‘Microsoft to launch social networking phone in U.S.’

Microsoft lost its smartphone market after the launch of Apple’s iPhone, Blackberry and numerous devices running Google’s Android

Software giant Microsoft is to launch its own mobile phones in the U.S. later this year as it aims to challenge the growing smartphone dominance of its main rivals Apple and Google, the technology blog Gizmodo reported Friday.

The phones will be made available in July exclusively on Verizon, the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S., and will be aimed at heavy users of social networks, said the report, which featured what it said were leaked images from the phones’ marketing campaign. The two phones are codenamed Pink and Pure, and will be manufactured for the software giant by Sharp, the report said.

The report came after Microsoft last month unveiled a new mobile operating system that was widely praised by technology pundits.

Microsoft used to enjoy a leading position in the smartphone arena but has seen its position severely eroded by Apple’s iPhone, by the Blackberry and by numerous devices running Google’s Android operating system.

Indian IT zooms, despite hiccups

Predictions are a difficult business. More so when you are charting a new territory. I remember a chilly December morning in 1999, when the National Association of Software and Service Companies and global consulting firm McKinsey made a forecast that India’s IT exports will reach $50 billion by 2008 and the domestic market will touch $37 billion. India’s IT exports were then a little short of $4 billion, and no one really kept count of the domestic market. At that time, the forecast was considered “aspirational”. Last week, when Nasscom finally estimated that IT and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) exports will touch $49.7 billion in the year ending March, there were some cynics asking me if the original forecast included BPO exports or not. The fact is, as I recall, the abbreviation in BPO had not even been quite coined in 1999. It was certainly not in vogue. In fact, when the late Nasscom president Dewang Mehta then spoke of India being a great base for call centres or “IT-enabled services”, few could really envisage what he meant. Many Indians did not know what these things were. The term BPO caught on later. For software giants like Infosys and Wipro, the IT-enabled service business with its low profit margins was something like a lower caste. But then, the bursting of the Internet “dotcom” bubble and the 9/11 attacks in 2000 and 2001 made these companies reluctantly accept BPO-type services. The worst US recession in seven decades has also been a big hiccup for the industry. Last week, Nasscom noted that the 2008-09 figure was at $47.1 billion for IT/BPO exports, while the domestic market had closed then at Rs 59,000 crore ($12.6 billion) and is estimated to close the current year at Rs 66,200 crore. Nasscom and McKinsey have clearly missed the domestic target, but it pays to remember that the US dollar is now weaker compared to the rupee then – despite a whole decade in the middle. If you recall, the report came in the midst of US sanctions against India’s nuclear tests in 1998, which weakened the rupee further!

To me, it is immaterial whether the 1999 predictions took into account BPO or not, or that India missed the 2008 target by a year and a half. In truth, the power of the audacious aim set in 1999 is best appreciated in the way it fired the imagination of a developing country.

 Hindustan Times

Microsoft announces Windows Phone 7, will ship by Christmas

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gestures during the Windows Phone 7 presentation at the Mobile World congress in Barcelona on Monday


Software giant Microsoft on Monday announced that its Windows phone 7 operating system for mobile phones will be available by Christmas season of 2010, as a whole new platform that incorporates social networking, music, video, photos and games to provide a rich, personalised user experience.

At the Mobile World Congress that opened here, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer unveiled the features that the Windows Phone 7 to be manufactured to specifications laid down by the company, will offer. The phones will support the capacitative touch interface now popular with users, and revolve around the concept of ‘hubs’ on-screen for people, pictures, office and mail applications, music and video.

Making the hubs the core of the navigation system, with dedicated keys for start, search and back — the most frequently used functions — and providing the ability to display configurable individual ‘tiles’ on the display screen for the people and applications that matter most to the individual user will differentiate, in Microsoft’s view, the Windows Phone 7 from the personal computer, and other phones.

Thus, a user can feature tiles for individuals, which would show connected activity for them on Facebook, Windows Live and so on. Full-featured synchronisation and integration capabilities with other Microsoft products such as Office, Outlook, the music player Zune and the gaming platform X-Box Live has been built into the new system. It is tightly knit with services such as Bing, the search engine for which the company is strengthening its database and map utility. The mobile browser for the phone is built on the desktop Internet Explorer code, aimed at making for a good web browsing experience with the vast majority of existing Websites.

A major area that Microsoft is focusing on is active collaboration with hardware manufacturers, to bring about consistency of performance. It has laid down minimum standards for the phones. At the same time, Mr. Ballmer said, it wants diversity and innovation in the form, feel and industrial design of the phones. In the case of developers, a rich kit is being provided to encourage development on the scale that was witnessed for operating systems for computers.

Highlighting the features of the Windows Phone 7, Joe Belfiore, Vice-President, Windows Phone Programme, said the phone was not a personal computer, was much more personal and lifestyle oriented, and the new platform had been designed with that fundamental philosophy in mind.

Microsoft hopes that the new platform will give it a solid footing in the fast-growing smartphone market, through a series of partnerships with hardware manufacturers including LG, Samsung, HTC, HP, Dell, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba, and technology companies such as Qualcomm. It has been working on similar collaborations with mobile operators for services. Andrew Lees, Senior Vice-President, Microsoft Mobile Communications Business, said over 1 billion phones were sold every year, and there was a massive shift to the smart phone segment.

Entries invited for software awards

HYDERABAD: The IT and ITES Industry Association (ITsAP) has invited nominations for its annual Software Products Showcase and Awards 2010, according to a press release here. All Andhra Pradesh based software entities and multinationals with product development centres in AP are eligible to apply. The last date for submitting nominations is February 22. The event will be held on March 12 and 13 at HICC .

IT-BPO market may touch $285 b in 2020: KPMG

Employees at a BPO in Mangalore. India’s IT-BPO market is expected to touch $285 billion in 2020 from $71 billion in 2009, a study has said.

India’s IT-BPO market (including exports) could touch $285 billion in 2020 growing at a CAGR of 15 per cent, according to a report.

The IT-BPO industry in India has achieved impressive growth rates over the past decade and stood at $71.6 billion in 2009, said the report prepared by KPMG and ASOCIO (Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation).

The report, ‘Asia-Oceania Vision 2020: Enabling IT leadership through collaboration’ was released here at NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2010. India is the current market leader in global sourcing supply, serving about 51 per cent of overall global sourcing demand.

“India is expected to achieve a double-digit growth in the IT-BPO industry, with a focus on innovation. The country, however, needs to sustain cost competitiveness and develop the requisite skills of its large workforce,” Kumar Parakala, Global Head of Sourcing Advisory, KPMG in India, said.

“India could also develop complementary skills in hardware, so that it can showcase a more diversified portfolio of products and services,” the report said.

The report highlighted that the composition of demand will undergo a change from 2008 to 2020. The contribution of some of the developed countries like Japan, Australia and New Zealand in the regional demand for IT-BPO service is likely to decrease.

However, the contribution of developing countries like India and Thailand is expected to increase in the coming years. Countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are also expected to make their mark on the global sourcing supply landscape by 2020, it said.

One of the focus areas of the KPMG-ASOCIO report was to identify the potential for effective collaboration among countries of the Asia-Oceania region.

The report emphasises that if diversity within the region is effectively leveraged it could lead to collaborative growth.

IT industry sees up to 20% growth next fiscal

The country’s $50-billion software services export sector, which has been in the doldrums following the global economic crisis, could expand by 15-20% next financial year on the back of improved demand. This would be three times the 4-7% growth that industry body Nasscom predicts for the current fiscal.

Though Nasscom is slated to formally release its projections for next fiscal on Wednesday, top IT companies’ CEOs like S Gopalakrishnan of Infosys Technologies (INFOSYS.BO : 2352.2 -71) and Girish Paranjpe of Wipro (WIPRO.NS : 644.05 -11.15) told FE they expect growth in the 15-20% range next fiscal. This is in line with Nasscom’s forecast of double-digit growth in 2011-12, although the body has not furnished specific numbers so far.

Although most clients of Indian IT firms are yet to firm up their technology spends, Gopalakrishnan said initial indications were that budgets would be up 4% next year. “Even the offshore component in deals will be slightly up,” he said.

This is major change in sentiment. Hitherto, Infosys had said it expects IT budgets to remain flat or marginally down next year. The country’s second-largest software firm reported a 3.6% drop in net profit for the quarter ended December 31 at Rs 1,582 crore. Currency factors contributed to the decline.

Girish Paranjpe, joint CEO of Wipro’s IT business, said though his company does not provide a full-year outlook, “Growth is on track thanks to a mix of both large and small deals.” The country’s third-largest IT firm reported a 21% rise in consolidated net profit to Rs 1,217 crore, compared with the corresponding quarter in the previous year.

The country’s largest software firm, TCS, however, saw the most significant rise in December-quarter net profit-33% year-on-year–at Rs 1,824 crore.

Most technology companies, including mid-tier firms, posted robust results for the third quarter thanks to a recovery in key markets such as the US and in key verticals like financial services. While the recovery was earlier restricted to deals emerging from mergers & acquisitions in the banking space, the growth in volumes is more broad-based now with the exception of telecom and manufacturing, in some cases.

“The demand environment is better than before; confidence is back in the market and we believe the worst is behind us. All our clients have delivered good financials in the third quarter and we expect decision-making to be faster now,” said Gopalakrishnan.

For the next financial year, Paranjpe added that the industry’s growth could be around 14-15%, the basis of which is a poll of IT companies’ outlook conducted by Nasscom about two months ago, he said. Though a Nasscom spokesperson said it conducts several such surveys a year, she refused to authenticate the numbers.

Meanwhile, Gopalakrishnan said Nasscom projections are usually higher than the industry’s as they also take into account growth in captive units, which often register a much higher growth than their third-party peers.

Infosys to design informatics for US biotech company

Infosys Technologies and San Francisco-based Elan Pharmaceuticals on Thursday formally announced a partnership agreement under which the Indian software giant will design and implement a new research informatics system (RISe) for the latter.

A joint statement here said the new informatics system will help Elan Pharmaceuticals, a leading biotechnology company, accelerate its research by leveraging Infosys’ intellectual property in this field.

No financial details of the deal were announced.

“We are confident that partnering and collaborating with Infosys will create a comprehensive informatics platform for our discovery research needs,” Ajay Shah, director (research informatics at Elan Pharmaceuticals, was quoted as saying.

“We selected Infosys after a competitive proof-of-concept phase during which they fully established their credentials and investments in this changing field of discovery research, and demonstrated flexibility and maturity in terms of rapid application development using agile and scrum methodologies.

“With Infosys’ solution and engagement model, Elan will be able to lower costs for scientific operation and facilitate innovation,” added Shah.

The new research informatics to be designed by Infosys will open novel ways for Elan Pharmaceuticals to unlock disparate data spread across its in-house research labs and other commercial or public sources for its research needs.

This will also pave the way to a customized registry, and inventory and a workflow management system for biological entities, the statement said. With the help of the new informatics system, Elan and its research partners will raise their research output by efficient selection of drugs or biologics.

It will also reduce time spent on registering and experimenting with bio-entities and reduce chances of later failure. Under the agreement, Infosys will retain ownership of co-developed IP as part of the implementation.

“Elan’s vision to create a scalable research informatics system for scientists to collaborate better, dovetails perfectly with our investments in solutions that improve scientific innovation and our efforts to streamline discovery research,” said R. Arun Kumar, head of Infosys’ Global Life Sciences Practice, in the statement.