Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Should Startups fear Google / Yahoo / Microsoft/* ?

In brief, I believe the answer is a resounding NO. Otherwise, there will be no big companies like Microsoft/Google/Yahoo/*, because once they were small startups just like others and must have faced similar if not same situations.

Recently, there was lot of buzz about the demise of few small companies because some big company entered the same niche market. And there was equal buzz and frantic and quite fanatic response by the blogosphere about Google's entry in to web based office software. Many, so called entrepreneurs are panicking that they can not simply survive. And many are suggesting that startups should look for way out, when a big guy enters the same market.

"there’s no need to panic (yet), but it may help to think now about ways to get yourself out of the headlights" - OnStartups

"the reason companies ought to be scared of the big fat guy is that since they have more resources (money, personell, exposure, media visibility), they can quickly replicate or outdo the concept of the upcoming small start-up. - Jean Biri (comment on the post at OnStartups)

It does not make any sense to me, though it looks like a reasonable and acceptable advice in the blogosphere.

In my opinion, the key reasons an entrepreneur comes up with an idea and start a business are:

  • he/she got a wonderful product/service idea  or an exemplary execution strategy
  • he/she spots a big earning opportunity and want to make big buck
  • he/she is so passionate about a product/service/strategy

You had a niche area of expertise, product or service offering and you spot a big opportunity to make money. Now some big guy is entering. Some are suggesting that get ready to 'get yourself out of the headlights' and find another niche spot. Few questions came to my mind when I read first read the blog.

  • Is there any entrepreneur who builds a business thinking that Yahoo/Microsoft/Google/* won't enter the market? Or assume there would be no competitors?
  • If you think you spotted a great opportunity to build a product, why one think that no one else could spot the same opportunity and compete with you?
  • Do we forget for some strange reason that every big fat guy starts so small just like any other?
  • If you loose your nerve by looking at G/M/Y/* entering your own market/product line, and start thinking about ANOTHER NICHE area/product/strategy, why do you think the big fat guy does not enter your NICHE market? They already did once, right?
  • If there is some market that is not reachable or not approachable to a big guy, is there real money there? Because, if there is good money, then why would big guy miss it? Even after you showed them how to do it?

Some how it does not make sense to me. The big fat company is once a small company just like everybody else.  Ofcourse, the big guys must have garnered a greater marketing muscle, image and reach. But why is it a surprise now? Didn't you know to consider such a threat at the beginning itself? Why would one assume that there will be no competition?

I don't know how today's entrepreneurs are facing this issue. And I don't intend to suggest a solution either. But I don't think it does any good to divert from what you are doing and start looking for another niche market. Simply because, it did not work so far. Did it? If it had, you wouldn't be thinking about another NICHE area/segment now.

Few things that can be thought over.

  • The so called Big fat guys are once small startups like any other. How did they do it when challenged with similar threats? I believe, We can learn some thing from them.
  • You got a wonderful product/service idea  or an exemplary execution strategy, and you are the first to bring it to the world. Use that as your leverage to promote further.
  • Since the big fat guy is now competing with you, you would obviously get lots of publicity at no cost in the media. Use it to your advantage.
  • There are many advantages of being small, bring them on.
  • Do whatever it takes to let your user community speak for your product. The user community you got have more experience with the product than a new comer.

The user community has always demonstrated so much passion and love about the quality of a product and value it can bring to users, it would not fail any good startup, just because the same product is being offered by a big guy. If that is true, you will not see so many Web2.0 companies in particular and startups in general. If What many of the bloggers are suggesting to stay out of main stream market is true, then you would not see even those big fat guys today. (They were small once, and faced similar challenges from big guys then)

Update: Listen to a discussion by Niall Kennedy and Om Malik on this topic.

Mobile Commerce revving up in India

Mobile internet and Mobile commerce makes a lot of sense in the context of Indian market. There are more than 100 Million people equipped with a mobile phone. But there are only around 40 Million people actively using internet. Mostly because of the lack of internet access services. Most users do not have internet access at home and their primary place of internet access is either office or internet cafes. While access in office is restricted both interms of sites and work hours, accessing internet from cafes is totally insecure. So, many hesitate to buy stuff on internet.

Mobile internet and Mobile commerce offers a solution that is a blessing in a situation like that. With Mobile internet, You can access internet any where, any time right from your mobile and it is very secure.  And Mobile commerce solutions like M-Wallet makes it much more safe and easy to do shopping, because you do not have to enter Credit card information every time you make a purchase.

Keeping the importance of Mobile Internet in that context, its a reason for celebration that Mobile Commerce solutions are revving up in India and recently also got a boost with Industry backing and Venture funding. The two prominent solutions in news recently are JiGrahak's NGPay  and   PayMate. In this post, we will cover NGPay and cover PayMate in an upcoming post.

What is NGPay: JiGrahak's NGPay is a free Mobile Wallet service that enable users to make payments via their cell phones in a secured way. Users enter their credit card information only once during the setup. Then, Users can buy products like airline tickets, movie tickets, flowers, books etc from Merchants partnering with NGPay platform, without entering credit card information again. Also, each user will have a secure PIN that must be entered to proceed with the transaction. Payment is automatically made from your Wallet, through your credit card. You can top up your NGPay account with any credit card. Debit card support is on the way.

Air Deccan and Sify Mall are the first partners of this platform at the time of writing. Pretty soon, you can also pay your friends or communities using NGPay. Regarding venture funds, JiGrahak also received a $2.2 million funding from Helion Venture Partners recently.

What you need: All you need is a Java enabled Mobile Phone with service that enables you to access internet, like GPRS connection. Around 150 models support Java and are capable of GPRS connections.

How to Start: Send an SMS message with 'NGPAY DND' to +91 9945444000 OR logon to www.ngpay.com from your mobile phone browser to download NGPay.   

How to Access the service: Switch on your mobile. Go to Air Deccan or Sify Mall and shop what you want. Pay with your NGPay wallet (additionally you can pay with credit card also). Watch for a demo from the links below to get an idea.

For more information visit the following links:

    Thanks for visiting ‘The Cellular Life Style’. We hope you will enjoy reading it and get relevant information that you can use to your advantage, to have more fun and to enjoy your mobile life style.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Top 30 VOIP Blogs

Found a great post The Top 30 VoIP Blogs that you must read to stay in touch with VOIP World at http://www.smithonvoip.com/2006/08/28/the-top-30-v...

The listing of 30 blogs has been divided in to three sections. The top 10, that are read almost daily by almost every one in the VOIP industry and are a must reads. This list is followed by the Prominent 10 that are read atleast once in a week that cover a niche area of VOIP. And then the 10 worth reading blogs, that mostly cover news around VOIP.

Top 10:

  1. Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch
  2. Om Malik - GigaOm
  3. ....

The Prominent

  1. Asterisk VoIP News
  2. Alec Saunders .Log
  3. ....

Always Worth a Read

  1. Ken Camp’s Realtime VoIP
  2. Solomon’s Ige VoIP Blog
  3. ....

Wonderful compilation. One of the readers of the posting Dan York also left some links to Podcasts on VOIP.  Please visit Smith's blog for the complete listing of blog and podcasts.

Snapshot of Andhra Pradesh

  1. Population: 79.7 million (2006).
  2. Capital: Hyderabad (est. population, 6 million 2006).
  3. State GDP: US$59.1 billion (2004/05).
  4. State GDP growth rate: 9.8 per cent (2004/05).
  5. Largest producer of rice in Southern India.
  6. Ranked second in the number of industrial estates.
  7. Base for nearly one quarter of India’s software professionals.
  8. Second largest minerals base.
  9. Largest exporter of pharmaceuticals.
  10. Hyderabad is the number one ranked centre for IT enabled services in India.

IT is definitely getting better in Andhra Pradesh (look at bullets 7 and 10) and GDP growth (Growth: $5.79B, GDP:US$59.1 billion)is slightly better than Karnataka (Growth: $5.05B GDP: US$43.17 billion).

Source:http://www.nfis.com.au/india/pdfs/1_why_focus_sout...

IndiaToday: India in Numbers

India Today's cover story 'India in Numbers', published on the eve of India's Independence day(15th August) attempted to showcase the 59 year old Independent India using numbers. Numbers are as complex as Indian psyche. They can lie flat out and hide the truth or can reveal the startling truth. But overall, an interesting compilation.

Some are clearly encouraging and some are totally disheartening. Some are quite unbelievable and some are outrageously naive. It is very important to put them in proper context to see beyond the numbers. Otherwise, is there any significance to 59 ??

IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation) has links to the PDF documents of the original article by IndiaToday here.

SMiShing - Phishing via SMS, a real threat

McAfee Avert Labs Blog posted last friday (25th August, 2006) about a Phishing attack, that is started by an SMS on your mobile phone. This may not be a direct security threat for your Mobile phone, but a severe threat for your desktop/laptop computers and network that you are connected to.
This phenomena, which we at McAfee Avert Labs are dubbing “SMiShing” (phishing via SMS), is yet another indicator that cell phones and mobile devices are becoming increasingly used by perpetrators of malware, viruses and scams

The attack starts with an SMS on your mobile phone indicating that you have signed up for a dating service and you will be charged $2 per day unless you visit a URL and cancel your subscription. And for many this looks like a real SMS. So when you visit the URL, the website will prompt you to download an application which is a Trojan horse that makes your computer a zombie, and exposing it to hackers.

So, beware of such SMS messages. The SMS Message might look like  a message from a real Dating service or Your Ring tone service provider or any body for that matter, which you would never suspect. But when you receive such an SMS,

  • Check that URL whether that is a Phishing website or real service provider. A search in Google or security websites like McAfee with the URL might help.  

  • If you don't find any thing on Google but you are still suspicious, better not to visit the website.

  • If you are aware that your Dating service used to send SMS messages to remind you of your subscriptions, You can call up the Dating service or relevant service provider, and confirm your subscriptions just to make sure every thing is fine.

  • If your dating service never sent you SMS reminders about your subscriptions, you can fully ignore the SMS.

  • If you are in doubt, do not access the URL. 


And particularly, DO NOT ACCESS such URLs from your office network. If the hackers succeed to have you install the application on your office computer or your personal laptop accessing office internet, the consequences will be severe.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What do you want from your Mobile?

If you haven't noticed, the mobile we knew of is gone. Today, we CAN take  pictures, record video, access email, browse internet, download music, watch TV, use cell phone as a smart card, pay at a shop, listen to podcasts, write your blog and the list goes on almost endless. 

But, here is glimpse of what today's Mobile can do or have. You can carry all those gadgets seperately if you love to. Or you can carry Just Your Mobile that does all of them. We love to call having a mobile that does all these and a lot more, 'The Cellular Life Style', a mobile centric world.



Luckily many mobiles available today have most of the features. For some like Video, not all current networks support the speed for an effective use and an enjoyable experience. But the networks are pretty close to getting an upgrade. So, that will not be a factor any more. Get a cool mobile and enjoy the life style.

What do you think? What do you want from Your Mobile ? A plain old glorified cordless phone or a magical widget that does all you need (and a lot more awaiting)?  What kind of features or facilities are you looking for in a mobile. Do you see any benefits in a  mobile centric lifestyle? 

Leave us a comment about what you think. We will have more on what specific feature set is currently available in each market with each service provider. Stay tuned. You can subscribe to our RSS Feed or subscribe by Email (provided by Feedburner) by entering your email address at the bottom of this page. You can also send an email to inspions@gmail.com with any suggestions and topics that you want to cover. Thanks for visiting 'The Cellular Life Style'. We hope you will enjoy reading it and get relevant information that you can use to your advantage, to have more fun and to enjoy your mobile life style.

Alltel to begin Mobile Podcasting in USA

A life style apart. On 8th of August, 2006 Alltel Wireless, one of the top US Wireless operators in association with Melodeo launched Axcess Mobilcast service that enables Alltel customers to listen to podcasts on their mobile for a monthly subscription price of $3.99.

Users can not only get main stream podcasts from the likes of NPR and CNN but also podcasts from independent podcasters around the world. At the time of release, there are around 2500 podcasts were available with the Axcess Mobilcast repository at users disposal.

More details at Alltel Wireless web site on Axcess MobilCast here.

If you are using one of the following phones from Alltel, then you can start listening to podcasts on your Mobile: Kyocera KX5 (Slider Remix), LG AX355, LG AX390, LG AX4750, LG AX5000, LG UX4270, LG VX3200, Motorola V3c (RAZR), Motorola V710, Motorola e815, Motorola razr (V3C)

Note that Alltel is still following a walled garden approach, meaning that Alltel users can not listen to whatever they like, but what ever is available. The number 2500 podcasts looks good, but if its not in that list, then you can not listen to.

Many still ask the same question, why would one pay $3.99 to listen to podcasts on mobile? and quite skeptical about the service. They think we have an iPod to do so. Ofcourse, you can carry an iPod for music, PDA for organizer, portable TV for watching clips ..........., didn't we warn you that still many don't understand 'The Cellular Life Style'?

Likely H1B Visa hike? Just for Indians?

There were news reports all across the Main stream media about a proposed hike of 25% of visas 'for Indians'.  But, clearly the report looks to be a fake one. No press releases from US Embassy in New Delhi or any mention on the USCIS or any of the US media. Just few India news houses and ItWire Australia that started all of this.

All seems to have started with the iTWire, Australia reporting the issue first with an enticing title, 'India likely to get 25% more H1B visas'.

There’s some news to cheer up Indian IT firms. Newly appointed minister of consular affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi, Peter Kaestner, announced that the US is considering a proposal to raise the H1B work permit quota for India by 25 percent from the current 80,000 to 100,000.

The news item looks to be a completely FAKE report. And all the main stream media just pushed it out, obviously without any confirmation or thought about the news item. Few reasons why the report will be just a fake and totally inaccurate news item:

  • If there is a statement from Minister of consular affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi, Peter Kaestner, I bet, Peter will have his figures right. Anybody who knows a little about H1B visas will have these numbers right.
  • Current quota is 85000 (65000 + 20000 for people with Advanced Degrees), not 80,000.
  • And this quota is for the whole world. Not just for Indians.
  • If US Embassy has plans to increase visas by 25% just for Indias, they should have given the base number of Indians of which 25% will be hiked.
  • 25% of hike for Indians, does not mean 20000 more visas.  As per last known Statistical report from USCIS about such stats is about year 2003. India was the clear leader with a whopping 36% then. So, if we assume a similar trend, India had around 30000 visas in the current quote. Then, India can get 25% means around 7500 visa hike. Not 20,000 just for India. [USCIS Reports Page]
  • No recent statistics officially from USCIS about how many Indian applicants in the total 85000 quota. So it would be most unlikely that US embassy says 25% hike just for Indians without quoting any baselines
  • And biggest question would be Why would US increases the H1B visas just for Indians ???? Such an announcement would be clearly detrimental to their foreign image. I don't assume they would demonstrate their bias, even if they have some thing of this sort.
  • No news report from USCIS or Embassy of US in New Delhi
  • No mentions in the US Media houses or web sites.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Welcome to The Cellular Life Style

In year 2001, the Japanese Wireless Operator NTT DoCoMo started offering world's first 3G service. Most of the world was very skeptical about the success of 3G networks. Analysts declared it as the most riskiest endeavour ever taken by any wireless operator in the world. Most questioned why would anybody buy an expensive handset and play with a new interface with an unknown technology and an equally unwanted application. Not many had an internet connection to their computers, and why would some one need an internet connection on the cell phone.

Most probably you are not an exception. You might be just one of them asking similar if not same questions. Why would any body want to use Mobile to access internet? What the heck is about ringtones?

And the rest is history.  We believe, it is by far the most memorable and defining parts in the history of Mobile. Today, We assume that most of you have some sort of answers to most of those questions. NTT DoCoMo and its spectacular "i-Mode" have successfully created a new world of Mobile users, who love to do every thing on their Mobiles.  Right from accessing email to paying bills at a shop. Along the way, they have completely changed, what people call the traditionl way. For example, most people in Japan even stop wearing watches, almost an 100 years tradition. They started using Mobile as their watch, timer, calendar and organizer. That is just a simple example of how Japanese redefined their lifestyle around the Mobile.

We call it The Cellular Life Style, a life style apart. Some love to call it Mobile2.0. We don't argue.

The rest of the world,  took their own sweet time to really grasp what happened and as you can see they have recently started moving in the direction. Technically, 3G is becoming a reality in the rest of the world too. Either already deployed or in trials now and will be deployed pretty soon.  

So, the question to be asked at this moment is, "Are you ready" to be part of the revolution,  and create a new life style? Or just stay comfortable reading a similar story again in 2010?

If you are ready or willing to be one, then Welcome to 'The Cellular Life Style', a blog that will connect you to the Blazing new life styles of the Cellular world with reports, analysis, commentary and reviews about the Key Trends, Technologies, People, Companies, and Cool little gadgets that are redefining the Cellular Life Style. Just not what is available but how it can help you redefine your own life style around it.

If you haven't noticed, Mobile/cell phone is no longer just a phone that we knew. Today, we CAN take  pictures, record video, access email, browse internet, download music, watch TV, use cell phone as a smart card, pay at a shop, listen to podcasts, write your blog and the list goes on almost endless. 

So, here we are, attempting to be your preferred source for latest and relevant information in the Mobile World. On the way,  aspiring to help you redefine Your Cellular Life Style. We will cover the latest features, offers from carriers, gadgets, applications and give you a fair and informative look at the buzz in the Mobile Data World.

Hope you will enjoy the journey and be part of the revolution. If you have some cool stuff to share with us, please email inspions@gmail.com or submit as comments on this blog on a relevant post. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or subscribe by email (scroll down to the bottom of the screen).

There are three kinds of people; one who watches things happen, one who makes things happen and one who says 'what happened ?' - Anon

You absolutely have the right to choose !  We respect your choice. Its your style, by all means.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Startup Success 2006 - Panel Discussion

Guy has posted a video of a panel discussion with 5 top Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs on "Startup Success" moderated by him at Churchill Club on 17th August, 2006. It does not have formulae or checklist for success, like the recent main stream media/magazine cover stories, but it got some great and genuine insights in to the topic.

Speakers:

  • Lauren Elliott, Founder, Personal News Network

  • Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and CEO, LinkedIn

  • Joe Kraus, Co-Founder and CEO, JotSpot

  • Daniel Mattes, Co-Founder and CTO, Jajah

  • Alex Welch, Co-Founder and CEO, Photobucket

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Superstitions in America

One of the top stories on a local news channel in Dallas, is the growing demand for  statues of St.Joseph. The story reports that

When it comes time to sell a house, some homeowners rely on a statue of St. Joseph. A centuries-old tradition claims that burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard helps homes sell faster.

I guess, wherver there is a religion, there is a superstition. And America is not an exception, but a bigger example, with lots of strongly religious people. Quick search on Google gave lots of superstitions and not surprisingly there were so many books (a quick search on Amazon threw 68640 results) as well. But here are some superstitions, that are pretty famous and are every day examples:

  1. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  2. Getting out of bed with left foot first brings bad-luck.
  3. Spit on a new baseball bat before using it for the first time to make it lucky.
  4. If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake with the first puff you will get your wish.
  5. Before slicing a new loaf of bread, make the sign of the cross on it.
  6. Friday, 13th is the most dreadful day and bring misfortune. Also, If 13 people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over.
  7. The devil can enter your body when you sneeze. Having someone say, "God bless you," drives the devil away
  8. How you start the year is how you will end it.
  9. While predicting the baby, If Your baby's heart rate is 140 beats per minute or less, then it is a boy. If 140 or more beats per minute then its a girl.
  10. It's good luck when you see a falling star. Make a wish on it and it will come true.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Nettlinx launches VOIP service in Andhra, India

2 cents ( Rs.1) per minute to make international calls to US, Canada and Europe from Andhra Pradesh, India is quite irresistible !!  All you need is a broadband connection and phone unit. Visit the service website, 'Matallo' for more information on rates and information about plans available.

Calls to other states in India is not yet approved and provided by Nettlinx at this time as per the news report.

Hyderabad-based Internet service provider Nettlinx, in association with Smart IMS, a US-based corporation is coming out with its VoIP services across Andhra Pradesh under the brand name of ‘Matallo’, which means ‘In Words’ in Telugu.

Under the new initiative, Nettlinx will provide VoIP services with the help of special ‘Matallo’ VoIP phones that will enable the users to communicate to various international destinations  via the IP network of Nettlinx, according to Manohar Loka Reddy, director of Nettlinx.

The company will be rolling out various models of phones such as ‘Matallo Home’, ‘Matallo Enterprise’ for voice and also ‘Matallo Videophone’ that offers a high-clarity video stream helping the callers to be over a video call and also conduct video conferences.

The company is looking at a subscriber base of between 50,000 and one lakh in the first year. It expects to expand up to 8-10 lakh subscribers in three years. While the company charges Re 1 (2 cents) per minute for long distance calls to the US, Canada and Europe, it offers phone-to-phone calls free of charge.

(News at Business Standard)

RSS still a techie geeky thing ?

Last month I wrote "RSS Marketing - Is it just hype? or the next best channel?" wondering whether RSS can be a viable marketing medium or not. The brief answer is 'NOT YET'. Despite many advantages of RSS over Email for content delivery, the RSS subscribers are still quite low and only techies and geeks seems to have so far embraced RSS. Read the recent post "What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery" explaining why RSS is much better and safer for content delivery. 

As per an article in Business 2.0 "The New York Times' digital makeover", RSS subscriptions only generated about 4% of total page views. This number is quite in line with similar comparisons from other sources, confirming that RSS is yet to take off in the main stream.

And even RSS newsfeeds, which the Times adopted early, are still "a niche," Nisenholtz says. (In June, RSS feeds generated 12.2 million pageviews for the site out of a U.S. total of nearly 295 million.) "RSS is still very techie," he says. "Most people outside the business are totally unaware of it." [Article]

And another striking issue with RSS feeds is that only 18% of bloggers offer an RSS feed of their blog’s content (Bloggers - The Internet’s New Story Tellers). So far there are no clues on why RSS subscriptions are so low and factors affecting the faster adoption of RSS.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What you must learn at School?

Guy Kawasaki has a wonderful post 'Ten Things to Learn This School Year' (actually 12 things) explains the most important things that one must learn at school.

They are some of the most valuable things, one must learn to succeed in the real world. For an aspiring entrepreneur, they are MUST learn things. Unfortunately, none of them are taught at school. One must make explicit and deligent efforts to learn them on thier own.

One more important aspect, and the most valuable asset in real life (I guess Guy missed) is 'experimentation' and 'application' of what you learn. Schools teach you to study, review, analyse and present. But never explicitly make you to apply what you learn, experiment and try out. This is quite a serious issue with educational institutions in India, right from a rural high school to IITs.

And most schools teach you to 'conform' to rules of the game. Do what I say kinda conventions,  Never allowing or encouraging original, new and/or radical thoughts. So one must also learn to be their ownself without worrying about compliance to norms. What about creating your own norms for that matter? This is another issue in India, where social peer pressure is so immense that many are frightened to stand out.

That reminds me of a great movie, 'The Dead Poets Society'. 

I brought them up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. Now, those of you -- I see the look in your eyes like, "I would've walked differently." Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, "That's baaaaad." Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Now, I want you to find your own walk right now. Your own way of striding, pacing. Any direction. Anything you want. Whether it's proud, whether it's silly, anything. Gentlemen, the courtyard is yours. [Source of the Movie Script]

Monday, August 21, 2006

Whatz wrong with Google?

Normally, we don't get to hear about key people leaving Google or some ex-Googler is starting up something that competes directly with one of the Google's services. The Google PR and the media in general has so far did a great of job of creating such an image that makes such news unthinkable.

Google is the best company to work for, it has the best of startup and big company alike,  and all that sort of PR style quotes. Ofcourse, every one has invested in Google and it does not make sense to say anything otherwise.

But, I Just read on Niall Kennedy's blog that Jason Goldman, product manager of Google Blog Search and Blogger, is leaving Google at the end of this week.  

I could have taken time off or switched to a different project, but I feel that after I'm finished doing the nothing I've got planned, I'm going to want to do something somewhere small. And, to be honest, I can't really imagine being at Google but not being involved in Blogger.

Why Google will let the person responsible for Blogger and Blog search just go citing he has finished all he was set out for and has nothing else to do.  Really? I just can't buy that.

Also in the news is about an upcoming new Personalized startup Webwag that set to be released at the end of this monthby ex-Google France chief Franck Poisson.

Are these just isolated incidents or early indications of some thing big happening at Google? Is some thing wrong with Google, that let Jason to leave and Franck to pursue his ambitions else where?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Indus Cafe - Truly Fresh and delicious Indian food

Good news for Dallasites, who are craving for a fresh not frozen(I truly mean it), authentic and delicious Indian kitchen. I noticed a small cafe, called 'Indus Cafe' while driving on Coit Rd, went to try out. Its absolutely fresh and delicious and served really hot !!!. No wonder, in the last 3 weeks, I have gone there 5 times.

There are few things that set this small Cafe apart from other Indian kitchens.

  • All items are fresh, truly fresh. Not frozen. So you can enjoy for the first time truly fresh and served really really hot. (absolutely no microwave heated up food). I love the samosas (favorite Indian snack)in particular. For the first time in 3 years in Dallas, I felt at home. Remember, you can not hide them from guests if you take them home. The fresh aroma of peas khurma is so good that your guest know from the parking lot that you got Samosas.
  • And your order is just made when you order it. You may think, why is it special and new, just with Indus cafe. Do you think Every Indian kitchen prepare on your order. I am sorry, but You are Wrong !!! Not in every Indian restaurent, your order is prepared when you order it. In most, your order is only heated up or decorated when you order, and most of the dishes are fresh from freezer. Not with Indus cafe. I can vouch for it.
  • Many of us (Indians) and foreigners wanted to taste authentic Indian food, not americanised  Indian food. But, unfortunately you don't get authentic Indian food in most places. Particularly you will never get it in Claypit (it really sucks). The taste I found it at Indus Cafe is pretty close. If you don't believe in me, try their Madras Coffee, or those soft and mouth watering Idly or truly spicy Masala Dosas.
  • When you go to any Indian restaurent, who do you find in the Kitchen. Indians? No, Not Indian chefs in most cases. Then how can you expect delicious and authentic Indian dish without even having an Indian cook in their kitchen?  I see an Indian chef at Indus Cafe's kitchen. And you can feel it in the taste. 

Along with a lots of varieties of Indian snacks and bakery, they also have an excellent Lunch and Dinner varieties. Its not a big place, and just had I guess 4/5 tables. But food is hmmmm Yummy !!   

It is at 2411 Coit Rd, Plano Tx 75075. You may order on phone (469-467-9525) and pick up a little later. Since they prepare fresh just when you order it, you might have to wait for longer times. So order from home on phone and go there after a while to pickup or eat out.

Don't think I own this place or have any relation to this Cafe. My only relation is I am a big fan of it. I just loved it and so want to share this good news with people who are craving for fresh, authentic and delicious food.

Try it out and I hope you would like it too !

Infosys Narayan Murthy retires

Infosys Technologies's Chairman Narayan Murthy retired on Sunday, after 25 years at the helm of affairs at Infosys. He is definitely attained the status of an Icon in the hearts of many middle class Indians and ignited the Entrepreneurial fire in most of us. The history of Infosys will remain as one of the great examples of Indian Entrepreneurship. And his equally iconic wife Sudha Murthy's well known charity efforts affected lots of needy individuals.

Though I loved the way Murthy and Infosys grown in to a $2B in annual revenues, I always felt Infosys did not stand firm on its values and did not stand up to its reputation if not just hype, regards to community and infrastructure. And I don't understand quite well what they mean when they say some thing.  Because they just don't match up.

  • Narayan Murthy went on to say on television (CBS 60 Minutes) that Indian education system at large is the best and compared IITs with MITs in a way to glorify IITs and tried to convince that IITs are much better than MIT and likes. But I don't understand then why his daughter Akshata and son Roshan are both studying in the United States. Infact, many kids from elite business families are studying abroad.
  • In Bangalore, Infosys is one of the leading corporates who utilized the infrastructure and used up in full all incentives provided by the Government. Yet, it jus kept on watching and often shouting in news papers about infrastructure when the problem grew to an alarming level. It did not help even when Infosys top management was given the key role to play in bulding infrastructure.  Instead, Infosys threatened to go out of Bangalore over infrastructure issues.
  • I always felt un-ethical for Infosys (and most other IT firms) to lobby with the Karnataka State government and buy 100s of acres of land from farmers at Government price of Rs.9 Lakhs  which is absurdly lower than market price of Rs.40 Lakhs. They should have gone to farmers and should have paid a decent price if not total market price as farmers deserved.  Story is quite same with all other IT firms in almost all states. Whether they contribute any thing back to the community and infrastructure is a big big question, but they have literally on a mission to "grab" land every where. And so far they have succeded in almost every where.

The iconic status could have done much better if he had just walked his talk.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

India Online Growing Fastest ? Yes and No !

Thrilled to see this head line on Google news. While it is a wonderful news that Indian internet population is growing at the fastest rate, it is not a good indication to compare growth.

According to a survey conducted by US-based Internet firm, comScore Networks, India's online population is growing at the fastest rate in the world.

The survey reveals that the total online population in the country, measured in terms of people aged over 15 years accessing the Internet, grew by 7.8 percent to reach 18.02 million in June, from 16.71 million three months ago. [Source:TechTree News article]

While the growth rate is quite impressive and highest in the rankings, number of net users added is quite small comparatively. Since the growth rate is measured and expressed as a percentage of current users, this can be misleading if we don't take into account the current user base.

US has 153 Million internet users. So even though US has only 1% growth rate, that would mean a net addition of 1.53 Million users. India has achieved a growth rate of 7.8% which is at the first look 8 times the growth  of USA. But the net addition of internet users in India for the same period of comparision, it is only 1.31 Million users, which is less than US net additions.

So it is quite misleading to say that India is growing fastest.  Some times rate or percentage expressions will be quite blinding.

Also, the report says that it has excluded people who access internet from public computers and internet cafes. In India, cyber cafe is the most prominent place where people access internet. So, if we exclude those numbers, this can not be an accurate indication of how many Indians are really accessing internet. Also, it excludes those aged below 15 years, the most important segment of Computer literates in India. The number will definitely be much higher than 18 Millions, if we include those numbers. I guess it would be more than double of that number, around 50 Million.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Firefox Crop Circle

It is not uncommon to see Firefox users producing short films, designing ad campaigns, logos, creative captions, and all kinds of merchandise to show their love of their browser.

And Linux Users Group at Oregon State University found yet another creative manifestation of their love of Firefox. The FireFox crop circle. Here we go!

Planned in under two weeks and completed in under 24 hours, the crop circle had a final diameter of 220 feet. We constructed the circle in an oat field near Amity, Oregon, where it was completely invisible from the road but unmistakable from the sky. Our team consisted of 12 people, mainly OSU students, and we carefully stomped down oats from 3:30pm Friday afternoon until 2:30am, putting on the finishing touches between 7:30am and 11:00am Saturday, August 12.

The team that are posing the trillion dollar question "Does the sudden appearance of a Firefox crop circle imply which browser extraterrestrials prefer?"

Lemonade Stand : The Grassroot Incubator

Experience is the best teacher. One can read 100s of blogs and books or take hours of classes on Entrepreneurship. But succeeding in a business is a an art and mystery that only experience can teach. That is the reason, the best way to setup and succeed in business is by going out and trying to setup a business at the earliest possible.

The Inc.com encouraged that spirit with their first ever Best Lemonade Stand in America contest.  A 9-year-old from Seattle, Wash., on Tuesday took top honors in Inc.com's first ever Best Lemonade Stand in America contest.

Siena Jeakle, who sold pink lemonade for 75 cents a glass beside a giant eye-catching pink lemonade sign and donated part of the proceeds to breast cancer research, won for best overall concept and design.

The contest, which started during the Fourth of July weekend and closed July 31, attracted hundreds of "kid-trepreneurs" between the ages of 5 and 12 from across the country, said Inc.com Editorial Director Laura Rich.

Greg from VentureVoice says Lemonade stand is a school of Hard Knocks for Young Entrepreneurs and teaches the basic elements of Entrepreneurship.

While there's no standard education to become an entrepreneur, almost every entrepreneur gets an early education in the lemonade business. The kids may be cute, but that doesn't mean they're not cut throat. In fact, Inc. Magazine just announced the Best Lemonade Stand in America Contest Winner.

Running a lemonade stand embodies the most important issues in running a business: marketing (handing signs around the neighborhood), pricing (avoiding commoditization by banking on people's goodwill towards kids), and most importantly: location, location, location (it took me a couple years to figure out I could 10x my revenue by relocating the stand from the quiet street I grew up on to the busy street by friend lived on -- even after splitting the profits with him).

Next time you pass a lemonade stand, keep in mind that kid could put you out of business one day.

Sure it does. When are you setting up your lemonade stand?

Google WiFi is live in Mountain View

The much awaited and anticipated Google WiFi network is finally switched on  and fully operational. Any one with a Google login can access the network. New users can signup for one. Currently users get 1Mbps connections speed, but I think it will be ramped up pretty soon.

Chris Sacca, Head of Special Initiatives at Google says that at present the company is offering a one-megabit per second connection for everyone, and will tweak the capacity depending on how people use the network. For instance if a lot of people are watching online videos, then the capacity might get a booster shot. - [GigaOM]

GigaOM has some technical details of the WiFi network that covers around 11.5 square miles:

The network, which covers 11.5 square miles, features 380 access points, all supplied by Tropos Networks, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company. One in six access points is a gateway by Tel Aviv-based Alvarion. There are three bandwidth aggregation points in the network that are connected to GooglePlex using point-to-point gear from GigaBeam, an equipment vendor based in Herndon, Virginia. The network was designed by Google engineers and installed by WFI, a San Diego-based network builder.

I thought Google WiFi will be launched widely across the country and this is a trial launch, but it looks like Google has no such plans. It is not even participating in the SmartValley project, which will provide wireless across a major swath of Silicon Valley Bay Area.

Google just wanted its network to be used as a trial pad for WiFi network itself and new WiFi products. On that front, Google might launch some Location based services like Google Coupons. Google can pinpoint your location on the network based on your current access point. So when you are around a restaurent, and using Google search, you might get an exclusive coupon from a near by restaurent for a nice dinner.

Niall Kenney tried to connect the dots on Location based services on Google Wifi.

Google also announced its first killer app for location-based connectivity: merchant coupons. Businesses can create and offer coupons through Google's Local Business Center, prompting user action when viewing a Google Map or local listings. Businesses verify their information through an automated phone call for future click-to-call opportunities or a walk-in prompted by local listings.

Combine the two announcements and you get something really cool. Local merchants getting online and interacting with the local community through accurate information and perhaps a few freebies and discounts.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Life Changing Mobile Data Applications

SmallBizResource.com article "Six Mobile Innovations That Will Change Your Life" reports the following 6 Mobile Applications or concepts as Life Changing innovations in the Mobile world.

  1. Pay By Phone or Mobile Commerce
  2. Presence Based Applications
  3. Internet on Mobile
  4. Multimedia content delivery on Mobile
  5. Health Monitoring Applications on Mobile and
  6. Location tracking applications

Read the full article here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Why 73% of people hate to browse on Mobile

U.K.'s The Register reports some surprising results of a survey of 1500 U.K. consumers, commissioned by hosting firm Hostway.

Despite investment by operators in services such as i-mode and Vodafone Live, 73 per cent of respondents to a new survey said don't access the net from their mobile. Slow-loading pages (38 per cent) and navigation difficulties (27 per cent) were among the reasons cited why people would rather hook up to the net using a PC rather than a phone. A quarter (25 per cent of sites were unavailable to those with mobile phones.

Key Reasons why 73% of people prefer not to access internet on their Mobile phones are:

  1. Too expensive to browse internet on mobile
  2. Too difficult to navigate through pages.
  3. Not comfortable to read the web content that is meant for desktop browsers on a tiny mobile browsers
  4. Download time is too high and tiresome
  5. Applications they want to access are not available

Also, most people want to access maps than reading news and blogs on Mobile. Seperate content for mobiles,  developed keeping the constraints of a browser on the mobile might save the frustration of consumers.

If not for Data applications, wirless carriers have little opportunity to survive in the markets leave alone making profits, considering the fact that voice already almost became a commodity. So carriers, hurry up with Data applications that are light weight, easy to use and most importantly apps that one wants to access on the mobile.

DotMobi - Yet another TLD !

Despite resistance from the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners Lee himself, yet another Top Level Domain, ".mobi" (dotMobi) has been created. Dotmobi (.mobi) is a new top-level domain, intended for sites that are designed to be used on cell phones and other mobile devices.

"A top-level domain (TLD) is the last part of an Internet domain name; that is, the letters which follow the final dot of any domain name. For example, in the domain name www.nintendo.com, the top-level domain is com (or COM, as domain names are not case-sensitive)." - Wiki

See a List of current TLDs at Wiki.

Dotmobi sites will be required to have a home page that conforms to the switch on! style guides (also called the .mobi styleguides) which are optimized for access through mobile devices.

mTLD, the official registry operator for the new .mobi domain name is a joint venture funded by a consortium of companies including Hutchison, 3, GSM Association, Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Syniverse Technologies, TIM, Telefonica Moviles Espana, T-Mobile, and Vodafone.

Tim Berners Lee urged ICANN not to create .mobi Top Level domain explaining how this new top level domain will break the universality of the web. Read the original document here: New Top Level Domains .mobi and .xxx Considered Harmful. However, the market forces seem to have ignored completely the very fundamental concepts that make WWW so universal and kept aside the suggestion of Tim Berners Lee.

Here are a few excerpts from the document:

There are costs in general to creating any new top level domain. There are specific ways in which the ".mobi" breaks the Web architecture of links, and attacks the universality of the Web.

....

This domain will have a drastically detrimental effect on the Web. By partitioning the HTTP information space into parts designed for access from mobile access and parts designed (presumably) not for such access, an essential property of the Web is destroyed.

....

Dividing the Web into information destined for different devices, or different classes of user, or different classes of information, breaks the Web in a fundamental way.

....

I urge ICANN not to create the ".mobi" top level domain.

Links :

  1. [IJ]: Jacobs, I.: Why Using TLDs for Filtering is Ineffective, Harmful, and Unnecessary Public communication. 2004
  2. [TIMBL-TLD] New top level domains considered harmful, Tim Berners-Lee essay

Inside India's VC Boom and Mobile Buzz

With a booming mobile phone user base, a steady rise in the number of Internet users, high capital efficiency and a big opportunity for exits, India is seeing the return of venture capital –in the real sense of the word — through funds and via cross-border investments. After a lull between 2000 and 2004, the prospects for Indian start-ups are looking good again. Last year, India saw venture capital investments worth $482 million across 52 deals, and this year until June, there have already been investments worth $240 million across as many as 49 deals, according to Venture Intelligence, a research service focused on private equity and venture capital activity in India.

Spotted this post on GigaOM giving nice insights into the VC boom in India and all the buzz about mobiles.

According to Venture Intelligence, for the first six months of this year, 23 percent, that is nearly $55 million of venture capital was invested in online and mobile services companies, $44 million was invested in Internet-based services companies and $10 million was in mobile value-added services companies.

Read more at the Inside India's VC Boom at GigaOM.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Windows Live Writer - WOW !! Lovely.

I saw a post on GigaOM talking about Windows Live Writer, and with all my frustration with the current tools, I immediately downloaded the tool to see what they got. The very first minute, I started using it, I fell in love with it. Huge WOW!

I have used w.blogger in the past. And then Qumana looked little better. But Windows Live Writer just rocks!!!. I loved it the first minute. The coolest feature is true WYSIWYG feature. The tool understands the styles that you have on your blog and show the post using those styles right at the moment you are editing. No more publish, view, and edit the posts. You are guaranteed that in the true sense, What You See Is What You Get on your blog.

Simple, clean, just like any other Microsoft product it got an Intuitive user interface, and a special big WOW for WYSIWYG !!!

You can download from the its blog Windows Live Writer here.

We want a clean coke or NO coke

On 2nd August, 2006, CSE(Center for Science and Environment) released nationwide study on pesticide contents in soft drinks across India. The comprehensive study covering 12 states found dangerous levels of pesticides in all samples of soft drinks tested. Pepsi and Coke accounts for around 80% of Indian soft drinks market.
The 2006 CSE study tests 57 samples of 11 soft drink brands, from 25 different manufacturing plants of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, spread over 12 states. The study finds pesticide residues in all samples; it finds a cocktail of 3-5 different pesticides in all samples — on an average 24 times higher than BIS norms, which have been finalised but not yet notified. The levels in some samples — for instance, Coca-Cola bought in Kolkata — exceeded the BIS standards by 140 times for the deadly pesticide Lindane. Similarly, a Coca-Cola sample manufactured in Thane contained the neurotoxin Chlorpyrifos, 200 times the standard. “This is clearly unacceptable as we know that pesticides are tiny toxins and impact our bodies over time,” says Sunita Narain, director, CSE

Read the full CSE Lab Report(pdf) or read this presentation that gives complete picture of this issue right from the beginnings in Aug, 2003. Here is a graphical representation of the pesticides content in the samples. The green line at the bottom, dampened by the overpowered towers of pesticides is the acceptable level.

Colas Lab Report

Then what happened? :

  • After the report was published, so far six states have completely banned colas (Coke and Pepsi).

  • Many state governments ordered the ban of these soft drinks in Government offices, schools and areas surrounding schools.

  • Uproar by NGOs and Communities to ban colas completely till they prove clean.


What Coke and Pepsi are saying:

  • As usual, they are finding faults at the methodology used by CSE, which is the United States Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) methodology.

  • They blatantly claim that their colas are safe.

  • Those limits are not yet LAW in India. So they don't have to comply as per LAW.

  • They have not decided yet whether to comply with the Supreme court order to reveal ingredients in 6 weeks.

  • Claiming that "The Coke you drink in India would be as clean as the Coke you get in Paris"

  • They have published prominent newspaper advertisements saying pesticide levels in their products are well below levels detected in other foodstuffs such as tea, eggs, grains, fruits and dairy products.

  • They see it as a communist oppression of western businesses as it happened in the past.


What US Government & Business Leaders are saying:

  • Indian Business leaders are worried that this can affect foreign investments, as it might be seen as 'against' western business outfits.

  • CII, Kiran Pasricha, the US head of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  'I see it as local politics in the Indian context. Investors have to see the bigger picture. We hope that better sense will prevail,' she said.

  • 'This kind of action is a setback for the Indian economy,' Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin told Agence France-Presse.


I believe the pesticide content is mainly due to the water used in the bottling plants. Not because of the recipe of the colas. So all other food products and bottled water will contain similar levels of pesticides in them. Colas are widely used soft drinks than other forms. So whether other products have or not have pesticides, colas have to sell cleaner products.

  • Cola companies, if you are clean,  prove it. We don't want to read/hear your crappy press releases. Enough crap already. We want a clean coke or NO coke. Prove it if you are clean.

  • Also, CSE must prove that the water being used in the plants does not contain any pesticides. That will clearly close out on issue with cola's recipes.

  • CSE must continue with similar tests on bottled water, if the water is contaminated in the first place.


Indian business outfits and organizations must put health of Indian community first before their business obligations, and stop speaking crap and creating unnecessary tensions among the investors. I know it is asking for a lot from greedy business men, but hey, you have a business interest too. So do what is good for your business. Bring the colas clean. Give a clean cola or shut down the colas and show that you are committed to public safety. That would attract a hell lot of investors.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google to Invest $1 Billion In India

GigaOm: Google to Invest $1 Billion In India :



A few days after in announced plans to set up a R&D Center in China, Google has now decided to invest up to $1 billion on a back office in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to news reports. The proposed center, which the Indian government just approved, will likely be spread over a million square feet in what is called a ’special economic zone’ in the southern state. Dell’s and Accenture’s investments were also given the go-ahead.


Google currently operates a development center in Bangalore. Google’s India office was responsible for coming up with Google Finance. About half a dozen technology companies have announced plans to invest a billion dollars or more in India



I am guessing it would be Hyderabad, but it would be great if Google sets up in Visakhapatnam.


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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery

Technorati is currently tracking about 50 million blogs. The size of the blogosphere has doubled almost every five months over the last year and a half as per Technorati statistics. More and more people are starting to rely on internet for news, content, music, social gatherings and communication needs. And keeping up to date with the information and content on internet is quite a task. It is simply not possible to go every web site or blog and look for  updates.

Wouldn't it be better to have the latest news and content that you want delivered directly to you, rather than clicking from site to site? A resounding YES, I bet. Good news is that it is possible. The technology that make it happen is called RSS, Really Simple Syndication.  At the heart RSS is simply a format of the file that delivers updates to content on web. But, with a small application like a RSS reader, the whole world changes. It allows you to see when sites from all over the internet have added new content. You can get the latest headlines, articles, MP3s,  photographs, video.....  in one place, as soon as they are published, without you ever having to bookmark and visit each site every day and look for updates.

It takes the hassle out of staying up-to-date, by showing you the very latest information that you are interested in. You can subscribe for such updates through e-mail, but with RSS you are in full control of what you want, when you want it. Email subscription also brings in with it the headache of spam. And consider your email public and sold to marketers once you register at most web sites. And if you don't like the email subscription, you have to go through series of web pages to unsubscribe. But RSS provides all the flexibility of email without the headaches. You don't have to give out your email address to anybody. So expect no spam. And no more annoying popups and sliding images. And you don't have to search for content in between advertisements. No threats from cookies and spying headaches. You can subscribe any moment you want it. And if you don't like the feed you can remove it just in a flash.  And, there are lots of utilities that can create your own news paper or web page out of your own RSS feeds, like MyYahoo or Google personalized home page. It saves so much time.

While it is possible for the content providers to add ads and unwanted content in the feed, it is much easier and safer to delete the unwanted content automatically by the reader. Most readers do not handle any content other than text and pictures. So it is quite safe.. What the heck, if it is too much of a concern, you can just remove your subscription itself in the reader. No more issues what so ever.

You can store all your RSS subscriptions on the web if you like just like email through applications like bloglines and pluck. If you like the convenience and fastness of outlook, you have desktop applications to read the feeds like Feedreader, Newsgator. And you have the best of both worlds, through applications like blogbridge which is a desktop application that can run on any platform and stores all your feed information on web. Blogbridge also synchronizes your feeds. That means, if you read it once at home, that won't appear as new item when you open next time from say office or library.

Many web sites and almost all blogs offer content available as RSS feeds. Most of the web browsers can even detect and alert you that there is an RSS feed available whenever you visit a web page.

You can read more about RSS at "What the heck is RSS?" by Copyblogger.  If you are hungry for more, Wiki explains RSS in much detail and the whole romantic history behind RSS here.

If you are already subscribing to RSS feeds or providing RSS feeds, and the following facts compiled in this post, "RSS Marketing - Is it just hype? or the next best channel?" would be of interest to you.
RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.


Update: I changed the title to include 'content delivery' after receiving comments from readers that the title is misleading. I intent to say that RSS is better than email for content delivery. The discussion on the post also convey the same. Email has lot more uses than just content delivery. Sorry for the confusion.

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Become an expert - Its almost never too late

An inspiring post from "Creating Passionate Users" blog ,  How to be an expert declares that Any one can become an expert if we just put in the time and focus on what we want to become. And its never too late to do so. So, no excuse for not being an expert at any point of time in your life.

Howtobeanexpert
The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication. All that talk about prodigies? We could all be prodigies (or nearly so) if we just put in the time and focused. At least that's what the brain guys are saying. Best of all--it's almost never too late.


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Monday, August 7, 2006

CNN - Crime News Network ?

CNN - Crime News Network?  I just opened www.cnn.com and here are the 'TOP' stories at around 10.40 PM (Central). Click here or on the picture to see full picture with complete url. Wondering whether CNN just stands for Crime News Network?



Click to see larger picture



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Globalisation Of $1.1Trillion Engineering Services - How much India can bite?


NASSCOM, National Association of Software and Service Companies (of India) and management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton,  released some of the key findings of a study “Globalisation of Engineering Services – the Next Frontier for India”, that assess the evolution of the engineering market between 2005 and 2020.  The report estimates that an additional US$ 40 billion opportunity for the Indian IT industry by 2020, from offshoring of engineering services alone. The report also suggested some strategies for success in realizing the dream. 


While it is a great outlook, it can be only a positive and highly optimistic estimation. We have some serious roadblocks to be cleared to realize any considerable portion of that $40B. Here are few serious challenges, in my opinion that might spoil the dream, if not taken care of with right strategy and in time:



  • Narrowed Focus: All the top IT/ITes companies in India have been heavily focusing on North American market alone. It will be a bigger challenge and a big question whether Indian IT companies can keep up the momentum in European, Asian and domestic markets. 'English speaking community' will not be an advantage too. Many European countries have been very successful in the recent months and gaining momentum in providing IT/ITes. Recent win by IBM to provide Telecom services to India's larget private mobile operator Bharti does not look good many aspects and raises serious concerns of strategy employed by Indian IT firms.


  • Infrastructure: There were heated debates and serious accusations about the problem with infrastructure and how to fix it. But there was no concrete strategy or commitment demonstrated from corporate India and Government alike. Key hurdles will be roads, electricity and political instability.

    • Most parts of India, including metros and big cities have no plans of building enough roads to take the rising traffic, owing to setup of new companies and migration of skilled workforce towards these islands of prosperity. The silicon valley of India, Bangalore already turned out be to a nightmare for daily commuting. Anybody who visited Bangalore recently can vouch for it.

    • The backbone of Indian Economy, the Agriculture sector is getting only 13 hours of electricity per day in the best part of the year. In summer, it is just around 8 hours. There are no plans or efforts to meet the demands of electricity YET.

    • The commitment of the Government is highly doubtful towards building infrastructure. The priorities have been seriously misaligned.  Corruption, instability and lack of clear strategy can cripple any efforts and prevent from doing any thing rational and strong that truly serve a common purpose than their own political gains.

    • The new face of the economy of India, the corporate, have been only vocal regarding building infrastructure; no corporate is YET ready to contribute towards building infrastructure. They are very busy in grabbing the real estate from government.



  • Brain drain in Engineering Services to Software: Most, if not all graduates from Engineering disciplines have joined the IT bandwagon and ignored their Engineering disciplines. So it will be quite difficult to get the same momentum and impetus that has been received by Software services in other Engineering services particularly in Auto/Aerospace, Telecom and manufacturing. Paradoxically, Indian Engineers have less Engineering services skills than Software.

  • Sustainable Growth Ecosystem: Barring the top 5 IT services companies, India has very few successful software services companies that made their mark. And particularly in Engineering services, the scene is more disappointing.  Recently we have been witnessing excellent momentum in terms of Startups and Entrepreneurs that are firing all cylinders to make the 'Made in India' a true brand. While the momentum and spirits are high and very promising, the number is still very small. We need more small businesses and entrepreneurs to create the 'Made in India' brand. 

  • Dilution of India Brand: Every major firm in Software, Aerospace, Automobile and Engineering services sectors have already had their R&D offices setup in India and have been increasing the man power at exponential rates. And these outfits are set to eat a bigger portion of those $40B competing directly with India' owned companies. While one may argue that India is anyway benefiting from it, irrespective of who gets is (India's own IT or India office of global firms), it will not do any good in the long run to the image and brand. These R&D offices are still will be seen as extensions to thier respective corporate offices elsewhere, than true Indian outfits.


Read full NASSCOM press release for more on the key findings of the study.



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Friday, August 4, 2006

Swiss BTS launches $80 million INDIA Fund

$80 Million more to unleash the power within Indian Entreprenuers and fuel Indian economy. Just a few days back Matrix Partners setup a $150 Million India fund. And now, BTS Investment Advisors, a Switzerland-India based private equity advisor launched 'BTS India Private Equity Fund', a dedicated India fund that would invest in medium size enterprises seeking expansion capital. This fund will target lifescience / pharma, manufacturing, engineering, IT & IT enabled services, telecom and entertainment.



“India is one of the largest emerging economies with a GDP growth rate of about 8 per cent and a vibrant medium size enterprise is constantly looking for growth capital", said K Srinivas, Managing Partner, BTS Investment Advisors P Ltd, India.

BTS India Fund would have a corpus of $80 million with prominent international institutions as anchor investors.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) of Switzerland acting through the Swiss Investment Fund For Emerging Markets (SIFEM)-is the first anchor investor with a commitment of US$12 million.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has joined as co-anchor with a commitment to invest US$15 million.

Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF- Taiwan) are the other two anchor
investors with an investment commitment of US $5 million each.

Apart from these anchor investors, the Fund received investment commitments from several high net worth offshore investors and family offices in Europe and Asia, according to an official release issued by BTS on their website


News story at MoneyCentral.


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Thursday, August 3, 2006

India's Bharti outsources to IBM in a $100 Million deal

When you hear the word 'outsourcing', which country comes to your mind? I bet, it is India. India in the last few years became synonymous with outsourcing and painted a huge colorful picture of itself on the world map because of outsourcing. And recently, India upgraded its image as the Innovation pool and buzzing with 10s of startups incubated every other month.

But in a record deal of $100 Million over the next 7-8 years, India's own Bharti (Airtel brand), the largest private Mobile operator in India, outsourced to IBM to provide better Content delivery platforms targeted for Indian audience.

Read more at Reuters press release and an IBM Case Study (an interview that includes Sunil B.Mittal, Bharti's Chairman.

Though Akhil Gupta argues in the interview (IBM Case Study) that IBM is as much as in Indian company, I do not fully agree. If that is how we define, then every global company, for instance Adobe, Dell, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and likes which have R&D centers in India are Indian companies. Nah! Thatz not the point. Bharti relied on some thing in IBM that is clearly lacking in India's own IT companies like Wipro, TCS, Infosys and likes.
"Because there was some criticism that, while the world is looking for outsourcing to India, we have done the opposite. And our answer to that was, first, we don't treat IBM as a pure U.S. company. IBM, with 10,000 plus people in India, is as much as an Indian company. After all, when they are expanding in India, they are employing Indians. Two, we have gone for what meets the necessity of the needs of our company. And if that is IBM, so be it"

There has been a growing criticism about Indian IT companies that they are ignoring domestic markets and excessively focusing on US and European markets. And this news of Bharti outsourcing $100 Mil to IBM will sure prove the point of the criticism. India's own IT technology services/product firms, are you listening? IBM is winning the deal in your own court. Where is your strategic advantage of being an Indian company with all that innovation, differentiation and pioneering execution models.

For sure, it creates a clear dent in the image for India's own IT Companies. And to a greater extent, it substantiates the opinion that it is better to have your own development center in India than outsourcing to Indian IT companies.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

IPTV trials in INDIA - Reliance, MTNL and Bharti

After Reliance's Blue Magic mega plans, its time for MTNL and Bharti to reveal thier IPTV Plans. MTNL, India’s state-run telecommunications company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd is reported to be conducting trials of its IPTV service 'Tri-Band' in parts of Delhi and Mumbai. Also following in those footsteps, the premier Mobile operator Bharti (Airtel brand) is also conducting trials in Gurgaon.  MTNL is expecting to  target 200,000 broadband subscribers when it formally launches in the those cities.


Financial Express News reports,



The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) will enter into commercial arrangements with broadcasters like STAR TV, Prasar Bharati, Zee TV, Sony Entertainment, among others, for its soon to be launched Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) services. Its IPTV service "Tri-Band" is currently undergoin trial runs in pockets of Delhi and Mumbai.


MTNL's commercial services will be launched in New Delhi and Mumbai, targeting 200,000 broadband subscribers. Apart from MTNL, mobile services company Bharti is also conducting trial runs in Gurgaon with test-signals from STAR Plus, ESPN and Zee TV, sources said.


According to STAR TV officials, IPTV will open a whole new revenue stream with a wide variety of offerings and value-added services for consumers. "We have given our signals to MTNL and Bharti for testing IPTV. In Chandigarh, we are even offering `Triple Play'," a STAR official told FE.


MTNL has entrusted the content delivery network responsibility to Time Broadband Services Ltd. Time broadband will look after the video equipment, middleware, billing systems, and content for MTNL. Bharti, on its part has tied up with UTStarcom for content delivery.



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Matrix Partners setup $150 Million INDIA Fund

Another feather in the cap for Indian entrepreneurs to keep up the startup momentum. Matrix Partners, set up a $150 Million INDIA Fund for Indian venture investments.

Matrix Partners, a leading U.S.-based venture capital firm, today announced the closing of its Matrix India Fund. The $150 million, multi-sector, multi-stage fund was founded by Avnish Bajaj, previously co–founder, Chairman & CEO of India’s largest online marketplace Baazee.com (acquired by eBay), and Rishi Navani, previously Managing Director at WestBridge Capital Partners. Matrix India extends Matrix Partners’ bi–coastal reach in the U.S. to India and its rapidly growing economy.


“Matrix Partners is the first leading venture capital firm to establish a fund in India,” said Paul Ferri, Founding Partner of Matrix Partners. “The burgeoning Indian market represents a new frontier of innovation and Matrix Partners is excited to be participating in the region’s growth.”


Based in Mumbai, Matrix India will focus its investments across the consumer services sector, including Internet, mobile value-added services (MVAS), financial services, media/entertainment companies, and travel/leisure. Entrepreneurs will benefit from Navani’s and Bajaj’s deep understanding of the Indian market and Matrix Partners’ expertise in helping companies with U.S.-based Indian entrepreneurs, including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Starent Networks, and Aruba Wireless Networks,
to become market leaders


Press Release


Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Fitch raises India's Rating to 'Investment' grade

Fitch Ratings on Monday unexpectedly raised India’s sovereign foreign and domestic currency ratings to investment grade, citing progress in the fiscal consolidation process, a “strong external balance sheet and an impressive growth story” as key factors prompting the upgrade.


“Fiscal consolidation is at last taking hold in India, reinforced by the impressive growth story and India’s strong external balance sheet,” said Paul Rawkins, senior director at Fitch. “Public finances are still weak, but they are no longer an insuperable constraint on this rating.”


With Moody’s already rating India as investment grade and with Standard & Poor’s ranking it just one notch away from prime status, with a positive outlook, the news will be a fillip to reformers in New Delhi arguing for faster progress towards full capital account convertibility.


Read the Financial Times full news article here.


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NDTV.com : Fact or Allegation ? Just another twisted title for sensationalism

This is yet another example of NDTV.com’s sensationalism twisted titles. The title says, as if this was a fact, woman made to urinate in pub...