China: Imitation Nation – Salon

Writes Salon

Mainland China is the piracy capital of the world. China’s imitation industry feeds not just its own economy, but those of other nations as well; 46 percent of the pirated goods sold in America come from China, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). The Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC), an anti-piracy body under the auspices of the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment, claims that government statistics show that counterfeits outnumber genuine products in the Chinese market by 2 to 1. Pirated audiovisual materials occupy 95 percent of the market in large cities, and the proportion approaches 100 percent in the rural interior.

Enforcement efforts are made even more futile by popular acceptance of piracy. Rising incomes have created an enthusiasm for foreign goods and brands, but Chinese consumers have become so accustomed to cheap, pirated goods that they are unwilling to pay full prices for the real thing. Traditional Chinese moral relativism combines with a modern sense of short-term opportunity cost and self-interest to justify what everyone knows to be wrong and illegal.

Smart Cards Future

A WSJ interview with Marc Talbot, SchlumbergerSema’s business-development manager for IT Network Smart Cards:

We are seeing very good growth in the smart-card market for the workplace. Companies are trying to do the combination of physical and logical access and we’ve seen major deployments in Asia, North America and Europe.

I think that trend will certainly continue.
What might be more interesting is the growth of the smart card in the home. Smart cards until very recently had suffered from the same problems that digital-video-disc manufacturers had suffered five years ago. Back then, DVD manufacturers said, “Well, we’d sell more DVD players, if there were more DVD movies around.” Movie companies said, “Well, we’d make more DVD movies available, if there were more DVD players out there.”

Smart cards have been suffering from much the same problem, in the sense that people come up with good applications for smart cards for the home user, but they can’t deploy them unless they put a reader in the PC and most PCs don’t have smart card readers because there aren’t any interesting applications for smart cards.

Future smart cards will no longer need a reader to hook up to the PC. They’ll hook up through a very inexpensive connector and that’s really going to open up opportunities for smart cards in the home

In 2001, SchlumbergerSema shipped 198 million smart cards, about 29% of the world’s total.

Smart Cards could be a useful mechanism for authentication for Thin Clients (SunRay does this).

TECH TALK: Server-based Computing: Citrix’s Solutions

If there is one company which has epitomised Thin Client-Thick Server computing, it is Citrix. Together with Microsofts Windows Terminal Server, Citrix offers a centralised form of computing. Using Citrix also eases the administration and support issues, since all desktops can be controlled from the server itself. Citrix also works well over low-speed lines since the data transfers are quite limited.

An article in Information Week (November 29, 1999) provided the perspective on Citrix:

Since its founding in 1989, Citrix has grown steadily by selling software built on Microsoft operating systems. Its core technology is called the Independent Computing Architecture, which lets multiple users access applications with a range of thin devices from a remote server. Now that access to Internet application servers is commonplace, remote access to applications doesn’t sound like a big deal. But in the early ’90s, when Citrix introduced the technology that Independent Computing Architecture is based on, people were amazed, says Greg Blatnik, VP and analyst with Zona Research.

“Citrix did something that had never been done before and hasn’t been done since: It turned Windows NT into a multiuser operating system. Back then, people were blown away because demos looked as if the application was running locally when it could have been halfway across the country,” Blatnik says.

Independent Computing Architecture, which lets IT departments deliver universal access to Windows applications without regard to client device, operating platform, network connection, or available bandwidth, is the technology basis for Citrix’s primary server software products, MetaFrame and WinFrame.

There are problems with Citrix when looked at from the point of view of enterprises in emerging markets. Citrix by itself does not reduce the need for software organisations still have to buy all the Windows licences for the users. In addition, Citrix has a high cost for its own software. In India, the cost is upwards of Rs 14,000 (USD 280). So, the advantage of the cheaper hardware is more than offset by the software costs. The real value of Citrix comes in its ability to reduce support and administration costs and offer remote working for employees. Both of these advantages have limited appeal in emerging markets.

What Citrix does, though, is offer a starting point for thinking about a possible solution which can not only leverage the cheaper hardware but also reduce the need for expensive, proprietary software. What is striking when enterprises in emerging markets think of providing desktops with hardware and software costing USD 1,200 to employees whose salaries are less than USD 300-400 per month. There is a definite need for an alternative computing model one which learns from the history of computing and leverages tomorrows technologies to create a future where computing is for everyone.

Linux-based Thin Client-Thick Server computing may just be the Disruptive Innovation to take computing to the mass markets in the emerging markets of the world.

Tomorrow: The Linux Difference