Disappearing boundaries

Microsoft -- > Windows, Office
Google --> Search engine
Yahoo --> Useful portal with weather, maps etc
Apple --> Mac, iPod
Sony --> Cameras, Playstations
Walmart --> biggest grocery, household utility store
Amazon --> online store

This is what these companies are into, right? Not exactly!

There has been a flurry of activity going on in high tech companies, especially w.r.t online businesses...Companies are poaching into each others businesses and lines are thinning down or are almost non-existent in a few cases..

Microsoft is trying to get into Google's Adword business, Yahoo has already done this ... Google is getting into Microsoft's office space by bringing in its own web-based office suite with Writely, Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar etc..Apple is getting into media distribution, so is Walmart :)..
Microsoft is trying to capture the iPod market with it's zune player..
Yahoo, Google, Microsoft are entering into WebServices business like Amazon. Amazon has been trying to get into the search space with A9 (although it is built over Google)..so is Microsoft with it's Live engine..Sony is trying to get the into online video market with its latest acquisition "Grouper"...

Google signs up with Dell to make its search engine the default on all Dell
computers, Yahoo does a similar deal with HP...there was heavy talk about Google becoming an ISP..no one knows where that one is heading!

Boundaries seem to be blurring for all these big companies, but they surely are making this world a lot more exciting! Question on everybody's minds..."What's next?"

Changing dynamics..

I was reading an article about how newspapers were losing significance in this e-world and it got me thinking...Who is responsible for this? Companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft that have brought information to our fingertips that we no longer need to look at a newspaper? Well, yes surely but giving this credit to only these companies wouldn't be right!

I have been here in the states for around 6 years and have seen technology changes, some big, some very big right before my own eyes. When I was in India, around 8 years back, getting to surf the internet was a big deal! I still remember how internet cafes were always full and even in universities our labs were completely occupied. In fact, I had to mould my sleeping habits to find a lonely computer with internet :). Such was the demand! That was when computers were percieved as expensive toys...but things changed...

Things changed quite a bit for me when I took a leap into the technology corridor of the world...internet was openly available here and in the first few months after I step foot here, my roomate and I were very excited to have broadband in our apartment! We used to take turns in browsing the internet. Laptops were quite pricey then and we just had one laptop that I borrowed from my sister...Slowly things changed, computer prices fell, hardware was getting less expensive...my roomate was given a "laptop" by his company and we went out and bought a ethernet hub for $75 ! to share the internet..We had wires running all around the apartment :) and we were like this for a year..Things changed again, we found an affordable wireless modem and I got a laptop from my company...btw, this wireless modem was just $30! Soon, my roomate and I were browsing the internet from our bedrooms and we hardly got to see each other...

TV, which used to consume atleast 20% of our day dropped to around 10% as we soon transformed ourselves to "mouse potatoes"...We received new laptops from our company and also got a better wireless modems...Now, we have started seeing movies on the internet with the blazing speeds around and have almost replaced TV with internet..This is where my story ends, but I am sure all of you would have seen something similar in your lives...i.e us growing closer and closer to the internet!

As you can see, the reason for this is just not the internet companies, it is all the hardware companies like Dell and HP, networking companies like Cisco and broadband companies like Comcast that have all made this happen! In fact, the reason for the existence of some amazing products like Google, Amazon, Yahoo is the availability of a platform provided by all these other companies, which have brought users like me and you closer and closer to the internet!!

Well, internet companies are making loads of money through intelligent, unobstrusive advertising, so what about traditional newspapers? Well, in the first place, they were all charging prices far below the cost of paper even earlier (they compensated this through advertising revenues)...Now, they can give it free and still make the advertising money..(lots of us still would like to read a paper without paying for it) and/or start their own websites and earn money by advertising through them....I see that trend catching up already, not only here but in newspapers from India! Things surely change in this world...and technology drives most of it!! Wonder what the next shakeout would be :|.........


Web 2.0 for a better today !!

The first thought that crosses our minds when we think about globalization is a bunch of job losses, cultural overhauls, turmoil, a job market totally tilted towards locations like India. While some part of this is indeed true, the ramifications have been far more than what is obvious! Globalization in it's pure form with no other changes happening alongside would have resulted in a clear job tilt...

But, such is not the case...Globalization has been accompanied by two other movements, one of them more recently, which have altered it's course significantly. I am talking about the OpenSource movement and Web 2.0! Considered in isolation, these three movements have their own set of objectives, each of them very different from the other.

Globalization is about having an economical, political and financial level playing field.
Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's sources. Some consider it as a philosophy, and others consider it as a pragmatic methodology.
Philosophy of Web 2.0 is to let go of control, share ideas and code, build on what others have built, free your data.

How do these work together? Well, for starters, Web 2.0 is about building on existing services, re-using webservices and pay per usage models characterized by examples like Amazon's grid computing, computing clouds etc. What this means is that any company small/big can use such services to start their business and thus save a lot in terms of setup costs! Add to this, the option of using open source software..makes it even cheaper..Free software combined with "cheap" (pay per usage) hardware AND a low cost market place just makes it an invincible combination...which means a bright idea with good execution from any location is all that is needed to compete in this market. Time to market cycles have grown shorter and barriers for next generation entrepreneurs are almost non-existent...

All this has resulted in a mindset change.. people are trying to do new things, companies are investing more in people (because their S/W, hardware costs come down significantly accompanied with very short time to market cycles) resulting in a booming job market, not just in low-cost offshore locations, but just about everywhere. A market with such a competitive landscape can only do wonders for the customer and will break the shackles imposed on him from fat pocket monopolistic firms!
Change is always good, but this change with Web2.0, OpenSource, Globalization trio is just better! Landscape changes => Companies change => Customers enjoy!


Go Cool!

I have decided to make my blog look cool..Well, not exactly but surely want to use some cool stuff on it! For now, I have Google Analytics playing with my website and have integrated Flickr .. that's the picture strip at the top !!
Google Analytics is actually behind the scenes, analysing user activity on this blog and publishing reports accordingly. I will try to publish a report here sometime later..For now, the usage statistics are so low that there is nothing to analyse :)..

But well no.. I remember somebody said "Two points are enough to show a trend ;)" .. I guess I have a little more than that :D...Anyways, enjoy..for now, I am on the prowl for more ---------


Google in Retail ?

My wife sent me out on an errand to get her some "anti-dandruff" shampoo and I happily trotted out of our small, humble apartment. I went to Walgreens that is almost nextdoor and went to their shampoo section and I started looking ... looking, I am still looking ... and then found her a shampoo! and then I looked, looked .... .. to see if I could find something better i.e a better "anti-dandruff" shampoo! The whole process probably took me 10-15 minutes which is a lot considering the fact that I live in an internet age where product listings are made on the click of a button! I wondered for a second if I was spending my time wisely? How would it be if I could do execute my manual searches the way I did them on the internet..
For my current scenario, I would have searched for dandruff shampoos on the internet on any site like Amazon.com and I would get back a set of results.
This is possible because products are associated with attributes before being stored as inventory on the internet, but that is not the case in the real world...This made me think...
Can we make our real world as convenient as the e-world? I think we can! RFIDs can be used to do this...Product manufacturers when they make a product can associate it with attributes and product displayers at the retail outlets should be able to read and understand them. Attributes can be classified as one major, 4 or any other wise number of minor attributes. Retail shops can have search assistants alongside products and customers can use the search assistants to enter what they want. If the search criteria matches with the "major" attribute of the product, it glows in red and if it matches with a minor attribute, it can glow in green. If the search criteria doesn't match anything, then of course status quo! no glowing or anything...

This whole situation would be a win-win, if done efficiently. Customers would ofcourse benefit from superior service and would have a lot of extra time in their lives to invest on something better (hopefully they aren't couch potatoes!!). Manufacturers can differentiate their offerings better and gain over competition..They can introduce a product and play with the product attributes and see how they can position their products better. Having a fixed number of attributes is important because product manufacturers would end up advertising their offerings for everybody...(Everything for everybody would make life even more confusing..)

Search providers like Google can get into this space and provide personal search assistants and kind of extend their Adwords program to the retail world..i.e take a commission from product manufacturers for selling a product through the device! I am sure the retail world is a much larger place than the e-world. People like seeing things they buy with their own eyes atleast when it comes to FMCG products and Durables! Google can make a killing if it can capture that market "efficiently". Ofcourse, a lot has to be done on the Product manufacturers side...but well companies are planning on moving from bar codes to RFIDs anyway...so why not make this a part of the deal ?

Hope this idea catches steam some time, and some day, some time, we will have this world somewhat better...But, what will people do with that extra time they save??..Now, that is a question to ask :)..Maybe, think about making life more efficient and sensible? Life surely changes..Thoughts of today might be norms tomorrow! and can anybody do this better than Google ??