Monday, January 30, 2006

Gates, Zennström: Storage, Processing Power, Adding Users now Free

Turns out the WEF actually has some podcasts of their panels. I found the "Digital 2.0: Powering a Creative Economy" panel to be quite interesting.

Here's some food for thought from Bill Gates and Niklas Zennström (co-founder of Skype). First, Bill Gates about the remaining challenges in technology:

"I think the easiest way to understand the new developments is to think of computing power and storage as almost free.

What are the limiting factors that are left? [They are] the ease of management, ease of development, [and the] ease of a user working with multiple devices. Then, take this idea of digitization and map it against all the activities that we would like to change. [...]

Broadly, it's taking all those activities – digital workstyle and digital lifestyle – and thinking through how infinite hardware ability with a little bit of software do those things. Then, you need to apply the test of whether it's simple enough and packaged in an [easily understandable] way."

Zennström started out by stating that Skype now has 75 million registered users – quite a feat for a company that was founded a bit over 3 years ago.

"You have to think about the incremental cost for a new user […] as virtually free. So it doesn't matter if you have a lot of users that don't pay because that doesn't cost you any money. But it creates a great ecosystem, a network of people who are then spreading your service to others.

We don't think about the average revenue per user. We think about how many active customers we have and how we can convert those to paying customers."

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