Today in Tech: Facebook Search; Predictive Computing; iPhone 5

NS Ramnath
Published: 12, Sep 2012

I have been with Forbes India since August 2008. I like writing about ideas, events and people at the intersection of business, society and technology. Prior, I was with Economic Times. I am based in Bangalore. Email:

Facebook Search Two years back I had an opportunity to meet MS Krishnan, a professor at Ross School of Business, University Michigan. Among the things he spoke about was a big trend that he captured in The New Age of Innovation. In the book, CK Prahalad (his mentor and co-author) and Krishnan argue that businesses will increasingly need to customize their products/services for each individual consumer and tap the best resources from across the globe. They expressed this idea in a simple formula: N = 1, R = G. (Your target customer = 1, and resources = global). During the interview Prof Krishnan mentioned Google as an example of a company that's taking customization to its extreme. Still, he said, no company can afford to relax in this pursuit, because there is always scope to do more.

Prof Krishnan couldn't have been more right. Mark Zukerberg, in his first public interaction post Facebook IPO, said it's working on search, and that there's a lot of scope to customise the service:

Search engines are really evolving toward giving you a set of answers. It’s not just like ‘I’ll type in something and show me some relevant stuff.’ It’s, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.’ When you look at it from that perspective, Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have: ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the past six months and liked?’ ‘Which of my friends and friends of friends work at this company I’m interested in … so I can talk to them about what it’s like to work there?’


These are queries you could potentially do in Facebook if we built out the system that you couldn’t do anywhere else. And at some point we’ll do it…. That’s one obvious thing that would be interesting for us to do in the future.

The journey towards N=1 is never-ending.


Here's a presentation that Prahalad gave a few years back at a Nasscom event, in case you are interested in N=1, R=G.

CK Prahalad
  Predictive computing Not long back, Google announced the launch of Google Now. Its USP is to give you what you want, at the time you need. For example, when you are about to leave for office, it will tell give you information on traffic. As weekend approaches, it will let you know about movies that you might like to watch. It anticipates your need and provides what you want. [youtube][/youtube]   Gigaom writes about an exciting startup, Expect Labs, which I feel takes this further. "[Co-founder Tim] Tuttle pointed out that unlike other semantic efforts that analyze usage history, their approach is to look at the past 10 minutes and then anticipate what users might need in the next 10 seconds. “We have a predictive model that changes second to second and surfaces relevant information without searching,” says Tuttle." What's most exciting about predictive computing is this: It's is one of the spots where some of the big technology trends like cloud, mobility, big data and analytics converge. And, it will be there right in your pocket. Vivek Ranadive , about whom we discussed earlier, has written a book on this theme: The Two Second Advantage. Here's a short video that explains what the advantage is about. [youtube][/youtube]   iPhone 5 Presentation at 1030 PM Today Some interesting links on one of the most anticipated events in the recent weeks. Apple Keynote that will introduce iPhone 5. It's happening later today at 1030 PM (India Time).

  • What to expect from Apple on Wednesday: LA Times
  • The choreography of an Apple event: CNN
  • Apple's iPhone needs to dazzle as market gets crowded: Reuters
  • How the iPhone 5 Could Bolster the G.D.P. : NYTimes blog
  Also of interest
  • Do PCs have a future? Intel thinks so: Reuters
  • Microsoft’s massive Windows 8 push includes opening 32 ‘pop-up’ shops this year: BGR
  • Consumer cybercrime costs $8 bn in India: report: Mint
  • Satyam to Triple China Headcount: WSJ
  • Intel Dabbles In Science Fiction: Readwriteweb

  • Today in Tech: Marissa Mayer’s turnaround strategy, Sam Pitroda’s Twitter Interview, Gartner on AsiaPac and Google Maps | Forbes India Blog

    [...] experts and analysts have been talking about. Yahoo will focus on personalisation (CK Prahlad wrote about it in the New Age of Innovation), mobility (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says there will be 4 [...]

    on Oct 1, 2012
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