Archive for the ‘My views on IT companies’ Category

WhatsApp getting acquired by Facebook for a huge sum

February 21, 2014

What does it reflect?

There is a place for Simple Messaging (SMS till Whats App came on the scene)

People hate Ads, rather, love “no ads”

55 people can run a service with 450 million uses, the power of cloud!

5 years, 55 staff company can command $ 19 billion value!

Infosys Science Prizes 2013 were announced on November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

The fifth edition of Infosys Science Prizes announced on November 12, 2013; the winners areProf Ramagopal Rao, IIT Bombay (Engineering & Computer Science)

    • Professors Nayanjot Lahiri, History Dept., Delhi University and Ayesha Kidwai, Linguistics Dept., Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (Humanities)
    • Prof Rajesh Gokhale, Institute of Genomics, New Delhi (Life Science)
    • Prof Rahul Pandharipande, Mathematics Dept., ETH, Zurich (Mathematics)
    • Prof Shiraz Minwalla, TIFR, Bombay (Physics)
    • Prof A R Vasavi, Nehru Museum, New Delhi (Social Science)

The real contribution of Apple – mainstreaming a technology year after year – iPhone 5S mainstreams fingerprint authentication

September 22, 2013

A lot has been written about Apple introducing two new phones iPhone 5C and 5S on Sep 20, 2013. Long queue of Apple fans surprise Android fans as to why such an “inferior” and “expensive” phone is attracting attention. It is likely that Apple would have sold more than 5 million new iPhones, something that Apple achieved earlier too.

For many techies like me, who have been looking at technology for decades, the real contribution of Apple in the mobile phone and tablet category is the mainstreaming of a particular technology.

In the last week’s launch of iPhone 5S Apple has mainstreamed “finger print authentication” of a smart phone.

Mainstreaming means three important things –

  1. Integration of a technology into all aspects of a product
  2. Making it affordable
  3. Making the user-interface intuitive enough, that you do not need a thick “user manual”

Compaq laptops had USB-based “finger print” scanners to let only the “owner” access the laptop for more than a decade. It was an external device, costing about $ 30, and had the only purpose of a “gatekeeper” – nothing else. Several laptop manufacturers had such a solution; but, iPhone 5S brings fingerprint solution integrated into the “Main button”, at no extra cost and as intuitive as pressing the button! Also such a “personal authentication” is useable by all applications. Apple has a set of API that allows third party application developers to integrate “fingerprint” authentication in an intuitive way!

In 2007 launch of iPhone, Apple mainstreamed “touch” technology. In the past six years billions of user take “pinch” and “drag” for granted to “zoom out” and “zoom in” web pages and photographs. It was mainstreamed by Apple. Microsoft had Windows Tablet Edition that attempted to use “touch”; many “touch screen” monitors have been around for ages, but none of them integrated “touch” across the product and many first-generation “touch screens” were expensive!

In 2008 launch of iPhone 3G Apple mainstreamed 3G, particularly in USA and many other countries outside Europe. Through an exclusive arrangement with AT&T, Apple introduced users to a “consistent” broadband and data access that made voice, data and video seamless across “roaming” and across all applications. By integrating voice, eMail and browsing with the added convenience of roaming across the 3G network, Apple mainstreamed “mobile computing” (much beyond mobile E-Mail that was the real contribution of Blackberry).

In 2008/2009 launch of AppStore Apple mainstreamed Apps and delivering Apps through AppStore as a new way of delivering consumer applications. Suddenly the “barrier to entry” for application development got lowered and a huge “cottage industry” got developed which is estimated to be about $ 50 billion today! There were third party AppStores before. Palm, Microsoft Windows and Blackberry had App Stores, but none offered the scale, tools and a ready market that Apple offered.

In 2010 launch of iPad Apple mainstreamed “tablet” as a new category of computing devices, what Steve Jobs called “post PC devices”. By mainstreaming “Flash RAM”, iPad was convenient, instant on, battery good enough for couple of days use and an amazingly good display that made iPad compelling as eBook Reader, watching slide shows and videos (many from Google YouTube!) at a price that was affordable

In 2010/2011 launch of iPhone 4 Apple mainstreamed Retina display  with 326 dpi resolution; with 300 dpi said to match the resolution of human eye, this is what Steve Jobs called “the limits of what human eyes can see”. It did create enough controversy among the scientific community. What is important is the integration of superior display technology across the device – for better display of photographs and videos, better rendering of books, newspapers and magazines, better rendering of Web-pages, and of course, better capturing of photos and videos with dramatic improvements in camera technology. Once again Apple’s main contribution is “main streaming”; Amazon and Samsung had better display; Nokia had better camera, but none could match iPhone 4’s holistic experience.

In 2012 launch of iPad Mini Apple embraced “Phablet” as a category that combined phone and tablet functions. While Samsung and others (Google has been experimenting with Chrome laptops and 7″ NexusTablets for a while) had equal success with sale of phablets, the huge apps base particularly in the education segment made iPad Mini a category by itself, particularly for the budget-conscious and one-hand use that characterised student use.

In 2013 launch of iPhone 5S Apple is only continuing the trend of mainstreaming one more technology – namely, fingerprint authentication. Apple May or may not be selling the largest number of phones and tablets (that may go to Android). But what should not be forgotten is the fact that year after year Apple has been mainstreaming a technology – that is taken for granted by EVERY user – both the users using Apple products and those using non-Apple products. That is the real contribution of Apple. That partially explains the Apple fan club enthusiasm year after year, even two years after Steve Jobs is gone!

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Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at s.sadagopan@gmail.com

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

HP acquires Palm

April 28, 2010

On April 28, 2010 HP agreed to acquire Palm Inc for $ 1.2 Billion

Palm is an amazing company; created Palm Pilot that brought “hand-writing” to computers in 1996 (where Apple failed in 1992 with its Apple Newton!)

Palm OS had an amazing simplicity and created “PDA” as a new class of gadgets; they were the best for keeping track of Calendar and Contacts; and a real value for money. They kept innovating by adding communication to PDA’s thru Palm Treo devices (much before the word Smartphone was invented!). Of course, they struggled – acquisition by US Robotics, hardware and software separation, getting sold to a Japanese company and finally revival with a ray of hope with ex Apple iPod designer getting back as CEO; within months an amazing product came out (Palm Centro). Of course with a great vision Palm brought out Palm Pre and WebOS 2 years back, but could not convince the US carriers (I wish they had flooded Asian and European markets where  “free” phones dominate (not tied to a career)! US is the country where practically no one enjoys “free” phone; the Telcos control the market in USA; even Apple could not fight AT&T!) But the struggle of the past 2 years has almost finished Palm much to the disappointment of many of us (long time Palm admirers). I have used practically every model of Palm!

HP‘s foray into “handheld computers” is not new – it is at least 15 years old! I have a nice  PDA running Windows 3.0 of 1996 vintage! They followed it up with Jornada. With Compaq acquisition Jornada got killed and iPaq became HP’s key PDA. For a while, HP talked of manufacturing Apple iPad though it never happened. With Palm acquisition HP has a good chance of making it

Mobile phones are the future; Motorola created mobile phone but it is always in “fits and starts” in the market; Nokia created the market, but unable to master “smart phones”. Apple created “Smart phone”, but cannot get even 3 models in 3 years (unlike Nokia, Samsung or even Motorola with dozens of models). Microsoft Phone appears promising but they might go the Zune way (into nowhere). It would be really interesting if HP can pump money into Palm (they badly need it), get WebOS products out, manufacture & distribute (HP is really good at it) and “mobilize” all applications (the way BlackBerry mobilized one application called “EMail”)

I wish the marriage great progeny (of products!)

It will be interestuing to watch

SBI (State Bank of India) continues to grow

March 21, 2010

The Press Release of  March 21, 2010 has the following interesting aspects

  1. In the current fiscal, SBI has opened 1,000 branches and 10,000 ATM. Of the 1,000 branches, 600 were opened in rural and semi-urban areas.
  2. SBI plans to open more than 1,000 branches next yearAt present, the public sector lender has 12,448 branches and over 21,000 ATMs. By the end of March, it aims to scale up the number of ATMs to 25,000.
  3. During 2010-11, SBI plans to hire more than 27,000 people across its various divisions. The bank also plans to recruit 20,000-22,000 people at the clerical posts and 5,500 people at the probationary officer level.

What an amazing growth!

    quality to Quality

    February 9, 2010

    It is time leading companies like Infosys look at quality more as strategic weapon than mere conformance to benchmarks. That is the transition I refer to as “quality to Quality”

    I drove home my point by taking examples from other industries, notably manufacturing in 80s and 90’s in India

    I also impressed on Infosys SEPG team the need to play “leaders’ game” than “followers’ game”; followers meet others benchmark, while leaders create new benchmark

    I suggested to the quality team at Infosys that it is time they look at some “out of box” thinking; possibly looking at “proving programs correct” as an alternative to “software testing”

    (Talk given to Infosys SEPG Group on Tuesday February 9, 2010)

    Converged Infrastructure – HP is ahead with BladeSystem Matrix

    February 5, 2010

    The two mantras that I used in this talk are

    1. SSN is one (SSN stands for Servers, Storage & Networks)
    2. You need to optimize globally

    Over the years server consolidation, virtualization (Storage, desktop, applications…), layered network architecture, storage using SAN.. have dominated the CIO’s toolbox of facing increasing applications demand and decreasing budget. In the process the optimization has often been local – servers, storage or network. What is needed today is to “globally” optimize across servers, storage and networks – the essence of my “SSN is one” mantra.

    Servers need storage; networks needs heavy computing and storage; and, storage needs both networking and computing; the three are intrinsically intertwined.

    To optimize across the system you need tools – the real strength of HP today

    With its BladeMatrix System HP offers a “3-in-1 box” that consists of servers, storage and networks – all configurable with software tools that automate the whole process; the pre-defined templates captures the essence of best scenarios that are “perfected” in the Lab.

    In that sense compared to every other vendor HP seems to have a well-orchestrated strategy (announced in October 2009), products (November 2009), consulting practices (January 2010) and marketing communications (Feb 2010)

    If well executed this can be a game changer

    (Invited talk given the very select CIO’s in Udaipur on Feb 5, 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”!