Red Herring on India 2.0

[via ContentSutra] Red Herring has a story on how “Indias largest tech companies, coders to the world, are racing to create their own products.”

Now that Indian IT companies have surplus cash to burn on research and development, they are setting their sights on creating their own innovative products and services. They are hiring top-flight researchers and product managers, and are buying up companies at home and abroad to boost their product portfolios. But it will take time for the worlds largest outsourcing companies to morph into hothouses of innovation.

Take TCS, which is currently working on projects that could make some of its most profitable businesses redundant. Researchers at its center in Pune, a city in western India, are building artificial intelligence software that, once perfected, would be able to sift through a companys millions of email messages, memos, and other documents to detect knowledge the company may not know it possesses. A whole call center can be transformed with automated tools, says Mr. Ramadorai. A 1,000-person, voice-activated call center can be shrunk to one staffed with 10 people delivering the same results.

MySpace Mirror

Nicholas Carr points to a story in The Globe and Mail:

MySpace doesn’t just create social networks, it anatomizes them. It spreads them out like a digestive tract on the autopsy table. You can see what’s connected to what, who’s connected to whom. You can even trace the little puffs of intellectual flatus as they pass through the system. Things that used to be fleeting and private – the nothings of telephone calls and idle chatter – are made permanent and public.

As a result, an awful lot of people wind up looking at these conversations, relationships, banterings that they can’t take part in. Maybe they’re too old, maybe they’re too shy, maybe they just live in the wrong part of the world to ever really engage. Some might say good riddance to all that. Others might harbour a regret or two. MySpace might really be in the business of selling yearning.

Bitty Browser and Wampad

Richard MacManus writes about both:

I’ve come across two nifty apps recently that demonstrate a couple of neat things: 1) mobile web utility, and 2) integration with other web services. Both of those things are becoming increasingly important on the Web.

The first app is called Bitty Browser and you may’ve come across it recently on other blogs. It’s described by developer Scott Matthews as being “a little browser that you can add to most any Web page”. I must admit at first I didn’t get why one would want a mini browser inside your main browser. Scott explained: “Bitty is based on two principles: 1) that conventional page-to-page navigation is useful, and, 2) that people like to build Web documents out of discrete blocks (an ad, a calendar, a list of links, etc.). So, my suggestion is that navigation *within* a page can be useful too.”

Wampad is a mobile web service that is much like a ‘personalized start page’ for your mobile phone. It has a drop-down list of web services like Google, MySpace, Shopping, Flickr, Technorati, etc – all optimized for the mobile browser. Now to be honest if that was all Wampad had to offer, it’d be little different from most other mobile web ‘portals’.

Attracting Traffic to Blogs

Sadagopan picks a few ideas from a Seth Godin post and also has a few good things to say about me.

– Be topical… write posts that need to be read right now.
– Learn enough to become the expert in your field.
– Be timeless… write posts that will be readable in a year.
– Be among the first with a great blog on your topic, then encourage others to
blog on the same topic.
– Share your expertise generously so people recognize it and depend on you.
– Write long, definitive posts
– Assume that every day is the beginning, because you always have new readers.
– Write about blogging.
– Digest the good ideas of other people, all day, every day.
– Write stuff that people want to read and share

Simpler Mobiles

CNN writes:

[Consumers] also shown a growing frustration with how confusing those added features can be. A J.D. Power & Associates survey last year found consumer satisfaction with their mobile devices has declined since 2003, with some of the largest drops linked to user interface for Internet and e-mail services.

That has providers working hard to make their devices easier to use — fewer steps, brighter and less cluttered screens, different pricing strategies — so consumers will not only use data functions more often but also be encouraged to buy additional ones.

TECH TALK: Computing for the Next Billion: Motivation

Kevin Maney put the trend of developing solutions for the next users in context in his recent USA Today column:

All of a sudden, all kinds of folks in technology want to help create the next billion Internet users. From various corners of the developed world, entities are popping up to make technology that could help people with little money, spotty electricity and no telecommunication networks become part of the MySpace generation.

It’s a mini-movement. There’s former Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab chief Nicholas Negroponte with his $100 laptops, funded in part by Google. There’s chipmaker AMD with its 50×15 program funding projects that can get 50% of the world’s population on the Internet by 2015. There’s Intel, trying to keep up with feisty rival AMD, announcing in early May that it will invest $1 billion to make technology for people in developing nations.

You might wonder why there is a blossoming of interest in Third World computing.

I’ve talked to Negroponte, Intel and lots of others who are jumping into this. To some degree, it really is about a give-something-back impulse.

Maybe Bill Gates’ charity and Bono’s exhortations to help Africa have had an impact. Maybe old idealists such as Marsh are back in vogue. Maybe the dot-com megamillionaire generation wants to do something more meaningful than trade up to a new Porsche Cayman.

But there is something else: The existing PC market is slowing. Just about everyone in the developed world who wants one has one. And unlike in the past, if you have one, it’s probably got more power than you can possibly use, so there’s little reason to trade up anymore.

If companies such as Intel and AMD want to reignite growth, they’ll have to create markets. One of them is the next billion computer users a whole strata the tech industry has until now ignored.

It’s not exactly JFK idealism, but that’s OK. A little market pressure will do more to drive this trend than anything.

I have lived in a developing nation India for most of my life (35 out of 39 years). I had the good fortune of seeing and working on a computer as early as 1982. The Internet came into my life in 1994. I can see the power of the two together to transform peoples lives be it by providing market access or for education. If India has to move ahead, we have to use computers and the Internet as a key building block of the basic infrastructure. This is a business opportunity if we can do it right in India, then we can take the solution out to other markets like India. It is also an opportunity, as Kevin Maney puts it, to give something back. It is we who have to help build the digital infrastructure for the New India. That was the founding vision for us in Novatium.

But before I get to what my thinking is, let us see what others are thinking and doing. Micheal Kanellos of ZDNet summarized the various initiatives thus: The ideas can roughly be broken down into four categories: more-rugged PCs promoted by Intel and Via Technologies; a cell phone that can be hooked into a phone or monitor, promoted by Microsoft; thin clients, touted by companies in India; and inexpensive devices that are similar to PCs. This is the so-called $100 laptop from MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte.

Let us start with $100 laptop project.

Tomorrow: OLPC

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