The World Economic Forum (WEF) calls it “the new oil” and “a new asset class”. The vast loads of data have been likened to transformative innovations like the steam locomotive, electricity grids, steel, air-conditioning and the radio.
There were 30 billion gigabytes of video, e-mails, Web transactions and business-to-business analytics in 2005. The total is expected to reach more than 20 times that figure in 2013, according to Cisco. Cisco estimates that in 2012, some 2 trillion minutes of video alone traversed the internet every month.
What is sometimes referred to as the internet’s first wave — from the 1990s until around 2005 — brought completely new services like e-mail, the Web, online search and eventually broadband. The next one – connected the world into social grids giving people identity and voice. For its next act, the industry has pinned its hopes, and its colossal public relations machine, on the power of Big Data itself to supercharge the economy. Some call it Web 3.0, some call it Big Data.
Is Big Data pure hyperbole….
There is just one tiny problem: the economy is, at best, in the doldrums and has stayed there during the latest surge in Web traffic. The rate of productivity growth, whose steady rise from the 1970s well into the 2000s has been credited to earlier phases in the computer and internet revolutions, has actually fallen. The overall economic trends are complex, but an argument could be made that the slowdown began around 2005 — just when Big Data began to make its appearance.
All that promise of Big Data or even Social web hasn’t exactly fired the economic engines of the world as they were expected to. The promise is real – so why would such a disturbing trend start building – One theory holds that the Big Data industry is thriving more by cannibalising existing businesses than by creating fundamentally new opportunities. Online companies often eat up traditional advertising, media, music and retailing businesses, said Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Minnesota. “One falls, one rises — it’s pretty clear the digital kind is a substitute to the physical kind,” he said. “So it would be crazy to count the whole rise in digital as a net addition to the economy.”
… or are these early days?
Other economists believe that Big Data’s economic punch is just a few years away, as engineers trained in data manipulation make their way through college and as data-driven start-ups begin hiring. And, of course, the recession could be masking the impact of the data revolution in ways economists don’t yet grasp. Still, some suspect that in the end our current framework for understanding Big Data and “the cloud” could be a mirage.
There is no disputing that a wide spectrum of businesses are now using huge amounts of data as part of their everyday business.
Josh Marks (CEO masFlight) helps airlines use enormous data sets to reduce fuel consumption and improve overall performance.Although his first mission is to help clients compete with other airlines for customers, Marks believes that efficiencies like those his company is chasing should eventually expand the global economy. For now, though, he acknowledges that most of the raw data flowing across the Web has limited economic value: far more useful is specialised data in the hands of analysts with a deep understanding of specific industries.
Some economists argue that it is often difficult to estimate the true value of new technologies, and that Big Data may already be delivering benefits that are uncounted in official economic statistics.
Also, infrastructure investments often take years to pay off in a big way, said Shane Greenstein, economist at Northwestern University. He cited high-speed internet connections laid down in the late 1990s that have driven profits only recently. But he noted that in contrast to internet’s first wave, which created services like the Web and e-mail, the impact of the second wave — the Big Data revolution — is harder to discern above the noise of broader economic activity.
… reproduced from Will big data prove to be an economic big dud?
On its 15th birthday, Google unveiled the “Hummingbird” algorithm which is touted as the most radical change to the Google Search engine over the last 13 years. The last major upgrade to Google Search was the “Caffiene” and this update is likely to effect 90% of Google’s search results throwing the SEO/SEM industry topsy turvy. As users upgrade to more complex search strings, “Hummingbird” searches for a context in every search as against its 15 year old formula of matching keywords. Deep down in the core, the latest changes “hummingbird” is a subtle shift in terms of addressing the web in terms of semantics – the context.
For instance – a search query such as “Did FBI plot JFK’s death?” would throw up results based on matching the whole sentence (Priority 1), and then throw searches on “JFK” and on “FBI” – the later results only throwing results on Kennedy and FBI. The Hummingbird however understands the semantics behind the query – and is going to respond in terms of “Did FBI plot JFK’s death?” to “Other conspiracy theories around JFK’s death – to what has been FBI’s stand on JFK’s death through the years. It might throw up a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or an Edgar Hoover for instance. All a part of a semantic schema.
Or for instance “Pizza in Delhi” would throw up Pizza options but also could throw up options such as newly opened Mexican restaurant serving Burritos or likewise. An earlier execution of the same query would throw up – Pizza, Dominos, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut – all and only Pizzas. The “Hummingbird” would understand the context – a snack or a meal to mine results.
Thus, these changes could also drive up the price of Google ads tied to search requests if websites whose rankings are demoted under the new system feel they have to buy the marketing messages to attract traffic. However more importantly, this is a significant shift to a more context aware web – understanding the semantics – and a vertical integration of the search results. I call this Web 3.0 or Semantic Web. Whats your take?
An interesting infographic on Google on its 15th birthday. The $60 billion internet giant possibly will possibly end up having the same impact on history as Industrial revolution 500 years back.
Source: Statista/ Mashable
As Larry Page & Sergey Brin celebrate Google’s 15th birthday today, even they must be pinching themselves at the thought of just how far their company has come. Google permeates our everyday digital lives in a way many thought unimaginable, even when its humble web indexing algorithm became a verb used in common speech around a decade ago.
Before 10am this morning we’d checked Gmail, watched a YouTube clip, accessed a Google Drive document, checked the location of a gig venue on Google Maps, amended our Google Calendar and put some last-minute research into this very article using Google Search all on a tablet running the Google Android OS.
Make no mistake, Google as we know it today is arguably the world’s most important and influential company. How, after just 15 years, did it reach such stratospheric heights?
When Sergey met Larry It all started back in 1995 when prospective Stanford University PhD student Sergey Brin encountered computer science scholar Larry Page on a campus visit. According to Google’s own website, the pair fondly recall how they disagreed about practically everything they discussed that day.
The Early Days
In 1996 the pair began collaborating on Page’s ‘BackRub’ search engine, which by August that year had indexed 75 million URLs and eventually became too big for Stanford’s servers to handle. BackRub became Google (a play on the mathematical term Googol meaning 1 and 100 zeros), the pair garnered some investment, moved into a friend’s garage and, on September 4 1998, the company was officially incorporated in California.
The company’s name was inspired by its desire to organise the infinity of the web in a logical way and from an early stage it seemed Sergey and Larry’s secretive algorithms had a leg up on the competition. By the end of 1999 it had gained massive investment from Sequoia Capital, moved to Mountain View, got a dog and hired a chef. A year later it was pulling April fools pranks, launching in 10 new languages and becoming Yahoo’s default search provider.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the company began selling ads based around search keywords. It was the fruitfulness of this venture – where competitors floundered – that gave Google the financial clout to expand beyond search.
The hire of Eric Schmidt as chairman and then CEO of the company in 2001, allowed Page and Brin to focus their attentions on broadening the company’s product offerings. By this time, Google Search was indexing over 3 billion pages on the web and had established dominance. ‘Google it’ was slowly becoming the default term for search. So the company launched Google News, an aggregator that initially served up 4,000 news sources, and Google Labs, a place where web users could try out experimental tech developed in the company’s R&D department like voice controlled search,
keyboard shortcuts and browser toolbars.
Google’s stream of successes
In 2003, it acquired Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger. In 2004, it launched Gmail, powered by Google Search and bought Keyhole, which would eventually become Google Earth. A year later it launched Google Maps, soon adding satellite imagery and step-by-step directions, as well as Gtalk and the now dearly departed RSS reader Google Reader. Calendar, Picasa and Documents (following the acquisition of web-based word processing firm Writely) arrived in 2006, Street View arrived to complement Google Maps in 2007 and the Chrome web browser made its debut in 2008.
A hugely significant landmark was its heavily-hyped stock market floatation in 2004, by which time the company had commandeered 85 per cent of all web searches. With its IPO Google secured a value of $27 billion, making Larry and Sergey very rich men indeed. Believe it or not, some thought the company had been overvalued based on Yahoo and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to build rival search engines. With the cash flowing in from Wall Street in 2006, Google moved for its largest acquisition to date by snapping up the YouTube video-sharing site for $1.65 billion in stock and began selling ads on videos.
Since then, Google has continued to cherry pick companies and start-ups with fervent regularity. Over the last year it averaged one acquisition a week, with notable examples including Motorola’s mobile unit ($12.5 billion), smartwatch manufacturer WIMM and community sourced navigation application Waze for the small matter of $1.3 billion.
Android on Mobile
Getting all its ducks in a row on the web allowed Google to line-up an assault on the mobile world with the Android operating system, which has undoubtedly proved to be the company’s biggest success outside of search.
Set up in 2003 by Andy Rubin and co, Android was acquired by Google in 2005 and pitched as an open source operating system for a new breed of smartphone devices. It’d be another three years before the first devices would emerge, setting the industry on a path to the Android / iOS duopoly as Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry fell by the wayside. The arrival of Android and its subsequent success through eager manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG may have ruined Google’s cosy relationship with Apple – Steve Jobs threatened to go “thermonuclear” on Android and accusing Google of “wholesale ripping off” iOS – but by this point it didn’t matter.
Google had made itself indispensable to iPhone users, while regular dessert-themed software updates (you’ll see statues of each strewn across the front lawn at Mountain View) continued to push Android towards fulfilling its potential. Custom skins from its manufacturing partners also provided innovative new twists and nuances.
During the early days of the Android era, Google launched its first piece of branded hardware, the Nexus One made by HTC. The buggy device proved a bit of a disaster with Google selling through its own fledgling store, rather than through networks, meaning limited customer support for buyers. Google learned a valuable lesson and devices like the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 7 tablets have proved huge hits. Globally, it currently boasts around 80 per cent of the market and its increasing tablet share has allowed Google to push itself as an all-things-to-all-people entertainment content company too.
There are even dedicated games consoles like Ouya and the Nvidia Shield running Android, while smartwatches, televisions and cameras boasting Google’s software are becoming more and more prominent. Next up? Google Glass.
The foiled and the failures
However, it’s not like everything Google touches turns to gold. For every success the company has enjoyed down the years, there’s been a failure.
As much as Mountain View endeavours to make the Google+ social network the centre of its ecosystem, users just aren’t biting. Its previous social experiments, Buzz and Wave were not well received. It also bought mobile social network Dodgeball in 2005, before the founder Dennis Crowley got frustrated with Google and left to start Foursquare.
Jaiku, a microblogging platform Google purchased in 2007, went the way of the dodo, while Google Latitude, a Google Maps tool that broadcasts the users location, was met with trepidation. The iGoogle personalised homepage, which has been re-imagined on Android as Google Now, was another casualty on the web.
More recently, the cloud-based Chrome operating system, which features a suite of web apps and appears on Chromebook devices with little or no local storage,hasn’t been around quite long enough to be deemed a failure, but it can’t be deemed a success either.
Google TV, the company’s effort to bring its search expertise to the TV world,allowing live television and on-demand video platforms to be seamlessly integrated and joined by high-powered Android apps and games seemed like a good idea in principal. It somehow snatched failure from the jaws of success and now the tech world is simply waiting for Apple to jump on board.
The Ethics Debate
Google’s company motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’ is a commitment to doing right by the world with the idea that it’ll prove beneficial from a business standpoint in the long run. It’s a noble and rare ethos for a company with a market cap of around $300 billion, and although the world is probably a better place thanks to Google, the motto has left the company open to criticism when it is deemed to fall short. Rivals and competition regulators in the EU and US have accused Google of manipulating its search results to ensure its own products, such as Google Play apps, are ranked higher than more popular iPhone apps.
And Google has been in trouble in multiple countries, including the UK, for harvesting data from public Wi-Fi networks while driving around in its Street View cars. This was dismissed by Google as a simple mistake. Then there was a consolidation of 60 privacy policies from its various products (YouTube, Gmail, Chrome etc) into a single document in 2012 which didn’t give users the opportunity to opt out.
Google is also good at putting people in their place over their data. In August this year the company said its 425m Gmail users should have “no reasonable expectation” of privacy. Then in same month, the company claimed UK privacy laws have “no jurisdiction” over the company, amid allegations it by-passed do-not-track software within Apple’s Safari browser in order to provide personalised ads for users.
And then there’s the small matter of tax. The incredibly small matter of tax.
The importance of broadband penetration as a GDP driver isnt lost on anyone – especially in a state like India – and while the internet connectivity in India hovers at the 10% level – there’s quite simply so much more that is to be done to enhance the state of broadband in India.
A recent report from Broadband Commission For Digital Development, a United Nations set-up, launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational states That broadband in India has already generated nearly 9 million direct and indirect jobs, while a 1% increase in broadband penetration has potential to add US$2.7 bn or 0.11% to Indian GDP in 2015.
India ranks a distant 122nd worldwide in Fixed Broadband Penetration per 100 residents.Third world countries like Tonga and Kyrgyzstan are ahead of India
India also ranks a far-off 106th in the Mobile Broadband Penetration across the world per 100 residents.
In terms of households with Internet for developing countries, India ranks better at 75.
Percentage of Individuals using the Internet across the world, India is at 145 and among developing countries is at 98.
In 2011, India adopted the National Optical Fiber Network policy. The results are not obvious in the current time-frame.
India is also one of the first countries to launch LTE (4G telephony). This could accelerate service delivery in sectors ranging from health to public infrastructure, and thus drive a significant structural shift in consumer behaviour over the next few years. However from the current context India’s Broadband does cast an inadequate and be-littling picture.
Blackberry has finally cuts its jugular and the ride has winding down. Its been in the making for over 3 years now. The revenue and device shipment numbers are pretty surprising given how weak it is – the situation at Blackberry is much worse than anticipated. A couple of questions to be answered for Blackberry at this critical moment…
Where Blackberry disconnected?
1. An ageing portfolio that never saw much in terms of innovation – There were always a handful of Blackberries – Storm, Bold, Curve, Torch – 4 devices through 4 critical years when Apple and Android stormed the markets.
2. The customer experience was very below average – The BES and BBM were great services – but Blackberry was mighty bland in designing experiences around the customer and these services.
3. In an age where Applications are key and must be scalable across platforms, BlackBerry apparently provided no incentive to port many older BB7 business apps that enterprise companies use to run on BB10 on launch. That was being stupid.
4. Blackberry misread the BYOD wave in enterprise, blinded by its past glory of securitized enterprise solution. The segment where Blackberry was unassailable till sometime back -has simply moved on to other solutions from companies like include Citrix, MobileIron, Maas360, Microsoft and Airwatch.
5. Customers today are averse to be bogged down in their choices- to a hardware with a service bundle. They value flexibility in terms of choosing their own device and “Appizing” it with enterprise and security features.
6. The Q10 and Z10 was a case of wrong targeting – Blackberry could have probably done better with mid level and entry level phones for the customer – Their carrier commitments would have given them some solid seeding in the market and made numbers happen. As the portfolio is now pruned, it is interesting to note that within 7 months of launch, the Z10 is now being re-positioned as a mid tier device for emerging markets. The concern still remians that Samsung is eating everybody’s lunch in the mid segments across markets.
What do the current set of actions at Blackberry signify?
Cutting the headcount hardly addresses any of Blackberry’s pressing needs of the day.However, I don’t think anybody could do much better with it. The current cuts helps cleans things up for any type of potential deal or acquisition that they’ve been very forthright about seeking. Beaten on Hardware and pushed out of its enterprise security space- It’s probably going to find limited value for most potential buyers.Cutting operating expenditures deep is the best they can do to try to stabilise this ship.
Is Blackberry Attractive? What parts?
Even if Blackberry were to dissolve its hardware arm and its services arm and use its services arm – it would hardly be a cake walk as one would otherwise expect. The BYOD and the Apps space has cannibalized Blackberry’s USP. It is hardly the incumbent in the enterprise market.
Blackberry’s agreements and contracts with hundreds of mobile operators could be valuable to someone who has an intent to engineer a new mobile global network of devices or services (Apple, Google, Visa, Mastercard).
So, what can Blackberry expect?
The best Blackberry can hope for is a Nokia-style takeover, though who would actually take over is tough to imagine.
The other possibility is that a leaner BlackBerry will abandon the consumer market once and for all and get rigorous about becoming a niche company focused on a particular customer — one that needs security, control, and a few particular tasks done remarkably well, possibly even as a software rather than a hardware company. If the company is deciding to evolve to a service company, Blackberry needs to act small and become innovative like a startup
Nokia is selling off. Blackberry is winding down. Too Many other Asian Smartphone Vendors are churning out of business- the seismic level activity in Smartphone Industry is beginning to take its toll
Blackberry’s white knights – Z10 and BB10 haven’t brought the moolah home. In the Q2 pre-released earnings call, Blackberry has said that it will take a $1 billion pre tax hit on the their bottomline. Much of this – about $950-$995 million is to do with unsold inventory of Z10 at Blackberry. Worse there is a 40% workforce cut on the cards. In Q2, Blackberry sold close a 5.7 million units to end customers. BlackBerry is now predicting total second-quarter revenue of about $1.6 billion, compared with Wall Street’s forecast for $3 billion. Interestingly enough the revenue from the BB10 devices has not been accounted for – and all the revenue is mostly from the legacy BB7 platform. I was always skeptical of Blackberry’s comeback attempt with the Z10 and BB10. Always felt that Blackberry was looking at the wrong end of the market to stay relevant.
The good news is that it has a solid $2.6bn in cash and is debt free. The other is that the BBM would be made available to Android and iOS to increase its customer reach.
BB is seeking the current strategic alternatives –
1. Split the company. Spin of BBM as a services group
2. A sell out to a possible suitor for the hardware business – BB becomes a services company
1. Sell out the unit as a whole.
Going forward, BB is not only pruning its workforce but is cutting down its portfolio also, focussing on enterprise and prosumer-centric targeted devices, including 2 high-end devices and 2 entry-level devices in all-touch and QWERTY models. Blackberry is also supposed to be refocussing on end-to-end solution of hardware, software and services for enterprises and the productive, professional end user. This means that Blackberry is exiting the consumer market and getting back to its fort- the enterprise.
In any case Blackberry now ceases to be the force it was in smartphones. Blackberry had its moments in smartphone folklore and history – and yet again the example of a mobile phone company – which was out innovated in the game.
Read other posts:
2012: Make or Break for Yahoo!, Blackberry and Nokia
Blackberry share prices fall below book value
Blackberry: Past Perfect, Present Tense, Future Unsure : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Reprise
As many as 70 international and domestic OEMs sold 1.15mln tablets in India in Q2, 2013. This represents a double the number of tablets sold Year on year and a modest 27.2% growth quarter on quarter.
Samsung becomes the No.1 Tablet maker in the country after having been out of this position for a while while Micromax and Datawind drop. There are only 13 tablet vendors with more than a significant 20K volume output in Q2, 2013 and the top 3 take 43.4% of the market. The top 5 vendors accounted for 56% of the total tablets shipped.
Three trends being observed in the industry
1. Low end WiFi Tablets are bowing out to the entry 3G tablets. This is because of the low cost 3G MTK processors which provide a better option to the buyer to upgrade to 3G/SIM Tablets at minimum extra cost.Almost 80% of the Tablet models launched in Q2, 2013 were with both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, leading to a growth of 103% in shipments of 3G
2. With the requirement for mandatory adherence to BIS certification it will be difficult for vendors who do not get their products BIS-approved to sell in India. This may lead to some consolidation in the India Tablets market in the short- to medium-term
3. This is the first quarter when Tablets with dual-SIM functionality arrived in the India market, thereby giving vendors an additional specification to differentiate their offerings. Re,mains to be seen if a dual SIm tablet has any significantly different for the customer. (I am guessing it is not a hugely appealing proposition)
“I think the wrist is interesting” – Tim Cook
A compelling solution on the wrist is what Apple is focussed about as the next path of evolution in devices. Apple has also filled for a patent for an advanced wearable computer in the form of a bracelet that also doubles up as a watch.Apple’s patent details include:
1) A flexible substrate having a flat state and a curled state.
2) A flexible display disposed upon a first surface of the flexible substrate, where in the curled state the flexible substrate conforms to an appendage of the end-user.
3) The flexible substrate also includes an electronic module in communication with the flexible display, the electronic module providing information to the display, at least a part of which is presented in real time for presentation by the display.
4) The patent also states the use of a solar panel beneath the display of the watch as well as energy from the body movements/kinetics
In terms of features, one would expect a lot of sensors to go with the iWatch as is evident from the recent hiring trend at Apple (they have been picking up people from AccuVein, C8 MediSensors and Senseonics. Sensors would be key to Apple’s iWatch as it prepares to take the technology game into the “state of being” – Keiros as i had earlier blogged about.
The other definite spot on the Apple iWatch belongs to AMOLED/ OLED screens as light sources to use the light as a probe to collect a variety of biological information backed by a very high fidelity light sensor/ detector.
Apple has a lot of competence in the sensor space which it acquired a series of sport related patents from PhatRat years ago which covered medical sensor strips and a body area network that we reported on back in early 2010.
Apple also has launched the M7 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5s. The key task of this processor would be to collect motion data (via accelerometer, compass and gyroscope). Apple could bring in a whole new generation of more advanced health and fitness apps based on this processor. The magic about M7 also stems from its “contextual sensitivity”. The processor identifies user movement and can tell apps if the user is stationary, walking, or driving based.
To keep the ball rolling, Apple had a striking message in the WWIDC on creation and focus – and in the order of Apple’s culture – it is telling..
For the sake of the next in technology – let us hope the iWatch be the deliverence of Apple. The Apple that we have missed of late!