Monday, March 30, 2009

Scaled-down PCs and scaled up smartphones

Netbooks have started to appear in almost all of the PC makers' lines. Removing optical drives and shrinking the form factor has and using new UMPC chipsets have developed a market which was just waiting to mature. These mini-notebooks, priced on par with mid-range smartphones make a good product for selling first PCs to those who don't require a "big" notebook. The PC vendors realize this only too well as one can see from the Linux option available on most netbook lines. The idea is to make it as affordable as it can get for a lot of buyers who don't want to buy a new PC. I was searching a few months ago to see what options there are for getting a Linux laptop from the major PC vendors and the options were too few. The situation has changed a little now with the netbooks. The recent trend in netbooks is to have as closer a spec to normal laptops in terms of computing power and storage.

Now, why are netbooks important? A lot of people are going to have high speed connectivity soon and these are people who did not have it before. There is a need for simple reliable machines which enable people to be connected at work, at play and on the move. Since connectivity on the move makes the machine most phone-like we are beginning to hear stories of netbooks which are more smartphones than PCs. Google which is keen on getting the mobile broadband going to expand its advertising base may well try to leverage the Android platform for netbooks. Microsoft will be bolstered by its own offerings, may well launch a netbook flavor of Windows to make it attractive for the affordable PC set.

I think it makes a good case for telcos to give away netbooks as part of their mobile broadband contract. Since netbooks are costing in the range of smartphones broadband packages can be marketed in two flavors - one with the usual phone connection and the other with the netbook option.

I want to make a post on the features I would like to see evolve on a netbook at a later time.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

US cos awarded India MNP contract

US companies - Syniverse Technologies and Telcordia Technologies were recently awarded the contract to provide mobile number portability (MNP) solutions for the Indian mobile phone users by the telecom ministry. I would say the telecom ministry has a lot of difficult decisions to make in these tough times and it is good that they have not postponed the decisions like they did for the 3G auctions.

Now that the general elections are around the corner, the decision on 3G would be taken by a new government at the center and it can be safely said that 3G would take a long time from now in India. While I was looking at this topic I came to know that India was one of the first countries to start the 3G spectrum allocation process by holding a beauty pageant more than 10 years ago. So its a record of sorts that it has taken more than 10 years to still not get the 3G stuff rolling. 3G has been launched by state corporations - BSNL and MTNL in select cities - the number growing rapidly. This has been enabled by the government as the state corporations have their spectrum ready without the need to bid in auctions. Users who want a taste of 3G can switch to BSNL service once it is available in their city. It looks like the service in its current state would cost Rs.2500 ( about USD 50 ) per month for their first taste of 3G. The rate can be expected to climb down once the other players too can roll out their services. However, with the high sums the government is expecting to make from the 3G auctions, it is going to be difficult to offer users cheaper rates.