Lord of the Links

My sojourn into the Spider's Web

Monday, September 26, 2005

Battling Google, Microsoft Changes How It Builds Software

The WSJ article describes who Microsoft has done a paradigm shift on how it writes software. The focus clearly is on quality and not on quantity, when it decides to drop WinFS, Bill Gates' baby, to force a modular, slimmer and slealthier version of the Windows core. A team led by Amitabh Srivastava has pioneered the writing of clean bug-free code.

Even though the initial latency has been high, Microsoft is facing much fewer bugs, and much higher speed to market once the basic platform is done.

But will this be good enough to fight Google back?
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Microsoft, Google most preferred employers

IT rules the waves among the engineering students of India, with Microsoft India and Google India being regarded as the best employers. Google has appeared this year for the first time in the list, and goes to show how fast Google is growing in India.
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The extraordinary story of Amul

This SmartManager article describes the organization of Amul and its history. From a precocious enterprise it has come a long way now to become a behemoth in the country where it almost dominates the milk trade. The article talks of what makes Amul tick, from its credit policy, its pricing, its information systems to its distribution network and strong reliance on partners and vendors.
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How Microsoft can 'kill' Google

The article says that Microsoft's potential deal with AOL could wipe out a large part of Google's revenues and its profits (almost 25%). Google could try to convince Time Warner that it was a better suitor with the coming of Google Video search and so on, but that is highly unlikely considering the fact that Microsoft and Time Warner have shared a close relationship ever since AOL bought Netscape and then had to closely work with Microsoft over standards nad products.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Vodafone eyes up overseas market

Vodafone LLC is introducing more 3G handsets as well as a better 3G technology to make downloads faster. Besides, its going to pull up its socks in Japan.

However, the world's largest mobile operator by revenues, is looking at mergers and acquisitions abroad esp. in Asia, Poland and the like to reaffirm its numero uno position, because it realizes that it is going to face much higher competition in existing markets.

Time Indian and Chinese operators took notice?
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Kumar Mangalam: The biggest Birla

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall?
Who's the biggest Birla of 'em all?

Kumarmangalam Birla, or course! you daft!

Critics would say that the inheritance is majorly responsible in it, but the dexterity and vision with which he has managed his (father's) empire since then would should prove a worthy answer.

After inheriting, there were the usual problems - top management, loyal to his father, would who think of him always as a child, and the lower level employees whose morale was sagging. Kumar's arrival marked a shake-up in the top management, and AV Birla group pitching itself as a commodities giant, building huge capacities and becoming a globally conspicuous player [Grasim!]

Apart from that, he invested in new high-growth business, such as textiles, telecom and ITeS. Over the ten years he has been there AV Birla group's turnover has doubled from Rs. 15000 crore to Rs. 30000 crores.

Way to go, Kumar!
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Mixing NGO-work and business?

A company by a Wharton Professor Karl Ulrich, and his students, TerraPass, helps clean your conscience by planting trees and negating the pollution due to your car. And it is finding a huge number of buyers. It's catching up as a fad, just like the Louis Armstrong bands. You go to pay upto $80 to clear your conscience depending on the exact specs of the car.

The company expects to turn profitable very soon.

Innovative thinking - Creating a business where there is none!
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The Quiet Revolution in India

It is heartening to see higher numbers for primary education in India. Good education is what is making India stand out against all the other developing countries, and if India can clear this obstacle, there is nothing to stop it from achieving true greatness.

What is even more heartening to see is that much highers figures for female primary education. Indians have not been very good to the girl child, and hopefully they have started realizing them that education empowers them so much so that they don't have to give a dowry for her, instead they deserve to *get* a dowry for her.

What more, I personally believe that the only solution to India's population problem is universal education, esp. of girls.
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Monday, September 19, 2005

Dell to sell preloaded Linux Laptops

Dell, too, has joined the open source party. It has decided to offer its Latitute 110L, preloaded with Mandriva Linux 2005. The laptops will also have popular applications such as OpenOffice, which should bring in more savings for the consumers.

Pre-loaded computers are absolutely essential for Linux's popularity since they take away the biggest bottleneck for linux usage - its installation, which despite having been made extremely easy over the years, still remains "geeky" compared to the alternative.
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Key to Google's $10 Million Man - New York Times

What makes Kai-Fu Lee hot property? What makies two of the biggest organizations fight over him?

This article tries to explain.
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Has the Sky Stopped Falling at Disney? - New York Times

Disney is working hard at recovering from its turbulations, and reinventing itself in the time of computer animation, where Pixar, and Dreamworks (of Shrek fame) excel. Can Disney stage a turnaround to re-establish itself as the Big Daddy of animation movies?

A lot of it hinges on "Chicken Little" and 3 other movies soon to be released. The animators are now hungry for success and may well be the right time to reinstate Disney.

But Disney's biggest challenge may be to overcome the notion that, when it comes to animation, many moviegoers may no longer have much confidence in Disney. Indeed, the company's animators today have more in common with their predecessors than their competitors at Pixar and DreamWorks. When animators created "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the studio's first theatrical offering in 1937, it was referred to as "Disney's Folly" before its release.

"How hungry were they?" Mr. Dindal said, referring to "Snow White's" animators. "It's fun to be at a place where everybody's hungry for something, as opposed to being well fed."
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nokia, With Sales on Rise, Plans Rival to BlackBerry

Nokia is planning to launch Nokia Business Center, which would rival RIM's very very popular Blackberry. This would allow users to check their corporate mail, apart from the usual bells and whistles.

However, this brings Nokia in direct competition not only with RIM, but also Microsoft, whose Windows Mobile Operating system competes against Nokia's Symbian. Hmmm, exciting days ahead!
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A $79.95 Opportunity to Breeze Through Security

Business travellers in the US would now be able to travel straight through the security check without any hassles if they possess one of these $80 cards, with biometric and iris scan information, which would be verified against terrorist databases.

Even though this would come as a great relief to frequent flyers, airport security might have to be relaxed, leading to greater risks.

But makes great business sense!
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Conqueror in a War of Virtual Worlds

World of Warcraft is the new 800 pound gorilla in the world of online Massively Multiplayer Games, a niche segment where the player first buys a software and then pays a monthly subscription to play the multiplayer game.

WoW is a journey into a magical world of mazes, dragons and demons, where people can either collaborate on competing against computer controlled creatures, or play player to player.

Blizzard, which made WoW should be happy with itself since it has expanded the market almost by 100% by making the game easy to use for newbies yet retaining the geeky flavour of the game. It has over 2.5m subscribers (with 1.5m in China where the game was introduced 3 months back), and an annual revenue stream of over $700m and growing.

The others are licking their lips to start the fightback!
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The Great Bank Overhaul

Banking is bad business in China, and all of us know it! Banks have saddled themselves with huge loans which will probably not be paid back because they were shortsighted and unprofessional. One such bank is the Shenzhen Development Bank (SDB), which too has amassed huge NPAs and has an extremeley low capital adequacy ratio. It had to write off a large number of loans, and ended last year with an earning of $34m on total revenues of $1.08b.

Now, a private equity firm, Newbridge Capital group, which specializes in bank turnarounds, has bought a stake in it, and surprisingly the Chinese government has allowed them to introduce Frank Newman, the "banker of bankers", as the Chairman. Newman has a tough task ahead of him, since the bank doesn't have any IT systems worth writing home about, and individual branch manager regard their territories as fiefdoms.

However, he is trying to introduce some sane systems, such as a centralized credit analysis section, and trying to steer the bank into new business. If he is successful, it will start a clean up, which might just let China get over its biggest bane.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Stevie's Little Wonder

Steve Jobs has done an earth shattering job with the iPod, and now comes the iPod Nano, which enshrines Apple as the undisputed things of all things Cool!
The Nano may seem superficially iPod-esque on the outside, but on the inside it has been completely, painstakingly, exhaustively re-engineered. Older iPods (except for the low-capacity iPod Shuffle) have miniature hard drives in them, but the Nano is built around a chunk of solid-state Flash memory. The screen is all new too. Because it's smaller, the Nano's screen has to be sharper to be readable. (It ended up being so sharp, it shows one line of text more than the Mini's screen does. In color too.)


Reinventing their highest selling product (iPod Mini) which did seem to have anything wrong, was a very bold step, and required a lot of gumption, and visionary thinking.

That apart, design is what sets Nano apart. The article ends with Jobs saying that the same technology (Mac) in a non-monopolistic environment enabled them to capture consumer's thoughts. Somewhere, there is still a sour feeling in the mouth!
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Taking A Page From Toyota's Playbook

Wipro is gung-ho about implementing Toyota's efficiency in its assembly line in its BPO units. Beginning from arranging "workers" on a long table as in an assembly line, with water coolers placed at hand to reduce time spent on it, to paying more attention on kaizen, or employee suggestions to drive efficiency.

This infatuation with Toyota-like efficiency now permeates India's tech-services industry. The Indian companies see a kindred spirit in the Japanese auto maker. Like them, Toyota was forced to claw its way into a global business with low prices and a passion for quality. Such commitment is the key to becoming the back office for hundreds of Western companies, hastening the transfer of many thousands of jobs offshore. "If the Indians get this right, in addition to their low labor rates, they can become deadly competition," says Jeffrey K. Liker, a business professor at the University of Michigan and author of The Toyota Way, about Toyota's lean manufacturing techniques.


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Why US companies love China

The article describes how many companies faced with a slump at home are betting on China for their future, such as Motorola, GM, PnG and many smaller companies.

It also describes how doing business is not as frustrating as it was half a decade ago. Companies have now started turning a profit on their China operations, which was earlier like a blackhole forcing them to write off huge investments.

Besides, the article claims that the secret sauce for Chinese success is to involve locals in all levels of the operations, and give them enough growth opportunities so that they would not leave for greener pastures.
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Monday, September 12, 2005

OfficeTiger Roams Toward An IPO

OfficeTiger is slated to become the largest player in the KPO space operating out of India. Joseph Siegelman and Randolph Altschuler would never regret leaving their 6 figure (dollar) salary to set up OfficeTiger.

Office tiger is almost touching $100m in revenues and a new acquisition in the real-estate lending support space (Mortgage-Ramp Inc.). This should give them a headstart over their rivals such as WNS Global Services and ICICI OneSource, hardly any of which get as much media attention as OT.

Rumours are rife that the new acquisition takes OT closer to an IPO. It is going to be one big affair!
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Remapping The Blogosphere

Technorati, launches blog search as against the earlier article search. However, it relies on users to give information about their blogs and also to rate them.

Although this definitely is a step forward, with the current explosion of blogosphere, we would require leaps.
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Disney launches new HK theme park

Disney launches its theme park in the Lantau Island near Hong Kong. the park is aimed at the increasingly wealthy mainland Chinese. The park came up after an investment of $1.8bn, and is expected to earn $19bn over the next 40 years.

Characters such as Alice in Wonderland sing and speak in Cantonese, while Chinese food is sold around the park.


Just goes to show how companies have started realizing that Chindia is becoming more and more central to their operations.

The opening was not without its share of controversy with some food poisoning incidents being reported and Disney was roughed up by the HK govt when its requested their police officials to be less conspicuous.
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Sun Microsystems Returns to Its Roots to Determine a New Direction

This NYT article describes how Sun is bettin on its co-founder Andreas Bechtolsheim to create a new line of servers, named Galaxy, to clear the rough weather and put it back on the track of growth.

The servers would run on cheap Intel and AMD chips (a large part of the article seems to have lost track and started comparing Itanium and Opteron), as against Sun's earlier policy of sticking to its Sparc architecture.

Scott McNealy sure is biting his nails.
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The smartest Indian companies

A very well written article about how many Indian companies are changing the name of the game. It starts off with Bharti and its focus on efficiency, to Tatas with their commitment to the 1-lakh car, ITC and its e-choupal for village empowerment, and finally ends with ICICI's bidirectional growth -- the villages of India and the metropolises of Canada.

The article makes no bones about the fact that Indian and Chinese companies are going to rule the airwaves in the coming decade, and set the benchmark many Western giants would have to follow.
|| crawled by kpowerinfinity, 2:38 AM || link || (0) comments |

The smartest Indian companies

A very well written article about how many Indian companies are changing the name of the game. It starts off with Bharti and its focus on efficiency, to Tatas with their commitment to the 1-lakh car, ITC and its e-choupal for village empowerment, and finally ends with ICICI's bidirectional growth -- the villages of India and the metropolises of Canada.

The article makes no bones about the fact that Indian and Chinese companies are going to rule the airwaves in the coming decade, and set the benchmark many Western giants would have to follow.
|| crawled by kpowerinfinity, 2:38 AM || link || (0) comments |

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why global oil prices are rising

A rediff.com article which gives a very good background on why global oil prices are heading northwards unabated. The author attributes it to lower reserves, higher demand from China and low energy efficiency in the US.

He also feels that rising oil prices might eventually push investment into alternate energysources as well higher productivity in the oil fields.
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The new iPod Nano : A review

A WSJ reporter reviews the iPod Nano. It comes good on all of Apple's claims and even beats a couple of them. The reviewer by and large feels that it is definitely the best player around.

Hand of God?
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Friday, September 09, 2005

Monsanto's sales double in India

Monsanto reports that its seeds business in India has doubled, on teh strengths of its BT-cotton. BT stands for bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria which repels boll worms. The company has made major breakthroughs in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

All that is fine. However, the article also states that Monsanto is the only company allowed to market Genetically Engineered (GE) cotton. There are other companies which have developed variants, which sell for much less than Monsanto's $40 per packet (conventional cotton seeds cost $10 per packet), but they have not received the requisite regulatory approval. Makes on think, is there a rat worth smelling in all this!
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Friday, September 02, 2005

Behind Apple's Strategy: Be Second to Market

This article from Harvard Business School describes how Apple is no longer taking a first to market approach as it did in the earlier days. Instead, starting from the iPod, it is recreating existing applications in a far more appealing and market friendly manner.

The author cites the example of GarageBand, the music editing software, which makes it very easy for amateurs to create their own music albums, without reading the 500 page manuals! The fact that it is being used even by some pros lends even more credibility to it. But the real clincher is that, GarageBand is extremely intuitive and easy to use, which is the main reason for its success.

Sounds like Microsoft?
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