Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Google-Android Story!

I'm not too sure whether you are aware of this or not but in the last one year the tech media had tried to get anything but Google-Android story. The speculations of a G-phone, Google entering in to the mobile market and the OHA (Open Handset Alliance) and much more were some of the hot buffs.
In this feature I’m trying to understand and present a clear picture of this mega story.

Is Google entering into the mobile or handset business?
No! certainly not, Google is a web-tech company which primarily drives its business out of paid searches and ad postings. The speculations about the so called G-phone were wrong and Google has no plans to roll out any G-phone.

What is this ANDROID?
Android is the name of an open source mobile handset operating system. It is a Java based platform with Linux in the core of the OS. This is a dream project of Google which is targeted at the USD 45 billion mobile ad business. It is a free and open platform which Google has developed inorder to seamlessly run its applications, packages and also showcase ads in all future mobile handsets.

To do so Google acquired Android a small company which was already working on the open platform model of business in 2005. In 2007 initiated the launch of Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 35 tech companies which will co-operate on this project. The 35 companies are a mix of different expertise, like Handset manufacturers, Commercialization companies, Chip & Semi conductor manufacturers, Mobile Carriers and Software Developers. Google heads the consortium and is developing libraries and SDK for programmers to develop and use Android platform. It is running several application development contests to encourage more participation, learn and improve with the insights provided by the real developers out there in millions.

Below is an overview of the architectural map of the platform and its core applications:

The Android platform architecture (Click for an enlarged view)

What does this mean?
It means that in the coming years we are going to have handsets that will be based on the Android platform and the user will be free to develop its own applications, self tweak the phone, screen options, navigation method and do much more such things using Google’s developed libraries. It will be a free software launched under the Apache V2 license regime.

The basic idea is to make the handset a complete PC. It has to act and perform like the PC. Even though today handsets are capable of accessing internet but are full of bugs and problems. Apart from basic function like emails access, it does not do anything more. It is slow and is not capable to utilize the benefits and facilities of the development happening in the internet technology. The Android based phones will be a few steps ahead and will make internet access much easier, effective, fast and reliable.

How is this going to revolutionize the mobile market?
As it is in the industry today we have got two incompatible networks the GSM and CDMA, switching between these two is not possible. However it is possible to switch carrier in GSM by simply changing the SIM but this is a very painful task as one would have to start all over again. In CDMA a user is bound to one provider and in both the cases the content and almost everything is controlled by the network carrier. Nokia the world leader in the Symbian based handsets does not provide open features to its handsets and the user is limited to the interface and features bundled with it. One has to content with what is given but with Android this scenario would change dramatically, may not be that quickly but will eventually. Now the market is ruled and dominated by the carrier and even though a handset manufacturer would like to add innovative features it will have to abide with the carrier.

Android's developers envision a world where today's integrated wireless systems are reduced to a set of relationships between parts that are more or less interchangeable. Consumers will be free to load their phones with applications of their own choosing--free applications, applications available for sale, and custom applications developed by enterprises for their employees. These applications will be able to communicate with third-party services offered over the Internet--using any available communications pipe, be it the cellular network, a nearby wi-fi connection, or even a Bluetooth connection from another phone.

Once developed it will open a host of services free of cost to the users, i.e. functions like contact management, document creation, GPS direction services, and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services will be available free of cost. Apart from that one will be free to play with the handset, modify applications, develop applications, change interface options, add features and will decide what they want in the phone and what the don’t. It will also significantly improve the battery life; unlike the current OS which runs one or many programs in the background and drains the battery power the component based Android’s structure will run only a tiny piece of thread from a program and will save battery.

The only limitation to this would one should know a bit of Java and must have the SDK. But as it is said and proposed now it seems that won’t be a problem as a plethora of applications would be developed by millions of programmers and computer freaks.

This is the major cause of worry for the mobile operators which charge these services now. It is my presumption that only the cost of internet access will be charged as our normal broadband connections at home are charged by the ISPs rest will be galore of free content. The carriers are yet to find a solution to this issue.

If Android succeeds, it will have a major impact on wireless carriers. A phone running on Android operating system would treat wireless operators like as just another way to reach data services on the Internet. Such a phone could turn today's wireless providers into commodity data communications networks that also happen to carry voice. This would force the providers to compete in every area--network quality, handset quality, and price--without allowing good performance in one area to lock customers in and support ­mediocre performance in another.

To keep the soul (open platform) of this project a Non-fragmentation Agreement has been passed which will force the OHA members to cooperate at the code level. Members could not introduce non-compatible codes, applications or services. All modifications done by any will have to be made available to all the members.
What would be the major features of Android platform?
  • The platform would be adaptable to both larger, VGA devices and more traditional smart phone layouts.
  • Android would support a wide variety of connectivity technologies including Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi.
  • Both SMS and MMS would be available forms of messaging including threaded text messaging.
  • The web browser available in Android would be based on the open-source Web Kit application framework.
  • Software written in Java can be compiled into Dalvik bytecodes and executed in the Dalvik virtual machine, which is a specialized VM implementation designed for mobile device use.
  • Android will support advanced audio/video/still media formats such as MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, and AAC.
  • Android would be fully capable of utilizing video/still cameras, touch screens, GPS, compasses, accelerometers, and accelerated 3D graphics.

How can one develop applications for Android based handsets?
The applications can be developed on any PC or handheld computer, palmtop etc in Java. One only needs to have a PC and the Android SDK, which is meant to run on any system. The free Android developer kit includes a telephone emulator, which lets any developer with a PC, Mac, or Linux desktop write and test Android applications. The emulator even makes it possible to control the speed and quality of the simulated phone's network connection, allowing developers to see how their programs will behave on phones in poor coverage areas without having to load the applications onto real phones. Till date only prototypes of Android based handsets have been made and is still a few weeks far from being commercialized. The handsets are expected to run on all mid to high end phones because of the data access capabilities of the platform; however the hardware minimum requirements for a typical Android handset would be ; 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of FLASH (optional) and a 200 MHz online processor. HTC a member of the OHA along with LG and Samsung have announced to launch the 1st series of the Android based handsets in the late 2008. With the commitment and innovations done by the OHA members these requirements are likely to come down, so that it can be used by the masses.

It is almost certain that Google has got hold of the 3 billion eyeballs to shoot its advertisements at. How cloggy and how precise it would be is Google’s job but to develop the first indigenous application, is surely ours.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Has "Microsoft's SEARCH for Yahoo" ended ?

This is in continuation with my previous post, it seems the battle has aggravated and we are surely on for a major tussel. Steve Ballmer rhetorical letter to Yahoo chief Yang officially called withdrew of his offer. Like my pervious guess the offer was raised to USD 33 per sahre making the deal woth USD 47.5 billion. This is at 70% premium but Yahoo is adamant and thus the deal is on for a toss.Does that mean its over? I guess NOT!.
Steve is adamant too, he did praise Mr. Yang for his time and concern but also reprimanded him of that this was the best deal offered and he (Mr. Yang) has taken a wrong decision. Though Steve said that Yang has done and will do anything at his disposal to outcast Microsoft so it does not make any sense busienss sense to approach the shareholders directly for a hostile bid, he has not maintained a lull . So, now it means it is over! No it is not....it seems that Microsft is lobbying hard to replace the board of directors at Yahoo, so that it could progress with its takeover. It has already identified some 10 BODs who could do the job for it and is keen on getting them appointed by shareholder's vote.

On the contrary Yahoo has faced quiet a few lawsuits from its shareholders for rejecting Microsoft's offer. Yahoo is trying to get into an agrrement with Google to handover its paid search service PANAMA and promote Google's services and in addition to that Google is trying to help Yahoo, hold and prevent the acquisition but is under cover. It has also raised its concern in front of the antitrust group over the acquisition. It's all happening there and right in the middle.
This acquisition is becoming even more exciting and i'm trying to keep a tarch of it. One must read Steve's letter to Yang, I guess that is the way CEOs communicate.

It is an ironic, pragmatic, methodical and judicious display of despair.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sachin's Profile

Most of us think to know what Sachin is but the facts below will make you feeeeel what Sachin is!!

At a glance ( Click on the image for an enlarged view)

Here goes the tall figures of the man who can be very well called to be an " Epitome of Humility"!!

1) 2nd Most Stadium Appearances: 90 different Grounds. (1st Rahul Dravid: 92 venues)

2) Most Runs: 16,361 Runs at over 44.33 runs per innings (as of 13th March, 2008). He is the leading run scorer in the ODI format of the game and the only player ever to cross the 16,000 run mark.

3) First player to reach 10,000-11,000-12,000-13,000-14,000 and 15,000 ODI runs.

4) Holds the record for scoring 1,000 ODI runs in a calendar year. He has done it seven times - 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2007

5) Tendulkar has scored over 1000 ODI runs against all major Cricketing nations.

6) Sachin was the fastest to reach 10,000 runs taking 259 innings and has the highest batting average among batsmen with over 10,000 ODI runs

7) Most centuries: 42

8) Only player to have over 100 innings of 50+ runs (42 Centuries and 89 Fifties) (as of 13th March, 2008)

9) Fifties: 89 fifties, Tendulkar holds the record for the most ODI fifties

10) Most centuries vs. Australia(8), Pakistan(5), South Africa(3), New Zealand(4), Sri Lanka(7) and Zimbabwe(5).

11) Most Man of the Match Awards: 57 Man of the Match Awards

12) Most Man of the Series Awards: 14 Man of the Series Awards

13) Most ODI runs in a calendar year: 1,894 ODI runs in 1998

14) Most Centuries in a calendar year: 9 ODI centuries in 1998

15) Sachin Tendulkar with Sourav Ganguly holds the world record for the maximum number of runs scored by the opening partnership. They have put together 6,271 runs in 128 matches that includes 20 century partnerships and 21 fifty run partnerships

16) 20 century partnerships for opening pair is also a world record.

17) Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid hold the world record for the highest partnership in ODI matches when they scored 331 runs against New Zealand in 1999 at the LBS, Hyderabad

18) Sachin Tendulkar has been involved in six 200 run partnerships in ODI matches - a record that he shares with Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting.

19) Most runs (1,796 at an average of 59.87 as on 20th Mar 2007) in World Cup Cricket History including 4 centuries & 13 fifties with a best score of 152* against Namibia in 2003 world cup.

20) 673 runs in 2003 Cricket World Cup, highest by any player in a single Cricket World Cup

21) Tendulkar was the first batsman in history to score over 50 centuries in international cricket. He has now scored 81(39 in Tests, 42 in ODIs).

22) Has the most overall runs in cricket, (ODIs+Tests+Twenty20s), as of 13th March 2008 he had accumulated almost 28,341 runs overall

23) Tendulkar is the fastest to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket history. Brian Lara is the other one to achieve the same feat. Both of them achieved this in 195 innings.

24) On 3 January 2007 Sachin Tendulkar (5751) edged past Brian Lara's (5736) world record of runs scored in Tests away from home.

25) Career Average 55.57 - the highest average among those who have scored over 10,000 Test runs.

26) Highest number of Test centuries (39).

27) Tendulkar's record of five centuries before he turned 20 is a current world record.

28) Tendulkar has scored centuries against all test playing nations. He was the third batman to achieve the distinction after Steve Waugh and Gary Kirsten. The current list also includes Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist and Marvan Attapattu.

29) Sachin's 37th ton against Bangladesh during the 2007 series 2nd Test, help achieve a unique historic moment, it was the 1st time the top four batsman of any team had all scored centuries in asingle innings. Dinesh Karthik made 129, Wasim Jaffer 138 and Rahul Dravid 129 were the other centurions.
Awards and Honours Conferred on Sachin
  • Arjuna Award, by the Govt of India for his outstanding achievement in Cricket 1994
  • Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 1997
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India’s highest honour given for achievement in sports, 1997-98
  • Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, 1999
  • ICC World ODI XI: 2004, 2007
  • Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, 2008.

Many people opine that Sachin plays for his own records first and then for his team. I know he has got nothing to prove because his stats speak for him.

Here is the list and count of centuries that went in vain

1. 137 off 137 balls Vs SriLanka at Delhi in 1996 World Cup. India scored 271/3 in 50 overs. The only other 50 score was from Azhar. SL made 272 in 48.4 overs. Manoj Prabhakar had 4-0-47-0.He also opened in the innings with Sachin and scored 7 of 36 balls

2. 100 of 111 Balls Vs Pak in Singapore- Apr 96. India 226 all out in 47.1 overs, When Sachin was out score was 186/4. Pak had a reduced target of 187 from 33 overs.

3. 110 of 138 Balls vs Sri Lanka In Colombo - Aug 96. Again India 226 for 5 in 50 overs, Only other 50 score from Azhar (58 of 99 balls). Sachin has also bowled 6-0-29-1,the second most economical bowler and the only wicket taker (SL were 230/1 in 44.2) of the match next to Srinath.

4. 143 of 131 Balls Vs Aus at Sharjah, Apr 1998. This was chasing under lights. The qualifying match before the final. The whole world knows about this match.Still one interesting point, when Sachin was out India were 242 at 5 at 43 overs. Target was 276 in 46. Still India finished at 250/5 scoring just 8 of the next 3 overs. Great performance by Laxman and Kanithkar indeed.

5. 101 of 140 Balls against SL at Sharjah in Oct 2000. Indian score was 224/8 in 50 overs. (No other 50 score). SL got 225/5 in 43.5, Sachin also bowled 5-0-22-0, better economy rate than everyone except Srinath.

6. 146 of 153 Balls against Zimbabwe at Jodhpur - December 2000. India made 283 / 8 in 50 overs. Sachin was the last man to be dismissed, score was 235/8 at 46.3 overs when he was out. Agarkar and Zaheer Khan propelled India to 283 in the last 3.3 overs. When Sachin has scored 146 of 235 in 46.3 overs, you can guess what the other 8 great batsmen were doing against the World class Zimbabwe attack. Second Highest scorer was Zaheer Khan with 32. Zim got 284/9 in 49.5 overs. Agarkar bowled the last over. Sachin also got 6-0-35-1.

7. 101 of 129 Balls Vs SA at Johannesburg - Oct 2001. India got 279/5 in 50, Ganguly made 127 of 126 balls. When Ganguly got out, the score was 193-1 in 35.2 overs. Sachin was the last man to get out at 263. SA got 280 in 48.4 overs. Sachin bowled 9-0-51-0, second best in economy rate next only to Agarkar (10-0-45-1).

8. 141 of 135 balls Vs Pak at Rawalpindi, March 2004. India were chasing 329 and were 317 all out in 48.4 overs, 8 balls to spare. No other batsman made even a 50 (when chasing 300 ) and when Sachin was out, India were 245-4 in 38.4 overs. They needed 85 from 68 balls with 6 wickets in hand.

9. 123 of 130 Balls vs Pak at Ahmedabad, April 2005. India made 315/6 in 48 overs (48 over match), again no other 50 score. Second highest was Dhoni 47 of 64 balls, (third highest was extras - 39). Pak made 319 in 48 overs. The three quicks (Balaji, Nehra and Khan went for 188 runs from 26 overs between them taking only 2 wickets). Sachin bowled 6-0-36-1. No Harbhajan and no Kumble.

10. 100 of 113 Balls Vs Pak at Peshawar, Feb-2006. India were 328 all out in 49.4 overs. Pathan and Dhoni got 60 each. When Sachin was out when India were 305-5 in 45 overs. Managed only 23 in the last 5 overs.Pak scored 311/7 in 47 overs and won by D/L method. Could have been anybody's game. Sachin did not bowl.

11. 141* of 148 balls vs WI at Malaysia. India made 309 /5 in 50 overs. Sachin was not out. Pathan was the only other 50 scorer. WI made 141/2 in 20 overs and won by D/L method. Again could have been anybody's game.

In the other 31 instances India has won 30 times and once there was no result.

Now, please think again when you say Sachin's 100s were in the losing cause and that he is not a team player. Ask Steve Waugh about the back to back centuries in 1998 Coca Cola Cup semi final & final against the Aussies in Sharjah...either he won't speak or go on talking.

Microsoft's "SEARCH" for Yahoo!

Surely this is one of the hottest pancakes story in the tech world today, Microsoft striving to buy Yahoo!. This is Microsoft's latest quest to engage itself in a head on tussel with Mountain view based internet major Google.

Google which started its online venture in 1999 much later than Microsoft and Yahoo has outpaced them and turned the industry statistics upright with its simple but innovative applications and tweaks. Realizing the power of internet it made calculated moves and launched proprietary technologies like ad-sense, blogger, picassa,google earth and now has entered the mobile areana with an open platform called ANDROID. Microsoft focused on the traditional PC software market, and Yahoo was not so agile which gave Google the time to nurture and establish itself.
Today Google is the leader in the internet market, be it search, i-ad and is slowly inching to beat Yahoo on its very own turf i.e. the e-mail business.

If we look at the statistics Google controls the total internet search market with 77.23%, Yahoo has got a little over 12% while Microsoft with its 'msn and msn-live' totters at 5.97% while the rest is shared between AOL,ask.com,lycos,crawler and others.

Clearly Micrsoft has struggled and is still struggling to beat Google in the internet search and i-ad arena. It wants to caputure a majority share in the USD 45 billion global i-ad market, a market which is expected to reach USD 80 billion in the next two years. So, there lies Microsft's interest. It has got the whim and muscle but needs the brains who can turn the table. Surely Yahoo has and thus Microsft made an unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo at USD 31 per share at a 62% premium on February 1st, 2008 which effectively aggregates to USD 44.6 billion.

Yahoo rejected the offer outright quoting it does not represent the true value of the company. What is interesting in the whole story is, the way it is progressing and the CEOs are talking. It is not like the usual coporate talks but certainly more than that.

You can hear Ballmer say "I know Yahoo's value and not going to raise the offer even with a single cent". He also openly says that if not this way, he can go by the unfriendly way or may simply walk away (which surely won't happen, tats my guess).

Interestingly in the rejection letter Yahoo chief Jerry Yang wrote

" .....Your own statements have made clear the strategic importance of Yahoo!'s substantial assets and capabilities to Microsoft. We regret to say that your letter mischaracterizes the nature of our discussions with you. We have had constructive conversations together regarding a variety of topics, including integration and regulatory issues. Your comment that we have refused to enter into negotiations to conclude an agreement are particularly curious given we have already rejected your initial proposal, nominally $31 per share at the time, for substantially undervaluing Yahoo! and your suggestions in your letter and the media that you are considering lowering the value of your proposal. Moreover, Steve, you personally attended two of these meetings and could have advanced discussions in any way you saw fit."

It appears as if me and you are trying to negotiate on buying an iPod from a third friend or anywhere. Microft has maintained a silence since then and it seems Yahoo is determined to demand and get a higher value for its share. It may happen that Microsft will have to raise their bid upto anything from USD 35 to 40 per share.

What will happen is a matter of time but the CEOs are in their ROADIES gear, and that is for sure!!!