Thursday, January 29, 2009

Newspapers losing audience to Internet news-sites

Business World columnist Ashok V Desai has an interesting thought put forth in his recent article titled "The Rise of Internet" in the issue dated 26th Jan 2009. He points out to the findings of a research conducted by Pew Research which show that for the first time Internet had overtaken news papers as the principal source of news in US. 40% of the 1489 respondents of a survey got their news from the internet as against 35% from newspapers.

While this has taken a good 2 decades after the advent of Internet in US, it would happen way too faster in Asia Pacific and more so in a countries like India which have adopted English as their official business language. Much of the next generation have started forgetting the habit of scanning the morning newspaper over a cup of coffee. Rather, they head straight to their laptop to surf their way to the latest news. Newspapers are already stale by the time they have left the print house.

Internet offers the option of tracking a news item minute by minute, following news items that suit one's tastes to point of nausea, follow wisebytes pouring out of one's favorite reporter, compare news reports of sites and even leave one's own two cents of thought on the news website. Even television as depicted in the graph is losing out share to the internet. The one way medium of newspapers doesn't stand a chance against this onslaught.

The point that Ashok mentions is the tendency among internet surfers to not pay for online news. This should spell doom for newpaper houses even if they decide to go online with their news. How do you come up with a commercially viable model that coaxes Internet readers to pay for news they consume online.

What needs to be seen is if any Indian newspaper successfully comes up with such a model; something that even the Western media houses have failed miserably at...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Open Handset Alliance - No Indian representation

I was reading about the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). A consortium of about 47 players in the telecom hardware and software domain who have come together to standardize and put forward a viable alternative to existing platforms for handsets and related application development. With founding members in Google, HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, Samsung, LG, T-Mobile, Nvidia and Wind River Systems, the Open Handset Alliance which was formed in Nov 2007 has grown in strength to 47. The consortium today includes mobile operators, software companies, commercialization companies, semiconductor companies and handset manufacturers.

On 5 November, 2007, the OHA unveiled Android, an open source mobile phone platform based on the Linux operating system. The first commercially available phone running Android is the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream)that hit the markets on August 18, 2008.

Nokia, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are not members of the alliance, though Verizon has expressed a change of stance.

Android, the flagship software of the alliance, is based on an open source license and will compete against other mobile platforms from Apple Inc., Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, Research In Motion and Symbian.

While US, European and even Chinese companies have become part of this alliance that will have a say in the future evolution of mobiles, the world's largest and fastest growing handset market India has absolutely no representation. No Indian vendor be it the state owned BSNL or the private biggies like Reliance, Tata Indicom or Airtel have a representation in the OHA.

This means that none of them will have a say in the way mobile phones evolve despite India being the market that will be the most challenging for handset makers given its cultural, linguistic and geographical diversities.

It also means that Indian users will have to pay through their nose for phones that were never developed in the first place keeping in mind the Indian user's nuances in mind. Remember Apple's iPhone introduction into India that fell flat on its face? Part pricing in-sensitivity and part feature insensitivity (non availability of 3G and iTunes store that could accepts payments in INR) caused the fiasco. You can be guranteed of more such incidents with no Indian representation in the OHA.

Lastly the stance of the Indian government is surprising. The Indian government is one of the strongest upholders of Linux and other open source software. It has played a strong role in pushing for the adoption of the open standards based document standard - ODF (Open Document Format). Why not the same stand when it comes to handset adoption? After all handsets have played and will continue to play an important role in getting the wheels of our nation rolling at 9%-10% GDP growth per annum.

Is someone listening?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

State of IT/ITES Startups in India

Nasscom has come out with a new section that features rising Indian IT companies. A platform to help emerging companies in the IT/ITES space in India, the platform enables emerging companies announce their arrival to the wide audience of customers in India and outside.

I have been following this for some time now. Companies with names that sure won't ring any bell in you coz they are are mint fresh - Rising Solutions, Incture Technologies, Kandor Retail, Information System (KRIS), RateGain, Quinnox, Mann India Technologies, Pratham Software, Herald Logic, Diaspark, Pradot Technologies.

Certain interesting aspects I have noticed in the emerging companies
1. They are niche companies (not surprising since you have to start somewhere and need to have a differentiator)
2. They reflect the current sunshine industries in India - Retail, Travel, Transport & Logistics. 30-40% of the compnies provide specific solutions to these industries.
3. They offer cost arbitrage not matachable by the biggies in the industry. That gets me to doubt if offshoring would move away from India. As the biggies move up the value chain, smaller fry feed on the spillovers which analysts keep predicting would move onto newer shores. That will take time still...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Top 3 technology companies to work for in India

Business Today has come up with the "Top 10 Best companies to work for in India" list.

While the top 3 companies are still technology companies, it comes as no surprise that none of the IT services companies have made the list. Blame it on the Satyam fiasco or the recession, the sheen of IT/ITES companies has taken a hit.

While that might only showcase only one side of the story, we should not forget the efforts that the companies that have made it to the list have put in to deserve the rankings they have been given.

As quoted from Business World,

In the last decade that Nagendar Vendula has been with Microsoft, the 41-yearold Master’s in Computer Engineering has transitioned through a variety of roles, ranging from product engineering and management, to managing the software giant’s 300-person in-house IT team. Vendula has moved from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Virginia, to the Microsoft India Development Centre in Hyderabad, and gone from core engineering of the BizTalk products to managing the disparate IT needs of Microsoft’s partners and customers. “Microsoft helped me make the move from the US to India,” says Vendula. “They not only shipped my personal effects, but also gave me a car and found a premium school for my kids.”

MS does.. it again. In the race to keep the best talent in the industry, Microsoft India has decided to focus on providing its 5,464 employees across sales and marketing, BPO, software development and research, the opportunity to work across a variety of roles. The company is also keen to break the mould and appoint young managers to positions of responsibility. “We hire people for their passion, not for a specific role,” says Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India. Around 41 per cent of Microsoft India’s managers are below the age of 35 years and Venkatesan is confident of his young charges delivering the goods.
Inside stories of this nature make a convincing story.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's in a name? Google holds the key !!

Satyam chairman Raju has something to cheer about even when his stars have forsaken him. Raju has been the most googled name across the world leaving even Obama behind since his infamous admission of a 7000 crore rupees fraud. The search volumes for Raju are estimated to have been over 10 times more than that of Obama on January 7. I only hope that it does not inspire others to fall to murkier depths to get into Google books of fame. :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boom or Recession - India always a preferred R&D outsourcing destination

I remember the oft quoted statement "A pessimist sees a partially filled glass of milk as half empty; an optimist as half full" when i was reading an article in the Times of India on how India is still a red hot favorite when it comes to R&D outsourcing by corporations across the globe.

India has emerged as the 2nd largest preferred destination for global R&D and innovation with US$12.9 billion of R&D investment being poured into India by 184 top R&D companies globally, a study by Booz Hamilton has revealed. The chief reasons being labor cost arbitrage & dominance of talent pools to undertake complex R&D

Many a time, I joke that recession or no recession companies can never stop outsourcing. Boom times force companies to outsource so that they can get to market faster, tap newer markets with their products/services faster; hence they tap into the abundant talent pool offered by countries like India. Recession times force companies to tighten their purses, get jobs done from countries where the cost arbitrage works to their advantage while the quality is not affected; hence they outsource.

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