Andreas Weigend – Mobile Future - Stanford

Andreas Weigend – Mobile Future - Stanford
One of the future thinkers, Dr. Weigend, who is a lecture here at Stanford, and a former Chief
Scientist at Amazon.
I teach at Stanford, a course called the Social Data Revolution. The course addresses
the fact that people now create and share unprecedented amounts of data, and what
we’re trying to figure out is what value can we give back to people based on those data.
And for sure the mobile is “the device” which allows us to do that, both for collecting
data, but also for giving feedback to the users.
One of the interesting, some people say troubling, some people say highly interesting parts of
the mobile industry is that now you can collect a lot of information about the user. So all the
normal cookie management things that you have on the Internet, you also have things like
location and other parts of data that are occurring in the mobile industry.
So I’m just curious to hear you talk a bit about what are the innovations that you’re seeing in the
mobile industry, with the rise of this data, and how are we going to manage some of the privacy
considerations that come with having so much data about users.
Ultimately I think it is all about user centricity. If you create some value for the user, then
you’ll be accepted. Context is king, no longer content. As you know, I was Chief
Scientist at and there we basically built recommendations based on past
clicks. And that’s somewhat limiting compared to if you can build a model of the current
And nothing is closer to the person than their mobile phone. It’s always with us, it
knows an enormous amount of data, and leveraging this to help me discover things, to
help me simplify my life, to help me also act as my agent in my communication behavior;
those are the things in very broad strokes that I see coming.
So it’s not “sniffing the digital exhaust” in order to push certain things to the user, but
it’s genuinely having the focus on the user and building stuff the user actually wants to
So you spend a lot of time thinking about consumer behavior. What does the data suggest in
terms of the shift from browsing to apps, and are we going to shift back to browsing at some
point, or do you think this app economy is more doable?
Actually I don’t know the latest numbers, but from my perspective what matters really is
where is the data. What can the user do with the data, what can be done for the user in
terms of the data, specifically how can the decision making the user needs to make be
So to the degree that apps have richer data on the phone, that certainly allows us to do a
better job there. On the other hand, if you think about multiple touch points, that you
might not do everything on your mobile; sometimes you might go on the web. That
drives us towards websites.
I think helping people make better decisions is where ultimately the value lies. So I think
it’s important to understand from a user perspective, not the technology but what they
can do now, what can they do easily that they couldn’t do before.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about mobile WinPhone7? Windows Mobile was one of the
first smart phone platforms. It got a good need initially, was actually larger an enterprise than
Tamara Bentzur:
Andreas Weigend – Mobile Future - Stanford
just about anybody. But I think everyone would agree didn’t innovate for a period of time.
They’re doing a big push with WinPhone7, putting huge marketing dollars against it. What do
you guys think; are you optimistic or pessimistic about that?
I don’t have an opinion on that, but I wanted to answer your previous question which was
that I think from a user perspective people will care less about platforms than we think.
What they care for is that their identity, their self expression, their lives should be able to
port to whatever they’re finally using. So I think the identity of the user is more important
to most people than the platform. About Win7 I don’t know.
We do have a couple more minutes for questions.
My name is Ivan Lofinaire, I’m in the MBA program here. My question is primarily directed for
Professor Weigend. I understand you have significant experience in China. I’d like to get your
input on what trends and unique innovations you see coming forward in China, in the market for
the Internet, of course.
In terms of my background, I’ve been in China since 1994. I was the first outside investor
into the Chinese Facebook clone, and I teach in China, [00:04:44.4 Chin Kua]. So what I
see is that we see business model innovation coming from China. So most of the
technology just gets copied, like there are 500 Groupons by now in China. But until the
business models with a different economics that basically you pay for the media and you
don’t pay for the software, new ways, virtual items come from China for Korea, new ways
of monetizing things has emerged.
So for me, China is primarily China and Korea, countries where we think about how does
in a world where different constraints exist and in a world where different things cost
different things, different expectations exist, how do we there make money. That’s sort
of my perspective towards innovation coming from China.
Please join me in saying thank you to our awesome panelists.
Tamara Bentzur: