Sintetiche riflessioni che “suonano un campanello” sulla evoluzione della tecnologia e dell’Industry

A cura di Technology - Innovation T.I.TIM.TSC - Technical Scouting

Numero 24 – 31 agosto 2018

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5G e Future Net

 

 

ITU launches new focus group to explore life beyond 5G; Japan Government to start R&D for post-5G telecom standard

ITU fa partire il primo gruppo, e in Giappone si inizia a studiare il 6G con 10 milioni di dollari di finanziamento ... piccole cifre ma si inizia!

 

A new ITU focus group will examine how emerging technologies can enhance network capabilities to meet the demands of 5G systems and future innovations.
The ITU Focus Group on ‘Technologies for Network 2030’ (FG NET-2030) will look at new media, services and architectures to identify communication needs and use cases for the year 2030 and beyond, says Dr Richard Li, Huawei, chairman of the focus group.
“Network 2030 will be a new horizon for the future digital society,” he says.
The focus group will create a vision for networks in the year 2030 by drawing on past developments and analyzing emerging technologies, Li says.
“In the last 20 years, web-based applications, multimedia and apps on our smartphones are dominating our network industry,” he says. “In the next ten years, 5G will become a reality. The market will be driven by enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications, and optimal, reliable and low-latency communications.”
The focus group will look past these developments to consider future advancements, Li says.
“5G is not the end of the story,” he says. “Technology and the industry do not stop here. We have to move forward; we have to look ahead. We need to know what will happen after the year 2030.”

 

Communications Ministry will start research and development in fiscal 2019 for a new telecommunications standard that will succeed the fifth-generation standard known as 5G, ministry sources have said.    The ministry is aiming to commercialize the post-5G standard around 2025, hoping to improve the speed and stability of telecommunications so that services that are expected to use 5G — such as self-driving vehicles and remote medical treatments — will become easier to use.
The ministry plans to make a budget request for fiscal 2019 of a little over ¥1 billion to carry out four years of research and development. By carrying out R&D earlier than other economies in the world, it hopes Japan can take the lead in formulating the global post-5G standard.

 

5G network slicing could be worth £51bn to mobile operators

Tanto o poco rispetto al business complessivo TLC?

 

5G network slicing could generate as much as $66 billion (£51bn) for mobile operators thanks to connectivity demands from vertical industries.
The first 5G networks are expected to go live later this year, with further deployments in 2019 and 2020, offering superfast speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency.
Network slicing is seen as a key characteristic of 5G networks and will effectively allow operators to section off certain parts of the network for certain applications. For example, one network slice could carry video traffic at a stadium, while another is reserved for safety officials.
ABI Research claims that being able to offer virtual networks for industrial applications could be a key differentiator for mobile operators and allow them to capture more revenue at a time when traditional income is being squeezed by changing consumer habits, intense competition and regulatory challenges.

 

BT, TIP, Facebook insieme per le startup per il segmento telecom

Iniziativa congiunta di BT e Facebook per portare le startup inglesi a lavorare sul futuro delle reti e su TIP - Telecom Infra Project

 

BT, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and Facebook have launched the second annual competition for start-ups in telecom infrastructure to join the UK’s TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centre (TEAC), based at the BT Innovation Labs in Martlesham, Suffolk and in London’s Tech City.
This year’s competition is seeking innovative start-ups in the Intent-Based Networking and Mobile fields. Winners will work with globally recognised scientists and engineers at the BT Labs, with access to BT’s network facilities, hardware and testing capabilities. In addition, they will gain access to potential investors, build their network across the TEAC global community, and raise their company’s visibility.
Interested companies should apply by 24th September 2018 via the TEAC UK website: https://www.btplc.com/Innovation/TEAC/index.htm

Entries will be judged by a panel of senior network and technology leaders from BT, Facebook, and TIP. Shortlisted companies will be invited to a final pitch event at BT Tower on Friday 12th October, where the winners will be chosen.  
Howard Watson, CTIO of BT, and a member of the TIP Board, said: “TIP was created to help tackle some of the big challenges in Telecoms, boosting global connectivity by supporting big ideas. We’re particularly interested in start-ups with innovative ideas on how to deploy mobile networks cost-effectively in rural areas, as we look ahead to the roll-out of 5G services.
The TEAC initiative is part of the Telecom Infra Project, which was founded in 2016. TIP is a global community that includes more than 500 member companies, including operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies working together to transform the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.

 

Ding! O2 has a lightbulb moment: uses LED lights to send fast data indoors

Due notizie sul tema in pochi giorni segnalano la vivacità della ricerca e sperimentazioni sul tema

 
  • O2 and pureLiFi trialling network using light to transmit data
  • High speed wireless connectivity vis LED lights
  • Works securely indoors
  • Visible light spectrum 10,000 times bigger than the entire RF spectrum

Mobile operator O2 is conducting a network trial using light to transmit data. Working in partnership with PureLiFi of Edinburgh, Scotland, O2 has installed a pureLiFi’s LiFi-XC system, (made up of nine LiFi-enabled LED light bulbs) in its 'Explore Room’ facility at the operator's headquarters in Slough, to the west of London. Data transmission by light alone permits high-speed wireless connectivity and the transportation of large amounts of data, bi-directionally.
I saw a similar demonstration at a public event held in a snowbound Bristol back in March. It was undeniably impressive and has great potential for deployment in 5G networks because, unlike the radio frequency waves used in WiFi, light can't travel through walls and doors. This makes LiFi particularly secure and considerably easier to manage and control access to a network. What's more, if windows are covered with the correct shielding, access to a LiFi channel is limited to devices that are actually inside the room. LiFi supports multi-used access and handover to enable mobile services.
LiFi is a visible light communications (VLC) technology using light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the means to deliver networked, mobile, high-speed communication in a similar, but potentially superior manner to Wi-Fi. It works in visible light spectrum, ultraviolet and infrared.
VLC operates by switching the current to LED bulbs on and off at a very high rate. LED bulbs can easily withstand the strain of the high-speed switching and the rate of switching is too fast for the human eye to appreciate. Thus the light appears to be an unobtrusive steady white glow. In  effect, with LiFi a light bulb acts as a router and, what's more, LiFi doesn't require direct line-of-sight to transmit a signal because light reflected off walls and furniture can still achieve a data speed of 70Mbit/s. Not only does it reduce infrastructure complexity, it also reduces energy consumption.
The term 'LiFi was first introduced by Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh at a TEDGlobalttalk in 2012. Professor Haas is co-founder of pureLiFi. The world's first LiFi dongle was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2016.
For further information on LiFi technology, please visit: https://purelifi.com/technology/

 

Digital Twins: A New Tool in the Network Management Arsenal

Il concetto di Digital Twins si muove dal settore industriale anche a quello delle reti

 

In the Austin Powers movies, Dr Evil creates a miniature clone (Mini-Me), identical in every way but one-eighth his size. In a case of life imitating art, digital twins are now becoming widespread tools in various industries "to optimize the operation and maintenance of physical assets, systems and manufacturing processes." A digital twin can be used for monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics. Typical applications include aircraft engines, wind turbines, locomotives and buildings.
According to Professor Tim Broyd, former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, "By involving many more design, manufacturing, and asset management parties to collaborate at a much earlier stage than usual, the use of digital twins has cut the cost of delivering capital built assets by around 20% over the last five years."
Arguably, the digital twin concept has been applied to telecom networks for years in the form of monitoring software commonly found in a network operations center. However, there is perhaps scope for network emulation and sandbox modelling to be taken to a higher level by applying the digital twin concept.
According to Craig Badrick, CEO of Turn-key Technologies, "Digital twinning provides corporate IT teams with a low-risk, high-reward environment where they can experiment with novel solutions. In addition to facilitating better network design, a digital twin of a network gives an IT team the ability to run simulations for any event imaginable -- a rapid influx of network connections, a specific kind of cybersecurity breach, etc. -- and adjust its actual network configuration as needed."
Ganesan Arulanandham, consulting partner at Wipro Ltd. Arulanandham sees several applications for the digital twin concept in telecom, including the following:

  • Tower management/field service management;
  • Network planning and design;
  • Programmable network DevOps

Gartner Inc. defines a digital twin of an organization (DTO) as "a dynamic software model of any organization that relies on operational and/or other data to understand how an organization operationalizes its business model, connects with its current state, responds to changes, deploys resources and delivers expected customer value." Gartner notes that a DTO is not a replacement for business intelligence or ERP. Nor is it even a technology or a product. Instead a DTO is about organization, business operation skills, methodologies, metrics and governance. Leadership, culture and people are critical success factors.
Unlike Mini-Me, digital twins are for good, not evil. I expect them to be a bigger part of the discussion around network and service management going forward.

 

Cloud, IoT, AI

 

 

IoT of Operators Faces Great Challenge: Strategic Cooperation Between Alibaba & China Tower

Alibaba è la Amazon cinese, China Tower è la tower company quotata in borsa dei  tre gli operatori mobili cinesi; la prima mossa di china tower dopo l'IPO da 7 B$ è fare una rete LoRA per IoT!

 

China Tower published an announcement that it will provide sites support service for constructing Alibaba IoT networking across the country, which
means that operators are no longer the only choice of nationwide IoT platforms, and there will be more ambitious challengers with tens of billions of connecting resources in China’s IoT market.
According to the cooperation agreement, both two companies will fully make use of their advantages in respective resources, technology, and ecological advantages to promote integration and innovation, seize new opportunities to create new values. Besides, Alibaba will depend on nearly 1.9 million sites and supporting facilities across the country to strengthen its edge computing capabilities as well as provide a cloud computing service system integrating cloud service which helps connect all things to the cloud. All the solutions and applications in smart cities, smart transportation, smart agriculture. and environmental brain will be accelerated to implement.
The cooperation will also bring Alibaba the loT coverage ability on a national scale. In terms of technology selection, LoRa accords with the needs of Ali and China Tower more than NB-IoT.

 


Despite Pledging Openness, Companies Rush to Patent AI Tech

Boom di brevetti su AI

 

At Google’s cloud computing conference in San Francisco last week, CEO Sundar Pichai mused on his company’s commitment to openness in artificial intelligence.
“We create open platforms and share our technology because it helps new ideas get out faster,” Pichai said. Then he name-checked TensorFlow, the machine-learning software Google developed and uses internally. The company open-sourced the code in 2015, and it has since been downloaded more than 15 million times. “We created TensorFlow to make it possible for anyone to use AI,” Pichai said.
Such homilies to openness have become standard from the large tech companies competing intensely to develop AI technology. Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have all, like Google, released software their own engineers use for machine learning as open source. All, including to some extent famously secretive Apple, encourage their AI researchers to publish their latest ideas—helping the companies recruit the brightest faculty and grad students from universities.
At the same time, these proponents of AI openness are also working to claim ownership of AI techniques and applications. Patent claims related to AI, and in particular machine learning, have accelerated sharply in recent years. So far, tech companies haven’t converted those patents into lawsuits and legal threats to thwart rivals. But should AI patents become corporate weapons, the current openness around AI research and ideas could end, likely hampering research.

 

Telenor gunning to build AI powerhouse in Norway

Ancora un esempio di collaborazione operatori- università: Si espande l'Open AI Lab tra Telenor Università di Trondhein e chiama altre aziende a partecipare

 

Telenor is aiming to establish Norway as a "national powerhouse" for artificial intelligence after partnering on a new lab to develop enterprise solutions.
The operator is working with NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and cross-industry research organisation SINTEF to build an Open AI Lab.
It will expand on the work already underway between Telenor and NTNU in Trondheim, which opened in 2016 and has focused on AI, machine learning and big data.
The three organisations have issued a call to Norwegian companies to collaborate and develop new research, education and innovation in the field. Among the companies that have already signed up are financial services company DNB, classification business DNV and energy company Equinor.
A Telenor spokesperson said Norway could become a global leader in the field "thanks to its advanced ICT infrastructure, purchasing power, competence and a population with above-average technological literacy". They added that a strong AI ecosystem would strengthen the country's economy.

 

Australia Optus in five-year AI alliance with Curtin University

Vedi Telenor …

 

Optus Business and Curtin University have launched a new research group that will focus on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on regional telecommunications, higher education and the urban environment.
The new group is part of a new five-year alliance between Optus and Curtin. Under the agreement, the AI research group will be embedded in the School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Curtin University, with strong links to the Curtin Institute for Computation.
The alliance will leverage synergies between Curtin’s research, teaching and learning capabilities, and Optus’ technology and infrastructure capabilities.
It will involve the appointment of an Optus chair in AI and three Optus Research Fellows focusing on applying AI technologies in areas such as regional telecommunications, improving higher education student outcomes and the urban environment, as well as funding for PhD scholarships and student projects.
Today’s formal announcement was made by Optus Business Managing Director John Paitaridis and Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry.
“The development of artificial intelligence is among the most exciting and emerging areas of research,” said Curtin University vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry.
Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis said digital transformation remained a top priority for most Australian enterprises and governments.
“Fully realizing the application of technology, like artificial intelligence, is critical in how we’re helping organizations address digital disruption,” Paitaridis said.
Paitaridis said the partnership with Curtin would “help build real-world solutions while growing the skills of the future workforce.”

 


California calls data throttling of firefighters ‘ridiculous,’ Verizon apologizes for 'process failure'

Verizon ha bloccato per superamento soglie mensili (Mobile data cap) il traffico ai pompieti ai pompieri durante gli incendi in California provocando una ondata di sdegno… bizzarie dei BSS!

 

Verizon officials apologized for a “process failure” that caused a Santa Clara County fire department unit’s broadband data speeds to be throttled significantly multiple times this summer while the unit tried to coordinate resources from throughout the state to fight the worst wildfire in California history—an action that was characterized as "ridiculous" by a county official.
“This is ridiculous,” Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said yesterday during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “What happened here was clearly unacceptable and has a lot of people rightfully concerned.”

 


Content and Services

 

 

Verizon bundles either Apple TV or YouTube TV with 5G service | FierceWireless

"Content is king" per Verizon, e per rendere appetibile il 5G bundle di contenuti video da apple, youtube, NFL e NBA

 

Verizon said that its 5G in-home, fixed wireless customers will be able to choose between a free Apple TV 4K device or a period of free YouTube TV service. The carrier also confirmed its fourth and final launch market, announcing that it will launch its fixed 5G service in Indianapolis later this year, as well as in previously announced markets Sacramento, Los Angeles and Houston.
The news essentially confirms rumors that Verizon would lean on Apple and Google for a video service to complement its fixed wireless internet service.
Although a Verizon representative confirmed that Verizon’s fixed 5G users would be able to choose between either a free Apple TV device or a free, limited-time subscription to Google’s YouTube TV app for a live television service, details were vague. The representative did not answer questions about the offer, including how long customers might receive YouTube TV and how long they might need to subscribe to the service in order to qualify for a free Apple TV device.
Moreover, Bloomberg reported that Verizon’s 5G subscribers will also be able to get live NFL and NBA games through Verizon’s Oath media division, though the Verizon representative didn’t immediately respond to questions on that topic.

 


Separating Blockchain Hype From Reality for Telecom Operatore

Dopo la fase dell’entusiasmo, un po’ di reality check…

 

Depending on who you listen to, blockchain is either an over-hyped oddity or a milestone in legal and financial innovation comparable to double-entry bookkeeping. In essence, blockchain is a decentralized, immutable electronic ledger; a write-once-read-many record of historical transactions, as opposed to a database that can be written over.
So what relevance does blockchain have for the telecom industry, if any? We decided to explore the drivers for adoption of blockchain by communications service providers (CSPs) and evaluate the main opportunities. The results were published this week in Heavy Reading's latest report, Blockchain Opportunities for CSPs: Separating Hype From Reality.
We found that around a third of CSPs are already considering or actively engaged with blockchain projects, mainly to address security concerns. BSS and OSS are also potential areas for blockchain disruption in areas such as number portability and billing. There don't seem to be many applications at the network layer, although some forward-thinkers have postulated its use in the control plane for network addressing.
Although there is strong interest in blockchain, as evidenced by the popularity of this panel at the upcoming Light Reading conference on software-defined operations, we should not get too carried away. Blockchain can be used to solve many trust-based problems, but sometimes these can be solved more economically using traditional database technology.

 

AT&T announces Emergency Drop Kit to provide FirstNet users with connectivity wherever they go

Concetto interessante per Public Safety

 

No network provides coverage in all locations, but the Emergency Drop Kit announced yesterday by AT&T soon will let FirstNet users take network connectivity with them virtually anywhere, providing a 300-foot-radius Wi-Fi “bubble” supported by backhaul that can switch seamlessly between satellite and LTE connections.
Packaged in a carrying case, the 25-pound Emergency Drop Kit includes four Sonim XP8 devices, a Cradlepoint router that provides the Wi-Fi bubble—and an LTE link to the FirstNet system, if available—and an Inmarsat satellite link for backhaul when the FirstNet LTE system is not available. The package includes enough battery to support 12 hours of communications with these devices without a charge.

AT&T and other wireless carriers traditionally have supported first responders with deployable cell-on-wheels (CoW) or cell-on-light-truck (CoLT) solutions, but those can take hours or days to set up, and they often cannot reach locations in difficult environments. The Emergency Drop Kit is an ideal solution for the first units arriving at a scene where communications infrastructure has been decimated, such as in the aftermath of a hurricane or wildfire, according to Chris Sambar, senior vice president for AT&T-FirstNet.

 
 

Magic Leap, arriva il visore innovativo per la “Mixed Reality” (Dopo AR e VR)

In attesa del futuro visore di Apple …

 

Il debutto solo in sei città statunitensi a 2.295 dollari. Il prodotto pensato per sviluppatori e creatori di contenuti
ECCOLO il visore per la realtà "mista". Si chiama "Magic Leap One Creator Edition" l'atteso dispositivo che la startup Magic Leap fondata nel 2010 e specializzata in realtà aumentata aveva annunciato nel 2016. Ora il visore arriva sul mercato Usa (solo in sei città, tra cui New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco) a 2.295 dollari.
Il visore dedicato a sviluppatori e creatori di contenuti funziona con un controller wireless (Control) da impugnare e un computer che si porta in vita, chiamato Lightpack. Dietro alla "mixed reality", sulla quale hanno scommesso alcuni big del calibro di Google e Qualcomm (oltre a Tencent e Alibaba) e che gioca sulla sovrapposizione di realtà virtuale e aumentata, c'è la tecnologia Digital Lightfield studiata per proiettare ologrammi che vanno a sovrapporsi alle luci "naturali" della realtà tridimensionale circostante. Un sistema di lenti, collegate ai sensori, permette di adattare questa visione alla realtà, con il risultato di riuscire a vedere un dinosauro a un passo da noi. Con quale definizione, però, è ancora tutto da vedere. Va detto che se qualche anno fa si gridava al miracolo, il risultato raggiunto oggi da Magic Leap (forte di 2,3 miliardi di dollari di finanziamenti e circa 1500 dipendenti) sembra essere al di sotto delle aspettative. Almeno stando alle prime recensioni di quanti hanno provato il prodotto. Inevitabile il paragone con Hololens, il visore che Microsoft ha lanciato lo scorso anno sul mercato a 3mila dollari. Magic Leap continua però a crederci: dopo avere promesso un anno fa un campionato di basket da seguire in mixed reality, oggi chiude una partner-ship con il New York Times per tuffarsi nel giornalismo immersivo.

 

Approfondimento della settimana

 

La parola della settimana: Objective Key Results

How Google CEO Sundar Pichai used OKRs to build the world’s most popular web browser

 

The following is an edited excerpt taken from Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, a book authored by John Doerr. The excerpt is provided courtesy of Portfolio Publishing. You can buy a copy here.
By 2006, we were beginning to rethink the browser as a computing platform, almost like an operating system, so that people could write applications on the web itself. That fundamental insight gave birth to Chrome.
We knew we needed a multi-process architecture to make each tab its own process and protect a user’s Gmail if another application crashed. And we knew we had to get JavaScript working a lot faster. But we were up for the task of building the best browser possible. Eric Schmidt, our CEO, knew how hard it was to construct a browser from scratch: “If you’re doing it, you had better be serious about it.”
If Chrome wasn’t going to be dramatically different and better and faster than the traditional browsers already on the market, there was no point in moving ahead.
In 2008, the year of Chrome’s rollout, our product management team formulated a top-level annual objective that would have an enduring influence on Google’s future: to “develop the next-generation client platform for web applications.” The main key result: “Chrome reaches 20 million seven-day active users.”
In Google’s OKR climate, it was understood that 70 percent achievement (on average) was considered a success. You weren’t supposed to strive for greens on every OKR you wrote—that wouldn’t stretch the team. But there was an intrinsic tension because you didn’t get hired at Google unless you were driven to succeed.
As a leader, you didn’t want to find yourself at the end of the quarter, standing in front of the company with a big red on the screen, having to explain why and how you failed. The pressure and discomfort of that experience made a lot of us do a lot of heroic things to avoid it. But if you set your team’s objectives correctly, it was sometimes unavoidable.
Larry was always good about upping the goals for the company OKRs. He used certain phrases that stuck with me. He wanted people at Google to be “uncomfortably excited.” He wanted us to have “a healthy disregard for the impossible.” I tried to do the same for the products team. It took courage to write an OKR that might well fail, but there was no other way if we wanted to be great.
We deliberately set the bar for 20 million weekly active users by year’s end, knowing it was a formidable stretch—we were starting from zero, after all. As a leader, you must try to challenge the team without making them feel the goal is unachievable. I thought it unlikely we would reach our target in time. (Candidly, I thought there was no way we would get there.) But I also considered it important to keep pushing to the limit of our ability and beyond. By putting the 20 million out there, I knew good things would happen.
Our stretch OKR gave the team direction and a barometer to measure our progress. It made complacency impossible. And it kept us all rethinking, every day, the framework for what we were doing. All of these things were more important than reaching a somewhat arbitrary target on a designated day.
Early on, as Chrome struggled to reach 3 percent market share, we received some unanticipated bad news. The Mac version of Chrome fell way behind schedule. Only Windows users would count toward the 20 million. But there was good news, too—people who used Chrome loved it, which was starting to have a compounding effect on growth.
Glitches notwithstanding, we were driving awareness of a new way to engage the web. We just needed to find more users, and sooner than later.
Google stands for speed. The company has waged a constant battle against latency, the delay in a data transfer that degrades the user experience. In 2008, Larry and Sergey wrote a beautiful OKR that truly captured people’s attention: “We should make the web as fast as flipping through a magazine.”
It inspired the whole company to think harder about how we could make things better and faster. For the Chrome project, we created a sub-OKR to turbocharge JavaScript. The goal was to make applications on the web work as smoothly as downloads on a desktop.
We set a moonshot goal of 10x improvement and named the project “V8,” after the high-performance car engine. We were fortunate to find a Danish programmer named Lars Bak, who’d built virtual machines for Sun Microsystems and held more than a dozen patents. Lars is one of the great artists in his field. He came to us and said, without an ounce of bravado, “I can do something that is much, much faster.”
Within four months, he had JavaScript running ten times as fast as it ran on Firefox. Within two years, it was more than twenty times faster—incredible progress. (Sometimes a stretch goal is not as wildly aspirational as it may seem. As Lars later told Steven Levy in In the Plex, “We sort of underestimated what we could do.”)
Stretch OKRs are an intense exercise in problem solving. Having gone through the Toolbar journey, I had a good sense of how to work my way through the inevitable troughs. Sure, there were sleepless nights. But no matter how much stress I was feeling, I stayed cautiously optimistic with my team.
If we were losing users, I would tell them, let’s do an experiment to understand why and fix it. If compatibility was an issue, I’d assign a group to focus on that. I tried to be thoughtful and systematic and not too emotional, and I think that helped. Google is propelled by our moonshot culture.
The very ambitious is very hard to do. In a healthy way, our team realized that the success of Chrome would ultimately mean hundreds of millions of users. Whenever we invent something new at Google, we’re always thinking: How can we scale it to a billion?
Early in the process, that number can seem very abstract. But when you set a measurable objective for the year and chunk the problem, quarter by quarter, moonshots become more doable. That’s one of the great benefits of OKRs. They give us clear, quantitative targets on the road to those qualitative leaps. After we failed against the 20 million in 2008, it made us dig deeper.
We never gave up on the objective, but we changed the way we framed it. Here’s what I tried to communicate: “No, we didn’t reach the goal, but we are laying the foundation to break through this barrier. Now, what are we going to do differently?” In a culture of smart people, you had better have good answers to that question; you can’t tap-dance your way through. In this case, we needed a solution to one very basic problem: Why was it so difficult to get people to try a new browser?
That’s how we became motivated to find new distribution deals for Chrome. Down the road, when we found that people were unclear about just what a browser did for them, we turned to television marketing to explain it. Our Chrome ads represented the largest offline campaign in the company’s history. People still remember “Dear Sophie,” a spot created around a father’s digital scrapbook of his daughter as she grew.
It showed the easy entrée from our browser to such a rich stock of web-based applications, from Gmail and YouTube to Google Maps. It led people to the internet as an applications platform.
Success was not instantaneous. In 2009, we set another stretch OKR for Chrome—50 million seven-day active users—and failed again, ending the year at 38 million. For 2010, undeterred, I proposed a target of 100 million users. Larry believed we should be pushing even harder. My target, he pointed out, touched only 10 percent of the world’s one billion internet users at the time. I countered that 100 million was in fact very aggressive.
Larry and I eventually settled on an OKR of 111 million users, a classic stretch goal. To reach it, we knew we’d need to reinvent the business of Chrome and think about growth in new ways. Again, what could we do differently? In February, we broadened our distribution deals with the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. In March, we embarked on a “Chrome Fast” marketing campaign to heighten product awareness in the United States.
In May, we expanded our demographic by launching Chrome for OS X and Linux. At last, our browser was no longer a Windows-only product. Well into the third quarter, the outcome remained in doubt.
Then we did a small thing that became a big thing: a passive alert for former Chrome users who’d been dormant. Weeks later, at the end of Q3, our user total had surged from 87 million to 107 million. And shortly after that, we reached 111 million seven-day actives. We had achieved our goal.
Today, on mobile alone, there are more than a billion active users of Chrome. We couldn’t have gotten there without objectives and key results.