Rural India and Reliance

Atanu Dey writes about Mukesh Ambani’s initiatives:

First, he talks about creating cities. Cities are the engines of growth since it is an urbanized population which has the productive capacity to create economic wealth and thus lead to development. Indias largely rural population has to be urbanized and since the existing cities are basically incapable of absorbing the population, new cities have to be developed.

Second, he talks about transforming agriculture by raising its productivity. Building a large number of farm-supply hubs will make the supply chain for agricultural inputs more efficient. Raising agricultural productivity will not only increase production but will also release farm labor which can then migrate to the cities and produce non-agricultural goods and services.

Third, the farm output will be more efficiently brought to the market. It is estimated that around 40 percent of farm produce never reaches the consumer. Introducing efficiencies in the supply chain of farm output and retailing it efficiently will translate into lower prices for consumers and higher realized prices for the farmers. This in turn will increase farm incomes so that the remaining rural population would be able to effectively demand more non-agricultural goods and servicesthe same stuff that is being produced by the labor released by the farms.

This is along the lines of Irma Adelman recommended long ago: Agricultural Demand Led Industrialization, or ADLI.

Twttr

TechCrunch writes:

Odeo released a new service called Twttr, which is a sort of group send SMS application. Each person controls their own network of friends. When any of them send a text message to 40404, all of his or her friends see the message via sms. This launched officially today, and a few select insiders were playing with the service at the Valleyschwag party in San Francisco last night.

People are using it to send messages like Cleaning my apartment and Hungry. You can also add friends via text message, nudge friends, etc. It really a social network around text messaging – and is very similar to another service called Dodgeball.

Users can also post and view messages on the Twttr website, turn off text messages from certain people, turn off messages altogether, etc. There is also a status widget available that can be placed on a website.

Domain Names Trivia

WSJ writes about an analysis done by Dennis Forbes:

All of the 1,000 most common English words have been snatched up. The word “a” appears more than any other, though most of the time, of course, it’s just a letter in a longer word. The least-used common word is “consonant,” Mr. Forbes says, which is in just 42 domains, including “consonantpain.com,” which isn’t a misspelling but a word game.

Half of all domains are between nine and 15 characters long; the average length is 13. A domain can have, at most, 63 characters, and there are 550 such domains. In fact, some people have made a haiku-like art out of 63-character domain names.

Artificial Intelligence Advances

The New York Times writes:

The advances can also be seen in the emergence of bold new projects intended to create more ambitious machines that can improve safety and security, entertain and inform, or just handle everyday tasks. At Stanford University, for instance, computer scientists are developing a robot that can use a hammer and a screwdriver to assemble an Ikea bookcase (a project beyond the reach of many humans) as well as tidy up after a party, load a dishwasher or take out the trash.

Though most of the truly futuristic projects are probably years from the commercial market, scientists say that after a lull, artificial intelligence has rapidly grown far more sophisticated. Today some scientists are beginning to use the term cognitive computing, to distinguish their research from an earlier generation of artificial intelligence work. What sets the new researchers apart is a wealth of new biological data on how the human brain functions.

Web 2.0 Apps Hierarchy

Tim O’Reilly writes:

Level 3: The application could ONLY exist on the net, and draws its essential power from the network and the connections it makes possible between people or applications. These are applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. EBay, craigslist, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Skype, (and yes, Dodgeball) meet this test.

Level 2: The application could exist offline, but it is uniquely advantaged by being online. Flickr is a great example.

Level 1: The application can and does exist successfully offline, but it gains additional features by being online. Writely is a great example.

Level 0: The application has primarily taken hold online, but it would work just as well offline if you had all the data in a local cache. MapQuest, Yahoo! Local, and Google Maps are all in this category.

TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: PCCW

Om Malik wrote last July about the early lead that Asia has had in IPTV. South East Asia region is the current leader in IPTV adoption, with seven out of 13 countries already having rolled out some sort of service including PCCWs NOW, which is the largest IPTV deployment in the world, and accounts for one third of the total global IPTV subscribers. According to Gartner, the number of IPTV subscribers in these countries will double by end of 2005. One of the reasons why IPTV has been quick to take-off in Asia is because of the vailability of new broadband networks that can support higher speed flavors of DSL. The population densities in most Asian cities, and the short distance to central offices is the main reason why you have seen higher deployment of DSL/Broadband in that part of the world. Second reason there are no legacy cable networks, and people want to see TV.

An early success has been PCCWs NOW Service. PCCW is the largest telco in Hong Kong. The Economist wrote in March:

[PCCW] launched a television service over broadband phone lines, called Now Broadband TV, that has been a huge commercial success. It could soon dethrone the local cable-TV firm as the dominant provider of pay-TV services. It is also the largest television-over-broadband deployment in the world. As they worry about the encroachment of new competitors on to their turf and search for new sources of revenue, telecoms operators the world over hope to follow Nows example.

The combination of security and feedback convinced content providers to agree to an la carte model, in which Now subscribers can choose whether or not to subscribe to each individual channel, rather than being forced to pay for a whole bundle. This was much more flexible than the rival offering from the incumbent cable-TV firm. Now started with ten free channels, and allowed subscribers to choose which additional channels, if any, to pay for on top. Viewers can even sign up for new channels on-screen.

Now also took the unusual step of developing its own set-top box, based on a stripped-down DVD player and produced very cheaply in China. This enabled it to begin its service without waiting for industry standards to emerge. It offered the box free of charge to broadband customers, 93% of whom now take the TV service as well. As its subscriber base grewit exceeds 500,000, or more than 40% of the marketNow was able to poach valuable content, such as sports rights and film channels, from rival pay-TV operators.

So, what does all this mean for India?

Tomorrow: The Indian Opportunity

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