Archive for September, 2007

iPhone goes to France too

September 20, 2007

For the third day in a row, Apple announced the launch of iPhone in one country or other in Europe – UK with mobile carrier o2, Germany with mobile carrier T-Mobile in the last two days – and today Apple announced its launch in France with mobile carrier Orange.

iPhone momentum is picking up

Apple seems to be choosing a different carrier every time, but just one carrier in each country.

It will be interesting to watch as all these country launches will happen on Nov 9, 2007

iPhone goes to Europe

September 19, 2007

Apple announced that it will launch iPhone on November 9, 2007 in UK with o2 and in Germany with T-Mobile. Apple seems to be continuing its style; go with a service provide who has good foot print in the geogrpahy and of course who agrees to “Apple Way” (activation not by service provider but thru Apple site and revenue sharing with Apple). Interestingly Apple is tying up with just one service provider in each geography.

Having been used to “unlocked and free” phones in India for mobile phones, many of us wonder how consumers in the “free” America put up with the restrictions. Some times preaching is very different from practice.

Any way iPhone magic is not going to be limited to USA alone; two more countries will have it in November. I am sure there will be more announcements as the Christmas Season approaches.

With the launch of a fun-packed family of iPods (including iPod Touch) and iPhones getting launched in Europe, this year is definitely going to be Apple’s Christmas

PC sales in the second 25 years

September 10, 2007

PC completed 25 years in 2006. Many predicted the demise of PC with mobile phones and PDAs getting powerful. Yet PCs are selling enough with HP, Lenovo, Dell and Acer getting bigger and bigger AND growing.

Economist made an interesting observation.

PC sales in the second 25 years will grow steadily though without any hype. In fact, it will be like car sales. Taste and customization will drive sales and NOT technology; a deep observation indeed!

Blue-Ray Vs HD DVD – standard wars again

September 9, 2007

Resembling the VCR standard war of the 70s (VHS Vs BetaMax), a new standard war has started for the next generation of DVD recording (with much larger capacity, better quality of recording and long life). On the one hand, Sony supported (created) Blue Ray appears winning; on the other hand, its arch rival Toshiba and others are trumpeting HD DVD.

While there are several angles to this debate, what is most interesting to me is this; one development that could turn the table, is the “ease of use” of Microsoft HDi that lets content creators create HD DVD format far more easily, than the Sun Java tool that is used to program Blue-Ray disks (Refer to the recent Economist article).

Isn’t it interesting that software ultimately decide the future of hardware?

Apple launches new iPod and reduces iPhone price

September 7, 2007

On Sep 5, 2007, Steve Jobs the charismatic Apple CEO announced a line of iPod models (Classic, Shuffle, Nano and Touch) and declared a $200 price reduction in iPhone barely within 10 weeks of launching of iPhone on June 29, 2007.

What is interesting to me is the fact that the iPod Touch is nothing but the iPhone without phone! It uses the touch interface that users love to listen to music, audio and video; it uses Wi-Fi (an unusual partnership with Starbucks Coffee makes the Wi-Fi more interesting!) to connect to iTunes stores; Safari browser lets you browse.

Apple also added Video to Nano (with cleverly preserving 3.5” screen images from iPhone to 2.5” images of iPod Nano)

With the price reductions Apple iPod launch is interesting; iPod Touch is also being launched globally (mainly focusing on Europe)

Software engineering to engineering software

September 5, 2007

India has done well in software engineering. It is good; however, the very nature of software services, much of the employment is focused on skills, mostly related to the tools of software engineering. Since most of the Indian software workforce consists of engineers, it will be nice that we make use of the knowledge of engineering.

Engineering by its very nature is a creative profession (unlike legal or accounting profession). It can be very satisfying too. I do expect that the next stage of Indian IT industry will be that of engineering software; use software engineering to create great engineering marvels.

Working for great companies like Schneider – 170 years old Corporation operating in 190 countries with thousands of products – the software engineers have an unusually exciting opportunity to go beyond software engineering to engineering software.

I do hope that Schneider GTC India would take the lead in this shift. Such a shift would lead to “experts” who can claim individual contribution than mere “managers” who have to get the team to contribute. Also jobs seek “experts” while many software engineers constantly are forced to seek jobs.

Count your blessings

September 4, 2007

It is easy to forget what you have and keep cribbing about what you do not have. It is important for the youngsters in India, those who have a job, particularly in IT (with hefty salary) to remember that it is important to count one’s blessings. India is taken seriously by the world. You get work that is interesting, influential and also paying.

Go plunge yourself, do a great job, be happy, forget about complaining and do proud to yourself, your family, your organization and your country.

(Part of my address to Schneider Electric GTCI Bangalore staff on their Tech Veda Day on Sep 4, 2007)

Professor Narasimhan is no more

September 4, 2007

Professor R Narasimhan the “Bhishma Pitamaha” of Indian software industry passed away yesterday (September 3, 2007).

Starting in TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), it was Professor Narasimhan who recommended the setting up of Electronics Commission (Prof MGK Menon was the first Chairman). It became Department of Electronics and later Ministry of Information Technology. He was instrumental in building the first general purpose digital computer in India way back in 1960. When IBM “walked out” of India in 1976, it was Professor Narasimhan who took charge as the first Chairman of Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC Ltd later and now part of TCS). He was also instrumental in the starting of NCST (National Center for Software Technology) (now part of C-DAC). Through his individual contributions that include seminal ideas in pattern recognition and his guidance to generations of Computer Science professionals in India, he has contributed a lot to the early Computer Science literature in India. His out put was prolific; couple of years ago he completed a text on AI and Language Processing at a ripe age of 77!

His insightful vision led to the naming of NCST as National Center for Software Technology with emphasis on “software”; not many could see the larger role “software” would play in the long run at that time (Indian software industry benefits from his vision today).

Interestingly, not many understand the contribution made by many researchers (including Dr Narasimhan) that separated hardware (processors) and software. IT industry would not have grown to its current size of $ 2,000 billion today without such a separation. Software interestingly is nothing but a set of “bits & bytes” that stays as a file on some storage device (Floppy, Tape, Disk, CD or DVD) attached to some computational device (computer, phone). Of course, those “bits & bytes” code complex algorithms (like MP3 compression or a “rendering” algorithm for some complex object or a “pattern recognition algorithm” to decode DNA sequence or a complex set of financial calculations). Once loaded into a processor (may be a microprocessor from Intel / AMD or a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chip), the software gets “executed” – the processor processing the “software” converts the “static” software into the actual “magic”. But for the separation of software and hardware it would not have been possible to create such a wide variety of software applications – banking, telecom, hospitality, healthcare, automotive or industrial automation. Separation of software and hardware permitted “independent” developments; though not all software runs on all hardware, most software pieces run on multiple hardware (for example, a “browser” software runs on many hardware platforms including many PCs and many mobile phones). Since the software by itself does NOT do any processing, but remains static (until loaded on to a processor) it can be “moved around” – copied, sent as e-mail attachment, uploaded or simply sent across – leading to “any time, anywhere” processing. Many services like “anytime, anywhere” banking (ATM, Credit card), ticketing (e-ticket, mobile ticketing) would not have been possible without such a clear separation of hardware and software.

It is important to reinforce such deep thought processes pioneered by tall individuals like Professor Narasimhan. With his passing away an amazing chapter of Indian IT ends. Hopefully, he will continue to inspire generations of computer science researchers in India.