Month: May 2014

Technology News Highlights – May 24

China is expected to overtake Taiwan in production of cooling modules. China has developed a sustainable ecosystem of technology manufacturing and the projections indicate its strengthening position. Other upcoming markets include microgrids for solar energy. India should take cognizance of these markets and develop its technology manufacturing base rapidly to be competitive in the global market. The article on the tension between Microsoft’s cloud based approach to everything (well almost everything in future) and the IT engineers with their concerns about cloud in Ars Technica makes for an interesting read. While the traditional fire-fighting role of IT (3 am emergency calls if server is impacted) may be replaced by cloud computing, it will evolve to serve other functions in the organization.

Google has filed for a patent – a mobile dock on a laptop – that is expected to bring the laptop and mobile closer – literally. While this is interesting by itself, wasnt the idea of a tablet to act as bridge between mobile and laptop?

Another article, albeit disconnected to the technology sector worth reading is “My letter to young analysts“. I myself trying for a break in the industry, and hope that I can be a part of the investment community soon.

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Technology manufacturing and India

India has repeatedly missed the bus for setting up high end technology manufacturing units in the country – ST Micro and IBM are the only approved players at present (2014), while globally there are umpteen players who can enter the market. The question that bothers me is – why are we so reluctant to get high end players to enter the market? Our domestic oriented policy (read Aakash tablets) are pathetic to say the least. We see countries like Taiwan, China, Malaysia leap ahead of us and yet we lay mute. The answer for all the above problems lies with the attitude of our political masters. Our political members have been reluctant to engage with technology. They see it as a threat to the traditional livelihood and their personal fiefdom. But if India is to break into the league of developed nations, it will have to unshackle itself from these knd of ideologies. Thankfully, the new Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has a technology bent and understands that manufacturing will need to be the backbone of our economy. The positive externalities emerging from being a technology manufacturing hub are – skill development for a large section of society, higher income and employment levels.

The prime minister has his task cut out when he has to attract capital and industries that will set up base in our country. China and South East Asia have a competitive advantage in terms of incumbency. But a few policy tweaks (tax benefits, subsidy) would help set in motion the development of such a base. Further, he should engage with all states

Along with reforms in the manufacturing sector, we would need a reforms in the financial sector. India’s corporate bond market has no depth and the equity market is driven by FII flows. This would need to change if we want a strong manufacturing base. FDI flows as well as equity investment by Indians should be encouraged, while a healthy corporate bond market should be encouraged to allow capital flow within the country. This will reduce the burden on the banks and encourage participation of the citizens in the economy.

Neurogames and ad business

Two articles caught my eye over the past two days: one on neurogames, and another one on Fraud Free Digital Ads.

Neurogames reminds me of the scene from Matrix, where Neo undergoes training in martial arts through software “uploaded to his brain”. While the world is miles away from developing such intense experiential games, the neurogames conference points to the initial steps taken towards it – namely, integrating the neural sensory interfaces with gaming. The games are expected to provide immersive experiences and high control to the players. However investing in companies involved with neurogames is tricky due to historical precedents in this space – Second Life, Emotiv, etc. The key would be to let a critical mass be formed and then enter the market.

The article on fraud-free digital ads assess the present state of online advertising and shows that with improved cycle a virtuous cycle can be set in motion to ensure that we move as close as possible to fraud-free ads. While this is certainly good news for ad companies, the question remains at the pace of achieving this virtuous cycle.

 

Tracking smartphones

I read an interesting article on the Wired today about the cheap smartphone revolution. India has already experienced its mini-revolution in terms of local brands like Micromax, Karbonn reaching out to the “aspirational” classes. The interesting take-away of the article was the proliferation of apps (Whatsapp, etc) supported on cheapest of the phones, that allow users to reduce their monthly expenses on cellphone. he implications for app developers are clear – if you need mass base, ensure that your app replaces something that otherwise requires users to pay.

The next question is who will the app developer earn money? In the Indian context, where issues of privacy have not been seriously raised, advertising appears to the easiest way to begin.

Pando has an interesting article on the wasteland called apps market. Of the millions of apps available on Google Play and iStore barely 1000 have more than 50,000 users! This poses a question (which everyone is trying to understand) – what determines the success of an app? To understand some of the factors, lets pose the following question – why would a person download an app? The answer – productivity (mail/calender/etc), entertainment (video/audio) and social networking are the three broad heads. Of course, most apps are some combination of the three (e.g., Quizup – a quizzing app overlaps entertainment with social networking). Now the app developer needs to ensure the following: the app provides for a combination hitherto not available, the app needs to be used frequently and the app needs to spread in a viral fashion. While most app developers are now a bit behind the curve in the mobile revolution, they do have a chance to participate in the next round – modular mobile revolution.

PS: Do check out the article on fundraising. It has interesting insights for people looking for Venture Capital.

A New Beginnning

Over the past few months I read about all parties and their agenda for India. It was scary to think that, even after 65 years+ of socialism and crony capitalism, we yearn for the same rulers or rulers with similar ideas – people who believe that a government or a leader would arrive as a Messiah. Today’s results show that we are still stuck by that idea – albeit with a slight twist.

The man who won today – won against all odds and biases, created by every political commentator, every media house and every self-proclaimed liberal out there is public. The major idea that he presented during his campaign was that the Government shall provide governance, and let people conduct their own business. And this is the direction I hope we take.

At present, we have a complex system that frustrates the common person. We need to simplify it so that the government is accessible to one and all. The present system creates a false dichotomy between the rulers and the ruled. We need to ensure that the two shall be indistinct.

I hope the fine promises made by Narendra Modi turn out to be true and the entrepreneurial energy that has stated dormant for ages in the Indian society can at last be unleashed on a global scale.