Mobile Content World: Deer In The iPhone Headlights

This morning I attended the first day of Mobile Content World in Sydney.

It’s an interesting time to have the mobile industry talking about content in Australia, given the pending arrival of the Apple iPhone, especially since it will be supported by no less than three carriers.

The first panel session, after the usual keynotes, was a cacaphony of carrier reps. I couldn’t help feeling, that as much as they tried to stay off the path, they were deer in the iPhone’s headlights. The full browser experience is going to shake their businesses to their foundations.

As Google‘s Nick Heller pointed out to me in the break, they are experiencing 10x the amount of search queries via the iPhone compared to any other mobile browser. That is a significant difference and one that will radically shape the user experience and concomitant ARPU for all of the players moving forward. Walled gardens, however much players like Telstra try to argue that they are open gardens, remain… well, …walled gardens and consumers will leave them in droves for the open web.

The mobile browser situation, however, is far from settled. A case in point is the $13M in Series B funding SkyFire has picked up in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners to develop a downloadable browser to work across all mobile-device platforms.

This Mountain View company aims to replicate the PC experience on mobile handsets with an everything works mantra – Flash content, Web 2.0, Ajax etc.

Kleiner Perkins-iFund backed Pelago has also raised a $15M Series B to continue developing Whrrl, its mobile social network. MocoNews describes Whrrl as:

a mix between Facebook, City Search and Loopt. The social networking element is that you can share this information with friends, the directory part is that there’s a list of restaurants and events that your friends can rate and say whether they are going to or not, and the Loopt part is you can see what your friends are up to.

Clearly there is much afoot in this space. I’ll watch closely to see how the Australian carriers and mobile players shape up over the coming months as the iPhone permeates their ecosystem. Stay tuned…

[Picture courtesy of heritagefuture]

Facebook To Choose Open Sourcing Its Platform As Next Move

TechCrunch posits that Facebook‘s next move is to open source its platform. This would be a bold move on their part. To enter the open source realm is no trivial matter for any company, especially when it is not already a deep rooted part of that company’s culture.

The big questions that arise:

* what open source license would Facebook choose to operate under

* what parts of their platform would be open source versus proprietary

* will they operate under a dual OS/pty model, like mySQL and Sleepycat

* what level of support would there be for adopters of the OS platform – a spec, reference implementation etc.

UPDATE: TechCrunch has been able to confirm that fbOpen, Facebook’s open source initiative will be announced shortly.

[Picture courtesy of Laughing Squid]

Blogging 2.0: Or The Day Twitter Took Over The Web

Twitter database crash notwithstanding – today mark’s a key inflection point.

Michael Arrington took the giant leap forward at about the same time as we landed on Mars. In blogging an empty post about Twitter he took us onto a higher plane: gone is the incessant blogger’s penchant for more words. And judging by the uptake of Seesmic’s embedded video comments plugin in the comments section to Michael’s post, gone too is the obsession with text blogging.

Here’s Duncan Riley’s Blogging 2.0 take:

The Calacanis Rule: If You Don’t Start You Can’t Iterate

Jason Calacanis was a hit at our Innovation Bay dinner last week. Not only is he passionate about the web space, but he’s also a died in the wool entrepreneur.

This same passion comes through in his recent post about getting into the game. It’s easy to sit back and be an entrepreneurial spectator, but taking that initial kernel of an idea and championing it takes guts.

It doesn’t really matter if your idea sucks, there is a very high probability it will morph along the way. Jason points to how his businesses all shifted focus. The web is full of examples – photo sharing site Flickr, for example, started life out as a virtual world.

The key thing and what we’ll call the Calacanis Rule is:

If you don’t start, you can’t iterate.

I agree with Jason: “Just start.”

Get out there and talk to people about your idea, get behind your product and push its barrow. Yes, you’ll have people telling you it’s dumb and will never work. But stick to your guns and watch your product form, meld and grow.

Godin’s Rule: Working The System Trumps Beating The System

We all know that while tax minimization is ok, tax evasion will deliver us into hot water – fast.

Seth Godin compares this and other binary activities of going with the flow, rather than trying to cut through it and crystallizes out a rule that can be applied to the web:

The web is nothing but a system, a bunch of (largely unwritten) rules regarding search, linking, promotion, etc. It’s fascinating to watch as some people work hard to work the system, and succeed time and time again, while others waste countless hours with one scheme after another designed to beat the system. They invent cloaking devices and seo scams and pyramid schemes and lightly disguised spam pages, constantly struggling to stay ahead (and to stay quiet). Sure, you can beat the system (any system) for a while, but it’s a constant struggle.

He has a good point – play in the spirit of the game and you’ll continue to be a player.

Are The Odds Stacked Against The Mobile Internet Being A Success?

There is a lot of buzz these days around the mobile Internet. Kleiner Perkins has set up an iPhone venture fund and Metarand itself has included two mobile ventures in its top three Australian social media startups for 2008.

But there are caveats and traps waiting for the uninitiated in this arena. Joi Ito explains:

I don’t think there is anything wrong with mobile or with some of the great new mobile applications and devices, but we have to be careful to remember that most mobile networks that actually work are built on infrastructure that is operated by a small number of mobile operators who use a lot of regulated and closed technology.

Joi compares the open innovation culture that exists within the broader Internet arena with the telco landscape which conists of overregulated, giant vendor ecologies.

He makes a very good point. Countries that have a small number of dominant telcos are littered with the remains of former bright-eyed startups who thought they could feed off the giants.  Only to find that they were not able to get their product onto the carrier any time under an 18 month lead time. And when they finally do get on-deck they are squeezed on price and the carrier’s sales staff do not push them to their customers.

The odds are stacked big time, but for companies who are able to work their way around a reliance on carriers there is loads of upside.

[via Boing Boing, picture courtesy of Mixmaster]

Australian iPhone Set To Fire On All Cylinders

Great news for Australians, many of whom have patiently waited and salivated over the iPhone phenomenon.

Their version will deliver a blistering 42 mbs via 3G. And it will be in stock from early June.

What’s more it will be available on three different networks and not be locked into a carrier walled garden. This has caused a bit of scurrying amongst the telcos who are quickly realizing that their lock and load approach has become redundant.

[via ChannelNews]

Metarand Unplugged: Bob Lee, CTO of Wigix, About Online Marketplaces and eBay 2.0

In this session of Metarand Unplugged we explore what stacks up to be the Web 2.0 version of eBay with Bob Lee, Co-Founder and CTO of Wigix.

Wigix has been described as “an organized eBay with a social media twist”.

Listen to the show as we explore how Wigix “kicks eBay in the balls”. Funded by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and set up by three former Charles Schwab execs, this is definitely a company worth adding to your watch list.

Length: 40 minutes.

Stream the Session in Quicktime:


Stream the Session as an mp3:


The Science Behind Spore

It’s only a few weeks until the Spore Creature Creator is released, so to whet your appetite for this highly anticipated game, creator Will Wright shares with us his thoughts on the science behind it.

We’ll have to wait until September for the release of the full “personal universe in a box” Spore game.