Archive for November, 2007

Microoft Zune 2

November 27, 2007

Microsoft Zune 2 is getting traction.

The Christmas seasonal sales peak had Zune 2 off the shelves (very different compared to Zune launch last year when they were not moving out of the shelves!)

The display is brilliant, Wi-Fi makes browsing a great experience, particularly on the larger & brighter screen.

It looks like Apple iPod is getting a competitor finally; and, that is good for the end consumer

Microsoft has a history of coming from behind and getting to a leadership position. While it may not happen for iPod, at least they will bring out another competitor of large scale to Apple

TCS gets the first-ever $ 1+ billion outsourcing contract from Nielsen

November 11, 2007

Tata Consultancy Services bagged a large outsorcing contract for IT & Operations worth $1.2 billion from the Nielsen Company, the world’s leading provider of consumer and media information services. This is a 10-year agreement.

This is a first $ 1+ billion contract for an Indian IT services major; naturally it is an exciting moment and a turning point for the maturing Indian software services industry. The order coming from a Dutch major with global footprint, that too in the information services industry, is a shot in the arm for TCS and the Indian IT services industry.

In the past, doubts were expressed about the growth of Indian IT services industry beyond their billion dollar mark; analysts wrote that large outsourcing contracts ($ 1 billion and above) would only go to IBM, Accenture, EDS, CapGemini and CSC; luckily, Indian IT services companie are able to break into that “elite league” showing signs of further groth.

I for one look to TCS, Infosys & Wipro (may be CTS, Satyam and HCL) crossing the $ 10 billion mark by 2010. Then, and only then, I would say that the Indian IT services industry has “arrived”; I am sure they will.

(Source: TCS Web-site Press Release of Oct 18, 2007)

Innovation happens everywhere in India

November 2, 2007

Often one gets a feeling that Innovation that too in technology & IT happens only in expected places (well-known institutions, successful corporations, efficient governments all full of well-educated professionals); it is far from true, at least in India.

ImpulseSoft (that was acquired by SiRF in 2006), a start-up company of about 35 people working out of a small house in obscure JP Nagar 5th phase in Bangalore could “unwire Apple iPod” (sell an add-on to unwire the Apple iPod)

LaserSoft operating in a small temple town called Udupi (famous for Krishna temple and Udupi Hotels – inexpensive fast-food joints across Indian middle-class households) could build a 1,000-seated world-class software development center, focus on device drivers and manage to get marquee customers in Japan

Ittiam a start-up with laser sharp focus could be born in year 2001 and manage to be in the “most preferred DSP company to work with” for three years in a row (2004, 2006, 2006) within the first five years of operation and be profitable

Balaji temple in Tirumala could put in place a bar-coded system “Sudarsanam” to manage the daily crowd of 60,000+ pilgrims (peaking past 100K on occasions) for nearly 8 years; move on to biometric system, introduce online bookings, implement a payment gateway.. though located atop a hill (16 km road connects to a sleepy town Tirupati in the hinterland of Andhra Pradesh)

Innovation can happen everywhere; in fact in the most unexpected places. Watch out!

(My views as a Panelist in “Innovation in India for India – Microsoft event” (www.i3network.in) in Bangalore in October 2007)

Assessment challenges in higher education

November 1, 2007

The education scene in today has challenges & opportunities.

Let me focus on three challenges and an opportunity.

• The first is a challenge of scale; we need to scale at least 10 times more; out student batch sizes are large; we do not have enough teachers. While technology to help in reaching the teachers is in place (EDUSAT, cable TV, e-Learning, broadband, PC..) we need a reliable and scaleable technology to assess; online assessment would be the real need

• There are technology challenges by way of broadband, PC affordability, power availability to power the PC, content creation tools..; luckily they are being addressed and the falling costs are making technology affordable

• The people challenges are enormous. The regulators view “online education” with suspicion; the teachers are afraid of losing jobs; sometimes the students feel they are provided “second rate” education. Most of these are myths and represent just “mental blocks:’ they must be solved before technology can genuinely help to “deliver” education

The opportunity is immense; Indians are accepted as teachers around the world – America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. Today’s Indian IT is accepted around the world. Can we combine the both to give the next global opportunity for India (beyond IT and BT)?

(Invited Talk in Asessment Tomorrow Conference in Bangalore in October 2007)

gPC for $ 199 PC with gOS

November 1, 2007

Starting October last week Wal-Mart the world’s largest retail stores has started selling a low-cost PC (mde by Everex Computers) at $ 199 price point. Interestingly, thi computer is inspired by Google and is loaded with gOS (uBuntu Linux distribution that is “tailored” for Google applications – Mail, Wordprocessing, Spreadsheet, Pictures, Music and Video).

Targeted at the two ends of the social spectrum (poor children and poor senior citizens) this low-cost PC has a potential to build the “digital divide”.

Made by Taiwanese manufacturer this PC has just a handful of icons for the key applications (like the “dock” in toay’s Apple computers) and very easy to use. It is intuitive, clutter-free and the opening screen is even gorgeous to appeal to the high-school students and comes bundled with OpenOffice.

The hardware is impressive too – 1.5 gHz Via processor, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB Hard disk, DVD – CD-RW device and Ethernet port; monitor has to be purchased separately

gPC will be interesting to watch.