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Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Device for revolution

The search for next killer app is a product of two important components, the device and the service. However, real world economics drives each one independently though over a feedback loop. Consequently, we have mobile device manufacturers trying to add functionalities of popular services (like internet connectivity for email) and services are being designed taking into consideration the new devices (like m‑blogs).
I have mentioned about the components of device in my earlier post an year ago. Between that time and now we have significant developments along the lines of what I had written about. I am just going to summarize some of these developments.

Processors have gotten better
Mobile Processors are now a lot better with certain mobile devices now calling themselves computers, particularly Nokia N-Series Mobiles. These are not special processors but standard processors with stable OS with an ability to deal with text, different installable applications and their file types, streaming media etc. So now our mobile devices can identify different profiles of data like documents(Word, pdf, etc), html (xml) files, contact information files, text files, calendar entries, pictures, music files etc.

Devices have more memory
After a lot of development involving IPods and Mp3 players, we now have about 4GB of memory being stacked in a Sony Ericsson phone. The developments mini SD and micro SD cards, packing up to 2 GB in a micro SD, bring more good news.

Devices have better Human Interfaces
Human interaction with the devices has improved with touch screens, bigger screens, video conferencing cameras and full-function key boards being available on mobile phones. We also have mini USB to interface them with other devices.

Battery life is better
In spite of the famous Sony battery recall, we now have better and longer lasting batteries and devices that use power more efficiently. Put together we have more juice in our hand-held than few years back.

Network Interface
Devices are now ready to access the network in more efficient manner. Nokia phones now come with the capability of accessing 3G network and Wi-Fi networks.

All these developments have in fact set the stage for a string of developments. We should now see set of applications that can revolutionize the use of mobile devices in years to come. These applications will trigger a realization of importance of security identification that will influence further development of applications.

Next let us try and understand what killer applications can make our hand-held devices even more important to us.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The next Killer App from Microsoft!

Long after the post-dotcom era dust has settled, the search for the next killer app continues. People are looking everywhere for the application that will have as big an impact as the internet. Everything from “Web 2.0” to “ubiquitous computing” and everyone from Google to SUN is being scanned and groped for a hint of “killer app” potential. Well, not exactly everyone, no one is searching Microsoft!
Yet, Microsoft has under its hood assembled technologies that, if assembled intelligently, can deliver the next killer app! I have been loosing sleep over the next killer app till it all occurred to me. My confidence in Microsoft emanates from the fact that under all the inertia, Bill and his boys have assembled quite a bit of stuff.

Microsoft understands things others understand
Three key areas which are most definitely going to be part of the next revolution are also areas where Microsoft has established expertise. They are:
  1. Devices: Microsoft understands variety of devices from servers, personal computers, Pocket computers, mobile phones, game stations, music players, clocks and what not! Microsoft knows how to make these things work, connect and share data.
  2. Search: Window’s Live is Microsoft’s biggest bet in web search business. It might not be successful as a business but it is good enough to demonstrate Microsoft’s technical capabilities. Further the tight integration of search with Vista and Microsoft’s inherent strengths at desktop search are well known.
  3. Security: I realize that I am treading soft ground but I trust Bill’s team to know and understand a lot about security. After all they created too numerous security holes than the entire programming world put together.

Beyond this, Microsoft also understands key skills operationally required for delivering the next revolution. Tons of cash, enviable marketing and sales engine, global reach are key enablers that can multiply Microsoft’s capability.

But the most important thing Microsoft understands…
That has to be “context”! Have you noticed a pop-up that irritates us when we start typing a letter in MS Word? Microsoft knows that you are typing a letter. Microsoft also knows who it is being addressed to and the location, email address of the person. This through a feature called “smart tags”.
Google on the other hand does not understand context. Nor can others.

Put together…
Microsoft can deliver the next revolution. This revolution will be created through a two level approach:

  1. At one level will be a device connected to world through a spate of technologies including WLAN, 3G.
  2. At Second level there will be services that will through software, social networking site technologies and other sharing enabled technologies will create unparalleled utility.

In my next posts I will detail more on each of these. Meanwhile, I just hope people at Microsoft, particularly one who is in India currently, take notice and start working on getting us into the next technology revolution!