Netbooks at $99 from AT&T

This piece of news is exciting enough to merit a blog post.

This year, at least one wireless phone company in the United States will probably offer netbooks free with paid data plans, copying similar programs in Japan, according to industry experts.

But this revolution is not just about falling prices. Personal computers — and the companies that make their crucial components — are about to go through their biggest upheaval since the rise of the laptop. By the end of the year, consumers are likely to see laptops the size of thin paperback books that can run all day on a single charge and are equipped with touch screens or slide-out keyboards.

How long before we have the intersection of 3G and Netbooks in India? I see this as a positive trend for Web services and the Internet economy.


Google signs deal with AirTel for GPRS users attention

Why would Google India sign a deal with AirTel to share advertising revenue for data applications?

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s largest mobile service provider with nearly 53 million customers, plans to tie up with leading Internet portals for sharing advertising revenue when Airtel’s subscribers visit those websites through mobile Internet.
Read the rest of this entry »

Rapid product development at Google

Google Gets Ready To Rumble With Microsoft – N.Y. Time, Steve Lohr and Miguel Helft.

Google maintains that pace courtesy of the cloud. With a vast majority of its products Web-based, it doesn’t wait to ship discs or load programs onto personal computers. Inside the company, late stages of product development are sometimes punctuated by 24-to-48-hour marathon programming sessions known as “hack-a-thons.” The company sometimes invites outside engineers to these sessions to encourage independent software developers to use Google technologies as platforms for their own products.

New features and improvements are made and tested on Google’s computers and constantly sprinkled into the services users tap into online. In the last two months alone, eight new features or improvements have been added to Google’s e-mail system, Gmail, including a tweak to improve the processing speed and code to simplify the handling of e-mail on mobile phones. A similar number of enhancements have been made in the last two months to Google’s online spreadsheet, word processing and presentation software.

Early this month, Google released new cellphone software, with the code-name Grand Prix. A project that took just six weeks to complete, Grand Prix allows for fast and easy access to Google services like search, Gmail and calendars through a stripped-down mobile phone browser. (For now, it is tailored for iPhone browsers, but the plan is to make it work on other mobile browsers as well.) Read the rest of this entry »


Fring de! India

VOIP for mobile happens to be one of my top predictions for fastest growing markets in India. Fring is the application making it happen. It is already the most frequently used application on my Nokia E61i. I use Fring for Skype International calls, chat on GTalk, MSN and other networks. The only drawback is that it seems to suck out your mobile battery faster than you can imagine. I end up having to restrict its use to only when I am traveling.

The people behind Fring seem to acknowledge the huge interest and potential and have dedicated a blog to India. The blog is a great addition to help their customers, announce features and new phones compatible with Fring.

Now if only AirTel, Vodafone and the other big Mobile boys wake up and learn to walk their customers through enabling wireless data on their handsets.

Another product riding the mobile wave in India is Mowser who claim to receive more than twice as many mobile requests from India alone. Rajan attributes that interest primarily to dial-up users from India who use Mowser and other content adaptation engines for mobiles to surf the web.


To Vakow or not to Vakow!

This is my recount covering the events of the Barcamp Mumbai 2, October 14th. Unfortunately, the post remained a draft for a while as more urgent concerns took over.

A recommendation to all organizers of future Barcamps – if you ever think of possible venues, give highest priority to an academic venue. IIT Powai lent an almost incredibly romantic and truly academic atmosphere to the Barcamp.

The web idea of the day goes to Vakow.com! They have taken an incredibly simple concept and built it for the web. If you love SMS forwards, you know the ones that go “neeche mat dekh, upar dekh” etc. you will love Vakow. Vakow is the single largest database for all types of SMS forwards. Yes, they will even preserve your white space.

What I really enjoyed was the attitude the founder members displayed when demonstrating their product. They are totally committed to having fun all the way and are unfazed by the idea of someone bigger than them invading their space.

Vakow had an exclusive in store for the campers, they are all set to launch an absolutely killer feature for their users soon. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the feature. Visit their site to check if they have an update.

Other startups that get an honorable mention,

  • Novix.in – Video compression algorithms for streaming jerk-free Video on 2.5G Networks. They had an interesting demonstration and it appears the strategy they have adopted is to go through wireless carriers for monetization.
  • WatConsult – Rajiv Dingra walked campers through the basics of corporate blogging. He really ought to have covered corporate blogging a little deeper for those who have already been at it.

UPDATE I – Vakow was also featured on Economic Times “Advertising the most popular revenue model for Internet Biz“.


My Nokia E61i

I have been eyeing a new phone to replace my existing Nokia 6230 for a while now. I finally caved in and bought a brand new Nokia E61i from the Nokia priority dealer in the Pune city area today.Nokia 6230

My last smart phone was a BlackBerry 7100. The phone was tuned for e-mail like other BlackBerry’s. However, the 7100 fit well in my jeans since RIM managed to squeeze in two alphabets for every key. Setting up GMail on the BlackBerry was a breeze and did not require additional tweaks. Using the proprietary BlackBerry network, my desktop Outlook contact book always stayed in sync with my BlackBerry. I could even charge my BlackBerry over USB – a feature that was extremely handy when I traveled overseas.

The BlackBerry 7100 (and later models) are killer e-mail devices because they do the following extremely well.

  • push e-mail
  • new e-mail notification
  • a huge local e-mail cache with search
  • a complete contact book to store names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • keep your e-mail, desktop contact book and calendar in sync without cables
  • the ability to modify your “sent from”
  • auto configure access to GMail and other popular personal e-mail providers

However, without the BlackBerry network, it is next to impossible to provide the functionality listed above. Joining the BlackBerry network in India costs Rs. 2000 a month which is by no means priced for individuals. In comparison, AirTel GPRS costs Rs. 350 a month with no caps on how much data you can transfer. Additionally, we decided to avoid Microsoft Exchange and opt for Google apps for our office e-mail infrastructure. Until and unless you plan to be on the BlackBerry network, a BlackBerry might not be a good fit.

Nokia E61i

There are several phones that compete fairly in the general smart phone category. I had a serious look at Samsung i600 (~Rs. 18,500), Nokia E62 (~Rs. 12,500). The Nokia E61i was the final winner primarily because it is based on the very stable Symbian OS. Also, it is an improvement over the earlier (tried and tested) Nokia E61 and was launched in May 2007. In terms of features and connectivity options the E61i is comparable to other phones in the category.

Nokia E61i - package contents

The Nokia E61i costs a little north of Rs. 18,850 here in India. Additional charges including VAT apply. In my conversation with the dealer, he claimed that Nokia phones have only a 1% retail margin and therefore credit card charges would be over and above the price of the phone (an additional 2%). Unlike the US, additional discounts are not offered by carriers. You usually end up paying the full cost of the phone and having a zero commitment contract.

The phone comes in a box with a battery charger, a single battery, a memory card (microSD) of 256MB, a pop port headset and a CA-53 data cable. The Nokia CA-53 data cable happens to be the most popular data cable as far as duplication by after-market vendors. I have attached a screen shot of the cable to help identify the real thing. Fake Nokia CA-53 cables never work as intended.

I will be looking to get the best out of the phone in the coming weeks and promise to highlight some of the best applications available out there.

Related Links and Credits:

Nokia E61i is just about good for anything

Nokia CA 35


Mobile orkut scraps

If your obsessed with scrapping on Orkut your going to love this hack. NGCoders have a simple PHP script that consumes your Orkut scrapbook to create an RSS feed. You can then pipe the RSS feed to your mobile through Mobile Google Reader to make your scraps easier to read. So now you can track any scrapbook from anywhere – what remains is the part where you scrap back.


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