Novatium’s Thin Clients

The Hindu Business Line writes about Novatium (which I have helped co-found):

A customer subscribes to Novatium’s “computing service” offered by a local operator, paying an upfront amount and later a monthly “pay-as-you consume” fee, according to its CEO, Mr Alok Singh.

Nova netPC is like an appliance. The operator gives the subscriber a keyboard, mouse, monitor and `Nova netPC.’ A cable is drawn into the house and connected to the Nova netPC.

With the account already provided by the operator, once the customer types username and password, they are ready to use the PC and explore the Internet, he told Business Line.

The device is easy to use – just switch it on and off. It is secure – no local storage, no local programme.

Besides, it offers total access user control as well as control over peripherals; central data storage; and low obsolescence (client device life of eight years).

For a monthly fee, a subscriber is offered a package that includes applications, such as Word, Excel and Media Player. More applications can be had for additional payment.

PC Ecosystem in India

Financial Express says the PC ecosystem, unlike that for TVs and Mobiles, is just not happening in India.

Industry experts list quite a number of reasons for Indias low PC penetration, ranging from high computer prices to lack of local language content. But most of them point to something as elementary as this (possibly biggest block): People dont find computers very relevant to their lives. Not the way they find phones, fridges, cars, homes and so on. Will broadband change that perception into a compelling need? Or, what can be done to effect such a change?

Optimists say that all the elements are gradually coming together – various technologies (optic fibre, wireless and gadgets etc.), low priced computers or computing devices, the governments desire to push broadband, local language content (gaming, music, distance learning material, e-governance projects) and an increasing awareness and desire to be connected. They say that the success would lie in tying them all up properly.

Apple iPhone Impact

Michael Mace does a detailed analysis:

The immediate impact of the iPhone is that it changes the terms of the debate for everybody. Every new mobile data device will be evaluated against the iPhone’s specs, which is going to become very irritating for a lot of vendors because the iPhone isn’t shipping yet. It’s like boxing a ghost. I suspect that may have been Apple’s intention. Supposedly it had to announce now because the device would have leaked when it entered FCC testing, but an interesting side benefit will be that Apple can stall sales of all its competition. I think this is likely to be a very unpleasant time for Microsoft Zune, a moderately unpleasant time for Palm, and an intense annoyance for everyone else.

Mobile’s Next Killer App

Konstantin Othmer thinks it is Voice SMS. “Although there has been no marketing of this feature to date, the usage of Voice SMS-like products has been ramping up. Its more convenient than tapping out a message on a keypad, and it allows complex communication between individuals or groups without interrupting them as you would have to do with a phone call. Personally, I find the application particularly useful in situations where I dont have easy access to a keyboard or couldnt use one even if I did such as when Im in the car or traveling.”

TECH TALK: 2007 Tech Trends: Musings

Every year brings with it its own surprises. 2006 was no different. Who could have foreseen at the start of the year that Google would buy YouTube for $1.6 billion? Or that it would be Nintendo’s Wii that would become the hottest gaming console? Or that the battle for Hutch’s India operations would attract an amazing variety of bidders from across the world? The march of technology is inexorable. At times, the daily involvement into news and what’s happening can take away from the wider perspective of what’s happening.

At times like these, it is nice to sit back and think a little on what all these changes mean. Some are more important than the others, even as some are more fleeting that others. One needs to separate fads from trends. We can see that with the Web 2.0 sites being launched. Many are just flavours-of-the-day. It is the rare site that will breakout from the pack. There are many factors, including luck, which are needed to make something succeed.

In India, looking beyond technology, real estate and retail have become red-hot sectors. All one has to do is to walk up to the nearest mall and see the change in consumer habits. Even the experience at India’s flagship airports is changing. As a friend who arrived recently put it, I was greeted with a ‘Welcome to India’ by the security person. This has never happened before! India is changing at least some elements.

The Times of India is running a campaign entitled India Poised. It talks about two Indias. This schism is visible all around. Unfortunately, it is being perpetuated by India’s politics also. Even as some states realise that development is the only choice, a few laggards still think that caste-based divisions can be exploited to retain power. Hopefully, this will change sooner rather than later.

I recently came across an interesting book recently. Games Indians Play by N. Raghunathan seeks to explain Why are we a nation that is individually so smart and collectively so naive? Why do we mistake talk for action? Why is our self-worth massaged only if we have the authority to break rules? Why are we among the worlds most corrupt? Why do we jump red lights? Why do we dump our garbage at the neighbours doorstep? . . . Can it be our climate, population density, poverty, colonial past or even genetic encoding? Food for thought, as we look ahead to yet another year.

Next week, we will look at key tech trends internationally and in India.

Next Week: 2007 Tech Trends (continued)

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