Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Domestic IT market to grow 9.7% in 2014: Study

NEW DELHI: IT spending in the country is expected to grow at 9.7% and touch Rs 1,51,728 crore in 2014 as companies invest in technology to control costs, drive efficiency and ensure organic business growth, a study by research firm Coeus Age said. 

According to the report titled 'Enterprise Business Priorities and IT Plans, India, 2014', the domestic IT spending in India grew 8.1% in 2013 to Rs 1.38 lakh crore. 

This is estimated to grow at 9.7% in 2014 and reach a size of Rs 1,51,728 crore, it added. 

Based on inputs from 130 CIOs/IT heads of large and medium-sized Indian enterprises, the report gauges the perception of the companies regarding business scenario, priorities and plans regarding IT for the year 2014. 

"After a very sluggish growth in 2013 -- the lowest since 2002 -- the year 2014 is expected to see the beginning of a new growth trajectory," Coeus Age Founder Kapil Dev Singh said. 

2014 is the year of general elections at the Center and with the new government formation being just six months away, the hope of revival is a natural outcome, he added. 

However, businesses are also cautious on account of pressures of moderate revenue growth across industries as well as high inflation. 

"Though the enterprises have coped by increasing the product prices, cutting unwanted costs and becoming more efficient, the pressure is expected to continue through 2014," the former country manager of IDC India said. 

According to the report, 76% of the CIOs interviewed said their top priority is operational in nature, focused on cost control, efficiency drive, striving for a healthy cash flow and ensuring an organic business growth. 

About 51% of the respondents said their IT focus is to bring efficiency and optimization in IT management.

Source: Times of India

Monday, December 30, 2013

Indian IT: Wake up and smell the opportunity

The same advances that are changing the IT landscape are also creating new opportunities, says Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Stanford Law School and director of research at Duke University...

A few years ago, Wall Street Journal and Forbes published articles predicting the demise of Indian IT. I responded with an article that they were dead wrong. I said that the outsourcing market had a long way to go before IT peaked; rising salaries and attrition rates were not a cause for long-term concern; and Indian IT would soon become a $100 billion industry. It did.

Now I am ready to declare the end of the line for Indian IT. There are new $100-billion market opportunities that could revitalize this industry. But from what I've seen, Indian executives seem incapable of steering their ships in the right directions.

It is not that Indian outsourcers have become less capable of servicing Western needs. It is that their customer base — the CIO and IT department — is in decline. With the advent of tablets, apps, and cloud computing, users have direct access to better technology than their IT departments can provide them. They can download cheap, elegant, and powerful apps on their iPads that make their corporate systems look primitive. These modern-day apps don't require internal teams of people doing software development and maintenance. They are user-customizable and can be built by anyone with basic programming skills.

It takes decades to update legacy computer systems , and corporate IT departments move at the speed of molasses. So, Indian outsourcers have a few more years before they see a significant decline. They certainly won't see the growth and billion-dollar deals that have brought them this far.

The same advances that are changing the IT landscape are also creating new opportunities. For example, advances in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing are making it cost effective to move manufacturing back from China to the US, Europe... and India.

Take the Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics. It has two arms, a face that displays simulated emotion, and cameras and sensors that detect the motion of human beings that work next to it. It can perform assembly and move boxes — just as humans do. It will work 24 hours a day and not complain. It costs only $22,000. This is one of many such robots.

AI is making it possible to develop self-driving cars, voice-recognition systems, and computer systems that can make human-like decisions. AI technologies are also finding their way into manufacturing and are powering robots such as Baxter.

A type of manufacturing called "additive manufacturing" is making it possible to cost-effectively "print" products. 3D printers can create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewellery, and even clothing. The cheapest 3D printers, which print rudimentary objects, currently sell for between $500 and $1,000.

Soon we will have printers for this price that can print toys and household goods. By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. In the next decade we may be 3D printing buildings and electronics.

These technologies are becoming readily available and cheap, but America's manufacturing plants aren't geared up to take advantage of them. Most don't have the know-how. This is where India's companies could step in. They could master the new technologies and help American firms design new factory floors and program and install robots. They could provide management consulting on designing new value chains and inventory management.

They could operate and monitor manufacturing plant operations remotely. This is a higher-margin business than the old IT services. And Americans would cheer India for bringing manufacturing back to their shores — rather than protest it taking their IT jobs away. We are talking about a trillion dollar market opportunity.

India's technology companies can also develop sensor-based biomedical devices, cures for diseases by analyzing genome and health data, drone-based delivery systems, smart cities, digital tutors, and sensors to improve farming. Software and IT are the key to developing all these.

In my discussions with Indian CEOs, they all acknowledge the reality. They are becoming aware of what lies ahead. I have implored them to start retraining their people in the new technologies and develop new businesses and consulting practices. They listen, nod their heads, and go back to trying to close the disappearing software-outsourcing deals. They are shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Source: Times of India

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tablets a hit with kids, but experts worry

Tablet computers are so easy to use that even a 3-year-old can master them. 

And that has some pediatricians and other health experts worried. 

Since navigating a tablet generally doesn't require the ability to type or read, children as young as toddlers can quickly learn how to stream movies, scroll through family photos or play simple games. 

That ease-of-use makes tablets -and smartphones- popular with busy parents who use them to pacify their kids during car rides, restaurant outings or while they're at home trying to get dinner on the table. And many feel a little less guilty about it if they think there's educational value to the apps and games their children use. 

The devices are expected to rank among the top holiday gifts for children this year. Gadget makers such as Samsung have introduced tablets specifically designed for kids and many manufacturers of adult tablets now include parental controls. Those products are in addition to the slew of kiddie tablets produced by electronic toy makers such as LeapFrog, Vtech and Toys R Us. 

But some experts note there's no evidence that screen time - whether from a TV or tablet - provides any educational or developmental benefits for babies and toddlers. Yet it takes away from activities that do promote brain development, such as non-electronic toys and adult interaction. 

They also say that too much screen time has been linked to behavior problems and delayed social development in older children. 

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital, points out that iPads have only been on the market for a little over three years, which means tablet-related research is still in its infancy. 

Christakis says educational games and apps have some value if they engage a child and prompt them to interact with the device, but cautioned that if all children do is watch videos on their tablets, then it's just like watching TV, which has a limited ability to engage a child. 

He also notes that parents need be mindful of whether tablet time is replacing more important activities such as sleeping, reading or interacting with adults. He says that while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of screen time a day for kids over the age of two, he thinks one hour is plenty. 

"The single most important thing for children is time with parents and caregivers," he says. "Nothing is more important in terms of social development. If time with the tablet comes at the expense of that, that's not good." 

Dr. Rahil Briggs, a pediatric psychologist at New York's Montefiore Medical Center, says tablet usage needs to be limited for the youngest of children, because too much screen time can slow language development. And since there's very little research out there so far, experts still don't know exactly how much is too much, she says. 

For older children, Briggs says too much tablet use can slow social development. She notes that the solitary nature of the activity means that kids aren't using that time to learn how to make friends or pick up on social cues. 

Some experts, however, believe tablets and smartphones possess unique educational benefits. 

Jill Buban, dean of the School of Education at Post University in Waterbury Conn., says the more children absorb and understand technology before they start school, the more comfortable they'll feel when they enter a classroom for the first time. 

But she says even the best educational apps must be monitored by parents and limited. She recommends no more than 30 minutes of tablet usage at a time in light of the short attention spans of most young kids. 

"There's so much media out there and so much marketing," she says. "It's all about smart choices and research, whether it's an app on a tablet or a TV show." 

Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says parents should be wary of any TV show or app that touts educational benefits for babies or toddlers, saying that scientists have yet to prove that there are any. 

"Babies and young children are spending huge amounts of time with screen media when really what they need is hands-on creative play, active time and face-to face time with the people that love them," Linn said. 

Linn's group, known for its allegations against "Baby Einstein" videos that eventually led to consumer refunds, is urging the Federal Trade Commission to examine the marketing practices of certain apps and games geared toward babies. 

"The best toys are the ones that just lie there until the child transforms them," Linn said pointing to blocks and stuffed animals as examples. "If all children do is push a button, that's not the kind of play that promotes learning." 

Since its debut over 40 years ago, Sesame Street has dealt with questions about the amount of screen time small children should have. 

Scott Chambers, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president for digital content, says the brand, which now includes 45 apps and 160 e-books, has gotten a huge boost from touch screen devices, which are much easier for preschoolers to handle than computer mice. That content can provide children with a much more customized and interactive educational experience than the show could hope to deliver, he says. 

"It's a balancing act, but all we can do is try to provide a good enriching media experience wherever parents and preschoolers may be," Chambers says. 

Chambers notes that some of Sesame's apps encourage kids to put down their devices, pointing to Sesame's new "Family Play" app. Instead of having a child interact directly with a phone or tablet, it gives parents ideas for ways to play together. 

Adam Cohen, a stay-at-home father of two from New York, says apps have been a key part of his 5-year-old son Marc's education since he was just a baby. 

"He had an iPad at close to 18 months so he was definitely one of those babies swiping away in his stroller," Cohen says. "Now it's different, but back then we were a little ostracized. Now he's reading at close to a second-grade reading level and I credit a lot of that to iPad apps." 

Marc now has his own iPad loaded with mostly educational content and his baby sister Harper, who isn't yet one-year-old, seems frustrated that she doesn't have one too, Cohen says. 

Still, not every parent is keen on tablets and apps. 

Lance Somerfeld, another stay-at-home dad from New York, says he thinks he and his wife are stricter than most parents. They don't own a tablet and didn't allow their 5-year-old son Jake to watch TV until he was nearly three. But Somerfeld says he does have an iPhone and lets Jake occasionally play with some of the apps. 

"If I have an hour and a choice, I'd really rather spend it reading books with him," Somerfeld says. "But he's really engaged by the apps, so you could make the case that there needs to be a balance."

Source: Times of India

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Android and Security

The last year has been a phenomenal one for the Android ecosystem. Device activation grew 250 per cent year-on-year, and the total number of app downloads from Android Market topped 11 billion. As the platform continues to grow, we're focused on bringing you the best new features and innovations - including in security.
Adding a new layer to Android security
Today we're revealing a service we've developed, code named Bouncer, which provides automated scanning of Android Market for potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience of Android Market or requiring developers to go through an application approval process.
The service performs a set of analyses on new applications, applications already in Android Market, and developer accounts. Here's how it works: once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analyzing it for known malware, spyware and trojans. It also looks for behaviors that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analyzed apps to detect possible red flags. We actually run every application on Google's cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior. We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.
Android malware downloads are decreasing
The service has been looking for malicious apps in Market for a while now, and between the first and second halves of 2011, we saw a 40% decrease in the number of potentially-malicious downloads from Android Market. This drop occurred at the same time that companies who market and sell anti-malware and security software have been reporting that malicious applications are on the rise. While it's not possible to prevent bad people from building malware, the most important measurement is whether those bad applications are being installed from Android Market - and we know the rate is declining significantly.
Android makes malware less potent
In addition to using new services to help prevent malware, we designed Android from the beginning to make mobile malware less disruptive. In the PC model, malware has more potential to misuse your information. We learned from this approach, designing Android for Internet-connected devices. Some of Android's core security features are:
Sandboxing: The Android platform uses a technique called "sandboxing" to put virtual walls between applications and other software on the device. So, if you download a malicious application, it can't access data on other parts of your phone and its potential harm is drastically limited.
Permissions: Android provides a permission system to help you understand the capabilities of the apps you install, and manage your own preferences. That way, if you see a game unnecessarily requests permission to send SMS, for example, you don't need to install it.
Malware removal: Android is designed to prevent malware from modifying the platform or hiding from you, so it can be easily removed if your device is affected. Android Market also has the capability of remotely removing malware from your phone or tablet, if required.
No security approach is foolproof, and added scrutiny can often lead to important improvements. Our systems are getting better at detecting and eliminating malware every day, and we continue to invite the community to work with us to keep Android safe.
Source: http://www.ciol.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Apple signs iPhone deal with China Mobile

NEW YORK: Apple on Sunday unveiled a long-anticipated deal with China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless carrier, to bring the iPhone to customers in a market dominated by low-cost Android smartphones

The deal gives Apple a bigger entry into the huge Chinese market and China Mobile's estimated 760 million subscribers. The network is also rolling out the world's biggest 4G network. 

Under the agreement, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c phones will be available at China Mobile and Apple retail stores across mainland China starting January 17, Apple said in a statement. 

"We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile's leading network," said China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua. 

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stressed that "China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network." 

He said "iPhone customers in China are an enthusiastic and rapidly growing group, and we can't think of a better way to welcome in the Chinese New Year than getting an iPhone into the hands of every China Mobile customer who wants one." 

Negotiations between Apple and China Mobile took years, with one key hurdle reportedly being the US firm's demand for sales volume guarantees. 

Analyst Horace Dediu at the consultancy Asymco said a conservative estimate of four percent of China Mobile customers would yield sales of some 30 million iPhones in the first year. 

Cantor Fitzgerald Research estimated that 35 million to 45 million iPhones were already on China Mobile's network as of October, despite the lack of a deal between the companies. 

The market tracking firm estimated that Apple could sell as many as 24 million iPhones on the China Mobile network next year if it were added to the network's formal line-up. 

Industry tracker IDC forecast that smartphone sales in China will reach 360 million this year and, with the issuance of 4G network licenses and iPhones launched on China Mobile, top 450 million in 2014. 

China Mobile has a unique 3G standard of its own that is not compatible with any existing iPhone models. Still, the California giant's handsets can be used on other networks in China. 

But the Chinese government granted three state-owned operators licenses early this month to offer services on the faster and better quality 4G network, expected to usher in a new era of competition between mobile phone makers. 

Apple will still have to compete with low-priced smartphones powered by Google's free Android software. 

Pricing details were not announced. Earlier this year, Apple rolled out its iPhone 5C, with a slightly reduced cost to appeal to cost-conscious consumers, notably in developing markets. 

The unsubsidized price of the iPhone 5C was $550 in the United States but higher in other countries, often due to tax and regulatory costs. In China the 5C sells at more than $700. 

The iPhone 5C is part of Apple's bid to counter the flood of low-cost smartphones from rivals, most of which use the Google Android operating system. 

Android's market share rose in the third quarter to 81 percent, extending its lead over Apple's iOS, used on its iPhones, according to an IDC survey. 

Even though iPhone sales grew 25.6 percent from a year earlier, the growth was slower than the overall market and Apple's share fell to 12.9 per cent from 14.4 per cent in the same period last year.

Source: Times of India

Monday, December 23, 2013

Vodafone India aims to bridge gender gap

MUMBAI: Gender diversity in workplaces is a much talked-about topic in the current corporate world. Even so, telecom has traditionally been male-dominated mostly because it involved rural travel, dealing with angry customers. Also because finance and technology orientation seen as unsuitable for women.

Vodafone India, however, has made an effort to have a balanced gender ratio, actively hiring women especially at mid- to senior-levels, recognizing pressure on available talent and a need to tap the market in new ways. There is a perceptible increase in sales efficiency since women have come on board, said Ashok Ramachandran, Vodafone's head of human resources, without quantifying it.

"But let's be honest; merit is at the base of it all."

India's second largest mobile phone company has actively sought a balance in women candidates to interview for a job, and has made headway in getting mid-level women in.

Take, for example, zonal heads. Until seven months ago, there was only one woman zonal head out of a 100 spread across 23 service areas that cover India. Today, there are 13, and the number is expected to rise to 20 by year-end.

"A role that involves managing profit and loss; interacting with clients; dealing with staff, required someone extroverted; something people assumed women would have a problem with," said Maullika Chandramouli, zonal head of Ahmedabad, and the first woman within Vodafone India to be at the post.

Her role is made up of nine-hour work days, and may involve sitting late at times. However, Vodafone has a "reach home safely" policy under which if a woman gets late at work she is dropped home.

"Where managing is different for us (women) is that we don't, for example, go out for a drink in the evening," said Nidhi Lauria, sales and marketing head of Delhi.

India's other top mobile phone companies, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular did not wish to participate in this story, while an e-mail to Reliance Communications went unanswered. Officials at the former two said they struck a conscious balance in hiring new talent but during the course of the career, there was no special incentive or tracking mechanism for women performers or their special needs.

Source: Times of India

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ISRO makes its debut on Facebook, Twitter

MUMBAI: Exactly 72 hours after Isro announced that it was initiating legal action against organizations which have created Facebook pages and Twitter accounts using the name of the space agency, department of space and Mangalyaan, the agency launched its own official social media pages on Thursday.

Isro has, for the first time in its 45-year-old history, started its own official Facebook page and Twitter account, which can be accessed at www.facebook.com/isroofficial and www.twitter.com/isroofficial. In the first eight hours following its launch, the new official Facebook page saw 5,233 hits.

According to Isro, the aim of these new pages is to maximize public outreach, provide mission updates and create public awareness about mission objectives and accomplishments of key programmes.One of the major announcements made on the accounts immediately after their launch was that the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will be launched at Sriharikota at 4.18pm on January 5, 2014.

It was apparent that Isro finally felt the need to have its own official social media pages following the appearance of the fake ones. "It is ironic that something fake has encouraged Isro to go in, at last, for official social media pages and get the public involved in the missions," said a former Isro official.

Its first experiment in entering the social media arena was with the Mars Orbiter Mission (facebook.com/isromom) on October 22, 2013. According to Isro it has proved immensely popular scoring nearly three lakhs hits in just two months and the number is going up steadily.

The MOM facebook states that the Indian Mars mission is among the five-most talked about topics in India on par with Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, I Phones and Raghuram Rajan.

Isro has warned that impersonation of the organisation is construed to be a seriousoffence and stern legal actions against these pages and their administratorsare being initiated from ISRO/department ofsSpace to bringthem to immediate closure.

Sources: Times of India

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tech giants unite to demand surveillance reform

However, they are against the proposed localisation of the Internet

Internet giants Google, Microsoft and Apple were among a group of companies that sent an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, calling for the scale-back of expansive surveillance programmes of the National Security Agency, which they suggested was eroding public trust.
Eight household names of the tech world, also including Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo and LinkedIn, announced that they had formed an alliance called the Reform Government Surveillance group, which alluded to the revelations made by Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor-turned whistleblower and called for surveillance reform.
On the alliance’s website, reformgovernmentsurveillance.com, the companies said, “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual… that are enshrined in our Constitution.”
The coming-together of these eight traditionally fierce rivals marks an unprecedented challenge to the NSA’s far-reaching surveillance of Internet communications, which has faced rigorous interrogation following Mr. Snowden’s exposés in the several newspapers including The Hindu, since June 2013.
This week the eight companies addressed the President and members of the U.S. Congress and said that they were committed to keeping their users’ data secure through the latest encryption technology, including “to prevent unauthorised surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.”
They also called upon the U.S. intelligence community to ensure that government surveillance efforts “are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”
Following this summer’s revelations on the scale of mass global surveillance, Congressional oversight committees grilled NSA chief Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on whether any rules stemming from the governing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were flouted by the Agency.
Among the principles that the surveillance reform alliance outlined as desirable were limiting governments’ authority to collect users’ information, oversight and accountability, transparency about government demands, respecting the free flow of information, and avoiding conflicts among governments.
One principle that the alliance pressed for in the context of the free flow of information is likely to be relevant to India’s concerns about the NSA’s surveillance – the alliance’s argument that “Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.”
Following The Hindu’s publication of top-secret NSA documents provided by Mr. Snowden on the extent of the NSA’s spying on targets within India, the Indian government was said to be discussing the prospect of having email service providers located within its territory and under its control.
Last week the Indian government also said to have re-upped its discussions with the U.S. on the spying programmes after revelations that its diplomatic posts in Washington and New York were among the surveillance targets of the NSA.
Source: The Hindu

Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 enterprise IT trends for 2014

NEW DELHI: Hitachi Data Systems Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, has released its HDS 2014 Asia Pacific predictions. Adrian De Luca, chief technology officer, Hitachi Data Systems Asia Pacific, identified 5 key IT trends emerging in this region for 2014 that will impact the use of technology among organizations. 

Big data analytics will go beyond proof of concept
Enterprises will have to find ways to uncover value from within their existing data stores and deploy scalable infrastructures to extract meaningful outcomes from big data projects. 

In the recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Asia Pacific Big Data Survey, sponsored by HDS, over 70% of organizations in the region believe big data adoption will improve their profitability, productivity, and innovation. However, many organizations find that their existing information systems hinder the effective gathering of data for analysis as the information is stored and managed in separate business systems, information silos, formats, and media. The big data challenge comes in two forms: technology and organization. In 2014, companies will try to address both. 

The cloud-broker model will gain traction
Organizations will transform their IT departments from technology implementers to business innovators. Enterprises with high-demand IT infrastructure and application services will start exploring the cloud-broker model, preferring to work with providers who act as vendor-neutral third-party cloud services brokerages. 

When it comes time to refresh technology, the focus will be on applications and business outcomes rather than the infrastructure itself. Enterprises will start turning to their system integrators, internal IT organizations, or third-party service providers to play the role of cloud-service broker. 

Concerns over data security will reach a tipping point
Across Asia Pacific, new legislation is being introduced to protect personal data. Organizations will have to re-examine their security policies and look to solutions such as enterprise file sync and share, data encryption, and auditability to address these issues. 

Organizations will increase their emphasis on mobile and edge security, and will implement stricter security and data management practices. They will have to use modern technologies to manage and automate these processes; otherwise the cost of compliance could be very high. 

Unstructured data from mobile communications will see explosive growth
Telecom operators in Asia Pacific will need to deploy sophisticated data management solutions to address needs for both content delivery and data analysis. Those that do will gain a competitive advantage in the long term. 

The rollout of 4G and the affordability of smartphones have tremendous implications for the growth of mobile data in the region. To manage the growing volume of digital content services to consumers, telecom operators will need to develop a scalable, high-performance and reliable IT infrastructure architecture that incorporates flash-based storage and intelligent content delivery networks to meet these high-bandwidth requirements. 

Competition to become the digital hub of Asia will enter a critical stage
The data center industry will continue to grow as countries in the region compete to become the digital hub of Asia. Service providers will invest in state-of-the-art facilities and advanced infrastructure to differentiate their services. 

Organizations use cloud deployments as an opportunity to transform their legacy IT to new consumption-based IT models. Many will start with the deployment of on-premise private clouds. Other organizations that are more advanced in their cloud journey will begin to move their enterprise applications off premises to cloud service providers, together with on-premise converged platforms. 

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vebbler: India's answer to Facebook, Twitter?

If you thought the world of online social networking is only about Facebook, Twitter,Google Plus and LinkedIn, then hold on: there is a serious challenge coming from India.

The new, fledgling service, called Vebbler, is mostly about what Facebook and Twitter don't offer, besides taking online interactions to newer levels.

Founder Sahil Bhagat says Vebbler is based on personal networking, wherein online interactions are similar to the way we interact in real life. He says when the current networking sites were launched it was mostly students and youth who were online. But today, the demographics have changed so much that everyone from parents to teachers to colleagues and bosses are online.

Vebbler is based on crowd-layering model. Here, when you add a person, you have to put him or her into a group like workmate, acquaintance etc. He says, "In other sites, that's not the default way, it's just an option. Here all your connections are categorized just as in real life," says Bhagat.

One application of the model is in chat. Explains Bhagat, "When you are on holiday, you don't want to chat with colleagues, but only with friends and relatives. So, you can disable them."

An innovative feature is social commerce. Explains Bhagat, "We can so far tag only face. But there are elements other than the face: watch, dress, belt, spectacles etc. Suppose you like the watch you see in a photo and want to buy one like that, click on it. Vebbler goes to e-commerce portals and finds out products similar to the one in the photo. If you buy right away, you get discounts of up to 8%." He has brought in the feature because he thinks people are bigger influences than ads. "No personal data are shared," he stresses.

Vebbler seems to be catching on: it has 45,000 users from 694 cities in 70 countries. And to keep up with the rising demand, the team has grown from 7 to 11 people, and now includes mobile developers as well. One of the driving forces is its Campus Connect Initiative. Says Bhagat, "There are now 32 Campus Ambassadors (30 in India and 2 abroad) who visit colleges and explain the cool features of Vebbler."

There are a few more features slated to be launched very soon. One is them is Recommend Button, which will enable connections to recommend you movies, books, TV shows, restaurants, holiday destinations etc. An iOS app too is in the works.

Sahil Bhagat has been working in the digital and consumer internet industry for the last 4 years. His expertise lies in UI/UX development, product development and marketing. Vebbler is currently bootstrapped.

Sunil Ramakrishnan, a management student, feels that Vebbler has a number of cool features which are not there in the existing networks. "A feature like social commerce is an innovative idea, and can catch on," he says.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Government to launch 'Netra' for internet surveillance
KOLKATA: The government will shortly launch 'Netra', the defence ministry's internet spy system that will be capable of detecting words like 'attack', 'bomb', 'blast' or 'kill' in a matter of seconds from reams of tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, internet calls, blogs and forums. 

The system will also be able to capture any dubious voice traffic passing through software such as Skype or Google Talk, says a telecom department note seen by ET. "Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat are currently testing 'Netra', which will be deployed by all national security agencies," the note says. "The specifications of the 'Netra' system can be taken as frozen following tests by the Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat, and can be considered for providing multiple user access to security agencies," it adds. 

The 'Netra' internet surveillance system has been developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), a lab under Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). 

To hasten its deployment, the home ministry will shortly approach DRDO to allocate additional manpower resources to Bangalore-based CAIR, which is also working with the government's telecom technology arm, Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) to formalise a strategy for tracking internet use. 

The 'Netra' deployment strategy was recently discussed by an apex inter-ministerial group headed by DoT's member (technology) and included top officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, home ministry, DRDO, CAIR, Intelligence Bureau, C-DoT and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In). The panel also deliberated on ways to respond to computer security incidents, track system vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices across the country. 

During the meeting, it was also decided that 300 GB of storage space for intercepted internet traffic would be given to a maximum three security agencies, including the IB and Cabinet Secretariat, while an extra 100 GB would be assigned to the remaining law enforcement agencies, the minutes of the inter-ministerial panel meeting showed. Deployment of 'Netra' by security agencies is slated to pave the way for a national internet scanning & coordination centre, which India plans to establish along the lines of existing facilities in the UK, US, China and Iran.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Telecom user base touches 90.45 crore in October: Trai

NEW DELHI: The total number of telecom subscribers rose marginally to 90.45 crore at end of October this year, sectoral regulator Trai said today.

"The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 899.86 million at the end of September, 2013 to 904.56 million at the end of October 2013," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in a statement.

The total number of wireless subscribers increased from 87 crore in September to 87.54 crore in October, registering a monthly growth of 0.56%.

About 85% of total mobile user base were found to be active customers.

"The share of urban wireless subscribers has declined from 59.75% to 59.65% whereas share of rural wireless subscribers has increased from 40.25% to 40.35%," Trai said.

The overall teledensity -- number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals -- in the country increased from 73.01 in September to 73.32 in October.

From October onwards, 105 out of 153 internet service providers started reporting broadband numbers based on new definition of providing Internet with minimum download speed of 512 kilobit per second from 256 Kbps earlier.

At the end of October 2013, there were 14.91 million wireline broadband subscribers in the country.

The total number of request from subscribers to change their operators using Mobile Number Portability facility reached 10.48 crore in October.

At end of October, private operators hold 88.41% of the wireless market share (based on subscriber base) whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU operators held only 11.59% market share, it said.

Airtel led the growth in both wireless and wireline segment. The company added 14.88 lakh new mobile subscribers by in October taking its subscriber base to 19.48 crore.

The telecom major added 14,553 new fixed line customers where the overall segment saw decline of subscriber base from from 2.92 crore at the end of September, 2013 to 2.90 crore at the end of October, 2013.

Vodafone and Idea Cellular were close competitors in October where they added 11.51 and 11.49 lakh mobile subscribers respectively.

Aircel added 4.97 lakh, Reliance Communications 4.5 lakh, Videocon 2.78 lakh (including HFCL), Loop Mobile about 42,000 and state-run BSNL added around 39,000 new subscribers during the month.

MTNL lost 1.55 lakh mobile customers, the most by any operator during the month. Tata Teleservices too continued to lose customers. The company lost 96,500 mobile customers during the reported month and Uninor lost 21,935 mobile customers. 
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/telecom/Telecom-user-base-touches-90-45-crore-in-October-Trai/articleshow/27301936.cms