Archive for January, 2010

Sun has finally set in the IT landscape

January 30, 2010

Typing http://www.sun.com takes you automatically to Oracle website with Oracle acquiring Sun Microsystems for a whopping $ 7.4 billion after months of wrangling with regulators, particularly in Europe.

With this the world’s No 2 software company, gets into hardware business (servers & storage)

What it will mean for customers it not yet clear; it will take a while before the picture is clear.

Many of us will miss the company that put “University” at the “center” (Stanford University Network), created NFS, Java and the early workstations; for many Indians it was one large American company co-founded by an Indian engineer (Vinod Khosla)

Many of us remember Wipro bringing Sun into India in 1987-88 with the tagline “Sun rises in India” today “Sun has set”!

Apple iPad – will it be a game changer?

January 28, 2010

The legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched the much-awaited consumer electronics item “iPad” in San Francisco, USA, yesterday (January 27, 2010).

Powered by Apple’s “own” processor code-named A4 running at 1 GHz, brilliant 9.7” LED display (Apple calls it IPS technology) with 16 to 64 GB of “flash” memory, 10 hours of battery, Wi-Fi (802.11n), Bluetooth (2.1), GPS and accelerometer, the ½” thin Apple iPad weighs a mere 1.5 pounds.  Filling the gap between a smart phone and a laptop / notebook computer, Apple iPad is designed for a great experience in Net browsing, e-mail, photo / video viewing, music, games and interestingly reading e-books.

Powered by Apple Safari iPad gives the best mobile browsing experience; the form factor is large enough to render full web pages very well. The “touch” keyboard is almost the same size as most laptop keyboards, enabling the user to do mobile e-mail as if one is working on a notebook. The large and brilliant screen allows video, music & photo organizer to be powerful, yet intuitive making iPad a great mobile multimedia device. Apple iPad is a great mobile gaming device. To add to the “wow” factor Apple iPad is an excellent mobile e-Book Reader too!

Will Apple iPad be a game changer? Many of us believe so due to the following reasons

1 Apple consistently creates products that stand out amidst crowd

Launched in 1984 Apple Mac computer was not one more PC; it redefined the “Personal Computer”. Apple followed it up with PowerBook in 1991, Power Mac in 1994 and iMac in 1999. Mac Book Air introduced in 2008 was great design innovation. No wonder Apple sold a record number of 3.4 million Mac computers in the October – December 2009 quarter!

Apple introduced iPod in 2001, It was NOT the first portable digital music player; by combining innovation in design (the dial pad for example) along with iTunes musical stores, iPod today is synonymous with MP3 players! Apple has sold more than 250 million iPod devices in nine years (nearly 21 million in the last quarter (October – December 2009) alone!

In 2007 Apple launched iPhone, a smart phone amidst a market crowded by Nokia (with more than 400 million handset sales globally), Motorola (the company that invented mobile phones), Palm Inc (the smart phone leader), RIM (BlackBerry maker who was the unquestioned leader among mobile e-mail devices), SONY (the consumer electronics giant) and Samsung & LG (Korean majors). Within two years Apple iPhone has become a leader with its revolutionary “multi-touch” interface, a winning combination of smart phone, mobile Internet device and iPod; every manufacturer including Nokia was forced to introduce a “touch” phone, though none could match Apple iPhone in terms of intuitive user interface. Apple sold nearly 9 million iPhones in the last quarter (October – December 2009). App Store an online “application store” has 140,000 applications today with more than 3 billion downloads in less than 2 years.

Apple iPad introduced yesterday combines a mobile computer, smart phone and e-Book Reader and is likely to storm the e-Book Reader market as well as PC market

2 iPad avoids earlier mistakes

Tablet PC is not new. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has been spearheading Tablet PC for the past seven years. Tablet PC attempts to use “touch”, but limited to “stylus based writing”. By incorporating “multi-touch” across all applications, iPad goes far beyond a “Tablet PC”. The media has been talking of Apple Tablet PC (with even a name iSlate) for months; Apple took everyone by surprise through iPad that integrates touch (that too with no stylus). The form factor is correct and the 10-year battery life would be the “killer” feature.

3 iPad leverages existing ecosystem

iPhone leads the smart phone pack primarily due to “applications” that can be easily downloaded from “app Stores”. There is a record 140,000 strong set of applications to choose from. By making EVERY application from iPhone App Stores to run on iPad Apple has decisively made iPad the best Tablet PC! By tweaking great applications (word processing and presentation, for example) Apple iPad will be the best PC. Thanks to 9.7” screen, the “virtual” keyboard on the screen is almost the size of normal keyboard permitting full e-mail functionality. By running iTunes with full functionality iPad is a great multi-media device as well

4      iPad will shake up the e-Book Reader market

With Apple launching iBook Store with MacMillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster already signed up and opting for ePub “open” format (unlike Amazon’s proprietary format) Apple iPad might change the dynamics of e-Book Readers!

5 Apple iPad is priced right

The media has been projecting a launch price of $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 for Apple Tablet. Surprisingly Apple has priced iPad at $ 499 (Wi-Fi version) and $ 629 (3G version). The data plans are $ 15 per month and $ 30 per month unlike the $ 60 per month that typically telcos charge for data plans today

Steve Jobs summarized the launch as “our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price”; the first impression, if it is any indication, makes one conclude that Apple iPad will be a game changer product. It will be interesting to watch Apple reaching the product to customers and they in turn lapping it up or not over the next 11 months.

Apple launches iPad Three-in-one PC, Smart Phone and e-Book

January 27, 2010


Today (January 27, 2010) the legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched in San Francisco, USA , “IPad” – the “third” device beyond Apple’s hugely successful Mac computer and iPhone smart phone. Millions around the globe watched the launch event over the Net; many in India (including the author) had to burn the midnight oil (1130 PM IST yesterday to 1:07 AM IST today) to get the excitement as it unfolded. The bloggers of Gizmodo, Engadget, Wall Street Journal and New York Times provided “live” coverage with text and pictures that made every Netizen feel as though one was present in San Francisco; it worked well even with a flaky “narrow band” Internet connection that is often sold as “broad band” connection in India!

Steve Jobs summarized the launch as “our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price”; yes, Apple iPad at $ 499 (Wi-Fi model) or $ 629 (3G Model) is a steal; both are “unlocked”; the service provider AT&T may subsidize the device cost; other service providers might extend subsidy too, but as of writing it is not clear if Apple has arrangements with other telcos (other than AT&T).

Powered by Apple’s “own” processor code-named A4 running at 1 GHz, brilliant 9.7” LED display (Apple calls it IPS technology) with 16 to 64 GB of “flash” memory with 10 hours of battery, Wi-Fi (802.11n), Bluetooth (2.1), speech, accelerometer, the ½” thin Apple iPad weighs a mere 1.5 pounds. “Multi-Touch” that Apple introduced two years back in its iPhone product pervades every function of Apple’s iPad. The form factor is that of “Tablet PC”, though Apple avoided the term “Tablet” and consistently called it “iPad”.

–      Powered by Apple Safari iPad gives the best mobile browsing experience; the form factor is large enough to render full web pages very well.

–      The “touch” keyboard is almost the same size as most laptop keyboards, enabling the user to do mobile e-mail as if one is working on a notebook.

–      The large and brilliant screen allows video, music & photo organizer to be powerful, yet intuitive making iPad a great mobile multimedia device; with iTunes fully supported on iPad, it is effortless to use for the 100 million iPad users on the planet.

–      Apple iPad is a great mobile gaming device too.

–      To add to the “wow” factor Apple iPad is an excellent mobile e-Book reader with Apple launching iBookStore with MacMillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster already signed up and New York Times having an application for iPad; Apple calls Amazon’s Kindle a great device and compliments Amazon by saying “we stand on their shoulders”; by opting for ePub open format (unlike Amazon’s proprietary format) Apple iPad might change the dynamics of e-Book Readers!

The biggest attraction of Apple iPhone (among all smart phones) is the huge set of Applications effortlessly downloadable from Apple App Store (as of this writing there are 140,000 applications and 3 billions “apps” have been downloaded by the users over the past 2 years). Apple iPad can run EVERY iPhone application! In addition there are many iPad applications and Apple launched its SDK (Software Development Kit) for iPad also along with iPad.

Apple did not miss the opportunity to tout its “green” commitment; iPad is arsenic and mercury free and hugely recyclable.

Some of the very successful Mac applications (“Pages” word processor and “Keynote” presentation software) have been launched specially optimized for iPad; more interestingly, they have been priced at $ 9.99 and highly affordable.

Smart phones have been pricey item, particularly the data plans that accompany smart phones. For example, typical Apple iPhone on AT&T used to cost $ 60 a month for a reasonable data plan; by slashing it to $15 a month for 250 MB download and $ 30 a month for unlimited download, Apple has addressed the cost issue as well.

In short, Apple introduced a revolutionary portable digital music player iPod in 2001; the year 2007 saw Apple entering the smart phone market through its highly successful iPhone; yesterday Apple has launched arguably the best Netbook / Tablet / e-Book Reader that combines the best of Netbook and iPhone without compromising features that many Netbook computers do.

Will Apple be lucky three times in a row? The first impressions point so though only time can tell. It will be interesting to watch Apple reaching the product to customers and they in turn lapping it up or not. The year 2010 will be truly interesting to watch.

ACM Comes to India

January 20, 2010

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) is considered to be the “first society” in Computing. Born in 1947 in USA, ACM represents the largest today of computer professionals next only to its sister society IEEE Computer Society. By formally launching its India office in Bangalore on January 20, 2010, ACM reaches yet another milestone in its 60+ years of growth

1.    ACM is changing

ACM used to be largely US-centric until a few years ago. By opening up on office in China in 2008 and an India office in 2010, ACM is demonstrating its global ambitions.

Incidentally Wendy Hall, the current ACM President is the first ACM President from outside USA; she is also the third woman to be the President of the ACM.

The flagship magazine of ACM, namely, CACM (Communications of the ACM) went through a “re-engineering of sorts” over the year 2006-2007 and got a thorough overhaul in its style, content and focus. CACM is to computer scientists what “Science” is to many scientists today.

ACM is managing to transition well in every one of its attempts.

2.    ACM is influential

Work its 32 transactions, 11 journals and 7 magazines and hundres of annual conferences, ACM represents the major some of scientific literature in Computer Science.

  • ACM’s Turing Award (since 1966) recognizes lasting technical contributions to computer science and is considered as “Computer Science Nobel Prize”
  • Infosys did the country proud by endowing a new prize in 2007; the newly endowed ACM Infosys Foundation Award (since 2008) recognizes young scientists for their fundamental contributions to computing disciplines

These two awards are the highest academic awards for recognizing outstanding research in Computer Science.

Over the past ACM has been successful in influencing public policy as well through meaningful civic society discourse on all aspects of technology that has social impact.

3.    ACM India is inspiring

By

  • getting four Turing Award winners together in one place,
  • through carefully planned exercise of getting the best of the students and professors form across the country to show-case their research, and,
  • physically assembling 500+ researches on Jan 20, 2010

ACM India launch will be very inspiring too.

Delhi Auto Expo is exciting

January 12, 2010

Thanks to 2008 launch of Tata Nano, the Auto Expo of Delhi (Jan 5-11, 2010)  has started to attract global attention on the lines of Detroit Auto Expo.

It is so nice to see the evolution of auto industry in India, particularly the small car segment.

With India leading in IT and emerging as a possible leader and the fact that a modern car can be dubbed “chips on wheels” thanks to “electronification”, it is time that India looks at the inter-disciplinary area of automotive and electronics. That will be a USP for India. Any takers?

Google is the “word of the decade”

January 11, 2010

The American Dialect Society formally declared “google” as the “word of the decade (2000-2009)

Interestingly “blog” became the “word of the year” some time back!

Web is changing the face of human communications too, let alone communication among computers!

Reliance Foundation to set up a world class university in India

January 10, 2010

Reliance Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries of Mukesh Ambani) is planning a full-fledged University (on the lines of Harvard and Univ of Pennsylvania) in India.

It will be an interesting to watch.

Except BITS Pilani no private enterprise has ventured into higher education at this level. Reliance University could be a tipping point!

India’s Solar Mission

January 9, 2010

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh launched the National Solar Mission under the Ministry of Renewable Energy today (Jan 9, 2010)

With a target of 20,000 MW by year 2022 it is ambitious but eminently doable and in fact it is imperative for India to exploit the huge potential of this very low cost and clean energy.

Let us hop “solar energy” is made for India” the way “software is made for India”

Nobel Laureate Venky Ramakrishnan talks at IISc

January 7, 2010

On Jan 5, 2010 Dr Venky Ramakrishnan gave a talk on “The journey from Baroda to Cambridge” – a sort of autobiographical (though nothing personal but mostly professional) talk – to a packed audience at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the “Science City”

It is interesting to see he transiting from Medicine to Physics and to Biology; shifting from R & D Lab to University; fro USA to UK by very careful “choice”

His Q & A was remarkably candid and an eye opener for many speakers

Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus phones arrive; will they save Palm Inc?

January 6, 2010

Palm Inc used to be an amazing company. With innovative products like Palm Pilot it created the PDA market and introduced “touch” (thru stylus and handwriting) at very affordable prices.

It was the leader in “smart phone” category till 2006

Apple announcing iPhone changed the smart phone scene dramatically, All the erstwhile leaders Motorola, Nokia and BlackBerry were running fo cover; Palm was almost written off.

With ex Apple iPod designer at the helm, Palm made a comeback in last year CES (CES 2009) with its amazing product Palm Pre; unfortunately with no service provider tie-up (the way Apple did with AT&T) Palm has been struggling.

Today (Jan 6) Palm announced the extended versions of Palm Pre and Palm Pixi

Many of us would like Palm to succeed; with iPhone growing with its runaway success and Apple planning to announce its iSlate (Tablet PC) we get a sinking feeling Palm may not survive. I would like to be proved wrong!