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Will Camera Lens Become a Serious Concern for Smartphone Buyers When Buying a Smart Phone?

Samsung_Galaxy_S4_Zoom

When I was a teenager I did not have a personal mobile phone. Two of my friends had mobile phones. One was a NOKIA 1100 and the other one was a Sony Ericsson phone. This was in around 2000-2002 period. I also had the desire of having my own mobile phone. But my mother didn’t allow me to have one. During that period those phones were like ‘heaven’ for me. But with time what has happened to the mobile phone market? Some amazing things have happened over last decade. The amount of technological advancement which has taken place in mobile phone industry is unimaginable. The most amazing thing is the frequency which these developments happen.

Though Nokia and Ericsson were there in the Smart Phone industry from 1990s’, it was in 2007 the revolution started to happen. The ‘iPhone’ is a smart phone that was designed and marketed by Apple Inc. It is the first generation of iPhone and was announced on January 9, 2007 after months of rumors and speculations. As I believe this was the point it all started to take off in an unimaginable pace. The first phone to use Android was released in October 2008. It was called the HTC Dream. Android being an open source OS made the market more dynamic, with more mobile phone vendors started to do innovation and R&D on hardware which is cable of running Android OS in them.

At the very beginning customers attracted to ‘touch screen and stylus’ of smart phones had. With time Apple was able to develop and present a fantastic portfolio of applications for its customers through App Store. Same thing was done by Android through its application portfolio available in ‘Play Store’. Mean while hardware vendors such as QUALCOMM, Samsung, Nokia, etc speed up their innovation and R&D processes on hardware.

12

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

The newest revolution which is about to take place is related to the ‘camera’ which is available in almost every smart phone. Today most high end smart phones have cameras which could give great photo shooting and video recording experience to users. But still there are people who would go for a separate camera (Most of my friends prefer going for a separate camera. They go for either Nikon or Canon). It seems like Samsung has identified the opportunity available due to this behaviour of the customers. They announced a mobile phone which has a zooming lens on June 2013. They have named it as ‘Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom’. The phone features a 10x optical zoom lens in front of its 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, with a Xenon flash for adding some extra light to images taken from it. Using this might will not produce results like using a Nikon D90. But most people would prefer buying this smart phone since it is multifunctional. The smart phone is available in the market to be purchased, from July 2013. I saw several entries in eBay. The price mentioned was ranged between US$489 – US$800, which I believe is a reasonable offer for the features available in the phone. Feature list is available in GSMARENA (http://www.gsmarena.com/).

This is only the start. With the pace of which technology is changing, it might be a good thing if Nikon, Canon and other Camera producers could look in to a strategy which would make sure that they would not blown away from the market, because Samsung will not stop doing their R&D and innovation of developing features related to their new Galaxy S4 Zoom. Kodak was blown away, because they did not adapt accordingly.

nokiaeosleaknew2

Nokia’s ‘EOS’

Meanwhile I saw a number of images of Nokia’s ‘EOS’ 41 megapixel Windows phone leak in recent days. In this also main focus has been put on the quality of the camera smart phone has. Specification of the device is currently available in GSMARENA. We will hear more on the device in near future.

North Korea Boasts About a ‘Home – Made’ Smartphone

Arirang

North Korean Made Arirang Smartphone

North Korea is a country which appears in the ‘political’ category more often in international media. To be honest I haven’t seen North Korea producing any notable news related to any other category such as Entertainment, Technology, Economy, etc. But country has been a hot topic in the category of ‘Technology’ since last week in international media. That is because, The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has released several photos showing leader Kim Jong-un inspecting a North Korean Smartphone factory, as well as taking a look at the country’s first smartphone, the ‘Arirang’. The most notable feature of Arirang seems to be the built-in camera it has, because KNCA reported that the leader praised the “high pixels” of the built-in camera.

North Korea has been a mystery land for most of the outsiders. Opposite is also the same. The people of North Korea have very limited access to news outside the country. Until 2008 North Korea didn’t have a national mobile network. Mobile phones were introduced to North Korea in 2008. The national network is maintained thanks to a joint operation by the North Korean government and Egyptian telecoms company Orascom.

Though mobile network is deployed, the serviced delivered to the people are very limited compared to the services experienced by the subscribers of most other countries with better political environment. In North Korea phones on the network are heavily restricted. As per the news coming from international media subscribers do not have the luxury of connecting to internet and can only make calls within North Korea. For a short time, foreigners in the country were able to use mobile internet. But it was also restricted to a golden period of 1 month.

As per the reports coming out, Arirang has Google’s Android OS running on it. This might be a result of Google’s Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt’s recent visit to North Korea on behalf of Google.

Earlier in the year North Korea boasted about a home – made Tablet names ‘The Samjiyon’. But later it was found out that it is not a device made in North Korea.

The concern is, what would be the use of a Smartphone running Android OS in it, without access to internet.

Android Continues to Dominate World Smartphone Operating Systems Market

In one of my previous blog posts I wrote about the negative effect Windows 8 operating system had on the sales of personal computers. But it has lifted the sales of Nokia smart phones for sure. It is evident from the latest report released by International Data Corporation (IDC). But the question is how long will it take for Windows RT to break the dominance of Google’s Android operating system. When looking at the stats, I feel like Nokia would never go back to its golden old days where they dominated the mobile phone market. In 2007 Nokia dominated the world smart phone market. In the third quarter of 2007, Nokia’s market share was 48.7 percent. By the third quarter of 2012 the company’s market share had slipped to just 3.5 percent.

According to the IDC, vendors shipped a total of 236.4 million smart phones in 2Q13. The quantity has gone up from 51.3% when considering 156.2 million units shipped in 2Q12. Second quarter shipments grew 9.3% when compared to the 216.3 million units shipped in 1Q13. Despite the rise of Nokia’s smart phone sales there is another notable decline. That is the decline of market share of iOS.

Despite the drop Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team stated “Without a new product launch since the debut of the iPhone 5 nearly a year ago, Apple’s market share was vulnerable to product launches from the competition. But with a new iPhone and revamped iOS coming out later this year, Apple is well-positioned to re-capture market share.”

iphone_5c_hr0-800x535

Leaked image of the so-called low cost Apple iPhone – iPhone 5C

These days a rumor is going around about a low cost Apple iPhone. According to the rumor the low cost phone will be named as ‘iPhone 5C’. If such a phone would be released, then Apple would be able to catch a fare percentage of market share in all over the world. A big reason for Android’s success is the availability of Android smart phones for very low prices. The best example I can mention from Sri Lankan smart phone market is the success of ‘Dialog i43’ (~$135) and ‘Dialog i35’ (~$70), two smart phones introduced by Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka.

Top Smartphone Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, 2013 Q3 (Units in Millions)

Operating System

2Q13 Unit Shipments

2Q12 Unit Shipments

Year-over-Year Change

Android

187.4

108

73.50%

iOS

31.2

26

20.00%

Windows Phone

8.7

4.9

77.60%

BlackBerry OS

6.8

7.7

-11.70%

Linux

1.8

2.8

-35.70%

Symbian

0.5

6.5

-92.30%

Others

N/A

0.3

-100.00%

Total

236.4

156.2

51.30%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, August 7, 2013

Bell Labs to Silicon Valley – Part 1

Early Times – Inauguration of Bell Labs to the invention of transistor

History is ‘something’ worth looking at because it provides us the details which would help us develops future strategies, because it gives us an insight on how things are related to one another. Telecommunications is a field which has a very interesting history which is worth looking at. If you want to know much more about what I’m about to say please look at first few chapters of Jon Gertner’s ‘The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation’.

The-Idea-Factory-Jon-Gertner

Jon Gertner and his book ‘The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation’

As per my view there is one place which whole world turns in to when it comes to innovation and R&D. That is Silicon Valley, USA. It is true that Asia is rising. But still Silicon Valley continues to grow and companies will not stop going in search of help to Silicon Valley. But before Silicon Valley came in to the scene, there was another place which could be considered as the Silicon Valley before Silicon Valley. That was Bell Labs, which is situated in New Jersey, United States of America.

Currently, AT&T is the largest provider both of mobile telephony and of fixed telephony in the United States, and also provides broadband subscription services. Western Electric had been the manufacturing subsidiary of AT&T from 1881 to 1995. Until 1925 those two organizations had two different engineering units. Until 1925 two engineering units had tension and competition between them. This tension and competition lead to the creation of standalone lab in New Jersey. In 1925 Bell Labs was inaugurated.

The idea of setting up Bell Labs was to develop ideas inside Bell Labs and transferring those ideas and developments to Western Electric for manufacturing while AT&T does the deployment. Just like in Silicon Valley, Bell Labs also had an eco-system which supported innovation and R&D. They had money and they had time. Time is something which today’s engineers don’t have. To give you an idea on how Bell Lab has contributed to the development of Telecommunications, the list of a few developments which had come through Bell Labs would be a good yardstick. Some revolutionary inventions are as follows.

  • Point contact transistor
  • Junction transistor
  • Shannon’s information theory
  • Communication satellites
  • Unix Operating System
  • C Language
  • Theory of laser

An early stage of Bell Labs was an interesting one. With AT&T having all sorts of trouble with absence of dial tone, etc problems which had to be solved kept on coming to Bell Labs. It had been a problem rich environment.

With the use of vacuum tubes researchers at Bell labs was able to develop a successful solution for a cross country phone link. This solution was successfully deployed by AT&T and this project gave the credibility to Bell Labs. At one stage Bell Labs employed more than 15000 employees out of which 1200 were PhD holders.

The reason why Bell Labs became successful was also a very interesting story. The main reason was, that it was connected to AT&T. AT&T faced loads of practical problems every day.  AT&T received solutions from Bell Labs for these problems and they hold the monopoly in the telecommunication market at that time. With AT&T, Bell Labs also grew rapidly. The things invented, manufactured and deployed by Bell Labs, Western Electric and AT&T stayed in the market for 20-30 years. That was the nature of monopoly they had at that time.

Bill-Gates_2012907b

Bill Gates has once stated that if he had the ability to take part in a time travel his first stop would be Bell Labs on November 1947. Why would Bill Gates stop there? Why is Bell Labs such an inviting place to visit?

AT&T had two issues which were problematic for their operation. One was telephone switches, because they broke all the time. And manual switching process was slow. One fine day, in the aftermath of World War 2, Mervin J. – Head of Research who later became The President of Bell Labs in the period between 1951 – 1959., talked to a newly hired young physicist William Shockley and said that it would be great if the manual switches can be replaced by something electronic. Vacuum tubes were also giving problems because they tend to broke fairly often, consume more power, etc.

Kelly formed the team which developed the transistor which was lead by Shockley. Kelly had been a person who had always tried to go after things which were not known to anyone and which he thought as loop holes. On November 1947 the device which changed the direction of human civilization was invented in Bell Labs. Transistor was invented on November 1947. Gravity of the invention of transistor is unimaginable because despite the transistor there would have been no fancy items such as Samsung Galaxies, iPhones and all other fancy electronic items you could imagine of.

Windows 8 and Future of Personal Computer

 NotebookIf you are a Windows user, you will agree Windows XP and Windows 7 have given you the most convenient and user-friendly experience. Windows Vista was a complete failure as per my view (I’m sure most of you will agree on this as well). What about the new member of ‘Windows family’ – Windows 8? My experience is a mix bag. I’m using it on my laptop and it has not impressed me a lot. But anyway, since it is the latest thing available, I’m using it.

With all the joy and sorrow I had with Windows 8, I wanted to know what world thinks about windows 8. I came across a very interesting fact, which I thought would be great to share as a blog post. This is about the world Personal Computer sales after the release of Windows 8 in late 2012, to be exact on 1st of August 2012.

Is windows 8 an operating system designed for personal computers? Interesting question, isn’t it? Trends over last 1 year on world personal computers show that Windows 8 is not a blessing for world PC industry. Most reviews on W8 have stated that it is an OS more suitable for touch devices. As per my view this is a fare enough statement. I say so because, Windows have put up a guide for users on how to ‘Touch: swipe, tap and beyond’ (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/touch-swipe-tap-beyond), which they did not do for their previous versions of ‘Windows’.

International Data Corporation (IDC) on their press release on 10th of April 2013, have stated that worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), down -13.9% compared to the same quarter in 2012 and worse than the forecast decline of -7.7%. The extent of the year-on-year contraction has marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994. The results also marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines. Now the question is, ‘What is the correlation between PC shipment decline and W8?’

With the introduction of iPhone and Android, people around the world got used to small screen devices and teblets. The latest device which have revolutionized the mobile device industry is ‘phablet’ (Eg : Samsung Galaxy Note). The features of W8 have encourages to use touch devices instead of using personal computers which don’t have touch screens.

Acer-delays-Windows-RT-tablet-launch1

Tablet with Windows RT

Let’s say personal computer manufacturers decide to introduce touch screens. Then the issue will be solved and PC users will also be happy, isn’t it? Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. PC industry efforts to offer touch capabilities and ultra slim systems have been hampered by traditional barriers of price and component supply. I don’t think most consumers in Sri Lanka would spend more than Rs. 100000 for a PC. Instead they would be more than happy to buy a PC which does not have a touch screen with Windows 7 in it. Or even there are some users who would consider buying a tablet or a high end phone (Eg : Samsung Galaxy S series, Samsung Galaxy Note series, Sony Xperia series, LG Optimus series, etc)

IDC’s Program Vice President, Clients and Displays, Mr. Bob O’Donnellhad made a very serious comment which I think have summarized the whole situation, which world PC sales have faced. I consider this comment as serious, because he speaks by looking at actual stats, not according to the ‘gut’ feeling.

At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the imagesCAQ5Q4P8familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.

The table I extracted from IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker clearly shows how PC industry has been affected quite badly over past one year.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, First Quarter 2013 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in thousands)

Vendor

1Q13 Shipments

1Q12 Shipments

1Q13/1Q12 Growth

HP

11,997

15,726

-23.70%

Lenovo

11,700

11,705

0.00%

Dell

9,010

10,110

-10.90%

Acer Group

6,150

8,952

-31.30%

ASUS

4,363

5,401

-19.20%

Others

33,075

36,739

-10.00%

Total

76,294

88,635

-13.90%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, April 10, 2013

‘Creative destruction’ is an inevitable in present world set-up. But small screen devices, tablets and phablets has not been the major market for Microsoft Windows over past few decades and I don’t think Microsoft had ever thought that Windows 8 launch would contribute seriously to the decline in world PC sales. I say so, because still PCs are their ‘Bread and Butter’.

ios5-vs-android

Will ‘Microsoft’ be successful in coming in to the scene and challenge iOS and Android?

If they seriously want to enter the small screen, tablet and phablet market they have to seriously consider about the competition they have to face with open source mobile OSs like Android and Firefox OS. Also they have to consider about iOS as well. As a user who ‘used, using, loved and loving’ windows, I believe Microsoft should consider entering small screen, tablet and phablet market as a long term strategy. The speed which they tried to do the revolution is a bit too. This might lead to a situation which would remind us the idiom ‘Gigging Their Own Grave’ while digging other’s graves.

To root or not to root…thats indeed a question!

The geeks will tell you that the best way to get the most out of your android is to root it. The operators and Google might just tell you otherwise. Ask your friends and they will give a million opinions skewed by the level of their expertise and experience. So is this rooting business really that good? Lets list down some stuff that will help you decide…for yourself.!

What is rooting?

Android, is build upon the almighty linux kernel. The applications run on top of a virtual machine called “Dalvik”, which is a tweaked (and cooler than oracles ;) ) version of the Java Virtual Machine. So like all other linux operating systems, the android’s has a root account. For those of you who dont know what that means; the root account is the administrator’s account for a linux OS. Just like you login as Administrator, or run as Administrator in Windows, you do that with “root” in linux.
In the stock android you get from the manufacturor, this root account is locked to the user. Thus, you can’t use it. (Prisioner of your own device ;) ) Rooting, is the process of making that account available for apps, and for you.

How is it done?

Rooting is done by exploiting loopholes in the system and mechanisms placed to block you from gaining access. Exactly how? That level of expertise escape my brain. (I’m a minion, not the boss ;) papoi…). There are popular software which do it. I personally have used a software called SuperOneClick. It does what it says, one click root!

 

Is it good?

Rooting can bring you the riches of the (android) world. But it does not mean that its all good.

 

Pros

  • Using great apps

Rooting your device will enable you to use applications which use the root capability and perform great utility tasks. e.g.: moving apps to the sd card, even if your native android does not allow you to do so. You can even get the ability to replace system apps.

 

  • Removing bloatware

OEMs pack a handful of bloatware in the device. And if your phone is an operator branded phone, you will have useless apps from the operator installed, which the OS does not let you uninstall.! Well, death to the bloaters with root! You can hand pick these apps from the device and remove the cancers right  from the source, the filesystem!

 

  • You can install custom ROMs.

This is the main reason most people root the device for. A ROM is the actual operating system of the device. You can install customized versions, which use either cyanogenmod or MiUI as the base. The functions which these offer are vast, and these are open source developments. Which mean there are some very advanced features which are not with the OEM do not offer. (Tip: Even Google sometimes ‘burrow’ features from CM). You can use android versions which are well above the specified limit by the manufacturer. (I used to run 2.3.7 on a device which SonyEricsson only did 2.1)

And there may be many more reasons…

 

Cons

  • Risk to the device

When you root your device using a software like superoneclick, the risk of damaging the device is less. But there are methods which require you to alter the existing firmware before rooting. Some Samsung devices need to do that in order to root. So if you don’t follow the right instructions and get into trouble, you device may come to an irrecoverable state, nicknamed “bricked”.

There are two bricked states; soft-brick or hard-brick. Soft brick is where a software glitch has crashed the phone and there may be a way to recover it using some other software. Hard-brick is when you kill the beast for good! There are no methods to recover the phone.

 

  • Risk of running root

If your device is rooted, a root controller app will ask you each time an application wants to run as root. But there might be loopholes in those apps, and there might even be cases where you set up an “allow root for all” rule. If some malicious app gets installed, it can get the full privileges of your phone. I’ll let your imagination run wild to figure out what happens when the admin account gets to the wrong hands.

 

On final thoughts, rooting might not be for the faint of heart, it might require you to do things that are risky in terms of the device. And people who don’t get whats what in android, should not root for the sake of doing the wrong stuff.

So should you root? totally up to you.

P.S. you might find guides and applications on how to do it on xda-developers.com

Make sure you READ EVERYTHING before acting!

FireFox OS: Will It be the Next Revolution..

Firefox OS

Firefox OS

 “I have a FireFox phone”. Don’t be surprised if you may hear someone telling like this in next few months. Firefox brand is not only a web browser any more. Mozila released their open source operating system on 2nd of April 2013 named as “Firefox OS”. It is being developed by Mozilla, targeting the Smartphones and Tablets with open standards with several approaches such as HTML5 applications, JavaScript, a robust privilege model, open web APIs to communicate directly with cellphone hardware, and application marketplace.

“Boot to Gecko” (Project B2G) was the initial project started in 2011 by Dr. Andreas Gal, Director of Research at Mozilla Corporation to build a complete, standalone operating system for the open web to design new APIs to use the OS capabilities and device with a privilege model. But in 2012 Andreas Gal expanded the Mozila focus and introduced the Firefox OS and commented “We use completely open standards and there’s no proprietary software or technology involved”. Firefox OS software stack is entirely HTML5.  The whole point is to show off what a phone can do with web standards, so that’s not surprising, but it’s an interesting sales proposition for a company looking to compete with heavily entrenched app-based ecosystems.

Firefox OS Layers

Firefox OS Layers

 After launching Firefox OS in Europe Firefox OS has now landed in Latin America. Telefonica’s local brands in Colombia and Venezuela started selling two Firefox OS phones which Alcatel OneTouch Fire and ZTE Open. Firefox have also announced that LG Electronics, ZTE, Huawei and TCL Corporation have committed to making Firefox OS devices. Firefox OS is compatible with a number of devices, including Otoro, PandaBoard, Emulator (ARM and x86), Desktop, Nexus S, Nexus S 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Nexus. Analysts forecasts that Firefox OS would account for 1% of the global smartphone market in 2013.

Firefox OS

Firefox OS

Key Features in Firefox OS

  • Each application written in Firefox OS is a web page therefore it reduce the app size and enhance the hardware for better performance.
  • Simple to crate and work on for the developers. To program in Firefox OS it needs only HTML5 and JavaScript.
  • Compatible with flash player, which overcame a main drawback in some android versions.
  • Provide full access to device features including the hardware parts and program files itself.

Can Firefox OS beat Android giant and launch the next step of the Smartphone industry…. We can see it in near future.

 

 

Facebook and Google Generation; Highlights from Dr. Eric Schmidt’s Carnegie Mellon University Commencement Address – Spring 2009

EricSchmidt008

Dr. Eric Schmidt

While I was searching through in the internet yesterday, I came across an interesting piece of speech by Dr. Eric Schmidt – Executive Chairman, Google Inc. It stroked me most, because the speech was about us – ‘Facebook and Google Generation’ (Hereafter will be referred to as ‘F&G Generation’). F&G Generation is the generation I belong to. I wanted to share the highlights, because that is the generation my friends at uni, school, office, etc belong to.  Here are some of the highlights of his speech.

I watched a few other commencement addresses done by Dr. Eric Schmidt in various top universities, such as University of California, Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University. I selected Carnegie Mellon University commencement address because, it was the shortest and it was the sweetest. In all the commencement addresses I saw one common thing. That is at the start of each speech Dr. Eric stated the importance of the university to USA and to the world. He speaks a bit about the contribution these universities have done for the betterment and advancement of mankind. He spoke about transistor, Bell Labs, William Shokley, Robert Noyce, Sillicon Valley, etc according to the situation. In other words he highlighted the importance of University – industry collaboration at the beginning of each speech.

So when I think about you all, I think about you as the Facebook and the Google generation, the first generation that really grew up with the Internet. When I grew up, you know, we had Tang, you had Red Bull. We used a program that was called basic, you all used Java. We had VCRs that held a half an hour of video that cost $700, and you all can upload 15 hours of video in to You Tube every minute.  We got our news from newspapers, you get yours from blogs and tweets.  And for those of you who don’t know, that’s not what you hear in zoos.  We stood in line to buy Pong, you stood in line to buy Wiis.  We just didn’t tell anyone about our most embarrassing moments, you record them and post them to Facebook and You Tube every day.  I am so happy that my record of my misachievements is not around for posterity.  I’m looking forward to yours being there for many, many years.

Above quote shows the significant difference which has taken place over last 30 years. For us it might not be a significant difference. But believe me, this is an unbelievable difference for your parents. Sometimes my father becomes furious when the sound ‘clog’ comes out of my laptop when a friend send me a chat message in facebook. Advancements happened in Telecommunications is one major factor for the rise of F&G generation. Telecommunications has made sure that F&G generation have access to internet via his/her smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc. In Sri Lanka mobile service providers have done a tremendous job in making sure that F&G generation in Sri Lanka get high quality data services. They have developed their products according to the requirements of the customers. I saw some recent advertisements of Dialog and Mobitel, promoting a package specially designed for youtube and facebook users. This is a fantastic thing, because these things weren’t happening 5 years back. I’m using a Dialog data connection and I have the luxury of using free Gmail, Google+ and Google Search services via my smart phone by logging into dialog.freezone.lk. However, at the end of the day customers are benefiting, because of the competition between operators.

Did you know that we use mainframe computers with 300 megabytes of storage to go to the moon six times?  Your iPods, 120 gigabytes have 500 times more just to get you to your next class.  We thought friend is a noun, right, you think it’s a verb.  We had phone booths, anybody seen a phone booth recently?  You have cell phones. We wore watches, took pictures with cameras, navigate with maps, and listened to transistor radios.  You have a cell phone. We thought that the marvels of computers and technology again, largely invented here, would change the world.  You agree, and we’re both right.”

Everything has got miniaturized. Today a Samsung S4 or an Apple iPhone 5 could do almost everything you did with several equipments few years back. I don’t have a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an Apple iPhone 5. I have an Android smart phone which I bought recently (Dialog i43) for Rs. 16000. I feel like, I bought a TV, a Radio, A Camera, a Kindle, etc for Rs. 16000. Competition among smart phone vendors has done wonders when considering the features latest smart phones have. Android OS is another factor which has revolutionized the smart phone industry.

So what can we do with a vastly more powerful Web?  Right, the Web of information that comprises all of what we know. You can obviously have face-to-face meetings with colleagues around the world, but more importantly now we can do dynamic translations so we can translate between languages so you could actually understand.  You’re traveling in Mongolia and you’re on a motorcycle — many of you will do this right after you graduate, right, to get away — and you have an accident, and you can actually have a doctor consult with you around the world and they can translate and provide you the healthcare that you need.  These are very real wins.

Here Dr. Eric speaks about the applications available to F&G generation. There are millions of them at the moment in cyber space. According to the requirement anyone can download apps. What you need is a data connection which would connect you to the internet. Dr. Eric speaks about face-to-face meetings with colleagues around the world. Why does F&G generation want online conferencing?  In some parts of the world it is used mostly for fun. But in some parts it is used for things such as discussing about a start-up (may be talking about strategic plans), about a requirement given by a client to a newly formed start-up by a group of people belong to F&G generation. Actually speaking, after I bought the smart phone I rarely used my laptop to connect with my friends via facebook, skype, etc. That is because, using apps is more convenient. But when app usage goes high it would be quite a big challenge to maintain the same service levels. They will have to expand the capacity of their networks. In Sri Lanka also smart phone penetration continuously keeps on growing. So telecom service providers might have to expect some difficult times ahead I guess.

At the end of each speech Dr. Eric reminded everyone about the importance of being simple and humble in order to become successful. As the last words of his speech Dr. Eric Schmidt reminds a very important thing to F&G generation “always remember to be nice to your parents and true to your school”.

Economic Development of Sri Lanka and Telecommunications

In 1996 Asians already made up 3.5 billion out of a global population of over 5 billion (or about 70 percent of the world population). By conservative projections, the Asian portion of the world population will increase to 5.7 billion in 2050 out of global population of 9.87 billion, while population of North America and Europe will still remain relatively constant at 374 million and 721 million respectively. Clearly, in the past few centuries Europe and, more recently, North America have carried the larger share of the global burden in advancing human civilization. By 2050, when Europeans and North Americans make up one-tenth instead of one-sixth of the world population, would it be fair for the remaining 90 percent of mankind to expect this 10 percent to continue to bear this burden? Realistically, can the rest of the world continue to rest on the shoulders of the West? If Asians double in population in the next 50 years, will they be able to carry their fair share of this burden?

This is a quote from a book written by Kishore Mahbubani – Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, “Can Asians Think?” in 1998.

Sri Lanka is a country which has a great potential to answer Prof. Kishore’s timely questions. I say so, because, Sri Lanka has gained a continuous improvement as a country after the end of civil war in 2009, which lasted for more than 30 years. Below figure can be considered as evidence, to show the

GCI-2007-2012

improvement Sri Lanka has achieved. It shows the stage of development Sri Lanka was on at the end of year 2007 and year 2012 respectively. When deciding the development stage of a country World Economic Forum looks at 12 different factors. Below figure shows those 12 factors.

GCI_PILLARS

Extensive and efficient infrastructure is critical for ensuring the effective functioning of the economy, as it is an important factor in determining the location of economic activity and the kinds of activities or sectors that can develop in a particular instance. Well-developed infrastructure reduces the effect of distance between regions, integrating the national market and connecting it at low cost to markets in other countries and regions. In addition, the quality and extensiveness of infrastructure networks significantly impact economic growth and reduce income inequalities and poverty in a variety of ways. Well developed transport system, electricity supplies, telecommunication networks, etc are a few factors which need to be looked at when deciding whether the country is well equipped with required amount of infrastructure or not. Telecommunication comes under ICT and solid and extensive telecommunications network allows for a rapid and free flow of information, which increases overall economic efficiency by helping to ensure that businesses can communicate and decisions are made by economic actors taking into account all available relevant information (Global Competitiveness Report 2012 – 2013, 2012). Currently Sri Lanka is moving well with the technological changes happening in the world telecommunication industry. The most recent example to show this is, that Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka launched both fixed LTE and mobile LTE services on December 2012 and April 2013 respectively, while Sri Lanka Telecom – Mobitel launched only mobile LTE service on June 2013.

When it comes to technological readiness telecommunication plays a vital role. Technological readiness measures the agility with which an economy adopts existing technologies to enhance the productivity of its industries. In today’s globalized world, technology is increasingly essential for firms to compete and prosper (Global Competitiveness Report 2012 – 2013, 2012). When acquiring latest technologies information plays a vital role. Telecommunication makes sure that people and firms have access to latest information. For example, ‘internet’ has been the primary source for information in today’s world context. When considering Sri Lanka’s situation telecommunication service providers do a fine job in making sure that community gets access to information on latest up-to-date technologies.

Innovation has become a critical factor to any nation, in order to become competitive in today’s world context (Global Competitiveness Report 2012 – 2013, 2012). Nations which do continuous innovation have the capability to achieve sustainable economic development. Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong are 4 Asian nations which have achieved economic sustainability through continuous innovation. If we closely monitor the success of these nations, telecommunication has been one of the most decisive factors in their development. For example South Korea has been practicing the habit of adopting the latest technology available in the field of telecommunication. When it comes to innovation also, availability of information plays a vital role. Telecommunication itself is a field which there is a lot of ongoing R&D and innovative activities. 3GPP has been the most powerful standardizing body in the field of telecommunication. World’s leading telecommunication equipment vendors such as HUAWEI, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, etc and operators such as China Unicom, NTT Docomo, Telefornica, Orange, AT&T, etc provide their innovative ideas in developing those standards. Sri Lanka is a country which is blessed with talented and innovative telecommunication engineers. With the help of these engineers, telecom operators in Sri Lanka could also start contributing towards the standardization process.

Prof. Kishore’s question influenced me to write this article. To answer his question, as an Asian and as a Sri Lankan, Asia has already started to taken up its share of burden while Sri Lanka has shown a great deal of improvement and promise since 2009. Since the article is about economic development and telecommunication, I would say Sri Lanka is OK with infrastructure and technological readiness (Here, I’m considering only the field of telecommunication.), thanks to organizations like Dialog Axiata PLC and Sri Lanka Telecom. I say so, because Dialog Axiata PLC has been the pioneer in Sri Lanka when it comes to introducing latest technologies in mobile telephony market, while Sri Lanka telecom has been the pioneer in fixed telephony market. But when it comes to innovation in the field of telecommunication (which can consider as the field which takes place majority of the technological research and development), Sri Lanka is not in a good position. But Sri Lanka has the potential and resources to start R&D and innovation in telecommunication. State, Industry and Academia have a great responsibility to get together and converge, in order to make sure that ‘innovation’ component kicks off. If they do so, the field of telecommunication could provide a considerable contribution to move forward in Global Competitiveness Index Framework and achieve sustainable economic development of Sri Lanka (Would reduce the gap between Sri Lanka and Technological Frontiers), and help Asia to carry the burden of rest of the world in coming years.