Sunday, August 26, 2007

India to get Google phone first ?

A lot has been happening in the Indian mobile sector of late. Last week, it was Nokia that announced that India had overtaken USA as the second largest market for its handsets and network equipment. With more than 6 million new cell phone users being added every month, India is the fastest growing cellular market in the world. Of the approximate 185 million Indian cell phone users, Nokia boasts of 85 million users in its kitty in terms of the brand of cell phones they use.

Amidst Nokia's announcement, comes the other surprising news that is being reported across global dailies today. The Google phone rumor is doing the rounds again. The latest news is that the Google phone is set to make a splash in India, US and Europe simultaneously. How soon? In less than two weeks. That comes as a real surprise.

Talks are believed to be taking place with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar, respectively India's first and third largest mobile telephony operators, and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam.

It makes me wonder what is Google's strategy
  1. Is Google positioning its phone as a direct competitor to the Apple iPhone? Or is it the likes of Nokia that Google sees as its competition.
  2. Is Google ditching the well tried out strategy of releasing new phone models in developed markets followed by developing markets?
  3. Is the India strategy one of getting an entire generation of users directly hooked onto the mobile Internet and getting them to bypass the desktop Internet access. Well, what better way to give extra credence to its vision of "organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful", then to get a sixth of the planet's population experience the power of Internet through Google phones.
Though I would have been delighted to provide my blog readers answers to these questions, I am as much an onlooker as you. So do keep checking this blog as I track this story going ahead. I welcome your comments too.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Web biggies wooing Indian web surfers

There is a popular Hindi adage that when translated to the best of my abilities goes, "When God showers goodies on you, he will give enough for your roof top to cave in"

Thats exactly what flashed to my mind as I had been surfing for the latest tech news during the past week. Google, Yahoo and IBM, three of the web's big players have been wooing Indian netizens with India-centric online offerings.

Google has release two new language offerings.

One is the Google Indic Transliteration that allows users to type in English and the software does the transliteration to Hindi on the fly.

The software is still in its beta and has been opened to the public to receive and improve upon feedback. The software is similar to a T9 input on a mobile that offers word suggestions both in English and Hindi.

Two, the Indic On-Screen Keyboard iGoogle Gadget which too is on beta testing. Primarily targeted at users who would like to perform Google searches in Indic laguages, the tool is available in the form of a Google homepage gadget. It plans to support 15 Indian languages eventually.

Yahoo too has plans up its sleeves for Indian users. It launched 7 language specific portals in the first quarter of this year.
It extended the same language feature to its hugely popular desktop messenger tool as a plugin. Its also plans to incorporate the ability to send mails in upto 7 different Indian languages into its e-mail by the end of 2007.

IBM, another big web player in recent years plans to go a step further and incorporate speech recognition technologies. Hindi speaking people can effortlessly create emails or documents by speaking it out. The plan for the future is to incorporate this speech recognition technology into IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems like ATMs, Service Kiosks, Billy Payment systems, ticketing systems, etc.

The Desktop Hindi Speech Recognition Technology is developed by the IBM India Software Lab in collaboration with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC)

The system recognises more than 75,000 Hindi words with dialectical variations and provides an accuracy level of 90-95 per cent. A spellchecker enhances accuracy by adding the ability to correct spoken-word errors.

Rejoice Indian Netizens.....Goodies falling all around you .....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Indian Diaspora & Indian Software Firms

Being a regular reader of Harvard Business Review articles, I recently came across a very unique study conducted by two HBS professors, Ramana Nanda and Tarun Khanna. Titled "Diasporas and Domestic Entrepreneurs: Evidence form the Indian Software Industry" the paper examines the relations between the Indian diaspora which is estimated close to 18 million and spread over 130 countries and the Indian software industry.

It tries to answer two key questions
  1. Are entrepreneurs who are based in cities where matching with prospective clients, new referrals and monitoring is easier, less likely to rely on the diaspora than entrepreneurs based in cities where this is harder?
  2. do entrepreneurs who rely on the diaspora have better performing firms than those who do not tap into the expatriate community?
The study is unique because it gives a new dimension to way smaller software firms in India are expanding their businesses by tapping into the diaspora of Indians. Not just that, it also reveals that the opposite might actually be more true. The Indian diaspora might be tapping back into the Indian local, small scale software companies for mutual benefit.

With data from the NASSCOM, the two professors have done detailed mathematical regression analysis to arrive at their findings. The paper can be downloaded here.

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