The Software-free Computer

Rafe Needleman writes:

ThinkFree, an online productivity software company, is betting on Internet-delivered software. Its Office Online productivity suite (a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation program) runs entirely online. However, while Office Online may not require that the user install software, that doesn’t mean it is a lightweight application. The program needs a local CPU to run on. According to ThinkFree CEO TJ Kang, “Office Online is not really a server-based app. Most people already have powerful computers on their desktop. We make full use of that.” Like many other online applications, the Office Online application modules are in fact installed on the user’s computer as they are needed – it’s just that the programs use Java as a platform instead of Windows, and Java does a much better job of hiding the installation process.

Web 2.0 Predictions for 2006

Dion Hinchcliffe writes:

1) Web 2.0 Will Not Peak in 2006 But the Term Will
2) 37signals Will Cross The 1,000,000 User Mark
3) Microsoft Faceplants Twice with Live Software, But Third Time Is the Charm
4) Grassroots Use of Web 2.0 Ideas Will Be A Big Story
5) Everything Will Get An RSS Feed

InfoWorld Technology Awards

Here. Among the winners:

Best Enterprise Server
IBM eServer OpenPower 710
Multiprocessing powerhouse with excellent fault-tolerance features

Best Workstation
Apple Power Mac G5 Quad
Impressive hardware specs, sub-$5,000 price tag, and the magic of OS X

Best Client Operating System
Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger
A rich and friendly desktop OS built with professional users in mind

China Spends on Alternative Energy


Reuters resports that a Chinese state-owned energy firm plans to invest at least $2.48 billion over the next five years in biomass, garbage treatment and other alternative energy projects.

China Energy Conservation Investment Corp. made the plans to take advantage of a new law promoting renewable energy, which sets tariffs in favor of non-fossil energy such as wind, water and solar power and is due to take effect in January.

“We see tremendous business opportunities from the new law,” the China Daily quoted Wang Yi, a senior company official, as saying. Coal provides some 70 percent of electricity in China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer and producer of greenhouse gases. The state-owned company has started building two wind farms and a new facility that would harness steam generated from garbage and sewage treatment to produce power, the newspaper said.

The firm had budgeted about $1.1 billion to build the garbage-powered plant underway in eastern China and 10 others like it in other parts of the country over the next five years, Wang said.

Another $1.1 billion would go toward constructing up to 30 biomass energy projects in major agricultural provinces, which use organic or woody material such as straw to make fuel or generate power.

China has set a goal of getting 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, though it has acknowledged that coal will remain its primary source of electricity for decades to come.

TECH TALK: 2006 Tech Trends: Free Voice

9. Voice calls are becoming free.

For telecom companies, it is their worst nightmare come true. Voice, which has sustained their business models for decades, is now becoming near-free on wired networks, thanks to the likes of Skype and others. Even in India, there is talk of creating a flat-rate for nationwide long distance calls, eliminating the earlier practice of distance-based pricing. It is only a matter of time before the Internet makes voice just another service on the digital infrastructure. The implications of free voice are many. For example, one could not just click on an ad to go a website but click to be connected to a person at the other end. Distance means little as loved ones can now communicate more often irrespective of where they are. For telecom companies, it means reinventing themselves as we are now seeing them do.

Gartner [via Internet News]: Cell phones and VoIP are also expected to continue their march forward. VoIP or cellular will be the only telephony in use for 30 percent of US homes by 2010. It only took more than 125 years but POTS (plain old telephony service) is now on the decline in the U.S., said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner in a statement. The emergence of VoIP and the phenomenal rise of the mobile phone now represent the ‘dial tone’ for the future.

Russell Shaw: Consumer VoIP Will Be a Battle Between Built-Up IM and Bundled Broadband. The real competitive battle for VoIP consumers will be between services that were once hatched in the world of IM and are now building out full-fledged outbound and inbound VoIP, and the broadband Internet service providers that via attractive price packages, will bundle VoIP in with existing products. In such a scenario, the stand-alone VoIP providers lose.

Om Malik: There are some early indications of Voice-prices heading south. Lets start in the East. Hong Kong-based Hong Kong Broadband recently started selling a VoIP package that give users a Hong Kong 8-digit local number that allows them to make calls to any Hong Kong number – PSTN, Wireless and VoIP – as un-metered HK local calls. The service will cost about $5 a month. More recently, Netherlands-based ISP, CompuServe launched a five-euro plans which allows folks to make calls to Netherlands-based fixed line phones for free. (Well, if you add the 15 Euros you pay for their DSL connection, it is almost free.)As this trend unfolds, the harsh economic realities will force people to think different. I think this march to near zero will be the catalyst for what iotums Alec Saunders calls Voice 2.0; a new thinking so championed by Aswath, where voice and other IP communications come together in a new kind of ip-cosmic bliss.

Tomorrow: SaaS, Emerging Markets

Continue reading TECH TALK: 2006 Tech Trends: Free Voice