Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cloud Computing, SaaS to drive India SMB market

Cloud Computing and On Demand Software (Software as a Service - SaaS) is creating waves across the world. Players like Microsoft with its Azure platform, Amazon with its EC2 platform and Google with its own cloud offering are pushing the envelopes on cloud computing.

My thoughts were funneled through into the Indian SMB market. Close to 40% of business is India still happens in the SMB market. This is also the same market that has least benefited from IT for business transformation and optimization. Reasons abound.
  1. Market to fragmented
  2. Long tail of demands and customization requirements
  3. Affordability an issue
Connecting these two seemingly divergent thoughts, I think we are on the cusp of witnessing a radical change in the Indian SMB market over the next decade.


Cloud Computing and SaaS, both IT trends that started off to address issues Total Cost of Ownership among large enterprises might find itself just rightly positioned to address the huge Indian SMB market. Software that is available as a service and on demand and hardware power (Storage, Processing power, etc) that is also available on demand via cloud computing will cause a dramatic shift in the way software and hardware are sold to customers. Pricing strategies will undergo a rethink and price points will get aggressively lower and lower. Customization of software to address the long tail of a fragmented market will be possible because of multi-tenancy abilities of SaaS. This, my friend, is exactly what the Indian SMB market is eager to lap up.

One of the most creative SMB markets in the world, affordability and lack of customization were at the root of their not embracing the benefits of IT. That should see a sea change going forward.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Visualizing Art in Technology

India is technology crazy. Not to mention crazy for records too.
So when the twin desires meet, here's what you get...

Indian artist Basavaraju Somaraje Gowda took apart a phone, dropped the contents into a glass bottle with a narrow opening and then re-assembled them inside the bottle and got it into a working state. You can see him making calls in this pic. Gowda has entered the Limca Book of Records with this installation.

Courtesy: TimesOfIndia

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google Doodle - My India - Full of Life

Google Doodles are well known !! The essence of the Google search page, the ever changing Google logo in the form of doodles has attracted attention incessantly worldwide.

It was the turn of Puru Pratap, a 9 year old kid from Gurgaon, NCR to let his artistry skills capture the lime light on Children's day at Google.co.in. Chosen by online poll participants, Puru's creation beat 4000 other submissions for the theme “My India-Full of Life”. The logo was displayed for a Novermber 14th full day on Google India homepage to celebrate Children’s Day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gogola Sherbet - Do No Evil !!

Where else in the world will you get possibly the best brand in the world to advertise for you? India of course !!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TED India Edition - A resounding beginning

The first Indian edition of the renowned TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) Conference drew to a close yesterday at Mysore to rapturous performance by percussionist Sivamani.

TED has been one of the most eagerly anticipated annual conferences by the technology world who are keen to unearth new ideas, great startup material, whiz kids and more. The fact that TED decided to host this year's edition in India speaks volumes of the changing perception of India as a giant in technology space.

Ideas like Sixth Sense, the founder of which, Pravin Mistry now wishes to go the open source route and make his product code available for free on the Net just leave you speechless.



Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Google - 5 things that set it apart

I was reading an interesting interview of Nikesh Arora, the President of Global Sales Operations and Business Development at Google yesterday. Here are some excerpts that come as revelations on how Google works as a company

  1. Businesses and consumers across the globe who rely on the internet are affected by two things. One, the volume of data being added every day onto the web. Two the frequency at which the data gets updated. Both these are so high that is become impossible to track, trace and retrieve the right data without the right tools. Google's strives continually to keep pace with these two changes affecting the user landscape
  2. Google likes to be described as an information communication and distribution company.
  3. Google, Nikesh says, does not worry about monetizing innovation as the first step. Innovation comes first, consumer wow comes next and post that is when it starts scratching its head on monetizing it.
  4. Google keeps building products as it sees apt to make up for an inefficiency and this leads it to where it needs to go. Google does not have a big strategy that says focus here or focus there.
  5. Not being evil is in the company DNA and Nikesh mentions of times when Google meeting had employees stand up and question if the design and monetization of a product went against the company's stand of "Do no evil"

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Social Apps - The New Booming Economy

The social and mobile application business is exploding !! Small sized apps are something you are seeing everywhere today. From your Airtel Dish TV to Orkut, to your mobile phones. Consider this
  1. Zynga, a relatively obscure gaming startup has grown from zilch to $100M in revenue in about 2 years. They own four of the top 10 social games on Facebook. Farmville, their most famous social game where you can own virtual farms, grow crops, raise livestock and trade them for virtual money, is played by 11 million people daily across Facebook, Apple iPhone and a host of other websites.
  2. Till date, consumers have downloaded 2 billion programs from Apple AppStore, a online shop that lets you buy small useful applications or games for your iPhone.
  3. RIM (Research in Motion), the company that sells the popular BlackBerry's line of phones has set aside $150M in research funds for generating apps for its Blackberry phones.
  4. Termed the "App Economy" by BusinessWeek magazine, this market estimated to be $1B in size today is predicted to touch $4B in 2012
Phew!! You never thought this market so was big when you last downloaded a Google Gadget or added a small weather application to your Orkut homepage or downloaded some cool social game onto your mobile, did you?

Its huge considering that two years back it did not exist and now its eclipsing all growth trajectories. How does this market work? Simple, it caters to the long tail of the consumers.

3 ways to make money in the app economy
  • Making money by selling the app to consumers:Not every app interests ever consumer. However app development is fast, easy, rapidly customizable and hence allows the developers to develop lots of them to cater to varied customers
  • Digital advertisements that accompany your apps: Ads that get served with the apps will reflect the customers behavior pattern, his/her tastes and thus ensure a higher probability of the advertisement being clicked on
  • Make money by enabling exchange of virtual goods: Allow people to trade for whatever they want using virtual money. Give people virtual money in exchange for real world money. Generating virtual money costs you next to nothing.
Don't be surprised if we start seeing a spurt of Indian startups that might spring out of nowwhere and grown big in no time riding on the hottest new wave - The World of small sized Apps

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flying Pest Control System

I have heard of Pest controllers that catch and zap flying insects. But have you heard of Flying Insect Control System? Well, I did see one in a Chennai restaurant and I was shocked for a moment !! Mind blowing isn't it?



Wishing all readers of this blog a happy Diwali !!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Digital Data Overload – Can we make sense of it all?

It is amazing how the advent of the Digital age and its progress have made us more productive and able to extract the juice of it all for deriving the perceived benefits. However, at the same time, what we have failed to notice over the same period is the amount of data we are creating, processing and storing. Here are some eye-openers

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  1. A single terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes and could store about 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. A new system called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is set to take detailed images of larger chunks of the sky and produce about 30 terabytes of data each night.
  3. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey in New Mexico in its first two days of operation gathered more data than in all previous history of astronomy
  4. Facebook uses more than 1 petabyte of storage space to manage its users’ 40 billion photos i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. This amount of data can store 500 billion pages of text. 1 Petabyte equals 1000 Terabytes = 1,000,000 Gigabytes
  5. Google churns through 20 Petabytes of information every single day just running data analysis jobs.
  6. The Large Hadron Collider, in Geneva, will create enough data to fill 1.7 million DVDs every year

What do you make of this ?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tracking the best websites in India

comScore rates websites and portals across the world. My need of the hour was to find some Indian player who was doing something akin to comScore albeit with a India focus. Thanks to my friend at AlooTechie, one of his newsletters contained just that.

ViziSense does just what I needed. Categorize Indian websites into 21 different categories and lists the websites as per their rank. This rank is based on the Unique Users (UU) who visit them in monthly.

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What’s sure to tickle your grey cells more is that you can drill down further for any website and get demographic, geographic traffic data for users. I drilled down on Rediff and it gave me a plethora of data and even something unique like stating that the Confidence Factor on this site’s data is high.

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The other interesting aspect is a further drilldown available on the sub domains of Rediff.

How does Vizisense do all this? They have a tagging methodology where the respective site owners are given a unique HTML code that they embed in every page on their site. When Internet users access these pages, a trigger alert is sent to Vizisense that captures the best available data on the user.

What's more…You can register your site too… and get it shall I say “Vizisensed”?

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 mass adoption ideas to make eReaders affordable

Has the ebook finally come of age? With all the rage and hoopla surrounding back to back announcements by Amazon on its lower priced and internationally available Kindle and Sony’s Reader and a slew of other ebook reader players, it may be so. While the speed of developments has been amazing, the price-tags of eBook readers has been disappointing.

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Kindle at $279 (approx INR 12973) for the international version and Sony’s eReader at $299 (approx INR  13903) and $199 (approx INR 9300) for the Touch and Pocket editions are still beyond the reach of the average man in developing countries. Tracing back, you can easily place your finger on two reasons

  1. The relatively new e-paper/e-ink technology that needs to go some way before it can become cheaper
  2. The usual chicken and egg story of mass adoption needed for prices to come down and vice versa

While problem 1 is being addressed by industry players like AUO, problem 2 might need some out of the box thinking by the Amazons’ and the Sonys’ of the world. Here are 2 ideas that should set them thinking

  1. Target the schools in the developing world: Students in India and China and other parts of the developing world lug kilograms of textbooks to school and back every day. eReaders might just be the solution out. A low cost eReader and tie-ups with major text book publishers might just be a prescription to promote mass adoption of eReaders
  2. Target the millions of early morning news paper readers: Why not come out with a no frills version of the ebook reader that news paper agents rent out to their readers and exchange every morning with an alternate one that is loaded with the latest newspaper(s). The previous day’s eReader is collected back to be replenished with the next day’s news.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Impact of the One Second Tariff in India

Yet another instance of a revolutionary feature introduced by a market laggard to leap ahead of competition forces TRAI (Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India) to think of mandating the feature across cellular service providers. Tata DoCoMo garnered a big chunk of subscribers by offering the one-second mobile tariff plan. And heavens opened up. Idea, BSNL, MTS followed suit. Bharti  Airtel said a no-no. Reliance entered the fresh season of price wars by announcing alternate schemes.

All this leaves TRAI mulling on making the One Second Tariff mandatory. Looking at this from two perspectives

Customer Perspective

  1. Welcome ChangeThe customer was suffering under the 1 min pulse plan where on an average 20-25 seconds of unused airtime was being paid for by the customer for every call. With the 1 second tariff, the customer pays 1 paise per second that translates to a lot of rupees saved for heavy usage customers over a period of time.
  2. Accelerate Mobile Connectivity in India – A greater section of the society for whom owning a mobile was still a borderline dream will now come under the throes of the mobile revolution.

Service Provider Perspective

  1. Negatively affects the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). In a country where the average ARPU is one of the lowest in the world (about $7 per month per user), this will put additional pressure on the players and might even lead a fresh round of consolidation among the players.
  2. Tougher Entry Barrier – Mandating the one-second tariff also means that TRAI might be erecting an inadvertent barrier to the entry of new players. The need to work with a lower ARPU and garner a huge subscriber base without any real differentiator in offerings is a tough job

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tata Sky+ (Plus) … Is it worth its price?

Now who hasn’t seen the umpteen ads of Aamir Khan and Asin on the TV, advertising Tata Sky + with their cheeky acts that almost push you to the brim of buying one for yourself. I too would have fallen to one of these extremely well produced ads and spent a good Rs. 9000 (erstwhile) and now Rs 5000 for a Tata Sky + box, but for my sane wife who was steadfast in her refusal to do anything with it. Her reasoning was simple. “When all channels re-broadcast their programs, why does the world need a Tata Sky +?”

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(For the novice, a Tata Sky + box is a regular DTH set top box rolled along with a 160 GB hard disk that enables you to record TV programs when you are unable to watch them and then lets you play them back. The same feature also allows real time rewind and playback. It is basically a PVR (Personal Video Recorder)…Sounds great eh?)

This happened twice, I fall for it and my wife pulls me back. I decided to do a Cost-Benefit analysis myself keeping her common sense logic apart.

  1. Rs. 5000 for a just the recording facility of 160GB is way too much. A 160 GB hard disk costs you no more than Rs 2500 today and the price is falling still. The rest of it is just your regular set top box with software patch to record and replay from your PVR.
  2. Even in the US, PVRs cost downwards of $100 that translates to Rs 4500 or less. However the US market DTH market is deregulated to the extent that you need not buy the set top box from your Satellite TV provider which means that the basic TiVo service that allows you to record and replay programs is about $15 a month. Tata Sky on the other hand is planning to hike the price back to Rs. 9000 post Diwali.

And the benefits?

  • I get to record, replay and pause

Well that’s the only benefit. There is no other benefit.

  1. You cannot burn the recorded shows into a DVD or a Blu Ray Disc yet.
  2. Once you reach your 160 GB limit, you need to erase past shows.
  3. You will look like a fool playing a Matrix movie from your Rs 5000 (or Rs. 9000) PVR when your neighbor just waited for 8 hours and watched the re-telecast by selecting the remind feature on his set top box.

Don't lose heart yet. Maybe the Cost Benefit analysis is different for those ladies (or even gents) who have to compulsively obsessively watch the 9:00 PM soap on both Zee TV and Star Plus. These are the kinds who can’t wait for the re-telecast the next day coz they wouldn’t have enough gossip material otherwise during their social circle meetings.

However, if you are like me or my wife, JUST YOU WAIT. Prices of PVRs will crash as soon as the other DTH players bring their versions into the market. Even then , I am doubtful if my wife would let me have one coz this according to her is only a “Nice to Have” gadget but not a “Must Have” whatever the price point. Hopefully I can convince her at the Rs. 2000 mark

Friday, September 18, 2009

Twitter twitter little star…How I wonder what you are?

Twitter mania is catching up everywhere. I got on Twitter….my friend Vasuki’s got on Twitter and now even Facebook has been bitten by the Twitter bug that they have introduced something called Facebook Lite. Though they claim it to be for slow internet connections, it looks more to be a Twitter replacement for Facebook users.

Today the report that Twitter has raised $1B in a fresh round of venture capitalist funding.

One more article from Trackd which says that India might be the 2nd top most country using Twitter.

LiveMint is advising that if you have an idea you are better of testing the waters on Twitter’s incessant chat streams

Even the Indian political babudom is realizing the power of Twitter. Shashi Tharoor’s famous quip on cattle-class ridiculing Congress’s austerity drive is driving congress men into hyper drive in condemning the MoS for External Affairs.

As if all these weren’t tweets enough, there is somebody organizing a Twestival – short for “Twitter Festival”. People around the world connect online and then meet up offline to raise money or awareness for a cause – Thatz what a Twestival is…And this article throws light on how some amazing contributions were gathered in such twestivals …

All I say is “Let the Indians get a hang of this…and you see that a Navaratri of Twestivals is not far off” Ha ha ha…

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The 250th Post capturing the changing Indian IT landscape

My 250th post…and what a dynamic world it is. So many facets of the IT landscape in India have changed in the last 4 years since I commenced blogging. A glimpse into what has changed

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  • Hutch exited and Vodafone entered (UK’s major telecom player) competing head-on with the other players in the Indian market
  • 3G that was being talked about has finally seen the light of the day and BSNL/MTNL are already offering the same
  • India conceptualized and successfully launched Chandrayaan-1- its maiden moon mission which for its other wise abrupt end has achieved 90% of its set goals
  • The Dish TV market has exploded with players like Airtel, Sun Direct and Big TV entering the arena that was ruled by DD and Tata Sky initially
  • STD rates have fallen to less than a rupee
  • Newer pulse rates like 1 sec pulse are being experimented with-by players like Tata DoCoMo ( A partnership between Japan based NTT-DoCoMo and Tata Telecom Services, India)
  • India has announced an unmanned Mars mission by 2013-15
  • India has finally announced a focused approach towards a unique citizen identification process – UID program under the stewardship of Nandan Nilekani
  • Broadband penetration in India has reached about 5 million users among the 90 million internet users in India.
  • India announced a $10 laptop scheme along the lines of OLPC – One Laptop Per Child.

 Transformation is happening and also accelerating…Wishing India to change much more rapidly as I blog away to my 500th post :-)

Now you can also follow my blogs by subscribing to Twitter - http://twitter.com/wowvijay 

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Convergence of the cellphone and computer…

It is interesting world to be in. Considering the fact that we are about to witness the clash of two titans. On one side you have the mighty Intel who has ruled the PC microprocessor space for two decades now and the grip only seems to be tightening. On the other hand you have the Qualcomm and Texas Instruments of the world who have been the major chip makers for the mobile phones for nearly a decade now.

So what happens when as the cell phone becomes more like a computer and the computer more like a cell phone? It is only inevitable that the two chip makers will clash. While Intel wants the inside of mobile devices to be its domain, so do Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

One is trying to come from the PC and bring the entire ecosystem along. The other is trying to go up from the phone and build a new ecosystem. And who would the players in these ecosystems be?

Intel will be backed by Microsoft who wants to have a say in what becomes the de-facto OS for the Mobile Internet Devices. Qualcomm has partnered with Google who is coming out with it Chrome OS later next year which is being designed to exploit the enormous processing and storage power that the cloud (read internet) is continuing to build. Google’s hoping users will make the switch from a Windows world to a Chrome world.

Qualcomm whose 21% market share among mobile devices gives it a head start against Intel also makes use of the ARM architecture to design its chips. ARM architecture has been traditionally strong in exploiting battery power to the hilt and can power devices for a whole day on a single charge.

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And now a 1 GHz ARM based processor from Qualcomm’s stable named SnapDragon will power next generation devices like the iPhones, Blackberry Storm and T-mobile’s G1 phones based on Android OS from Google.

imageIntel on the other hand has come out with a completely new line of processors named Atom and Moorestown that will be power efficient and targeted at the mobile devices market

While Intel hopes that Microsoft will be able to repeat the magic of Windows on PCs ; Qualcomm is keen on seeing Google emerge as the next big Operating System player.

The other interesting aspect to the whole war are the battles being fought on the sidelines. Who goes into which camp? Nobody wants to join hands with the losing side. Nokia, a major buyer of Qualcomm chips has also partnered with Intel recently to power its Booklet smart internet device. Apple has not chosen sides still.

An interesting war awaits…

Read more here…

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chandrayaan clears the air on Apollo…finally !

 

Remember these photos !! Doing the rounds since email became popular, these photos released when America announced its successful Apollo 4 mission that landed the first man Neil Armstrong on the moon have evoked more doubts than awe.

Controversies on whether the US had actually succeeded in putting a man on abounded following the publication of these photos. The top left photo was deemed a fake based on the different positions of the shadow of the astronauts. The second and third photo was also construed as fake citing a waving flag on an airless moon.

Though the US published repeated reports on why these observations really make sense, the controversies took on lives of their own. That’s until now…

A Camera on board India’s maiden unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 has recorded images of the landing site of US spacecraft Apollo 15, rubbishing conspiracy theories that the fourth US mission to land on the moon four decades back was a hoax.

The Terrain mapper camera (TMC) on board Chandrayaan-1, which had an abrupt end a few days back, has sent the prints of landing site of Apollo 15 and tracks of the lunar rovers used by astronauts to travel on lunar surface

Finally it took an Indian moon mission to put an end to this seemingly never ending scheme.

 

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One (mobile) number for every Indian

Traceability and identity management of a billion plus people is no joke. It is in fact a nightmare for the government. The intention of getting the PAN (Personal Account Number) to be the sole identity for every Indian citizen did not fruition. This prompted the government of India to revisit this imperative with a lot more focus and also approach the problem in new ingenious ways.

While the national Unique Identification Number (UID) approach under the stewardship of Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys is to view the problem from the grassroot level, C-DoT, India’s premier computer and IT research organization has put forth an out-of-the-box approach. Get your mobile number to double up as your unique identity number. Now why did I or you not think of this before? With 442 million mobile subscribers and about 15 million joining in with each passing month, the world’s fastest growing mobile market, India, might just be the place where we could put this to test. However, the government does have some wrinkles to iron out before this plan seems feasible

First, How do you ensure a mobile phone in every Indian’s hands? If that’s un-feasible, what’s the alternative to people who are not mobile yet?

Second, even if you ensured that how will you ensure that we won’t run out of 10 digit numbers for all. If we go back in history a little, the ten digit mobile plan was put in place in 2003 to eventually cater to about 750 mobile numbers and was expected to cater to demand till 2030. It was estimated that the mobile user base would take about 3 decades to reach 750 million. However we are already on the cusp of spilling over. Increasing the mobile number length could be one idea…

Whatever the problems be, technology should eventually be able to solve it. Termed the “One Number” project, this futuristic study under the aegis of P V Acharya, C-DoT’s executive director does indeed lend a fresh approach to a problem plaguing India for some time now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Animation – The All New Red Hot Computer Field

Animation is the newest craze in the town. Be it learning animation, working on outsourced animation projects or watching recreated mythological animation movies – Animation is the talk of the town.

After the slew of elegantly created movies on Indian mythological characters like Hanuman, Krishna, Rama, Ganesha - animation has been a much sought after course in India. India is emerging as an outsourcing hub for animation and visual effects with large number of international media companies entering into joint ventures with animation studios in India.

Animation market in India was $460M in 2008 and growing at a CAGR of 30-40% annually, it is expected to touch 1.2 billion USD by 2012 (as per a research by ResearchandMarkets group). This growth is stupendous and evidence of this growth can be seen in the mushrooming of computer institutes offering animation courses in wide array of animation tools like Maya, Studio Max and host of other home grown tools.

However a word of caution to people investing in animation courses. You need to do a bit of research and know what kind of animation you want to gain expertise in. There are a wide variety of courses ranging from 2D to 3D to specialist techniques.

Top institutes offering Animation courses in India

1 Tekno Point Multimedia
2 Maya Academy Of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC)
3 Arena Multimedia
4 Zee Institute Of Creative Arts (ZICA)
5 National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT)
6 The Toonz-Webel Academy
7 Whistling Woods International
8 Escotoonz Animation
9 Hearts Animation Academy
10 National Institute of Design (NID), Paldi, Ahmedabad
11 The Birla Institute of Technology (deemed university), Mesra, Ranchi
12 The Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
13 The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Mumbai and Guwahati
14 The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) centres in Pune and Mohali

Source: StudyPlaces.com

Saturday, March 28, 2009

5 Firefox Addons for the Indian Surfer

I had to find someway to kill time this Saturday. However I wanted to avoid the guilt feeling that comes after watching a movie not worthwhile at all. My attentions turned to Firefox Addons. I decided to find some addons useful to my style of working. While I was at it, I decided why not find some addons specifically designed for the Indian netizen.

I typed "India" in the Firefox addon search bar and lo !!! Two pages worth of results.

However I was disappointed to find that some of which I would have loved to have were not updated to work with the version of Firefox I have. :-(

Yet, the top 5 that made it to my list were

  1. India Stock Market and Sensex Watcher
  2. Naukri.com Toolbar - Job Search
  3. Lipikaar Firefox Extension - Allows Indic language typing across webpages
  4. Income Tax Calculator India
  5. Live India Radio & TV Toolbar

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Answers - India Information Technology Quiz - Edition 3

Answers to the 3rd Edition of India Information Technology
  1. Which Independent Software Vendor is working on the India Digital Heritage product that involves creating virtual recreations of famous Indian heritages that will allow people to take virtual tours? - Microsoft
  2. Which software company arranged for a Internet Bus to tour about 19 towns in cities in the state of Tamil Nadu to educate people on the power of the World Wide Web? - Google
  3. Which Indian recently beat Barack Obama to top the Google's most searched list of phrases, albeit for a dubious reason? - Ramalinga Raju
  4. Which Indian company made a large acquisition of Axon, the UK based SAP services company which was billed as the largest overseas acquisition by an Indian outsourcing firm pegged at $811 million. - HCL Technologies
  5. Creating This kind of content has been illegal in India. Now a new version of IT laws has even made browsing of this kind of content punishable. What type of content is being referred to? - Child Pornography
  6. What new application from Google allows people to let all their friends and family know about their current whereabouts? - Lattitude
  7. What Indian technology experiment completed 100 days of successful execution on 29th January 2009? - Chandrayaan - India's Moon Mission
  8. The 3 giants of Internet, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft came together recently to collaborate on an unique project. What was it? - Provide web designers a single standard to indicate a duplicate URL and point out to the search enginer the "princinpal" or "cannonical" URL. This is expected to clean up the search index by upto 25%
  9. Expand WITCH, a media defined acronym to collectively refer to Indian IT companies. -
    WITCH - Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant, HCL
  10. Which book from Pankaj Ghemawat, a global guru on strategy, challenges Thomas Friedman's statements in "The World is Flat" book by stating that "protectionist walls will go up in developed economies affected by the global downturn and warns Indian information technology (IT) firms against taking false comfort in arguments that they would reap a demographic dividend or adopting a “we have seen crises before” attitude."? - Redefining Global Strategy: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter
  11. Who has been appointed the chairman of the beleaguered Satyam board by the Government of India? - Kiran Karnik
  12. Which Indian IT company was ranked the 8th best in the world for its training program by Training Magazine that picks up the top 125 among 1000 companies annually? - Satyam

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Google India SearchMasters 09 Conference

Google India is conducting a 1 day conference for Internet website builders community at Bengalooru on 28th Feb 09. The conference titled "SearchMasters 09" intends to be the one stop for all developers to learn about Google's Webmasters suite of tools

Google has over the years built a wonderful repertoire of tools useful to website developers and individuals who are looking at monetizing their websites or blogs. This conference should be a definite to them.

Do sign up at their official site for a invitation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

India Information Technology Quiz - Edition 3

It's QUIZ time again. Here's a fresh list of 12 questions to jog your gray matter !
  1. Which Independent Software Vendor is working on the India Digital Heritage product that involves creating virtual recreations of famous Indian heritages that will allow people to take virtual tours?
  2. Which software company arranged for a Internet Bus to tour about 19 towns in cities in the state of Tamil Nadu to educate people on the power of the World Wide Web?
  3. Which Indian recently beat Barack Obama to top the Google's most searched list of phrases, albeit for a dubious reason?
  4. Which Indian company made a large acquisition of the UK based SAP services company which was billed as the largest overseas acquisition by an Indian outsourcing firm pegged at $811 million.
  5. Creating This kind of content has been illegal in India. Now a new version of IT laws has even made browsing of this kind of content punishable. What type of content is being referred to?
  6. What new application from Google allows people to let all their friends and family know about their current whereabouts?
  7. What Indian technology experiment completed 100 days of successful execution on 29th January 2009?
  8. The 3 giants of Internet, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft came together recently to collaborate on an unique project. What was it?
  9. Expand WITCH, a media defined acronym to collectively refer to Indian IT companies.
  10. Which book from Pankaj Ghemawat, a global guru on strategy, challenges Thomas Friedman's statements in "The World is Flat" book by stating that "protectionist walls will go up in developed economies affected by the global downturn and warns Indian information technology (IT) firms against taking false comfort in arguments that they would reap a demographic dividend or adopting a “we have seen crises before” attitude."?
  11. Who has been appointed the chairman of the beleaguered Satyam board by the Government of India?
  12. Which Indian IT company was ranked the 8th best in the world for its training program by Training Magazine that picks up the top 125 among 1000 companies annually?
Last date to send in your answers: 20 Feb 2009

3 entries with the most number of correct answers will find a mention on the blog.

Send in your entries to wowvijay@in.com with your name and blog link (if any)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Technology sans tech-etiquette proving costly

While the invasion of technology into every fold of our life is not stoppable, the importance and time we give to them is defintely in our control. However, that calls for a measure of restraint from everyone who can't do without technology assisting them in every walk of their life. 
Indians are technology penchants. They have no qualms shouting into their mobiles when travelling on a public mode of transport or in a quiet little restaurant. They care not if the bus is crammed - they need to still use their laptop. They like their ringtones loud and love it when their iPods scream right through their earphones into the neigbour's ear too. The motorcyclist gets the urge to check and reply SMSes only when he is zipping through the busiest road in town. The list goes on and on. While we have embraced technology, the etiquette that comes along has been trashed. No wonder now that things seem to be going on a further downslide. Its our relationships that have started feeling the pinch... Radhika Bhirani has this story on Yahoo India.

Lets do some thing about it today........ Click here to lear about technology manners

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why don't Indian IT vendors target Indian market in a big way

"Why can't India be the alternative market that the ailing Indian IT industry can look up to?"

This was the question that popped up during lunch time between us at office. A deluge of answers followed.
  1. Indian market nascent still
  2. Not enough big players to outsource big work
  3. Indian IT vendors charge US dollar rates to Indian customers
All true...but they brought up new questions.... 
  1. Why nascent?
  2. Why not more big players?  
  3. Why USD rates for Indian customers?
As the discussions ensued two points came out that sort of answered the primary and secondary questions.

1. Most sectors in India are unorganised: Retail Sector, Utilities sector, Transport sector, Hospitality sector and more. Almost all sectors are still a fragmented lot. Lot of mom and pop stores all around the country. They lack the economies of scale to go in for big IT orrders that can be justified against the profits they make. That also tells you why they cannot afford US dollar rates that IT vendors charge. the argument holds true on why it does not make sense for Indian IT vendors to go after the Indian market. Too many tries - too few hits - and even fewer to make a mark would be the result. 

2. Indian IT vendors play to the American stock markets: The ADRs and the NYSE listings are what drive the Indian IT companies primarily. I am not saying this is wrong but a strong growth in these stock exchanges must be reflected through a dollar growth. Growth in rupee earnings must be 50 times as much as dollar earnings to match similar feats. Keeping the market and the shareholders happy with your earnings forecasts and your quarter on quarter growth is a real need that public companies get exposed to. No prizes for quessing that the balance tilts in favor of the stronger currency. You can't expect to show earnings in the weaker currency and keep impressing the market that runs on the stronger currency.

Certainly points that can't be dismissed cheaply, eh?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Internet Bus - Another googly from Google !!

Who can possibly be contemplating getting the millions of rural Indians on to the Internet as fast as possible. Who possibly stands to gain from such a garangutan task? We all would for sure ....directly or indirectly. But there is one company out there which has everything to gain and would be the first beneficiary in this connection.

No doubt that the company has a professed mission of "making all available information to all people at all times through any channel possible" They will be doing the world a great service in chasing this dream and making it a reality. In the process they stand to gain too. 

Listen to the latest attempt by Google to spread disseminate the power of Internet across the world - The Internet Bus.




Travelling across 19 cities of the state of Tamil Nadu in India, the bus aims to raise awareness among people of the power of the Internet. The official site even has a Google map indicating the travel route of the bus, the timetable and even a Picasa album link that would host photos of the stops the bus makes along its journey during the course of 6 weeks.

The bus is equipped with a dish that links to the satellite directly to provide internet services.

While the whole concept might have borrowed from similar ideas in the past, what lends credence to it is the clout of Google behind the project. For all you know it could even be a precursor to a new experiment that found genesis in the famed Google Labs.

I will keep guessing...


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

India set to dominate offshore outsourcing for a long time

In this age of "Top 10 rankings", I came across  an interesting one that CyberMedia’s Global Services and investment advisory firm Tholons has labeled "Top Global Outsourcing cities"

The list runs like this
  1. Bangalore
  2. Chennai
  3. Delhi National Capital Region
  4. Hyderabad
  5. Mumbai
  6. Pune
  7. Dublin (Ireland)
  8. Makati City (The Philippines)
6 of the top 8 cities are Indian cities. While rankings will change over time, the current list should leave no one in doubt about the position India has etched for itself as the synonym for outsourcing.

What remains to be see in how long can India sustain her impressive showing. The answer to this, I partly got, from a new book on offshoring that has hit the market. Authored by Robert Kennedy and titled "The Services Shift", a key message brought out in the book is the continued dominance of India for a long time to come as the leader in absorbing offshored outsourcing jobs. Robert in his interview with Forbes says

"China is pretty far behind India and even places like the Philippines and Eastern Europe. It's largely due to a language problem. There are real challenges. Services exports from China will grow, but they won't overtake India anytime soon."
I lay the matter to rest for now. :-)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Remote Rural Village Communities - Benefiting from the power of WWW

Bringing Internet to remote villages is a humongous task. Google is among the fore runners along with several other NGOs who are striving across the globe to bring the power of the World Wide Web to the masses.

I was reading this insightful article on NYTimes which talked about how Google installed a small satellite dish powered by a solar panel in a remote village in Kenya named Entasopia to link it up to the rest of the world. The work was undertaken by 3 students from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Costing $700 a month for bandwidth charges, the dish may not cost Google much. What is moving though is the amount of flutter it causes in the community where the power of Intenret gets disseminated.

The article cites a couple of well elucidated stories as proof points.

  • A crippled Masai tribesman who has been using the power of the Net to rise awareness among the old fashioned Masai tribe where crippled kid is abandoned to die and the mother is put through a ritual cleansing to banish the evil spirits that were said to have caused the disability in the child.
  • A government worker in the agricultural department who uses the Internet connection to send information to district headquarters, instead of spending days traveling there and back to deliver monthly reports. These reports help him advise farmers on the environment, crop husbandry and soil conservation.
Worth a read !!! Read it here

Sunday, February 01, 2009

India announces $10 Laptop

Laptops are getting cheaper. However the race to bring laptops to the masses at the lowest cost is getting crazier. I had earlier blogged about Negroponte who was trying to get a $100 laptop aimed at school kids in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Now, its the Indian government that has announced a $10 laptop.

Specifications
  1. 2 GB RAM
  2. Linux powered OS
  3. WiFi
  4. Expandable memory
  5. Works on 2W of power
How so cheap?
  1. Current prototype can be produced for $20
  2. Large scale production should cut the price in half
  3. No R&D Costs - Developed by students from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Tamil Nadu jointly with Indian Institute of Science,(IISc) Bangalore and a partially-public entity called the Semiconductor
  4. Government has tied up with 4 educational providers - Macmillan, Tata McGraw Hill, Prentice-Hall and Vikas Publishing to provide digital content for these notebooks.
Got to see what happens if the government's program succeeds when the rollout begins in July 2009. Sorry OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program, you have competition.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Newspapers losing audience to Internet news-sites

Business World columnist Ashok V Desai has an interesting thought put forth in his recent article titled "The Rise of Internet" in the issue dated 26th Jan 2009. He points out to the findings of a research conducted by Pew Research which show that for the first time Internet had overtaken news papers as the principal source of news in US. 40% of the 1489 respondents of a survey got their news from the internet as against 35% from newspapers.

While this has taken a good 2 decades after the advent of Internet in US, it would happen way too faster in Asia Pacific and more so in a countries like India which have adopted English as their official business language. Much of the next generation have started forgetting the habit of scanning the morning newspaper over a cup of coffee. Rather, they head straight to their laptop to surf their way to the latest news. Newspapers are already stale by the time they have left the print house.

Internet offers the option of tracking a news item minute by minute, following news items that suit one's tastes to point of nausea, follow wisebytes pouring out of one's favorite reporter, compare news reports of sites and even leave one's own two cents of thought on the news website. Even television as depicted in the graph is losing out share to the internet. The one way medium of newspapers doesn't stand a chance against this onslaught.

The point that Ashok mentions is the tendency among internet surfers to not pay for online news. This should spell doom for newpaper houses even if they decide to go online with their news. How do you come up with a commercially viable model that coaxes Internet readers to pay for news they consume online.

What needs to be seen is if any Indian newspaper successfully comes up with such a model; something that even the Western media houses have failed miserably at...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Open Handset Alliance - No Indian representation

I was reading about the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). A consortium of about 47 players in the telecom hardware and software domain who have come together to standardize and put forward a viable alternative to existing platforms for handsets and related application development. With founding members in Google, HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, Samsung, LG, T-Mobile, Nvidia and Wind River Systems, the Open Handset Alliance which was formed in Nov 2007 has grown in strength to 47. The consortium today includes mobile operators, software companies, commercialization companies, semiconductor companies and handset manufacturers.


On 5 November, 2007, the OHA unveiled Android, an open source mobile phone platform based on the Linux operating system. The first commercially available phone running Android is the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream)that hit the markets on August 18, 2008.

Nokia, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are not members of the alliance, though Verizon has expressed a change of stance.

Android, the flagship software of the alliance, is based on an open source license and will compete against other mobile platforms from Apple Inc., Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, Research In Motion and Symbian.

While US, European and even Chinese companies have become part of this alliance that will have a say in the future evolution of mobiles, the world's largest and fastest growing handset market India has absolutely no representation. No Indian vendor be it the state owned BSNL or the private biggies like Reliance, Tata Indicom or Airtel have a representation in the OHA.

This means that none of them will have a say in the way mobile phones evolve despite India being the market that will be the most challenging for handset makers given its cultural, linguistic and geographical diversities.

It also means that Indian users will have to pay through their nose for phones that were never developed in the first place keeping in mind the Indian user's nuances in mind. Remember Apple's iPhone introduction into India that fell flat on its face? Part pricing in-sensitivity and part feature insensitivity (non availability of 3G and iTunes store that could accepts payments in INR) caused the fiasco. You can be guranteed of more such incidents with no Indian representation in the OHA.

Lastly the stance of the Indian government is surprising. The Indian government is one of the strongest upholders of Linux and other open source software. It has played a strong role in pushing for the adoption of the open standards based document standard - ODF (Open Document Format). Why not the same stand when it comes to handset adoption? After all handsets have played and will continue to play an important role in getting the wheels of our nation rolling at 9%-10% GDP growth per annum.

Is someone listening?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

State of IT/ITES Startups in India

Nasscom has come out with a new section that features rising Indian IT companies. A platform to help emerging companies in the IT/ITES space in India, the platform enables emerging companies announce their arrival to the wide audience of customers in India and outside.

I have been following this for some time now. Companies with names that sure won't ring any bell in you coz they are are mint fresh - Rising Solutions, Incture Technologies, Kandor Retail, Information System (KRIS), RateGain, Quinnox, Mann India Technologies, Pratham Software, Herald Logic, Diaspark, Pradot Technologies.

Certain interesting aspects I have noticed in the emerging companies
1. They are niche companies (not surprising since you have to start somewhere and need to have a differentiator)
2. They reflect the current sunshine industries in India - Retail, Travel, Transport & Logistics. 30-40% of the compnies provide specific solutions to these industries.
3. They offer cost arbitrage not matachable by the biggies in the industry. That gets me to doubt if offshoring would move away from India. As the biggies move up the value chain, smaller fry feed on the spillovers which analysts keep predicting would move onto newer shores. That will take time still...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Top 3 technology companies to work for in India

Business Today has come up with the "Top 10 Best companies to work for in India" list.


While the top 3 companies are still technology companies, it comes as no surprise that none of the IT services companies have made the list. Blame it on the Satyam fiasco or the recession, the sheen of IT/ITES companies has taken a hit.

While that might only showcase only one side of the story, we should not forget the efforts that the companies that have made it to the list have put in to deserve the rankings they have been given.

As quoted from Business World,

In the last decade that Nagendar Vendula has been with Microsoft, the 41-yearold Master’s in Computer Engineering has transitioned through a variety of roles, ranging from product engineering and management, to managing the software giant’s 300-person in-house IT team. Vendula has moved from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Virginia, to the Microsoft India Development Centre in Hyderabad, and gone from core engineering of the BizTalk products to managing the disparate IT needs of Microsoft’s partners and customers. “Microsoft helped me make the move from the US to India,” says Vendula. “They not only shipped my personal effects, but also gave me a car and found a premium school for my kids.”

MS does.. it again. In the race to keep the best talent in the industry, Microsoft India has decided to focus on providing its 5,464 employees across sales and marketing, BPO, software development and research, the opportunity to work across a variety of roles. The company is also keen to break the mould and appoint young managers to positions of responsibility. “We hire people for their passion, not for a specific role,” says Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India. Around 41 per cent of Microsoft India’s managers are below the age of 35 years and Venkatesan is confident of his young charges delivering the goods.
Inside stories of this nature make a convincing story.


Monday, January 19, 2009

What's in a name? Google holds the key !!

Satyam chairman Raju has something to cheer about even when his stars have forsaken him. Raju has been the most googled name across the world leaving even Obama behind since his infamous admission of a 7000 crore rupees fraud. The search volumes for Raju are estimated to have been over 10 times more than that of Obama on January 7. I only hope that it does not inspire others to fall to murkier depths to get into Google books of fame. :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boom or Recession - India always a preferred R&D outsourcing destination

I remember the oft quoted statement "A pessimist sees a partially filled glass of milk as half empty; an optimist as half full" when i was reading an article in the Times of India on how India is still a red hot favorite when it comes to R&D outsourcing by corporations across the globe.

India has emerged as the 2nd largest preferred destination for global R&D and innovation with US$12.9 billion of R&D investment being poured into India by 184 top R&D companies globally, a study by Booz Hamilton has revealed. The chief reasons being labor cost arbitrage & dominance of talent pools to undertake complex R&D

Many a time, I joke that recession or no recession companies can never stop outsourcing. Boom times force companies to outsource so that they can get to market faster, tap newer markets with their products/services faster; hence they tap into the abundant talent pool offered by countries like India. Recession times force companies to tighten their purses, get jobs done from countries where the cost arbitrage works to their advantage while the quality is not affected; hence they outsource.

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