Evermore Integrated Office

Dan Gillmor writes about a Chinese software company seeking to break into the Office software company:

Tsao is chief executive of Evermore Software, a Chinese company that sees an opening for a new kind of Office, or at least what he calls a truly advanced kind. And at the Demo conference that starts today in suburban Phoenix, he’ll show off the English version of “Evermore Integrated Office” (EIOffice), the newest edition of a product that has been in development since 1999.

What he demonstrated struck me as more advanced in some ways than the Microsoft product. EIOffice 2004 puts a word processor, presentation package and spreadsheet into a single application, not a collection of programs. The integration is smooth and deep, and there’s a natural feel to the way it all works together. Overall, the product looks slick and capable of handling serious chores.

Evermore’s pricing, moreover, tries to reflect real-world reality. Tsao says EIOffice will be sold with an annual license fee of $99 in the United States, with volume discounts available. And it will cost considerably less where the median incomes are lower. He called it a GDP approach to pricing. (The single-user U.S. price sounds high to me, but businesses will get better deals.)

EIOffice is written in Java, and also runs on Linux. I am not sure it will be able to compete against MS Office on one side and OpenOffice on the other.

Outsourcing Causes and Effects

NYTimes has an analysis:

Globalization and technology are amplifying the impact of outsourcing. For decades, American foreign policy has been to urge developing nations and Communist countries to join the global economy in earnest. Now they have, and vast numbers of skilled workers have joined the world labor force, seemingly overnight. Countries like China, India and Russia educate large numbers of engineers. Add the low-cost, nearly instantaneous communication afforded by the Internet, and an Indian computer programmer making $20,000 a year or less can replace an American programmer making $80,000 a year or more.

“The structure of the world has changed,” said Craig R. Barrett, chief executive of Intel, the Silicon Valley company that is the world’s leading computer chip maker. “The U.S. no longer has a lock on high-tech, white-collar jobs.”

Many American workers are worried that outsourcing is just beginning, and they fear that in an information-age economy all kinds of jobs are potentially at risk. Not only anxious workers in the United States take that view. Nandan Nilekani, chief executive of Infosys Technologies, an Indian outsourcing company, declared at the World Economic Forum last month, “Everything you can send down a wire is up for grabs.”

Another difference, some analysts say, is that during the 1980’s, the interests of American workers and companies were more closely linked than they are today. From 1984 to 1986, the American semiconductor industry lost $4 billion and shed 50,000 jobs in the United States.

“But now, it is the workers who are suffering and not the companies,” said Ronil Hira, an assistant professor for public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “The companies outsourcing jobs overseas are profitable and mostly gaining market share. There’s no gun to their head this time, no real motivation to address the issue.”

Beyond jobs shifted, the broader impact may be to put pressure on the wages of many technical workers in the United States, who increasingly live under the shadow of foreign competition.

What Wireless Users Want

Telepocalypse writes about what wireless users want, in descending order of value:

1. Safety. Keep me in coverage, be there when Im in trouble.

2. Personal communication. Keep me in touch with my family, friends, co-workers and customers. Plenty of unsolved problems here.

3. Transactional service. Buy things, sell things, authorize things. Users care about their wallets. We dont have the right application platfoms and interaction paradigms to do this well yet. Too much usability and connectivity friction to satisfy the demand.

4. Information. Tell me what I need to know when Im away from my fixed information sources.

5. Entertainment. Im bored unbore me.

Dan Bricklin’s Next

[via Anil Dash] Dan Bricklin has quit Interland (which he joined when his company, Trellix, was acquired). Bricklin is the quintessential serial entrepreneur, right from his VisiCalc days. So, it will be good to see what he is going to do next.

I am going back full-time to Software Garden, the tiny company that I founded in 1985. I plan to do consulting (for Interland and other companies) to bring in revenue, as well as product development and sales (for Software Garden). I have no specific product that I am set upon creating. I just want to spend a lot of time programming and then we’ll see what happens. I love programming and hands-on product development and this change gives me the opportunity to do a lot more of it. With respect to consulting, it gives me an opportunity to learn about new business areas and perhaps new technologies, and the money will take some of the “ship now” pressure off of Software Garden.

I continue to believe in the importance of the direction we have been going in our group at Interland. From what I’ve seen, a large number of small business owners need and want long-term professional help in taking advantage of the Internet. They need both consulting and actual execution coupled with the ability and training to do any or all of the execution themselves with easy to use tools. I’ve written this up in a previous essay (“Interland’s Platinum ‘Build A Web Site With You’ as a solution to a techie’s problem“) and continue to see its value. Despite this belief, though, that is not my journey. Honing this “Do It With You” form of delivery is quite different from the pre-packaged software world where I’ve spent most of my life. I am much more interested in technical product development and miss being immersed in it personally.

I am also interested in understanding how a small software company can make money in today’s world. The old business models of the early Software Garden days are from a different era. Today we have an even more fertile field for innovation. There is still evolution in how best to afford to produce each of the different types of software we need. Once I have some new products to distribute, I can experiment and learn myself.

One of the reasons I am interested in what Dan Bricklin does next is because of an interest I share with him – how can technology benefit SMEs.

Worldview Management System

Lisa Williams has a design in mind for a new aggregator:

Each of us has a specific and unique way of viewing the world. Our worldview is informed by our life experience, our way of thinking, our culture, our family, and for many of us, the things we read, watch, and listen to — the media products of others’ worldviews informing and (sometimes) enriching and expanding our own worldview.

The best aggregator, to my mind, would be much more than a list of sites with handy update notifications. It would be a Worldview Management System for the user.

A Worldview Management System would not just allow the user to read sites more efficiently but be able to actively manage and expand their worldview in a number of ways by making robust use of metadata. Ideally, my Worldview Management System would allow me to see the sites that I read *and* the blogposts that I write through the following lenses: geographically, politically and My Worldview.

Search beyond Google

Search can still do with a lot of improvements. Google reigns right now, but various people and companies are working on alternatives. Technology Review examines the options:

For example, theres Teoma, which ranks results according to their standing among recognized authorities on a topic, and Australian startup Mooter, which studies the behavior of users to better intuit exactly what theyre looking for. And then theres the gorilla from Redmond: Microsoft is turning to search as one of its next big business opportunities. Its researchers are devising a new operating system that melds Google-like search functions into all Windows programs, as well as software that scours the Web for definitive answers to questions you phrase in everyday English.

Whichever technology hooks tomorrows Web surfers, its builder will earn enormous influenceand handsome profits. Some 550 million search requests are entered every day worldwide (245 million of them in the United States). By 2007, the paid-placement advertising revenue generated by all these searches will reach about $7 billion, says Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy. Yet surveys indicate that almost a quarter of users dont find what theyre looking for in the first set of links returned by a search engine. Thats partly because the precious needles of information we seek are buried under a haystack that grows by some 60 terabytes every day. And its why brutal competition in the search industry is certain to continue, especially as search companies usher in a host of advanced technologies, such as natural-language processing and machine learning. Over the next five to ten years, says Rashtchy, we could see massive improvements that provide orders-of-magnitude increases in relevancy and usage. And its the competition to deliver those improvementsmuch more than the success or failure of Googles rumored IPO, expected by many to happen this springthat is likely to determine how we will be navigating the Web a few years from now.

TECH TALK: Rajasthan Ruminations: A Glorious Past

Every year for the past eight years, my wife and I have been making trip to Rajasthan to visit various Jain temples. For a few days, we are in a different world. Driving through the land where my parents were born, I invariably think of a life and world which is so very different from the one I was born and brought up in. Besides heritage, there has been a natural affinity to Rajasthan. It is a state I have visited almost annually for the better part of my life for a variety of reasons holidays in the 1970s, my fathers factories in the 1980s, temple visitations in the late 1990s to now.

Here is what the official state website has to say: Rajasthan is a vibrant, exotic state where tradition and royal glory meet in a riot of colors against the vast backdrop of sand and desert. It has an unusual diversity in its entire forms- people, customs, culture, costumes, music, manners, dialects, cuisine and physiography. The land is endowed with invincible forts, magnificent palace havelis, rich culture and heritage, beauty and natural resources. It is a land rich in music, dance, art and craft, and adventure, a land that never ceases to intrigue and enchantThe state has not only survived in all its ethnicity but owes its charisma and color to its enduring traditional way of life. So rich is the history of the land that every roadside village has its own tales of valour and sacrifice, the winds sing them and the sands shift to spread themThe panoramic outlook of the state is simply mesmerizing, with lofty hills of Aravali’s – one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world and the golden sand dunes of the Great Indian Desert – the only desert of the sub-continent. No other region in the country is a conglomeration of so many paradoxes.

Think of Rajasthan and one also thinks of heroism and bravery, the bright colours of its people, grand palaces, its mineral wealth (especially marble and granite), the enterprising Marwari community, the wonderful handicrafts and the rich cultural traditions. But in reality, Rajasthan has been considered a backward state in India being lumped as a sickly Bimaru state with the likes of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is now the largest Indian state by area, and eighth largest in population. Its 55 million people have been largely left out of both the agricultural revolution which transformed the North and the IT and Services revolution which is changing Peninsula India. Tourism has been one of the big attractions in Rajasthan the flights to and from its cities are packed with foreigners.

My vantage point is very small. We travel through a tiny part of Rajasthan. This year, our four-day trip included Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Nakodaji (which is always the cornerstone of our visit), Rankapur, Mount Abu and Udaipur. We travelled over 1600 kilometres by car (an Ambassador) in four days through what is quite literally, deserted terrain. We were driving from place to place for about 7-8 hours daily. We stayed in Jain dharamshalas for two nights at rates of Rs 50-100 (USD 1-2), with the third night being at the factory home in Abu Road (at the foothills of Mount Abu). Each of our Jain meals (no onion or garlic) cost less than Rs 50 per person. This is very much the trip we do each year. As we travel through the Land of the Kings (for what is what Rajasthan means), I wonder – how have things changed in a generation, and what to expect in the future?

Tomorrow: A Little History