Low-Cost PCs for the Enterprise

Datamation writes about the various initiatives, including Novatium:

# Novatium Solutions Pvt. Ltd. of Chennai, India, is making the Nova NetPC 1000. Priced at under $100 (monitor not included) this thin client device connects to Windows, Unix and Linux servers. It uses the Linux operating system and Mozilla browser. It comes with keyboard, mouse and Webcam as standard equipment. Connection options include TCP/IP, Bluetooth, 802.11b, USB. 10/100 Ethernet and DSL.
# Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., is making the Personal Internet Communicator — AMD began selling this three-pound device last year through ISPs in the Caribbean and India. It uses the AMD Geode GX processor, integrated DDR memory, has a 10GB hard drive, four USB ports and an internal 56K modem. The system runs on the Windows CE operating system and comes with word processor, spreadsheet, email, messaging, browser and other applications preinstalled. Prices are set by the ISP, with Cable and Wireless selling it for $238 with a 15-inch monitor or $185 without.
# Encore Software Ltd. of Bangalore, India, has the Mobilis — Encore has created three versions of this computer, at a price from about $230 to $450. There are two mobile versions, one with a built-in keyboard, and both with 7-inch LCD touch screens for stylus input. One of them is wireless. There also is a desktop model called SofComp. All models run on Linux and have open source word processing, spreadsheet, scheduling, email and other applications.
# $100 Laptop Project — This project, started by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, has the goal of manufacturing hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi enabled Linux laptops for sale in bulk to education departments for distribution to students. He is working with the Brazilian and Chinese governments. AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corp, and Red Hat are supporting the project. The specifications call for a 500MHz processor, 1GB of storage and a 1-megapixel display, with software scaled down to run on the system. Production is scheduled to begin in 2006.

Collaborative Intelligence

Scott Rafer’s talk at AC2005 can be summarised as: “Collaborative Intelligence will prevail over Artificial Intelligence.”

New online social applications, specifically blogging, tagging, and social networks, are lining up to provide an astonishing improvement in how the Internet provides information to you and me. The services well have by 2008 will make todays best pale in comparison and Im thrilled with the whats available so far. The improvement is the result of aggregating the online gestures of millions of broadband humans in very simple ways. For instance, Im a habituall reader of Delicious Popular. Certainly, all the technology links which flow through it are helpful professionally, but that doesnt involve me emotionally. Its times like today when the most beautiful things appear which addict me at a far deeper level.

For Wireless Ink, its the gestures of mobile web users. Dave and I think that we can make the mobile web transparent to broadband Internet users in ways it never has been and needs to be. At Delight, its the gestures of women, assembled in savvier ways than Ive seen elsewhere. The Collaborative Intelligence of mobile web users and women will teach us all a lot.


The Pondering Primate writes about Semapedia which connects hte physical and virtual worlds. ” Assign a 2d code (Semacode) to a Wikipedia article. Your camera phone can link to the article when you click on the code.”

Big Media Cos. and the Internet

WSJ qrites:

Companies like Viacom Inc., News Corp. and Time Warner Inc. worry that they will miss the rapid expansion of Internet advertising while their own, more-traditional sources of revenue growth are slowing. Some hope to directly challenge the giant portals like Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. — Web sites that serve as gateways to the Internet. Others are transferring some of their most valuable content to online sites, even though that risks alienating their traditional distribution partners.

“There is an awakening occurring at the traditional media companies,” says Larry Kramer, president of Viacom unit CBS Digital Media.

Although it’s too soon to say whether the media industry’s latest approach will bear fruit, the companies are finding some areas more fertile than others. They have been investing heavily in youth-oriented Web sites, like gaming, and less in areas like prime-time entertainment programming that is still a cash cow for the television networks. They’re also mostly avoiding the pay-per-view model, which hasn’t yet gained traction online.

Text to Video Shift

NYTimes writes in a story about Yahoo’s TV plans:

Mr. Semel and others are finding that the long-promised convergence of television and computers is happening not by way of elaborate systems created by cable companies, but from the bottom up as video clips on the Internet become easier to use and more interesting. Already, video search engines, run by Yahoo and others, have indexed more than one million clips, and only now are the big media outlets like Viacom and Time Warner moving to put some of their quality video online.

“The basis for content on the Internet is now shifting from text to video,” said Michael J. Wolf, a partner at McKinsey & Company. “This allows advertisers to take advantage of the kind of branding advertising they are used to on television.”

Mr. Semel thinks that his approach combining content and technology could well make Yahoo the place people go first when they decide what to watch, as well as where to surf.

“You are not going to have 1,000 channels, you will have an unlimited number of channels,” Mr. Semel said. “So you aren’t going to use a clicker to change channels.”

TECH TALK: Rajasthan Ruminations 2: Bright Spot

There was one ray of hope that I saw as I travelled across the state. Since my last visit more than 18 months ago, the biggest change was in the availability of telecom. Mobile phone coverage and usage has skyrocketed. The state-owned BSNL has set up towers all over the state and that has resulted in an explosion in the number of mobile phones. Our car driver too had a phone that was the only way people could be in touch with him. My Orange (Hutch) mobile worked in and around most towns with a population of 15,000 or more. What surprised me was not just the availability of voice and SMS, but also GPRS. (The speeds were significantly better than what I get in Mumbai perhaps I was the only user out there!)

Mobiles have been a phenomenal success story in India. Growing at the rate of 2-3 million a month on a current base exceeding 60 million users, India is now amongst the fastest growing global markets. By end of 2006, we will have about 100 million mobile users. This ability to communicate is so fundamental that it is hard to fathom the damage we did to our own growth prospects over all these years by bottling up telecom in a web of state control and regulation.

Unfortunately, we have still not learnt from the past. That same stifling is now being seen in broadband. We delight in calling 256 Kbps as broadband when countries like Japan and South Korea talk of speeds 10-20 times higher. This is where we lack imagination. We think of broadband as just a high-speed data line when it is really a fundamental building block for tomorrows world. Whether it is education or healthcare, we have to reinvent processes and workflows if we have to make up for all those lost decades and a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure is one way to catch up and leapfrog.

I was heartened to see the adoption of mobile phones in Rajasthan. I have great confidence in the human spirit. If only we can put the right platform in place, we will see a thriving India not just in the cities, but also in small towns and villages. After this visit to Rajasthan, I have a little hope, but I am still mostly disappointed. We have to get out of the time warp that large parts of India are still enveloped in. It is not going to be easy, but that should be the top priority of the government and thinking people in India.

We need a Grand Vision for a Great India an India that includes the hundreds of millions for whom life has barely changed over a generation. Our leaders have failed us consistently (but then it is we who elect them). We can wait for the Messiah to come and lead us to the Promised Future or we can try and use the emerging technologies to create a New India, bottom-up. For example, a mobile phone will be available with every tenth Indian. How can that be used as an agent for change and development?

As I made my way back to Mumbai, I thought once again of Rajasthans temples. They withstood invaders and nature. Today, their past is what attracts the modern travellers. Do we want India to be known for its past or for its future? That is a choice we have to make.

Continue reading TECH TALK: Rajasthan Ruminations 2: Bright Spot