Ronnie05's Blog

Social Networking figures double (2007 -09)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on July 29, 2009

This doesnot come as a surprise after the explosive growths registered by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. According to a Forrester research, the number of social networking users in USA has doubled since 2007.

forrester-study55.6 million Users – or just less than 1/3rd of the population – in the US now visit social networks at least monthly. That’s up from just 15 percent of adults in 2007, and around 18 percent last year.

 At that level, social networking is now more popular than instant messaging among adults, which 54.3 million people report using. However, watching video, online shopping, and email are still more widely used than social networks.

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WiMAX: Last mile internet connectivity in difficult to access places may be its USP!

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on July 29, 2009

The number of people grabbing their Internet access through WiMax is expected to jump to 50 million by 2014, says Juniper Research.The growth in WiMax stems from areas unreachable or unserved by broadband cable or DSL thus underlining the importance of WiMAX as a last mail broadband alternative.


WiMax is a wireless technology that delivers broadband speeds over the last mile, ideal for locations where cabling is not available or feasible. Faster than current wireless 3G technology, WiMax can also serve large metropolitan areas as it covers a wider area than conventional Wi-Fi. Referenced in the report, the most advanced WiMax standard, WiMAX 802.16e, delivers greater throughput than other WiMax standards.

While large-scale WiMax deployments have been delayed, many providers have so far been successful in countries ranging from Pakistan to the U.S. In the US,4G Clearwire wireless networks used by Sprint, Comcast, and other providers, run over WiMax.

The global deployment of WiMax will drive its growth. The larger number of WiMax subscribers will be in the Far East and China region, says the report, due to that area’s early adoption of the technology.WiMax gains in Western Europe and, to a lesser degree North America, will occur in areas underserved by DSL. Growth in Africa and the Middle East is likely to surpass that of Western Europe, says Juniper, gaining 15 percent of the overall WiMax subscriber base by 2014.

“WiMAX 16e will have opportunities not just in developing countries, but also areas of developed countries where the DSL coverage is weak or nonexistent,” said Howard Wilcox, the author of the report. “The key for the industry ecosystem now is to overcome the challenges and ensure trials evolve into commercial services quickly.”

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Profiling the slide at Nokia (Part III)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on July 28, 2009

Dan Carter’s blog says it all.

The blog illustrates how Nokia looses the big game from a consumer perspective, with the most vociferous fans now slowing conceeding to the fact that Nokia’s smartphone challenge is outplayed and outsmarted by other worthy competitors.

To quote Dan,” Through thick and thin I have been promoting Nokia, Blogging about Nokia, Talking about Nokia and Buying Nokia!. However more and more recently my eyes are being opened to the rest of the Smartphone world and it is clear to me there are other phones out there that will do the job I need them to do, and maybe in some cases better?.”

Dan adds, “The problem I seem to have is with the Symbian OS not evolving enough compared to other manufacturers. Apart from some transitions and Feature Pack updates the OS looks the same today as it did 3 years back with the N95.”

The last when Nokia was able to make waves with its smartphone was the N 95. However, there after, N 78, N 79, N 82, N 85, N 86, N 96 and now the N 97 havent really given audience the kicks they were worth! Another user Ashutosh Timary comments, “You can almost predict what nokia is going to churn out next and not only that, even without playing with the new device, you can almost feel the experience.”

HTC hero

HTC Hero with a new Android OS and ‘Sence’ system, is a very sexy looking OS with a great piece of hardware packaged in one phone. The Hero has a large touch screen, HSDPA, 5 Megapixel camera, 3.5mm headset jack and looks like a real multimedia phone.

Another prime case is that of iPhone 3GS which has been selling out all around the world despite being very over priced for the specification. The N97 beats the 3GS in pretty much every area apart from usability of the screen and the OS.

Does Nokia have any more smartphone winners in its portfolio? No probably.. All current Nokia devices seem recycled.

N 97Nokia are starting to become boring with their same devices repackaged and using the same OS over and over again, especially when other manufacturers are doing such a good job at getting things right.


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Would MS Azure start a new cloud price war?

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on July 28, 2009

Earlier today Microsoft unveiled it’s pricing model for its forthcoming Windows Azure cloud services platform. What’s interesting about the pricing model is that they seem to be taking direct aim at Amazon Web Services.

To recap, Amazon charges 12.5 cents per hour for a basic Windows Server instance in contrast Microsoft’s stated that their price will be 12 cents.They noted that the service will remain free until November. I should also point out that it still isn’t clear if comparing Windows Azure to Amazon’s Windows EC2 is a fair comparison given the rather drastic differences in functionality.

Microsoft calls Windows Azure a “cloud services operating system” that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Platform. They’ve also said they will offer a private data center version of Azure that will be capable of being hosted within a “private cloud” context. This will be most likely as part of their upcoming virtual infrastructure platform “hyper-v” possibly as a virtual machine image. Currently to build applications and services on Windows Azure, developers can use their existing Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 expertise with the ability to easily run highly scalable ASP.NET Web applications or .NET code in the MS cloud.

Microsoft officials had previously indicated that Windows Azure pricing would be competitive, but the price differential may be more symbolic than material. At their published rates, if you ran a Window server in the cloud every hour of the day for an entire year, you’d save a mere $43.80 going with Microsoft. Indeed, if penny pinching is important, Amazon Web Services actually has a cheaper alternative, though it’s not Windows. Amazon charges 10 cents per hour for “small” virtualized Linux and Unix servers.”

The half cent price difference is quite certainly material for those running larger cloud application deployments. A few cents can quickly add up. The move indicates that Microsoft is certainly not afraid to subsidize its cloud pricing in order to take a larger piece of the cloud market and with the large cash reserves Microsoft is said to have, they can certainly afford to engage in a price war. The bigger question will be how other more closely related cloud platform providers will adjust their pricing models? Right now all signs are starting to point a cloud price war. Time will be the best judge!

iPhone users most satisfied lot? (A US study)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on July 28, 2009

Though Apple continues to hype the iPhone and the multitude of applications available through its App Store, iPhone users are indeed the most satisfied smartphone users and exhibit the strongest brand loyalty, according to a recent survey compiled by analytics firm Crowd Science.

Of those surveyed, 40 percent use a smartphone and one-third of those are iPhone users. The iPhone users gave Apple’s smartphone a 73 percent overall satisfaction rating, compared with a 52 percent satisfaction rating from users who had a BlackBerry device from Research In Motion and 41 percent who were satisfied using another smartphone.

Further, iPhone users plan to stick with the device, according to the survey. Fully 82 percent of current iPhone users would buy an iPhone again, compared with 39 percent of BlackBerry users who would purchase a BlackBerry again. Additionally, the survey found that 38 percent of non-iPhone users would switch to the iPhone for their next phone purchase, compared with 14 percent of non-BlackBerry users who said they would get a BlackBerry as their next phone. One final iPhone stat: Ninety-seven percent of current iPhone users surveyed said they would recommend the device to someone else.


Of the total sample, four out of ten use some type of smartphone and one-third of these use an iPhone.


Among those possessing a smartphone, most use it for both business and personal purposes (71 percent), with only 3 percent who use it for business only.”


IPhone users exhibited higher overall satisfaction with their phone than Blackberry and other smartphone users


IPhone users exhibit a strong loyalty to the brand. An overwhelming majority of iPhone users (82 percent) would purchase an iPhone again. As for non-iPhone users, almost four-in-ten (38 percent) would switch to iPhone for their next purchase, while 14 percent of non-Blackberry users would switch to Blackberry for their next mobile phone purchase.

While there are irregularities in the data collection mechanism and iPhone users have been given more weightages (compared to Blackberry, which numerically is larger than the iPhone), the results could be looked at from a “directional” perspective.



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How Microsoft is underprepared for next gen computers?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on July 28, 2009

Microsoft’s Windows is still shipped on 97 per cent of all new PCs. Thanks to the emergence of new classes of portable, internet-connected devices, a potentially disruptive sea-change is now under way in the fastest-growing areas of personal computing and Windows is not exactly in the driver seat on this ground.

As a PC operating system, it turned out that the world did not need, or want, Linux. The ubiquity of Windows guaranteed that other software developers would write their programs to run on it, creating an effective barrier to entry for others trying to break into the market.

That market dynamic has also helped Microsoft to hold its ground so far on netbooks, the new class of small-scale machines that have been the sole bright spot in an otherwise shrinking PC market. While early netbooks came with Linux and were designed to act mainly as simple internet devices, they have since been recast as scaled-down versions of the familiar, software-heavy laptop.

Yet this victory has come at a cost, and has exposed a flaw in Microsoft’s development plans. With most netbooks incapable of running the Windows Vista code, it was forced to use the older Windows XP operating system. And with prices far lower than for standard laptops, Microsoft has already seen an erosion in the average price it gets for Windows.

A second phase of the netbook wars is now looming. Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS, announced this month and planned for the second half of next year, is designed to carry through on the original promise of netbooks: to let users do all their work on the web through a browser. The web is thus a platform for applications and the operating system becomes less relevant.

Other operating systems designed for the web are also in the works. The Linux and Intel open-source project, known as Moblin, will be available in a range of machines before the end of the year.

The backers of software platforms like these see netbooks as the thin end of the wedge. Getting a foothold on small laptops is the first step to expanding into a wider range of internet devices – including the emerging class of tablet computers and so-called mobile internet devices (MIDs) that many in the industry hope will eventually create a new personal computing market, between today’s PCs and smartphones. Maemo, Nokia’s Linux-based operating system for portable tablet computers, is also pitched at this market.

That convergence promises to bring another dimension to the emerging software platform war.

Smartphones have seen a wave of software innovation, with the emergence over the past two years of a number of new purpose-built platforms: Google’s Android, Palm’s Web OS and a version of Apple’s OSX for the iPhone.

Microsoft is suffering because some of its licensees are looking to do more business with Android.

Designed for the power-constrained world of mobiles, these smartphone operating systems could start to invade a bigger piece of the personal computing world – particularly if the low-power Arm processors on which they run move up into larger, netbook-style devices.

Even in this shifting world, though, the power of Windows could be a deciding factor. If it released a version of the new Windows 7 to run on Arm-based processors, Microsoft could still be well-positioned to ride the wave of new devices.


Indian Telecom Story (Part XV): Net Operating margins at risk!

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on July 25, 2009

An extension of an earlier post, which has discussed the problem of reducing operating margins for Telecom Operators in India in the of falling ARPUs and high operating expenditures; this post profiles the predicament for Airtel. If Airtel being such an established player in the market is facing a crunch in its operating margins, the performances of other marginal players and new comers could be under serious doubt!

 Airtel II

Airtel registered a 17% YOY revenue increase. However, its quarterly sequential revenue growth seems to be tapping out at 1.19%. Thus the revenue growth is slowing down. Net profit is up 26% but that is mainly because of lower financial costs and spends. Operating profit margins are reduced from 30% in last year to 27% this year.

 The concern for Airtel is that the growth in number of subscribers is hitting a plateau. With more competitors, the subscriber figures growth may actually dip. The ARPU has decreased 20.6% YOY. With both these numbers going south, it would be difficult for Airtel to keep up its performance in the next few quarters.

 Applying the same analogy to other operators and the new comers, one would expect some congruence in the statuses. The overall market situation is same in all cases and thus the performances would not be very different for other operators. It is in this context one needs to evaluate the price discounting options that the new operators are resorting to. It may be a short cut to establishing a quick base but sustainability and profitability are very big questions. Couple that with the high initial spends of getting a toe hold in the market, the break even seems to be distant. Ask Virgin Mobile for validation.

R.I.P:Moore’s Law?Big Blue doesn’t think so!

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on July 24, 2009

Moore’s Law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, who in 1965 said a silicon chip’s number of transistors, and therefore its processing power, would double every 18 months. The longstanding high-tech principle that processor performance doubles every 18 months came under question last September, when Intel scientist Paul Packan published a paper that stated chip engineers hadn’t found ways around microprocessor design barriers for chips sets to be manufactured after this year. Since then, the Semiconductor Industry Association has predicted that chip performance will continue to increase over the next 15 years, but doubts about the physical limitations of silicon chips remain.


What Gordon said was the model is driven by the cost reductions that are allowed – the science takes the technology into more and more devices and the volume will explode because the cost comes down, so it is an economic model (more than just a scientific model).

Thus it looks as if the industry has reached a threshold point where the cost of making tools required to keep making smaller and smaller components has finally outstripped the ability of vendors to sell them profitably. Hence, is it R.I.P. Moore’s Law?

IBM doesn’t necessarily think it has — Big Blue says other things besides clock speed will work to increase performance.

IBM says it is taking a more holistic approach to its semiconductor research and development. Instead of focusing on clock speed, the company says it is deploying and developing a number of new processor technologies that do the job better. 

  1. Alternate technology involves copper interconnects are more power-efficient conductors than the aluminum interconnects currently in wide use, meaning a chip will take less power and run at a lower temperature for the same clock speed.
  2. Another way to increase performance is to improve memory capacity and improve its ability to move more data faster to a processor. IBM this week announced new memory technology that increases the amount of data that can be stored in a memory chip. Lange said IBM has developed a way to break a memory density barrier — or SF82 (squared) barrier — by finding a way to completely immerse the memory trench, that part of its memory chip that stores data bits, in silicon and shrinking the size of the trench.
  3. Increasing memory capacity by making memory cell components smaller and increasing the amount that can be stored in a single chip makes it possible for IBM to build processors with larger amounts of integrated memory. Integrated memory cuts processing time because the chip can fetch data from close at hand, rather than having to reach out to the main memory of a system across a much slower bus. Bus speeds are lagging processor speeds by factors of four or five, a gap that isn’t likely to close any time soon. 
  4. IBM is also working on improving network efficiency by implementing network processors, which it says can analyze data more quickly, for devices such as routers. These check the contents and destinations of packets through specially designed circuits rather than software, improving effectiveness, speed and reliability.
  5. In terms of advances that do directly affect pure clock speed, meanwhile, Lange said Big Blue has developed chips with features as close together as 0.05 microns in its labs.
  6. The current industry standard is 0.18 microns and will move to 0.13 microns next year and 0.10 microns in about 2003.


No Future for Apps Stores?Web Browsers is the way to go?

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on July 24, 2009

Apple customers may have downloaded 1.5bn applications from its AppStore in the past year for their iPhones and iPod touches, but the service does not represent the future for the mobile industry, according to Google. Vic Gundotra, Google Engineering vice president and developer evangelist, maintains that the web would win and users of mobile phones would get their information and entertainment from browsers in future. The case in favour of web based browsers is the lack of platform uniformity. Having different support for all of the different mobile platforms from Apple’s AppStore to those of the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Android and the many variations of the Nokia platform is nightmarish.

Google forecasts a move to incredibly powerful browsers, which would be platform independent. A vast number of applications can be delivered through the browser and there are huge cost savings by shifting to a single browser window from individual company based platforms.

Quoting Gundotra, “We believe the web has won and over the next several years, the browser, for economic reasons almost, will become the platform that matters and certainly that’s where Google is investing.”

Advances in the browser being introduced through HTML5 standards meant that web applications could tap features of particular phones such as their accelerometers. An example is Safari Webkit-based browser on the iPhone allowed positioning technology on the phone to be used and Google’s home page can now display where users are located. Webkit, which Apple had turned into an open-source project, was also powering the browsers on the Android and Palm operating systems.

While Steve Jobs had hinted two years earlier at open source development of a common platform. The timing then was not right. The rate of innovation in the browser [over the past 12 months] is surprising. Steve Jobs really did understand that, over the long term, it would be the web, and it looss like that is how things will play out.

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Google’s effort at offsetting Carbon

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on July 23, 2009


Google logo on search on the day of Solar eclipse (22nd July 2009)

 Only a few days back, I had posted a blog on Yahoo’s efforts for Carbon off setting. Google is also following suit in terms of efforts to neutralize carbon footprint.

 Ambient Cooling is one of the approaches highlighted in the article In its Belgium data centre, rather than using internal air-conditioning for cooling the hardware, the company is relying on the normally low atmospheric temperatures to provide all the free cooling its servers need. The climate in Belgium will support free cooling almost year-round, according to Google engineers, with temperatures rising above the acceptable range for free cooling about seven days per year on average. The average temperature in Brussels during summer reaches 66 to 71 degrees, while Google maintains its data centers at temperatures above 80 degrees. On days, when the atmospheric temperature is above the data centers temperature, Google will turn off equipment as needed in Belgium and shift computing load to other data centers.This approach is made possible by the scope of the company’s global network of data centers, which provide the ability to shift an entire data center’s workload to other facilities. As a result of its use of outside-air for cooling the data center, Google will save tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in cooling costs, while also cutting back on the greenhouse gas emissions tied to the electricity used to run the chillers.

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