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What's that on your iPhone?

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Keynote sells its sector analysis reports for around $20,000 a copy and this isn't small-scale, "statistically valid" survey stuff like Nielsen produces. It's done by actually monitoring how users interact with Web sites.

Gupta got into this business in 1995, quite a short time after the remarkable collapse of his original corporation, Gupta Corporation, at the end of the client/server epoch (which Gupta led) and his company was one of the dotcom leaders - valued at $4bn at its peak. With sales of $40m, that was a valuation that was bound to collapse - and it did! - but Keynote survived and flourished, with Gupta estimating this calendar year's revenues at $75m and claiming the number one slot in web monitoring.

We've had several surveys on mobile internet. We've even had one (into its fourth edition already) on mobile porn from Juniper Research, predicting a $3.3bn "hand-held" market by 2011. And sites like www.czechmytits.com keep going, and yes, it is possible to see what a couple is doing on a small screen.

What we can't see, says Gupta, is exactly what the users are doing. Are they downloading images? Streaming video? Or syncing to their desktops, and using their home ADSL? Are they travelling sales staff, bored with stale old hotel porn? Or are they looking at music videos without any sexual content? Or perhaps looking for places to eat out?

In six months, Gupta says, we'll definitely have the results of his first study, and he may well be about to release the result of the second, which will include data about the new iPhone 3G. This time next year we'll have a picture of what the iPhone user does online and how things are changing over time.

What does he think this will reveal?

"First, the mobile internet is definitely going to be big," Gupta promised. "The industry has to solve issues like pricing: the charging model simply has to be a flat-rate data model, like ADSL. And also, it has to be low-cost; the market needs that. To provide these, there has to be a growth in spectrum availability; and I believe that will happen; there will be a technology solution."

A cynic would point out that Gupta naturally isn't going to admit to doubts about the viability of a market he is hoping to tap for several million dollars a year. As he says, nobody is going to spend real money testing a product which has no future.

But, even those of us who are deeply sceptical about how mobile the mobile internet will be will accept that Gupta's track record (and contact list) means that he's no outsider, no beginner, and no blue-eyed kid. His time in Silicon Valley goes back to the early days of Relational Software Inc, which Larry Ellison launched, renamed as Oracle (Gupta was employee number 17) and turned into one of the world's biggest software companies. His fellow-alumni at the Indian Institute of Technology include names like Arun Sarin (ex-Vodafone CEO) and most of the senior Indian figures in the US IT crowd.

Whether he's going to focus specifically on which bits of rude pix iPhone users zoom in on is another question. I decided not to ask it. As to what customers of the HTC "touch" phone touch, that's another story entirely. ®

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