From NYTimes: “Sending voice telephone calls over the Internet remains largely a niche service for technophiles and for people seeking cheaper international communications — like users of prepaid phone cards, who may not even realize that their discount calls are bypassing the regular phone network. Yet the technology is showing signs of gradually expanding to a broader audience, a step that could eventually mean wide-reaching changes in the telecommunications industry, if early experiments by individuals and businesses are any indication.”

Net 2003 = Net 1995?

Writes Kevin Werbach, stating that “The commercial Web in 2003 is getting back to what worked years ago”. He begins with the Search story.

Today, as companies retreat to their core businesses, they are finding, to their horror, that nimbler competitors have occupied the ground they neglected. Through the heady days of the dot.com boom, Yahoo! and other leading Web-based businesses larded on feature after feature, including stock quotes, Web-based e-mail, shopping, calendars, streaming audio and video, chat, instant messaging, and gamesanything to increase traffic and therefore revenues. Companies that were once simply “search engines” fattened themselves into “portals.” Yahoo!’s Web directory, its original raison d’tre, became an afterthought.

But as it turns out, the one thing people really want to do online is find things…While Yahoo! slept, Google quietly became the dominant Internet search engine, handling one-half of all searches…For many users, Google is the Web, in the way that AOL and Netscape once were. It’s the primary interface they use to maneuver online.

Werbach’s conclusion: “The Net has come full circle…The Googles of the world, who found valuable niches and stuck to their knitting, are thriving. Yahoo! and Inktomi find themselves the equivalent of a 1970s conglomerate: The whole is worth less than the parts.”

An interesting analysis. I use Google about 10-20x more than Yahoo (Yahoo as a MyYahoo page I refer to once in a while, while there is a Google toolbar for all my searches, of which I do plenty in a day).

TECH TALK: 2003 Expectations: Telecom, Cellphones and Gadgets

The action in telecommunications has not stopped. WiFi may become the enable for broadband, VoIP and its integration with GSM offers much promise. Americas Network identifies a few other technologies to watch:

UWB: Plenty of companies have been directing their efforts towards ultrawideband (UWB) technology, which promises high-speed short-range wireless connectivity well beyond the scope and applicability of Bluetooth.

Free Space Optics: Originally touted as a cost-effective option to connect urban buildings to metro fiber rings, or campus buildings to each other, free-space optics (FSO) – fiber-optic transmission sans fiber – has been held back by its own physical limitations of range (1.5 kilometers max, but typically much shorter), line-of-sight limitations and adverse weather conditions like fog, monsoons and blizzards.

DWDM and Optical Ethernet: Neither optical Ethernet nor DWDM are truly new ideas. DWDM totally changed the economics of long-distance networks in the late 1990s by enabling carriers to split a single strand of fiber into multiple wavelengths, each capable of carrying the bandwidth that previously would have required an entire fiber. And two or three years ago, a whole new crop of competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) grew up to build next-generation metro networks based solely on optical Ethernet. What’s new is that established service providers realize that if they bring DWDM to their metro networks, they can offer optical Ethernet services – initially side-by-side with traditional Sonet offerings.

2003 will also see the worlds mobile phones overtake the number of fixed-lines. Mobile phones continue to find new markets. China now has over 200 million subscribers, and India is on the threshold of a revolution with prices crashing and consumption rising, as Reliance Infocomms entry threatens to cause a massive upheaval. SMS will continue its march, and the industry is hoping for a rapid adoption of its multimedia messaging service (MMS).

Cellphones will come with more and more features packed in from built-in PDAs to FM radios to digital cameras to location-identifying GPS. This year will also see the first 3G services being launched in Europe (outside Japan) the results have a lot of money riding on them. The mobile phone is increasingly being positioned as a lifestyle device rather than just one to be used for voice communications.

Analogue is giving way to Digital in every aspect of our life. Writes the Economist in an article entitled The Great Crossover in its The Year in 2003: 2003 is the real moment for digitals long march. This is the year more digital entertainment devices will be sold in America than analogue ones, a trend paralleled around the world. Since the CD, the only big analogue-to-digital transition has been only in mobile phones, which made the great switch around 1998 (leading to innovations such as text messaging). 2003 will mark three more historic crossovers. Each of which could have even greater impact.

According to the article, the three devices which will mark the crossover are DVDs, Digital Cameras and Digital Camcorders.

Tomorrow: Outsourcing to India and China

Continue reading