Friday, April 27, 2007

Cheap Phones in India?

There's an interesting article on how the iPhone could provide some pricing power to the vendors on Telephony Magazine's website: The iPhone effect.

I do agree that the iPhone could bring pricing power to the vendors. All the me-too phones will be priced close to the $350-$450 range. Looking at WiMAX I feel like reviving the concept of a killer device! The killer app for personal mobile broadband is certainly checking email/gmail, finding local Google Maps (which hopefully is integrated with the GPS). Mobile TV will be a hit once the power/battery issue is resolved, i.e. either new more powerful batteries come out, or watching mobile tv in a place where the device is powered externally, either in a car, coffeeshop or a friend's home...

But I am not convinced about the observation made in the article, and in numerous other articles & analyst reports, that phones in the developing world are sold at low prices. A lot of the middle-class people I know in India buy their phones outright, with no carrier subsidies. And the phone prices typically range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000. That is about $220 to $440 @ Rs.45 = USD 1.

And these are not high-end phones, but phones very similar to the 'middle-end' phones that we in the US use.

Obviously this is a large investment for a (economically speaking) middle-class person, but this is the largest cellphone segment in India right now. The lower-class user base (the drivers, peons, small grocers, ), who buy the really cheap and often second-hand phones, is growing pretty fast.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) - Additional Funding Model

So I've been reading about OLPC in bits & pieces over time. I am not 100% clear on their distribution model. But they seem to be primarily targeting the technologically undeveloped societies, with primary funding coming from governments in those countries.

Living in the US, I feel left out!

There are some interesting technical & social concepts that are being embedded in these computers. Read about their philosophy, mission... at OLPC

I hope that they do plan to target the US and other such 'developed' countries because there is certainly a digital divide here too - albeit not on the scale of other places.

Here's an additional funding/distribution model:
Sell the laptop in the developed countries at 150% of the price the developing countries pay.

This will:

- provide additional funding for providing the laptops in areas where the governments cannot or will not provide funding for them (using the additional 50%). OLPC org will have additional funds to launch pilot projects and future 'products'.

- enable people like me who don't have loads of money but lots of enthusiasm about such projects to show and tell about such projects. This is more than just promotion/advertising, its proving to people that such concepts can be made into a reality.

- tech savvy people as me to learn about some new interesting concepts. Yes, the jazzy technology described on their website could be valuable in rethinking some parts of mainstream computing.

I am not proposing that OLPC turn into a company that has a for-profit initiative on the side. Perhaps, I am... still have to think through this one.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Surprise! Intel favors WiMAX over 3G for Centrino

Read the story on

Well, this was going to happen sooner or later. Sooner the better.

One of the big scary/fuzzy things about WiMAX has been about 'killer' apps and devices. 3G struggled through that and with the help of Treo, Blackberry & 3G-PC cards found a niche with business users. Ordinary consumers will have to wait till Apple's iPhone (and its imitators) come out with an HSDPA version.

This is the big push that Intel was expected to deliver. A WiMAX device in almost every new Intel-based laptop to replicate the WiFi-Centrino success.

Ofcourse this hinges on delivering (not necessarily in the short-term) a 'world' WiMAX card/device, like the world-GSM phones out there right now. Also, important will be roaming agreements that the WiMAX Forum is hammering out currently (I believe).

To keep my facts straight (from PCWorld):
The new version of Centrino will be called Santa Rosa.
But Wikipedia says that WiMAX will be part of the next Centrino platform called Montevina.

Update: May 1, 2007
- Clearwire announces the Expedience WiMAX PC card from Motorola. Datasheet for the device.
- Nokia announces its WiMAX devices for 2008

Thursday, April 19, 2007

AOENet - Anywhere On Earth Network

I first heard of the AOE concept from the IEEE 802.16 Working Group's policy on accepting documents by the AOE deadline. Wireless can bring network access anywhere on Earth. This web log will collect my thoughts and readings on this area.

My primary focus will be on new developments in WiMAX, WiFi, mesh networks and cellular networks. I will also highlight modeling of these networks as this relates to my work life.