we certainly face at Google, you're not doing the same thing over and over again, you're trying to figure out exactly what to do next. So our management style is very, very flat, non-hierarchical, and very communicative. We're quite chatty, because we're trying to figure out, "Oh, you solved that problem this way, let's try it this way". We also do lots of experiments. So we try lots of things, many of which we expect to fail. At any given moment on, we have between five and 200 experiments going on, which are things being done slightly differently, most of which will have no effect and will vanish off the face of the earth, some of which might be sort of important and big and actually change the world[?]. That's our goal. We like to try lots of different things and be very communicative about them.
MONEYWEB: Those "new hires" that you spoke about earlier, do they find it a culture shock?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Some do. We obviously have a pretty diverse hiring pool. One of Google's explicit hiring goals is to hire as much diversity as we can - different ethnic backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds - because we want to try and get people with different perspectives internally. When you have people with different perspectives, they will try different things, they will solve problems differently, they'll argue, and so that all feeds into the innovation engine that drives us. So some of them may come from long careers with traditional companies, and it feels quite different to be at Google. Some might be fresh out of university.
MONEYWEB: Well, it will be interesting to find out Stafford Masie's story, because he's a guy from Eldorado Park now running Google in South Africa. It was interesting listening to you this morning, saying a lot of the guys, your peer group, were seeing the big cars in Eldo's and saying, well, this is perhaps the way to go, to become a gangster - and the only difference was that your father sent you abroad to see a different side of life.
STAFFORD MASIE: Ja, absolutely, and I think if we bring it back to Google, in the context of Google and what Google is, I think Google is that epitome of the online story about, you know, if we can get more and more people to be exposed to more and more people's opinions, I think your mindset changes. And the only difference between me and the folks back home where I grew up, and what they're doing today and what I'm doing today, is the fact that I had the opportunity to be exposed. And I think that opportunity every citizen of this country and this continent should have, and I think the Google story plays very, very well into that.
MONEYWEB: Why has it taken Google so long to get really active in South Africa?
STAFFORD MASIE: You know, everyone, when they look at Google - Google is a very young company. If you take a look at where we are today, I think the way they grow is, I think it may be slow from the outside, but it is commitment. I think every time Google takes a step, it takes a deep step. It doesn't necessarily just take steps. So they took some time hiring the right people in South Africa, and I think they're very serious about the continent. When I came into the company, one of the things that was pleasing to me was the founder's view of Africa, and how committed they are about Africa. And they really wanted people in the company that could articulate that and creatively ensure that the Google story in South Africa was an Africanised version of that story. And yes, it did take a while. I think people were anxious to have us. I don't think we were slow in getting here. And I think the fact that we're here now, we've got good intentions.
MONEYWEB: It's an interesting point you bring up there about the Google founders being interested in Africa, but there isn't a whole lot of bandwidth - not enough in South Africa itself, but further in the continent - so how are they going to play a role?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: I think it's really important to notice that we are a service player and we're not an infrastructure provider, but we're obviously very interested not just in South Africa - although we're speaking about South Africa now because we're here - but we're interested in the continent as a whole. So we actually have activities across the continent. We have the government of [indistinct] Rwanda, where we go [indistinct], we have an office in Kenya., which is our foundation arm, has launched a series of projects around transparency and infrastructure utilisation across the continent. We were very excited about the recent announcement by Seacom and EASSy[?] around new cables coming down. We think the access to information, access to [indistinct] is the key to long-term social change. We believe that social change arises from sustainable economic change, and sustainable economic change arises from job creation. Job creation is driven by small and medium-size businesses able to try their ideas and try interesting, entrepreneurial things. There are great entrepreneurs in Africa and at the moment many of them are unable to reach the world. We are very excited to see the spread of mobile and wire bandwidth to enable those people to reach the world.
MONEYWEB: It's so interesting this, many people will say, "Oh it's a nice PR spin that you're putting onto it" and even the credo of Google, "Don't do evil" - Is it true, Stafford?
STAFFORD MASIE: I think it is, I think it absolutely is. If I had to look at how the company deals with its employees, how we deal with ourselves in the local marketplaces we're around, the instruction that we get in terms of how we should behave in a Google way, we're not about being aggressive and talking bad and being evil. We're all about building great technologies and hoping people utilise them, and that's how we win.
MONEYWEB: And I guess in South Africa - and you made a big thrust about this, this morning, as well - it's all about mobile.
STAFFORD MASIE: I think it's both. I think, you know, if you take a look at Africa, there's a metro story around online and then there's a rural story. I think the rural aspect of Africa, the mobile device, is an interesting device because most people have mobile phones. I mean, those mobile phones, the capability on them, they're growing, they're connected and it's going to be interesting how that evolves. I think the metro play is where people have PCs and they have mobile phones. But ja, mobile is very, very important in Africa. One of the stats that I mentioned this morning, that I heard, was 78% of most people that have cellphones in Africa don't have PCs, and above 85% of that 78% will never own a PC in their entire lives. So mobile is important, and extraordinarily important for Africa.
MONEYWEB: But what can Google, which is associated with a PC or a laptop, do for mobile phones? How are you going to be able to read the information that you're given?
DOUGLASS MERRILL: It's actually interesting. A large number of searches worldwide actually come from mobile devices today. Mobile is one of our fastest growing areas worldwide. Even in the United States, which has a relatively backward mobile infrastructure, we see a large portion of our queries coming across mobile channels. We have a variety of mobile search efforts worldwide, and a variety of different ways of serving information. Google is not the Internet; we're the gateway to the Internet. So sometimes you can do a search on your mobile phone and get data back which isn't ideally representable on mobile phones. But one of the really exciting trends in mobile is the increasing use of full-featured Internet browsers on the phone - and you see this in a variety of smart phones worldwide - which are [audio loss], etc. The hardest part about it, and the most exciting about searching on a mobile phone, is it isn't the same as searching on a PC. On a PC you're happy to sit there and type, no problem. On a mobile phone, keying in a word using, for example, [indistinct], is quite difficult, so you have an interesting UI challenge. What you might be able to do is pick up the phone and say, "What's the address of CNBC Africa?" and get an answer back, and maybe even you get an answer back that includes directions - your interaction style with your mobile phone is quite different, and we're actually trying many dozens of things worldwide in this space.
MONEYWEB: The other thing about the Internet is, it is the great disintermediator. Once you can perhaps get a transaction engine onto your mobile phone, wouldn't that be unlocking a key to a whole new world?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: It could be. You know, the story of the Internet is a story of allowing people to quickly reach information and contribute to it, and we've seen disintermediation. We've also seen some re-intermediation, where you see different kinds of players helping people perform services or provide value-add services on top of search and interesting things like that. But fundamentally we believe all the world's information should be universally accessible and useful. And oftentimes what you want to do is do a business transaction - I want to buy a ticket, I want to buy that book. Doing that quickly and easily is obviously a really key...
MONEYWEB: Douglas, I know you travel a lot around the world, but when you have a look at Africa as a continent, is there an opportunity here to leapfrog? The technology is so far behind.
DOUGLAS MERRILL: I think all that sort of incremental growth strategy which in technology would be, you know, laying wire, or doing lots of things which actually don't make a lot of sense for an environment which has wealthy high urban concentration, but then a large percentage of rural. You are going to build a technology infrastructure in that world which is a pretty [indistinct] power creation, which is pretty mobile in nature, and which is pretty peer to peer, and you're going to try to get people to talk to each other and then use that to hop back to Europe or back to data in America, you know. But that's a wholly different technology infrastructure than, for example, we built in the United States. So I actually think you're going to see fascinating technology be developed here, and perhaps in a year, two years, five years, ten years, we'll be talking about how Africa is in the lead in some interesting ways because they wouldn't have been hamstrung by that which we learnt before.
MONEYWEB: Douglas Merrill is the chief information officer at Google in the United States, and we're also talking with Stafford Masie who is the South African manager. We'll be back in just a moment, stay with us.
Welcome back. We are talking with the Google guys. Well, our "guys", anyway. Stafford Masie is the South African manager. With him in the studio is Dr Douglas Merrill, who is the chief information officer at Google. Stafford, you said in the presentation this morning that the time has come for South Africa, that you could not have been launching Google into the South African market at a more appropriate time. How so?
STAFFORD MASIE: I think on many fronts. I think we've seen a big change in terms of what technology actually means to GDP. I think government understands that the margins are extremely important. I think we've got terminology like the digital divide that's been spoken about in parliament, and [audio loss] we have great examples worldwide about people that have been connected and have utilised technology and have great success. I think of people like Mark Shuttleworth. You know, there was a South African flying our flag in zero gravity - and what was the basis of that success? Well, he had computing power and he was online and built something extraordinarily well.
MONEYWEB: And he sold in February 2000 at the top of the Nasdaq.
STAFFORD MASIE: Correct. So we want to see more of that, and I think it is very topical today. And I think that the skills pool in Africa - we have so many people walking around with awesome ideas, with great ideas, and I think if we can simply connect those human beings and have them have the capability to express themselves to the entire world, you know, I don't see why we can't have a Skype in South Africa. [Overtalking] I don't see why Facebook couldn't have started here. I don't see why Google couldn't have started here.
MONEYWEB: We don't have the bandwidth.
STAFFORD MASIE: Today - and I think that's changing. I think Google's role in the country is to personify that and say, here are case studies, here are examples of people that have gone online, that have leveraged the opportunity, and they are making a living of being online in South Africa. And I think if we proliferated that across the country, we could have mass upliftment. I think the transformation story, I think about where we [audio loss] technology plays a very big role in that part.
MONEYWEB: You going to change the advertising model, to many degrees. Again in Davos last month they were talking a lot about changing analogue dollars into digital pennies. In other words, for the advertiser it is a whole lot cheaper to reach your new market, and Google has brought a lot of this on. But isn't there a downside to that?
STAFFORD MASIE: I don't think so. I think we have seen innovation in the advertising space. I don't think we've per se changed it. I think the way people are doing research, they are going online, they are spending more time online finding out where they want to go in the world. They are spending more time on "should I purchase this vehicle?" They are spending more time online creating content about different things. So advertisers - we provide them a platform that is very targeted in terms of spend. We've got great metrics for showing you where every single rand of your spend went, and we're here in South Africa to prompt advertisers to spend more online. And I think the value propositions we are trying to display - I don't think it's a big change, I think it's a supplementary aspect of the portfolio of advertising. I think you've still got digital, you've still got print, you've still got television...
MONEYWEB: Where does all Google's advertising worldwide come from, then? Surely from the existing advertising cake?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: It's actually quite complicated to answer that questions. Right before I came here I was speaking to one of the world's largest advertising agencies, and one of the things that they have told us is actually that they are better able to get advertising into the pipeline because using [audio loss] just online. We also provide radio advertisements, television advertisements, print - we have several different. As Stafford mentioned, you can measure your efficacy. One of the great problems of advertising historically has been that you don't actually know what happens as a result of that ad. In all of our technologies you know what happens as a result of doing ads. It changes advertising from an undirected cost, to a cost of sale. At that moment you know not just that I have just spent some money, but I spent some money to get that amount of revenue, which is a completely different way of thinking about advertising.
MONEYWEB: Absolutely, and far less wastage, as well. Again at Davos they were talking about 80% of advertising being wasted at the moment, whereas in the Google way, of course, 0%.
STAFFORD MASIE: And here in South Africa on the ground we have seen that. As we engage with clients, they may be spending X per quarter online. Once we demonstrate and educate and show them what Google's capabilities are to empower their businesses online and to do more, we see that spend trend differ completely. But we see it as supplementing, we don't see it as, "OK, we are going to take from this and give it to this". We are actually seeing advertising budgets increasing because the portfolio extends, and we've got great capabilities in our portfolio.
MONEYWEB: Maybe we can address this in a different way. What has happened in this and other parts of the world? Google is in 60 countries now, where you have entered the marketplace in the same way as you are with Stafford here in South Africa?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: I think it's very important to notice, if you think about Google's business model, most of our advertising is online. Not all of it, most of it is. And that online advertising is what's called pay-per-click, and the advertiser doesn't [?indistinct] pay me something to display his or her ad. The advertiser pays Google if, and only if, a reader, a searcher, a user finds it useful enough to click on it. So that means that it's a lead, a valid lead. It not simply, in other words, you are paying me for nothing. And furthermore it means that the advertiser is only getting really interesting, useful qualified leads. So instead of Google stepping in and taking money out and simply sucking money like some giant vacuum cleaner from the local market, we only win to the extent that money flows in to these local businesses, these local advertisers. So what we find is that our reaching in to new markets increases our advertising share, increases the return on investment advertising; it can change it from pure advertising to a cost of sales, and tends to help grow economic development. Our perspective, again, is that sustainable social change comes from economic change. So for us to be able to bring money into the environment creates the opportunity for sustainable social change.
MONEYWEB: More efficient allocation of capital.
DOUGLAS MERRILL: More efficient allocation of capital.
MONEYWEB: But it does change the cake. If I am a business and it's cost me $100 to get a lead through a traditional source, an analogue source, and it's going to cost me one $1 to get a lead through a Google source, well, it's not going to take me too long to work out that that $100 should be better spent over here. What is your natural percentage of the market, though? Or what would Google, or maybe, say, online advertising's natural share of the market be?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: It's hard to argue with that natural share. I mean, the market hasn't existed long enough. There are three major online advertising players...[audio loss] last year out of a global advertising market, a market of more than three trillion. There's clearly quite a bit of non-online spend still in the world. Advertising agencies in the United States have asserted that we are many times, sort of [indistinct] more effective than the next best form. But advertising that is online, click-to-pay advertising versus offline, largely it's the wastage issue you brought up already. It's hard to argue that $16bn out of $3 trillion is the right level. I don't have a crystal ball, I can't see the future, but one can only imagine that advertisers are rational beings and the natural rate will flow based on that return on investment.
MONEYWEB: And in South Africa it's very small at the moment, so you have a lot of upside?
STAFFORD MASIE: Yes, I think there is a lot of upside, absolutely, and I do think that online from an international inventory perspective is extraordinarily important to South Africa. We've got a large export market and we've got a large travel and tourism market. Those markets want to get to people outside of South Africa, and online presents a different opportunity. Some have leveraged the opportunity, but not truly and not to the full extent that they could. And we want to teach folks, hey, you know what, you can get to everyone. If you want to know, as a bed-and-breakfast, that the Germans are going to travel more or less this time, we've got that insight. Or if you want to know when the UK markets is probably going to want to do a safari, we can give you some insight into that. So I don't see it as eroding. I see it as supplementing, and we are seeing it appending. So more and more people are putting more money into advertising, and they are doing it online because we have this international focus here.
MONEYWEB: The point that I did bring up with Douglas a bit earlier, about transaction - in South Africa, with exchange control it's a huge blockage here. You can't go onto Apple iTunes for instance. PayPal, invented by a South African, can't even be used in this country. Is that not going to put a little blockage in the way that you are looking for more transaction-based revenue?
STAFFORD MASIE: I don't think so. I think we have had some limitations. Absolutely. But things will change. As more and more people come online, there are different methods to transact. I think you have mentioned a couple. We have seen some innovative ways that people are transacting locally, and it's not just about international people transacting into South Africa, but it's also inter-sub-Saharan connectivity and people trading from...
MONEYWEB: But take that German who wants to book at a bed-and-breakfast in South Africa - how is he going to do it right now?
STAFFORD MASIE: Well, we've got lots of relationships. You can do it through some our [indistinct] relationships...
MONEYWEB: But he can do it directly - there's no problem with that. But a South African who wants to book in the United States might have a difficulty because of exchange control.
DOUGLAS MERRILL: There are many countries in the world which have pretty rigid exchange-control models, and South Africa is obviously one of them, but there are some others. And there are a variety of business models that have emerged to address that problem worldwide. To your earlier point, international currency flow is a pretty clean, natural market, and there will be ways to transact across exchange-control barriers.
MONEYWEB: Well, it's been fascinating looking at the intimacy of it. Douglas, I can't let you go, though, without picking up on the Google IPO. You are the man behind the thought process and one would wonder - it was so successful, why haven't you used the algorisms that you brought in for Google for maybe other IPOs?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: There were a group of us who recorded the idea, and I was, you know, fortunate enough to be one of those people. The actual core idea was from Sergey [Brin], who recognised our advertising market. Our advertisers bid to get an ad. They don't say, you know I will pay $5 - it's not a preset price list. They bid, and then the person who bids the most, in conjunction [audio loss] position. And his perspective was, why shouldn't we do exactly the same thing for our national listing. So, we figured out the mathematics of an auction that would make sense. We built a set of systems to do it, and we [indistinct] ourselves as pretty successful. We got a good price for our company. We got a lot of individuals into the market who might not have been otherwise. We didn't have super large blocks going in the traditional way allocations are done. But we didn't view our success [audio loss] public only through an auction. Our success was we weren't people that talk about the allocations of IPOs, and who gets initial grants. And we feel our conversation started and still goes to this day. We actually feel we were quite successful.
MONEYWEB: Is there an application a little bit further - you have exchanges, stock exchanges, foreign exchanges - that you can take that technology and perhaps implement it there as well in time to come?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Who knows what we will do in the future, but obviously you do see pretty rich auction behaviours in exchange futures. You do see pretty rich auction behaviours in certain kinds of exchange-traded funds. The computational hedge fund model is effectively a back-end auction. And you see the same technology, whether it be us or others. The legend of...
MONEYWEB: Are you looking at it, though?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: Look, we look at lots of things. I have not idea what we are looking at. You know, I learn something new every day. But there are lots of brilliant people [audio loss] the notion of applying mathematics and computers science to problems that were traditionally solved, perhaps, by a group of people in a closed room smoking cigars. The more that you can render that explosive and make it mathematical and fair, there's a social good...
MONEYWEB: I heard Bill Gates say three years ago that he regarded Google as the Number 1 competitor, which was a surprise to many people at the time. Now it's quite clear that there is no question that Microsoft is very worried about you. Is it the same in the Google place. Do you worry as well about big Microsoft?
DOUGLAS MERRILL: I can't tell you what a compliment it is for a Bill Gates to talk about this little company of ours as the Number 1 competitor. He's an amazingly brilliant man. He and his team of engineers have been around, you know, they have been a profitable company for over 20 years. They make more than a billion dollars in profit every month [audio loss] for them to compliment us by saying we're the Number 1 competitor - what a compliment! We are core believers that you don't drag your business [indistinct]. We focus on our users - and what our users want us to do, we try to do, because our users are always one click away from leaving us. We figure as long as we do what our users want and we do it well, and we keep our social [indistinct] off, we keep not going evil, we will be successful.
MONEYWEB: Dr Douglas Merrill, who is the chief information officer at Google in the United States - and we also spoke to Stafford Masie. Hope you enjoyed that. That's all from Power Lunch, which is brought to you in association with Moneyweb.

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