Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Truth Happens

Truth is happening it seems.Remember the famous Redhat Inc. campaigning,Mahatma Gandhi words inspired Video??That was one of my favorite videos.I mean the Open source again started gaining some momentum in terms of support from PC Manufacturers.Dell Inc. recently openly expressed that they want to respect customer choice and
given hint that soonly they will release Linux based Notebooks and Desktops.After Michael dell's return to helm,they took web 2.0 approach to revive their business and they launched 2 sites to get customer response which can impact business decisions rapidly.Recently Bigblue IBM also accelerated it's open source efforts by releasing Openclient software,which runs Linux,Windows and Mac.Currently Redhat and Novell doing good job in enterprise server market which forced Microsoft to comedown to strike deal with Novell Inc..

Linux was ridiculed as 'Hype Du Jour' by Market Research firm Gartner back in 1999,but they had to eat their words.In developing countries Linux have good presence but still have lot of work to do to gain at least double digit market share.In fact Microsoft's Vista's muted response should be exploited by open source companies.Steve Ballmer(Microsoft CEO) always ridiculed that Linux is using their intellectual property but he never mentioned the patents in question.In fact worldwide there is a big debate going on the
patentability of Software Programmes particularly in Europe 'coz it prevents innovation in big way.The Problem with Linux was it got 'geeks only' image and this fact kept many users away from it,but recent SUSE,Fedora,UBUNTU(I run 3 of them on my Notebook) all have easy user interface,required application softwares and i don't see any reason why can't they pushed to main stream desktop, which can save lot of money and time to current Windows users.But another problem with Linux is,it is not standardized and there is no compatibility between different distributions.Hope these issues will be resolved soonly and let's hope that 'Truth Happens'.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Yahoo's bash on Web 2.0

Recently i was reading a bizarre news that Yahoo Inc. applied for a patent which claims that the company first invented web 2.0. in '90s.This patent is about "Dynamic Page Generator" that lets a user to customize a webpage template to displays data drawn from other sources.But to the fact Yahoo upgraded it's mail service to Ajax based only recently.If the patent is granted then many web 2.0 companies will be left in jeopardy.If Yahoo wants to do serious Royalty business with this patent then it's more frightening situation.'Coz all web 2.0 companies runs on advertising dollars and most of them still don't have any business model.In fact this can have a big impact on aspiring web 2.0 companies too.I don' understand where from these guys can bring royalties to fill Yahoo's pocket.Yahoo should understand the situation and let away all web 2.0 companies in the interest of future of web and consumers.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Apple vs Rest

I always puzzled about Apple Inc. and their business strategies,not in a small way but in broader sense.I can explain it very well.Usually they bring lot of creativity and aesthetics to their products compare to competitors.But here is my question,Who is competitor?Think about it seriously.Forget about iPod for the time being.Right from starting Apple separated itself from industry with vertical business model.Apple is well known for it's reluctance to work with partners.In fact Apple's Market share in PC business is just under 7%(US Market).My question is that 7% they want to target,when they claim they are far superior to competitors?Is 7% Market share worth of all those creativity and aesthetics??So, what went wrong??First,It's Apple's reluctance to work with partners(Microsoft got edge here).Secondly, their target Market is niche like Publishing and media Industry,Scientific and Academic fields.Thirdly,their products are not as affordable as competitor's.

Off late Apple seems to be realizing some of these facts and since Steve Jobs' return to Apple in 1997,they started playing the game like untouchable.Since then they achieved many milestones like Mac OS X release,iPod,iTunes,Intel partnership,Mac mini,Application S/W development like iMovie,iDVD etc. and now iPhone and iTV.Today,their Market cap stands at roughly $76bn,great achievement for a company which received flak from Michael Dell(CEO of Dell Inc.)with a comment "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders" when asked, in 1997, what he would do if he owned Apple.In fact today Apple's market cap is more than Dell Inc.

But Apple should do something to promote their OS which can give tough competition to Windows and currently it's a clear looser in this market despite it's superiority to windows.They tried it during Vista's launch time by running ads which highlighted how easy the transition to Mac than upgrading to Vista.In fact today you can run any OS on Mac but you can not run Mac OS X on windows.May be opening their OS to non Mac PC in the coming years can definitely do Magic.For the upcoming iPhone Apple using stripped version of OS X and this move welcomed by Bill Gates also 'coz it will make Mobile Phone as a Software intensive device and opens a big window for them as well.In fact Microsoft recently upgraded their Windows Mobile in the wake of this competition.Apple's strength is defining trend than following but some times it's proving as their weakness too.Apple neither targeting Google search nor MS Office but they want to become a consumer brand in media and entertainment industry and according to one hypothetical projection Apple can outperform Microsoft if they both grow at current rate.That may not happen,but Apple surely found it's growth curve.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Google Apps and Positives

Yesterday only i wrote about Google and non search revenues and today Google declared it's intentions to pursue revenues outside Search business. As expected they launched Google apps Premier service(A direct competitor to MS Office Live) targeting small and medium businesses and it clearly tells Google intentions to pouch some Market share in Enterprise softwares from biggies in cost effective and innovative way.Positive thing is,this move reinforced Software as a Service(SaaS) concept further,which is rapidly getting into the skins of Software biggies.Free web design,Web hosting and VoIP Communication offered by this competition making life far easier for Mashups.

But still bulky software like OS have a long way to go before it becomes Web based thin client service.Remember Network Computer concept in mid '90s coined by Larry Ellison??That was way ahead of it's time then but current scenario suggests personal computing increasingly shifting towards network computing and most of the applications migrating from desktop to server based.This is really very interesting time for Corporates,Entrepreneurs and Consumers.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Google Conundrum

I always wondered why Google is not promoting their non search services.If you look at Google's 2006 Q4 earnings card,more than 50% revenue contributed by Search only(Advertising revenue).More than 50% revenue source is US only.Google gaining ground in European market but they continue to rely on ad based revenue model very much.I doubt whether they can continue to do so,especially after Yahoo,Microsoft unleashed their search ad platforms.

Google Labs continue to innovate and recently Google started investing in companies like Youtube,dMarc(Radio Broadcasting company),Adscape(Gaming Ad Company) and they strike deals with Apple(iPhone),Samsung and China Mobile to ramp up mobile phone search.But still if you see in the broader sense many people don't even know these services except their search engine and at the same time Google home page continued to be reluctant to promote these services.Remember Dodgeball??No where i could see that Google is trying to promote it.But what happened to Froogle(e-Commerce service) despite it got some space on most coveted home page till recently??In fact Google had to close Google answers service after poor response where as Yahoo answers continue to grow.Google have home page personalization option,but i don't know how many of us really bothered to click on that option???

Yahoo seems to be better in this game as they continue to promote other web services along with search,but Google finding it tough 'coz their USP lies in their home page.Of course search is a ever green and ever growing market but Google surely can do more than search.Google is one of the very few Software companies with more than $100bn Market Cap.Google is one of the very few companies that gave Microsoft sleepless nights.As most of the Google's services tied up with web they should find a way to promote other services as much as they do for search.May be it's experimental time for Google to change home page or create another site which intensely promotes non search services.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Open SUSE 10.2 on Windows

Recently i was running SUSE 10.2 virtual machine on my Notebook (XP Home French Edition) and it was really a good experience to run both simultaneously without rebooting as i was using a seperate partition for Linux.These days companies like Parallels Inc.,VMWare etc. made virtualization easy.You can run multiple operating systems simultaneously using the softwares produced by these companies.Now a days VMWare offering free VMWare player (For both Wondows and Linux) using which you can run any virtual machine.You can download SUSE 10.2(KDE 3.5.5) Virtual machine and open it with VMWare player.The experience is closer to native in virtual machine and if you have a good RAM thats a plus.You can create Virtual Machines easily using easyvmx site.

Now a days the debate on interoperability,Virtualization has become intense and after severe criticism for closed approach,Microsoft recently strike a deal with Novell Inc. to offer Virtualization on enterprise servers.This move mainly aimed at capturing market in server software as linux is a dominant player in server market.There has been also fight between SUN and Microsoft over Office documents interoperability standards(ODF vs Open XML) and Microsoft openly criticized IBM for backing ODF over Open XML.The message is these companies should make consumers winners by making the software independent of platform and this can happen only if they give priority to consumer over individual interests.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Glitch on my Mobile

Recently i had to see a bizarre thing on my Nokia mobile phone(2300 Model).It was displaying calculator menu on the desktop and immediately i captured it with camera.After resetting it was fine.May be some kind of software problem.Nokia,are you watching this????

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zune Buzz

Microsoft really a great expert in creating buzz and known for bombastic marketing campaigns.Remember Origami Project??Remember flashy vista launches?They created great amount of buzz when they declared they are working on iPod killer but couldn't capitalize on it after the release.But if you observe,the Zune buzz is growing again.First it's their Zune Music filling stations rumors which excited many music lovers.Recent FCC filing fueled Zune Phone rumors further.Now MSN promoting free Zune offers.Further proof reflects in Microsoft's careers site which posted several Zune jobs.Interestingly all these jobs added from January only.They also hinted that they will add Zune service feature in Windows Mobile.They also declared that several new devices up for European launch by festive season.Recent blog post in Zuneinsider(a blog run by Microsoft employee) suggested it could wok with XBOX(Microsoft's Gaming device).If music becomes DRM free(stars are aligning already) then iPodder can also share songs with Zunites and if that happens MS can exploit.

Microsoft adopted web2.0 aproach in Zune hoping to ride on social era,but it's backfired.But they always emphasized that it's a solid 3-5 years investment and they are prepared for all kinds of rejects as they are competing with a guy who controls 80% market.In fact competition is always good and welcome ,'coz customer should always have choices.The intense the competition the greater the benefits to customers.Music is going to stay forever in our lives and this fact is pumping more optimism in MS efforts to entrench music market.So exciting days are ahead for music lovers.

Chip Wars

Intel recently demonstrated 45nm Processors and that is clearly a leap ahead for chip industry.IBM also demonstrated the 45nm Chips on the same day.As Chip industry faces the Moore's Law challenge to shrink the the size of transistor on chip this move will definitely make competitors work hard to play the catch up game.The current technological node is 65nm(recent shift from 90nm).In Europe ST Microelectronics,Freescale(Recently acquired by Private equity investors) and NXP(Spin off from Philips) involved in collective Research and development(Crolles2 a initiative of ST) to combat technological issues involved at 65nm,45nm,32nm technological nodes.But this Crolles2 agreement about to expire in the end of 2007 and both Freescale,NXP with drawing from the alliance after that.This will raise pressure on ST to find new partners soonly as the Europes's largest Semiconductor company faces big challenges to solve the technological issues involved in the nano era.On the other hand Japanese chip makers Toshiba,Sony partnered with IBM to leap to 45nm and further.

In 2006 the world wide Semiconductor sales positioned at $248bn, a 9% increase from year 2005($227bn).According to iSuppli (a Semiconductor Market research firm) global semiconductor sales will raise to $280bn in 2007,a 12.8 increase from previous year.Consumer electronics is going to be the big driver of these numbers as demand for MP3 players,Mobile Handsets(Particularly in emerging markets),Gaming devices,HDTVs etc. surging like any thing.At the same time the technological convergence is on the prowl and the mobile phones are increasingly becoming as capable as PCs.These factors throw challenges to chip makers to vie for market share.

But my concern is Customer centric innovation is missing in many of the today's technologies.Most of the times it is becoming like 'technology for the sake of technology'.For example if you look at today's PC industry this argument will become more evident as they want to give Super Computers to grand mother.The question is do average consumer need that much computing power?At the end of the day average consumer needs limited to Word Processing and some Multimedia capabilities and in fact 90% of the features they get on their PCs will never be used in it's life time.Why do you need a dual core and Vista when you can get away with cheaper AMD Processor and Open source Software?If a consumer wants Music player give him a device which plays music only(Apple did that and reaped great success).But unfortunately Lobbying and Pushy approach really making consumers loosers and at least now companies should recognize what really customer wants.Simple User Interfaces and push button technologies are what customer wants,which makes them feel comforatble than apprehensive.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vodafone ,Welcome to India

After striking partnerships with Youtube,My Space Vodafone completed hectic week on grand note by taking 67% stake in Indian Cellular Service Provider Hutchison Essar. Vodafone never hide their intentions to enter red hot Indian Telecome Industry and they sent signals back in 2005 when they took 10% stake in country's largest cellular service provider Bharti Televentures.Obviously this move will raise the pressure on all domestic players 'coz Vodafone bringing vast Global experience and technology with it.

Let me go through some quick facts.Today,Indian Mobile Phone Industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the world ,thanks to the revised FDI policy and proactive reforms taken in early '90s.Today it is adding more than 5 million new subscribers per month.In India currently more than 150mn Mobile phones are there and tele density have reached almost 10%.Compared to china(More than 430mn Mobile Subscribers) ,it's still less.Nearly 80% of the market controlled by 4 Major players and Bharti leads the pack with 23% market share followed by Reliance(21%),BSNL(17%) and Hutch (17% ).The total Indian Telecom Market worth today is roughly $10bn.In India the total coverage area is devided into 4 metros and 19 Circles and each circle is permitted with maximum of 4 licenses.Indian consumer spends on an avearage $5-$6 per month to power his mobile phone.Indian cellular tariffs are the cheapest in the world.

So,what does Vodafone entry means to Indian consumer?As Urban and Semi Urban market reaching satuaration in terms of handsets ,Vodafone should look seriously into data services and rural penetration,as Rural population represnts 70% of the total population.Already out of 6.5Lac villages in india 5 Lac are connected with telephone but in terms of cellular services penetration ,rural areas lag behind urban with a huge gap.To capture this market all domestic companies already engaged in intense fight by offering handsets with attractive tariffs.So this presents a big challenge to them to meet their target which is to capture 25% market by 2010.
Acording to TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) India will reach the 250mn subscriber mark by 2010.

Vodafone should explore innovative services like unlimited data services with Pre-Paid data cards which subsequently triggers market for content creators and publishers.From tariffs and quality of services point of view, no doubt that they will improve in the wake of raising competition.In the coming years they should exploit broadband industry in India which is already seeing growing numbers in Urban areas at least.The verdict is consumer is going to be huge beneficiary of all these moves 'coz of raising competition to retain them.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Future of Search

3-4 days before i was reading some exciting news about legendary XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is going to license Natural Language Search(NLS) technology to Powerset, a startup company in Silicon valley that aims to build a better search engine than Google.It's a welcome news as today's search engine market has become unwanted 3 horse race(Google,Yahoo,Windows Live).

NLS is really a great vision and out of the box thinking as today's search market is mostly about advertising dollars.I am sure NLS is on the radars of Googles and Yahoos but it is yet to take off to main stream.Understanding natural language queries and retrieving relevant natural Language information only, presents a big challenge to these companies.But there are other problems like lack of availability of natural language content at disposal on net and the interface to enter natural language still not evolved.Recently companies like IBM,Microsoft invested some efforts to solve this interface mechanism like natural language speach recognition.

In fact companies like Baidu out performed Google and Yahoo in Chinese Market.This clearly shows how important NLS to attract everybody to search information.In India,if you see we adopted English as main stream language in internet search.This forced adoption of English mainly due to lack of technologies which can enable people to search and retrieve information in their own language.This is a clear evidence that there is a big big room for improvement in current search technology and it's far from perfect.

Another interesting development that took place recently is that European Mobile Service Providers(MSP) want to build their own search engine rather than adopting Google or Yahoo to serve their customers search queries from phones.With this they are hoping to trap advertising revenues from Mobile phone search.Currently Google and Yahoo do not share search revenues with carriers and at the same time escalating threat from disruptive technologies like VoIP prompted European MSPs to involve in this collective effort to improve revenue figures.But it really takes a big effort to convince customers to search from tiny screens.

There are other things like Contextual search,Localized search,Optimized results of cross search etc.The message is that at the end of the day customer should be presented with rich search experience irrespective of his mother tongue,location and that seems like a far cry at least for now.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mobile Phone Networking

One of my Bangalore friend seeing a good vision in Mobile Phone Searching space and he wants to know whether consumers are ready for it and i request ,if you are happened to be visitor to my blog don't forget to take part in this small survey which can give some much needed input to my friend's vision.Personally i see a great potential in this market space as Mobile Phone is going to be mini computer in the coming days and it is already evident that companies like Microsoft,Apple,Google,Yahoo and some startups investing some great efforts to bring new dimension to innovation locked Mobile phone market.

If you ask me i'll always tell you that i would prefer web based mobile phone networking infrastructure rather than traditional one.But I don't think this will happen very soonly as Mobile Phone Service Providers (MSP) are invested heavily in building network infrastructure.I believe MSPs should upgrade existing infrastructure into some kind of Wi -Max platform and this along with raising numbers of Wi-Fi enabled hand held devices sold will present a great picture for the future of mobile phone market.This situation presents great opportunity for entrepreneurs,third party application developers who can create innovative value added services which currently accounts for only 19% of total revenues.Then VoIP based calls gives consumers more freedom to talk and it provides a great platform to distribute community created content like Video,Photos,Voice,Games etc.I may be talking about ideal situation but this is going to be eventuality in the hand held market.May be we can see hard core mobile computing from 2008 at least.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Quick changing world

The last 2 weeks vouch for how dynamic and uncertain the technology industry is and it has seen some of the most significant events like Vista's launch(Microsoft's flagship product after 5 long years),Michael Dell's return to hot seat(Back to CEO position),Steve jobs DRM theory,Zune phone rumors,Yahoo Panama launch(Online ad platform to trap search revenues),Apple's foray in casual gaming,Yahoo Pipes,Amazon,TiVo's Unbox(To download Movies,TV shows to watch on TV) and many more to list.

Let me look into some of these events briefly.First Microsoft's much hyped Vista which debuted along with another Flagship product Office 2007 on Jan 30.It took off well with good reviews for it's improved security features and eye candy look and feeling except for some speach recognition flaw and fight with anti virus software makers Symantec,Mcafee.Watch out for Microsoft's quarterly results this year.Bill gates and Ballmer both emphasized that Vista is not the last hurray for MS as most of the techno fraternity thought,'coz of Microsoft's increased focus on web based services and it's forced adoption of Software as Service model.They are investing heavily on Security,Gaming,Windows Live Services and consumer and life style space which clearly tells that Microsoft is going through a great transition period.Apple Inc. remains to be a great threat for MS as Apple releasing their most advanced OS Leopard this spring which can pouch some of the wannable vista upgraders(Apple's delayed version of iTunes for vista a clear evidence).The biggest threat to MS is most people haven't tasted Apple products so far and many of them wants to try now(As Apple have become most recognized brand after iPod success)as it is evident by the increased sales of Mac Books.

The biggest reason for Zune's flop is it's lack of aesthetic design and lack of USP.It clearly failed to distinguish it self in the Market place as Microsoft simply tried to clone iPod and it's wi-fi feature also couldn't save it.I cant' imagine Microsoft would release iPhone killer without saving it's dying Zune(supposed to be iPod Killer).Microsoft can still save Zune by promoting gaming in Zune('coz they already have strong foot print in gaming market with the XBOX success) and this is best time for them as apple is in talks with EA to design games for iPhone,iPod. MS should try to differentiate themselves rather than simply cloning to get Market share.As i am writing this,i got to know from crunchgear blog that Zune Phone is almost confirmed .It seems Microsoft never give up their Money throw-Monkey business approach.

At Dell Inc. it's purely Dell.I mean Michael Dell's return to CEO position after missing quarterly results in 2006.He also reduced the no.of people who directly reports to CEO from 20 to 12.It has much to do with Mark Hurd led HP's revival in PC Business with aggressive strategies.There is also rumor that Dell Inc. is facing pressure from private equity firms and these are really challenging times for Michael Dell to turn it around.All the best Dell and you may need to take a leaf or two from Steve Jobs' book.

Steve Jobs thoughts on Music came after the Norwegian Consumer Council has deemed Fairplay (iTunes DRM) illegal in Norway with the possibility of France and Germany following suit.Apple's DRM(Digital Rights management) technology restricts files downloaded from the iTunes store from being played only on iPod and not other music players.This is true with Microsoft's Zune,Sandisk's Sansa as well.Jobs says only 10% of the music sold is DRM protected and remaining 90% goes on sale in the form of CDs which can be cloned easily and he says if big 5 Music companies permits his iTunes store ready to sell Music without DRM.I am still confused about what could be the solution in this case as every portable player maker wants to take the advantage of DRM free music.Let's hope industry finds long term solution to this problem as Music is ever green market.

Yahoo's Project Panama, the web giant's Ad platform for it's search engine at last in action.With this they are hoping to tap advertising dollars to be in battle with google and winning back investor's confidence as Yahoo is also under pressure from Private equity firms(I hope this is rumor only).2 Days before Yahoo also launched Pipes service (a word from Unix) which allows you to aggregate data from one or more resources like feeders.I was already using newsgator service to collect news from various sources and it makes life easy and saves time.Today i tried Yahoo pipes and it's good and can do more than aggregating.

These days all biggies are fighting for living room space and Amazon-TiVo deal is the latest in that.After Apple Inc.unveiled it's vision about iTV(Now called Apple TV) almost all High-Tech companies who are in consumer space rolled out their plans.This is a converged world and Internet-TV convergence is long awaited one and many companies are trying to make it happen.Microsoft was one of the early players in web TV and they lost momentum and couldn't achieve their vision. Joost(Earlier the Project Venice),by Skype founders is one more example in that which is about delivering High-definition Video streaming based on P2P technology and it's still in invitation based beta testing.Watch out,Google is warning web can't support streaming and video.Then what about $1.6bn they paid to bought Youtube ,which is also about streaming video.Anyway,the message is clear.I feel in 2 yrs time from now, we can see fully converged world of TV-Internet.