Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Once life starts picking up the biggest problem for me seems to be managing time, and most of all trying to avoid the moments when I end up cross booking the time slot for two people – yep, that isnt an easy situation to get out of.

When I am at home, and during weekends, I manage my Calendar on my Nokia Handset with an hour reminder. When I am in Office, I use Outlook’s calendar to manage schedules. The biggest issue is the first few meetings on Monday mornings – there are times when something comes up and there is no way for me to check my schedule.

So here’s the solution I’ve gone with.

Using Google calendar exclusively to manage my entire data. I found to my pleasant surprise that Google has a small app that can syncronize your outlook calendars with Gcalendar.

Secondly, after trying a host of free, opensource and cant-seem-to-get-it-to-work apps, I found CalSyncS60 which works like a charm with my Nokia Phone to do a two-way sync with my schedule in Google Calendar.

As of now, life seems to be in order. The fine line between, work and personal line is blurred forever, but it should atleast save me from breaking people’s hearts by forgetting scheduled meets and keep me on time. That’s a fair tradeoff.

3G. WiMAX. There is an inevitable showdown waiting on that camp. That’s probably also the reason why the deployments of WiMAX hasnt picked up by much. If you ask me, there is credit to deploying the 3G – or a network that is based on the telecom network. Why? Reliability. Ever picked up a landline and missed the dialtone? Thats what I am talking about.

With the economy slowing down a little, I guess the 3G talk is going to be dampened a bit here in India. But I dont think it should be. The consumerist trend hasnt slowed down and Indians have woken up to enjoying the usage of digital media, devices and services, that 3G as a service could very much consolidate and bank on. This post is partly written with the knowledge I’ve gathered being on both sides of the camp, as part of the Telecom group (and the plans that they are making with IMS – IP Multimedia Subsystem) and where the web, and industry have evolved.

Lets start with a Picture.

Future Living

Ubiquitous Computing, will not be just a term anymore. Centralized, easily accessible, and convergence. I think that’s the three keywords which are almost mantras in the new lifestyle that is emerging.


Follow the numbers on the diagram with the explanations below.

1. Your mobile phone is not just a phone. Ask Nokia and they will tell you that. If we start with the way of 3G, its also the means to a broadband pipe, and 3G is just the beginning. HSDPA, LTE, and all the planned roadmap of the GSM Data Network, seems to be only getting faster and faster. Now, why would I advocate relying on my mobile’s data network as the crucial pipe for everything?

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I mean someone who develops for the Mobile Platform, not a developer who is always on the move 🙂

Well, there are a few platforms that you might be interested to play around with, if you have an interest for embedded systems, and especially the mobile platform. Here it goes:

MobiSy: Rich Applications for your Mobile.

OpenMoko: An open development kit – Imagine having a phone with everything unlocked, and nothing beyond the realm of control by code. That’s what OpenMoko grants you. It’s a fabulous kit for folks who want to go beyond developing apps for Java or Symbian, or Windows Mobile.

Android: Well known. Enough said.

Bug Labs
: Custom-build your pieces. I found this a few days ago, and am absolutely floored. The beauty about this kit is that its not restricted to mobile handsets. Its almost the lego of the electronics world.

Mango Technologies: Mobile Application Framework. A Bangalore based company. Related note: Check out Mophun, a mobile gaming application Framework.

Flashlite: When this thing gets mainstream from adobe, we better watch out for some deadly applications.

QTopia from Trolltech, an application platform and User Interface Layer for Linux powered devices – handhelds, and the likes.

So why am I mentioning all this? If a Luxury handset manufacturer in Bangalore has gotten funded $2Million, what are the next set of pieces which will have to fall in place?

Lately there is this thought running into my head, that in most circumstances I am starting to count and make a mental note of all the “computing” devices around me. As of now, I have my mobile phone which is in arms reach, my laptop that i am working on and my server which is quietly buzzing from the corner. All of them have varying levels of computational power, starting with the server on high and ending with the mobile phone.

Virtualization is a term that started ages ago and the term has been ubiquitously been used in many things. The way virtual processing happens inside an operating system, to How a virtual software layer within an OS to run an instance of another OS – which is what VMware does, and does quite beautifully. Lately virtualization has found its new use in grid computing and in clubbing together of resources without the differentiation of physical attributes. It’s quite a steaming industry as of now, and does have some very positive implications for remote management and so on.

What I am talking about is hardware resource virtualization. I wish i could come up with a new term for it, and as the thinking deepens, I perhaps might write a longer post about it. The idea is simple. Going back to the fact that there are quite a few computational resources and some more powerful than the rest, is it possible that the resources could be shared so that “on-demand” the one that needs it could make use of it?

I know that laptops in order to consume less power have also been built with a little bit of stupider chips which dont provide as high throughput as server machines, or even desktops do. The convenience of a laptop is great, but if possible, could i link this laptop to the server so that i could make use of those extra cycles to perhaps compile the new kernel, or launch the photoshop application faster, and maybe even manage to do something in Illustrator, if required? (Illustrator as of now, hogs my machine to a standstill).

Things like this are possible, mostly cause what I am talking about is essentially cluster computing. Sharing of processes and memory space so that the one in need could use it. But I am also talking about hot-plugging this as a resource, so that i could technically walk out of the room with my laptop, or shut it down and the server would not go berserk losing a resource. Imagine, if mobile phones could have an extra shot of computing power… we wouldn’t even know what to do with it.

I am assuming that the general trend as we move on into the future would be that, computing power is going to remain pretty much the same. I think we’ve already hit a plateau and the only way we could enhance more clock cycles is if we start looking at going 3 dimensional and that is going to take a lot of power. Considering that we still haven’t come up with more efficient fuel cells yet, we do have a problem.

But imagine walking into a coffee shop and just like how you share Wifi access, you could “plug” into their server and use some computational power, and get your work done faster, wouldn’t that be amazing?

“Build the traction and let’s think about the revenue stream later”, they say. Another variant of the same thought is the often heard “Get as many eyeballs as possible and then you can figure out the business model”.

How, I ask?

Most of the folks who do know me personally will tell you that I shudder everytime I hear “Web 2.0”. It might as well be pronounced as the “thing that sinks in money and gives back nothing” as far as I am concerned. I am not totally going against everything in that category. Some are just great businesses which are cursed under that category, but the usual trend seems to be that, if you can whip up some snazzy thing, you can float it up as a venture. Not too sure about that one.

So why am I writing this post, when I’ve said this countless times before? I got an email which goes something like this in the part where it describes the company and what it does:

“The xyz software and the xyz IM and Text Message Service are completely free. PC calls from xyz are also free. Mobile calls from xyz, however, are charged at local fixed line calling rates (or deducted as part of your monthly local minutes package). This will change soon, when we release our Mobile VOIP solution – and all calls will also be free.”

I read a Free, another Free, another one and yet another Free. There was this minute little scope for revenue which was also washed out by the following Free. So, if I were an investor, when would I see my money back?

PS: I’m going to categorize this under “humor” 🙂

I am starting to see quite a bit of devices and platforms that are starting to provide more and more, of-the-box support for Flashlite. Flashlite, Adobe’s Runtime library for Flash Animation for devices on low resources is a very good alternative for devices that have a need for interative interfaces. It’s seen quite a steady adoption in the Mobile Platform as well, as more and more interactive applications are starting to surface.

I wonder if this is a new trend in the making…

Facebook is undoubtedly enjoying its fanbase, and with more and more people moving to facebook (even from networks such as Linkedin), it only strengthens the case. As of today it seems that Facebook has even gone after some of the popular bands to setup their pages in facebook so that profiles can be created as “fans” of these bands.

Social networking has taken on a new life with facebook and with their wise choice in opening up a limited set of APIs to test the water in terms of user applications.

But we are nowhere close to what socially-networked applications can really do. It might hold the key to some of the most complex problems that we face as we enter into the digital lifestyle of instant messaging, emails (flooded with invitations from SN sites), and bugged down on the phones – with mobile phones even bringing work along us in vacations.

Truth be told, we are yet to even scratch the surface of what digital living really means. Let me get to the details:

Imagine ourselves to be the centre of the universe and everybody we know to be connected by different means. We either know people directly, or through someone else. Yep, its the same concept that Linkedin denotes as 1st, 2nd and third degree networks. The unfortunate thing is that, we keep making this definitions in everything that we use. From our email clients, to our telephone priorities to the list of people that we converse often and hence would like their names on top on our favorite IM clients. Relevance is key in digital communications and it has yet to hit our lives.

Now, its not as if people have been oblivious to this problem. There are companies such as Iotum which have been working on creating what they call a rules-engine, which routes calls depending on who is calling to whichever device. Its as simple as, if your mom calls she will reach you on your mobile phone even if you are in the middle of a meeting, and if your boss calls, he gets the voicemail no matter what. Well, that might not be your choice of settings, but you get the point. Everybody is given priorities and those priorities automatically shift by the amount of conversations that are carried out. Have frequent calls with someone and their priority level goes up a notch, so that instead of the voicemail, one gets to land in your landline phone. There is also another beauty to this sytem: the fact that there is one common number that is given and all your other numbers – mobile, landline, office and etc are only known to that system. As far as the whole world is concerned, you could change your mobile numbers a zillion times and they wouldnt notice. An update on the system and it will keep routing calls as if nothing ever flinched. One number for life, and that is all that you have to give anyone without prejudice. How important they are, and how and on which device… well the system will determine that. Now tell me who wouldnt love such a system! This is precisely what Grandcentral offers.

The problem ofcourse is that the “rules” and the relationships you have with those on the address book have to be defined by you – as of now. It wont be the case once social graphs start to make sense. And thats what Opensocial APIs are after. That’s where Google, if it plays its cards right will mint its money.

Take it one step forward, and the dream word that most used to throw in making a pitch to VCs in the 90s will come back to life – convergence and unified communications. Imagine a system that can manage your IM, emails, telephone calls, and will prioritize them as per the interactions you have with them and will give YOU the flexibility to manage communications, rather than 2000 unread mails staring right at your face each morning. That’s freedom indeed. That’s when you start having a glimpse at what digital communications really is all about!

So did Facebook start a trend of opening up its APIs for third party applications? Absolutely. Is it the end? Nope. We definitely need to go beyond that and the limitations that one has in having to develop more rich, flexible and feature-rich applications within the limited interface and the functionalities of facebook, simply isnt possible. The platform, simply wasnt built for it. Instead, take the relationships (A.k.a Social Graph, as defined by Brad Fitzpatrick) and make them available for anyone to access and develop on, and you have just unleashed a whole new world of interaction.