PC Software Wars

WSJ writes:

It takes only about five minutes to set up a new personal computer by clicking through a series of introductory screens. In that time, however, many consumers choose software and services they will often use for the life of their machine. Historically, Microsoft Corp. held great sway over this “first-boot sequence” as well as other software preinstalled in the factory.

Now PC makers including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are beginning to take more control over this crucial real estate. They increasingly are trying to sell this space to service providers and software makers, such as Google Inc. After a year of sometimes tense negotiations with Google and PC makers, Microsoft has ceded ground on some key technical details.

In what would be the most significant example of this shift, Google is in serious negotiations to get its software installed on millions of Dell PCs before they are shipped to users, according to people familiar with the matter. Under the deal being discussed, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., could pay Dell fees approaching $1 billion over three years, these people estimate.

Digital Convergence

Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes:

Digital convergence can be viewed from different points of view, so let me share my own perspective. The standardization of technology components and interfaces at one level, opens up enormous opportunities for innovation in the application of the technologies for new products and services. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the innovation unleashed in the IT industry in the last 10 years by the move to standards and standard components and infrastructures, especially the Internet, coupled with the availability of increasingly powerful and affordable technologies. Going “up the stack,” I am very excited about the opportunities for innovation in the world of business, as software standards like SOA and standard business components help us better integrate and transform companies and industries.

There is no question in my mind that convergence is now coming to digital entertainment and consumer electronics. Consumer electronics products are being built using common hardware components from the computer industry, for example, microprocessors, memory, storage, and so on, and most of their capabilities are now being designed as software. The drive toward open standards to link all the components in the home parallels what has been going on in IT for the last 10 to 15 years, and without a doubt, broadband Internet is emerging as the major communications and content distribution platform into the home.

Feed Grazing and Web 3.0

EirePreneur writes: “Danny Ayers is really grokking the idea of Feed Grazing and I love the del.icio.us mashup he’s done to produce a dynamic OPML Reading List. The next step is to produce dynamic OPML hierarchies and we’ll be well on our way to Web 3.0…It should be noted that I don’t see Grazing as replacing Aggregation, but I do think it will become the dominant method of access to feed information – especially in an RSS-everywhere world.”

New Computing Architecture

Nicholas Carr points to a Paul Strassman video and writes:

Strassmann examines Google’s computing architecture in considerable detail, arguing that it provides a model for the network-centric computing of the future. Up to now, Strassmann says, we’ve had “millions of islands of automation,” or IT “cottage shops,” that are inherently inefficient, unreliable, inflexible and insecure. Google’s architecture is a “harbinger of a new era” of universal, shared computing.

Korea’s Mobile Future

The Korea Times writes:

South Korea plans to construct a “mobile paradise,” a special district next year, where people will be able to enjoy a seamless service from the world’s latest wireless technologies.

The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Wednesday revealed the grandiose scheme, dubbed the M1 (Mobile No. 1) project, as part of its annual business plan.

Included in the available techniques will be all mobile broadcasting systems like DVB-H developed by Nokia, Qualcomm’s MediaFlo and the home-grown digital multimedia broadcasting.

In addition, citizens there will be free to use every next-generation telecom platform such as time division-synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA), WiBro and a global system for mobile communications (GSM).

TECH TALK: India Internet and Mobile: Connecting Indians

This backgrounder brings us to the second issue.

What is required to service 300 million mainstream connected Indian consumers with diverse usability requisites & language barriers?

Let us first segment the customer base. I like to look at this from two different viewpoints. The first, who these potential users are, and the second, what devices are being used.

There are five segments in which users (and usage) can be classified: home users, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, educational and rural. Of these, the large enterprise users are most likely to be like their brethren in the developed world using mostly mid- to high-end desktops (and increasingly, wireless-enabled laptops) to get their work done. The two biggest opportunities in India are with home and SME users. The penetration of computers in both segments is about 10%: about 5 million out of 45 million middle and upper-middle class homes in urban and semi-urban India have computers, and about 1 in 10 of the 50-odd million infoworkers across SMEs have access to computers. There is very large non-consumption across both segments.

In education, there are about a million schools in India and 50,000 colleges which could use some form of computing facilities to assist in the education process. Rural India is starting to see the installation of kiosks with the likes of n-Logue and Drishtee active. Microsoft just announced a 50,000 kiosk program. The Department of Information Technology has plans to install 100,000. Considering Indias base of 600,000 villages, theres a lot to be done to reach out to the population.

The other way I like to look at the Indian market today is 10-20-30-40. There are 10 million Indians who have access to an owned PC at home and/or at work. They all have mobiles but their lives are primarily built around the computer. The next 20 million Indians have occasional access to the Internet via a cybercafe. Their digital lives are built around the mobile. This consists mainly of the youth segment. This segment is also a large consumer of the mobile value-added services. The next 30 million have no PC or Internet access, but use a mobile phone primarily for making and receiving phone calls. The next 40 million (or more) will get a mobile phone during the next 10-12 months.

The focus of the mobile operators is primarily on the last 40 million the next user base. This is not surprising the Indian mobile user base will grow to 200+ million in the next 3 years and every one of the six national operators (Airtel, Reliance, BSNL-MTNL, Hutch, Idea and Tatas) hopes to end up with a sizeable market share. The mobile data opportunity in India lies in focusing on the needs of the first 30 million users who are now ready to be beyond talk, text and the 2G services.

Tomorrow: Connecting Indians (continued)

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