Crossing the chasm with the long tail: Mobile web 2.0, mobile advertising, user generated content

In this blog, I ask the question is: How does Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm apply to a Web / Mobile Web based business? and I propose that : On the Web and the Mobile Web, you have to cross the chasm with the long tail

I was invited to be a part of the Nokia thought leadership program for the Nokia ad service facilitated by mobiadnews. This week, we had our first meeting. The group comprises some very interesting, senior people from some of the biggest companies in the world (I am not sure how much more I can blog about the attendees – but everyone in that room was very clued on – and I learnt a lot from it!). Many thanks to Nokia for inviting me.

I am interested in Mobile advertising because it is critical to the success of Mobile Web 2.0. In a nutshell, like Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 involves User generated content driven by mobile devices. Obviously, the advertising model is the best way to monetise that content. I am of course a big fan of the Nokia Ad service program – mainly because it oriented to the Long tail.

I raised this (i.e. Long tail) as a critical success factor for mobile advertising services. It was not possible to elaborate in detail and I promised to blog about my reasons why. So, here we are ..

Let us first understand the advertising value chain and the flow of money in it.

Note that some of these roles are being blurred – but for the purposes of this discussion, these roles are good enough(If you can add any more insights to this value chain, please comment and I shall incorporate that)

Money starts with the ‘Brand’ the advertiser(say Nike). The brand approaches an agency. The agency works with the Media buyers – who in turn, approach the publishers(i.e. the sites /destinations where the advertisement is actually placed)

This is a well established value chain – and worked well prior to the Web.

Web 1.0 (around 2000), tried to replicate the existing advertising model to the Web. That was not very useful because the Web was behaving in a different way to the advertising industry.

I believe that to understand this, we have to understand how Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm applies(or not ..) to Web based companies .

The basic idea of Crossing the Chasm is:

A company should focus on a single market, a beachhead, win domination over a small specific market and use it as a springboard to adjacent extended markets to win. .

According to Moore, the steps are:

- Target the point of attack:

- Assemble an invasion force:

- Define the battle:

- Launch the invasion:

Source: summary – as below

(If you have not read the book, see a summary HERE(pdf) )

The methodology has analogies with the D-day landings in Normandy

Question is: How does Crossing the Chasm apply to a Web based business?

More importantly, does it?

These ideas certainly do apply to a manufacturing type business .. but I believe that they don’t apply to a Web business.

Who exactly do we target?(because we don’t know who the customer is)

If we don’t know the customer, what invasion force will assemble?

Where is the battle?

What are we invading?

What if we can categorise the customer, but we are not sure that they will pay?

What if ..

We landed on the beach .. only to find sand?

Sand .. is actually a good analogy ..

Many small grains .. endless .. each with low value in itself ..

And that was essentially the genius of Google ..

Change the battle plan ..

Redefine the battle ..

Its ok if you don’t know the customer individually as long as you know the customer collectively aka the Long tail

Hence, on the Web, you have to cross the chasm with the long tail

If you think about it, it makes sense .. when a market is very tiny(as the Web was initially), it is difficult for the big media agencies to give it attention. When they did, it replicated their existing model – which does not go very far as we can see with Doubleclick v.s. Google(Google acquired Doubleclick .. and one would expect at the start that it may have been the other way round i.e. the big media model will acquire the new media)

The next big frontier is ‘mobile’ – and by extension mobile advertising

The same Long tail principles apply .. with one exception ..

Because the Mobile Web is fragmented, you need to unite it across some dimension across Operators. We see this with admob and screentonic .. both of whom have individually a billion ad impressions (across Operators) on the Mobile web.

If we naturally extrapolate this, the Nokia ad service is very powerful since it follows the same principles(Long tail) and unites the customer base across devices.

In some ways, this is counterintuitive – but the evidence of admob and screentonic shows that it is successful. As an industry, we are heavily oriented towards context .. context is great .. when we can achieve it .. but I believe that the Long tail + advertisement sponsored (user generated?) content could also be very successful – even if we had limited context – because the users would gain something of value.

West end clubs – the music must go on

Inspite of the threats to our society, .. the music must go on!

iPhone, Mobile ajax, Mobile widgets and insights for iPhone developers

On the eve of the iPhone launch, it’s almost obligatory to do a post about iPhone :)

With its emphasis on the Mobile web, Mobile ajax and widgets – the iPhone conforms very much to my vision of mobile applications when I said back on Jan 1 2006 that why mobile AJAX will replace both J2ME and XHTML as the preferred platform for mobile applications development (although then – I never thought that the iPhone would accelerate that vision so much)

Besides being good for the Mobile web, the iPhone will also set new standards for the whole industry.

How long can we continue to build old style WAP like applications?

How long will customers accept it?

Even those who have not bought the iPhone will have high expectations now.

The few companies like Opera and Nokia which adopted web standards and rich media

will be the real winners. Many like openwave have simply missed the wave .

In any case, with the genie out of the bottle there is no turning back

iPphone developers will be unique (at least initially) in the sense that they will mainly be from the USA and they may not have a background of working with mobile apps (often coming from the MAC development area)

So here are some of my insights for developers

a) Access to device APIs;

update: See clarification of this issue HERE

Another update:


I feel like a protector to walled gardens – however I stand by my belief that APIs must have some form of authentication.

This is not specifically a defence of Apple. But I believe that no one in the industry can afford to open up APIs without some restrictions/authentication.

For instance, as the phone becomes a wallet, free access to APIs would mean access to money. Similarly, other scams could be possible

Secondly, If Location is known, then there are protection and privacy issues especially for minors.

I believe for these reasons, we need some form of signing mechanism – i.e. a controlled access to APIs.


Many developers are disappointed because the iPhone does not allow access to device APIs. I believe that it is not absolutely essential to have access to device APIs. We can still build simple, useful applications which customers will like. Also, in many cases, device access may not be possible for more practical reasons like security, protection of minors etc. Thus, one would expect that over time some process like symbian signed applications will emerge and that would allow access to device APIs. The lack of such access is an interim measure in my view. It is not limiting in terms of the apps we can develop and we can still build useful applications even when we don’t have access to device APIs. Other comparable platforms like Nokia s60 and Opera are also in the same boat. Security and safety are important in this context and they cannot be ignored.

b) To me, the support for Mobile widgets is critical and one to watch. Have a look

at this excellent post from Niall Kennedy and also my post on the potential for the iTunes to be a delivery mechanism for mobile widgets. I am watching mobile widgets with great interest.

c) The rollout of iPhone itself needs to be watched. It’s interesting to see how the

iPhone will work with the second, third and subsequent operators. For an analysis of

this see – The iPhone is extraordinary not because of it’s UI but because it’s the tail wagging the dog ..

d) Since the iPhone is never going to be a mass market phone, the real winners here

will be companies like Nokia and Opera – both familiar with the Mobile web, Mobile widgets

and Mobile ajax.

Dan Appelquist also has similar views .. when he says ..

So, irrespective of whether the iPhone itself is a success (and if Apple’s previous product launches are any guide, it will likely have its ups and downs) it will be a wake-up call to complacent industry executives and a needed shot in the arm for efforts to expand the Web developer ecosystem into the mobile platform.

update July 4 : iPhone APIs 2.0 :)

iPhone has unlimited data price plans ..

unlimited data price plans are always of interest to me!

Not sure if this got missed ..

According to fiercewireless


AT&T finally announced three iPhone service plans, which start at $59.99. Each of the plans includes the same suite of “unlimited” data (email and Web), Visual Voicemail, 200 SMS text messages, roll over minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile. The plans are distinctive because of the number of minutes: $59.99 buys 450 monthly minutes; $79.99 buys 900 monthly minutes; and $99.99 buys 1,350 monthly minutes. There is also a one-time activation fee of $36. The carrier also mentioned that family plans are available for iPhone users.

“We want to make choosing a service plan simple and easy, so every plan includes unlimited data with direct Internet access, along with Visual Voicemail and a host of other goodies,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

Visual Voicemail is the feature both AT&T and Apple have been hyping the most for the handset, so it’s logical to make it an included service. iPhone users will be able to “immediately and randomly” access voicemail messages that interest them the most–just like email. The iPhone costs $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB model. The iPhone goes on sale Friday at 6 PM on the east coast.

mashup event: July 18 – TV 2.0 ..

Tony fish is doing one more mashup event on July 18 on TV 2.0. More details HERE

mashup* Event – TV 2.0

A mashup of TV, Web and Mobile is transforming the broadcast content world which has gone largely unchanged for its entire consumer life. For more than 60 years the TV has entertained, informed and captivated but as the traditional model disappears, content promises to become completely personalized, interactive and enjoyed on-demand.

A quick search for “TV” will give you a wide range of opinion on what TV2.0 could be, the imaginary services, the level of choice, new shared social experiences, the endless possibilities for new services and technology choices. TV2.0 mashup* event will provide speakers who can provide expert observations and debate about what TV2.0 is and how it will be delivered?

The debate will address:-

1. Who will generate the most content for a fragmented world? Professional or Amateurs

2. Which line of site screen will be the most valuable?

3. What does ‘no constraints’ really mean and how can it be delivered

4. What will happen to content made for an audience?

5. Will there still be a shared social experience. “What did you think of the Eastenders story line last night”

6. Which platform will be the most important web, mobile or broadcast?

7. Sky, BT, BBC, ITV – who will win and who will loose?

Mobile Web 2.0 applications: France Telecom and BT 21CN ..

This morning I was on a panel with Martin Duval Director Business Development – France Telecom and Jean-Marc Frangos SVP Technology and Innovation British Telecom Group at the California tech showcase in La Baule in France.

Both BT and France Telecom are doing some great work .. And they are each best of breed Operators in their respective segments(France Telecom for convergence and BT for network abstraction/21 CN)

Martin pointed me to three Mobile Web 2.0 applications which Orange Labs / Fance Telecom are working on ..

Pikeo Photos and geo tagging(pinning to maps)

Soundtribes user generated content and music

Bubbletop Organising information on the web

And Jean-Marc discussed BT 21 CN. 21CN is fascinating in itself .. But lot more seems to have changed every time I look at it. Have a look at the 21CN SDK

Both Orange and 21CN are text book cases of how to do convergence and network abstraction respectively. So, they are great showcases for the philosophy of Mobile Web 2.0 and it was great to meet Martin and Jean-Marc today

More on this soon ..

McJobs ..

I have been known to support a number of issues – often which fit in with my libertarian/free market/ business friendly view of the world.

For instance:

Individualism – The Red Cockatoo

The US Customs and border security force

The Girl with a one track mind


Tim O Reilly

Human rights in general

Welcoming Dr. Condoleezza Rice to the UK ,

Women’s rights – Kathy Sierra ,

so here is one more ..

It’s McDonalds ..

The Oxford English Dictionary currently describes a McJob as “an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects

. McDonalds are creating a petition to change that definition

I fully support that petition!

I, for one, have fond memories of Mc Donalds. As a new immigrant .. And later as an impoverished entrepreneur – in the early stages of setting up my business :) , McDonalds was a great place to go. The place is always clean. Open all hours of the day and night, the staff is polite, I see older and younger people working at Mc Donalds and I believe that there is a strong work ethic.

All qualities we should admire – rather than belittle – as the venerable Oxford English dictionary seems to be doing.

Further, anyone who has worked with me for even a modest amount of time, probably knows about my food allergies – especially to sesame seeds. Thus, with all my travel, to me – Mc Donald’s is a very safe place to go(try explaining to someone in Korea/Japan/Hong Kong – that you have allergies to certain things – it’s not easy!)

In any case, work is work .. No one should belittle it!

Chetan Sharma interviewied in Time magazine!!

OpenGardens blog contributing blogger Chetan Sharma interviewed by Time Magazine!

Well done Chetan!!

chetan_post.JPG By Chetan Sharma

Wednesday, Jun. 27, 2007

The iPhone’s Carrier Problem

By Jeremy Caplan

It’s one thing to get your hands on an iPhone, as folks camped out in front

of Apple stores around the country will do by the weekend. But there’s no

choice about the carrier: you only get AT&T (formerly Cingular) on an

iPhone. And so far, the early reviews have not been kind to the mobile

service and especially its cellular data network (“Pokey,” says the Wall

Street Journal; “excruciatingly slow,” says the New York Times. A spokesman

for AT&T said the company disagreed with those characterizations). Before

the reviews emerged, AT&T tried to play down the speed issue and play up the

new experience provided by Apple’s so-far well-received iPhone software.

“It’s not just the speed of the uplink,” says Carlton Hill, an AT&T

Vice-President. “It’s about the processor speed on a device and the

application design that enhance the customer experience. There are a lot of

ways to have an optimized data experience.” And the iPhone’s web capacities

are said to improve dramatically when it can sync up with local Wi-Fi

networks – if so, it would be a juxtaposition that may make the AT&T

connection feel even slower.

Nevertheless, analysts expect that millions of consumers will eventually

switch away from their current carrier to buy into Apple’s offering – and

that says a lot about how frustrated people are with the wireless carriers.

Forrester Research has found that the percentage of consumers who are happy

with their carrier has fallen steadily year after year, and more than 80% of

those surveyed by, a customer service rating site, aren’t

satisfied with their carrier’s service. founder Marc Karasu

says consumers are tired of carriers burning through hundreds of millions on

ads while ignoring major service problems. “Customers are screaming for

better service,” he says, “and if it doesn’t come from the carriers, it will

come from someone else.”

Here’s a look at what frustrates consumers most (some solved on the iPhone,

others not):


Consumers are tired of wading through eight messages to hear the one they

need (an inconvenience the iPhone is said to solve). And they are frustrated

that carriers erase old messages and tightly cap your inbox. With data

storage costs dropping, why can’t you keep your messages, or download them

to your computer? Imagine if Yahoo! let you keep just 30 or 40 email

messages at a time. (Instead they offer unlimited, free email storage).

“People treat voice mail like toxic waste,” says Craig Walker, CEO and

founder of GrandCentral, a startup that offers unlimited voice-mail storage.

“They feel like they have to delete every single message. But what if they

want to save something?” says Walker. “I have 10,000 emails in my inbox,

which is incredibly valuable. I can go back and find an old message. People

should be able to do the same thing with voice mail.” Consumers have long

been able to save e-mails, forward them at will and access them in whatever

order they want, so why is voice-mail stuck in the dark ages? The carriers

haven’t improved voice-mail because it’s harder to market service features

than, say, sexy phones that work exclusively on one network.


After shelling out $40 or $50 a month for a basic calling plan, carriers

pinch consumers for additional bucks over and over again. Starting with an

activation fee and ending with a cancellation fee if you decide to switch

carriers or want to cancel your service, consumers are squeezed for dozens

of add-on charges. For ring tones, video services, text messages, and just

about any specialty service that comes along to provide a convenience,

dollars are tacked on to your bill. Apple and AT&T are taking a step away

from that fee-squeezing model by offering all-in packages that include data,

video and text messaging. They start at $60 a month, though, and climb to

$100 for 1,350 monthly minutes of calling. That means that if you get the

$600 model and choose the top minutes package, you’re going to shell out

more than $3000 over the course of the required two-year contract. Oh, and

you’ll still have to pay $36 for activation.


The carriers continue to block access to their networks by mobile startups

even as these innovators offer new ways to watch and share video, trade

pictures, and use phones in new ways. “They control the industry but

strangle innovation,” says mobile industry consultant Chetan Sharma. They

limit the things you can do with your phone. They want you to pay them for

picture messaging, so they restrict independent providers of that type of

service. They want you to buy ringtones from them, so they cut off growth

and innovation in that mini-industry. They would prefer you to buy music and

video from them as well, and they would rather you not call internationally

without using their high rates. All of this means that consumers are

consistently cut off from inventive startups. The carriers control billing

for add-ons, and service providers selling ringtones, music, video, etc are

so new that they need the carriers’ help to gain a foothold. When the

carriers do open up to partners, they often demand a 50% of revenue, far

exceeding the below 20% share carriers get in other countries.


The mobile carriers have maintained unchallenged dominance over their

markets – and their customers. That’s allowed them to preserve their

potpourri of fees and to go slow on innovation, thus the stale approach to

voice-mail and other services. Google recently proposed an auction system

that would enable new players to buy into the wireless spectrum, an idea

that could open the door to the sort of competition in the mobile world that

enabled the high-speed access offered by better Internet Service Providers

to topple AOL’s old stranglehold on its customers. The carriers argue that

they have continued to innovate: “Over the last five years,” says Verizon

Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney, “wireless phones have gone from simple

calling devices to multifaceted device entertainment and productivity tools,

because of broadband-like technology.” But American carriers have a long way

to go. Phone service in the U.S. remains several steps behind Europe and



The leading Web merchants have set a high standard for quick response times

and satisfaction guarantees. Consumers want to be listened to when they

e-mail or call customer service. They hate waiting for 20 minutes on hold

and they despise droning voice-mail menus with seven options, none of which

is a real human on the other end of the line. If the carriers don’t step up

their service, Google and other Web giants may find alternative routes for

getting mobile services into the hands of consumers. Daniel Doutol,

co-founder of SpinVox, an innovative voice-messaging startup, says it’s just

a matter of time before companies like Google and Yahoo! compete more

directly with the carriers. Both portals, like Apple, have fiercely loyal

fans. About 55% of those asked in a survey by Equs Group, a market research

firm, said they would happily buy a Google or Yahoo-branded phone. It’s a

lucrative market: by 2010, about as many people will have a cell phone as a


link HERE

Goodbye Tony Blair – welcome Gordon Brown ..


Goodbye Tony Blair ..

One of our greatest prime ministers – except for Iraq ..


Welcome Gordon Brown ..

Backbase to Deliver Ajax SDK for Apple iPhone


I am seeking more information about this announcement .. According to the backbase press release …

- Backbase’s Enterprise Ajax software suite will support iPhone.

- In coming months, Backbase will also deliver Widgets and components designed to take advantage of iPhone specifications.

This is interesting and I suspect probably the first vendor to annonce iPhone support ..