That’s IT in April 2005

Broad Issues: Pakistan Prime Minister talks peace with India and Chinese and Japanese Prime Ministers talk IT in their recent India visit, recognizing India’s strengths in IT globally; Stock market crash globally and in India on April 15, 2005; Maruti rolls out its five millionth car and Maruti board clears Rs 3,271 Crores investment for another car plant in India; Maruti & Suzuki assemble a team of Indian engineers who design the next generation car “Swift”, a long way indeed for the Indian experience in automotive manufacturing, that started in early eighties with Maruti, a joint venture with the Japanese auto maker Suzuki; Jammu Thawi – Udhampur railway line is commissioned, demonstrating that Indian engineers can execute amazing Railway projects, if only politicians give them freedom; Euro II compliant fuel supply starts in select cities in India from April 1; ONGC net profit crosses Rs 12,500 Crores, proving that public sector can deliver, if the politicians do not come in their way; Europe revokes the patent given to “neem”, a natural tree product used by the common man in India for centuries, a win in India’s struggle for fair global Intellectual Property Regime; Indo-US “open skies” policy cleared; Jet Airways starts flights to Singapore; globally, Airbus A 380 aircraft that can seat 800+ passengers, completes its maiden flight; Iraq gets an elected Shia leader Jaafari; oil price reach a record high of $ 58, though it came down towards the end of the month.

On the Products front, Motorola launches sub-Rs 2,000 mobile handset, recognizing the needs of the growing market that the IT Minister says will be 200 Million by 2007 (from the current 45 Million today); AMD launches dual core Opteron 800 processor; Intel follows suit; in a boost to Indian language computing, Microsoft India and C-DAC start offering Tamil Office; Toshiba to launch LCD TV with hard disk; Google doubles e-mail storage space to 2 GB for G-Mail users and introduces “search history”; Windows to co-work better with Solaris and Linux; Adidas announces microprocessor-embedded “intelligent” shoes at Rs 12,499 for the Indian market!

In the Marketplace, Indian software industry exports cross Rs 100,000 Crores ($ 22 Billion) and accounts for 2.66% of the global software services market; Bangalore STPI alone accounts for 1/3rd of the total country’s export; Indo Japanese trade to cross $ 10 Billion soon; Cognizant buys US-based Fathom solutions; Lenova (the new face of IBM PC Division after its sale to Chinese) India operations start; Helios-Matheson acquires Pawan Kumar founded vMoksha, an IT services company with nearly 1,000 professionals in Bangalore and Pune; HP bags Bank of Baroda order for Core Banking solution implementation; globally, PC sales cross 46 Million in Q1 of 2005; HP buys Snapfish, an Internet-based imaging company; Adobe buys Macromedia for $ 3.4 Billion signaling major consolidation in the desktop graphics software market.

Indian IT companies post great results; TCS annual sales crosses $ 2 Billion; Infosys crosses $ 1.5 Billion annual revenue (it became a Billion Dollar company just last year) and expect to cross $ 2 Billion next year; Moser Baer commissions its German facility; Mindtree posts $55 Million in 2004-2005 (well on its way to $ 123 Million in 2007-2008 that they projected on Day 1 way back in 2000); Sasken gets a small, but significant funding from Nortel networks; i-Flex bags the order from Taiwanese Ta Chung Bank.

MNC IT Companies continue to invest in India. Dell to increase headcount to 10,000 from 8,000 in India; with IBM, Oracle, HP, Intel, Accenture well on their way to crossing the 10,000 mark, India is an interesting place for MNC IT majors to grow; Support Soft to increase headcount by another 100 in Bangalore; WebSense starts Indian operations; Sanovi Tech to invest $ 10 Million in Bangalore; Sonim Tech opens Bangalore office; growth is not limited to software services alone; products company BEA Systems to hire 200 engineers in Bangalore; in hardware, Nokia launches its handset manufacturing facility in Chennai with $ 150 Million investment (to be ready for production by early next year) and Elcoteq facility starts manufacturing mobile phones in Bangalore; Graphics card major ATI sets up India operations at Hyderabad while NVIDIA is already present in Bangalore); growth is happening in Engineering & R & D too with Motorola commissioning its 11th global R & D facility in Bangalore; Samsung deciding to pump more money into its R & D facility in Bangalore; Underwriter Laboratories expanding their Bangalore operations; and, Symbol Technologies investing $ 20 Million in Bangalore operations.

In Telecom, with a steady growth of million+ new customers every month, Indian telephone lines cross 100 Million; Bharti Telecom annual revenue crosses $ 2 Billion; BSNL (public sector telecom service provider) plans to invest Rs 80,000 Crores ($ 20 Billion) and add 75 Million lines in the next three years; locally made mobile telephones to be preferred by public sector telecom companies boosting local manufacture; Nokia launches its handset manufacturing facility in Chennai with $ 150 Million investment; Elcoteq facility to manufacture mobile phones in Bangalore is commissioned; TRAI cuts domestic leased line tariff (though TDSAT has stalled it); globally, Internet service provider AOL starts phone services in 40 US cities adding another twist to the global telecom industry; Microsoft strikes a deal with Symbian (practically owned by Nokia) to let MS Exchange mails to be read off mobile smart phones powered by Symbian O/S.

In ITES, iGate crosses Rs 570 Crores just in their third year of operations; mPhasis employees alleged to be behind $ 350,000 theft causing flutters in the Indian BPO industry.

On the People front, we had some very distinguished visitors to India in April; the list includes UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and Pakistan Prime Minister Musharaf; Elcoteq Chairman CEO Antti Piippo, Ernst & Young CEO Jim Turlay, Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz and Dell CEO Kevin Rollins visited India in April; other interesting developments include Wipro Vice Chairman Vivek Paul getting included in the list of “most respected CEO’s” by Dow Jones; Paul Wolfowitz becoming the new World Bank President; Mark Hurd taking over as HP CEO; in yet another dimension, the newly elected Pope hails from Germany after the passing away of the Pope John Paul II.

On the Education & Research front, there was an unusual endorsement of the contributions by IIIT Alumni in the United States by the US House of Representatives; Chinese Prime Minister visits Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; Pakistan students are to be admitted into IIT’s and IIM’s; IIT Kharagpur launches 5-year B Tech (Honors) and MBA Programs; TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Linux Cluster with 1 Teraflop horsepower of 64-bit computing, moves to 34th position in Asia and enters Super 500 Club; Microsoft India files for 70 patents; globally, Russia and China bag top honors in the ACM Collegiate Programming contest; Stanford scientists are close to perfecting a bionic eye; the largest prime number was found by Mersenne group (distributed PC network among thousands of volunteers).

On the Infrastructure front, Jammu Thawi – Udhampur railway line in Jammu Kashmir State is commissioned; Indian telephone lines cross 100 Million.

On the Applications, Bangalore One (multiple Government of Karnataka services under one roof) opens with a bang (including controversies); in a boost to Indian language computing, Microsoft India and C-DAC start offering Tamil Office; the innovative rural ICT project e-Chaupal of ITC crossed a business volume of $ 100 Million (expects to cross $ 2.5 Billion by 2010).

Some interesting numbers; 7,50,000 unique game downloads happen in India everyday; Globally PC sales cross 46 Million; mobile handsets to cross 780 Million in 2005 (compared to 680 Million in 2004)

The author (Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan) is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal reflections on the IT industry, more so from an Indian perspective. The inputs are from Journals (IEEE / ACM / Technology Review), Magazines (Dataquest / Voice & Data/ eWeek / CIO Magazine), Sites (Tech Web / Ziff Davis), Newsletters (IEEE, ACM, AIS, Fierce Wireless / IT Toolbox / CRM Guru / Arc Wire / CIOL) and Newspapers (New York Times / Economic Times / Times of India / Deccan Herald / The Hindu). He can be reached at

(appeared in Education Times of Times of India (the world’s largest English language newspaper dated May 16, 2005)

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