As one who often writes about the explosive rates of Internet usage overseas, I'm always on the lookout for companies poised to benefit from that growth. Earlier this week, I listened to Verismo CEO Prakash Bhalero describe his firm's device variously as a "pod," a "worldwide mouse," and a "magic box."
Whatever you call it, there's no denying its potential. This small unit, that appears to be roughly the size of deck of cards, plugs into the back of your TV, and then brings you millions of videos from the web.
Some of the mostly-male, all-geek audience at the Under the Radar conference listening to Bhalero started speculating about whether this device could pass the rather condescending "wife test," i.e., ease of use plus "honey, why do we need another electronic gadget?"
But Bhalero quickly pointed out that his magic box is not primarily intended for the overstuffed U.S. market, but for a global market where very view Internet users own computers. Its price -- $99 -- strikes me as pretty steep for Third World countries, but if it starts to catch on with the growing, affluent middle classes in Brazil, India, and China, Verismo may leapfrog the "computer stage" of Internet development so familiar in the U.S., Japan, and much of Western Europe.
For this reason alone, Verismo may be a startup worth keeping an eye on...