Hundred Dollar Laptop Review

[via Jorge] Ethan Zuckerman evaluates the laptop and writes: “One Laptop Per Child is an amazingly ambitious and radical project. If it succeeds, it will radically change how the world learns, communicates and interacts over the next couple of decades. And if it fails, it will likely scare off anyone from trying anything this radical in technology and education for many years to come. For that reason alone, I’d like to make sure it doesn’t fail, and would the help of the WorldChanging community in figuring out ways to make sure it succeeds.”

Atanu Dey comments: “A blackboard and chalk is not as sexy as a laptop. In fact, a TV and a media player is pretty much all the hardware that you need to provide basic education to a village full of children. That hardware (and some free software) would cost all of $200 a year, and if you pay about $2000 a year as salaries to a couple of village school teachers, you can educate a 100 kids for about $20 per child per year. Compare that to just buying $100 laptops for each kid.”

Google Economy

The New York Times writes:

As Google increasingly becomes the starting point for finding information and buying products and services, companies that even a year ago did not see themselves as competing with Google are beginning to view the company with some angst – mixed with admiration.

Google’s recent moves have stirred concern in industries from book publishing to telecommunications. Businesses already feeling the Google effect include advertising, software and the news media. Apart from retailing, Google’s disruptive presence may soon be felt in real estate and auto sales.

Google, the reigning giant of Web search, could extend its economic reach in the next few years as more people get high-speed Internet service and cellphones become full-fledged search tools, according to analysts. And ever-smarter software, they say, will cull and organize larger and larger digital storehouses of news, images, real estate listings and traffic reports, delivering results that are more like the advice of a trusted human expert.

Such advances, predicts Esther Dyson, a technology consultant, will bring “a huge reduction in inefficiency everywhere.” That, in turn, would be an unsettling force for all sorts of industries and workers. But it would also reward consumers with lower prices and open up opportunities for new companies.

Web 2.0 Customers

Nivi writes:

You can break down Web 2.0 customers into a fuzzy hierarchy:

1. Creators who create an original work. Examples include a reporter at the New York Times, a podcaster, a blogger who is writing original content, or the author of Harry Potter.
2. Linkers who annotate the work of Creators. Examples include a blogger who mostly links to other content or a del.icio.us user who publishes the RSS feed of his bookmarks.
3. Commenters who comment on the Creators and Linkers work. Examples include anyone who writes a comment on a blog.
4. Surfers who consume the output of Creators, Linkers, and Commenters. Anytime you read someones blog, you are a Surfer.

How many more Linkers are there than Creators? How many more Commenters are there than Linkers? Do you get 10x more customers at each level of this hierarchy? My guess is that the number of customers grows geometrically as you move down each level of the hierarchy.

Mobile Ajax

Jonathan Boutelle writes:

The google proposal to provide wireless access to all of San Francisco is a bold move by google to increase the mobile use of web-based applications among early adopters.

Current attempts to move applications to the web are crippled by the fact that users cant reliably get an internet connection when outside there home or office. For example, an online calendar is an obvious potential killer app (since it lets you easily share your schedule and coordinate with others, on online calendar is far superior to a desktop-based calendaring application). But most people who require an online calendar need to access that data when they are on the move (for example, in the dentists office, in a meeting at a client site, or on the train). The same principal applies to online word processors, wikis, email clients, and so on. Unless you can count on always being able to connect to the network, most users will prefer to carry their applications and data with them, rather than using a web application.

By providing wireless data access throughout San Francisco, Google is trying to create conditions that will allow the early adopters to switch wholesale from desktop applications to web-based applications.

Walled Gardens

Tom Evslin writes: “You, the user, almost always benefit by having a network you are participating in be open. The leading service providers whose networks you use almost always benefit by keeping networks closed. How well each service provider copes with the conflict between its interests and those of its users will determine which service providers survive and prosper and which fall by the wayside. So far, it is not clear that being open is a good business strategy at least in the short term – for any provider with a substantial lead over its competitors no matter how much we users might wish differently.”

TECH TALK: Microsoft Live: The Launch

Last week, Microsoft launched its long-awaited software-as-a-service initiative. It is as much a defensive move (to counter the likes of Google and Yahoo) as an aggresive one (to potentially move into new markets, especially in the small- and medium-sized enterprise market). In this weeks Tech Talk, we will summarise opinions from around the Web on Microsofts initiative and then discuss it in the context of emerging markets like India.

The New York Times outlined the services:

Microsoft introduced on Tuesday two new advertising-supported Web services, Windows Live and Office Live, as a direct response to the formidable challenges posed by its major competitors, Google and Yahoo.

The new online initiatives will deliver services to businesses and consumers directly via the Web, in many cases, without the need to download the applications to a computer. As such, they are an important step in extending Microsoft’s reach beyond the desktop PC to smart phones and other Internet-connected devices.

Microsoft executives said that the company intended to take on both Google and Yahoo by making advertising-supported services the core of a broad new Web-based software applications business. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and chief software architect, said Tuesday that new Internet-based technologies were creating an era of “live software” that will change the software industry and transcend the boundaries of any particular computer or mobile device.

“Every five years or so we look at our strategy and make these big bets,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

The new offerings are an attempt by Microsoft to tie its biggest software franchises to the rich pool of online advertising that has fueled the growth of companies like Google, the Web-search giant. Microsoft has built its fortunes on licensing its software to corporate customers and selling it preinstalled on personal computers.

But a relatively small amount of its revenue flows from online advertising; a market that one Microsoft executive said could grow to $150 billion by 2015 from $15 billion today.

Microsoft is offering most of the new services free, hoping that advertisers will support them by buying banner ads displayed on the Office Live and Windows Live services.

Each of the services can match ads to Internet users’ interests and Web activities. For instance, if a Windows Live user has his personalized Web site set to include information on cycling, software can direct ads for cycling gear to the site.

Tim OReilly commented in the New York Times article: “It’s back to 1995 where the Internet was this great rallying cryOne of the areas where Microsoft has a lead is that they are focusing on non-PC devices. That may be one of their secret weapons.”

Dan Farber wrote:

In opening the event, Bill Gates said that every five years Microsoft looks at its strategy and makes big bets1990 was Windows, the Web in 1995 and Web Services .Net in 2000. The next big bet, Gates said, is delivering a new type of software experience, called “live software.” It’s about connecting users at the center, with relationships with people, data people care about, applications and all devices coming together to do things for you, Gates said. It’s a way to think through the user experience, a fusion of software and services, with capabilities across the Internet, enabled by the broadband, wireless, low cost storage, a multitude of devices, the march of Moore’s Law. Sounds like a bit of Web 2.0 mixed with Microsoft’s live naming themeLive Meeting, XBox Live. Services = Software, in a broad way, from hosted services like email and CRM to MSN and mapping mash-ups.

Another post: Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie demonstrated (actually the demos were full of glitches) that Microsoft taking its learning from MSN, bCentral and competitors to turn the ship around services. It’s not about technologyGoogle, Yahoo and Microsoft are playing leapfrog. It’s about having a Web platform that doesn’t require Windows or Office and garnering ad (Microsoft’s forthcoming adCenter) and subscription dollars. It’s also about being a hub for deep engagement with users and user generated content.

Microsoft announced 22 business applications for small businesses as part of its Office Live offering. News.com has more: Microsoft provided a list and even grouped them by category. Four are aimed at keeping track of customer data: accounts, business contacts, opportunities and customer support. Two are for handling projects: a project manager and a dashboard. Five are sales tools: applications for campaigns, collateral, a competition tracker, product and service items and estimates. Employee-related tools account for another five, including an employee directory, an expense-monitoring tool, jobs and hiring, training and work hours. The final six are company-wide tools, labeled as: calendars, company assets, company events, company holidays, documents and tasks.

Tomorrow: Analysis