Faces of the fallen – UK soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

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Whatever your views on war, the stories of these brave soldiers are worth reading – UK deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan

A debate on standards and the evolution of standards: Why is it needed now?


Was it Napoleon who said that All my generals are ready and prepared to fight the LAST battle – i.e. they are ready to face the situations they have encountered previously – but that logic may not apply in the NEXT battle.

Based on that view, a debate on standards and the evolution of standards is needed today considering that we are focused on the existing scenario – but the future of standards and innovation may be very different.

Hence, we need to innovate standards but not standardise innovation .. and worse avoid ‘standardising standards’ i.e. think that standards are ‘one size fits all’

I have covered the evolution of standards before on the Open Gardens blog , and I have been invited to contribute to the Talkstandards forum and speak at their first conference in Brussels.

I am also an early member of the Open Web Foundation besides also project managing the initial analysis of the OMTP Bondi project – OMTP Bondi has gained much kudos since for it’s pragmatic approach to standards evolution.

So, this subject has been close to my heart and possibly a subject for a future book on the future of Open standards and some more thoughts below

The evolution of Web standards and its impact on innovation

We all accept that standards provide some benefits to society. For instance, the simple case of using different power adapters in different countries is a nuisance.

Considering the emphasis on Web standards, there are three facets to the Web:

a) As an Internet of people(person to person communication mechanism)

b) As an Internet of Content and

c) As an Internet of services(Cloud computing)

So far, the Web has largely been about the (a) Internet of people and (b) Internet of Content. The future will be also largely dominated by the Internet of services(c) i.e. Cloud computing

Standardization – at the communications/network layer and standardization at the application layer

There is a big difference between standardization at the communication/ network layer and standardization at the application(web) layer. For instance, the Internet protocols like http need to be simple, global and standardised since they pertain to the communications paradigm. However, at the higher layers – we see a more complex scenario which is primarily not communication based. For instance – we see market uptake of Flash(and its adoption for YouTube) and the iPhone. Both of which are primarily not communication platforms(For instance, the iPhone is primarily oriented on providing the best user experience). Thus, already we are seeing an acceptance of non standard initiatives

Going forward ..

The Cloud(the Internet of services) is a major paradigm shift since we are now seeing an emphasis on service(in addition to communication and content).

In doing so,

a) The Internet of services spans multiple devices and encapsulates the Web and the Mobile domains

b) The Internet of services changes the emphasis to the ‘service’ and the ‘service level agreement’ and away from conventional web standards, open source etc

c) In pragmatic terms, The Internet of services will mean that process level interoperability will not be achieved i.e. Amazon’s Cloud services being able to invoke Google’s Cloud services. So, the emphasis of Open will shift to data portability.

Impact on innovation

This shift has the potential to affect innovation. For instance, today many startups can avail of Amazon’s cloud services such as raw storage capability, Reliability, Cost effectiveness ex pay as you go, Localised versions(European hosting), Load balancing etc. While the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud may not be ‘Open’ in the conventional sense as we know it – it is the future of services and grassroots innovation from the many startups that will avail its flexible architecture to create innovative services.

Hence, it’s a debate worth having .. Comments welcome

Defining Cloud computing in one sentence ..

I was trying to define Cloud computing in one sentence and here is the best I can come up with when I was reading a blog by Irving Wladawsky-Berger (of whom I am a big fan!)

So, In my view, A definition of Cloud computing in one sentence is:

Cloud computing is an ecosystem of an Internet of services where both the software and the computing power are provided on an ‘on demand’ basis

Some notes:

If we expand this idea of Internet of services more then I see it as:

There are three facets to the Web:

a) As an Internet of people(person to person communication mechanism)

b) As an Internet of Content and

c) As an Internet of services

So far, the Web has largely been about (a) and (b)

Now we are talking about an Internet of services(c)

In doing so,

a) The Internet of services spans multiple devices

b) The Internet of services changes the emphasis to the service and the service level

c) The Internet of services will mean that process level interoperability will not be achieved i.e. Amazon’s Cloud services being able to invoke Google’s Cloud services. So, the emphasis of Open will shift to data portability.

So, that’s the shortest overview I can come up with for Cloud computing and it’s disruptive potential

forumoxford future technologies conference: thanks and what a great day!

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forumoxford future technologies conference – Many thanks to all and what a great day!

What started as a conversation between me and Tomi Ahonen at the Cafe Nero in Oxford street has grown up to be an institution in a matter of three years reflecting the power of the community

Thanks to my three partners in crime for this event – the core team which runs forumoxford conference + forum is me, Tomi, Peter Holland and Dr Rebecca Lingwood.

Many thanks to Tomi, Peter and Rebecca and also to our sponsors and speakers and attendees. Like I said in the closing remarks – so many of us stayed the whole day including Graham Trickey (senior director of GSMA) and Vic Keegan(Guardian journalist whose views I follow)

So, I am exhausted but happy!

You can follow the twitter feed #forumoxford

I think the best compliment came from @Seb Haigh who said on twitter #forumoxford = TED’s serious oxford telecom

TED is a goal for us to aspire to and we have a long way to go but its great to see the comparison

Many thanks again to everyone

Who reads books on iphone and why?

Curiously enough, according to O Reilly books are the fastest growing category on the iphone.

Qs is – who reads books in iPhone and why?

As a publisher, I am very interested in this but also curious

Can we unwind the free business model? – Devices as a de-facto micropayment system ..

David Evans asks: Can we unwind the free business model?

He says in an insightful blog post:

We’re currently moving through a period of disequilibrium. The prevailing price structures and ways of doing things are unlikely to be viable in the long term. As more eyeballs move to internet connected devices, the supply of advertising inventory is going to grow explosively and it is going to become cheaper and cheaper for advertisers to reach massive audiences or just the right audiences. But as advertising fees decline, web publishers are going to have to find other revenue streams to survive. When we come out of this period of disequilibrium, my guess is we’ll end up in a mixed world where there is still free content supported by advertising, there’s much paid content, but the content creates enough value that people are willing to pay for it. Content will evolve and improve. Face it, a lot of free content is crap because it doesn’t have to be very good to get people to consume it just for enduring some advertising.

Pricing and business models can and do change with the times. The commercial web is only about 14 years old and advertising-supported web content really only took off, along with what we now call Web 2.0, five years ago. We’ll see lots of adjustments in the coming years as all this gets sorted out.

I agree to the overall principle but think that the advertising alone is not enough. People are paying for the same content when it is consumed on devices or in another format

Example: Books are the fastest growing category on the iPhone

The Expresso book machine is revolutionary

Nokia Comes with music is becoming a success

The Amazon kindle is already making traction and we see that the traditional media will lose out unless it evolves ITV misses out on Susan Boyle fame

The caveat is: prices may be lower in the digital world – and that means the traditional media will suffer due to it’s large overheads i.e. content will be paid for but at a lower pricepoint . That’s partly why ebooks never took off since many tried to charge the same cost for the ebook as they do for the print version(which is silly) but only now is the ebook market taking off driven by Kindle and Sony book readers(devices) but at lower pricepoints

Thus, in my view, in the Recession devices may be an avenue chosen by content creators since devices (when they sell content at lower pricepoints) will act as a de-facto micropayment system.

Expresso book machine is a game changer

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Expresso book printing service is a game changer .. suddenly its a nice time to be a publisher :)

“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”

ITV misses out on Susan Boyle’s fame ..

This shows why the old media need the web inspite of all their protests ITV misses out as Susan Boyle conquers web

ITV has missed out on sharing a million-pound windfall from clips of Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle uploaded onto video website YouTube.

Boyle’s performance on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent has attracted more than 100 million hits on the site in a fortnight as the 47-year-old church volunteer continues to captivate a huge global audience.

But the financially beleaguered channel had insisted that no advertisements be shown alongside the clips until it has thrashed out a deal with Google, which owns YouTube


Part of ITV’s reluctance to agree a deal with YouTube could be because it wants to maintain the traffic to its own website. There is also speculation that it is trying to strike too hard a deal, using Boyle’s unique position as a bargaining tool for a better share.

Another explanation could be ITV chief executive Michael Grade’s public loathing of YouTube, which he has branded a “parasite” living off TV shows and content created by the commercial broadcaster. Grade’s announcement last week that he was stepping down as chief executive may help to thaw relations.

Ways for Operators to differentiate in the Open ecosystem – Infogin


I have been tracking ways in which Mobile Operators can innovate in the Open Mobile ecosystem .. and here is an interesting one from Infogin

In the V8.4 of its the Intelligent Mobile Platform™ (IMP™), they have a feature called Marketing intelligence

Marketing Intelligence – InfoGin’s set of personalisation tools includes History/Favourites and Preference Settings; the new version also enables mobile users to view and share the top most popular Web sites on the same network.

From an Operator standpoint, this is innovative since it allows them to create a social network/social relationships between members of their own network.

I will be tracking more such features and products for Operators to differentiate themselves in the Open world

LG reports strong numbers: Differentiators prosper – the vanillas suffer

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Following on from Nokia’s numbers, LG reports strong numbers. Both of these number(Nokia and LG) indicate that the market is evolving and the emphasis is shifting to higher value items(smartphones and services) which are leading to a differentiation between the players.

What do we think of this? I see differentiators prosper – the (plain) vanillas suffer ie if you cannot differentiate(in the minds of the customer) then you become a commodity. LG and Nokia demonstrate in different ways how they are doing well through differentiation

what do we think?

Things to note for me:

1) LG has shifted the emphasis to higher value devices and this has lead to higher profitability

2) Quality vs quantity

“LG’s mobile phone division showed strong profit, especially in China and North America. Instead of selling more in terms of quantity, LG sold more expensive phones.”

3) “LG is targeting over 10% growth quarter-on-quarter by focusing on high tier, feature rich products.”

4) New phones like LG Smart that push the boundaries for phones

One to watch ..