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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