Shanda and China Gaming

The China Stock Blog analyses a Business Week article on Shanda:

Key points from article:

* Major worldwide gaming boom.
* Increasing convergence of video games and movies.
* Game developers are licensing and using movie characters and titles to produce hit games, and studios are increasingly turning successful games into hit movies.
* As broadcast TV audiences dwindle and movie-going stagnates, gaming is emerging as the newest and perhaps strongest pillar of the media world.

Conclusion:

* The smartest strategy is for game developers and media companies / film studios to find partners.
* While the media companies desperately need the game companies, even the strongest game makers are looking to Hollywood for its movie and TV properties.
* In the end, the winners will be those with the best and broadest portfolios of properties and alliances.

In a separate development, Shanda acquired a 19.5% stake in China’s leading portal, Sina.com, for $230 million.

One Device or Many?

HBS Working Knowledge writes:

As makers of everything engage in an all-out features war to cram the most services, accessories, and functions into a single product, the real question for many is this: Does the consumer really want an all-in-one digital device?

A panel of industry players moderated by Harvard Business School professor Alan MacCormack took on the question of future “form factors” at the 2005 Cyberposium conference at HBS on January 29th. The general consensus: It’s more important for users to be able to easily move digital information from one device to another than to have a single gizmo that is both a car wax and dessert topping.

“In our lifetime we will not see a single device that will represent all devices for everything we do,” said Rich Miner, vice president of Advanced Service Delivery for London-based telecom service provider Orange Services, U.S.

The barriers include human physiology (typing is still difficult on a small keyboard), technology (battery life for a fully converged device might be in minutes, not hours), and human preference (would the iPod be as popular if it looked like a cell phone?).

Mobiles as Scanners

The New York Times writes:

Imagine discreetly photographing contracts, notes jotted on a whiteboard or other handwritten information while on a research mission or a sales call, and later converting them into a format for processing, either in hard copy or on your computer.

That’s what scientists at Xerox Research Center Europe in Grenoble, France, envisioned when they developed mobile document imaging software, which should reach the market later this year.

The technology works with camera phones that have a resolution of at least one megapixel to create digital images of documents or presentations. It checks and corrects for blurriness and shadows, then compresses the image into a file that can be transmitted to a fax machine, to another phone or to a computer via a multimedia messaging service – MMS – or Bluetooth wireless technology. The images can be printed later.

HSDPA and WiMax

Telecom Asia writes that HSDPA may be pulling ahead:

overly optimistic vendor claims and lack of a business case could make HSDPA the technology of choice for cellcos over WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies.

Dave Williams, CTO of O2 which is evaluating WiMAX and will launch HSDPA on the Isle of Man later this year said his company has been looking at wireless broadband mainly in terms of rollout costs, and HSDPA looks the most attractive option over TDD-based technologies.

However, Siemens Communications president Lothar Pauly sees HSDPA as complementary rather than competitive to WiMAX (which Siemens also supports), and listed three key differences between them.

First, HSDPA is a full mobility solution, which means you can use it when you are moving at any speed. WiMAX is more for nomadic or stationary usage. Second, HSDPA is available today; WiMAX is available tomorrow. Third, HSDPA can use the same frequency and same network as 3G. With WiMAX, you need to build a new network, and you need new spectrum, which hopefully will not be auctioned, Pauly said.

Alcatel chief technology officer Niel Ransom said that stationary WiMAX seemed more appropriate as a rural wireless solution, where DSL and cable broadband are non-existent.

George Colony Interview

The New York Times has an interview with the Forrester CEO. Excerpts:

Q. What are the big trends in 2005?

A. There are some real fires burning here. RFID in the retail space – that’s a fire burning. You cannot ignore this. You’re going to have to spend money, make change, change your organization, change your process, no doubt about it. On the back ends of all companies, there’s a trend we call “organic I.T.,” which says we’re moving away from big proprietary systems toward much cheaper systems built from cheap components based on standards.

Q. Let’s talk about Google. You came out against it to some degree last year, citing competition from Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. But Google has done well. Were you wrong?

A. This is how I saw it: that Google has three major challenges in front of it. No. 1 is competition. They have a lot of money, a lot of power and they want Google’s business, so probably No. 1 for Google is competition. Problem 2 for Google is what I call “switching costs.” There are no switching costs to move from one search engine to another. Before Google, I used AltaVista. I changed to Google in about 27 seconds. I will leave Google in about 27 seconds. The third problem is, Google is a fantastic technology for a page-oriented, HTML-based Internet, which is what we have today. The problem is, we’re not going to stay in a page-oriented world.

Q. That assumes that Google wouldn’t be able to adapt. And we’re still going to need to search through all the information out there.

A. I’m just saying, if the library’s changed the way it’s organized, the way you search will be different. The old card catalog won’t work as well.

TECH TALK: Best of Future Tech: Part 2

I wrote about technologys power to bring about disruptive change in the February 25, 2004 column: Two key factors offer India an opportunity to leapfrog into the digital world: affordable products and broadband networksAs the digital infrastructure gets built, a process of creative destruction and reconstruction will take place. It will be possible to deliver music, movies, software and games electronically from centralised computers, thus combating piracy which has been the bane of the various industries for long. Video-on-demand can open up new opportunities not just for the entertainment companies, but also for training and education. The combination of 802.11-based wireless networks and VoIP have the potential to offer flat-rate telecom access.

I explored the world of wireless in the column of March 10. India needs a million WiFi hotspots and this cannot happen with the current restrictions on access points. In the coming years, technologies like 802.16 (WiMax) and 802.20 (MobileFi) will extend coverage to a complete neighbourhood (15-20 km), getting past the 100 metre limitation of the current generation of WiFi protocols. At the same time, the speeds available are rising to support tens of megabits per second. This will enable a few towers to blanket entire cities, or a single tower to connect tens of villages in rural India Radios of a different kind delivered news information to much of India in the previous century. The new radios promise to bring the future to the next generation of Indians provided we make the right choices today.

The March 24 column was about some of my thinking as I stood on Sandhill Road, the home of Silicon Valleys venture capitalists, and wondered how to engineer the next tech revolution. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to think on how to create solutionsfor the twin engines of future growth – rural India and the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)Indian entrepreneurs have the opportunity to shape history only if we begin to start looking at the market within. Rather than trying to only focus on providing services to the rest of the world, we need to start producing hard and soft goods for Indians to use and leverage.

Two columns on April 21 and May 5 discussed how to construct the memex an idea first outlined by Vannevar Bush in 1945. Imagine if we could bridge directories and search engines, making them much more customised based on our likes and the trails that we leave as we surf the Internet, and also taking into account all that we write in emails, blogs and elsewhere. This system would use our memory and knowledge as the starting point This is an evolving information base built not by a centralised organization, but in a distributed manner by each of us. Each of us would have a microcosm of the information space, created and updated continuously by what we did. It would ensure that our ideas would have a context, that we would never forget something, and that we could leverage on similar work done by millions of others like us. This is the real two-way web linking not just documents, but people, ideas and information The platform exists today to construct the memex built around millions of personal directories and weblogs.

Selling software in India has not been an easy exercise for most vendors. The May 19 column discussed the challenges and offered suggestions. India is a market where 90% of population has to do with non-consumption of software. Of the remaining, 90% use pirated software. Legal software in India has only a 1% marketshare. So, even as India creates software for the world, our domestic market languishesTo build the ecology of computing and software in India, there are five issues which need to be addressed: availability, desirability, affordability, delivery and localisation.

Tomorrow: Part 3

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