Future Trends

[via Sadagopan] Steve Rubel writes:

Here’s my list of 10 trends to keep an eye on for the next 10 years. They are in no particular order…

1. The Long Tail
2. The Read Write Web/Web 2.0
3. Timeshifting
4. Collaborative Categorization
5. Citizen Marketing
6. The Daily Me
7. Its All a Conversation
8. Whats Inside is Outside
9. Trust Marketing
10. Decentralized Communication

Tech for the World’s Poorest

WSJ writes:

What with fancy computers, MP3 players, cellphones and the rest, “high technology” is usually regarded as a plaything of the world’s economic elite. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Some of the same engineers who make products for the world’s wealthy are also working on radically simplified versions of the same tools for use by the world’s very poorest. Their goal is to make technology a cause, not a consequence, of economic development.

Consider the personal computer. The average desktop machine these days has, at $300, become so inexpensive that price alone isn’t the barrier it once was to large quantities of them existing in the developing world, especially as gifts of donor countries.

Those PCs, though, all assume the existence of a reliable and clean supply of electrical power — a wild luxury in many of the world’s poor rural areas.

The Jhai Foundation computer, though, uses less than a third of the power of the latest Dell. It’s designed to be hooked up to whatever power supply happens to be handy, which often is someone sitting next to it, peddling away on a stationary bicycle attached to a generator. It costs about $200.

Notebooks to Handhelds

News.com asks if the conversion has begun:

Though notebook sales are currently driving the PC market, evidence is beginning to mount that one of the most repeated predictions from the ’90s is starting to come true. Smart phones, the BlackBerry and other handheld devices that combine computer applications, Internet connectivity and a phone are starting to displace laptops, at least in the pockets of the corporate world.

The push behind the trend comes from the confluence of several factors favorable to handhelds. First, the devices themselves and the data networks that carry traffic are far more sophisticated than they were several years ago. Corporate applications such as databases and customer relationship management (CRM) software can also be accessed through handhelds.

Then there’s the cost side of the equation. Corporate laptops generally run about $1,000 to $1,500, that’s higher than a desktop ($700) or a handheld ($300 to $500), particularly if the carrier subsidizes the handheld.

Finally, individual behavior has begun to change.

Improving Search

Dan Farber speaks to Yahoo’s Prabhakar Raghavan:

Regarding search, Raghavan said, “We have two views of better search. Most people are not interested in searchthey want to get things done. The future has to be more friendly to people getting tasks done. You dont want to spend two weeks of evenings sitting at a keyboard and piecing together a vacation plan. You want a system to go out and find the answers, based on future technology that goes beyond crawling and indexing pages.”

That future technology, according to Raghavan, is diving into the deep Web and semi-structured queries. “I hesitate to use the buzzword of ‘Semantic Web’but it is about entity extraction, XML queries, unstructured queries, semantic ambiguity. We have to build a view of the world. When you issue a query, it has richer view than a text index. Well start to see manifestations of this in five years.”

Baidu

WSJ writes about Baidu, the Chinese search engine which had an amazing IPO recently:

Search engine Baidu, which has its headquarters in Beijing, garners revenue the same way Google does, by selling keyword-based advertisements, or paid links, most of which pop up when people perform a search on the site.

But Baidu, whose American depositary shares more than quadrupled in their first day of trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market Friday…is operating on the furthest frontier of the Internet. It faces brutal competition and possible heavy government regulation, even as the legitimacy of its own content has come under legal challenge.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: 3G and 4G

WiMaxs opponents (led primarily by Qualcomm) point to 3G as the ultimate solution for high-speed wireless networking. Technologies like EV-DO are already offering hundreds of kilobits per second for people on the move. 3G already has been deployed in some European and Asian countries. Discussion has also started in India about the allocation of spectrum for 3G services to the existing mobile operators.

Here is a tutorial from Russell Beattie (Dec 2003) on the evolution to 3G technologies:

First, here’s the deal about CDMA vs. GSM. The way that GSM works is really an extension of the old TDMA analog system. GSM adds digital technology to divide up the frequency allotments into 8 channels, which are then time shared across those channels. CDMA on the other hand uses the same piece of spectrum and separates the calls by encoding each one uniquely, allowing your phone to disregard other transmissions on the same frequency.

Okay, so the basic CDMA that most people uses right now is now called “cdmaOne”. The next generation is the move to “CDMA2000 1x RTT.” This is what Verizon is spending all their money buying. The 1x stands for “single channel” and the RTT (which Qualcomm doesn’t like to use any more, though it was written in the article that way) stands for “radio transmission technology.” Even though the speeds of this new standard are really what has been considered 2.5G, the technology is the base for higher speeds and has been deemed 3G by marketing higher ups, so you’ll see it referred to that way.

The 1x is the important part: CDMA2000 uses from one to three 1.25 MHz carriers. This first rev of CDMA2000 uses just one of those three. cdmaOne already uses this frequency, which is why CDMA2000 is considered “backwards compatible” and I guess what the CDMA2000 standard adds is more efficient use of that spectrum. The next steps in CDMA are then CDMA2000 1xEv which uses a second channel (1xEv phase one uses the second channel only for data only: “1xEv-DO” and phase two uses both channels together “2x”), and 3x which uses all three channels as a single 3.75Mhz carrier. You can see how adding channels and infrastructure will naturally cause data bandwidth to go up, though, it’s important to note that unlike the GSM route, this allocation seems backwards compatible and isn’t just for data, but also for voice calls as well.

The GSM path goes to GPRS next, which can dedicate one or more of the channels in the GSM spectrum to packet data only. It works, but has lots of provisioning problems and bandwidth constraints. I’m not sure about this, but it seems to me that if you’re enabling GPRS, you’re cutting off at least one channel, and this must affect the GSM voice service. After GRPS is EDGE which works in a similar way, but uses a newer “modulation scheme” which allows higher data rates. I have no idea what a “modulation scheme” is, actually, but it’s easy to get the idea: same general functionality, but with faster moving bits.

After this, however, the GSM guys have to scratch all that equipment and move to WCDMA, which is a version of the CDMA technology and divides up calls by uniquely encoding them.

So that’s the general idea. The pairs are roughly cdmaOne/GSM, CDMA2000 1x/GPRS, CDMA 1xEv/EDGE, CDMA2000 3x/WCDMA .

Wikipedia adds: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has defined the demands for third generation mobile networks with the IMT-2000 standard. An organisation called 3GPP has continued that work by defining a mobile system that fulfils the IMT-2000 standard. This system is called Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) The UMTS system is based on layered services, unlike GSM. On the top there is the services layer, which will give advantages like fast deployment of services and centralized location. In the middle there is the control layer, which will help upgrading procedures and allow the capacity of the network to be dynamically allocated. On the bottom is the connectivity layer where any transmission technology can be used and the voice will transfer over ATM/AAL2 or IP/RTP.

Tomorrow: 3G and 4G (continued)

Continue reading