Front Page of Eco Times!

A pleasant surprise when I saw a write-up on our Emergic ideas on the front page of Economic Times (couldn’t find the article on their website) in the “Suddenly Something” sidebar. The wire source is IANS. Have reproduced below the electronic version which appeared in “The Tribune” (Chandigarh). The ET story is slightly different.

The origin is probably a talk I had given recently at the ICT Seminar in Bangalore (since I didn’t speak one-on-one with any journalist) on “A Vision for a Digitally Bridged India”. A good start, one day before the beginning of what is a very important year for us in making this vision a reality across the world’s emerging markets.

A computer for Rs 5,000!

Bangalore, December 30

Rajesh Jain hit the headlines when he sold his IndiaWorld site for a few thousand million rupees. Now, his focus has shifted to taking computer to the common man.

Mostly, technology has been priced in dollars, putting it beyond the reach of a large number of businesses and consumers in the emerging markets like India. The computer, which is the lynch-pin of an economy, is still seen as a luxury by many, he argues.

But Jain believes his innovative solutions could battle the stumbling blocks. Were working on something that could really make a difference, Jain said here.

He believes India needs computers for Rs 5,000 so that there can be one in every home and office. This, he says, would create a mass market for the adoption of technology in the country.

These are not distant dreams for the managing director of Netcore Solutions, who earlier founded IndiaWorld Communications that grew into one of the largest collection of India-centric websites.

Fulfilling the list (of what India needs) may seem like a tall order, but the interesting thing is that the building blocks to put the solutions together already exist, he asserts.

Netcore, his current firm, is working to lower the cost to make computers affordable. New software is driving hardware upgrades every three-four years, he says.

While the Indian market is pushing out slightly older models of computers, Jain suggests the large-scale use of recycled computers from developed markets. The US disposes computers at a rate of more than 25 million each year.

Netcore is working on a thin client-thick server solution. This means older, lower-configuration PCs would work off more powerful new computers.

The Rs 5,000 computer can provide all the functions that users are accustomed to seeing on a computer in the corporate environment… The next 500 million users across the digital divide are just as hungry as we (in universities) were a decade ago, he observes.

Interestingly, Jain is suggesting a switchover to the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) solutions based on GNU/Linux.

At a conservative estimate, the hardware-software savings with an Open Source-based thin client can be 75 per cent or more as compared to a Microsoft Windows-Office fat desktop, he maintains.

In terms of broadband connectivity — a fast linkup to the Net — he suggests WiFi, the Wireless Fidelity technology also called 802.11.

“It uses open spectrum, so there are no license fees applicable. WiFi enables the build-out of grassroots, bottom-up networks,” Jain argues.

Linux-Windows TCO Comparisons

From Linux World: “On the face of it, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) sounds like it should be a valuable tool to project cost-estimates of various software solutions. There is certainly truth to the notion that purchase-price alone doesn’t determine total cost. The problems with published TCO studies begin and end with the fact that their allure is only skin-deep.”

The articles takes “three current real-world scenarios to learn what elements should be included in TCO calculations.”

Zippy Collaboration

Writes Amy Wohl on an interesting new application:

Zippy is a brand new integrated messaging service that offers a complete set of messaging tools email, chat, and instant messaging as well as Global Calendar, Contact Management, Mobile Messaging, File Sharing, Bookmark Sharing, Automated File and Data Backup, all accessed via the Zippy Windows client.

Zippy is purposely built for the web, an example of next or net generation software, and will be offered as both an on-line hosted service (Zippy Network) and an off-line software package (Zippy) for installation within a corporate firewall. The server provides the back-end integration and management. Zippy enhances the usual messaging offerings by offering to track work by relationships (that is, by individuals or groups). Zippy can also provide for guest users, supported by a Guest Services component.

View of Technology

From NYT:

The slump has brought a lasting shift in the thinking of corporate customers. Most companies no longer see Internet-era computing as an enemy or a savior, but mainly as a tool that can cut costs, streamline operations and enhance communications with employees, partners and suppliers. That, it seems, represents a return to the traditional view of information technology.

A view on the growth areas in 2003:

China, most notably. Its growth appears poised to continue, with IDC expecting information technology spending in China to rise 20 percent in 2003. The United States should have a slight recovery, while Europe could be a weak spot.

By product group, analysts say one prime candidate for growth in 2003 is “applications integration.” The ungainly term means getting a company’s various databases and large software applications to talk to one other. Applications integration involves mostly software and services. I.B.M., BEA, Oracle, Sun, Microsoft and others have offerings.

Personal computer sales look stagnant, but don’t tell Microsoft that personal computing is a mature business. David Vaskevitch, a senior vice president and an architect of the company’s strategy, says the consumer market is probably “where the next revolution is.” The spread of digital photography and new forms of interpersonal communication like instant messaging (I.M.) will stimulate demand for PC hardware and software, he says.

I’ll be writing more on what to expect in 2003 in various tech areas in my Tech Talk series starting tomorrow.

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: A Personal Journey (Part 2)

I will end this series (and the year) with a note I wrote recently on my blog on the completion of two years of Tech Talk:

When I started Tech Talk 2 years ago, I was quite depressed about my pathetic knowledge about technology. I have always been a voracious reader, but the few years prior to then had kept me very pre-occupied with managing IndiaWorld and had narrowed by reading quite dramatically to portals and dotcoms. I had to get out of that and build a much wider perspective. So, inspired by Red Herring’s “Catch of the Day” column (which has since been discontinued), I ambitiously decided on a daily Tech column, with each column being in the range of 400-500 words. I wrote out the first series of 10 columns quite excitedly, since that was what I had been thinking over the previous months. That was enough for 2 weeks.

At that time, I had thought I’ll probably run out of topics in a few months, but let’s write anyways. We’ll see what happens later. I knew that I had enough topics for a few more weeks. And so was launched Tech Talk.

Two years on and 500+ columns later, the Tech Talk tradition continues. I have not yet run out of topics! I may repeat a bit of myself at times, but I think each column brings with it a least some fresh thinking. I try and follow a simple principle: write what I am thinking. Some of these ideas are also what I am trying to apply in my business (Emergic), so they are not just academic, but also incorporate feedback from the marketplace.

Also, to whatever extent possible, I do try and cover a diverse set of topics – entrepreneurship, books, the New India, and so on. But its still a somewhat narrow sliver. I am an entrepreneur first, and writer second!

My writing habits for Tech Talk have changed somewhat over the years. Earlier, I used to write the daily column, well, daily. That was too much pressure. Wake up in the morning with the deadline looming! That did not help thinking. So, over time, I decided to write a set of columns together. Now, since the past year or so, I write a week’s columns together on a Sunday. It takes me about 2.5-3 hours. This has helped in ensuring a certain continuity and making me actually enjoy the writing.

I also quote (quite liberally sometimes) from others but make it relevant to the point that I am making. I have found that others do write better than me, and so, if they make the point, or provide a take-off for what I want to say, let us quote them. This is perhaps why Tech Talk will never become a book. (Of course, the other reason is that I will not have the patience to read and edit what I have written!) Online is the best place for Tech Talk to be.

My writing has increased since I started my blog in May this year. At that time, I wondered if I should just discontinue Tech Talk and stick to the blog. But I realised that the value of the Tech Talk lies in its length and deep thinking style. That I would find it hard to replicate in the blog’s microcontent style. I am glad I left Tech Talk untouched.

On a personal level, I love writing and sharing. It helps me clarify my ideas, and forces a discipline of reading and thinking. The feedback from readers over the years has also helped a lot – introducing me to new people and new ideas.
So, here’s on to year 3, with a promise to continue the spirit of Tech Talk.

As 2002 transitions to 2003, expect more of the same in Tech Talk. Some things should not change. Wish you a Very Happy New Year.

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IT Productivity Payoff

Writes David Kirkpatrick (Fortune):

What change in habits or business practices could unleash the power of computing to dramatically boost productivity?

I have a candidate–business process outsourcing. While its not something we immediately associate with computing and networks, its only after companies are automated and connected by a commonly accessible network (the Internet) that they can easily create links between themselves and their suppliers. Work can be passed seamlessly from worker to worker regardless of location.

Now the question is starting to arise: Where is work most efficiently done? Though the process is slow, because the implications for both societal and corporate organization are unsettling, more and more companies are beginning to understand that many jobs dont have to be done at the office. Weve seen a resulting increase in home-based work, and dispersal of back-office functions further from high-rent districts.

But the cost-savings grow really huge when companies exploit the big discrepancies in labor rates between the U.S. and still-developing countries like India, and outsource entire business processes to operators far away. International business process outsourcing, or BPO, started a few years ago with call centers, and its spreading to a wider variety of jobs. It may enable a quantum leap downward in labor costs. Ravi Aron, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, estimates that such outsourcing can save companies up to 60% on labor.

What We Do

From Amy Wohl (in the context of Microsoft’s OneNote):

When researchers asked, “What do office workers do now?” they got a somewhat different set of answers. The list includes going to meetings, reading and creating email (maybe they should have put deleting SPAM at the top of the list?), gathering information, and communicating (not just in email, but also in presentations and reports.

All of these functions are served to some extent today by personal productivity tools, but the tools are not optimized for the way people work – or perhaps, more precisely, for the way they would prefer to work.

Today’s tools are discrete and separate. Information gathered in one place must be retyped (or found and moved) to be useful in another place. Many note takers (like me) take their notes on paper because it’s so hard to copy diagrams, make annotations or show relationships in the very linear world of keyboarded text. Microsoft Research recently found that 91 percent of information workers surveyed regularly take notes; 26 percent of these note-takers transfer handwritten notes into e-mail, and 23 percent admitted they often can’t find the information they’re looking for. 36 percent said they were ready for a better note-taking system.

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From NYTimes:

Ms. Greiner and her co-founders, Colin Angle and Rodney Brooks, have spent 12 years introducing their robot prototypes into new environments and then working to make them better. Ms. Greiner envisions a world in which robots handle tasks that are too difficult, dangerous, or time-consuming for humans. She describes iRobot’s goal as “doing for robots what Apple did for computers, making them available to anyone who wants to use one.”

IRobot is perhaps the only company in the world that develops and sells robots to the military, researchers, large corporations, and consumers. Most robotics makers focus on just one segment, and 2002 has been a busy year for the company.

TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: A Personal Journey

For me, 2002 can be summed up in three words: Entrepreneuring, Emergic and Blogging.

At heart, I am an entrepreneur and have been one for the past decade. I have tried multiple things in my life developing object and multimedia database applications, trying to sell a fractal-based image compression application in India, doing outsourced software development, doing local software projects, creating an image processing application, launching Indias first Internet portal and a collection of a dozen allied vertical websites, developing and managing websites for many of Indias corporates, and offering messaging solutions. Some ideas have worked, other have failed. For me, the thrill and challenge lies in envisioning the future and working to build it ahead of others.

Entrepreneurship is about living life not with a map, but with a compass. It is about waking up every morning expectantly, fully prepared for the uncertainties that lie ahead. Entrepreneurship is about knowingly taking up challenges with the odds fully stacked against, and then working each day to reduce these odds. And, as Dan Bricklin says, “as you jump from rock to slippery rock, you have to like the feeling.”

This is the spirit I tried to capture in my series on The Entrepreneurs Delights.

Emergic is the vision I want to implement next as an entrepreneur. Much of what I write about in Tech Talk are the ideas that I think of when imagining how we can create low-cost computing solutions to make technology a utility in the lives of the millions of users and small and medium enterprises in the worlds emerging markets.

Emergic is about creating a software platform which brings down costs of technology by a factor of 10, thus making it affordable for consumers and enterprises in the worlds emerging markets.

Emergic is going to become the computing platform for the next 500 million consumers and the worlds 25 million SMEs who have not been able to adopt technology because of its dollar-denominated pricing.

Emergic is targeted at the worlds emerging markets, because they are where technology has not yet penetrated deeply, and yet, for whom, technology offers perhaps the last opportunity to better integrate into the worlds value chain and improve the standard of living for their people.

I think of Emergic as the Amul (or Wal-Mart) of computing. It is about making it affordable to the bottom of the pyramid. It is about making the dream of a connected computer accessible to every employee and family a reality for those who live in the developing nations of the world.

In May, I started a weblog It is a mix of my thinking and links to articles I read and find interesting. Over the past few months, it has become an extended personal knowledge management system. More importantly, it has helped me, just like Tech Talk, clarify and share my thinking with you all.

Tomorrow: A Personal Journey (continued)

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Customer-driven IT

Says David Moschella in an interview in Business Week:

If you look at the history of the [technology] business, innovations — from microprocessors to word-processing software — have always come from the supplier side, the computer companies making these products. But all the applications that have the potential to drive widespread societal use are much more customer issues than supplier ones, such as making online services that work and having people pay their bills or vote online.

The things that really drive the market are simple applications that 100% or 90% of the people might use — advertising, music, bill paying, health care, voting, and shopping. It’s very unlikely that it will be something that doesn’t have a significant base of activity already. The trick is to get from [the technology] touching 30% of people’s lives to touching 90%, like television, radio, and telephones all have done.

People often look for really exotic applications like artificial intelligence or robotics. It’s almost never these things. It’s very simple things that almost everyone can take advantage of that matter — word processing, Web browsers, or databases. Getting very high levels of acceptance is the key.

Elaborates Moschella on his website: “More broadly, only customers can establish many of the standards and procedures needed for the next generation of interoperable e-commerce systems, be they based upon Web Services, shared industry terminology, or advanced semantically-enabled applications. Indeed, over time, customers will steadily take control of many new standards processes. For these and other reasons, they have become the most important source of new IT-based value creation.”

This is what we need to keep in mind for our Emergic. How can we make people more productive with computers? For example, instead of just saying that there is a word processor (Open Office Write), we should provide templates for documents that people need to create. Given that our target is the next set of users, they are going to be less savvy about usage. We need to simplify their interaction with the computer. Our projects like the Digital Dashboard are a step in that direction.

Single-Chip Linux Computer

From EP&P: “Axis Communications, a global leader in network technology, announced today the availability of the AXIS ETRAX 100LX MCM 2+8, a new generation system-on-a-chip that integrates 2MB Flash, 8MB SDRAM and an Ethernet transceiver into a single chip with a 27mm x 27mm footprint. The chip, which is designed for networked devices such as wireless access points, digital video recorders and access control and security systems, enables developers to reduce costs in both the design and production cycles.” [Slashdot thread]

Am thinking if this can be used to make low-cost thin clients: all we need there is a Pentium I-class CPU, 8/16 MB RAM, a network interface and a video out for the display.

Rising Cash Piles for Tech Cos.

Writes WSJ:

Just five tech giants — Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Oracle Corp. — now hold a staggering $87 billion in cash and liquid investments. That is up from $77 billion a year ago, and suggests that these companies, whose revenue declined as much as 35%, aren’t as sick as conventional wisdom dictates.

To the contrary, these tech companies will likely emerge from the long slump in stronger competitive positions, compared with cash-starved and debt-ridden rivals. The titans are wielding their cash as competitive weapons. Microsoft is pouring billions into far-flung searches for new growth markets, such as Internet service, video-game consoles and cellphone software. Intel is investing $12 billion in new and retooled factories, hoping to expand its lead in semiconductor technology. Dell is grabbing market share and expanding into new products.

Data Representation in Chandler

Chandler is the so-called “Outlook-killer”. Writes Mitch Kapor:

The fundamental way data is stored in Chandler is as a collection of items, also known as a repository. Every individual email is represented by an item, as is every meeting on a calendar, and every contact. Not only that but every attachment, document, and annotation is also an item. In short, each piece of content is represented as an item.

By treating items as the first-class elements of data, it is then possible for the user to obtain an integrated view of all the information in her universe. One simple feature which takes advantage of this is that when you use Chandler you will never have to look in multiple places to find what you’re looking for. In today’s world, you use your PIM to look for information sent by email, and you use a file manager to locate information contained in a document stored as a file. You may have to use other tools to find other types of information.

Another key feature in Chandler is that an item of information can be stored in more than one place. You’re not forced to file it in one folder or another. It can be in both with no additional effort. It solves the problem of “I know that email is here somewhere, but which folder did I put it in?”

I might also mention that any item can have user-defined attributes, as well as the ones which are standard for its type. Unlike conventional email clients, whose capability to permit user-defined attributes is limited to a fixed choice of labels or list of categories, Chandler allows an unlimited elaboration of user-originated ways of classification.

Finally, Chandler permits the sharing of any item or set of items in an extremely simple way, forming the basis of any-time collaboration.

In short, it’s intended to be a universal tool for managing personal information and collaborating with others.

Chandler is beginning to look very interesting, perhaps also because very little has changed about how we manage and store our personal information in the past few years.

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TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: Bridging the Digital Divide (Part 2)

India Post: The Story of Nayapur: “Nayapur is the face of the New India. As a village it may be small, but that in no way represents the aspirations of its people. Life in Nayapur has been transformed ever since India Post set up its Tech 7-11 computer and communications centre a year agoThis is the amazing story of how these old computers running open-source software with full support for local languages combined with the Will, Vision and Entrepreneurial Thinking of the India Post team to transform the lives of the residents of Nayapur. The story takes you through a day in the life of one family in Nayapur.”

Disruptive Bridges: “Imagine a New India. A million computing and communications centres, each with 10 or more computers connected to the Internet, dot the landscape, making them accessible to everyone across the country. Every Indian is computer-literate, and can email, browse the Internet and compose letters. Citizens can make bill payments, obtain ration cards, check land records, and do other interactions with the government easily and efficiently. Computers in small- and medium-sized companies make them real-time enterprises, ensuring instant updation of information and making them integral parts of global supply chains What separates the dream of a New India from the reality of today is the digital divide. It is this rubicon that we have to cross, this divide that we have to bridge.Developing countries need disruptive innovations to bridge their digital divides. Think of these divides as separating todays technology markets from tomorrows. The next 500 million users lie on the other side of the divide. What is needed to open up these new markets is the construction of digital bridges with disruptive innovations as their foundation. Lets call them Disruptive Bridges.”

Postscript: In 2002, I visited China both Shanghai and Beijing. I wrote about my visit to Shanghai An Indian in China. Shanghai is the engine powering China ahead. It has been undoubtedly dressed up for the external world to see and experience the New China. Shanghai’s look-and-feel makes me dream of what Mumbai could have been. The next set of entrepreneurial opportunities lie in leveraging the two large markets of India and China.

Monday: A Personal Journey

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TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: Bridging the Digital Divide

A recurrent theme in my writings is about building what I recently termed as Disruptive Bridges disruptive innovations to bridge the digital divide. Emerging markets like India and China are technologys next markets. How can technology become a utility for the hundreds of millions of users in these developing countries. We need to use technology to bridge the digital divide and achieve the vision of a connected computer accessible to every employee and family.

While I wrote often from the perspective of India and what needs to be done to build India 3.0, the same ideas are applicable to other emerging markets also. It is here where India and Indian companies can, using their prowess in software development, take a leadership position in creating the computing platform for the next 500 million users.

Among the series which explored these themes (in chronological order) were:

Envisioning a New India: “An Epidemic of Change is exactly what is needed to transform India. India needs to Tip, Bottom-up (like Ants), and in less than 2,000 days.”

The Digital Divide: “The digital divide is the gap in technology (computing and communications) usage and access. This manifests itself in many different ways: between the big companies and the smaller companies, between the people in developed markets and those in the emerging markets, between the urban and rural populations in the emerging marketsWhat is needed are technologies which can bridge the digital divide and create a digital dividend for the have-nots.”

Indias Next Decade: “To invent the future needs thinking which is very different. Computers for Rs 5,000 (the PPP equivalent of USD 700), Software on rent for Rs 250 per month and rock-bottom prices for broadband communications. This is about creating a mass market which does not yet exist – it is about creating this market. Think of Amul and its Rs 20 pizza versus the Rs 200 price-point of Pizza Hut and Domino’s. It is not that the high-end pizza eaters migrate to the lower price-point, but that a whole new set of pizza eaters are created. Like in a pyramid, the markets at the bottom are many times bigger. Each user may not be able to pay much, but the numbers can more than make up – creating an equivalently large opportunity.”

Technologys Next Markets: “Much of what we see and read about is the impact of technology in the world’s developed markets – and this is where technological innovation has become incremental. This is because there is already a huge established base, a legacy. But there is another world comprising the world’s developing nations like India which is waiting for technology to help it leapfrog. This is a world which makes up in volumes what it lacks in purchasing power. This is where the opportunities of tomorrow lie. This is where the road to utopia leads. But for people and companies in the developed markets, it is as if this other world did not exist. This is the Invisible Market.”

Tomorrow: Briding the Digital Divide (continued)

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TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: New Computing Paradigms

I started 2002 with a series on Emerging Technologies, Emerging Markets stating:

The computer remains the building block for technological change in every economy in the world. Everything else is built around it. It is therefore necessary to rethink its construction in terms of the components used to dramatically reduce the price-points at which it is made available in the emerging markets of the world. What is needed is not greater and faster, but lesser and cheaper.

Software is becoming the key driver in enterprises, in their push towards greater efficiencies. Even in the backdrop of the downturn in technology, one of the first areas which will recover is enterprise software. Enterprises have made investments in computing and communications, providing enough horsepower to their various departments and connecting all their branches and offices. However, information still sits in silos. What is needed is just-in-time information, aggregated from disparate databases and delivered to a corporate portal customised for each employee.

This is what I explored in more depth over the course of the year the objective being to take computing to the millions of small- and medium enterprise, who are rapidly emerging as computings next frontier:

Enterprise software has become much more complex, but the focus has stayed on the bigger companies in the world who can pay a lot of money. This is the real digital divide. Not only do the smaller companies (especially those in the emerging markets) find it hard to buy software, even the cost of the computers is prohibitive – all technology is dollar-denominated. In India, few local software companies have made a mark addressing the domestic market – the volumes are just not there, and its much more profitable to deploy the same resources for doing work for international companies.

And yet, there is an unseen, invisible opportunity that lies ahead, serving companies like mine. There are 25 million such small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the world, which employ over a billion people worldwide. The majority of these SMEs are in the emerging markets of world. They need a solution which costs no more than USD 15-20 per person per month (inclusive of hardware, software, training and support). This is a market of USD 180-240 billion which is largely untapped today.

The three key ideas here to provide a whole computing solution for USD 20 per month per user are:

  • Server-centric Computing: By using Linux thin clients and a thick server, the cost of computing can be brought down dramatically.
  • A New Desktop: Can we look beyond the files-folders-directory-icons interface of MS-Windows to build a Digital Dashboard which makes it easier for the next users to access information and applications?
  • Lego-like Enterprise Software: The combination of web services and business process standards now makes it possible for us to build components which can be assembled together.

    Tomorrow: Bridging the Digital Divide

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  • TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: Emerging Technologies

    Techs 10X Tsunamis is perhaps my best collection of all things new. I covered 14 technologies and trends which are making and will make a big difference in the years to come. This is what I wrote in the preamble:

    We will see how Google has become our second memory, how wireless technologies are building an envelope of pervasive connectivity, how websites are becoming program components thanks to the web services, and how open source is making even the biggest software companies rethink their strategies. We will ponder the growing trend towards outsourcing, examine the rising power of the countries in the East, and consider the rise of networks and intellectual capital.

    We will see how USD 100 computers could dramatically alter the use of technology in emerging markets, how the world can move towards using technology like a utility, how weblogs and RSS can dramatically increase the information we process, and how business process standards will reduce friction between enterprises. We will also consider what happens when objects starts talking to other objects, and the screen you are reading this on goes 3D (or for that matter, becomes composed of electronic Ink).

    I ended the series with a sentence I strongly believe in: It is a world in which perhaps the biggest 10X force is Vision – we need to be able to a imagine a different future, and then go out and build it. We need to combine Vision with a strong Will and relentless Execution to build the future we have dreamt of.

    Two of the trends I had explored in detail earlier in the year were Blogging and Wireless. This is what I had to say about Blogging: “The Web as we know is undergoing a change. For long, it has been a broadcast medium. Companies and publishers put up websites and readers came to check out the content. The read-only web is becoming two-way, a Writing Web. This transformation is being led by amateurs and is bringing forth a richness which has been missing. This revolution goes by the unlikely name of Blogging.”

    In The Real Wireless Revolution, this is what I wrote: Wi-Fi promises to enable a grassroots revolution in wireless communications, especially for data. Its already happening in the US, where in offices and homes, one can roam around a limited area free from wires and still access the Ethernet (and therefore, the Internet) at high-speeds. The Wireless LANs are only one part of how Wi-Fi can be used. The real promise lies in the ability to string together many such LANs and build a wide-area network, just like the Internet was built in its early days. The difference: this one needs no wires, giving end users complete freedom and mobility. Since it uses open spectrum, this also means the costs involved in building this out are very low. This becomes the commons answer to the expensive 2.5G and 3G wireless networks being built.”

    Tomorrow: New Computing Paradigms

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    Future of Silicon Valley

    Kumar Venkat in the San Jose Mercury News asks in Silicon Valley can still stay relevant:

    Whether it is software development, chip design or technical support, the lure of countries like India, Russia and China is the availability of large numbers of well-educated knowledge workers at extremely low cost. Good engineers can usually be hired in these countries for about $1,000 a month. These wages are just a fraction of what similar engineers would earn in Silicon Valley. The potential for cost savings is enormous, and we may well be in the early stages of a substantial movement of high-tech jobs out of the valley.

    High-speed communications technology, much of it developed here, has made it almost seamless to interact with co-workers and customers in any part of the world. Even if a company is still headquartered in the valley for historical reasons, the “virtual” company may be global these days with physical offices in different corners of the world.

    An interesting point. I do believe that while much of the new technology innovation will still happen in tech hubs like the Silicon Valley, the centre of gravity of the new technology markets will definitely be in the world’s emerging markets like India, China, Russia and Brazil. Of course, these markets will need low-cost solutions. Can Silicon Valley stay relevant by crafting these solutions?

    Thin Servers? “Welcome to the dawning of the age of the $200 personal computer.” This made me think – could we put together a number of these machines as a server cluster? A bit like a cheap grid, perhaps. Make one of the servers a storage system, with RAID disks. This could then give small enterprises a reliable and scalable server architecture – just what is needed for server-centric computing. This is probably what is the rationale behind blade servers. I don’t know of the software complexity involved in this.

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