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Focus on disrupting Google, Microsoft lead tells start-ups

Browsers and search engines haven't evolved in twenty years, said James Whittaker

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Alternatives to “20-year-old” browser functions and search engines will be the next big disruptor, Microsoft’s technical evangelist has said.

Former Google executive James Whittaker said: “I’ve always been interested in information and it has already annoyed me that things like browsers still exist.

“We have been typing into that little text box for 20 years and it still hasn’t evolved much. That’s 20-year-old mechanisms to transfer our intent to our technology.”

Speaking at the Tech Entrepreneur Week conference in London yesterday, Whittaker said that start-ups should look to disrupt the big players to claw back the top-heavy wealth distribution.

He said: "I think there is a huge opportunity for micropayment-based models to disrupt what we have now.”

“I’m really interested in monetisation, because information isn’t really free. With Google and all technology you are all data – your data belongs to someone else.”

Entrepreneurs should try to claw back the funds big technology disruptors have taken from traditional industries like music and photography, by playing them at their own game, Whittaker added.

“It’s too easy to rip off companies...Kodak employed hundreds of thousands of people but Instagram had 13 people when they sold to Facebook. But it [Instagram] is not really free, and all the money that it is generating is going to a very, very small percentage of the human race.

“The people at the top of the food chain are getting insanely wealthy and the people at the bottom cannot get jobs,” he said.

Glasses versus shoes

Rather than spending time analysing which body part the next wearable should sit on, Whittaker advised tech start-ups to look at the human body and the environment.

“We are worried about taking videos of our cats and putting them online and taking embarrassing pictures and making them disappear in 10 seconds. But we mapped human genomes in the 1990s. Now we are starting to map the brain.

“Don’t get too tied up in ‘is it glasses versus shoes’ and think about the bigger picture. We’re depleting our sources faster than we can regenerate them, what is going to solve that problem?” he said.


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