Archive for December, 2004

“e-learning big for India”: Yet Another Hyper-Prediction

December 25, 2004

CIOL : News : “e-learning big for India”

“e-learning big for India”
With e-learning market valued at $28 billion by 2008, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu global director Nick van Dam sees a major opportunity for India.
Nanda Kasabe
Friday, December 24, 2004

CHENNAI: The $16.4 billion Deloitte, delivering audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services worldwide and serving more than one-half of the world’s largest companies is scaling operations in India.

Chief global learning officer for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and global director in Deloitte’s change learning and leadership practice, Nick van Dam believes that there would be exponential growth in e-learning by the year 2008, which presents a major opportunity for India.

Nick van Dam was in Pune to meet the company’s partner Maximize Learning and create awareness about e-Learning.

How would you define e-learning? Do you see e-learning playing a significant role in the enterprise?

I would term e-learning as net-enabled learning targeted to achieve business goals. The enterprise is a significant user of e-learning as a tool since it is faster, better and cheaper. Companies spend millions of dollars on training and e-learning reduces the overall training costs by 30 percent to 40 percent. It also reduces training time by as much as 50 percent on the same subject and decreases time-to-market of new skills globally. More courseware is available at significantly less costs. It has been noticed there is a 25 percent to 50 percent higher retention of knowledge due to e-learning.

How would you describe the current landscape in the e-learning market? What kind of trends do you foresee in the industry?

e-learning as a solution did not exist before 1996. The term itself took root after 1997. By the year 1999, the global e-learning market touched $ 1.7 billion. Currently, it stands at $ 6.5 billion and IDC has predicted that market is likely to witness an exponential growth and touch the $ 28 billion mark by 2008. I firmly believe e-learning simulations are the next big thing in learning.
Over 50 percent of enterprises will be using e-learning simulations to teach vital skills to their sales and customer support professionals by 2006. Our partner in India Maximize is already doing some work in this area for Deloitte. Simulation-based learning is second nature to the new generation brought up on a diet of play stations, videogames and multimedia.

What is likely to be the driving force behind any decision to outsource?

According to IBM/ASTD Learning Outsourcing Survey 2004, over 75 percent of organizations surveyed are expected to outsource e-Learning in the future. Over 67 percent organizations are looking to reduce operating costs and another 46 percent lack the internal capability. Around 43 percent organizations do have access to the best practices and talent and the improvement of quality and consistency of content is a major issue with 22 percent organizations. Therefore, outsourcing offers a wonderful option to such companies.

What kind of a role do you see India playing in the e-learning market?

India boasts of a huge highly educated workforce. It already has experience in technology and BPO support and is becoming home to a number of Fortune companies. India also has exposure in e-learning development and could do well to capitalize on these strengths. India stands a chance to seize a big portion of the $ 28 billion pie that e-learning will become by 2008.

What kind of growth plans does the company have for India and what kind of role will e-learning play in this expansion?

We currently have a team of 1,700 professionals in Hyderabad. There are plans to take on 6,000 new people in the next 24 months. We are pleased with the quality of work in India and many of our clients are spending in India. Therefore, we need a workforce that is educated and understands the need of technology.
The 6,000 odd people that will be taken on will require orientation programs, compliance programs and an understanding of the needs of business process. India will be a significant user of e-learning. The Hyderabad facility will be the largest outside of USA to offer support functions as development, helpdesk, research and a broad range of services for Deloitte clients worldwide. The US team is the largest with 30,000 people on board.

Most Pointless Searches. World-Wide-Scum.

December 22, 2004

See most recent pointless search requests here.

Someone please put up a page for this ‘Delhi Public’ Pic(sic!). She is a celebrity, for sure.

On second thought, its ironic. The more media mentions this case, the more people you have going crazy about the pic. We live in sick times.

He’s Out!

December 21, 2004

Followup to Release the CEO of eBay India (Baazee) – a travesty of cyber-law and e-commerce Petition

HC grants bail to bazee.com CEO- The Times of India

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to baazee.com CEO Avnish Bajaj in the MMS sex-clip case.

Thunderbird – Reclaim Your Inbox

December 21, 2004

Thunderbird – Rocks!

Thunderbird makes emailing safer, faster, and easier than ever before with the industry’s best implementations of features such as intelligent spam filters, built-in RSS reader, quick search, and much more.

Full Five Stars. *****

Download Thunderbird Now.

Spot the blog in firefox

December 21, 2004

New york times ad gets noticed

Spot my blog here

(Press Ctrl + f -> “shashark”)

Release the CEO of eBay India (Baazee) – a travesty of cyber-law and e-commerce Petition

December 20, 2004

Release the CEO of eBay India (Baazee) – a travesty of cyber-law and e-commerce Petition

This petition seeks your support to

1. ask for the immediate release of the CEO of eBay India / Baazee.com
2. ask for the Government to clarify its stand on the legality of e-commerce in India without ink-on-paper signatures
3. ask for the governemnt to immediately change the Information Technology Act to afford the accused the same level of protection (innocent till proven guilty) as the rest of regular law does

In case you agree, please do sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/baazee/petition.html

Full Text Follows (from http://www.petitiononline.com/baazee/petition.html)

To: Dr. Manmohan singh, the Prime Minister of India

Many of you may have heard of this case – where the CEO of eBay India (better known as Baazee.com) was arrested in New Delhi – because some merchant offered for sale a pornogrphic video on the auction site.

[Before I get into the facts of the case – I’d like to say I’m not affiliated with eBay India / Baazee in any way. I am a technology investor in India – and several of my investee companies are involved with e-commerce – and I’m starting this petition because the arrest raises far wider implications that can affect the entire industry of internet-based businesses in India and perhaps elsewhere too.]

The facts of the case are:

1. A boy in New Delhi used his mobile phone to shoot a video of a girl performing a sexual act on him – and then sold the video to his classmates, who then further uploaded it on the internet and it eventually got talked about, written up about, and even sold on CDs in shops in New Delhi and elsewhere.

2. The video found its way to the internal network of one of India’s top engineering schools, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, where it apparently was popular.

3. One student at this IIT, Ravi Raj, then allegedly went to eBay India / Baazee, where he was signed up as their merchant doing business under a different company name (after reading and agreeing to their terms of service which expressly forbade trade in any pornographic items) and put up an ‘item’ for sale, which advertised that he would email back a “video of Delhi girls having fun” to anybody who sent him Rs. 125 (about US$3). This was on the afternoon of Saturday, November 27.

4. In the next 2 days, 8 people sent in money to Mr. Raj, and he emailed them back attachments of the said file. None of this exchange happened on eBay India / Baazee – and at no time was any pornographic material of any sort hosted on eBay India/Baazee’s network.

5. Now eBay India / Baazee has tens of thousands of merchants and its automated keyword scanning systems didn’t catch anything untoward in the title of the ad. Nevertheless, when the company was informed of this listing on Monday, November 29, the next working day, it immediately yanked the item off the site.

6. The police then contacted eBay India / Baazee in Mumbai, where it is based, and the company cooperated fully with the authorities, disclosing the identities of the seller and the buyers of the item. The police then followed up and remanded Ravi Raj to their custody, but apparently found no fault with the Director of the IIT, who’s network hosted the video.

7. The CEO of eBay India / Baazee, Avnish Bajaj, an American citizen then flew to New Delhi on December 17 on a police request to help with their investigations – and then suddenly found himself in the surprising position of being arrested by the Delhi Police – apparently under Section 67 of the Indian Information Technology Act of 2000

8. When eBay India / Baazee’s lawyers applied for bail on Saturday, December 18, by quoting, among other things the Terms of Service of Baazee that the merchant had to agree to before signing up, the Magistrate apparently rejected the documentation by saying that there was no ink-on-paper signature on the agreement and hence she would not accept it as evidence. Mr. Bajaj was then remanded to further custody for a week – which is where he still remains.

This petition seeks to not just gather support for Mr. Bajaj’s immediate release – but also to raise the people’s and the Government’s awareness on issues relating to e-commerce.

A. By rejecting the admissiblity of the paper version of Terms of Service, and insisting on an ink-on-paper signature for legal status, the entire legality of the e-commerce business in India is called to question. This is ironic, for the largest e-commerce operation in not just India but South Asia is the Indian Railways online ticket-selling business – a Government-owned and run operation – which does business worth Rs. 18 crores (US$4 million) a month. This Magistrate’s decision seems to imply a lack of legal standing for all ticket sales online by the Railways. It also calls to question all other e-commerce sales in India – which amount to hundreds of crores of rupees a year.

B. There are other serious issues with the very nature and reasoning behind the arrest. Mr. Bajaj was apparently arrested under Section 67 of the Indian Information Technology Act of 2000 – which basically puts the onus to prove innocence on the defendant (in other words, if charged, you’re assumed to be guilty till you prove yourself innocent). By the act’s definitions, it would appear that eBay India / Baazee come under the description of a “Network Service Provider”, a party that is now being held responsible for the transmission of any salacious and / or prurient / pornographic material, or causing of the transmission of such material.

C. Another section of the same act, Section 79, then offers safe harbour for the defendant if they can prove that either they were unaware of the nature of such material on their network – or that they took reasonable safeguards to prevent the entry of such material in to their network. The point here is that – if charged, you have to prove your innocence after your arrest – as opposed to normal legal practice of assuming innocence till guilt is proven. One would assume the right procedure would be for prosecutors to gather evidence, go to a court of law, argue their case, persuade the authority that an arrest is called for and then proceed.

D. Further, while I am not a lawyer – I believe that an advertisement for salacious material, even if innocently called “Delhi girls having fun” does not qualify as “transmitting or causing the transmission of pornographic material” as defined under Section 67.

E. I further believe that an online click-to-agree-to-terms-of-service before you’re allowed to sign up SHOULD have the same status as a signed document – and I understand from lawyers I have spoken with that the very same Indian Information Technology Act and its modifications of the Indian Evidence Act – do allow for the same level of admissibility.

F. I am also told that this has never before been tested in Indian court, and this is the first such test.

G. I further believe that the arrest of the head of the Indian arm of one of the world’s most respected e-commerce companies under Criminal Law where there is clearly demonstrable lack of criminal intent is a huge, retrograde step for a country that seeks to attain excellence in all fields of information technology

H. This can only further push other investors to look at India with doubt for its ability to offer a strong, fair law that protects the interests of internet and other technology-driven businesses here.

This petition seeks your support to
1. ask for the immediate release of the CEO of eBay India / Baazee.com
2. ask for the Government to clarify its stand on the legality of e-commerce in India without ink-on-paper signatures
3. ask for the governemnt to immediately change the Information Technology Act to afford the accused the same level of protection (innocent till proven guilty) as the rest of regular law does.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

As an aside: Utopia, Mr Mallya ?

December 19, 2004

Kingfisher signs $ 1.8 bn deal to acquire 30 Airbus- The Times of India: “Earlier this month Mallya said his airline would start domestic services by April with a fleet of eight aircraft on which fashion models would serve as flight attendants.
The group has said it will cut fares below those of established carriers by tightly controlling costs, issuing e-tickets, online reservations and outsourcing services

Master of the Obvious, Mr Mallya.

Symantec takeover of Veritas delivers more questions than answers

December 17, 2004

Symantec takeover of Veritas delivers more questions than answers

Paul Roberts writes — ‘The acquisition will transform Symantec into an enterprise software powerhouse.

However, it also leaves issues unsettled, including the question of how the companies’ products will be integrated, and the long-term roles of Veritas chief executive Gary Bloom and Symantec president and chief operating officer John Schwarz, who will initially share the presidency of the combined company.

Veritas sells backup, archiving and file system software. Symantec sells software to protect home and office computer systems and networks. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2005.

Symantec and Veritas executives hope the combined company will help its enterprise customers to control data integrity and availability, according to Jeremy Burton, executive vice-president of the Data Management Group at Veritas.

“The two biggest risks that (chief information officers) face is people breaking into their systems, or those systems failing. If we can solve those problems, we’re going to take a lot of worry off the CIO’s plate,” he said.

New US state and federal data privacy regulations demand strict information integrity. At the same time, the move by many companies to highly available Web-based services demands strong IT infrastructures.

The new company will focus on both those needs, integrating storage management and security management technologies and services for companies that want resilient, highly available data storage systems that are also secure, said Symantec’s Schwarz.

The acquisition is in line with Symantec’s decision to emphasise data integrity in recent months, said Chris Christiansen of IDC. It also gives Symantec a much larger stake in the enterprise software market, which will serve the company well as Microsoft moves to integrate more security technology with its Windows operating system.

“Microsoft clearly has to do something to improve the security posture of its software, and that has a potentially harmful effect on antivirus suppliers and other client security products,” he said.

However, Symantec’s purchase of Veritas raises at least as many questions as it answers.

The companies have only begun to contemplate connections between their product portfolios and will not begin significant planning until after the acquisition has closed in mid-2005, with no real product integration before 2006, Schwarz said.

The Veritas purchase throws a shadow of doubt over other recent Symantec acquisitions, including the 2003 purchases of storage management software supplier PowerQuest and ON Technology, Christiansen said.

Symantec must also work to keep its consumer security software business healthy and add new technology that keeps it ahead of Microsoft, as that company gradually incorporates more security products into its offerings, Christiansen said.

Also unclear are the rolls of Schwarz, and Veritas chief executive Gary Bloom.

A statement from the companies said that Symantec chief executive John Thompson would continue as head of the new company, and named Bloom as the company president.

However, Schwarz and Bloom are actually slated to share the presidency, with the chief operating officer position likely discontinued once the deal is finalised.

Schwarz expressed confidence that he and Bloom would be able to work together and that the company could operate without a chief operating officer. Bloom will handle the company’s “go to market” strategy, with Schwarz overseeing the product portfolio.’

Firefox NYT Ad

December 16, 2004

The mega two-pager Firefox NYT ad to coincide with 11 million downloads.

BREAKING NEWS: Symantec and Veritas to Merge

December 16, 2004

Symantec and Veritas to Merge

Symantec and Veritas to Merge

Symantec (SYMC:Nasdaq – news – research) Thursday said it will acquire rival software company Veritas Software (VRTS:Nasdaq – news – research)in an all-stock deal.

Based on Symantec’s closing stock price of $27.38 on Dec. 15, the transaction is valued at approximately $13.5 billion.

The two Silicon Valley-based companies have been discussing a deal for more than a month,

Under the agreement announced by the two companies, Veritas stock will be converted into Symantec stock at a fixed exchange ratio of 1.1242 shares of Symantec common stock for each outstanding share of Veritas common stock. The deal price represents about a 9.5% premium for Veritas shareholders.

Veritas shares added 89 cents, or 3.2%, to $29 in premarket trading. Symantec fell $1.32, or 4.8%, to $26.06.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2005 will be accretive in the first combined year of operations.

On Monday, Oracle (ORCL:Nasdaq – news – research) announced a definitive agreement to acquire PeopleSoft (PSFT:Nasdaq – news – research) for $10.3 billion, ending the software industry’s most bitter takeover saga.

Also, as previously reported by http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/14/symantec_buy_veritas/

Symantec eyeing Veritas for $13bn

There could be another high profile software merger on the way with rumors circulating today that Symantec will buy Veritas Software for more than $13bn.

Such a deal would create the ultimate data protection vendor. Symantec specializes in anti-virus and network security applications, while Veritas is a major player in the data backup and storage software markets. The combined company would have strong consumer and corporate plays and be able to pull off true laptop to mainframe sales.

Veritas has been mentioned as a frequent acquisition target. Companies such as Sun Microsystems, EMC, Hitachi, IBM and Oracle have been named as possible suitors. Oracle is, of course, doing its best to drive consolidation in the software industry by picking up PeopleSoft and threatening to buy more firms.

Word of the possible merger – first reported by The New York Times – sent Veritas shares up close to 10 per cent, at the time of writing. The software maker started the day with a market cap of more than $10bn. Symantec investors have seen their shares drop more than 12 per cent, at the time of this report, to $28.80.

It would be somewhat surprising to see Veritas agree to an acquisition , given that the company’s CEO Gary Bloom has long said he thinks Veritas can grow at a steady pace on its own. Veritas has acquired numerous companies over the past two years, trying to build out its server software portfolio. Veritas pulled in $1.75bn in revenue last year.

Veritas, however, is attractive at the moment as its share price – $27.56 – is well below a 52-week high of $40.68. The company was hammered by investors after some accounting problems became public.

Symantec, by contrast, has seen its share price surge over the past year on the back of solid revenue growth. ®

The IBM/Lenovo Deal: Victory For China? – Knowledge@Wharton

December 16, 2004

Knolwedge @ Wharton completely nailed with this article. For those following IBM/Lenovo deal closely — must read this. Americans wont know — but China is right there, ahead of them.

The IBM/Lenovo Deal: Victory For China? – Knowledge@Wharton

[Copyright acknowledged]

The IBM/Lenovo Deal: Victory For China?

With the sale of IBM’s personal computer business to Chinese company Lenovo Group Limited, two emerging trends quickly move front and center: The increasing commoditization of technology and the emergence of Chinese companies as global players. Wharton professors say both trends warrant watching and raise some key questions. Can Lenovo become a global player and integrate IBM’s U.S. managers? Will IBM’s PC customers defect to rivals like Dell Computer? Can state-owned Chinese companies become dominant in the international markets?

The deal, announced Dec. 7, is valued at $1.75 billion in cash, stock and assumed liabilities. Once the agreement is finalized in early 2005, Lenovo will have three owners – the state with 46%, public investors with 35% and IBM with 19%. The Chinese government currently owns 57% of Lenovo. The company, to be managed primarily by former IBM executives working out of New York, will have 19,000 employees, with 10,000 of them coming from IBM. Of those 10,000, 40% are currently based in China and 25% in the United States.

IBM benefits from the deal by getting rid of a business — PCs — that defined the company in the 1980s, but later became a drag on profit margins. Over the past decade, IBM has transformed itself into a services and software company, and set its sights clearly on China as a potentially huge market. It has shed disk drives, displays, desktop manufacturing and network processor businesses while adding PricewaterhouseCoopers’ services firm PwC Consulting. IBM has also acquired software companies such as Tivoli, Rational and Informix.

“Overall, this deal is another indicator of how resilient IBM is,” says Wharton management professor Mark J. Zbaracki, who was a staff industrial engineer at IBM from 1982 to 1991. “IBM’s strength historically has been reinventing itself.” The company has manufactured everything from timekeeping devices to card sorting machines to videodiscs to typewriters and printers, only to jettison those businesses later. “This sale is symbolic of something going away — the PC business in the U.S.,” says Zbaracki.

For Beijing-based Lenovo, the acquisition of IBM’s PC business signals the arrival of China as a global player in key industries. Lenovo gains access to the worldwide PC market and quickly becomes a computer maker with more than $12 billion in annual revenues. It also gets exclusive access to the IBM logo for five years and permanently acquires the “ThinkPad” brand. “If you had to pick a U.S. brand to buy, this would be a big one,” says Marshall Meyer, a Wharton management professor who has studied Chinese companies and traveled extensively in the country. “Public relations is a big component of Chinese management and a lot of people will see this as a victory for China.”

Michael Useem, head of Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, agrees. “This is a brassy move by both IBM and Lenovo,” he notes. “It’s untrodden ground for a Chinese company to make a sudden, big move to operate on the world stage.” Useem says the biggest perk of the deal for IBM is that, by partnering with Lenovo, it gains better access to the market for services in China. In addition, stronger relations with the Chinese government can only boost IBM’s standing. “Government relationships are key in China,” he says. “IBM sees this as an alliance. Maybe the price wasn’t as good as it could have been,” but IBM gets a definite payoff in the form of “better relationships.”

So the big question is: Can Lenovo acquire the third largest PC business in the world — behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard — and become a dominant player?

‘BitTorrent’ Gives Hollywood a Headache

December 11, 2004

Yahoo! News – Bit Torrent and How!

Bram Cohen didn’t set out to upset Hollywood movie studios. But his innovative online file-sharing software, BitTorrent, has grown into a piracy problem the film industry is struggling to handle.

As its name suggests, the software lets computer users share large chunks of data. But unlike other popular file-sharing programs, the more people swap data on BitTorrent, the quicker it flows — and that includes such large files as feature films and computer games.

Because of its speed and effectiveness, BitTorrent steadily gained in popularity after the recording industry began cracking down last year on users of Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster and other established file-sharing software.

The program now accounts for as much as half of all online file-sharing activity, says Andrew Parker, chief technology officer of Britain-based CacheLogic, which monitors such traffic.

“BitTorrent is more of a threat because it is probably the latest and best technological tool for transferring large files like movies,” said John Malcolm, senior vice president of anti-piracy operations for the Motion Picture Association of America. “It is unusual, perhaps unique, in that the moment you start downloading you are also uploading,” he added. “It’s what makes it so efficient.”

Cohen created BitTorrent in 2001 as a hobby after the dot-com crash left him unemployed. He says the aim was to enable computer users to easily distribute content online — not specifically copyrighted content.

“It seems pretty clear that a lot of people are actively interested in engaging in wanton piracy,” said Cohen, 29, of Bellevue, Wash. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re just pushing around bits, and what bits it is they’re pushing around is not really a concern of mine. There’s not much I can do about it.”

Read More

Forbes.com: The Battle Of The DVD

December 10, 2004

Forbes.com: The Battle Of The DVD

Similar to 1980’s VHS Vs Betamax the battleground for High Definition DVD has been set.

Consumers will soon find themselves in yet another quandary, thanks to the electronics and entertainment industries.

Hitting stores’ shelves late next year will be two different kinds of high-definition DVD players that are designed to make the most of the high-definition televisions we’re all hurrying out to buy. Each supports a different format; one is called Blu-Ray, the other dubbed HD-DVD, and their image quality is equivalent. Those encoded in the Blu-Ray format won’t be compatible with HD-DVD machines and vice versa.

The consortiums backing both are marching on, despite the fact that the duel between the VHS and Betamax video tape formats is cited ad nauseum as a textbook example of a costly business blunder that angered consumers and held back the technology’s adoption. And, that’s not to mention the millions of dollars that consumers will waste buying into the wrong camp, and then having to go back and buy yet another player. These high-definition DVD players will start with a price tag of $1,000, while the recorders will go for $2,000.

The movie studios who are taking sides are evenly split, enhancing the unlikelihood that this matter will be settled any time soon.

Late Wednesday, The Walt Disney Co. (nyse: DIS – news – people ) announced it would support the Blu-Ray disc format, which is being backed by manufacturers including Sony (nyse: SNE – news – people ), Dell (nasdaq: DELL – news – people ), Hitachi, HP (nyse: HPQ – news – people ), Matsushita’s Panasonic (nyse: PAN – news – people ) brand, Pioneer (nyse: PIO – news – people ), Philips (nyse: PHG – news – people ) and Samsung. Mickey et al have joined MGM and Sony Pictures in committing to put their film and television content in the Blue-Ray format.

In the HD-DVD camp are manufacturers Toshbia and NEC (nasdaq: NIPNY – news – people ), as well as film studios Paramount Pictures, owned by Viacom (nyse: VIA.b – news – people ), Universal Studios, which was recently acquired by General Electric (nyse: GE – news – people ) and Time Warner’s (nyse: TWX – news – people ) studios, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.

The upshot: shoppers looking to make their high-definition homes complete will be left in the aisles of Best Buy (nyse: BBY – news – people ) to scratch their heads. “Lots of money gets wasted during format wars, and usually it’s by the same group of companies,” says Strategy Analytics analyst Peter King. “A lot of it has to do with pride.”

“The stakes here are very large,” says GartnerG2 analyst Laura Behrens. “We’re talking about billions of dollars in filmed content.” As such, the winning format stands to reap tremendous rewards.

Content owners haven’t said whether they’ll publish in both formats, and, though Disney and others have termed their deals as “non-exclusive,” it’s highly unlikely that they will. Instead, they’ll wait and switch to the format that wins.

It’s impossible to say which format that will be. Blue-Ray discs have more storage capacity–50 gigabytes, or enough for a high-definition feature film and plenty of extras. But, to manufacture them will involve the costly proposition of building the infrastructure from the ground up, with all new facilities and equipment.

HD-DVDs’ 25 gigabytes of storage can also hold an HD feature film, but that’s about it. They can, however, be made in the same plants that are now being used to make standard definition discs–a much cheaper alternative. “That means that they’ll be cheaper for consumers, which will give HD-DVD the chance to get a lot of volume in the market more quickly,” says GartnerG2 analyst Paul O’Donovan.

Although it would grease the wheels for the DVD player market as a whole and save everyone time and money, neither camp seems inclined to back down.

“To the consumer, this won’t make sense,” says IDC analyst Josh Martin. “But, the companies that have time and money invested in these products want consumers to be able to choose their products.”

From the “as-an-aside” department

December 9, 2004

Take a look at this Vodafone Ad. Christmas sure came early for this girl.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/16/voda_live_ad/

Entrepreneurship @ IIT k

December 9, 2004

I was at IIT Kanpur recently to deliver a talk on Entrepreneurship for the IIT Kanpur Business Club – a club we co-founded back in 2001. Here’s the presentation.

PS: I found atleast 50 messages including around 20 plans in my mail the next day. Seems like we’re on the right track.

Sale of IBM unit doesn’t mean ThinkPads will cease to exist

December 9, 2004

My Biggest Concern

Sale of IBM unit doesn’t mean ThinkPads will cease to exist

Sale of IBM unit doesn’t mean ThinkPads will cease to exist
This week, IBM said it is selling off most of its PC division to Lenovo, China’s No. 1 PC maker. The news is likely to rattle IBM customers — but it may end up benefiting them long term.

Excerpt:”Q: Does this mean IBM will stop selling personal computers?

A: No. IBM will continue to sell them, but they will be made by Lenovo.

Q: Will the quality of the PCs change?

A: Maybe, though only time will tell.

Sum of all fears?

Learn Chinese while you still can

December 7, 2004

Lenovo, IBM to Announce Plans for New US-Based PC Company Tonight

While Indian domestic desktop/server companies are struggling for identity, a Chinese firm has actually gone ahead and bought IBM — the Big Daddy of PC business, & the one which started the PC business at all.

So if the BIOS screen of your new IBM Laptop (yes, :-[ the new company will continue to use the IBM name, as well as key IBM brands like ThinkPad) is in Chinese — don’t say you were’nt warned. Learn Chinese while you still can. HP might well be the next. You Read It Here First.

I wonder if the quality of laptops would be a function of this merger. I hope not. Because if it does, the best non MAC laptop available in the market today would probably become history. Ofcourse, I am assuming that this obscure Chinese wouldn’t be able to carry on the quality mantel any further.

I might be right. For eg, do you know that Lenovo, which was previous known as Legend, is China’s largest PC maker and is partially owned by the Chinese government.

(PS: Further Conspiracy theorists & theories invited…)

IBM Ranked as e-Learning Leader…yet again!

December 7, 2004

e-Pro Magazine

Whats with IBM and creating learning content !?

1 – Gartner has placed IBM in the leader quadrant in its latest Learning Magic Quadrant report
2 – Training Magazine ranked IBM number one in its annual “Training Top 100” for outstanding learning programs within organizations. The survey ranks companies that “understand, embrace, and use training to achieve real business results, support corporate values, and enhance the work lives of employees.”
3 – In October, IBM’s Virtual Innovation Center (VIC), an online knowledge and enablement portal for IBM Business Partners, was the recipient of a Gold Award as part of the Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards held at the Training and Online Learning Fall Conference and Expo in San Francisco

Good going IBM!

Newbie Code Deparment

December 7, 2004

Yet another gmail-pioneered-others-suckered “invite only” noob application.
(reminds me of AOE @ zone – michi 2 vs 2 noob rookie kicked)

wtf

An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back

December 5, 2004

TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

NYT on e-books: ‘An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back’
An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back is the headline of a New York Times Book Review article on e-books. It’s good to see a major newspaper use words such as ‘back’ even if I’m not sure it fits. Regardless of the growth rates, e-book sales are still less than $40 million a year globally, a fraction of the billions that some analysts were predicting by now.

Missing from Sarah Glazer’s article are full explanations of the ‘Why?’ of the pathetic numbers–such as the Tower of eBabel and DRM-based consumer abuse. At the same time Glazer apparently is unaware of the riches of sites like Project Gutenberg and Blackmask, both of which offer many times the number of public domain texts than the less-than-overwhelming collection of the mentioned University of Virginia (at least the university’s public area). She also does not tell people about the $100 eBookwise-1150. Worst of all, Glazer does not mention any of the smaller e-book publishers, which account for so much of the growth and which often lack the anti-reader DRM mania of the big houses.”

Must read for someone in the business of/associated with eLearning.

IBM PC Retreat Would Shift Market Balance to Asia

December 4, 2004

IBM PC Retreat Would Shift Market Balance to Asia

By Mark Hachman
December 3, 2004
(Please read the full article @ eweek.com)

Reports that IBM might spin off or sell its PC business have refocused attention on the evolving role of contract manufacturers and Asian ODMs, those companies who actually build the PCs that are later branded as “Dell” or “HP.”

The same factors that have helped “original device manufacturers” such as Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) and Compal Electronics develop their own finished products for sale in the marketplace have benefited Lenovo Group, the region’s largest PC manufacturer and reportedly IBM’s suitor for its PC business.
PC makers began turning to Taiwan and other Asian countries in the 1980s and 1990s to manufacture their PCs, in part because of the low cost of labor.

After a Taiwanese ODM finished manufacturing the PC, an OEM’s label was added. That, in turn, led to lower PC prices and the rapid growth of the market. Other “white box” makers and the rise of the DIY market began convincing some that a PC was no greater than the sum of its parts.

PC vendors have said privately that, over time, their own responsibilities have decreased down to brand management, specification and testing of the final products. More and more ODMs and contract manufacturers are taking on more traditional engineering roles, as well as procurement responsibilities.

That has led to concerns that U.S. engineering resources may be drifting overseas, relegating U.S. companies to little more than marketing organizations.

“The market’s slowly becoming aware of that,” said Roger Kay, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass. “It’s becoming more of a factor, but it’s always been a factor.”

That, in turn, has placed more clout in the hands of Asian designers, rather than PC OEMs. According to a report by DigiTimes.com, for example, Foxconn’s Foxsign Studios employs about 80 designers and aims to bring that figure to about 200 by year’s end.

What IBM seems to be thinking, analysts say, is that there’s simply no profit to be had in the PC space anymore. IBM outsourced its desktop PC and later its server and workstation manufacturing to SCI/Sanmina in 2003, and the company merged its hard-disk-drive operations with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies to essentially exit the hard-drive market.

Earlier this week, Gartner analyst Leslie Fiering wrote that the PC businesses of both Hewlett-Packard and IBM are subject to being spun off if their drag on margins and profitability are deemed too great by their parent companies.

“If IBM is exiting PCs, management is likely making a long-term call that PCs are commodities,” Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Milunovich wrote Friday in a research note that was sent to the company’s clients.

Commodity products, however, become subject to “churn,” where commodity prices help users conclude that the products are replaceable, and therefore have little value. While this helps inflate the volume of products sold, little value is placed upon the individual item.

How would a combined IBM-Lenovo PC unit fare in the worldwide market?

Chinese takeaway for IBM’s PC business? – vnunet.com

December 4, 2004

Now this is news. Chinese takeaway for IBM’s PC business? – vnunet.com

Forbes did mentioned that IBM’s PC Business Not Strategic To Core Strategy “Prudential Equity Group said that if IBM (nyse: IBM – news – people ) were to sell its PC business, 2005 earnings would be lowered by 5 cents per share, relative to the research firm’s $5.50 estimate. Over the last four quarters, IBM’s PC business has represented about 9% of its $95 billion in revenue, Prudential said. Reports Friday speculated that IBM is considering selling its PC business to Lenovo of China. Prudential said, “We believe that the PC business is absolutely not strategic to [IBM’s] long-term core strategy. Over time IBM’s strategy has focused more on a services and software push. To the extent that IBM does remain in hardware, they have focused their attention on areas in which they are able to differentiate themselves and add value (Unix, Linux and Windows on higher end servers, storage).” The firm rates IBM at “overweight” with a 15-month price target of $110.”

But I bet no-one saw this coming. I mean C’mon — how can these guys sell the Thinkpad line to some obscure Chinese company.
“In the past 24 hours sources claiming to be working on the alleged deal have named Lenovo (formerly Legend), China’s largest maker of personal computers, as the probable buyer.

Lenovo accounts for nearly a quarter of China’s PC sales, while IBM sells five per cent of the world’s PCs.

“It is IBM’s policy not to comment on rumours or speculation,” a tight-lipped company spokesman told vnunet.com.”

That would be a pity.

Entrepreneurship @ IIT Kanpur

December 4, 2004

I was at IIT Kanpur recently to deliver a talk on Entrepreneurship for the IIT Kanpur Business Club — a club we founded back in 2001. Here’s the presentation.

Napster creator unveils new company

December 3, 2004

Napster creator unveils new company

Snocap (founded by Napster’s Shawn Fanning) has developed technology that can identify digital music tracks shared across the internet and create a system to collect royalties on behalf of copyright owners.

Hey, that sounds Cool! No illegal file swapping anymore, eh ? If only Snocap can sneak behind .torrents/ares of the worlds and actually stop swapping from happening…as I realised, thats a BIG if. To make snocap work, users would need to use p2p service that work with Snocap as stated here “It was understood that a new file-swapping service called Mashboxx, expected to launch in January, would be the first peer-to-peer (P2P) network to harness Snocap’s technology.”

Grrr…why would someone use Mash* if he/she/it can get ripped music off Bit torrent in the first place !?

Moral of the story: Cool nothing. p2p will continue to grow leap & bounds & bleed the music industry (as seen on TV) to death.

[EDIT] I realised the BigDaddy of Blogs Slashdot already covered it.

Who needs it anyway

December 3, 2004

aSmallWorld

It says “aSmallWorld is an invitation-only online community which is not open to the public. It is designed for those who already have strong connections with one another. It allows you to interact more effectively with like minded individuals who share same circle of friends, interests, and schedule. We list the most popular restaurants, hotels, and night clubs in over 60 major cities, summer and winter resorts and we keep track of major events, parties, exhibitions, film and music festivals and sporting events such as motor racing, tennis, sailing, golf, and others. Our goal is to become the leading global social networking community.”

Well, guess what Dorothy — I’ve figured it out already. Do I need an invitation ?

Who does!

Yet Another SocialNetworking Site or YASS Update

December 3, 2004

YASS Update

asmallworld.net is yet another of those Social Networking Sites. At last count, their were more than 50. Find my best-effort list below. Social Networking Services Meta List

  1. .node
  2. AudioScrobbler
  3. Affinity Engines
  4. Barnraiser
  5. Business Parc
  6. Contact Network
  7. Doostang
  8. ecademy
  9. eConozco
  10. eGrupos
  11. Eliyon
  12. EntreMate
  13. Friendly Favors
  14. Friendster
  15. GoingProfessional
  16. Growth Company
  17. Huminity
  18. I’m Not From Here
  19. InterAction
  20. ItsNotWhatYouKnow
  21. Join Network PLUS
  22. Konnects
  23. LinkedIn
  24. Link Silicon Valley
  25. matcheroo
  26. Mediabistro
  27. Meetup
  28. Monster Networking
  29. Multiply
  30. NetMiner
  31. Netmodular Community
  32. Networking For Professionals
  33. Online Business Networking Resource
  34. Open Business Club (openBC)
  35. OrderGenerator
  36. Orkut
  37. Point Relevance
  38. Polypol
  39. PowerMingle
  40. RealContacts
  41. ReferNet
  42. Reunion
  43. Ryze
  44. SelectMinds
  45. Shortcut
  46. Silicon Valley Pipeline
  47. Spoke Software
  48. StumbleUpon
  49. Sullivan Executive Networking Community
  50. Tacit – ActiveNet
  51. TENG
  52. Tribe.net
  53. Visible Path
  54. Wallflowerz.com
  55. WisdomBuilder
  56. WorldDJ.com
  57. Yelp!
  58. Zerendipity Networks
  59. Zerodegrees
  60. ZeroToNetwork