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INFOTECH INDIA | Tech Briefs: AUGUST 2010

Intel Wants to Partner with Govt for Rs. 1.5K PC
WIPRO: Premji Mum on 25 Percent Public Float Rule
Tata Consultancy to Double Latin America Sales
Blackberry Security Concerns
Accenture: Biometric Solution
Oracle: Expanding Network
PC Sales Up 18%
Infosys: Center Closed
Satyam: Retracting Confession
Qualcomm: Broadband Partners
Infosys: Turkland Selects FinacleT
Nokia: Free Phones
Smartphone War

Intel Wants to Partner with Govt for Rs. 1.5K PC

Intel India plans to collaborate with the union Human Resources Development ministry to commercially rollout the Rs. 1,500 tablet PC for students, the prototype of which was showcased by the government.

The world’s largest chipmaker intends to provide its technical assistance to the government in terms of design evolution, hardware configuration and bring together OEM manufacturers on the table for the product.

This comes at a time when the centre has just sought expression of interest for commercialization of the product. It wants inputs from vendors on production of the tablet PC, which can be sold at Rs. 1,500 or less. The government plans to commercially launch the product next year.

“We already have close partnership with the HRD ministry and will respond,” said Intel Technology India director Sandeep Aurora. “The opportunity is immense for Intel, such as incorporating the processor to look at other PC technologies. We will collaborate with the entire PC eco-system and can act as a good matchmaker as well,” he said.

Intel feels the project will have immense potential to for PC penetration in the country. “This will go a long way in introducing computers at schools. We have worked on such low-cost PCs for students in other countries and will ensure that India does not repeat the same mistakes which others committed,” said Aurora.

The government and education sector is a big revenue generator for Intel India. It has been working with several state governments to take computers to the grassroots level.

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WIPRO: Premji Mum on 25 Percent Public Float Rule

IT blue-chip Wipro, whose promoters own 80 percent in the company, said July 23 it expects the finance ministry to bring in changes to the proposed 25 percent public float norm for listed companies.

Markets have been debating how the proposed rules would impact Wipro whose chairman Azim Premji's holding is over 75 percent. Unveiling Wipro's first quarter earnings, Premji declined to comment when asked if he would bring down his stake in the company.

Wipro's chief financial officer Suresh Senapaty said: "PSUs have raised a lot of issues in terms of overhang of 25 percent... we expect some kind of changes in this regard."

He said that the government itself wants to "make some changes (in the 25 percent clause)".

However, Wipro said that the company will comply with the rules.

According to the new rules, listed companies have to have at least 25 percent public holding. They can raise the public holding by 5 percent each year to reach the threshold.

Country's third biggest software exporter Wipro is part of the benchmark 30-share index Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange. Wipro shares July 23 closed 1 percent down at 412.10 on the Bombay Stock Exchange after surging over 4 percent in the morning trade.

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Tata Consultancy to Double Latin America Sales

India's top software service exporter Tata Consultancy Services Ltd  sees Latin American sales more than doubling by 2015 as the company targets one of the world's fastest growing regions.

TCS, which is owned by India's biggest industrial conglomerate Tata, provides IT, consultancy and outsourcing services in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.

"We have a very aggressive growth project in Latin America for the next five years, we want to more than double our sales to over $1 billion," Alejandro Valenzuela, manager for Peru, Chile and Ecuador, told Reuters in an interview.

"Latin America is really relevant to TCS because it has one of the fastest rates of economic growth," Valenzuela said. The region will grow up to 5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The economies of Brazil, the regional giant and member of the BRIC group of big emerging markets alongside Russia, India and China, and Peru will expand by about 7 percent this year, according to the IMF. Valenzuela said the financial sector is central to the company's Latin America operations.

"The financial sector is the most relevant to us, because there is intensive use of technology," he said, adding that TCS was also looking for opportunities in the retail and mining industries. In Peru, where TCS entered recently, the company is looking to the mining sector and the consultancy already has clients including Xstrata Plc.

Software services companies are expanding rapidly in emerging markets in Latin America and Asia.

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Blackberry Security Concerns

India's internal security chief said July 29 he has raised security concerns regarding Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry services in the world's fastest growing mobile market. Internal Security Chief U.K. Bansal told reporters that he hoped his department's concerns would be resolved soon.

India has clamped down on mobile phone operators following the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which killed 166 people. Telecoms companies are now required to provide more details about mobile phone users or risk being banned from providing certain services.

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Accenture: Biometric Solution

IT giant Accenture has bagged a contract from the Unique Identification Authority of India to provide multimodal biometric identification solutions to the latter's Aadhaar program.

Aadhaar is aimed at providing a unique number to each Indian resident, thus enabling an easier, more efficient and secure access to government and commercial services.

The contract will run up to two-years or until 200- million enrollments (whichever comes first), Accenture said in a statement July 28 in Mumbai.

"Aadhaar will not only be designed to enable the government to deliver important social welfare programs like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) to rural India, but also provide easier access for residents to services and resources such as health, education and welfare programs," Accenture's management consulting managing director Krishna Giri said.

Accenture will build a new system to help manage identity-related de-duplication and verification requests from both public and private organizations (which deliver services ranging from social welfare programs to banking and insurance).

It will also assist UIDAI in performance benchmarking and management of data quality for continuous improvement of the biometric solution besides operate and maintain the system.

The program is being developed using leading-edge technology that will be deployed in an innovative manner designed to reach the most remote residents of India.

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Oracle: Expanding Network

With an aim to garner bigger business opportunities, Oracle India Private Limited is planning to expand its partner network to smaller cities and towns across the country, a top company official said.

"We are targeting the small and medium business segment in smaller towns and cities through our partner network. We expect there will be a huge business opportunity in the next 4-5 years from this segment," Oracle India director Cherian Varghese told reporters in Mumbai July 28.

To increase its reach in smaller town and cities, the company has launched the Oracle Partner Network, a specialized program designed to allow the partner community to differentiate themselves and reap the benefits of being recognized by customers for their expertise on Oracle technology.

At present, Oracle India has over 1,000 partners in the country delivering software solutions based on the Oracle platform.

"OPN contributes to a majority of our business in India and Asia Pacific to cater to local market needs. Reinforced by Oracle products, partners get access to Oracle's products, education, technical services, marketing and sales support," he said.

The partners specialize in industry-specific software that is used extensively across all major sectors in India, including telecom, financial services, manufacturing and retail, among others.

Besides this, Oracle India is also focusing on customers from both big and mid-size enterprises. The company already had some of the key partners within its OPN, such as Infosys, Sonata, Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Infosystems, he added.

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PC Sales Up 18%

Sales of personal computers, including desktops and laptops, saw an 18 percent rise in the last fiscal at over 8.03 million units, an industry lobby said July 28.

The industry hopes that overall PC sales will cross 9.35 million units in 2010-11, registering a 16 percent growth.

"The total PC sales between April 2009 and March 2010, with desktop computers, notebooks and netbooks taken together, were 8.03 million units, registering a growth of 18 percent over the last fiscal," said the Manufacturer's Association for Information Technology.

Individually, the sale of desktops registered a five percent growth with 5.52 million units, and notebooks and netbooks together recorded a growth of 65 percent with over 2.5 million units.

Notebook sales, which had suffered badly in the previous year made a phenomenal comeback, during the year 2009-10 with a remarkable growth of 65 percent over the previous year, the release said.

"Easing of the economic slowdown and improved sentiments among both the consumer and business segment are the reasons behind the impressive growth of the PC market, especially during the second half of the year 2009-10," said MAIT president Ravi Aggarwal.

The bi-annual industry performance review surveyed over 15,000 respondents selected randomly across 17 cities in India.

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Infosys: Center Closed

Infosys Technologies Ltd, India's second largest software services exporter, has shut a small outsourcing facility in Bangkok, one of the three it had bought from Royal Philips Electronics, its CEO said.

"This is a very small operation...that was why it was shut down," Senapathy Gopalakrishnan told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event.

The centre in Bangkok had less than 50 people, and after its closure the work has been transferred to other centers in China, Philippines and India, he said.

Infosys has more than 100,000 staff across its facilities in different parts of the world, most of them in India.

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Satyam: Retracting Confession

The Satyam trial is poised to take a dramatic turn. In a clear indication that he is all set to retract his confession and deny all charges, former Satyam chairman B. Ramalinga Raju has said that his letter of January 2009 was a mere resignation letter from the post of the company's chairman and claimed that he was being falsely implicated in the criminal case by the CBI.

In his bail application moved in the AP High Court, Raju said he was the chairman of Satyam Computer Services till Jan. 7, 2009, "when he tendered his resignation." Further, he submitted to the court that he was falsely implicated as accused No 1 in the criminal case filed by the CBI and that the allegations made against him "are absolutely false and not supported by any credible evidence."

Completely denying the “confession” in which Raju himself had admitted to several irregularities, the No 1 accused in the Satyam scam is now turning the tables on the CBI and saying that all the charges against him were cooked up by the investigating agency. "The allegations in the charge sheet are that cash and bank balances did not reflect the true state of affairs," Raju claims now, though it was he himself who had admitted to this in his January 2009 letter.

Raju also denied all the other charges made against him by the CBI based on his confession. They included inflation of sales by generating false invoices, floating of 327 companies, offloading of shares by the accused and other promoters of the company, inflated revenues, publication of falsified figures with respect to utilization of employees on profitable projects, and that the auditors of the company conspired with the accused deliberately in violation of auditing and assurance standards.

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Qualcomm: Broadband Partners

Qualcomm Inc will announce local partners for selling a 26 percent stake in its India broadband unit, Kanwalinder Singh, president for Qualcomm's Indian and South Asian operations, said July 29.

Qualcomm recently formed the India unit after its $1-billion purchase of wireless airwaves. The company is betting that ownership of the airwaves will boost sales of advanced cell phones and the chips that power them.

According to Indian laws, foreign companies are allowed to hold a maximum 74 percent in Indian telecoms operations.

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Infosys: Turkland Selects FinacleT

Infosys Technologies Ltd announced that Turkey's Turkland Bank (T-Bank) has selected the company's universal banking solution Finacle to strengthen operations across the home country.

Infosys will implement Finacle core banking, CRM, e-banking and treasury solutions at T-Bank to drive the bank's objective of product innovation, client-centricity and scalability for future growth, the Bangalore-headquartered company said in a statement.

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Nokia: Free Phones

Cell phone maker Nokia said it would provide free phones, preloaded with information on agriculture, education and entertainment, to over 500 households in five villages of Uttar Pradesh.

Celebrating its 15 years in India, the Finland-based firm announced the project -- Ujjwal -- to drive 100 percent household mobility in 5 villages in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Nokia said the initiative aims at driving inclusive growth and pushing socio-economic development
in the region through mobile connectivity.

The cell phones being distributed will be preloaded with Nokia Ovi Life Tools, a service that provides information on a range of issues related to agriculture, education and entertainment. It also provides up-to-date price information on agricultural produce so that farmers can benefit from it.

"We believe that Nokia Ovi Life Tools is a transformational tool — it has the ability to impact communities in emerging markets such as ours. Through this initiative we aim to demonstrate how mobile intervention can drive inclusive growth," Nokia India managing director D. Shivakumar told reporters.

He said through Ovi services, rural consumers will be able to access information related to weather forecasts, crop advisory services like information on probable diseases, weather-based disruptions and tips for successful harvests.

Ovi is available on five Nokia models and in 11 languages — Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya and English.

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Smartphone War

An increasingly heated battle in the global smartphone market is set to weigh on handset vendors' profit margins for the rest of the year, analysts said.

All top cell phone vendors including Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Research in Motion are rolling out new smartphone models for the holiday sales-fueled fourth quarter.

"The smartphone market is becoming heavily congested as a host of players seek to boost margins. The reality in the second half is set to be very different," said analyst Geoff Blaber from British consultancy CCS Insight.

"The market will swell in volume but price erosion will inevitably result in casualties as value is captured by a minority rather than the majority," Blaber said.

Research firm Strategy Analytics said the ramp-up in supply will drive higher volumes, but this will pressure margins as vendors fight to outsmart rivals.

The world's three largest cell phone makers -- Nokia, Samsung and LG Electronics -- all saw smartphone rivalry hitting their profit margins in the April-June quarter.

"Each is in the midst of refreshing its respective product portfolio, with greater emphasis on smartphones during the second half of this year," said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.

"Still, the upward pressure from vendors outside the current top five vendors, particularly Apple and Motorola, will provide tough competition in the quarters to come," Llamas said.

Samsung warned of weaker margins and profit growth in the second half after reporting telecom unit margins slumped to 7.2 percent as it boosted marketing spending in the absence of a strong smartphone model.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL
Patriot Everywhere:
Makhan Singh (1913-1973)

Makhan Singh loved India. He also loved his adopted country Kenya, where the British jailed him, writes Ved Prakash Vatuk.


RECOGNITION
Celebrating a Nobelist:
Charles Townes

Charles Townes found common cause with activists working on the environmental challenges of the Bengal and Himalayan basins, who honored him recently. A Siliconeer report.


SUBCONTINENT
Why Naxals Thrive:
A Social Critique

Socio-economic disparity, marginalization, and a lack of peaceful avenues to agitate have led to Naxal violence, writes Sandeep Pandey.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Patriot Everywhere
NEWS DIARY: July
SUBCONTINENT: Mega Power Projects
TECHNOLOGY: India News On the Go
CINEMA: Chat with Dileep Rao
SUBCONTINENT: Fuel Price Decontrol
SUBCONTINENT: India Defense Buildup
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Acura MDX
RECIPE: Egg Veg. Fried Rice
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Khatta Meetha
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
TAMIL FILM: Ananthapurathu Veedu
BUSINESS: News Briefs
COMMUNITY: News Briefs
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
HOROSCOPE: August

ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2010: SRI LANKA: JUNE 2010



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