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Tech entrepreneurs in the UK

The rampant success of the tech venture scene in the US – though especially in Silicon Valley – must give entrepreneurs around the world an inferiority complex.  It’s not just the individuals of course but the whole interconnected mass of experienced technologists, execs, financiers, bankers et al.  I won’t try to unpick that but the point is that a lot the essential context that helps you succeed is missing elsewhere.  All the more gratifying then to see people making smart moves over here.  UK-based Omnifone just launched in Barcelona and they are not playing around with their venture – they’re taking on iTunes and manouevring telcos in parallel around the world.  One of the founders Phil Sant is a neighbour and I can vouch for the stealth strategy they have adopted until now (four years in incubation).  I have the UK product manager for iPod in my current LBS class and only last week we were debating DRM in the music space.  Of course she didn’t like me encouraging people to look at allofmp3.com (sorry Georgina).  Either way the omnifone strategy is to get you to pay for music downloads (as of course do iTunes) and I wonder how long this is going to last?  I reckon I’ve got 80% of my lifetime music needs in mp3 format already.  How long can the music downloads market go on for, especially at current steep prices (except allofmp3 of course)?  People say that after music comes video….  in fact Phil showed me a video clip on a mobile long before they said they were aiming at music.  Maybe I’m just getting old but I can see Omnifone selling out early whilst the potential remains unfulfilled.  So who can buy a business which is a set of technology designed to work on every handset and endowed with all those telco deals?  It’s a tough industry with many players using high strategy and brutal tactics to retain their share of the value.  Omnifone need big friends to let them play in this space.  Will a telco, handset maker or platform developer dare buy Omnifone?  Maybe the media players?  The phone companies are certainly busy working on the functionality of handsets as a quick look at http://mobilementalism.com/ shows.  More later…

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