IMS

Technology Review writes about IP for Multimedia System (IMS):

From simple phone calls, voice mail and call waiting, to wireless text messaging and multimedia downloads, most existing telecom services were designed to perform their specific functions as if walled off into distinct silos on the network.

It matters little that most network traffic is now digital. For example, despite the growth of phone services based on Internet standards — known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP — most wireline and wireless calls aren’t transmitted in IP from start-to-finish; calls get converted to traditional phone protocols on either or both ends.

And while a growing number of non-voice services are IP-based, interspersing their digital packets down a shared network pipe, many applications still need to create a virtual ”session,” not unlike the path of a regular phone call, between a user’s device and the network.

IMS attempts to knock down these silos by introducing a common interface for creating sessions. That way, data can be intertwined or bridged across networks to different devices.

2005: Year of the Balance of Power

Sramana Mitra writes:

This year has been a year that has underscored several…balance of power developments.

In Politics and in Economics, the US dominance has been partially normalized by China and India, both emerging superpowers.

Close to home, in high tech, Googles absurd rise has stopped Microsoft in its track, posing an alternate power block that challenges many existing assumptions.

In Silicon Valley, Google and Yahoo have even started challenging the power that Venture Capitalists have commanded thus far against entrepreneurs, and by encouraging entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups, followed by exiting into one of the two (or into one of their competitors).

In this strange rebalance, Microsoft accuses Google of being arrogant, as do the VCs. Amusing, this turn of tides …

And one last balance of power example : the dominance of mainstream media has been shredded by the emerging democratic new media publishing trends and their supporting infrastructure that has rapidly matured this year (Blogs, Podcasts, Video-on-Demand, Microcontent, Micropayment, acceptable DRM standards, viable ad-supported business models, etc.).

Utility Computing

[via Nicholas Carr] Washington Post writes:

For years, economic historians have drawn the parallel between the productivity revolution spurred by the development of electric power at the turn of the 20th century and development of computers and the Internet at the turn of the 21st. Carr simply builds on that analogy.

In the early years of electricity, he notes, manufacturing companies generated their own power from dynamos they purchased from General Electric or Westinghouse. But in the 1890s, Samuel Insull, an adviser to Thomas Edison, came up with the insight that he could provide electricity more efficiently, even for the biggest users, from centralized plants that realized economies of scale. The company he founded, Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison, would become one of the country’s biggest and most successful enterprises, lowering the price of electricity and serving as the model for the power industry for more than a century.

I suspect, however, that Carr is on to something, and that there will be an important place in business history — and the Forbes 500 list — for whoever figures out how to become the Insull of computing. An equally intriguing question is whether he’ll be a Sam or a Sanjay.

Ingenio and Pay-Per-Call

Henry Blodget writes:

Pay-per-call, as currently implemented, is a small business in part because it’s not a perfect solution. Most web searchers would probably like some additional information about a vendor before chatting with them on the phone, and Ingenio deliberately does NOT enable this (by, say, also linking to the advertiser’s web site; see this search on AOL as an example, and compare the top link–Ingenio’s–with the next few). The best experience for the searcher would be to be presented with all options–link to web site, click-to-call, 800-number, and direct number–and only the use of the 800 number will result in a revenue event for Ingenio. Unless Ingenio doesn’t mind the “leakage” that results from the user going direct–or can figure out a way to get paid for a direct call from the advertiser’s web site–it will offer searchers an imperfect experience.

Yes, Google will enter this business, and, no, it won’t kill Ingenio. The stronger Google gets, the more it will be in everyone else’s interest to support non-Google partners. Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN wouldn’t be caught dead using a Google Pay Per Call product, so Ingenio has three massive potential partners there–at least until one or more develop their own solutions.

Calendars and Events

Ramesh Jain writes:

Time is an implicit, but most dominant, factor in our life. We all know that we can create money (and all things that money can buy) but we can not create time. The best that we could do is to utilize our time in the best (most enjoyable, productive, effective) manner. But the time is just one dimensional line. What we do with time are all mapped on this time so we can consider those as a kind of semantic activity placed over time line. To manage any thing, from data to space to property, we need some structuring. By imposing some structure we gain some handles in an otherwise contiguous unstructured space that allow us to deal with it more efficiently. Calendars evolved to provide a structure on an otherwise naturally unstructured time line. No wonder, different cultures came up with different calendars by relying on some natural periodic processes like lunar cycles or solar cycles to develop this structuring approach. This structure, like all natural languages, when accepted as a protocol by the society gives us a powerful communication mechanism as well as an efficient organizing mechanism. No wonder, we use calendars (and watches) to manage our most valuable resource in our life.

When people talk about events in the context of Calendar of Events, the implication is that if an event of interest to multiple people takes place and it is not synchronized then these people can not take advantage of the event. So events in COE are presented to synchronize activities of multiple people. Of course in many cases, the synchronization has to take place in terms of space also.

This suggests that COE are a powerful mechanism to synchronize activities of multiple interested parties. Personal calendars are for use by one person. As soon as we start talking about events in the context of multiple people, we need to think about mechanisms to synchronize.

TECH TALK: Trains, Planes and Mobiles: A Discovery

As I sat in the train with my writing book and the two gadgets (my Nokia 6630 and iPod Mini), I couldnt but help think that train travel has its own romance. Somewhere as we grow up, time pressure overtakes everything else and we are forever in a hurry. A train journey that day seemed like an oasis in the blur of our fast-paced lives. Sitting there, looking out of the window, listening to Kishore Kumar songs from the 70s and 80s, it was like a journey back to a different era and a different me. That day, I discovered a little more about me.

I dont get a lot of chunky time to think and be by myself. At work, life is a steady stream of meetings, emails, phone calls and SMSes. At home, seven-month-old attention-seeking Abhishek dominates. For a brief period that day, I was alone away from everyone I knew (and in a world where no one knew me). I got to enjoy the pleasure of deep thinking where time is not a constraint. As I looked out of the window, I let my mind roam free and wrote out the thoughts and ideas that came to mind. I didnt have to worry about being interrupted I could dig a little deeper into some ideas, even as I let a few go by.

It is what I do on long flights. Up above the world so high, the airplane becomes a cocoon for a few hours. I havent taken a long flight for more than a year (having only made a Singapore trip in the past year). Most Indian flights tend to be short ones. Besides, the jet lag starts hitting when on international flights the darkened environment doesnt help.

As I sat in the train, I realised that this was even better. I got a lot of thinking done. I used my mobile with its GPRS connection to connect outside and check a few things. It was just enough connectivity. A PC would have distracted me with many other things I could have done! So, in that sense, it was perfect minimalism a window seat as the train travelled though the Indian countryside giving me plenty of pointers to take thoughts in different directions, an iPod with some of my favourite songs, a mobile which just enough connectivity, and my book to make all the notes that I wanted.

There is one abiding moment from that day. As I sat at the window and saw one of the mineral water vendors come by on the platform, an image flashed by. Mohan Bhargava in Swades. Mohans world changes when he sees a child sell water for 25 paise at a train station. For me, the train journey was something more subtle it was a re-connection with the land I grew up in and belong to, but increasingly found myself going away from living in the urban ivory tower.

I have always felt that it was for the lucky ones like us to be able to make a difference and transform India. The train journey that day reinforced this determination. As an entrepreneur and by leveraging the new elements that can help build the framework for a connected digital infrastructure (network computers, mobile phones, next-generation networks, computing grids and Tech 7-11s), we can build an envelope of services which can truly make a difference across the other India that also needs to develop.

When I walked back from the train to my waiting car at Bandra at 8:30 pm that evening, it has been barely 14 hours since I had made the journey in the other direction. And yet, a lot had elapsed during that day. It was a day unlike any other that I had experienced in recent times. It took a train ride for me to discover a little more about my past and perhaps frame the future.

Continue reading