« December 2004 | Main | February 2005 »

January 30, 2005

Cheap computing as a trend

Rich Karkgaard quotes Roger McNamee on how the selling model has changed from targetting early adopters (Moore's prescription) to this new model where companies aim for the long Tail ( Death of 80/20 rule ?). It goes to strengthen the point that some niche markets are very big market on the Internet infrastructure.

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee in his book The New Normal (Portfolio) points out another huge trend underway. He tells us to observe how technology products now enter the market. It used to be that the coolest products (i.e., the most expensive) were those sold to businesses or to rich people who could afford them. Copiers, personal computers and cell phones entered the market that way. It would then take a few years for unit volume to kick up and prices to fall. Eventually the masses could afford to buy these products.

But now the coolest products are being aimed at the masses from the get-go--iPods, DVDs and gigabyte memory sticks, not to mention terabytes of Google-accessible free content. Even software is following this trend. A generation ago the Sabre airline-seat yield management system, written for a few dozen carriers, was the neatest trick in the travel industry. Now it's Orbitz, aimed at billions of consumers

Other trends Rich points to include Video-blogging and cheap technology (looking at India, China and other outsourcing upstart countries, this trend towards cheap computing will only escalate. What will drive this is not just the labor arbitrage but also the results of Innovation blowback ).

January 30, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Simplify and cause changes

Jonathan Schwartz on how blogging is advancing the cult of simplicity -

What is underhyped, in my view, is the impact of blogs on the advancement of simplicity and convenience. The most powerful weapons known to this industry. My friend Adam's long been a proponent of the simple - I could not agree with him more. Simplicity changes the world. Convenience is a force multiplier.

The simplicity of blogs, the convenience of pervasive networks, and an explosion of new content sources - as a combined force, is radically underestimated. And not for its impact on the publishing industry, in specific, but on any industry that finds competitive advantage in the latency of information, or in complexity. From national security to the whole IT industry. Simplicity can be a sustainable competitive advantage. It's becoming more obvious by the day.

Couldn't agree more.  This march of simplicity and convenience is one reason why intellectual forces are feeling more sidelined (some of them have adjusted to this new medium though) than in any other times.  Simplicity invites more participants and in the process is very empowering. By giving to user what they want and that too  in very few steps it expands dialog and lifts the experience to higher levels.

Think of it's implication - Simplicity is a disruptive approach.  As I compare this with what's happening in India, a constant theme emerges.  Lot of simple things in life aren't simple here.  There are frictions everywhere - frictions of inefficiency,  poor infrastructure,  higher transactional cost - both financially and experience-wise. One can use the sword of simplicity to cut through some of these frictions.  Good thing is that  you see lot of new ideas emerging and people working towards it.

Simplification process takes power from those who have spent their time  codifying the trade secrets.  Whether it's the contemptuous view of C++ programmers towards php programmers, mainstream media against bloggers,  Intellectual property hoarders against Open source programmers. Simplification has killed more businesses and spawned more start-ups than we fully appreciate. Take Flickr - it has simplified photo-sharing, Google - it has simplified finding information,  Blogger -simplified publishing.

One can go on and make a list of all industries, business processes and job roles where current theme is complexity.  And then go about simplifying it.  Most of  the technology entrepreneurs do precisely the same thing - removing industry pain.  This time (in Web2.0 context) they will be doing this by removing pains associated with the complex technology implementations as well.

Implications are quite clear - Disruptors are Simplifiers and blogging is one clear example of that.

January 22, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Money-minded and proud of it

While coming to Bangalore, I was doing the ritualistic scan of all flight magazines (I am one of those traveler who just run to grab all the magazines and hoard them till I am done reading them. In Singapore Airlines you get plenty of good magazines on East-Asian events, sometimes I just enjoy the font and pictures in those local language magazines!).

One essay in Newsweek caught my attention, it was Fareed Zakaria's coming of age piece on India. His point was that the recent Tsunami event is showing the signs of confident India. Country, despite all the historical problems, is poised to claim it's place in the global economy.

During my days in Delhi during mid-90s, I used to read Rafiq Zakaria's column in Times Of India. Senior Zakaria was a politician and a fine writer. He used to have very refreshing viewpoint during those dull years. His  anti-partition stand was the highlight. Father and son may very well be the showcase example of what has changed in India and it's Diaspora.

It's the parting shot in Fareed's essay which caught my attention:

Fareed writes :

In some ways India's messy development resembles that of another large, energetic, chaotic country where society has tended to loom larger than the state the United States of America. It is a parallel to keep in mind

And messy it is. Or maybe messy with a big M. As I was telling my friend the other day that if you just stand at one place and look up you would get the impression that Bangalore is booming. The moment you start walking or driving then reality catches up. Roads are a mess. In some strange revenge state government's machinery has revolted against all the dollar rich lords.

All the right things are here in this booming city. All the right visitors, right companies, right dollar amount, right food and right weather. What is missing is government. Under normal circumstances you would feel happy for it. As Mark Tully commented in his recent book that India has made progress wherever government sector was weak or absent. So it's good that government is MIA in lot of places. But now we need them and need it now ! Roads, electricity, airports, company affairs and telecom are all due for major work.
Without all that this country will just spread the mediocrity all over the country and completely miss out on the quality one gets from a fine ecosystem.

As old school is on the defense, there is this confident new generation which knows how to work the system. You just need to look at Sania Mirza to realize that this time the confidence is natural. They don't need system to go on to their daily life. They need system's lubrication in order to run and shine. Bangalore's messy potholes and speed breakers are symbolic of India which can be revengeful and dangerous. This country may not realize but it's slowly building a generation which is suspicious of government's role and would rather prefer controlling it's own destiny. Just give them broadband, decent infrastructure, primary education and they know how to handle their affairs.

Indian media is also adjusting and there are lot of new quality channels. Byline of a program in recently launched business channel - Profit - sums up the mood - "money minded and proud of it". Only a generation ago this free agent pursuit of money was considered a sin bigger than poverty. I am glad India is changing that without making  Rich Dad Poor Dad a best seller in this part of the world.

If we have to sum up the developing parallel between India and US then following threads standout - deep mistrust of government, messy and chaotic, "money minded and proud of it" and strong democracy.

As Fareed said, this parallel will be worth watching.

January 19, 2005 in Social angle | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Pervasive to support Postgres

Now I know why a friend of mine was constantly pushing me to keep an eye on Postgres. We had this Oracle-versus-Informix kind of discussion on this developing rivalry between Postgres and MySQL.   My point was that eventually a best-marketed technology wins in the marketplace not necessarily the one with the best technology.

Pervasive Software has decided to provide marketing and support services to Postgres database:

it will offer corporate customers support and training services for an annual subscription fee, ranging from $1,999 for a basic offering to $4,999 for round-the-clock support

Now Postgres has received corporate backer, it should see its adoption grow. For all who care about stored procedures and triggers, this is a great news. For those who keep open source dollar numbers this should come as a music -

..forecasts revenue associated with open-source databases will balloon from $130 million now to about $1 billion in 2008

Their decision to back Postgres is driven by it's BSD licensing, which allows derivative distributions.  This will keep MySQL's on their toes thats for sure.

Again customer wins !

January 10, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

China Inc.

U.S. Consular Officer in China , as told to NYT :

Nothing has a higher priority in our trade policy than the fight to protect American intellectual property. It is every bit as important an effort for us as the war against weapons of mass destruction.

This article makes some chilling assertions -

What makes China so troubling for American and other foreign companies is that the country is both a potential rival, with an alternative legal approach to intellectual property that limits their prospects in China and weakens their competitive strength globally, and a haven for pirates and counterfeiters

The generous and optimistic view of China's behavior is that it is a passing phase, and one not all that unusual for countries on the make. European powers once struggled to steal (and even transplant) one another's prime proprietary assets, like Mesoamerican gold, Brazilian rubber and Indonesian cloves. Blue-and-white Delftware was a Dutch attempt to copy China's porcelain works. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, American companies paid industrial spies to steal the designs of British machines. American theatrical producers routinely staged foreign operas and plays without permission; publishers sold dubious editions of English novels. More recently, Taiwan circumvented foreign patents and copyrights early in its post-World War II industrialization drive. And countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet Union still operate well outside the developed world's norm for intellectual-property protection. Yet no other violators, past or present, match China's potential to change the rules of the world economy through piracy and counterfeiting

Read the whole article (sub req'd - free right now but that might change).   Much of the article includes text from soon-to-be-released
book by Ted Fishman ( China Inc.)

Copyright and intellectual property rights issue will reach it's tipping point very soon.  It's outcome will have far reaching consequences.


January 9, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Open Source Consortium

Coalition of over 60 European open-source service providers united to form an organization dubbed the Open Source Consortium (OSC).  Their hard to locate site is here and site does give you the impression of changing face of open source. Some nice pictures there.

Their charter as listed on the site:

OSC provides a full range of insurance and risk solutions for the Open Source industry to help members:

    * negotiate profitable contracts with clients;
    * raise capital;
    * acquire and retain quality staff;
    * invest proceeds intelligently;
    * maximise supply chain efficiency; and
    * understand and protect intellectual property rights.

This is an impressive effort by industry members. By forming this type of collective they can better deal with any FUD (and fud will come no doubt about it !) from those vendors who will loose revenue in this open source advance. Their effort (which is plain and simple to understand ) is refreshingly clear of any legalese.

Stacey Quandt analyst in Robert Frances Group comments on how this is different from OSDL.

"Unlike the Open Source Development Lab that is funded by vendors to promote Linux as an operating system, this organization is focused on promoting open-source software overall," she said.

The group claims to offer indemnity insurance , which is a hot topic in the open-source movement these days. But Quandt said it is difficult to discern from the entity's literature what its technical definition of open-source is. It does appear to be different from what Hewlett Packard and other vendors offer as indemnity insurance, she said.

I wish them all the luck. We should join this effort.

January 9, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2005

Books to clear-up the echo chamber fog

K7386 Title of this book caught my attention - The Devil In Silicon Valley. Its a refreshingly new take on the Silicon Valley's social undercurrent. Haven't read the whole book, but glanced through few sections. Author Stephen Pitti makes a case that ethnic Mexicans and not the computer programmers take center stage in any contemporary discussion of the "new West".

This quote from the book:

Father Narciso was accused of baptizing Indians by force. When punished they protested, "Father, it hurts!"

"Of course," agreed the missionary, "but the pains of hell hurt worse."

--Mrs. Fremont Older, California Missions and Their Romances

We all live in this same place and still I know so little about this place and it's socio-political history. In a queer way this book reminded me of another book which I bought from India but haven't started reading it. It's called India's Silent Revolution written by Christophe Jaffrelot.  Book's short description from Amazon:


Since the 1960s a new assertiveness has characterized India´s formerly silent majority, the lower castes that comprise more than two-thirds of the population. Today India´s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, is controlled by lower-caste politicians, as is Bihar, and lower-caste representation in national politics is growing inexorably. Jaffrelot argues that this trend constitutes a genuine "democratization" of India and that the social and economic effects of this "silent revolution" are bound to multiply in the years to come

It's not surprising at all that the mainstream media hasn't given as much coverage of these two books as they do to the other topics.

More so in these times when the talk is cheap, its what is not getting discussed is more important sometimes.

January 8, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

JBoss going beyond application server

Bill Burke, JBoss Chief Architect hints on more open source developer acquisitions in their roadmap:

we are turning into a professional open source company, rather than just an application server vendor. So what you might be seeing over the next year or so is you might see more products joining the professional open source umbrella. So that is what we hope to be doing over the next year.

In a way JBoss is going in the direction of loosely-joined group of developers. It is as if suddenly they found the good use of that venture money - run a watch-list on sourceforge, if a project is active with high percentile, if its java, if its not part of Apache Foundation then give that starving hack some money to join JBoss family.

Though this raises a business model question. If all they are doing is support and certification revenue then hawking this loosely coupled team of programmers will limit their scaling. Their idea of buying open source projects is to gain wider-developer community support. In all likelihood when they will grow up  they will look like this. They might add Gentoo or Debian in the mix down the road.

On other point, we cannot rule out the possibility of middleware stacks championed along specific licenses:. ASF stackLPGL stack etc. This will provide clear entry point for lot of business models.

January 8, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

Open Source ahead on the numbers

Great news for JBoss and Eclipse. Check the charts Eclipse and JBoss.

I am all for diversity and more choices in general, but looking at this long list of IDE I get a feeling that there are an awful number of developers wasting their time developing redundant code.  Why have three IDE - Eclipse, IBM Studio and NetBeans ?  And still no industrial strength IDE for LAMP stack ? Or for that matter no on-demand IDE ? Time has come for an on-demand IDE which will provide developers hosted environment and juicy compute power.
And do this for the LAMP market.

On the application server front, there are lot of surprises in store. This year we will get to know how Redhat's JoNAS and Apache's Geronimo takes off.  Battle is primarily around the control of middleware stack.   There will be many surprises around this.

Big companies wont sit idle.

January 6, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OS Trends

Our friend Bernard Golden has a funny take on the open source trends. Check it out.

January 6, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack