Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Google Chromebook – has the affordable laptop for the common man arrived?

October 1, 2013

The Personal Computer revolution started in August 1981 when IBM launched its original IBM PC. Over the 32 years PC has grown a lot; more than 350 million PC’s are sold year after year. The performance of the PC has grown thousand-fold; millions of applications have been written for this dominant platform. At least for the first and second world countries, Bill Gates vision of PC in every desktop has come true.

 

PC has morphed in shape and form too. Originally a desktop, it changed in form to a laptop and notebook (some time back Netbook too) form factor that made the PC mobile inside an office / home. With Internet connectivity through phone line (earlier landline and currently mobile phone), PC has become truly mobile.

 

Laptop computers became specially attractive for small business / rural India / common man for three reasons;

 

  • First, desktop took to much space (not many rural homes had a desk in the first place);
  • Second, desktop PC needed continuous supply of reasonable quality electricity, that is simply not available in most parts of rural India; in addition, desktop PC consumed much larger amounts of electricity 100+ watts of power for PC compared to 20+ watts of power for a laptop.
  • Third, PC usage at home and office would necessitate double investment for hardware, and more importantly software for small businesses; in turn, even with marginal higher cost of laptop compared to a desktop PC of similar configuration, laptop was a clear winner.

 

That explains the reason why laptop sales have been increasing in India over the past several years. Yet, laptops were not easily affordable for the common man; Windows OS cost alone pushed the cost of laptop by a couple of thousands of rupees; laptop display of reasonable quality cost lots of money too.

 

Over the last decade laptop manufacturers have focused on reducing the weight and improving battery life. Unfortunately, the weight reduction has not been dramatic; nor has the battery life improvement; weights in the range of a couple of pounds and battery life of 8+ hours alone will be a game changer.

 

During the year 2007 there was a promise that Netbooks attempted. They were slightly less powerful Laptops, but they could not achieve substantial weight reduction; and, they had only 3-4 hours of battery life; Asus and Acer pioneered such Netbooks; unfortunately, interest in Netbooks receded by year 2010.

 

Starting in 2010, Ultra-books (promoted by Intel) started to show up and they started maturing by 2012. They could bring down the weight and increase the battery life considerably; unfortunately, they are still pricey (in the $ 1,000 range) unlike Laptops and Netbooks in the $ 300-600 range.

Apple MacBook Air used SSD dramatically to reduce the weight (1.5 kg) and increase battery like to 10+ hours; unfortunately, the price point $ 1,000+ makes it unavailable for the common man.

Chromebook from Google represent a new “avatar” for laptop computers. They run completely on Chrome browser that takes the role of could based operating system. With GMail for messaging, Google Docs for personal productivity (word processing and spread-sheet), GDrive as a File store, YouTube for entertainment, Google Calendar and Contacts for Personal Information Management, Google Hangout for Video Conferencing and Google Chat for Instant communications, all running on Chrome browser, Google Chromebook represent yet another viable alternative to traditional PC.

 

Launched in USA in 2011, the first generation was unavailable in India. Google launched in October 2013, a new generation of Chromebook including Acer C 720. Costing just Rs 20,000, Acer C720 represents a new hope for small businesses, individual professionals, students, faculty and senior citizens looking for an affordable Laptop.

 

The combination of Laptop form factor, reduced weight, Instant On, 10+ hours of battery life, excellent screen, full keyboard, cloud-based applications at no extra cost and an attractive price appears to be the “killer combination” that appears to favour Acer C 70 Chromebook as the “winner” for users looking for affordable and useful laptop. Of course, time alone can tell the real success story.

 

 

 

Powered by Intel processors optimized for power consumption, Acer Chromebook C 720 has 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of SSD (solid State Device) storage that ensures “instant on”; its 11.6” display with 1366×768 resolution ensures you get excellent display for web-browsing, e-books reading, watching slideshows of photographs or full length movies and videos. Weighing 2.42 pounds with just 0.7” thick, it is convenient to hold too. With HDMI port, DS card, USB 3.0 port and 3.5 mm headphone jack multimedia is well supported by Acer C 720 Chromebook. Connecting to the Internet using Wi-Fi (that is widely available, thanks to BSNL Internet pack that addresses the “bottom of the pyramid” users), Chromebook is a full featured Laptop with a good screen, a large Keyboard and Touchpad (for “mouse” functionality), good multimedia support (audio speakers, video rendering) and USB port for additional storage, connectivity. Thanks to Google tools most users can do get most of their work done that includes personal productivity – word processing, spread-sheet, presentation using Google Docs, personal information management using Google Calendar and Contacts, communication (email using Gmail, Chat / Instant messaging and Video conferencing) using Google Hangout, Social networking using Google+, entertainment using YouTube and a whole range of Apps that run on Chrome browser. Google offers 100GB of Storage on Google cloud. Google Play store too is available on Chromebook. Google provides “offline access” for many of the tools including Google Docs and GMail.

 

In my trial over a week I found using Acer C720 Chromebook absolute breeze. It connected to my router the minute it was switched on and with my Google Account I could be productive in minutes. Mail access and browsing was fast; even YouTube videos rendered fast including some online News channels. My Google Calendar, Contacts were loaded instantly; so are my Google+ that one could get on to Google Hangout instantly. My documents, spread-sheets and pictures were all there on my GDrive. More importantly, after a week of usage in just a few seconds I could “powerwash” so that I was sure that there is no trace of my data left behind on the “demo machine” supplied by Acer India!

 

There are Windows-based Laptops in this price range but they make far too many compromises in the screen, weight, battery life, operating system, storage and applications. In addition, there a whole range of Tablets – “post PC” devices – including Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus Tablets that are great “consuming devices” that do not serves the PC needs of the common man; Tablets with reasonable power, are far more expensive too.

 

 

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!

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!

Google Phone arrives finally

January 5, 2010

After months of speculation, Google announced its own phone “Nexus One” powered by Google Android operating system, on January 5, 2010 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California – just a day ahead of the global annual tech show CES 2010 at Las Vegas.

Undoubtedly, there is global excitement on anything that Google does – after all its name ‘Google’ has just been crowned as the ‘word of the decade (for the 10-year period 2000-2009)! This word is used by most people more often than any other word!

A quick look at the key features

  • Nexus One is a “touch phone” powered by Google Android Operating System Ver 2.1
  • It resembles the hugely successful Apple iPhone, though there is no “multi-touch” (you cannot use your fingers intuitively to zoom in or zoom out – the most used feature on Apple iPhone!
  • The display is brilliant with a higher resolution  than iPhone (800×480)
  • Powered by 1 GHz Dragon Ball processor, it is fast and does multi-testing effortlessly
  • The replaceable battery is much more powerful that that of Apple iPhone
  • All Google services search Gmail, YouTube are available on the home screen in addition to phone function (call, SMS and address book) and PDA function (appointments)
  • The 5 megapixel camera coupled with LED flash and video recording and You Tube uploading makes it an excellent multi media phone as well
  • It weighs just 130 grams!
  • Some nice features like “search by voice” and “voice recognition for messaging (SMS / e-mail)” are really cool
  • Like Apple’s App Store Google has its online application store, though with much smaller number of applications

Why is Nexus One a game changer?

Nexus One is offered in unlocked form and will work on any any GSM network (unlike Apple iPhone that is tied to a carrier – AT & T in USA or Airtel in India (till 2009). Of course one has to pay $ 530 for an unlocked one, while AT&T or T-Mobile will discount the phone by as much as $ 300!

By putting emphasis on software (operating system and application) than hardware (handset)  that typically characterize mobile telephones, Google is likely to create a much larger ecosystem for smart phones (the way Microsoft did to the PC industry). It Google succeeds in that game, Nexus One will go in history as not just one more exciting phone but a game changing phone.

It will be interesting to watch the development of Google phone over the next couple of years as to how Google’s mobile phone strategy evolves.

Google gives away HTC Ion phone to attendees of Google Developers Conference

May 31, 2009

On May 29, 2009 many attendees received a free phone (free to use on T Mobile network with a SIM card for a month) loaded with Android 1.5 O/S

Android is getting into mainstream with as many as 20 phones expected in the near future.

Interesting times indeed (even in times of recession!)

Google announces “wave”

May 30, 2009

In the Google developers conference they demonstrated a powerful communication and collaboration product (Google calls it a product, platform and a protocol) Wave

It is still a year away from release; yet it is compelling enough for a serious look from anyone. I spent almost 90 minutes watching the video (interestingly anchored by Vic Gundotra, VP Engineering and a 15-year Microsoft veteran)

I remember the early days of Lotus Notes and Groove Network products; collaborative products and workflow products are really interesting; some of them had great promise but fell by the wayside. The two Australian brothers (who did Google Maps earlier) are the people behinf Wave also; I do hope Wave is a real hit. It will change the way we use computers & Internet (in some way e-mail has remained the dominant tool and eMail is 40 years old!)

Google G1 is a reality today

September 23, 2008

On 7:30 PM IST today (September 23, 2008) Google Phone (G1) was launched in New York by the 4th US Cariier T Mobile (part of Deutsche Telekom) after more than 18 months of “rumour mill”

With Apple iPhone setting a very high benchmark, the show was “damp squibb” compared the “hoopsla” created on the launch of iPhone (July 2007) and iPhone 3G (July 2008).

The phone itself is made by HTC; it is a good phone; it has “touch” interface (I used HTC Touch 6 months back and gave up as the “touch” works “on and off”). One hopes it has improved.

G1 is a clear “Google Phone”; if you Google Search, GMail, YouTube you would love it. One is not sure of great “audio” the basic need for a phone! G1 lets you multi-task (based on several Video blogs including NY Times, Times London, BBC, BusinessWeek) that I could watch within 2 hours of launch; I feel almost I were there for the launch!

It will be an interesting 3 G phone to watch; $ 179 ($ 20 less than iPhone 3G) with GPS, 3G, TouchScreen with some “lock in” (all US consumers get “lock in” unlike India a “free country”) is not a bad buy

Google talks of all “open”; one has to see whether it is a “rhetoric” or “nice philosophy” to preach to others (the way “super rich” Indian politicians who were “corrupt to the core” using “capitalitic money and goods” used to talk of the virtues of “socialism” for decades)

Google launches “chrome” browser

September 5, 2008

Google released on Monday (Sep 3, 2008) IST, its new browser code named “Chrome”.

What is special about Chrome?

It is a “bottom-up” browser; something badly needed after many years (the browsers have vintage of 10 – 16 years)

 

Google claims the browser design has 3 simple goals – simple, stable and secure; my first impressions confirm all three claims

Google also release it under “open source”

 

It will be interesting to see the evolution of “Chrome” over the years

Success is not always smooth

April 15, 2008

In my address to the senior management of iGateheld at Eagleton Golf Resort in Mysore Road on April 14, 2008 (on the invitation of Mr. Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO), I had stressed the fact that the best one can do to excel is to listen to one’s “inner voice”, go against the current if needed and “hold on” to the conviction against all odds.

 

I alluded to the success of iGate itself; it has grown dramatically to 6,000+ professionals within 5 years;

 I also illustrated some interesting stories from

Air Deccan (bypass travel agents, analyze profitability of every flight segment every day)

Google (go against the suggestion to use DBMS)

Microsoft (develop tools and developer network)

Oracle (faith in “Relational” model)

SAP (believe that enterprises can be modeled)

and

IIIT-B (equip every student with a laptop and go for Wi-Fi in 1999!)

to drive home the point.

It was an enjoyable interactive event/