06 August 2008

Technology: Where are we heading to?

The technology discussion in Ctrl-Esc-Boys group continued. The below discussion is continuation of the stuffs mentioned in Have peaked out technologically ?.

Ritesh asks:
And what are the rest doing ? pour in your two cents.. the question still is : "Where are we heading to ?"

Rohith Reponds:

  • 0.000001 cent ... The debate about a new technology versus what a consumer wants - is not just between us. But one that is happening in every company that invests in newer technologies. First of all, a newer technology doesn't translate into new business! So, no one can predict the future of a technology before hand.
  • Companies those invested in 2.5G or 3G are still struggling to make real business out of it. One of killer application proposed was video on demand. But so far, I haven't heard a story about any success!
  • I believe Motorola is an example that burnt hands in investing in such newer technologies. Please correct me, if otherwise.
  • There are numerous factors that guide to technology success than just technology alone. While we are talking about video on mobile, that didn't succeed, consider, the recent "caller tune" concept. This is no new technology. But its a huge success! All the customer needs may not be your new technology!
  • So, bottom-line, is that technology is done by artists(as defined by Ritesh) - who rarely care about the implications. And putting into practice and most of the success is enabled by Businessmen.
  • Another e.g. While we receive numerous ads on our mobiles with new value added services (e.g., Astrology), rarely we try them. The problem is not with the idea of giving astrology on demand. But with the marketing strategy. The SMS with such VAS(value added services), generally end with "call at Rs 6 per min". Which deprives the user from even giving a try before actually subscribing to it. So, it marketing strategy that enables technology!
  • Another factor, is the consumer base. Imagine creating a business model for our own "miss call" communication.We give miss call to communicate, sometimes (or say most of the times). And this generates "0" revenue to the network operators. And with all the technology, if it doesn't generate any revenue, no wonder that the technology will die soon.May be its not a good example, but lot to infer from it. For sure, one cannot survive long, working for charity!
  • There are more factors to consider for the so called "technology" to be a success. What about the government policies? Negative impacts? The moment somebody utters "nuclear" all it comes to our mind is nuclear weapons, Hiroshima, World war II. But rarely we think of the other side of it - using for energy. In such a case technology doesn't remain technology anymore, but a disaster to the society.
  • So, technology is not just technology in itself. No one can predict !!

Naveen's(Thode) Response:
  • Interesting debate!! I am quite skeptic about Rohith’s claim that the technology does not drive new business. I am coming from the retail domain and have seen the impact of emerging technologies in the business for the good. In some of the instances technology has given a new dimension to few areas in the retail business.
  • Technology may not be influential in all domains but some. There is only a need to extract the essence of the technology to leverage ideas into the development of the business.
Rohith's Response
Yeah Naveen! I Agree. So, I correct my statement: "a newer technology may not always translate into new business" :-)

My Response:
Nice points Rohith. Here a few additions to your points
  • There hasn’t been a really ‘breakthrough’+’revenue generating’ service in mobile telephony in recent times. But if you had read Monday’s TOI business page there has been a new service by name Slydial. According the NY times article it’s a runaway hit. With that feature one can send voice message by avoiding conversation. Go thru the article, I feel it will be soon introduced all over the world.
  • Your point with respect to Motorola is valid. The other company falling in similar category for mobiles phones is Samsung. Inspite introducing world’s first mp3 phone and world’s first 8 mega pixel camera they still face a identity crisis outside South Korea.
  • Regarding Video-On-Demand, you are absolutely right. It’s not been successful as per expectations. There hasn’t been a demand wireless network infrastructure because youtube has just created a demand for wireline network infrastructure. Youtube has indirectly generated revenues wireline equipment makers such as Cisco, but not for wireless vendours. What’s the root cause ? … Physical limits. As we all know that all wireless(mobile) devices require battery power. Video streaming eats lots of CPU cycles and hence drains the battery charge. One can’t stream a video continuously for more than 15 minutes without charging the battery. Also replacing battery on the move is not practical. I used to do live network testing in Paris for Video streaming with charger plugged on.
  • A technology has to find right business model. Google was not the first company to create a search engine. As per my knowledge it was altavista. But google found a profitable business model even in dot-com crash era. In the process they were able enhance there search algorithm by retaining and paying their “artists”. Nowadays, their search interface has become de facto interface to the Internet.
  • Innovations may not lead into better standard of living. For example Microsoft has thousands of registered patents. Have they really introduced a innovative product post 2000 ? A organization has to innovate with ingenuity and introduce right product at right time. May be Microsoft is waiting for the right time.

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