by June 30, 2004 0 comments

Krishna Kumar

How do you know that the economy back on track? My rule of thumb says that all you need to look for is the level of conflicting noise being made by IT vendors. As the economy gets better and better, you will find the noise levels getting shriller and more confusing. Going by that measure, the Gods of tech must be smiling in their heavens.

And if you delve deeper, you can identify the contours of a great churn going on in the technology industry. This churn is not all about technology alone. Actually, most of them are not about technology. There are new philosophies and business models being tried and trashed around. At this point, it is too early to predict who will win, but whichever way they play, some of them will leave a lasting impact on us. Here are the ones you need to keep an eye on.

Let us start with software. The software pricing debate is as old as computing itself. The traditional models of priced software or software for free, whilst charging for hardware or service is now being challenged by a third one: hardware for free and priced software! This view is now put forth by Microsoft and Sun. But it is not entirely a new concept. Intel for many years has been driving the concept of cheaper hardware running costlier applications. Software, be it the OS or the application has anyway gone the subscription way for large implementations. And vendors are waiting to move the model down to lesser volume customers and finally to individual purchases.

B2C e-commerce. B2C was given up as dead without a hope for revival when the
dotcom bubble burst. But slowly, ever so slowly, B2C has made a revival and is coming back to the mainstream as technologies, bandwidth availability and, more importantly, business models mature.

Wireless is the big buzzword of today. But wireless is much more than 802.11. From Bluetooth to GSM to CDMA to 3G to EDGE and beyond. It is early days for wireless yet, and the scene bears an almost uncanny resemblance to the dotcom boom. Everyone wants a bit of the action, and are promising the moon. Wireless technologies have a long way to go, in terms of bandwidth, security and application maturity. Sure it may help to get on the bandwagon early enough, and for users to test out the technologies. But be ready for a bumpy ride, and a frequent need for upgrades and investments in newer technologies and applications.

Finally, on the personal front, digital camera, MP3 player and cellphone. These, along with the TV are the devices of the future. There is a furious rate of innovation happening on all four. There are also serious attempts being made to converge them. Some of that convergence has already happened. But what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to come . And this would affect not just our personal lives but also our professional ones. Imagine what a cellphone and audio/video recorder player combined sitting in your pocket can do. It is a PC in your pocket.

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