Mobiles and Rural India

Business Week writes:

While India has a very long way to go in establishing a nationwide network of landline telecom networks, let alone high-speed broadband service, paradoxically, the country could overtake China in the next several years in terms of mobile-phone subscription growth. Rolling out towers and base stations to support wireless networks certainly isn’t cheap. But it likely will be wireless networksnot copper-wire fixed linesthat do most to pull India out of the telecommunication dark ages.

To really develop India’s full potential, local telecom providers will need to spend massive amounts of money to expand coverage to the country’s sprawling rural regions. “A lot depends on how fast the players roll out their networks into the rural hinterland,” says Kuldeep Goyal, a general manager with the government-owned telecom carrier BSNL.

Microsoft enters Healthcare Software

The New York Times writes:

The software system Microsoft is buying, Azyxxi (pronounced ah-zik-see), is designed to retrieve and quickly display patient information from many sources, including scanned documents, E.K.G.s, X-rays, M.R.I. scans, angiograms and ultrasound images. It was first used in Washington Hospital Centers emergency department in 1996, and has since been adopted at six other hospitals, including the Georgetown University Hospital, that are part of the MedStar Health group, a nonprofit network in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Analysts and health care experts who have seen the software work in the Washington hospitals say it is impressive technology. Many hospitals and clinics, they say, have various kinds of patient information in electronic form, but the different computer systems and software programs cannot share the data. That is the principal problem the Azyxxi system addresses, analysts say.

Open Infrastructure Rise

Jon Udell writes:

When entrepreneurs pitch their software-as-a-service ideas to me, I always ask how they plan to compete with what I call the galactic clusters — Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. These giants have set a high bar for Internet-scale operations, and theyre relentlessly pushing it higher.

Weve already seen how open source software projects harness collective effort to produce quality results. Were now seeing how open content projects such as Wikipedia do the same. Can open infrastructure be far behind?

Arguably its already here. Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks, notes that if we regard the P2P file-sharing networks from a technical rather than a political/legal perspective, we observe the evolution of robust decentralized storage systems. These systems could well represent a bigger threat to Amazons metered disk in the cloud, S3, than any of Amazons galactic peers will.

Music Industry Challenges

Knowledge@Wharton writes:

Wharton business and public policy professor Joel Waldfogel notes that the music industry’s journey isn’t as easy as it seems. The biggest task, he says, is still convincing young consumers that they can’t share their tunes at will. And to do that, the industry has to walk the fine line between wooing consumers and protecting copyright. “Part of the challenge here is cultural. The industry’s strategy has to change values about music.”

What has sparked [the] rash of experimentation in the music industry? Most observers suggest it was inspired by the launch of Apple Computer’s iTunes, which has quickly become a key means of distributing legal music for 99 cents a song. “It seems that Apple’s iTunes has opened the music industry’s eyes to the opportunity, rather than the threat, of the Internet,” says Whitehouse. “In the early days there were no alternatives. iTunes changed all that.”

The Long Tail: Another View

WSJ has a report by Lee Gomes:

Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson’s hot, new best seller, “The Long Tail,” is causing a sensation with its eye-opening claims about the way the Web is rewriting the rules of commerce. But I’ve looked at some of the same data, and some more of my own, and I don’t think things are changing as much as he does.

t would be wonderful if the world as Mr. Anderson describes it were true: one where “healthy niche products” and even “outright misses” collectively could stand their ground with the culture’s increasingly soulless “hits.”

But while every singer-songwriter dreams from his bedroom of making a living off iTunes, few actually do, mostly because so many others have the very same idea. And to the extent that Apple is making money off iTunes, thanks go to Nelly Furtado and other hitmakers. Indeed, you can make the case that the Internet is amplifying the role of hits, even in relation to misses, not diminishing them.

So maybe Mr. Anderson really has unlocked the sort of new business rules the cover promises. I say we wait before ripping up any business plans.

Chris Anderson responds.

TECH TALK: Good Books: Everyware

Adam Greenfield’s book has a catchy title. Everyware is about the dawning age of ubiquitous computing. Here is the book’s description:

Ubiquitous computing–almost imperceptible, but everywhere around us–is rapidly becoming a reality. How will it change us? how can we shape its emergence?

Smart buildings, smart furniture, smart clothing… even smart bathtubs. networked street signs and self-describing soda cans. Gestural interfaces like those seen in Minority Report. The RFID tags now embedded in everything from credit cards to the family pet.

All of these are facets of the ubiquitous computing author Adam Greenfield calls “everyware.” In a series of brief, thoughtful meditations, Greenfield explains how everyware is already reshaping our lives, transforming our understanding of the cities we live in, the communities we belong to–and the way we see ourselves.

Here is an excerpt (via A List Apart):

Everyware is an attempt to describe the form computing will take in the next few years. Specifically, its about a vision of processing power so distributed throughout the environment that computers per se effectively disappear. Its about the enormous consequences this disappearance has for the kinds of tasks computers are applied to, for the way we use them, and for what we understand them to be.

Although aspects of this vision have been called a variety of names — ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, physical computing, tangible media, and so on. I think of each as a facet of one coherent paradigm of interaction that I call everyware.

In everyware, all the information we now look to our phones or Web browsers to provide becomes accessible from just about anywhere, at any time, and is delivered in a manner appropriate to our location and context.

In everyware, the garment, the room and the street become sites of processing and mediation. Household objects from shower stalls to coffee pots are reimagined as places where facts about the world can be gathered, considered, and acted upon. And all the familiar rituals of daily life, things as fundamental as the way we wake up in the morning, get to work, or shop for our groceries, are remade as an intricate dance of information about ourselves, the state of the external world, and the options available to us at any given moment.

In all of these scenarios, there are powerful informatics underlying the apparent simplicity of the experience, but they never breach the surface of awareness: things Just Work.

Overall, Everyware is a fascinating insight into tomorrow’s world.

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