Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mobile = PC

Nice post by Sadgopalan

Engadget reports that both Gates and Microsoft CTO Craig J. Mundie talked up the idea of a specially designed smartphone that could be connected to a TV and keyboard, turning it into a full-fledged computer. Mundie highlighted that everyone is going to have a cellphone. Come to think of it, the cell phone is the platform as against the laptop – the no. of cellphones exceed the number of laptops, potentially at about two billion people with each other.

Philip Greenspun was amongst the early proponents of the idea of making mobile phones as home computers. Evidence this can work: Millions of Japanese consumers whose only home computing device is an iMode phone, providing them with text messaging, Web pages, and various social and commercial services.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Skype Ecology ...

Newsweek has the following story posted. It is very interesting to see that just 2 months ago there were less than a few "Skype devices", and now I see close to 200 devices. Amazing.

Skype has published a set of technical instructions that allow phone manufacturers to build the service into their devices—for the first time, phones that work on Skype's inexpensive online network are worth the investment. We tested the newest and coolest of the estimated 200 gadgets that are either on sale now or in development.

Linksys' new Cordless Internet Telephony Kit or CIT200 looks like a normal cordless phone, but the base station plugs into your PC's USB port and communicates with the handset at a distance of up to 164 feet inside a house.

The Skype Wi-Fi phone, coming this March from Netgear, is basically a Skype cell phone. It connects to any wireless network, letting users make Skype calls completely unconnected to a PC or phone line.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Business Prophet

BusinessWeek posted an article about CK Prahalad, very interesting ...
For his next book, due in fall, 2006, Prahalad is assembling case studies of Indian companies that could spawn entirely new ways to think about conducting business. Fast-growing telecom operators such as Bharti, Reliance, and Tata, for example, are profitably selling cellular service for as little as 2 cents a minute "even though they must buy the same hardware as Western companies," he says. Now they're preparing to launch broadband TV, data, and voice for around $30 a month -- about a third of the cost of such packages in the U.S. Bangalore's Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital charges a flat fee of only $1,500 for heart bypass surgery that would cost 50 times that in the U.S. and operates on hundreds of infants each year for free. Yet it is highly profitable, has no debt, and claims a higher success rate than most U.S. hospitals. Narayana also profitably insures 2.5 million poor Indians against serious illness for 11 cents a month per person.

Low wages alone can't account for such price gaps with the West, Prahalad contends. The real secret is ingenious cost-cutting practices, such as extreme reliance on outsourcing, novel use of technology, and making the most of capital investment. "These are radical innovations," Prahalad says, many of which can be adapted to the U.S.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Samsung 7.7 megapixel camera phone with optical zoom - SCH B500

Phoneyworld reports:

"This camera phone is certainly more of a camera
and less of a phone, especially when you see it from
the back. The slider handset which goes by the name of SCH B500
is quite thick to accommodate the camera lens - 18.5 mm
to be precise. The SCH B500 does not simply bank on
the credit of having a 7.7 megapixel camera either;
its a DMB phone so it can receive and allow the user
to view satellite TV as well. Since the phone can take
such high resolution pictures, the user is bound to run
out of storage space sooner or later, a problem easily solved
by getting T-flash (trans flash) memory cards which the
phone supports. The pictures can then be later seen on a
TV screen thanks to the TV out function of the SCH B500.

The large display goes into landscape mode once the camera
is activated. The SCH B500 is expected to be available
to Korean users initially via SK Telecom."

See picture here, also the optical zoom!

Beijing Has 97 Handsets For Every 100 People

Pacific Epoch reports:
Beijing had 97 handset user accounts for every 100 residents at the end of 2005, Beijing Daily reports quoting statistics from the National Bureau Of Statistics (NBS). There were 14.7 million mobile phone users in Beijing by the end of 2005, 1.293 million more than in 2004. Beijing added 1.026 million fixed line users in 2005, bringing Beijing's fixed line user accounts to 9.5 million.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

USB Hub + Freescale’s Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology

Gizmodo reports about a new USB hub by Belkin:

"Belkin is jumping on the wireless USB bandwagon with this four-port hub. That’s right, it’s packing wireless USB, letting you roam free with any USB device. Using Motorola spinoff Freescale’s Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, this hot connection gives you data rates that are a hundred times faster than Bluetooth. So imagine, you walk into a room with your notebook, plug in the wireless USB dongle and you’re instantly connected to that USB hard drive you have stashed under the desk. No wires, no muss, no fuss."

This seems like a very intersting technology. Belkin has reported it here.

Here’s more that you can do with UWB:

  • An office worker could put a mobile PC on a desk and instantly be connected to a printer, scanner and Voice over IP (VoIP) headset.
  • All the components for an entire home entertainment center could be set up and connected to each other without a single wire.
  • A digital camcorder could play a just-recorded video on a friend's HDTV without anyone having to fiddle with wires.
  • A portable MP3 player could stream audio to high-quality surround-sound speakers anywhere in the room.
  • A mobile computer user could wirelessly connect to a digital projector in a conference room to deliver a presentation.
  • Digital pictures could be transferred to a photo print kiosk for instant printing without the need of a cable.

Intel is also said to be creating a UWB radio that allows for the migration of Bluetooth, USB and 1394 protocols in such a manner that a single radio can support each of these protocols.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What’s holding back the Indian Venture Capital Market?

Abrar Hussain points out that India’s venture capital ecosystem has “some ripening to do” before it can be equated to the original Silicon Valley.

They heyday for Silicon Valley’s monopoly over the technology industry is long gone. Nowadays, Bangalore is often included in the same breath when there is a reference to Silicon Valley. But, is this really a realistic comparison? Although everyone seems to equate the two, if we poke around this comparison it’s easy to see that there are some big differences. I won’t pretend to have a monopoly on the items listed--I think lots of people are thinking the same thing. India is still maturing and, although there seems to be some recent evidence that the Indian VC industry is beginning to "fill in the gaps" within its offerings, there are still some significant parts of Indian venture capital ecosystem that have some ripening to do.

1) Innovation
– Early in Japan's development a common criticism they faced was that they could copy and make lots of things better but they couldn't create something new. It's much the same for Indian companies. While the offerings by many service companies seems to get better, cheaper and faster, none of these companies seem to be the next Google, or Genentech or eBay--companies which actually created new markets and fundamentally change the way that people look at an industry. This might be changing. There are some early startups that truly look innovative. But, why is it that Indians in the Valley can innovate and create something new and when you put them back in India they can’t seem to do the same thing?

4) Exit Strategy – Most Indian technology companies are focused on services. The problem is that it's hard to create a big exit for a services company. This is a mature space. As I look at some of the investments being made, it's not clear what the exit strategy is. It almost reminds me of the Internet boom in Silicon Valley when investors were investing because they didn't want to be "left behind". Some trends are meant to be left behind.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Advances in Online Advertising

In a news article titled "Microsoft hopes to cash in with click-on ads", it is discussed:
Microsoft is hoping to expand on the concept with a new technology that allows viewers to click on cars, clothing or other products that appear in online movies or TV shows. For example, viewers of "Sex and the City" could click on Carrie Bradshaw's designer shoes or Kamali sweaters as she walks down a New York street and immediately be transported to advertisements for those products.
... online advertising, currently a $14.6 billion market, is the latest area where it is focusing attention. "We are determined to establish Microsoft as the top leader in this space," said adCenter general manager Tarek Najm.
Spending on online advertising in this country is expected to nearly double in the next five years to $26 billion -- or 8 percent of the entire advertising market, according to Forrester Research.

There are possible thoughts that come to my mind. Some extrapolations of the current trend of online-ad-economy; perfected by Google-AdSense.

AdSense + Cable TV: Cable as an online media delivery service is currently delivered with advertisements. Very soon cable can be made free. Set-top boxes will allow controlled advertisements to be delivered on televisions. The amount of advertisements delivered will determine the cable-rate. In fact set-top boxes can in some cases be integrated with AdSense to deliver personalized-advertisements based on user's channel-preferences. There is a lot that can be done here. This will particularly become interesting with
IPTV. In fact the settop boxes can do time slicing of video broadcasts (over IP), and embed ‘tagged advertisements’ on TV.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mobile Trends in India

Some very interesting facts that I read today:

Ramnath Subbu reports on Mobile statistics in India in Hindu:
The subscriber base continues to grow aggressively and in end-2005 touched 75 million (48 million in end-2004), according to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

There is now likely to be a significant thrust by players in offering value-added services as the dominance of voice traffic makes way for growing data traffic. "Voice revenues account for around 85 per cent of traffic while data and value-added services constitute the rest. Henceforth, the proportion will keep increasing in favour of data and value-added services," T. V. Ramachandran, Director General, COAI told The Hindu.

Currently, pre-paid users account for 77-78 per cent of users. "By end-2009, this share is likely to go up to around 88 per cent. What may change during this period is the value of recharge coupons.

"Micro pre-paids will increasingly bring down the entry barriers for customers, especially in the rural areas," said Ms. Desai. "By 2009, there will be some stability in the market and metro customers will increasingly go in for pre-paid vouchers of higher denominations."

"The next quantum jump in the industry will be the conversion of Access Deficit Charge (ADC), which is on a call-by-call basis, to a revenue share model," said Mr. Ramachandran. The continuation of the ADC creates anomalies that can skew the market and disadvantage mobile operators.

The COAI expects the subscriber base to go up to 125 million in 2006 and touch 200 million by December 2007.

Manoj Nair And Sobha Menon report in Economic times:
India is on the verge of the newest chapter of urban renewal: a giga-departure from lugging your laptop to the nearest Barista and logging on to Gamespot. Now you got game on the go.

... the ’04 In-Stat/ MDR projections predicted that the Indian mobile gaming market will generate Rs 1,500 crore in annual revenue by ’09. Then, came the Pyramid Research Group survey which ranked India as the top mobile game market.

And third, the latest SSKI report expects the wireless VAS market to witness rapid growth from estimated Rs 350 crore to Rs 3,800 crore in ’10. The revenue share of games is 5-6% at present but is expected to go up to 8% by ’10. About 30-35% of the new handsets have GPRS capability.

Paid downloads figures for mobile games are around 600,000 a month, but it could be anything between 50% and 60% more.

Says Rajesh Rao, CEO, Dhruva: “Mobile games are the fillers between waiting time. But they are creating an appetite for more serious gaming.” A number of cricket games will be released and for this Dhruva will leverage its recent tie-up with Wisden group’s Cricinfo India, which is a provider of cricket content, including java games, he said.

Also in place is an exclusive development alliance with gaming company Mauj. Why shouldn’t they be gung-ho “in this beautiful world?” An average of 1,20,000 mobile games are downloaded every month by Hutch users. This is a phenomenal 50-fold rise from an average of 2,200 mobile game downloads in February last year.

And it is not just Indians whose eyes are popping out. Clint Wheelock, director of In-Stat/ MDR, says: “With half a dozen major developers, along with a variety of start-ups, we expect India’s influence to grow in the evolving mobile gaming sector. It is a multi-million dollar market, both in terms of software development and end-user consumption.”

So the back office of this urban atmosphere of connectivity will be busy for sometime. Indiagames, a global leader in mobile entertainment content, is developing its latest next-generation mobile 3D games for Qualcomm’s BREW solution.

The 3D BREW games will be optimised for Qualcomm’s Mobile Station ModemT Enhanced Multimedia Platform chipsets, including the MSM6550T and MSM6275T. Says Vishal Gondal, CEO, Indiagames: “Indians were never exposed to good games.

But now that they have access to hi-def handsets the scene is changing dramatically. Once 3G is here you can’t imagine what it will be like.”

Watch this space!

16GB Flash Drives!

Martin Veitch reports
Samsung will start producing 16 gigabit Nand Flash chips this year, nudging the memory technology towards use in notebook PCs and maybe even edging out hard drives in some products in the next few years.
... the technology could extend battery life because solid-state Flash designs would be far more efficient than hard disks.
"I do think there's a role for Nand Flash in PCs," commented Joe Unsworth of analyst Gartner. "But for the foreseeable future, hard disks have cost advantages." Gartner estimates that 16GB Flash drives will cost from about $90 (£52) in 2007 but Windows Vista is likely to require much larger capacities. Claus Egge of research firm IDC added, "Flash is far from mature [enough to replace hard drives] but it could be competitive soon."
Another scenario sees Flash operating alongside hard disks to cache data and frequently-accessed applications to save on hard drive activity.
Intel also plans to use Flash on chipsets to accelerate performance.

Read more at Flash memory to rival hard drive - vnunet.com.

Friday, January 06, 2006

DualCor cPC

DualCor Technologies Previews New Handtop PC

“LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- DualCor Technologies, Inc., today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), previewed the DualCor cPC, the world's first ultra portable personal computer to simultaneously run full-function Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and Windows Mobile 5.0 operating systems. This unique device represents a new category of hardware for global enterprise computing and promises to end the compromise between mobility, functionality and productivity for the mobile business professional.

The DualCor cPC is the only all-in-one, wireless "handtop" (handheld-desktop) computer that combines the power of a desktop PC, the instant-on convenience of a PDA and the always-connected functionality of a cell phone. Measuring just 6.5" x 3.3" x 1.2", the DualCor cPC offers unprecedented battery life for enterprise computing, Internet access, e-mail and talk time. A patented dual processor architecture and integrated 40GB hard drive allows the DualCor cPC to run fully enabled desktop applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, and non-diluted versions of enterprise applications like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, while retaining the instant-on, always-on functionality and long-lasting power of a PDA and cell phone.”

Lets see when we come up with a 6.5" x 3.3" x 0.6" form factor!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mobile Computing Predictions

10 Things to Look for This Year in Mobile Computing.

Two of very interesting insights:
"6. Mobile Linux will come, but not first from the Access/PalmSource group. There have been a few rumors floating around that Palm (not PalmSource who was bought by Access) has been working on their own version of Linux for a future offering. It is also assumed by this writer that at least one Linux handset will be released by someone other than Motorola in the markets outside of Asian ones. 2006 will be a peak into the mobile Linux future, but the key there will be making sure that whatever Linux distribution is used, it has some standard components that others will be able to take and use. If Linux remains fragmented in the mobile space, all 2006 will be is a flash in the pan for Linux (a point that I think Access/PalmSource is in position to meet, as long as they stay on time -- mid to late 2006).

9. There will be at least one attempt to make a
mini-notebook/large PDA device that docks to become a full-fledged computer.
While this is something that I am personally wanting to see and do with my Treo 650 (as much of what I can do I really do on there), 2006 will see this device not only come out to some fanfare, but that device will see some success in vertical and education markets. The key will be making sure that the device hasn't any compromises as compared to a similarly priced laptop or desktop, and that device and informational security are a large part of the platform. But I do think that this device is well overdue, and we should see at least one, possibly two. OQO has started down this path, hopefully they can continue to push this market further."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Samsung's 3.6Mbps Mobile Phone ...

Samsung's HSDPA reaches 3.6Mbps - MobileGuerilla
"Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2006 in Las Vegas, Samsung made the world’s first demonstration of HSDPA technology reaching speeds up to 3.6 Mbps. HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), also called 3.5G is a packet-based data service in WCDMA downlink.

The new 3.6 Mbps speed, which equals about 460KB/s will allow users to download a 4.2 MB file in exactly 10 seconds, much faster than WCDMA or GSM/GPRS.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Motorola unveils iRadio ...

Motorola unveils iRadio ...

"The iRadio service, will include 435 commercial-free radio channels, including genres such as Heavy Metal, Rockin' Cowboys and Angry Women. Its satellite rivals also provide specialized music channels, often without ads.

iRadio will let users download channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos, like satellite radio.

The iRadio service will cost about $7 a month but the price may vary depending on which wireless phone service the subscriber uses, according to Motorola."

Pretty Cool.

Monday, January 02, 2006

RIM cites another patent office win in NTP fight

Latest from Reuters:

"BlackBerry e-mail service provider Research In Motion Ltd. said on Friday the U.S. patent office has ruled against two more NTP Inc. patents in their fight....While the case has worked its way through the court system, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been reexamining the validity of NTP patents. So far the agency has rejected claims for seven of the eight patents in non-final actions, according to RIM."

Finally things are working out for RIM.

E-mail based file sharing services

James Dempsey has posted 50 free e-mail-based file sending service that are absolutely free and require no e-mail registration to.

This is a fantastic list.