Saturday, September 30, 2006

Site 24X7 - Nice Tool to monitor Websites

I use SiteGround to host this blog. Their service over the last year has been commendable. My blog was never down as per my knowledge. Whenever I access it, it is always available. But questions like was it really never down? Was it up all the time over the last year? always pops up, as I was not sure about it. I wish it was up all the time. But there is no way to know that.

Then, I recently read about Site 24X7, which can monitor my website availability and content for free. I signed up on their website, and entered by blog URL to monitor it. Today I received the first report for the last week. I am very happy to see that my site has been up all the time and available 100% of time. Now I know for sure.

View Status Report : (Click on image to enlarge)

How does it work? : The tool try to access your website at a configurable interval to check whether your site is available or not. You can configure this polling interval as you wish from 5 minutes to 24 hours. 

Along with the availability monitoring, the tool also provide content monitoring. For example, You can also monitor for defacing attacks. See the following configuration screen.

Configuration Options: (Click on image to enlarge)

     

If you configure certains key words to be always found on your webpage and/or if the URL content changes by 50%, you can receive an alert. Both keywords and % of your URL change is configurable. So, if your URL changes because of defacing attack, you can get an alert by SMS or Email.

Also you can share this status with public by embedding the stats on your webpage or by providing an URL to interested parties. This URL if known, can be accessible by anybody and everybody. For example, you can see the status of my blog here.

Nice tool for website adminstrators and bloggers alike, but an essential tool for folks like me, who use third party hosting solutions.  Thanks a ton Site 24X7. Thumbs up!

Here is a copy from their website, on what Site 24X7 can do:

What Site24x7 can do?

Ensure your Websites are up : We can make HTTP/ HTTPS requests at regular intervals of time and check if your website is fine.

Track Website Performance : You can track your website response time.

Monitor Web Transactions : Record and Playback a sequence of HTTP requests or web page submissions.

Monitor Web Page Defacement : Be notified when your webpage changes.

Instant Alerts : Be notfied via email or SMS when your website is down or when the response time has crossed certain limits you have set.

Reports and Trends : Track website performance over a period of time and conclude on possible trends.

Visit for more information and free signup here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Best of Inspiring Indian Music

Jana-Gana-Mana, the Indian National Anthem composed by A.R.Rahman and sung by the best of the best of Indian Musicians.

Vandemataram, the best of Indian Music Inspiration, composed by A.R. Rahman.

Traditional and classical musicians objected the way it was visualized and composed, but was there any better visualization to touch an Indian heart. Was there any better visualization that inspires an Indian?  Truly an inspiring and undoubtedly the best of A.R. Rahman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Windows Live Writer - New Update

Windows Live Writer team has issued a new update to the Beta Window Live Writer, the desktop blogging application with the following updates.

The following is a summary of the changes in the Writer 1.0 (Beta) Update:

  • Tagging support
  • Support for Blogger Beta
  • Categories are sorted by name and support scrolling, plus improved support for reading categories from your blog
  • Improved startup performance
  • Paste is enabled for Title region and TAB/SHIFT+TAB navigation between title and body supported
  • Insert hyperlink added to context menu when text is selected
  • Title attribute in Insert Link dialog
  • Custom date support for Community Server
  • Improved keyboard shortcuts for switching views
  • Change spell-check shortcut key to F7
  • Add ‘png’ to insert image dialog file type filter
  • More robust image posting to Live Spaces
  • Improved style detection for blogs 
  • Fixed issues with pasting URLs and links
  • Remember last window size and position when opening a new post
  • Open post dialog retrieves more than 25 old posts

Source: Writer Zone

Little confused regarding plugins as there are multiple pages with plugins. Checkout new plugins at Windows Live Gallery. There is another list of plugins here.

'The Changing World' with Cellular Phones

Cellular Phones have dramatically changed our life style, even before rich content applications arrived. Still in some parts of the world, mobile is still primarily used for voice calls and access in remote parts. Rest of the developed world, now with a wide variety of Content and applications, they are becoming the most dependable devices ever. A new life style called The Cellular Life Style is born and growing at exponential rate. Not convinced or can't believe the Cellular phone as the most integral part of our lifestyle, listen to the following podcasts produced by BBC and PRI in 'The Chaning World' series. 

Mobile Phones : In these documentaries produced for the BBC World Service, we explore the influence of the mobile phone on lives throughout the world. From rural Africa to cosmopolitan cities in Europe, cell phones have changed the way we communicate – and how we expect to be able to communicate.

  • Part 1 : Nick Rankin explores the history of mobile phone technology in this BBC World Service documentary. He examines how cell phones are changing the lives of the poor, and questions just how safe and secure our mobile phone conversations are. Listen to MP3 file here.
  • Part 2 : The global explosion in mobile phone use has been met with a call for better cell phone etiquette. In this half-hour, Nick Rankin looks at how mobile phones have blurred boundaries between public and private lives, from Europe to Australia. Listen to MP3 here.
The Communications Revolution : How we communicate is rapidly changing. Whether you’re in a preschool in London, a coffee shop in Boston or on a street corner in Kigali, new technology has the potential to bring us closer together. Or some say, to alienate us. In these documentaries produced for the BBC World Service, Mike Williams examines “The Communications Revolution.”
  • Part 1 :  When is a phone, not a phone? Some people welcome the wealth of features new cell phones offer – others would be happy just making and receiving phone calls. Mike Williams looks at the history of communication technology, and explores the spread of mobile phones. He also takes us into the world of Star Trek, and looks at the impact that classic TV show may have had on modern advancements. Listen to MP3 here
  • Part 2 : In this BBC World Service documentary, Mike Williams examines how communication is transforming the way we lead our lives. We can use our cell phone or computer to make travel arrangements, and we can do our grocery shopping while sitting in bed. New communication technologies also hold promise for those who are disabled or dealing with debilitating illnesses. Mike Williams profiles advancements that can help all people lead more independent lives.  Listen to MP3 here.

[tags]BBC, PRI, Changing-world, Mobile-Life-Styles, Mobile-Handsets[/tags]

Nokia N-Series Multitasking Phones

Digital Camera, A Video camera with DVD quality, a Digital Music Player, Video player,  an FM Radio, Ability to print your pictures by direclty connecting to a printer, Photo editing and sharing applications, WiFi connectivity, RSS reader, a full pledged Browser, an Organizer and a whole bunch of multimedia and personal information maangement applications.  Oh, we forgot, you can also make voice calls, SMS, MMS, IM ..... and all that you can do with a traditional cellular phone.

This is not a list of my dream cellphone, but just a preview of features offered by Nokia N-Series N-93 Phones. N-Series phones also comes with WiFi, that means along with your carriers cellular network you can also use any hotspot to download or upload or browse web sites. Recently we have posted about printing capability of N-series mobile phone from Nokia. Yesterday, I watched a preview of N-93 Nokia Mobile featured on ABC News ABC News Ahead of the Curve Video podcasts series. Watch the video podcast here:

Cell Phone Multi-Tasking

Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 9:09:23 PM

A cell phone for everything -- pictures, video, music, and calls. Feed image

Enclosure icon060726ann aotc cellphone.m4v?CMP=OTC-3V9R06864381

You can also visit Nokia N93 Phone home page for more details about the phone.

[tags]abc-news, nokia, mobile-handsets, usa, cingular, Nseries[/tags]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why do we compare Programming Languages?

I don't know. May be just for academic reasons, because there is no relevance in practical life. I recently read some discussion about the performance of Ruby at Joel on Software. Wondering what the heck if Ruby is slower than C++?  There are 10s of programming languages which are slower than C/C++, yet they are being used widely in many different applications. You don't have to be the fastest and win 100m at the Olympics to live your life. You have a different set of ambitions and purpose. Don't you?

I never thought all programming languages are created equal. Though, a given problem can be solved by many programming languages, I believe, not all are cut out to solve the same problem. New programming languagues have been created primarily because existing programming languages do not solve a particular problem well. For most, the reason is not pure computational performance. This is equally true for most technologies as well.

Even when two programming languages/technologies solve the same problem reasonably and equally well, decision to prefer one over the other is never purely technical and never based on a single indicator like computational performance. Few examples over a period of time, from my area of work and experience:

  1. C++ vs Perl and Shell Scripting
  2. Binary Encoding vs ASCII encoding : XML, HTML, SIP over binary encoded Protocols
  3. VOIP vs Traditional Telephony
  4. Telecom Application Servers - J2EE Web Servers with IMS vs Custom Designed Telecom Servers
  5. C++ vs Erlang for Telecom switching software
  6. C++ CGI Programming vs J2EE based Application Servers, PHP, Ruby on Rails
  7. .NET vs J2EE
  8. Flash based Video Player and distribution vs WMP, Real and Quick Time

Each one of them have a definite purpose and advantage. While some problems can be solved by both, we prefer one over the other for reasons other than computational peformance. When a new language or technology is created, the new language or technology often comes equipped with advantages from its parent and will do reasonably well on the scale of performance. So, when Computational performace is not at all a factor for choosing them, why do we care about computational performance?

Another interesting comparison involve the spoken language itself. I hear often heated arguments among people from Andhra Pradesh (India) about preferrence of English over Telugu. 'Telugu', which is the most spoken language in Andhra Pradesh, India and is my native and first language. It was also acclaimed as the sweetest of all Dravidian languages. Sir C.P.Brown called it, the Italian of the East. It is very rich in vocabulary and structure and emerged as a literary medium subsuming the predominance of Prakrit and Sanskrit. Yet, many of us from Andhra Pradesh, speak and communicate in english at workplace and on the web.  While one can express equally well and clear in both languauges, most choose English as most part of the world we care understand English. So, the reason to choose one over the other is definitely nothing about the structure or vocabulary or expressive power of the language.  So why do we care even comparing the structural power of the languages?

Why Desktop Apps will Stay !

Recent buzz indicates that Desktop applications will be gone soon and Online counterparts rule the world instead. I disagree. I believe that online applications alone are useless and painful for some of the desktop counterparts. What we need is a smart desktop application or a browser plugin or a desktop widget that is totally integrated with an online application, its datastorage and an online interface. If you can replace your desktop application for your needs with an online version, most likely you don't need that desktop application in the first place.

In a recent article in Business2.0 magazine (October 2006), Om Malik says in 'Online Apps -To go!':

"What this means is that you'll be able to write your documents in Writely(who needs Word?), email them via Gmail(who needs Outlook?) and arrange appointments to jointly edit those documents via Google calendar(again who needs outlook?)."

Before coming to any conclusion, it would be handy to know how bloggers, the most active community online that keep on writing, write their posts. All blogging platforms have very rich online editors included to create/edit a blog post, with all those fancy bells and whistles Writely promises.  Having said that, It would be interesting to know how bloggers write their posts, and particularly how Om Malik himself writes his blog. Om Malik uses 'ecto', a desktop application to write his blog. And many other bloggers rely on Ecto, Mars Edit, w.blogger, Qumana and recently Windows Live Writer and browser plugins like Performancing for Firefox and likes.

It became a cult like fashion to predict the end of desktop applications and ask stupid questions like who need MS Word when you have a Zoho Writer or Writely.   And yet MOST, including those who say end of desktop applications, use desktop blog publishing applications like w.blogger, Windows Live Writer, Ecto and likes to post the very blog. Many (windows users) also conveniently ignore the fact that you have a notepad, a wordpad and then paid version ofcourse, MS Word to create documents of varying complexity and information. In my opinion, these online editors may replace my notepad or wordpad, but definitely not MS Word. If you can do what you have been doing with MS Word using any of those Online Editors, believe me, most likely you shouldn't have bought MS Word in the first place. You can use wordpad instead.

Take the example of Online Spreadsheets. Ask anybody who is using Excel for a while. They could replace the desktop Excel only if you have been using 1-5% of what Excel offers. Can't imagine online Photo editors (vs. Photoshop) and presentation editors (vs Powerpoint).

But online applications bring some interesting aspects to the table. Often these are what confuses most to think that online apps will completely replace desktop counterparts.

  • No installation required, so easy to distribute and upgrade.
  • Access from any where as long as you have internet connection.
  • You need internet connection all the time to access.
  • Interface is minimal and poor visualization comparatively.

And, Desktop Applications

  • Can provide Rich and highly Visual interfaces. If you think about user experience, think about desktop clients. 
  • are faster and easy to work with.
  • Can work offline. You don't need internet connection always to work with. Seriously important for many of us.

There is no single solution for all. We must choose based on what we need. With all the hype around Web2.0, it would be tempting to make everything an online application. Which is absurd.  Everything can not be an online application. And neither a desktop application.  Who would want to use an online Photo Editor instead of desktop PhotoShop?  It would be better to create the best of both worlds when user interaction need to be essentially rich and needs ability to work offline (as neither online nor offline desktop alone can not take advantage of the situtation) and also need all of that an online application offers. But for all other applications, online applications will serve the purpose without any doubt. 

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Revisiting 'The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs'- Part1

Aaron Marcus, the founder and President of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc wrote an article "The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs" for Software Development Magazine and was published in May 2003. Its been more than three years since then and lots of things have changed in the Mobile world across the globe. So let us revisit those 12 myths and see if there is any change in the stand. 

Myth 1: 3G is here! : The original article predicts that "The U.S. will be the last to get the advanced messaging, data streaming, multimedia and fast transmission promised by third-generation wireless standards. Japan and Korea, followed closely by China, are likely to lead the way, with Europe trailing second, as has been repeatedly demonstrated over the last decade in the telecom marketplace". Let us see how the top 4 US Carriers are doing in 3G as of today.

  • Sprint-Nextel : Sprint-Nextel has the largest Mobile Broadband network covering 216 major Metropolitan markets and 486 airports. (Source: Sprint Mobile Broadband Network ). Average speed is around 400-700kbps. Sprint is also upgrading its network with a new revision of EVDO for better speeds. Sprint-Nextel was in the news on 8th of August 2006 for its bold initiative to launch 4G network based on WiMAX technology. The company's deployment plans target a launch of the advanced wireless broadband services in trial markets by the end of 2007 with plans to deploy a network that reaches as many as 100 million people in 2008.  (No figures available on how many of its customers are 3G customers.)
  • Verizon Wireless : Verizon Wireless, the first to build a national wireless broadband network based on CDMA EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology launched BroadbandAccess in October 2003 and announced a national rollout in January 2004 (Source: Verizon Network Facts). Currently serving around 181 cities at average speeds of 400-700 kbps. By the end of the second quarter, 2006, 10 million customers had broadband-capable devices, including phones, PDAs, Blackberries and laptop PC cards. (Source: Verizon News Release Aug 1 2006)
  • Cingular Wireless : As per a News Release from Cingular on 22nd September, 2006, Cingular's 3G network is currently serving  customers in the following markets: Austin (TX), Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianpolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Seattle, Tacoma (Wash.) and Washington, D.C. (No figures available on how many of its customers are 3G customers.)
  • T-Mobile : In September, 2006, T-Mobile won a bid for large portions of the 3G Spectrum. The 3G network will be based on a UMTS/HSDPA solution and should be launched sometime in 2007. 
  • Clear number of total 3G subscribers in USA is not publicly available, but reading between news and reports, it can be some where around 7-12 Million. Which is quite low compared to 218 Million of total Mobile subscribers in USA.

As per a news release by UMTS Forum on 13th Jun 2006, worldwide subscriptions to 3G networks exceeded 100 million. The 100 million subscriber milestone represents almost 75 million UMTS/WCDMA customers and more than 25 million CDMA2000 1x EV-DO customers. It is unclear, what is portion of USA in those 25 Million CDMA2000 1x EV-DO customers. (May be around 7-10 Million).  But when it comes to WCDMA, Western Europe represents just over half of the world's total WCDMA subscribers. The region currently holds 50.4% of the global WCDMA subscriber base, with Asia Pacific contributing 47.8%. The remainder - less than 2% - is contributed by subscribers in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, USA/Canada and Africa.

The statistics and recent news stories clearly indicate that  3G Customers and services are much more prevalent in Japan, Korea, and most part of the Europe. And USA is trying to catch up.

So, myth is still true. 3G Services are NOT yet ready. Though networks seem to be available to a greater portion of Consumers, it seems not many are taking the bite. 

In the upcoming posts, let us see how the rest of the 11 myths stand out.

[tags]Aaron-marcus, 12-Myths, Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, TMobile, USA, 3G[/tags]

Saturday, September 23, 2006

INSTANTMOTO - Motorola Mobile Phones on a Vending Machine near you

Motorola, the No.2 in Mobile phones will be the No.1 to offer its Mobile phones and accessories through a Vending machine. The stores are operated by San Francisco-based Zoom Systems, which also operates iPod vending machines. Currently these vending systems are in the San Francisco International Airport and Macy's on State Street, in addition to more locations across the country.

The vending machine-like "Instantmoto" stores will sell 12 kinds of phones and 18 accessories. Shoppers will be able to use credit cards to purchase mid- to high-end models, including the Razr and the Q, and can buy with or without a service plan for T-Mobile, Verizon and Cingular service. Using a touch-screen, customers can pick a phone's style, color and accessories, such as car adapters and chargers. Then go-online to the carriers website to register for the service.

The machines are about three times the size of a typical beverage vending machine, so one can spot them easily. These machines are being installed in nearly 20 malls and airports nationwide by November, 2006.

[tags]Motorola, Mobile-Phones, Nokia, Zoom-Systems[/tags]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Virtual Keyboards are no longer safe

To fight with keyboard loggers (the spyware programs which record your key strokes) some banks started using Virtual keyboards. When using virtual keyboards, you will not enter your password using your keyboard. Instead, you will use your mouse to enter the password by clicking on the alphabets and numbers that appear as images on the screen. It seemed to have worked so far. But not any more.

As per a news item, virtual keyboards are no longer safe, and trojan horse programs have been spreading that can log partial images of the virtual keyboards along with keystrokes without notice of users, enables to break the code. Unfortunately, only 6 of 30 anti-virus programs could detect the trojan horse program.

A Spanish security company, Hispasec Systems, has revealed details of "Trojan horse" programs that can capture video imagery of an unsuspecting person's computer use. If the user enters a PIN on a bank's virtual keypad, the dastardly program is a witness.

Gartner Inc. security analyst Avivah Litan said screen-capture programs that attacked virtual keypads emerged as early as 2003, when banks in Brazil fell prey. She said the technique has remained relatively rare because the programs consume a lot of bandwidth and storage, and there have tended to be a lot of easier targets.

But that may be changing. Quintero said Wednesday that a newly detected Trojan combines keystroke-logging and video-capture functions — and instead of recording the entire screen, the program just grabs images of the immediate area near where the user clicks the mouse. The spy receives a smaller file, making the attack easier to pull off.

Mobile Printing on Nokia N-Series Phones

As per a news item, Nokia N-series phones will enable users print photos right from their mobile phones, by connecting them to printers through USB or a bluetooth connection. The software on the phone also allows to order prints of pictures directly from their mobile phones from Snapfish and likes.

Software in four of Nokia's Nseries camera phones will enable users to order prints of their pictures for store pick-up or home delivery from services such as Hewlett-Packard's Snapfish. The new software will add to the printing capabilities of the phones, which can already connect to certain printers over USB or a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Nokia's software will allow Snapfish users in the U.S. to order prints from their online photo gallery directly from an N80 Internet Edition camera phone. They can already upload pictures to their gallery from a variety of camera phones, but so far prints can only be ordered over the Web from a PC.

The N80 will ship in the U.S. before year-end, Nokia said, but users elsewhere will have to wait a little longer.

[tags]mobile-printing, mobile-life-styles, mobile-applications, nokia, nseries, snapfish, usa[/tags]

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smart Phone is the Key to Content World

At 'The Cellular Life Style', we strongly believe that devices play a very crucial role in the success of Mobile in redefing the Life Style. It is fundamental and very important for users to think of Mobile as multi-utility device than just a simple phone. Once the Cell phone becomes a part of every thing we do, we want to do everything in our world with or on mobile. This explains why US mobile-is-just-for-voice lags far behind Europe's Mobile Life Style.  Our key question on the main page puts this belief in proper context:

Would you like to carry an iPod, a Sony recorder, a Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop, …………….. OR a cool smart Cellular phone?

Recent M:Metrics press release clearly substantiate our belief with numbers from various markets. M:METRICS: WILL SMARTER PHONES DRIVE CONTENT CONSUMPTION?released on 10th July, 2006 finds that,

"while smart-phone owners comprise a small percentage of the overall population of mobile phone users, large percentages of smart-phone users are consuming mobile content. Contrary to popular belief, those carrying these powerful devices are not using them exclusively for productivity applications, but are also using them to view mobile video, play mobile games and listen to mobile music in addition to using them for personal e-mail and wireless Web access"

Compared to the average mobile phone subscribers, smart-phone owners are avid users of mobile multimedia

Read the full report by M:Metrics here.

While many users may not see a need or think they may not use all applications at this point, Smart phones and/or cell phones that will combine atleast 4 or more utilities into a single device will hold the key to content on mobiles.

Also, at a recently held CTIA conference, CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006 over 300 exhibitors showcased their products that are promised to provide the key to success of mobile content. While many believe that Content and applications drive Mobile market, no one is certain how it will evolve and what kind of applications or content will be in demand. While there is NO clear answer to this question on applications and content, a capable device and a supporting network is essential for us to consume any kind of content.

[tags]MMetrics, Smart-phones, Mobile-applications, mobile-life-styles, CTIA[/tags]

UK Leads in Mobile Music, US in Ringtones

As per a Press Release by M:Metrics on 12th September, 2006, UK reports the highest percentage of Mobile Subscribers who use their Mobile device as their Music Player.

At three percent, the volume of British mobile music consumers is higher than the Spanish (2.8 percent), U.S. (0.7 percent) and German (1.4 percent) audiences

The report cites 'dearth of devices' as the key barrier for wider adoption of mobile phone as music player. So, I believe new phones like 'Chocolate' which is Music Player + Mobile, and rumoured Cell phone iPod from Apple are going to change the scene and we will see more and more subscribers dancing to the tunes from Mobiles.

Read the press release here. You can also download a PDF version of the release.

The report also includes data about Ring Tones consumption, and US leads the ringtones market with a 10.4% penetration followed by Spain with 8.9%.  Also Read how we are using Mobile Content and Applications. In US, SMS is still the mostly used Mobile Application. But Mobile Games are picking up fast.

[tags]chocolate, LG, Mobile-music, ring-tones, US, UK, MMetrics[/tags]

Broadband on Narrow Wicket

Business Line has an excellent article on Broadband network issues in India.

With BSNL and MTNL not willing to share their last mile, private players are left with two choices: fork out a colossal amount and lay a fresh last mile network or haggle with the local cable operators.

India had over 1.3 million broadband subscribers as on March 31, 2006 (still well behind the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's target of 3 million by December 2005) out of which 4 lakh belonged to private players. BSNL had 5.86 lakh broadband subscribers and MTNL over 2 lakh. As of July 2006, TRAI figures show 1.70 million broadband subscribers; analysts say the private-public sector proportion must be roughly the same as in March.

Read the article here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Calling for a cause

Its not uncommon to see Businesses and Entrepreneurs give away thier wealth for a cause once they reach a stage or age in their careers. You must have heard about announcements by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and a lot many.  But it is not that common to see an entrepreneur start a business just for a cause.

Springwise has spotted an Idea that calls for your full attention.  Click here to read the full idea. Business of Mobile services is believed to be a very lucrative business. And the very reason, this MVNO is setup to help the cause.

Belgian Ello Mobile is a new mobile operator that was established with the sole aim of giving away 100% of its profits. Ello is a mobile virtual network operator – it uses an existing network. Instead of offering bargain-basement cellphone plans, the company offers its customers the chance to contribute directly to a cause with every call they make, and every text message they send.

Customers can currently pick one of six projects, from protecting the jungles of Sumatra to providing mobile schools to street children in South America. Another six projects will be added over the next few months, all of which have been selected by an independent panel of experts. Ello understands the need for charitable organizations to be completely transparent, and will share full profit and loss statements with its customers. To minimize costs, the company is entirely web-based, and works with a small administrative staff. Profit margins are forecast at 24-33% for the first three years, and are targeted to climb to 41% after 2009.

If your Mobilfe life style can give a life to some one, wouldn't you go Mobile?

Calling for a Cause

Its not uncommon to see Businesses and Entrepreneurs give away thier wealth for a cause once they reach a stage or age in their careers. You must have heard about announcements by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and a lot many.  But it is not that common to see an entrepreneur start a business just for a cause.

Springwise has spotted an Idea that calls for your full attention.  Click here to read the full idea. Business of Mobile services is believed to be a very lucrative business. And the very reason, this MVNO is setup to help the cause.

Belgian Ello Mobile is a new mobile operator that was established with the sole aim of giving away 100% of its profits. Ello is a mobile virtual network operator – it uses an existing network. Instead of offering bargain-basement cellphone plans, the company offers its customers the chance to contribute directly to a cause with every call they make, and every text message they send.

Customers can currently pick one of six projects, from protecting the jungles of Sumatra to providing mobile schools to street children in South America. Another six projects will be added over the next few months, all of which have been selected by an independent panel of experts. Ello understands the need for charitable organizations to be completely transparent, and will share full profit and loss statements with its customers. To minimize costs, the company is entirely web-based, and works with a small administrative staff. Profit margins are forecast at 24-33% for the first three years, and are targeted to climb to 41% after 2009.

If your Mobilfe life style can give a life to some one, wouldn't you go Mobile?

[tags]Mobile-life-styles, ello-mobile, springwise, MVNO[/tags] 

Friday, September 15, 2006

Race to the Top of the World - India vs China

BBC World News produced a documentary on India vs China comparing head to head on different aspects of economic growth on the way to becoming Economic Super Powers of the 21st century.

While China is growing and moving very fast, there are some people still believe that India has a better chance to become Super Power and sustain the growth rate. Many analysts are debating that China's silos development model can not be sustained in the long run and arguing that India's overall development, though little slower than China, can sustain in the long run because of the ecosystem that is being developed and being the largest democratic country in the world. More over, another clear distinction even mentioned in this video, India is pioneering innovation to differentiate in terms of Quality products rather than Quantity.

Watch the videos uploaded at Youtube.

India and China are due to reopen their land border this month, for the first time since an intense frontier war more than 40 years ago.This political breakthrough comes as both countries race to become the economic giants of the world in the next few decades. BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins has been travelling in both India and China to assess the scale of the challenge they face and the impact their rise will have on all of our lives. In this special report he visits these two countries to see how two very different political systems are coping with rapid change. The two countries are still excluded from the G8. These two Emerging giants are locked in a race to become the world's newest economic super power. James Robbins has been to the commercial capitals of Mumbai and Shanghai to see who will win the battle.

Consumers and Carriers, not Content, is not yet ready!

Read a news story on ABC News, posing an intriguing question "Who needs mobile Apps?" based on analysis from CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006 conference responses. Read it here.

The article by PC Magazine, says consumers and carriers have too many choices of content and Mobile applications.  Over 300 exhibitors showcased their products in the conference.

Irony is that Carriers do not know what consumers want, so they are in a dilemma to decide what will fare better and give them better margins. Consumers on the other hand are just waiting for their carriers to choose the best for them. Remember, that carriers still maintain the Walled Gardens, means that Consumers can not get what ever they want but can only choose from what carriers offer. But in reality, carriers are desperate to introduce new Mobile data applications to make a buck out of their networks, as voice is fast becoming a commodity and can no longer provide the margins they enjoyed.

There were many questions around, do consumers need any of these applications? Will they pay for them? Can carriers make profits of any of those applications? While there is definitive and right answer to any of those questions, based on what the rest of the world experienced, most mobile applications are not 'needed' as such, but most of them greatly enhance the productivity, fun, communication, way of conducting business and redefine a new life styles around them. Lifestyle is not 'needed' but essential for each one of us. So are the Mobile applications. Once we start using them, then only we will realize how hard the life had been without the mobile.

So, Who needs Mobile applications? All of us. To live a better life style. And for carriers, they are just desperate to introduce the applications for their own survival and deep pockets and in search of next best killer application. Will they find it? Only we, the consumers can decide.

[tags]CTIA, WIrelessit2006, mobile-applications, abcnews[/tags]

MSNSearch is #1 and above Google and Yahoo

Nope, I did not conduct any performance tests or conducted any surveys about the top search engines. I just read a blog posting at Marketing Shift that declares MSN Search as #1 as per Google search results.

Curious and surprised to see that result, I searched again in Google, Yahoo and MSN Search engines for key word search. We have been waiting for a long time to have a search engine that give the results based on 'relevance' and meaning of what you are searching rather than the keyword as part of an URL. But the wait it still on. No search engine has any relevance. All look at the keyword in the URL and some other goofy algorithm to turn them up. So, the keyword in the URL still rules. Here are the results: 

Yahoo just followed the suit, with little more amusement. www.search.com tops followed by overture and MSN Search.

MSN is definitely above Yahoo and Google in both Yahoo and Google search engines. But let us see how much MSN believes in itself as the target for search keyword.

So, don't know what these search engines are up to, when it comes to 'search', their bread and butter.    

Mobile Search - Where is the Money?

Nokia recently announced that Yahoo search will become an integral part of the Nokia Mobile Search application on all Nokia NSeries Multimedia computers and Nokia S60 devices. Earlier in the year, Motorola announced to include Google search and Yahoo Go Mobile services on its Mobile devices. 

These two announcements from the top two Mobile Device manufacturers and the top 2 search engines, surely are giving enought hints that they consider Mobile search as the next best thing to do. But I am wondering who makes money with these services and how?

Customers will be happy to install or have them pre-installed on their mobiles so that they can search better and quicker whatever they need right from their mobiles. But how does Google or Yahoo make money from the search.  Will they display contextual ads just like they do oo the desktop?  Do they expect consumers to click on the ad to go to the website of the advertiser and purchase some stuff? Will consumers like to see advertisements on their mobile downloaded at the expense of their air time? Or Google and Yahoo just don't insert any ads in the search results and just let the users enjoy free?

Atleast for now, there are no ads in the search results. For now, we can say that Google, Yahoo, Nokia and Motorola are just interested in creating a nice and useful experience to its customers. Could not believe it? Just wait. They will find a way to monetize their services. Hopefully in a less obtrusive and at no expense to the user.

[tags]Google, Yahoo, Nokia, Motorola, Mobile-Search[/tags] 

Best of CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment '06

CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006, the latest and first of its kind of conference that brings both Enterprise and Entertainment from the Mobile world together was held between 12th and 14th September 2006 right in Hollywood, Los Angeles CA.

The show boasts of around 15000 attendees and 300 exhibitors from Wireless IT, Enterprise and Entertainment sectors. Have a look at the power line of Key note speakers here. It got all Key operators who are leading the Wireless Data markets, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, Virgin Mobile and also includes the latest  MVNO Helio, Sony in full attendence with two key notes one  each from Sony Pictures and Sony BMG Music, analysts from Accenture, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, News Corporations .... and whole bunch of presentations that can take the a whirl wind tour of the Mobile world and expose to new dimensions of the wireless content business.

If you have missed the conference or want to have peek of what happened at the Conference, have a look at the Highlights of the Conference, podcasts, videos and photographs at CTIA web site here.

[tags]wirelessit2006, ctia, usa, hollywood, verizon, sprint, helio, virginmobile, sony, usatoday, wsj, mobile-applications[/tags]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wikipedia vs Britannica ? Email Debate at WSJ

The debate is open yet again between Wikipedia and Britannica. This time it is not between readers or proponents or bloggers but between the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales and Dale Hoiberg, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Britannica. The Wall Street Journal Online invited both for this E-Debate over Email.  Check it out here.

The Wall Street Journal Online also hosted a poll asking its readers to vote on the following question: "Does Wikipedia's open-editing approach yield better results than traditional encyclopedias?". At the time of writing, 2654 have voted with 56% says YES while 31% says NO.

It is difficult to say who won the debate or whether the debate is finished at all? But just a little conversation between them without any one clearly making a point or proving some thing right or wrong. 

I rarely visited Britannica online, though I referred to it a lot while in college. Mainly due to the fact that we did not have any alternative and wikipedia did not exist at that time. But after I once came to know about wikipedia, I never visited any other site but wikipedia for any reference.  Critics ramble that people who are writing wikipedia are not experts. But I tend to disagree, based on my experience. All the articles in which I have expertise, they are accurate and most importantly very much up-to-date. And more over, even if there is a slight inaccuracy, it does not matter to me. I do not make mission critical or life changing decisions based on wikipedia or for that matter on britannica. The up-to-date information, openness, free to use and vast coverage of wikipedia are most important to me.   

Six Indians in MIT Technology Review - 2006 Young Innovators Under 35

The following Six Indians featured in MIT Technology Review - 2006 Young Innovators Under 35 : (Click on Names to view profiles and how and why they deserve to be in the list)

  1. Ram K. Krishnamurthy : Cooler computers
  2. Ashok Maliakal : The floppy screen
  3. Prithwish Basu : Networking Unplugged
  4. Anand Raghunathan : Making mobile secure
  5. Sumeet Singh : Faster defenses against computer viruses
  6. Jay Shendure : The $1,000 genome

The list of Innovators also includes my favorites:

Mobile TV grew 45% in Q2-2006

As per the inaugural Mobile TV Diary Report released by Telephia on 11th September, 2006, Mobile TV Audience grew 45% to 3.7 Million subscribers in Q2-2006. Total quarterly Mobile TV revenues increased to $86 Million in last quarter which is 67% increase over the last quarter.

As per the release, Subscribers are using  the 'Third Screen' primarily for news, weather reports and sports updates.  ABC news was the most watched TV Channel in Q2-2006 while the Weather Channel, Fox Sports and ESPN follows.

The Weather Channel is accessible to 82% of the subscribers, but only 45% of those are viewing the channel. CNN tops in this category. CNN is currently available only to 18% of total Mobile subscribers, but 65% of those who have access to CNN are watching CNN. ABC News, the most watched TV on Mobile, is accessible to 78% of the subscribers and 55% of those users are watching ABC news.

Read the original rankings by Telephia, 1. Mobile TV Channels Ranked by Share of Total Audience and 2. Mobile TV Channels Ranked by Coverage Area Reach) in its release here.

[tags]Telephia, Mobile-TV-Diary-Report, Mobile-TV, Mobile-Applications, ABC-News, CNN, The-Weather-Channel[/tags]

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Video on Mobile is hot, but users want it free!

Video on Mobile is hot. Many of us love to watch short video clips like movie trailers, high lights of games, personal videos etc., on Mobile. The president of MTV, Van Toffler, says MTV and its properties streamed more than 2 million videos on Verizon’s Vcast service in March alone. Listen to Van Toffler's key note address at CTIA Wireless 2006 how MTV is spearheading video on Mobile by launching several content formats world wide.

And many main stream news studios like CNN and ABC are joining the frenzy by offering headlines and top stories as videos distributed on Mobile phones. They have already reached broad user base by video podcasts through iTunes and likes.

And as per research by Jupiter 25% of consumers want to watch Live TV and video clips on their Mobiles but only 1% are ready and willing to pay the subscription fees. But that will definitely change with the content.  Jupiter also says that only 11% of mobiles will be Video capable in 2006. Again this will change very fast once right content is launched, as users will soon start demanding a video capable phone and network service. 

About 40% of people are using their Mobile as the primary device to take pictures. And pretty soon, mobile will be used to capture short videos and share them instantly with their loved ones. Not only devices are maturing but many carriers are deploying 3G networks that are capable of video downloads and uploads.

[tags]mobile-video, jupiter, verizon, vcast, MTV, cnn, abc, 3G[/tags]

Friday, September 8, 2006

How much Tax are you paying on your Cell phone bill?

When you buy an iPod or a book in the store in US, on an average you must be paying around 6% as sales tax.  Do you know how much Tax are you paying on your Mobile bill?  If you think, its about the same, then you are up for a big suprise and shock, unless you are in Nevada.  As per an article in Wireless Wave , a quarterly trade magazine by CTIA,  on an average in US, you pay around 17% in taxes and fees on your Mobile bill.

Nebraska being the most expensive with taxes and fees topping at 24.6% and Nevada is the lowest with just 7%, which is even lower than the sales tax of 7.1%.

Do you know that you paid 3% of your Mobile bill every month to fund 'Spanish American War' fought in 1898?  You read it right, Spanish American War in 1898? Over a 108 years ago.  Its called, FET (Federal Excise Tax) which was originally introduced to fund the war in 1898, but was never repealed until five different US Circuit courts of Appeals have ruled in favor of customers recently.  Good news is that You need not pay FET tax after July 31, 2006.  If we are lucky, we might get refund of last three years' FET too !

Its quite unfortunate that the Federal, State and local bodies still think that Wireless service is a luxury and hence customers shall pay more taxes and fees for the service. Read the article for more details on the taxation. And join  http://www.mywireless.org to fight against 'more' upcoming taxes.

Little numbers for those interested. As per CTIA reports, there are around 218 Million Wireless subscribers, with a total population of around 295 Million people. (Around 40 Million are under the age of 10).  US accounts for around 11% of total World Mobile Subscribers but accounts for around 20% of World's revenue from Mobile Services. On average, a US Mobile Subscriber pays $53 (excluding tax).

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Sizzling Venture Capital Market in India

As per a report by Evalueserve the Venture Capital market in India, which picked up some time in 2004  is now sizzling as VC Firms in India and overseas are flocking to setup Venture Funds to invest in Indian startups.

Over 44 US-based VC firms are now seeking to invest heavily in start-ups and early-stage companies in India. These firms have raised, or are in the process of raising, an average of US $100 million each. Indeed, if these 40-plus firms are successful in raising money, they would garner approximately $4.4 billion to be invested during the next 4 to 5 years.

However, VCs have been exclusively focusing on only a few sectors like IT, Telecom, BPO and Consumer Internet, the report cautions that that would mean a lot of money and too few companies. The report evaluates that a typical start-up in India would require $9 million during the first three years (i.e., $3 million per year) and even assuming that the start-up survives for three years, investing $2.2 billion during 2007-2010 would imply investing in 150 to 180 start-ups every year during this period, which simply does not seem practical if the VCs continue to focus only on their current favourite sectors.

Comprehensive listing of various Venture Capital firms and their focus areas have been listed in the report, that would definitely give an excellent overview of the market for the readers.Access the free report from Evaluserve here.