Sramana Mitra: What exactly are some of those decisions? Would you give us examples of some of the more complex decisions that happen at the edges?
Mike Afergan: Sure, take image manipulation, adapting an image. To be clear, it’s simple from a conceptual perspective. It’s easy to understand. Doing that at scale across a number of images is an interesting and complicated set of technology work. But to build upon that, there are other, more sophisticated examples. A simple concept to understand is that these devices have different browsers, and the browsers that run on the Android stack are different from the browsers that run on the iOS stack, which are different from the browsers that run on your PC.
Increasingly, websites are heavily dependent not just on HTML that is “rendered” in the page but also upon Java script, CSS, and other pieces that are effectively executed in that page. You have a much richer user experience as a result of that. But the way to optimize for a certain browser versus another depends on that browser itself, and that gets into the guts of the page.
As another example, we recently announced that we’re doing a partnership with Qualcomm, and while we haven’t made public yet all the details of our first collaboration, you can imagine that phones that are enabled with the Qualcomm stack will signal certain information to the Akamai platform. We’ll have the ability to take advantage of to improve the performance of the end user experience.
Those are a few other examples. Think about the browser as one example. What the device supports is another example, and [both] of those are examples of different situations to which we would then apply the technology at our disposal to do the best possible job.
SM: What kinds of entrepreneurial opportunities are on your radar that you can point our audience to? If you were to look in this domain, what are some of the open problems that are not being solved by a large company like Akamai or Qualcomm but are problems that need to be solved by entrepreneurs?
MA: That’s a great question. One area that is interesting and exciting is … for all the interest in and excitement about this area of mobile, I think we’re very much at the beginning. I like to talk about the shift from website to web experiences, and the simple anecdote I give is if I pick up my iPhone, which is sitting in front of me, and I open Siri and ask her what the weather will be like tomorrow here in my area. Siri responds to me about the weather. That’s still the web. But that is not a website. That is a fundamentally different web experience. I believe that we are at the beginning of the re-imagining, if you will, of what the web is and how you and I as consumers do our daily work, interact with the web. That gets back to my key trends of devices in cellular connectivity. It also gets back to the point of different input/output modalities in terms of how we interact with the web.
On one hand, there are a number of interesting technology challenges. What are the things we can enable in this world? What are the technologies we should enable in this world as primitives, as building blocks for this new web experience world? The second bucket is, given those building blocks, what are applications that make sense? An example in the first case is that I think there’s a lot more we’re going to do with speech. There’s a lot more that we’re going to do crossing between devices, so I can take an experience on one device and share it with another, or interact with an experience across multiple devices at the same time. Those are examples of technology building blocks that have to exist in the ecosystem, that will exist in the ecosystem, and we need to figure out the right way of doing it.
Given those building blocks, you can imagine a variety of business opportunities in terms of new types of applications, new types of interacting with the web, new types of tools, new business opportunities to bolster us in our consumer lives and in our business lives once those technologies exist. I’d say that a lot of companies are looking at those. A lot of big companies, a lot of small companies. But the set of opportunities and set of ideas are so big that there’s a lot of room for exciting innovation, particularly by smart, energetic, motivated entrepreneurs.
SM: All right. Thank you for your time.
MA: Thank you.