I need to start with a word of explanation; Intel has been a pretty large Venture Capital provider supporting technology start ups for a good few years now. Most importantly it has been very good at creating clusters of technology companies to ensure all the necessary elements for a commercial deployment are present together. Think how quickly WiFi caught on because Intel didn’t only bring out the Centrino PC chipset but made sure all the other necessary elements from hot spot technology to software were all available.
The CEOs in question are from the 198 so called ‘portfolio’ companies that Intel chose to be there to make pitches around the products that there start-ups could provide. Which brings me to the first point; it was extremely noticeable that Intel are backing a wide range of companies across what I will call the ‘life style’ span of people in general as opposed to the portfolio on a few years ago that centred pretty exclusively on the IT market. Arvind Sodhani the CEO of Intel Capital gave his view on what and why of this investment programme and the world economy.
This resulted in some interesting and instructive panel sessions exploring different aspects of the new world starting with Media and Entertainment, moving through Globalisation and ending up with the future wave of the Internet. Then there was a fast moving section of elevator pitches by each company, a bit of a blitz of information actually! BUT what this did for me was create a rich overall impression of the ‘whole’ lifestyle change that is under way, not often you can really get the feel of this.
Paul Otellini Intel’s CEO did a pretty good job of summarising the Intel view, (this is from another interview but the content is the same), and how they would be making sure the ‘silicon’ would be there to support/drive the change. So what were the key take outs, first at a technology level and second at a business level, other than the fact that two are now synonymous?
The overall picture and the big bet from Intel is for the Mobile Internet, not meaning that everything moves onto cell phones and PDAs, but that the number of devices of all types continues to massively increase, and that the connections are less of a fixed nature. The dream of continuous connectivity by a wide variety of wireless standards looks to be coming true, changes systems from vertical integrations of hardware and software to horizontal services often using embedded software in the hardware of devices.
The interesting fact that came up several times in various presentations and discussions is that the market is now starting to be driven by Hardware, or perhaps ‘SmartWare’ might be a better name for the combination of Hardware with sophisticated services integrated to it rather then software. It’s really down to the rapidly rising numbers, and types, of devices based on hardware complete with some embedded software for accessing the Internet and the Web, as opposed to a more conventional hardware platform loaded up with lots of software. All of which leads to Cloud Computing as the next big thing to support all these devices.
I actually think that what Cloud Computing is, and is not, became clear during the week I spent with the various experts who are actually involved in making it work, rather than marketing people promising it as what we all need. I promise a blog on this!
There is no shortage of ideas for new business models, products, services, most of which could attract large numbers of people, so the challenge is no longer the old one of ‘marketing’, or even to define the ‘go to market’ approach, instead the focus is on the ‘monetisation’ model. This seems to be developing into the key trait for the successful serial entrepreneurs that they can figure out how to ‘own’ something that people will pay for and cannot be readily copied. BTW best title of attendee goes to the guy who had the formal title of ‘Chief Firelighter’ – bet that gets him through a few doors as people just have to know what he does, or may be how he does it!
There are challenges to existing mainstream businesses about the new world cannibalising their existing revenues streams when they put things on line in different ways, but if you don’t do it someone else will. Increasingly the idea of ‘controlling’ and limiting availability is dead, replaced by the idea of ‘parellisation’ in terms of exploiting multiple markets in parallel rather than starting in your mainstream market first and moving to an online market second. The theory being if you launch sequentially then someone else will move ahead of you online so you will lose out anyway, so it’s better to control your own cannibalisation.
The best business models are based on providing a centralised service that collects a little of something from everyone using the Web in some aspect, or other, and then aggregates this to create a series of focused cohesive profiles that different companies will need to buy to serve their market better. Think of collecting a profile on every web user, and then being able to sell it to any marketer type of stuff, but some of it is way more sophisticated than this, with one company already having legally profiled sixty million devices using the Internet.
Overall? You had to be there to get the real feel for how much is happening, and how fast, both in terms of Intel’s development of the Chip sets and packaging to make it happen, as well as the sheer range of business, and technology, start-ups across all industry types. I now think the tipping point in terms of the emergence of the ‘mobile web’ as a mainstream model is by 2012, and not 2015 as I thought when I went there. And that is one big take out!