Broadband To Leapfrog Australia To Head Of The Tech Pack?

I’m writing this from my Sydney home, being back in the country for a few weeks over the summer. My wireless is running on iinet, which draws from the Telstra backbone and despite support calls it’s as patchy and slow as can be. I am comparing this to the speeds I get back in Silicon Valley, of course, and by no means would I even think to add South Korea into the mix.

Yet, I am reading in Fortune about Australia’s broadband savior, Sol Trujillo. If you are to believe this article, this white knight has single handedly changed the course of the country’s “tech scene” by “shaking up” Telstra, the dominant telco and steering it to invest in a next generation network.

I like what he is saying about “high-speed, near ubiquitous wireless broadband” being a game changer, but remain sceptical that we are talking about the same playing board.

Telstra totally dominates the telco arena in Australia. Their pricing is not globally competitive – before moving to Woodside, I was paying US$25 a month for all you can eat ultra high speed broadband in Palo Alto. “Broadband” in Sydney costs easily 3x as much and it’s capped. I cannot begin to compare what it would cost to run an iPhone in Australia!

It’s great to see companies like Momentum, which is mentioned in the Fortune piece, continuing to build their business in the country, but I wonder how much stronger they would be today were they playing on a more level playing field. [Disclosure, I was an investor in Momentum]

I’d love to hear from Australians what they think about this article – truth or a pr job…is Telstra helping or hindering your company’s business?

NVCA Annual Survey: VC Glass Half Full Or Half Empty

As with everything in life, it’s how you view it that determines your response. You could bitch about how cool the Bay area is this week or marvel at the clarity this brings to the marvellous vistas that abound in this beautiful part of the world.

Same thing with the National Venture Capital Association’s annual survey results. Yes, by all accounts venture guys will be investing less in 2009 than they have done in 2008, but so what.

If your business is compelling enough chances are you stand just as good a likelihood of getting funding in next as in any year. Let others hold back or fold, this increases your funding probability factor.

That said, don’t let me belittle the task ahead for both investors and entrepreneurs – the air is cooler, you get to see further, but the mountains are no less steep. Keep on the journey.

[Pic courtesy of mrjoro]

Succeeding In Liew Of The Recession: 5 Tips For Internet Companies

Lightspeed Ventures partner, Jeremy Liew has written a great piece as his first Wall Street Journal guest column entry in which he explores a number of trends that will emerge in the new year.

His first point is that “even in a recession, people still want to be entertained”. I’d ratchet that statement up a notch – “especially in a recession, people need to be entertained”. Humans have a wonderful ability to side channel their consciousness to avoid discomforting things and escapism is rampant when times are tough.

He goes on to make some great points that are well worth reading. I look forward to reading more of his thoughts in further columns.

Ohai! Virtual Goods Are Not Just For Gamers

Former Charles River Ventures VC and now CEO of ohai, Susan Wu, gave a great presentation at Le Web in Paris earlier today about the market for virtual goods.

She pointed out that 70% of Tencent’s annual revenue of $1bn comes from the sale of virtual goods. Faced with minimal opportunity to monetize via online advertising in China, the company chose a different path. Considering that advertising is on the wane at present, many companies would do well to follow Tencent’s lead.

You can watch Susan’s presentation below, and I encourage you to do so – for me these closing words from her are a great call to action:

If your users are interacting or building relationships, you can monetize via virtual goods.

Your community will participate, with or without you.

Find ways to capture the passion from ‘verbs’ – behaviors users are already participating in.

British To Mind The Venture Gap With Billion Pound Funding

If things look tough in the Valley, spare a thought for companies trying to raise funding in the far flung reaches of the galaxy.

The UK Government is apparently taking this seriously and is going to launch an emergency venture capital fund to help startups through the funding gap that has grown yawingly big in recent weeks.

Do it. Fast. Don’t get caught up in bureaucracy. And whatever you do, don’t give the usual suspects the purse strings. Get innovative, get entrepreneurial and make speed your friend. Startups will love ya for it!

Other thoughts: broadstuff .

Will other countries follow their lead?

[Pic courtesy of HDR London]

Top 5 UiPhone Rules: Building Successful Apps

As the cult of Mac gives way to the cult of iPhone, it’s worth putting a peg in the sand around a set of design rules that define what makes an iPhone app work.

John Gruber has posited an excellent starting point with one overarching guideline for iPhone UI design:

Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience.

From this starting point he goes on to list a set of five rules or guidelines to continually parse against:

1. Each screen should display one thing at a time. That “thing” may be a list, but it should just be a list.

2. Minimize the number of on-screen elements.

3. Make UI elements large enough to be easy to tap; place them far enough apart that there is little risk of tapping the wrong target by mistake.

4. Eschew preferences as much as possible, and assume that nearly all users will use the default settings.

5. As you show more detail, conceptually you move from left to right – but it’s best to minimize how deep you can get while drilling down to the right.

Craig Hockenberry, who put me onto John’s “First Law of iPhone Development” reduces this to a one word iPhone principle: simplicity. As he points out, “doing as little as possible” can be your greatest challenge, but it will produce the highest reward – a successful app.

Craig’s methodology is to seek out the core function of your app and keep yourself true to this every time you work on it. He uses the example of Twitterrific, a Mac OS X client for managing your Twitter account. This, however, is not the core function of Twitterrific. Say what?

In fact he sees the core function, or the “nut”, of this app as being reading:

Twitterrific is all about reading what other people are doing, thinking, or experiencing. Even its secondary function, posting tweets, is related to reading. The posting interface functions as a way for you to give your followers something interesting to read.

Knowing this core function, his team at Iconfactory could manifest it within their iPhone app in a number of ways that you can read about in his post.

I really like both John and Craig’s approaches and encourage iPhone developers to adopt their thinking and build upon it.

iPhone Emerges As Clear Cameraphone Leader

Back in August I posted a chart from Flickr showing the most popular cameraphones being used to post photos. It’s instructive to compare these charts again some four months later. The iPhone has torn open a huge chunk of white space from other cameraphones. It will, however, be interesting to see how the slight dip in the last week trends.

DeWolfe Talks Up MySpace

Speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe forecast advertising revenue growth in 2009. While advertising in general has slowed, he points to a continued switching trend form off to online media.

Still one of the world’s largest social networks, MySpace enjoyed an 18% year on year growth in revenue last quarter. It will indeed be impressive if they are able to keep this up.

There is growing speculation that MySpace may move towards a subscription model, something that DeWolfe does not corroborate nor does he rule it out.

He further points out that now is a good time to be contemplating acquisitions for cashed up companies (and private equity players looking to put their funds to work) as valuations are dropping off significantly.