Network Computing from Sun

Jonathan Schwartz of Sun writes on the ocaasion of the release of Sun Grid:

The Sun Grid (which will be officially unveiled in a few days) is an offering we and our partners will be expanding over the months and years to come – like any good product, there’s no end to the innovation possible. This represents not only the future of product development at Sun, but like the Java platform and the internet itself, it really represents the future of computing.

As strange as it may sound, consumers are way ahead of most enterprises when it comes to using grids (and paying for them). Most of us live on the grid at home – we use Google and Yahoo!, we love eBay, we upload and share photos and movies, and gather our news from various sources on the web. Most of us bank from home, we leverage network email services – and if you think about it, that transformation all occurred within the last decade. In the blink of an eye.

But behind the corporate firewall, the transformation toward multi-tenant grids has been slower. Frankly, it’s been tough to convince the largest enterprises that a public grid represents an attractive future. Just as I’m sure George Westinghouse was confounded by the Chief Electricity Officers of the time that resisted buying power from a grid, rather than building their own internal utilities. But that’s not to suggest it hasn’t been happening in the business world.

Mashup Business Models

Richard MacManus offers some ideas:

– Advertising
– Lead generation and affiliate programs
– Transactional mashups

Other possible business models for mashups include:
* subscriptions
* pay-per-transaction
* premium services
* charging businesses but not individuals

State of the Aggregator

Niall Kennedy writes: “We have only just begun to explore the full possibilities of current feed technologies. Rich media enclosures, related content definitions, and well-defined author data open up new possibilities for user interaction and content discoverability. I believe most future uses of syndication technology will occur behind the scenes as a transport layer opening up a common XML parsing format to multiple applications and specialized uses. We’ve only just begun to change the world of publishing, customization, and personal empowerment.”

Robots Future

The New York Times writes about an endlessly fascinating topic:

As robots increasingly migrate from heavy industrial tasks, like welding automobile chassis on assembly lines, to home uses as restless toys and venturesome vacuum cleaners, a fetching personality and appealing appearance become critically important.

But robotics makers and experts say marvelous mechanics and electronic intelligence are not enough to lure consumers. Robotic novelties that could command steep prices from some early adopters are giving way to lower-priced products (though still rather expensive for toys) that offer personality, utility or both.

TV Goes Online

WSJ writes:

Baseball is just one example of how the TV business depends upon a network of invisible fences and geographic limitations. Now the Web is obliterating them. As broadcasters start to fear the consequences, some are trying new technical and legal tricks to fight back. In some cases, they are even re-creating online the same kinds of geographic boundaries that supported their business before the digital age.

The TV industry has long been alarmed about the problem of digital piracy, on the rise now that more viewers watch shows via the Web, iPods and cellphones. The concerns about the industry’s geographic structure are a newer and more complex issue.

TECH TALK: A Presentation at PC Forum: Novatium

Here are excerpts from what Christina wrote about Novatium (with the tagline: Computing for the next billion) in the March issue of Release 1.0:

The idea of a $100 PC for citizens of developing nations has been popular for a few years now most notably with Nicholas Negropontes and MITs One Laptop Per Child organization. Novatium Solutions, headquartered in Chennai (Madras), is taking a slightly different approach from most: Instead of starting with a PC and stripping out functionality, explains co-founder Rajesh Jain, the company is developing a PC with the guts of a mobile phone.

We believe that the next iteration of computers must be affordable and manageable, says Jain. The opportunity for the next billion PC users almost all in developing nations is to skip the expensive desktop PC entirely. At the moment, he says, there are only 18 million computers in use in India: about 6 million in large enterprises, 6 million more in the 4 million small-to-medium-size businesses (SMB) and another 6 million in the 45 million homes in urban and semi-urban areas.

Jain offers two other reasons why Novatium will succeed where past attempts at popularizing thin-client systems have failed. First, he says, We are targeting the next set of users. Im not asking desktop users to give them up. Were targeting people who need these computers but cant afford them: SMBs, homes, schools and colleges, and rural areas. Second, he says, the connectivity part of the puzzle is beginning to be solved: Broadband availability is starting to spread in India there are a million broadband users, and the Indian government set a target of reaching 10 million connections by 2008. Plus, BSNL (the government-run telecom company) manages 45 million landlines, more than half of which are DSL-capable.

Novatium keeps costs low by using royalty-free software and processors designed for cell phones on the client side and Linux (or Windows, for an extra fee) on the terminal servers. The clients also include multimedia chips, which help the client mimic a desktop experience. Unlike past solutions like set-top boxes, where all they do is bundle a browser with the hardware, we are giving you a complete virtual desktop, he says. This means users can take advantage of all software innovations for the PC, including voice over IP and two-way multimedia.

Novatium plans to sell its PC for $100 ($75 extra for the monitor), plus a service offering the full functionality of a modern desktop PC for less than $10 per month. The company is exploring relationships with OEM partnerships in the thin-client market globally.

The company is also working with telcos to bundle Novatium PCs and services with their broadband-connection offerings. It also hopes to sell SMBs a server component with a stack of business applications (provided by partners) in addition to the thin clients.

With this as backdrop, I had to do a two-minute pitch in the main session (along with more than a dozen others) to get people to come to a 50-minute presentation later in the afternoon. I arrived in Carlsbad ready with my 2-minute pitch. Or so, I thought.

Tomorrow: The Preparation

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