SILICON VILLAGE

Friday, May 1, 2009

Despite the $10 laptop flops; India orders 2.5 lakh OLPC laptops

The Indian government has turned to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation to order 250,000 XO laptops, after the $10 laptop had turned a catastrophe, which was a direct challenge to the $100 laptop of the OLPC project. Satish Jha, President and CEO of OLPC India said, "The laptops are ordered for 1,500 schools and the deliveries will begin in June."

This will be the first order placed by India after the OLPC project failed to impress the then IT minister Arun Shourie in 2001. The OLPC project could not succeed in India, when it first entered the market by distributing 20 XO machines in a Maharastra village. The government shirked the project questioning its technology, the hidden costs and also cited it to be unhealthy if used for prolonged periods. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) also testified a new project, Sakshat, to provide a $10 laptop. The anticipated notebook equipped with Wi-Fi and 2GB RAM, however, turned out to be little more than a computing machine. It is just a 10 x 5-inch wide slab that stores and apparently prints distributed learning materials that can later be retrieved using a laptop.

After being rejected by the central government, the MIT's Nicholas Negroponte's OLPC project has been trying its luck with various state governments and the private sector in the hope that large corporations would donate these laptops to schools. The XO laptops are rugged, use open source computing, and are so energy efficient that they can be powered manually by a child. They have a built-in wireless, a unique dual-mode display that is readable under direct sunlight. OLPC says the software is designed for children to encourage exploration and creativity.

The OLPC has also planned to do away with the current AMD chips in the XO laptop and include the VIA C7-M, where the system memory would be enhanced to 1GB and internal storage to 4GB. However, the foundation did not reveal which version of the laptop the government has opted for.

Agencies

Indian founded companies may a beeline for TiE50

TiEcon 2009, the world's largest conference for entrepreneurs, has announced the finalists for the TiE50 Awards. Out of the total 150 companies vying to make it into the final 50, 32 are Indian founded. Selected from nearly 1,200 nominated companies, the finalists represent the hottest emerging startups in five focus segments: Consumer Web, Internet Infrastructure, Cleantech, Wireless and Software.

The selection process for TiE50 winners will be based on a combination of a public poll and private judges' vote. Voting is open to the public beginning Tuesday, April 28, 2009 and closes on Thursday, May 7, 2009. Polls can be accessed at http://www.tie50.net/polling. TiEcon has also established a partnership with social media site Vator.tv to help promote the finalists. Finalists are also encouraged to set up a profile at http://vator.tv/news/show/2009-04-27-tie50-vator-competition-launches.

In addition to the results of the public poll, the finalist companies will be judged on their product or service, market size and dynamics' leadership team, business model and progress since founding. The winning companies will be announced on May 9, 2009. The TiE50 winners will be honored at an award ceremony on Thursday, May 14 in Santa Clara.

"The TiE50 finalists represent some of the most exciting emerging companies that are driving growth and innovation in their specific industry - from cleantech to wireless," said Gary Gauba and Shaukat Shamim, both TiE Silicon Valley Board Members and Co-conveners for TiEcon 2009. "These companies provide a model for aspiring entrepreneurs and while they may not be household names yet, they have the promise to become tomorrow's stars."

TiE50 winners will also present their companies in a live showcase over the two days of TiEcon 2009, on May 15th and 16th in Santa Clara, CA. In addition to being featured at TiEcon 2009, the TiE50 will also receive ongoing support and increased visibility throughout the year. For more information on the TiE50 visit http://tiecon.org/home/tie.

The Indian founded companies in the list include: Signet Solar, Inc., Beceem Communications, Hellosoft, NIKSUN INC., Nokeena, Paloaltonetworks, Vembu, Vrismo Networks, Virident, Yume, Zscaler, Mportal, Mywaves, QIK inc, Reqall, Skyfire, Buzzintown (Wortal Inc), Intent, Jivox, Kosmix, Like.com, Lumosity, Offerpal Media, PlaySpan, Posterous, TheFind.com, Trackle, Zunavision, Adchemy, AlertEnterprise, Aster Data Systems, InMage Systems and xprotean.

Agencies

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Google emerges as the world's first 100 billion dollar brand

They changed the lexicon for the word, search. Now the phrase "I'll just Google it" has helped make the internet search giant become world's first $100 billion brand beating other household names like Microsoft, and Coca Cola to McDonald's.

The analysts of the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands by consultants Millward Brown found that the company's value of $101.4 billion puts it 25 percent more valuable than computer software king Microsoft at $77.3 billion, reported Daily Mail Thursday.

Coca Cola ($68.5 billion) managed the third place in the list.

Technology companies make up the bulk of the top 10 with IBM (fourth at $67.5 billion), Apple (sixth at $63.9 billion) and China Mobile (seventh at $62.2 billion), along with consumables like cigarette brand Marlboro (10th at 50.1 billion) and burger chain McDonald's (fifth at $67.3 billion).

Energy major GE (eight at $59.9 billion) and telecom giant Vodafone (ninth at $50.2 billion) complete the top 10 valuable brands in the world.

Google, formed at Stanford University by students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1997, went up 16 percent in brand value in the past year to just break the $100 billion mark.

Google marketing manager Lorraine Twohill said: "We know that without consumers you have nothing and there is a great element of trust in us.

"We think about the consumer first and expect everything else to fall into place after that. We don't feel big. We still work in little crappy teams and we feel very small."

Among industries to see their value grow over the past year, most are 'stay at home' brands, said the Millward Brown research. Coffee companies like Nescafe benefitted from cutbacks on drinking expensive lattes in Starbucks and other coffee shops, for instance.

Soft drinks, fast food and beer brands also grew as more people stayed at home to eat and drink while online sites like eBay and Amazon also grew.

Car companies, insurers, clothing brands and, not surprisingly, financial institutions were the ones to suffer the most, the research found.

Millward Brown chief executive Joanna Seddon said: "In the current environment, brand has become even more important because it can help to sustain companies in tough times.

"Those who continue to invest in their brand will be better positioned for business growth as the economic situation starts to improve than those who have cut spend. The recession does not always harm individual brands as much as it does faceless corporations," she added.

Agencies

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Report indicates 13 new WiMAX deployments in April

The need of the hour is to get data from one point to another as fast as possible. The availability of internet on the move has become necessity for many. The global WiMAX network has been growing significantly over the past years, with the advancements in telecommunication technology. According to a latest report published by WiMAX Forum, there have 13 new WiMAX network deployments in the month of April.

WiMAX Forum has started publishing its report starting this month that will contain an executive summary, global deployment update, POPS summary, monthly featured operator profile, certification update, regulatory update, survey data results and a third party research update. It will track a total of 468 WiMAX deployments in 139 countries.

According to a research by the Forum, currently WiMAX deployments cover over 430 million POPs globally. By the end of 2010, this number would reach almost 800 million POPs worldwide.

Countries like Iran and Chile have started showing more interest in WiMAX technology. The Iranian Communication Regulatory Authority has granted four six-year licenses for operators to offer fixed WiMAX services in the country. In Chile, the government announced that it had awarded a license for 30 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band to INVERCA Telecommunications.

Last year, there were 82 products that were launched, which were certified by the WiMAX Forum and the first quarter of 2009, 15 products of WiMAX Forum Designated Certification Laboratories were WiMAX Forum Certified. The products are used by 25 base station vendors, 27 subscriber station vendors and four mobile station vendors.

A survey conducted in the first quarter by the WiMAX Forum Network Operations Task Force with the sample consisting of 70 WiMAX operators. In response to a question on the importance of certification, 89 percent of respondents were of the opinion that their company would require WiMAX Forum Certification for devices. Also, 74 percent of respondents to a question on sales channels plan to sell WiMAX devices through general retail stores.

Agencies

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is Yahoo on a hiring spree in India?

Internet major Yahoo is hiring for hundreds of job openings including nearly 150 vacancies in India, even as the company is set to bring down its global workforce by about 675 employees. "We are currently hiring for key positions and will continue to invest in strategically important areas," a Yahoo spokesperson based in the U.S. said.

Last week, while announcing its first quarter results on April 21, Yahoo had said that it would slash five percent of its global workforce of 13,500 employees. While the spokesperson did not elaborate on country-specific hiring plans, the career section of the internet major's website shows that Yahoo is looking for about 150 positions in India alone.

The openings are for its operations in Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi, while most of them are for Bangalore. The India openings are for various departments including engineering, customer care, research and product management, among others. Further, the internet major has over 120 job vacancies for different offices in the US, the website shows.

The firm is resorting to job cuts in the wake of slackening advertisement revenues and a 78 percent drop in first quarter profit at $118 million. However, it is not clear whether India operations comprising of about 1,500 employees would be affected by the job cuts. The spokesperson noted that the majority of impacted employees are expected to be notified within the next two weeks.

Last October, Yahoo had announced that it would reduce its headcount by as much as 10 percent. "The goal is to reduce its current annualized cost run rate of approximately $3.9 billion by more than $400 million before the end of 2008," the Internet major had said in October.

Agencies

Had Apple fired 1,600 from retail stores?

Apple has fired some 1,600 employees from its chain of retail stores due to slackening consumer demand, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The job cuts were referenced in a securities filing by Apple Thursday in which the company said it had 14,000 full-time equivalent employees in its retail division as of March 28, down from the 15,600 as of the end of December.

The move came as Apple's recent earnings report showed a drop in sales for its Mac computer line, which is the biggest earner at the stores.

According to the earnings statement, the average revenue per Apple store fell about 17 percent to $5.9 million in the quarter, while the retail division's operating income was also down due to the "challenging consumer-spending environment," Apple said.

Agencies

Monday, April 27, 2009

Will TCS move staff back to India?

As part of cost-cutting measures, India's largest outsourcing firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said that it will relocate staff abroad into India.

"The company follows an onsite-offshore model. We will focus to do more work in India because it helps in saving cost and efficiency," TCS Chief Operating Officer N Chandrasekaran said.

However, the company would continue to do work onshore and relocation did not mean that it was winding up its operations abroad.

The company, which tried out its relocation in January-March this year, gained significantly in the last quarter of 2008-09. In Q4, the company brought back its US staff to India resulting in a cost saving of Rs 121 crore. The company did not give any figures on how many people were brought back. The relocation of staff could be in thousands, he said.

At the same time, the company would be hiring more people numbering 24,855 in India. It would hire 250 freshers in the US and a few in China, Chandrasekaran said.

But there would be no lateral hiring and there is a freeze on increments to its staff. He made it clear that TCS would not lay off people as a result of relocation. "There would be no lay offs," he said.

Bringing back the staff to India would not be restricted only to the US market, but across geographies.

"We have thousands of staff working in the US, UK, Europe and other geographies," he said. The company had decided not to hire Satyam staff after the scam broke out, but now it is open to it.

"When we hire laterals, whoever applies, we will look at them," Chandrasekaran said. Twice every year, the company sacks non-performers. This year, too, non-performers would go, he said.

"Non-performers will go and there is no plan to move non-performing staff to other subsidiaries," he said.


Agencies

A new class of PC Netbooks 2.0 on the way

A new class of cheaper, smaller netbook computers might upset the IT establishment this year and potentially usher in new players in a hotly competitive market.

The biggest change in the new pint-sized laptops is what they won't have: Intel Corp chips or a Microsoft Corp Windows PC operating system, which dominate netbooks today.

The new netbooks, which use less energy, will run on the low-power ARM processor platform now used in nine out of 10 mobile phones, rather than Intel's x86-based Atom chip. The UK-based ARM Holdings Plc licenses the chip technology.

As many as 10 ARM-based netbook models could hit the market this year, according to ARM, which declined to identify specific manufacturers. Major PC players and Asian contract manufacturers alike are interested, analysts say.

Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle called the new netbooks "incredibly disruptive," saying: "This is a market that puts the existing PC structure at risk."

While analysts say it's not yet clear if consumers will embrace the ARM devices, interest has been galvanized by the emphasis on power efficiency, prices as low as $200 and the promise of anywhere, anytime computing on PCs small enough to slip into a purse.

What's sacrificed is users' familiarity with PC-based interfaces and systems and sheer processing power. The current $300-$400 Atom netbooks are already mainly good for just surfing the Web and less graphics-intensive applications.

"We're right in the middle of a huge shift in the market," said Eric Openshaw, U.S. technology leader for Deloitte LLP.

Openshaw said non-Windows netbooks will need to demonstrate a simple and accessible user interface at the application level if they hope to gain traction with consumers.

Windows XP can't run on ARM, so the new netbooks will have Linux-based software, including, analysts and industry executives say, Google Inc Android, which has been used so far in smartphones.

But don't count Microsoft out just yet. Although the software giant declined to comment when asked if it is planning an operating system for the new netbooks, analysts say it could easily enter the market if it chose.

Intel pointed out there are as yet no ARM netbooks on the market and that its Atom chip has a full year's head start.

"We're not slowing down, we fully expect competition and we continue to believe that Atom is the right choice for our customers and consumer," said spokesman Bill Calder.

NEXT WAVE

The still-evolving netbook market is growing thick with players from all over the tech sector. Wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc are helping lead the charge, while graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp, wireless chipmaker Qualcomm Inc and Freescale Semiconductor Inc have all designed ARM-based processors that can be used in netbooks.

The netbook phenomenon took off in 2008 to the tune of 11.7 million units, led by companies such as Acer Inc and Asustek Computer Inc that were quick into the market. Nearly every PC vendor offers an Intel Atom-based netbook, including Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc.

Analysts forecast 20 million to 30 million netbooks will be sold this year, making up an ever larger part of overall laptop sales and marking one of few tech sectors still experiencing robust revenue growth.

"It's definitely going to be a different sort of device than today's netbooks," said Phil Solis of ABI Research, who expects ARM netbooks to make up 15 percent of the overall netbook market in 2010.

IDC analyst Richard Shim said the first wave of netbooks brought a PC feel to bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones. ARM netbooks, he said, represent a push from the opposite direction.

"The smartphones are now moving up," he added.

It is widely expected that the Computex trade fair in Taiwan in June will see a number of announcements about ARM-based netbooks. With less expensive ARM chips and free or very cheap operating systems, the netbooks could sell for even less than $200 if, as expected, wireless carriers subsidize purchases bundled with a data plan.

Tech blogs were recently buzzing about a prototype netbook built by Taiwan contract laptop maker Wistron Corp shown at the recent CTIA show in Las Vegas. The device was based on Qualcomm's ARM-based Snapdragon platform.


Agencies

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Employees of Wipro asked to work 2 days a week

Wipro, the third largest Indian IT service giant has introduced a scheme under which employees in the bench has to come for two days in a week. "We found value in people being given flexibility instead of asking them to come to work when there is no work," said Girish Paranjpe, Joint CEO-IT, Wipro.

The scheme named 'Project Enrich' has also given an alternative to the employees that allows them to work 10 days a month, with a pay that is 50 percent of their cost to company (CTC). They will be absorbed back into projects once deployment opportunities come up. The scheme has already enrolled 1000 of their employees.

The company has also introduced Project Rejuvenate, which is though primarily aimed at benched staff, will also be open to some senior employees. The scheme will allow them to take a leave for one to one-and-a-half years, while they will be offered 25 percent of their CTC. Currently, the company has 10-12 percent of overall employees in the bench which will surge as it plans to recruit more 6,000 employees. "They are good resources and we don't want to lose them. We don't want to do anything drastic as well," said Pratik Kumar, Head of Human Resources (HR) at Wipro.

Agencies

SAP Unviels Co-Innovation Lab in Bangalore

SAP AG formally launched its Co-Innovation Lab in Bangalore, the third such lab in the world by the company. The lab that started its operation in October last year, joins the league of similar labs in Palo Alto and Tokyo. "The main goal of this lab is to create a platform for collaboration between SAP and its customers and partners on solutions to different challenges in the industry", said Satyajit Singh Mecker, Senior Vice President, Global Ecosystem and Partner Group.

The SAP Co-Innovation Lab hosts a simulated heterogeneous datacenter, integrating hardware and software from SAP and other participating sponsors. "This lab is not like a R&D lab, but it is a real lab, where partners and customers can solve their problems by collaboration", said Satyajit.

Wipro Technologies, a SAP partner, was one of the first to benefit from this SAP initiative. An Insurance Claims Analytics solution was developed by Wipro by working on a platform that was developed in the SAP Co-Innovation Lab. Some of the other partners associated with the lab include Cisco, HP and Intel.

SAP India that now has over 3,800 customers with 2,900 SMEs in the list, wants to tap the potential in the Indian market by this collaborative effort. "India, especially Bangalore has been a region that has seen explosive growth and the global meltdown has not diminished its stature in the global market", said Dr. Axel Henning Saleck, Vice President and Head of the Global SAP Co-Innovation Labs.

"In 2006, SAP had announced a total investment of one billion dollar in India over 5 years and establishment of this lab is part of the investment", said Satyajit. According to Satyajit, the company sees tremendous potential in the Indian market in segments like information technology, engineering, construction, chemicals and automotive. "The current challenge that we see in India is to maintain a balance between customers and partners and keep the focus right", added Satyajit.

Agencies

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