Atanu is Back!

After a near 6-week hiatus wherein he roamed the world, Atanu Dey is back with his incisive analyses. He continues the focus on India’s problem number One (and which few seemed to be concerned with): the Population Growth. He answers two questions:
– Are there possibilities where a large population is not ridden with poverty?
– Considered that population and poverty are positively correlated, how can it be shown that solving the population problem alone will solve the poverty situation. Are there other causal factors to consider?

Atanu has promised (me) that he will have two fresh posts every week. I hope he sticks to it. There’s too much knowledge and insights inside him which needs to get out there!

Orion’s High-Performance Workstations

WSJ and NYTimes write about Orion Multisystems, which is making workstations — high-powered desktop or deskside computers aimed at scientists and engineers, a market that withered in the 1990s.

WSJ: “Orion’s machines are designed like supercomputer clusters, which use many electronic brains to gang-tackle tough problems. Instead of one or two microprocessors, like today’s PCs and the workstations of yore, a $10,000 desktop system from Orion has a dozen chips. The fastest version, which fits in a small cabinet under a desk, has 96 of them and costs nearly $100,000….has set its sights on engineers and scientists that already use clustered systems for jobs such as sequencing genes, studying how wind flows past a car body or creating animated film clips. Such techies often must queue up to get their jobs executed on clustered machines, which may be special-purpose supercomputers containing hundreds or thousands of processors or simply groups of PCs yoked together to work cooperatively. By giving each worker the equivalent of a small supercomputer cluster, Orion hopes to cut the waiting and sharply boost productivity.”

NYTimes: “To achieve its low-power goal, the biggest gamble Orion is taking is building its system based on the Efficeon microprocessor, the newest chip from Transmeta. The chip maker pioneered the idea of ultralow power processors for mobile computers, but had until recently not been able to meet its performance goals.”

India: The Next Telecom Boom Market

Om Malik writes:

With all the buzz around China and Korea, many tend to overlook that India is turning into one of the hottest telecom markets on the planet. While visiting India I saw many US venture capitalists were out pitching their companies to Indian telecom giants, recognizing that growth is in Asia, and not in the US.

Last week, Susan Kalla told me she was headed to Bombay and then to Delhi for a quick visit. To me she is always a leading indicator of the next big telecom trend. While visiting India in April 2004, I met with several telecom executives who indicated that Indian telecom companies could spend nearly $10 billion a year for next several years as the country tries to build out is basic wireline, wireless and eventually broadband infrastructure. Actually I was wrong. The Indian market for equipment and services is expected to jump to $24.3 billion by 2006, up from $13.7 billion in 2001, according to telecom research firm Frost & Sullivan. The mobile infrastructure market in India hit $1.17 billion last year, Gartner said, and is forecast to grow to $1.885 billion by 2008.

In mobile phones, monthly ARPUs are down to Rs 400 ($9) and companies are learning to be profitable at those price points!

Sell-Side Advertising

John Battelle builds on an idea from Ross Mayfield about “Cost Per Influence” advertising:

Instead of advertisers buying either PPC networks or specific publishers/sites, they simply release their ads to the net, perhaps on specified servers where they can easily be found, or on their own sites, and/or through seed buys on one or two exemplar sites. These ads are tagged with information supplied by the advertiser, for example, who they are attempting to reach, what kind of environments they want to be in (and environments they expressly forbid, like porn sites or affiliate sites), and how much money they are willing to spend on the ad.

Once the ads are let loose, here’s the cool catch – ANYONE who sees those ads can cut and paste them, just like a link, into their own sites (providing their sites conform to the guidelines the ad explicates in its tags). The ads track their own progress, and through feeds they “talk” to their “owner” – the advertiser (or their agent/agency). These feeds report back on who has pasted the ad into what sites, how many clicks that publisher has delivered, and how much juice is left in the ad’s bank account. The ad propagates until it runs out of money, then it… disappears! If the ad is working, the advertiser can fill up the tank with more money and let it ride.

I love this model because it’s viral and it’s publisher driven – it lets the publishers decide which ads fit on their sites.

Robin Good has more.

No-Frills Software

Forbes writes about cheaper alternatives to various software applications:

the future will be dreadful for software vendors like IBM (nyse: IBM – news – people ), Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT – news – people ) and Oracle. Customers will balk at ever-escalating prices for mainstream products and will opt whenever they can for bargain-basement software based on freely available code, such as MySQL or the Linux operating system. They’re using the mere threat of installing this open-source software to browbeat Oracle and Microsoft into coming back with better prices.

And, increasingly, customers are refusing to buy software at all, instead renting it over the Internet from service providers like Salesforce.com (nyse: CRM – news – people ) and Ketera, whose fees are 50% to 80% lower than the cost of installing and maintaining the packaged software equivalent. Venture investors are pumping millions into new low-cost providers, encouraged by the success of cheapware pioneers like Salesforce.com and Linux distributor Red Hat (nasdaq: RHAT – news – people ), which boast market values of $1 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively.

“There’s just no reason for customers to be paying so much for software,” says Marten Mickos, chief executive of MySQL AB, in Uppsala, Sweden. “Software is not rocket science. It’s a commodity. The business has been overglorified for 20 years.”

A presentation as part of the article outlines the alternatives.

TECH TALK: An American Journey: Travel Vignettes

Here is a collection of thoughts about the travel experience:

Photos@Airport: Considering that webcams and storage is so cheap (and the US Immigration is already doing it), I wish airlines would also take photos of people checking in and their baggage. During my previous trip, despite of all the assertations that people and their baggage always travel together on flights, my bags were separated for me. Trying to then describe the bags is not a trivial exercise. If they had the images, it would be so much easier to trace and identify bags in case they got misplaced.

GPS in Cars: This has to become more cost-effective. It really should not be costing more than a couple dollars a day (we got a daily rate of $15 from the rental car company). A GPS system is a great time-saver. I used it once four years ago, and Id have loved to do it again. But then, I guess, one either gets a cheap car or a cheap GPS system, not both!

OHIO for Flight Information: It was quite amazing to see discrepancies in flight departure information on at least a couple occasions. I would have thought that the airlines would have streamlined the information so that they would be all using a common database, and thinking OHIO (only handle information once). But presumably, there is information entered at multiple places, and that can lead to different displays showing information that can be conflicting.

On-Time Arrival Mania: I realised one thing on this trip: if your flight is delayed and the airline believes it is not going to be able to make it in the window considered for the on-time arrival calculations, you can be in big trouble. A flight on Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to Seattle was delayed, and then further delayed. 30 minutes, an hour, 90 minutes went by. Meanwhile, another flight between the same two cities, left on time! For the life of me, I could not understand why they wouldnt do first in, first out with the passengers. But then, they would have had two late flights. This way, they at least got one flight in on time! Who cares about the passengers. (I finally cancelled my flight it left four hours late.)

Use Webcams: As I walked out of La Guardia airport to take a cab to my hotel, I saw two things: a long queue of people waiting for taxis, and a sign which said, More Taxis 350 feet ahead. While it is good to know that I can get more taxis ahead, I have no idea of the waiting period. How about putting a webcam and having a monitor which shows the queue there, so people can then make their own decision? This made me think that there are so many places which could benefit from the use of new technology which has been commoditised, but has still not made its way into institutions built many years ago.

Baggage Tracking: This has been a long-standing wish of mine. Waiting at Baggage Claim can be quite a nerve-wracking experience. For one, I have no idea if the bags made it on the flight it would be nice to get an SMS once the bags are loaded (presumably, they are tracked through the system). Later, RFIDs as part of baggage tags could also alert me when my bags are loaded on the conveyer belt. [On the matter of bags, Mumbai airport has a different problem: the priority bags of business class passengers almost invariably come late, even as the passengers themselves are cleared first through Immigration. The result: massive crowding near and on the conveyor belts, and then inevitably the belt stops working because of baggage overload since the bags are there, and the passengers are still waiting in the queue.]

Tomorrow: Travel Vignettes (continued)

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