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Showing posts from November, 2006

Missing India!

Eric Schmidt writes in Don't bet against the internet : "The lesson is compelling: put simple, intuitive technology in the hands of users and they will create content and share it. The fastest-growing parts of the internet all involve direct human interaction. Think about the blogging phenomenon and social networking sites like MySpace in America, Bebo in Britain, Orkut in Brazil, CyWorld in Korea and Mixi in Japan. " Do you notice something peculiar here? No mention of India ... though Orkut is as popular here as in Brazil, though we are much more populous and more 'networking friendly' ... Any guesses as to why India is getting excluded here?? I have one guess .... not enough indigenous innovation is happening in India. We may be kings of the BPO Services and ODC/ Offshoring ... but our report card on innovation is still pretty blank! PS: There are many start-ups in B'lore doing research in Mobile space, protocols, Bluetooth (which employ some of my frie

VC Confidential: A Global Evening with Paul Saffo

VC Confidential writes : "three specific flavors of capitalism: American capitalism (emphasizes the individual), European (capitalism that focuses on community and preserves continuity) and Asian capitalism (Confucian capitalism that emphasizes networks and the extended family). The US has to realize it is not the only model. Americans (or other foreigners) get rolled in Asia if they don't have or realize the role of extended networks. " Wow! I never thought it this way ... did you?

Management Funda No 77

The 3 P's of Business for ... ODC's and Off shoring software companies Process, Process and Process Software Product Development Companies Process, Presentation, Process Web Development Companies People, Presentation, Process Related: Arbit Choudhury Comics' - 4 P's of MBA Visit www.arbitmba.com for more Arbit Comics

द्रुतगामिनी Railroad

Background: I went to Manchester yesterday - spend about 6 hours in train. It was the best setting to brainstorm alone ... and during the travel popped an idea, which i keyed into my laptop there and then. I have a desire to expand this idea and would love readers to provide inputs - especially if you think you have functional knowlegde and experience in the field of Railways. The railway network in India is organised on the 'tree topology ' meant primarily for long distance passenger travel and goods haulage. This is quite opposite to that in Europe where rail networks are organized in 'Hub-and-Spoke' topology and trains are means of fast, comfortable and no-frills (no check-in, etc) transport for domestic & small distances while air-travel is more common for international & long distances. One of the reasons for this might be the political landscape of Western Europe with each country having a hub - usually capital city - connecting other smaller towns &a

The Great 'Web OS' Debate

For those interested in this debate, the links below ensure reading material to fill your weekend ... [I plan to collate lots of thoughts on this topic and make a post here ... but that's a gigantic task and should take me some time to complete] The Latest: Will Google Develop Google OS? The Original: Google OS: What to expect? Comments Highlights: Nipun Jain from OCRA desktop - comment 1 Nipun Jain from OCRA desktop - comment 2 Andrew Young Mark shadilac .... there are a lot more interesting comments in there ... but you'd better go to the post directly to read them Related Links [plucked out from the comments]: Google life or Why Google Should be The Firefox Kid Is Google OS an Always-Online OS? Google Client Web 3.0 - The Future Is Almost Here Talk about Google OS? Google: Lighthouse Centre Of The Online Universe Google's Writely Points To and Online offline Future Abandon Vista We Dont Need Another Desktop OS

Digital Content Pricing

Rajesh Jain writes : ... there are vast libraries of content sitting in vaults blocked by (among other things) delivery costs. It stands to reason that if an episode of "It's Like, You Know" costs 50 cents to deliver, it's got to sell for more than 50 cents, and, as great as the show was, few people are going to pay more than 50 cents to watch an episode. If, however, you can cut those delivery costs down to 5 or 10 cents, there's a whole new market to be had. This actually brings out a good insight in the way pricing of Digital Content varies from that of physical goods. Consider a commodity like rice or consumable like bread. The per unit price of the product increases with rising quality. So is the case with valuable commodities as well - say Gold - the higher the quality of Gold (in karats) the higher its cost. This pricing strategy arises because physical goods once consumed deplete. Once I consume a loaf of bread - no one else in the world can consume it a

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Joel on software has used the 'Paradox of Choice' thoery to analyse (rather criticise) the abundance of options in the new Windows Vista. He wites: This highlights a style of software design shared by Microsoft and the open source movement, in both cases driven by a desire for consensus and for "Making Everybody Happy," but it's based on the misconceived notion that lots of choices make people happy, which we really need to rethink. [However] Each additional choice makes complete sense until you find yourself explaining to your uncle that he has to choose between 15 different ways to turn off a laptop. Do read the full article ... its a Classic read .... The theory comes from the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less . Written by Barry Schwartz this should be a classic book to read from what Amazon.com editorial description is: Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college,

Beta Wars: Part II { The Economics and Management perspective }

The reason why many popular products are in 'Beta' is because a web-based application, unlike a desktop app, can be in a state of perpetual upgradation and new features can be added seamlessly without planning for 'release cycles'. More so, users expect quick and frequent feature upgrades for these applications. But adding new features is not excuse for not releasing a final product! One could always add new features to a 'test instance' test it and then release them into the 'production' version. That's the way things work in the corporate sector, shouldn't they work similarly on Web 2.0? The reason why this cycle cannot be performed for most of these new applications is that they 'need' their users to test the new application features. Unlike corporate development environment where a dedicated team usually performs unit testing before release, some of the web based features cannot be tested by a 'small' testing team. Take for

Beta Wars: Part I { The IRM Perspective}

There is a widely single sided debate going on the tech blogosphere regarding "brand dilution of Beta". http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2004/12/fresh_outta_def.html http://napsterization.org/stories/archives/000374.html True techies are increasingly finding the (mis)use of the term 'Beta' objectionable. For the uninitiated - Beta is a term used for a 'pre-release' version of any software and most of the 'cool' Web 2.0 applications from GMail to Flickr started out as Betas. If software was an Indian Children's game 'Beta' would mean 'Kachhi Goti' :-P or 'Trial Over'. But the bone of contention is that most of these startups (some of which are now owned by major companies or themselves are big companies) are perpetually in Beta. For the techies who were groomed in the era of Desktop Suites and Mainframes (where stable release and quality control were critical), this means telling customers that you're not really committed

Are we a democracy??

Mr. Singh's government is now credited with another blunder - they seem to have forgotten that they are leaders of a Democracy and not a Communist country. There is no better evidence than this news that a Left supported government can only become more and more paranoid in its approaches. This unfortunately also hints towards a soft-reversal of India's foreign policy towards Tibet. Sad :-( - that the World's largest democracy should suppress a pro-democracy voice to please the Head of State of a Communist country. Where are democratic principles gone?? Link via: Gaurav Sabnis

Indo-US Nuke Deal through!! :-)

US Senate votes 85-12 for India's Nuclear Bill : "In a major victory for the pro-India lobby, the United States Senate today voted massively in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal" - reports Rediff.com. They report further that - "The vote is also a victory for US industry and the Indian American community, working under the banner of the Coalition for Partnership with India.... Reflecting the sentiment, Ron Somers, President of the US-India Business Council, which comprises the top 220 US companies doing business in India, praised the vote, stating: 'As a result of today's vote, the objectives of attaining international energy security, nuclear safety, and a cleaner global environment have today made a Himalayan leap forward.' " More Coverage: http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/17msg.htm http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/17ndeal14.htm Google News Updates

Me, Myself and my alter-egos

Life sometimes seems very unromantic – especially when memories of past strike back, when you remember the romantic and naive dreams of your own childish mind. The child that you once were, resides within you even today – you think about that child, that adolescent, that sophomore that you once were – who dreamt of doing lots of interesting things, who was in love with his dreams, who worked hard not to get into the 'typical' corporate life but something larger than this, a more beautiful and meaningful future – a world where he could bring about that much needed difference, a world where his energy and enthusiasm was all that was required for success, a world where there was no room for racism, favouritism, greed, and personal conveniences ... Was there no such world ever? Was it all a screen? Was it just a fairytale? Is the child inside me never going to realize its dream? Is the adolescent never going to reach the pinnacle of his desires? Is the sophomore never going to b

IT without India?? Impossible!!

Aggreg8 is a new social networking site from Microsoft for IT developers - they have a cool, nerdy byline for their portal ' 127.0.0.1 for IT Pros '. (For the uninitiated 127.0.0.1 is the default address for localhost i.e. local webserver on your computer). However, to my horror, the Sign Up form does not have Indian Timezone - Indian Standard Time (IST) for registrants!! How can Microsoft commit such a horrible mistake of not having 'INDIA' on the sign up of a website meant for IT Professionalls !!! I hope M$ realizes its mistake ASAP and corrects it ... PS: I did not complete my sign-up in protest ...

Every language has its day!

An article in the morning Metro today says [Source: Metro.co.uk ]: "Hinglish has become one of the fastest growing hybrid languages in the world. For British Asians, it can enliven English. In India it is fast becoming a lingua franca." And finally there's this book on the language / dialect - The Queen's Hinglish : How to Speak Pukka by Baljinder K Mahal. Hinglish has been there for long enough - I remember hearing it even as a kid - but back then it was essentially a teen toungue - Bollywood movies then were more fond of Punjabi, Bihari and mostly Urdu based Hindi. Of course the street tongue dialogues like - 'Kuttte !! Main Tera Khoon Pee Jaunga' were also quite popular as were some supposedly Bambaiya addresses like 'Ai Sssaaaaaaaala'. However, as Bollywood moved to becoming more and more urbane and classy, Hinglish too has matured. Many words in Hinglish are a part of routine English vocab now, add to it the SMSish language there's a whole

Chipping In ....

My cousin, who was in class X, once sought some guidance from me to complete his computer assignment - to write a Java program for bubble sort. Having been out of touch with "classic programming assignments" since some time - I wanted to refresh my understanding of bubble sort. So I asked him to explain it to me - he started blurting out the code in Java. I stopped him "Hold on! Let's not get into the code. First tell me what you do in bubble sort?" To my surprise he couldn't tell me in plain English what he meant by bubble sort. When I delved deeper I realized that the problem was more fundamental - Java was the first programming language that he was learning and his study of programming started with understanding Objects and Classes rather than algorithms and logic. I had observed the same problem with some batch mates in Engineering. But their case was more accidental than by design because Computer Science was not a core subject in their schools. Howev

Software it is !!!

I wrote in my post 2.5 years ago: "Though Steve Jobbs might not have realized but he was not fighting for the Macintosh Project, he was fighting for emphasis on software and not hardware. .... Apple Corporation ... is not in the business of selling computers but in the business of selling the software inside it." Steve Jobbs has corroborated my views here : "... we became convinced that software was going to be the primary technology, and we're a pretty good software company. "We're a good hardware company, too, but we're really good at software. So that led us to believe that we had a chance to reinvent the music business, and we did."

The Seed of Innovation

Steve Jobbs remarks in the The Seed of Apple's Innovation : "I get asked a lot why Apple's customers are so loyal. It's not because they belong to the Church of Mac! That's ridiculous. It's because when you buy our products, and three months later you get stuck on something, you quickly figure out [how to get past it]. And you think, 'Wow, someone over there at Apple actually thought of this!' And then three months later you try to do something you hadn't tried before, and it works, and you think 'Hey, they thought of that, too.' And then six months later it happens again. There's almost no product in the world that you have that experience with, but you have it with a Mac. And you have it with an iPod." I would say the same for Google and Microsoft. As much as we may ridicule these companies for being (or trying to become) monopolies - the truth is we all use their products because they come up with stuff that works!! There isn&

Elections of the 'great' Democracy

The US is probably the world's leading country in adoption of technology and the world's second largest democracy. In spite of this it record in ensuring flawless elections has been dismal. During the penultimate Presidential Election and now during the current elections - too much technology has probably become the Achilles heel for the US. This is especially amusing considering that India - a much larger democracy, but a technologically a much primitive society manages to conduct its elections almost flawlessly (in terms of technicalities - social problems like Booth Capturing do continue to cast a shadow on democratic processes in India). T P Sreenivasan has quoted many appropriate examples of America's failure to be able to conduct flawless elections. I quote: "The last time I watched US election results back in 2000, the overwhelming thought was not the enormity of the change, but surprise over the sheer inability of the SuperPower to manage an election without s

Wild Ignorant West

Foreigners usually look at India from small windows to it - the most popular window being Bollywood followed by Indian Cuisine, (Western) Media and last but not the least Indians themselves (NRIs and PIOs). The picture of India visible to them through these windows is like understanding prehistoric ages from artifacts in a paleontology museum. This many times leads to funny perceptions - some of which I elucidate below. An African Indian colleague of mine is very curious about Bollywood. During a chat with him I exclaimed that Shahrukh Khan is from Delhi - he was nothing but surprised on hearing this. His immediate query was - When did he shift to Delhi? Me: He was born and brought up there man. Him: Oh! But I thought he was from Pakistan!" I was aghast! But he went on - So Amir Khan must be from Pakistan, right? Me: No dude! He is from Mumbai! Him: Then Salman .... Me: No Salman too is from Mumbai!! No Bollywood actors are from Pakistan-they are all Indians! Another interesting

Sakshat.edu

India's human resources development ministry has launched a one stop education portal Sakshat.edu.in , which is aimed at students of all ages. But GOI will remain GOI - the site has the most ill-built navigation for a site expected to be accessed by students, especially in India. The government is probably forgetting that the site will be more useful to students in small towns and villages who might even put their first step online through this website. But I would be surprised if any of these manage to go beyond the homepage of the site. Even I took a few seconds to realize that this is a 'menu-driven' site. I clicked each of the 4 tabs on the homepage at least 5 times hoping that a new page would open, before I realized that this is a 'hi-tech' site with a unique kind of navigation. It ignores the most basic rule on the internet - 'click to open'. Instead one must hover the mouse over the 'title' of the tabs - this would pop up a menu far down on t

Ads based model: Not for India

Rajesh Jain points out a very relevant point of view in his latest post , that the Indian market is probably not yet ready for Advertisement Revenue Based Online products. I had arrived at a similar conclusion based on a very limited self-survey. I went on to ask many of my friends who used Gmail as to how many of them clicked the Ads that appeared beside their mail in the Gmail window. Most of them didn't even notice the Ads and not even a single person said that they clicked those Ads - however going by the revenue that Google gets out of Gmail, it seems that this is not the case with Americans or Britons. The India consumer is culturally not very receptive towards advertisements; add to it the small size of the broadband user-base in India, cultural reluctance to commit online payments and ignorance of lots of users - clearly creating a business based purely on a Ad based revenue model can turn out to be disastrous in Indian Cyberspace. However, companies like rediff, Sify a