Time magazine lists discovering Ardi amongst the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009

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I blogged about the significance of Discovering Ardi and its nice to see that Time magazine lists the discovery of Ardi among the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009. Have a look at the other items in that list as well (including decoding of the human epigenome).

Time magazine Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2009

1) Our Oldest Ancestor, “Ardi”

2) The Human Epigenome, Decoded

3) Gene Therapy Cures Color Blindness

4) A Robot Performs Science

5) Breeding Tuna on Land

6) Water on the Moon

7) The Fundamental Lemma, Solved

8) Teleportation!

9) The Large Hadron Collider, Revived

10) A New Planet (or Brown Dwarf?) Discovered

Image source: sciencenotes blog

Wish you a Merry Christmas

Wish you a Merry Christmas! Hope you have a good break over the festive season

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Source: http://i-love-cartoons.com/snags/clipart/christmas/peanuts/Christmas-Snoopy-Lights-Tree.jpg

Distimo launches appstores.info

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Distimo has launched an interesting site called Appstores.info which lists different appstores by different parameters like platform, country etc

I like Distimo’s work and Remco was a speaker at the Mobile apps event in San Diego in Oct at CTIA and he will also be a speaker at the Mobile Web and apps event at CTIA Las Vegas which I am chairing

Mobile Cloud Computing – the silver lining for Operators

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I have followed Mobile Cloud Computing from mid-2006 on the OpenGardens blog even before the phrase ‘Mobile Cloud Computing’ was common.

Recently(Aug 2009), Mobile Cloud Computing has been in the news when a report from ABI research said that Mobile Cloud Computing subscribers would total nearly one billion by 2014

While it depends on how you define/count these subscribers, I agree to the basic proposition that Mobile Cloud computing will be very significant.

This article explores Cloud Computing from an Operator perspective and discusses the synergies and opportunities for Carriers. I will outline an initial view here and elaborate later in subsequent articles if needed.

Mobile Cloud computing has a silver lining for Operators for at least three reasons:

a) Security

b) Data and

c) Access

Cloud computing

Firstly, a brief definition of Cloud Computing . Cloud computing entails the availability of software, processing power and storage on an ‘as needed’ basis. Cloud computing reduces CAPEX investment. It’s key characteristics include agility, reduced Cost, device independence, reliability (multiple redundant sites), scalability, security and reduced maintenance. Cloud computing applications can be broadly divided into:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) ex Amazon Web Services provides virtual servers with unique IP addresses and blocks of storage on demand;

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Ex Google apps – A set of software and development tools hosted on the provider’s servers.

and

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) : Ex web based email – in which the provider allows the customer only to use its applications.

Operator Mobile Cloud initiatives so far

Orange calls Cloud computing as ‘Flexible Computing’ and it allows businesses to outsource their IT infrastructures

Verizon calls it’s cloud computing service as ‘Computing as a Service’ and the service enables users to provision blocks of 50 to 100 servers from weeks to minutes. Pricing is on ‘per server’ basis, which it believes is easier for the end customer to understand

Vodafone has announced a strategic partnership with Decho to launch a range of cloud computing services starting with Vodafone PC Backup. The ‘backup’ offers a simple on-ramp for business and personal customers to Mobile Cloud services.

O2 has launched the O2 Bluebook, among others. T-mobile and BT also have cloud offerings.

The disruptive potential of Mobile Cloud Computing

According to the ABI report:

There are two primary reasons why ABI believes cloud computing will become a disruptive force in the mobile world. The first is simply the number of users the technology has the power to reach: far more than the number of smartphone users alone. The second reason has to do with how applications are distributed today. Currently, mobile applications are tied to a carrier. If you want an iPhone app, for example, you have to first have a relationship with the mobile operator who carries the iPhone. If you want a Blackberry app, the same rule applies. But with mobile clouding computing applications, as long as you have access to the web, you have access to the mobile application.

Let us consider first the ‘feature phone’ argument. It is far fetched to think that existing feature phones could gain the capabilities of Smart phones only from Mobile Cloud Computing. However, the boundaries between Smart phones and feature phones are blurring. So, this may well hold true for forthcoming ‘feature’ phones. Richer clients like Microsoft Azure, HTML5, SIM/SCWS, BONDI stack, One API etc could all help to enable Smart phone like features to feature phones.

The Access argument has two sides to it: Firstly, Access is becoming more lucrative and will be more so with Cloud computing applications.Secondly, the ‘apps’ opportunity is based on ‘Long tail’ applications and is of lower revenue potential for Carriers.

a) Access from a Cloud computing applications perspective: Cloud computing application s will need a separation of access and service to take off. This means that an app on ‘Orange’ can be accessed from ‘Vodafone’. As the ABI report says, if apps become access agnostic, then this trend benefits the customer and the developer. Currently, fragmentation hampers developers and the existence of an Open, cross-operator Mobile Cloud computing application benefits both customers and developers since the addressable market for apps increases. I believe that in the long run, Operators may forego the ‘apps’ opportunity (which is small from a relative standpoint) in favour of Cloud virtual server hosting, Security and Cloud services opportunity.

b) Access from a mobile ISP standpoint: There is however another side to access when compared to fixed line access. In the article Not every cloud has a silver lining, Cory Doctrow says that

Likewise, you can buy a no-name quad-core PC with the aforementioned terabyte disc for £348. This machine will compute all the spreadsheets you ever need to tot up without breaking a sweat.

Going into the hard-drive business or the computer business isn’t cheap by any means – even with a “cloud” of Chinese manufacturers who’ll build to your spec – but it’s vastly cheaper than it is to start an ISP. Running a wire into the cellar of every house in an entire nation is a big job, and that’s why you’re lucky if your local market sports two or three competing ISPs, and why you can buy 30 kinds of hard drive on Amazon. It’s inconceivable to me that network access will ever overtake CPU or hard-drive for cost, reliability and performance.

By extension, since Mobile broadband does not entail running a cable to every home, it has a unique advantage in future to provide access (which in turn benefits cloud computing)

Client for the Cloud, the Web OS and Security

Many of the initial ideas for Cloud computing were based on the proposition of complete platform/ device independence. However, if the Cloud needs a client, then we have some interesting implications. I have discussed this idea before SCWS SIM as the Cloud computing client for the Mobile Network Operator . It also indicates the need of a Web OS, again discussed in a previous blog

The Web OS from a user/mobile standpoint – A gedankenexperiment .. – How would the WebOS look like to a user?

Thus, Ray Ozzie’s ‘Software plus services’ vision may be accurate. There are of-course many choices for the ‘client’: Microsoft Azure, HTML5, SIM/SCWS, WebOs(BONDI stack) etc.

But once we accept that the need for a client exists, then the need for end-to-end secure connectivity also arises. And therein lies the silver lining for the Operators – for instance using the client to authenticate services or for using the device in three factor authentication.

To conclude

Here are some thoughts on the opportunities for Carriers in the Cloud computing space

a) Mobile Broadband: – broadband connectivity access. The fixed line cannot compete with mobile access for the reasons mentioned above

b) Cloud computing applications: will need a separation of access and service to take off. Operators may forego the ‘apps’ opportunity(which is low from a relative standpoint) in favour of the other options.

c) Providing security for an end to end connection will be an important role for the Operator. This includes authentication both for Web services and as a part of three factor authentication

d) Carriers currently have a lot of data about consumers including behavioural data. That data has limited usage currently. However, it can be used once the carriers ‘sign up’ new customers. Ex to reduce churn. Thus, once the carriers have the new virtual server hosted customers, the data acquired by the carrier from various sources can be used to serve these ‘new’ customers. This could be an interesting opportunity

e) Note that the phrase ‘Mobile Cloud Computing’ itself has meaning only from an access standpoint. For instance, the ‘backup’ could work for any server (fixed or mobile).

f) Virtual server hosting good starting point but it is just the beginning. Potentially other services are possible starting with the Cloud backup. However, if we consider the contra argument, web based backups are already possible for example from services like Mozy Pro. However, these services are not ‘value added’ in any way – for instance the Web backup service does not use the data to sell me personalized advertising

g) For device vendors, apps are critical. One could view apps strategy to have a cloud component ex: Apple (MobileMe), Nokia (Ovi), and Palm (webOS). I elaborated this trend in detail in my blog about BADA

h) LTE and ‘metering’ may also have a part to play if all these servers are backing up data

Comments welcome. I will try to elaborate more in subsequent sections.

Image source: educationerp

counting down days to …

Amateur YouTube video from Uruguay leads to Hollywood contract ..

I always said that YouTube was the most democratic media channel in the world .. and this just proves it – talent from anywhere in the world gets a voice on a global footing!

Love this :) Amateur YouTube video leads to Hollywood contract ..

Request for participation: 2010 Mobile Industry Predictions – from Chetan Sharma

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Our friend Chetan Sharma has his annual industry survey with some interesting questions and the prize this year is my new book Open Mobile! Survey ends Dec 28th.

Please go to Chetan’s blog to complete this brief but interesting survey

Nexus One: Is Google taking the mobile data industry to be beta testers?

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Dont get me wrong .. I am fan of Google and Android and Open source and now even the proposed Google phone since it is good for the customer.

The question for me is: Google seems to have taken the other handset vendors and Operators as beta testers.

Now, suddenly we see a very unique version of Android for the Google phone.

Same happened with Droid as well i.e. Droid had Google written all over it. And surely that has to come at the expense of other handset makers supporting Android?

While I can sympathise with Google and their desire to create a totally special experience, it is hard to take their statements on face value. Yes, there is the technicality that HTC(and not Google) is actually building the handset, but the intent is very clear. This is the Google phone ..

The only way this can work is – if the phone is completely radical(example based on VOIP/ Gizmo5 type functionality) which wont compete with existing handset vendors.

Else, it is hard to see why handset vendors will trust Google again!

Having said that, competition and innovation is good for the industry .. especially coming from Google but it is time for Google to be truly innovative especially if they appear to be pi**ing off their partners ..

By that I mean, an incremental effort wont work.

There is a good reason that we have only five major handset vendors .. Its a hard business and capital intensive ..

Should be interesting to watch ..

Image – Techcrunch

Motorola milestone(Motorola Droid in the USA) tipped to me more successful than the iPhone at launch in the UK

Online retailer eXpansys has revealed that the Motorola Milestone handset sold out in less than three hours after its launch last week which beats the iPhone.

This is the first Android 2.0 phone and clearly there is some public interest in it. Being an Android fan, I am happy but also happy for Motorola which has so emphatically come back in the game thanks to Android

10 tips for Android application development – can you offer more?

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Our friend Zigurd Mednieks , co-author of

Android Application Development has 10 tips for Android application development. Can you suggest more?

By the way, Android Application Development is a great book and I have know Zig for a while and recommend his book and his blog 4thscreen