IBM and Enterprise Search

News.com writes: “Big Blue has been quietly working on data storage software designed to greatly improve the ability of companies to find business documents scattered across their networks, Janet Perna, the general manager of IBM’s information management group, told CNET News.com…The new database-related software will let corporate customers store documents in XML, or Extensible Markup Language, format, which will greatly speed up text-related queries, she said.”

Gartner’s 2005 Predictions for Asia-Pacific

Shrikant Patil has the list:

1. India will remain the highest growth market for telecommunications in the Asia-Pacific region.

2. Gartner predicted that mobile penetration in India would reach 8.2 per cent in 2005 and 14.5 in 2008, while combined (fixed and mobile) penetration would grow from 12.4 per cent in 2005 to 19.1 per cent in 2008.

3. Gartner expects the PC vendor market to experience at least three lean years after 2005 with three of the top 10 vendors exiting the market by 2007.

4. IT services will continue to grow in Asia Pacific, where mission-critical services are in high demand.

5. Micro-commerce will emerge as a major new business opportunity and there will be a fundamental change in the way software is built and used with the continuing development of web services.

6. Gartner predicts that the coming few years will present some of the greatest challenges and opportunities of their careers to CIOs and those responsible for IT planning and operations.

7. International bandwidth prices in India will drop by 30-40 per cent in 2005. The telecom market will remain crowded with five key players jostling for market share in cellular space.

Gartner also estimated that the broadband market will double in size to cross one million subscribers and the telecom companies will enter into the video market.

8. Consumer segment is rapidly gaining importance, driven by adoption of mobile services. This is reflected in their increased contribution towards spending for telecom services, from 35 per cent in 2002 to 43 per cent in 2005. By 2008, the consumer segment will account for 52 per cent in telecom spending.

9. Enterprise spending on information communications and technology (ICT) in India is expected to grow at 16.6 per cent to $22.88 billion as compared to Asia-Pacific growth at 7.6 per cent in 2005.

10. Gartner also said that Open Source and offshore IT services will continue to grow, while it warned global IT vendors to take emerging competition from China seriously with at least three Chinese IT companies becoming significant global competitors by 2010.

According to Gartner, the hype of offshore IT services is real and reflects a dramatic uptake in global sourcing of these services. When compared with the total IT services market, less than 3 per cent of spending ($606 billion) is attributable to sourced services in 2004. By 2007, the globally sourced component of IT services spending will be about $50 billion, or 7 per cent of the $728 billion total.

Broadband to the Home

The Broadband Daily has a post by Karl Bode on the US situation:

Verizons Fios fiber to the home deployment is the most ambitious, running the fiber directly to your living room, and costing the company an estimated $1000 to $1,300 per home. Once it emerges from limited trials, 5Mbps can be had for between $34.95 and $39.95 depending on the services you bundle. 15Mbps can be had for between $44.95 to $49.95. 30Mbps will be offered as a business service for $200 a month.

Less ambitious ($29 billion less ambitious, actually) is SBCs Project Lightspeed. SBC believes they should deploy fiber to the neighborhood node, then use next generation DSL (ADSL2+ or VDSL2) to provide 20-25Mbps worth of bandwidth to the consumer – most of that for video.

Critics charge this wont be enough bandwidth to seriously deploy HDTV, VoIP, broadband, and video on demand (not to mention apps of the next decade); but SBC insists theyll solve choke problems via compression. They recently signed a $400 million deal with Microsoft to provide set-top television software.

This week saw the expected announcement by BellSouth of the third most ambitious upgrade by the bells, a modest $2 billion improvement. Theyll be running fiber to the node, then ADSL2+ to the home; the pipe offering between 15 and 17Mbps, the broadband portion of that being a paltry 4-6Mbps.

Hey, thats great guys, but Time Warner Cable this week quietly started upgrading standard users in NY and California to 5Mbps – for free. Youll see the official announcement later this month.

Wall Street and cable executives find BellSouth and SBCs offerings tepid at best, and Qwest has other things to worry about. But even Verizons plan is a little light when you look elsewhere: Japans NTT Group intends to spend $47 billion on expanding fiber to the home for nearly half the Japanese population. A population that already sees 30+Mbps connections for less than $40.

Need for a Richer Browser

Jon Udell writes: “We clearly need more advanced widgetry to help us deal with a range of data types and to guide us through sophisticated interaction scenarios. In some cases, this machinery will be deployed using one or another flavor of pure RIA (rich Internet applications). Hitting the sweet spot will require hybrid applications that leverage the simplicity, familiarity, and general-purpose utility of the browser, while using RIA technologies selectively where they can deliver the most bang for the buck.”

Personal Broadcast Networks

Dann Sheridan sketches out hpw PBNs will work: “The foundational services of PBNs are provided by caching, distributed computing, and P2P applications. Individually, these technologies are massive and powerful. When combined and focused by a common API set and services set to serve personal content creation, they become a high energy laser beam…These APIs will be embedded in and services made available to the personal publishing tools (Blogger, TypePad, Radio UserLand, MSN Spaces, LiveJournal, WordPress, etc.). Hopefully, we can create easy to use interfaces that people can take control of to do new and interesting things.”

Mobile Gaming

AlwaysOn Network has a story about the future of mobile gaming by Paul G. Flanagan of Ariadne Capital:

So, where does the future lie for mobile multiplayer gaming, and what is going to be the most fun and accessible:
Bluetooth, GPRS, 3G, or Wi-Fi?
Mobile phones, PDAs, or gaming decks?
Real-time, phantom racing or turn-based games?
Sports games, racing, shooters, or location-conscious gaming?

Currently there is a lot of effort going into making games that run over GPRS and 3G networks. Features include uploading and viewing high scores, buying items, leaving messages for other players, and phantom racingnothing particularly thrilling, in other words.

What I really want are high-performance games I can play against friends I am with. Why? Because it’s most fun.

This is the opportunity for the savvy handset manufacturers: Enable Bluetooth for games; up the spec on your mass-market handsets; sell millions of units of handsets and games; and watch mobile gaming explode. If the operators won’t put the games on their top 10 game decks, sell them through your portals or those of game publishers.

TECH TALK: Tomorrow’s World: Five Markets (Part 2)

Tech 7-11s: The communications-centric cybercafes of today need to change into neighbourhood commPuting centres. For those who cannot afford to have a computer at home or would like to try it out before purchasing or are on the move, the Tech 7-11s should offer all the benefits and conveniences that they would get if they actually owned one. This is easily done here because both storage and computing are centralised. Tech 7-11s can easily be equipped with high-speed connections and can have a large number of the network commPuters. They will also need to offer training and support for users in the neighbourhood. They could also serve like the cable MSO (multi-service operator), providing a distribution point for services in the community. In some ways, the Tech 7-11s will play the role of the STD PCOs offering a community service until most people have a personal device.

Rural Areas: Indias rural areas will continue to remain the final frontier. Hobbled by lack of power and connectivity, computers are a distant dream for most. And yet, if the basic infrastructure of electricity and telecom can be put in place, computing has great potential to become the building block for various services. One approach would be to create hubs in rural areas which can service a cluster of villages along the lines of the idea of Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons proposed by Atanu Dey and Vinod Khosla. These hubs could serve as the rural equivalent of the Tech 7-11s, and use CorDECT or alternate technologies to support network commPuters in villages. Rural India needs its own rural commPuting utilities to usher in a revolution which can finally begin to bridge the information divide that separates India from Bharat.

Last Word: Five New Opportunities

There are many opportunities which this new world opens up. Besides the need for low-cost network computers, broadband networks and the grid infrastructure all of which are capital-intensive, there are many other starting points for entrepreneurs:

LAN Grids: Think of these as smaller versions of the commPuting grid for the LANs of SMEs and educational institutions till the time that broadband networks arrive. The LAN Grid becomes the distribution point for software and content.

Broadband Content Factory: A huge world of broadband microcontent is waiting to be created. Look beyond music, television and films. Imagine making available videos of all the conferences and seminars that take place every day. Making and distributing video content is so much easier now.

Software Aggregator: There is a need to aggregate the various open-source software applications into suites for different verticals. Companies like SpikeSource and SourceLabs are the early efforts in this area, and go beyond what the likes of Red Hat and Novell are doing.

Micro-eBays: Imagine creating localised information exchanges and trading platforms combining the best of Craigslist and eBay, for neighbourhood communities. This could be made available first for enterprises and educational institutions where people know and trust each other already.

Micropayments infrastructure: The new world will also need to way to handle payments of smaller denominations. India and emerging markets need the equivalent of a PayPal, perhaps built around pre-paid cards that people could use for access to the services.

Tomorrows world is happening around us. Our actions can expedite it and create a better and richer future for all of us. The solutions this world needs are not necessarily going to come from todays giants. In fact, this new world offers the opportunity to create new giants from the middle- and bottom-of-the-pyramid of the world. The next billion users in the worlds emerging markets beckon us. It is an opportunity to do good and do well. Will we?

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