Archive for January, 2011

A lot can happen a week in Tech industry Apple, Google, HP & Wipro

January 23, 2011

Just a day prior to quarterly results announcement  (January 18, 2011) Apple (the company with the highest market capitalization among all technology companies) announced that its legendary CEO Steve Jobs is going on medical leave again for an unspecified time

Days later Google (the biggest search engine in the world) announced that its CEO Eric Schmidt is moving to a Chairman’s position with Larry Page taking over as CEO

Two days later HP (the largest technology company globally) announces that four of its Board members are leaving and inducted new members including two women

A day later Wipro (the third largest Indian IT company) announced that its two Co-CEOsystem is not working and replaced the two co-CEOs Girish Paranjpe & Suresh Vaswani with the 20+ year veteran Kurien as CEO from April 1, 2011

Unusual coincidence, but a clear indication of the “tough life” at the top in “technology companies” these days!

Bell weather Infosys posts good results for September – December 2010 quarter

January 13, 2011

Infosys announced its quarterly results today. They are always the first in India (interestingly across all sectors) practically every quarter

With sales of Rs 7,106 crores (compared to Rs 6,947 crores last time) and profit of Rs 1,780 crores (compared to Rs 1,737 crores last time) Infosys exceeded their guidance.

Infosys expects to cross $ 6 billion (Rs 28,408 to Rs 27,481 crores) in this financial year (Apr 2010 – March 2011)

It is amazing to see Infosys consistently “under promise and over deliver” for dozens of quarters now

Verizon gets iPhone

January 11, 2011

Today (January 11, 2011) Apple launched CDMA version of its legendary iPhone 4 on Verizon network.

Verizon reportedly has a much better network coverage in much of the United States. Naturally there is jubilation among many Verizon customers who could not get Apple iPhone till today (due to AT & T exclusivity for iPhone for the past four years!)

It will be interesting as to how the marriage of the arguably “best phone” with arguably the “best network” in USA shapes up in the year 2011. With no exclusivity Apple iPhone can show up on other US networks as well (Sprint for example) and other countries’ CDMA Networks (Reliance and Tata in India for example)

 

Apple launches its Mac App Store today

January 6, 2011

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talked of Apple launching its Mac App Store sometime back. It became a reality today (January 6, 2011) with 1,000 Apps on Day 1.

It wason July 10, 2008 that Apple opened its iPhone App Store with 500 Apps for its legendary iPhone.

There were 10 million iPhone App downloads within 3 days of launch of iPhone App Store. The App count shot up to 1,000 in a month, 10,000 in six months, 100,000 in little more than a year and crossed 300,000 by October 2010. More than 70 billion downloads of iPhone Apps have happened till date!

Against this background one must see the launch of Mac App store. With Android Market, Samsung Market, BlackBerry App World and Nokia Ovi the mobile App market has quickly evolved within 3 years.

Will App market grow equally fast on the Desktop PC market?

Will there be a Windows App market? No one knows but it cannot be ruled out

Interesting time indeed

 

That is IT in December 2010

January 4, 2011

In the general developments,

  • French President & Chinese Premier visited India in December 2010
  • Toyota launches “Made for India” car “Etios” on December 1, 2010
  • Organized sector added 1.13 million jobs in India in 2010 (nearly two thirds by IT/ITES)
  • Wipro Chairman Premji transfers Rs 8,846 crores worth shares to AP Foundation
  • Adani commissions 660 MW thermal power plant in Mundra (in Gujarat) on December 27, 2010; a super critical power plant, that will be part of 4,620 MW plant by 2012 making it India’s biggest by then
  • Bangalore Metro trials started by end December 2010; likely to get commissioned in January 2011
  • With 88 million square feet of Grade I office space, Bangalore is only next to Shanghai at 95 million and surpasses Singapore with 76 million square feet; Mumbai has 47 million and Delhi NCR has 45 million
  • Moser Baer commission 5 MW solar power plant in Tamil Nadu
  • Thousands stranded at European airports in December 2010
  • GSLV rocket explodes on December 25, 2010 causing minor damp to India’s Space technology success
  • 2G scam in India, and WikiLeaks globally crowd the frontline news in December 2010!

 

 

In the products arena,

 

  • Google launches Cr-48 Chrome OS powered Netbooks on December 7, 2010
  • HP Dream Screen 400 information appliance targeted at first time users reach markets in India
  • Notion Ink’s Adam Tablet starts selling
  • BlackBerry launches OS 6.0 powered Bold 9780 in India

 

In the market-place,

 

  • Indian marketplace raised Rs 11,00,00 crores in year 2010
  • British consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser bought out Paras Parma the owner of “Moov” for a whopping Rs 3,260 crores on December 13, 2010
  • Dell buys storage vendor Compellent for $ 860 million on December 10, 2010
  • Siemens decides to sell off its IT arm to Atos Origin
  • Sensex closed at 20,509 on December end http://www.bseindia.com/histdata/hindices.asp)

 

The Indian IT Companies continued to do well

 

  • Cognizant headcount crosses 100,000 on December 3, 2010, the fourth Indian IT services company to reach this milestone after TCS, Infosys and Wipro
  • Mastek buys insurance services software company SEG software on December 1, 2010
  • TCS bags Deutsche Bank deal worth $ 100 million on December 24, 2010

 

 

MNC Companies in India continue to grow their India operations

 

  • The world leader Dell with $ 53 billion annual sales, has 23,000 of its 96,000 people in India as of 2010
  • Huawei to invest $ 2 billion in India over the next 5 years and start a manufacturing plant in Chennai
  • Juniper Networks to create its 4th Center with 750 seats in Bangalore in 2011
  • Texas Instruments starts its Kilby Labs (named after TI Founder and Nobel Laureate) in Bangalore, the second such center after USA on December 21, 2010

 

In telecom

 

  • All calls on BSNL landlines in India become local calls effective December 2010
  • RCOM launches 3G on December 14, 2010

 

In the Education & Research front

 

  • Supreme Court approves single test across India for MBBS seats in all medical colleges
  • Government permits corporate sector to start technical institutions as Not for Profit companies (Sec 25 companies)

 

In the people front

 

  • Times Magazine declares Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg as the “Times Person of the year” for 2010
  • French President (December 3-6) and Chinese Premier (Dec 14-17) visit India in December 2010
  • Wipro Chairman Premji transfers Rs 8,846 crores worth shares to AP Foundation representing a new milestone in Indian corporate philanthropy

 

 

Some interesting numbers

 

  • Telecom subscriber base at 742 million (707 million mobile & 35 million of landlines) and broadband subscribers at 11 million as of October 31, 2010 (TRAI Press Release of Dec 24, 2010); with 15+ million subscriber addition per month 2010 subscriber base must have crossed 775 million
  • Rupee closes at 44.71 against USD by end December
  • Foreign exchange reserves stand at $ 295.03 billion by end December
  • Sensex (Indian stock exchange index) at 20,509 on December 31, 2010 (compared to 17,465 on December 31, 2009)

 

Class A Office space in Bangalore likely to exceed Singapore

January 2, 2011

As per media reports quoting CR Richard Ellis, the global real estate leader, Shanghai with 95 million square feet and Bangalore with 85 million square feet of Grade A office space have crossed Singapore with 76 million square feet of space. With Mumbai at 47 million, Delhi (NCR) at 45 million India is doing a good catch up in services (a good indicator being Class A office space)

If the estimates are correct Indian industry can justly be proud of Singapore having had a huge lead for decades

Made for india, Made in india products start arriving – the case of HP Dream Screen 400 – Information Appliance and NOT one more PC

January 1, 2011

In the past decade, product development is slowly and steadily taking off in India. Automobiles, tractors and even commercial vehicles started to be “made for India”, in addition to merely being “made in India”. Tata Nano is perhaps the best example. Core banking software from Infosys and iFlex Solutions (now part of Oracle), Tata Chemical’s drinking water purifier “Swach”, Titan Edge watches, BEL Electronic Voting Machines are typical and well-known examples of this trend. Such innovation is not limited to Indian companies alone. Toyota recently launched Etios car in India. Nokia 1100 mobile handset that was “made for India” was a spectacular success. GE’s low cost ultrasound machine VScan is yet another innovation inspired by India.

HP launched its Dream Screen 400 product in November 2010, specially targeted at the entry level Indian consumer. Attractively priced at Rs 19,999, HP Dream Screen 400 is a great “value for money”; one more in the line of “Made in India, Made for India” products.

A quick look at the specs:

Hardware

  • Powered by Intel Atom microprocessor
  • 18.5” touch screen display with 1366×768 resolution
  • 250 GB Hard disk (with 127GB for users)
  • Optical DVD writer
  • Ethernet and Wi-Fi for high speed wire and wireless connectivity to the Internet
  • Good multimedia capability with two 5W speakers, microphone, H.264 HD video play capability and 1.3 megapixel Web camera
  • Four USB ports, SD card slot

Software

  • Linux-based OS (Fedora distribution) optimized for “touch interface”
  • Mozilla Firefox browser Version 3.5.11
  • Browser-based e-mail with one step, easy to use and intuitive user interface for GMail, Yahoo Mail, Rediff Mail and Windows Live
  • Internet chat using Google Chat, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Live
  • Open Office Version 3.1.1 for Word processing, spreadsheets and presentation with support to read Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents
  • Calendar utility with built-in Holiday list of the Government of India
  • Desktop calculator
  • Simple file manager to copy, paste, move and organize files and file folders with search capability
  • Corel Media Player to play DVD content
  • Simple, user friendly software to watch multimedia content (photos, music, video)
  • Desktop video conferencing capability with other HP Dream Screen 400 devices; any user on the Internet with browser access can get a simple XXXX-YYYY ID free from www.hp-ds.com site and use video conferencing!

Pre-packaged content

A unique strength of HP Dream Screen 400 is the rich (and hopefully growing) content provided by many partners in the ecosystem, that currently include

  • Internet connectivity thru Airtel and Tata Telecom (sold through Airtel Tata Telecom outlets across India from November 25, 2010)
  • BillDesk for Bill payments
  • Hungama for music and video
  • IndiaGames for gaming
  • India Today and Music Today for media, music and Astrology
  • Tata Telecom and Aplaya IPTV for Darshan – Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, Shirdi temple in Maharashtra, Golden Temple in Punjab, Kasi Viswanath temple in Uttar Pradesh, Govind Devji temple in Jaipur, ISKCON and Siddhivinayak temples in Mumbai
  • Edurite for School education content

First impressions

I got my piece delivered to my home on a weekend. Un-boxing the piece, connecting it to the power and starting the machine was a breeze (less than 15 minutes).  The “Take a tour” videos are excellent; clear voice, clear instructions impressed me. Connecting to the wireless was a struggle (partly because my BSNL Wi-Fi Router is closer to the balcony of my living room and I installed HP Dream Screen 400 in my office room). It worked for 10 minutes in my one-hour experiment! I tried to “install” the Tata Photon USB high-speed modem and failed many times; giving up exasperated, I started working on my Apple Mac; suddenly, I found the “green light” on connectivity; that is when I realized HP Dream Screen is not built to “install” any programs! However it recognizes Tata Photon USB device. From onwards there was no looking back! Tata Photon is permanently connected to HP Dream Screen 400 for the past 10 days and it works very well.

I completed my registration and “subscribed” to Live Darshan. It was nice to watch SVBC (Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel) on the machine. I could finish my GMail session really well. Browsing was as effective on HP Dream Screen 400 as on any standard desktop. The “touch” interface is very useful for watching photos and video as well as for quickly selecting the menu options (large icons like Apple iPad or iPhone). Being an avid “touch” user for the past two years, thanks to iPhone & iPad, I particularly value “touch” as an additional interface.

Watching the “stored” movies was real fun. The screen, audio and video rendering is real good that my wife really watched a full movie (3Idiots)! The music collection is really large. India Today News is an interesting channel. Wedding Fashion is an amusing piece (at least for us). I have not tried Travel booking and Bill payment yet (I may never use them); nor did I experiment with Education content, as I am far removed from School education.

Online help thru a toll free number (available on every screen), support for Hindi, option of QUERTY as well as ABCDEF keyboard layout are nice bonus points.

The overall form factor, location of buttons, ports and switches are apt, intuitive and marked for easy identification.

Of course there are pinpricks; video part of video call works well, but not the audio part. The file manager is a bit primitive.

Use case

Targeted at first time, non-techie users and the whole family (with start-up base of five users), HP Dream Screen literally provides “on touch” solution to the

  • Interesting Games for kids
  • Education for School going children
  • E Mail, Web browsing, Chat, Fashion, Movies, Bollywood TV for College students
  • Open Office (Word processing, spreadsheet, presentation), News, Travel and Bill payment for the Head of the family
  • Live Darshan, Astrology and Video call for Senior Citizens
  • Photos, Music, Video, Video call, Movies, News, Email for everyone in the family

In fact many reviews “dismissed” HP Dream Screen 400 as “uninteresting”, “who wants it”, “be ready for disappointment”; viewed as one more “Desktop PC”, the reviews are correct; but HP Dream Screen 400 is not to be “mixed up” as “one more PC”; it is a new “information appliance” targeted at lower and middle income family in an economically under developed country like India, where the family is still is very strong!

In summary, I view HP Dream Screen as an interesting unfolding of the information revolution that entered a defining moment in the year 2010. With smart phones (Apple iPhone, Android phone), tablets (Apple iPad) and e-book Readers (Amazon Kindle) taking off in a big way, computing is entering the “appliance” phase. The electricity industry was very “electric bulb” centric for decades; but with appliances (Refrigerators and Washing machines, generally called white goods) the industry transformed completely. It was no longer a monolithic world of “electrical bulbs”. HP Dream Screen 400 represents a move towards “information appliance” that may not be the right choice for everyone but the best choice for the niche audience for whom it is targeted. It will be interesting to watch the development of HP Dream Screen 400 like devices in the next decade.