We’ve been writing about smart cities for a while. Many of the plans for the design of these complex organisms have fallen short of expectations. But now some are taking a new approach: Sidewalk thinks of smart cities as being rather like smartphones. It sees itself as a platform provider responsible for offering basic tools (from software that identifies available parking spots to location-based services monitoring the exact position of delivery robots), much as Google does with its smartphone operating system, Android. Details are still under discussion, but Sidewalk plans to let third parties access the data and technologies, just as developers can use Google’s and Apple’s software tools to craft apps.
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is in charge of national policies and economic affairs. The Minister of Finance is in charge of finance, the money the government raises and the money it spends. As a result, the Prime Minister presents an economic policy statement before the budget is read. So it was with some surprise that I saw many policy proposals that did not have direct revenue/expenditure implications in the 2017 Budget, such as extension of the duration of visas issued to spouses of Sri Lankan citizens. The digital commerce proposal is also a policy proposal, but given the objective of ensuring the collection of relevant taxes, one could see a rationale for it being in the Budget Speech.
The speculation about Jio Infocomm has been going on for too long, it seems. Here‘s what Mukesh Ambani says it will be: And the benefit of its “legacy-free, next-generation voice and broadband network which can be seamlessly upgraded even to 5G and beyond” will be in extending digital connectivity to a wide set of Indian consumers. “In rural areas, we are prioritising connectivity to thousands of schools. This is to ensure that the benefits of our broadband initiative is first and foremost felt by the young students who stand to gain the most by accessing the information superhighway,” he said. “Jio’s true success will be measured by a whole new generation of entrepreneurs, stepping-up to leverage the digital assets that Jio has built.
We had been using the app store, first introduced by Apple, as an easy-to-grasp model that Asia’s telecom operators should emulate. Reduce transaction costs; foster decentralized innovation, we said. We were pleased that Etisalat in Sri Lanka was one of the first to implement the idea. Sadly, it appears that Apple is reintroducing some elements of the discredited walled garden metaphor into the app store. The change may signal a shift for Apple.