The Jig Saw

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Three Cheers to the Brazilian Govt

In the latest update on the Brazilian government's Connected PC program[to help millions of low-income Brazilians buy their first computers] the govt has decided to go with free software only! No Microsoft - not even a low cost version.

Also in a recent letter Walter Bender, executive director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, that high-quality free software had proved more effective in stimulating computer use among the poor than scaled-down versions of proprietary software.

Click here to read more

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

WIRED [Joseph Jacobson ,MIT Media Lab Asia] writes about 2 promising technologies that will help reduce the cost of hardware -

The first is a thin, folding screen in development at MIT's Things That Think consortium. Unlike typical LCDs, this approach uses rear-­projection, and with its fold-away design, a laptop could be quite small. Best of all, a 12-inch screen of this variety could cost as little as $30. [Displays typically costing manufacturers about $170]

The second promising technology would allow us to keep the current laptop form and is based on lowering the cost of thin-film transistors used in LCDs. This approach uses a nascent technique called printed electronics to print transistor patterns with special semi­conducting inks. There are about two dozen projects under way at startups like E Ink and Kovio (I was a founder of both), as well as at large corporations focused on adapting the economics of printing to the manufacture of TFTs and displays. These efforts could lead to 12-inch displays that also cost about $30.

Monday, March 28, 2005

What's the story Morning Glory?

Seth Godin on the Liar's Blog talks about the stories that marketers tell ..

Monday, March 21, 2005

And now Elephants can SMS too ..

Was looking for innovative ways of using technology in rural and remote areas. And this is what I found - Elephants text their location. An NGO called Save the Elephants is fitting elephants with specially designed GSM/GPS collars in Kenya. The collars hold mini cellphones programmed to send SMS messages to farmers’ mobiles with the latest GPS positions of the animals.

This SMS alerts the farmers when the elephants start moving towards the fields. The farmers can head the herd off before any damage is done.

[via Roland]

EPIC - The World In 2014

[Via Sidharth Rao]

a neat futuristic concept called EPIC, about the world in 2014 talks about a war between The New York Times and GoogleZon (Google after its merger with Amazon).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Law of the Vital Few

For traditional retailers, business will always be where the sales volumes are. Pareto’s 80-20 principle states that "for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes." Or as it is popularly been understood in marketing - 80% of the sales should come from 20% of your inventory!

But the online market has its own rules, where storage space for the digital medium is essentially free, enabling online retailers to carry larger inventories and serve a niche market – iTunes, Google, Amazon ….

Source - Excite Query Distribution Posted by Hello

The figure shows that Long Tail is about expanding the markets .. to include products and customers that are currently "sub-economic"!

So if Long Tail removes the distribution and information bottlenecks, can it be used as a strategy to address the needs of a scattered rural population? Esp in a place like India where every dialect is a niche market and every state a world in itself?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tier-II cities are new BPO spots

Financial Express has a story on tier-II cities in India accounting for 15% of total IT and ITES exports from India?

Seems like the cost advantage of bigger cities is dwindling and with 1.8 million graduates (out of the 3 million India produces) coming from tier-II cities alone the shift seems like an obvious choice.
But what when the cost advantage offered by tier II cities starts fading too?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mobile phones vs Tele Centers

Bala comments on my previous post

"The lack of proper service over large areas should be seen as a call for service-providers and the government to improve services and not necessarily a demand for alternatives."

nd I so agree with him, but knowing human nature and how things work between realization and implementation there is a huge delay. Also due to the scattered population in some areas it is just not fesible for a telecom company to provide its services. Then there are liscencing and regualtory issues in other areas.

There is no one solution .. there is no one alternative when we say we want to bridge the digital divide ... the solution is an innovative approach sometimes its a new technology that the commercial vendors might not endorse. But what works is a device that can serve a community not only an individual. A device that meets various demands and provides value for money.

Cell phones have their own place and provide what a computer will not. They provide instant communicationin the language of your choice!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mobile phones vs Tele Centers

[Via The Economist] "Mobile phones reduce transaction costs, broaden trade networks and substitute for costly physical transport. They are of particular value when other means of communication (such as roads, post or fixed-line phones) are poor or non-existent."

Though we've heard about the numerous stories about mobile phones benefiting rural areas where road are poor and fixed phone non-existent .. in practice many of these areas don’t have network coverage for mobile phones either .. and in some of these places in
India tele centers are the only communication link to the outside world!

Is technology a solution?

The current issue of the Economist has a cover story on mobile phones and economic development and it reads,

"..the debate over the digital divide is founded on a myth—that plugging poor countries into the internet will help them to become rich rapidly."

Is the intention 'quick money' in the villages or is it using ICT as a medium to bridge the gap of income, development and literacy? Isn't it about providing access to basic services that currently the villagers don’t have easy access to? Isn't it a way of providing training and jobs, of letting the villagers know where the world is and what they can do if they have access to technology?

The article further adds, "The benefits of building rural computing centres, for example, are unclear. Rather than trying to close the divide for the sake of it, the more sensible goal is to determine how best to use technology to promote bottom-up development. And the answer to that question turns out to be remarkably clear: by promoting the spread not of PCs and the internet, but of mobile phones."

Mobile phone solves a different need - instant communication! They don't provide educational tutorials for children, ecommerce for farmers or vet service in the village.

Technology isn't a solution but only an enabler .. to make them connect with the world outside and hunt for opportunities best for them ..opportunities that you and me can't think of ..but those that will change their lives.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

ICT during Tsunami relief work

Mr Vivek Harinarain, Secretary IT, Government of Tamilnadu mentioned one of the projects our teamworked on during the Tsunami wWhile delivering his Keynote address at the Dataquest eGovernance Summit 2005 held on March 3, 2005 in Chennai

"Sharing his experience during the Tsunami relief operations, he said that the support from the IT industry immediately after Tsunami is commendable and the maximum use of technology to trace the identity of the dead was in Nagapattinam district."

My friend Megha Rajaram and me wrote a case study too.

Trai slashes international leased line rates by 70%

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday slashed prices of international leased lines by up to 70%.

For 155 Mbps leased lines, tariffs have been reduced by 70% to Rs 2.99 crore per annum.

For 45 Mbps leased lines, the tariffs have been reduced by 71% to Rs 1.04 crore per annum, while for 2 Mbps leased lines, prices have been reduced by 35% to Rs 13 lakh per annum.

“A competitively-priced IPLC (The international private leased circuit) service is fundamental to achieve a higher rate of penetration of broadband in the country, which provides a basis for fundamentally transferring the socio-economic opportunities, particularly in rural India,” Trai stated.

Click here to read more

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


An artistic experiment in the way we use language, WordCount™ presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness.

Friday, March 04, 2005

NatGeo on Bollywood

Check out the National Geographic's Special Feature on Bollywood

Thursday, March 03, 2005

How long can price advantage drive India’s outsourcing boom?

There is little doubt in any ones mind that the currency differential i.e. 1 US Dollar equals 44 Indian Rupees is the main driving force behind outsourcing boom in India. But the international think tanks have started asking questions as to how long can these currency differentials drive the outsourcing boom in India?

Click here to read more

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

AP mulls animation academy

To explore business opportunities in the global animation industry, the Andhra Pradesh government is contemplating the setting-up of an animation academy to train students in drawing and designing. It is also intended to teach animation techniques to rural artisans.

According to Nasscom, the demand for animation is growing at 20 percent per annum, and challenges like infrastructure, funding and marketing need to be addressed.

TCS to launch low-cost PCs

As part of its social obligation of bridging the digital divide, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is planning to launch low-cost PCs in the country by the end of 2005. The PCs are expected to cost less than Rs 10,000. Apart from this, the company is also working on building software applications in 22 Indian languages. TCS is to launch an operating system, middleware, and applications which would be made available in Indian languages this year.

Click here to read more