Being Phileas Fogg, Day 3

September 8, 2007

I was reading today during breakfast the Economic Times of India when I came across a really interesting interview with the CEO of Airtel India, Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal. He was making the point that given the development cycle in which India is in mobile is as important as broadband. According to the CEO of Airtel, consumers expect in India expect a seamless experience from broadband to mobile, and from mobile to TV.

When we funded Meridea back in 2001, we commissioned a research survey among CEO/CIOs to understand their likelihood of mobile booming as the channel of choice for financial services. And back in 2001, the answer was a resounding yes. However since then, mobile has not really picked up due to a number of reasons going from device limitations, network limitations, bandwidth costs, and security issues. The end result was that Meridea struggled to sell in a market when only broadband was important. The key value-added of the software were its multi-channel features, but the market did not want to think multi-channel.

However, if Mr. Mittal would be right, and I believe he might, especially given the low penetration of copper infrastructure in Emerging Markets, a multi-channel solution like Meridea definitely makes sense to address both content distribution and interactive services.

The fact that TV is listed on the list make me wonder though, since good TV infrastructure with interactive features depends again on copper or fiber, not available generally in most Emerging Markets. So perhaps Airtel is thinking about adding mobile devices to TV sets? Now, that would be interesting.

After finishing breakfast, I got into a cab, and started heading down to the office in MGR. It's an older building than EGL, and the age tells internally. The Yahoo premises are quite well-maintained anyway. Funny enough they have the same elevator problems as we do in London.

I did take a look at several projects, one of them being OurCity, which is beautifully minimalistic. If you have not had a chance yet, take a look at OurCity. OurCity works with the notion of modules, and a module repository. A module is a composition of a view and a data source, which will normally be a parametrized service call. You create modules and add them to a slot in a layout, which itself you can manage. Simple, elegant and efficient, it allows Yahoo! to quickly create local presence without major editorial costs.

For dinner I went with the team to a local Indian restaurant "apt" for foreigners. Really nice place in MGR, and great company. Believe or not, we actually spent most of our dinner discussing about architecture and design, the value of standards, technology strategy, etc.

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