India first to put smartphone in space – Source The Economic Times

India has successfully launched the world’s first smartphone — loaded with a number of experimental ‘Apps’ , some serious and some just for fun — into the orbit. The University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) said on Tuesday that theSTRaND-1 , a nano-satellite carrying a smartphone, has successfully been launched into space from India. 

STRaND-1 is a training and demonstration mission, designed to test commercial offthe-shelf technologies in space. The Apps on board STRaND-1 were developed by winners of a facebook competition held last year. iTesa for example will record the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone during orbit. Used as a precursor to further scientific studies, such as detecting Alfven waves (magnetic oscillations in our upper atmosphere ), the iTEsa app could provide proof of principle. 

The Scream in Space app was developed by Cambridge University Space Flight and will make full use of the smartphone’s speakers. Testing the theory ‘in space no-one can hear you scream, made popular in the 1979 film ‘Alien’ , the app will play videos of the best screams while in orbit and screams will be recorded using the smartphone’s own microphone . 

The STRAND Data app will show satellite telemetry on the smartphone’s display which can be imaged by an additional camera on-board . This will enable new graphical telemetry to interpret trends. 

The 360 app will take images using the smartphone’s camera and use the technology onboard the spacecraft to establish STRaND-1 ‘s position. The public will be able to request their own unique satellite image of Earth through the website, where images can be seen on a map showing where they have been acquired. Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, SSC director said, “STRaND-1 mission is a fantastic achievement.” 

STRaND-1 is a training and demonstration mission weighing 4.3 kg launched into a 785km Sun-synchronous orbit on ISRO’s PSLV launcher. Sir Martin added, “This launch is SSC’s first with Isro, and I am looking forward to exploring opportunities for further launches and a wider collaboration on space projects in the future.”


Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer abolishes work-at-home policy – Source The Economic Times

She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook ofGoogle, her employer until last year. Now, though,Yahoo has made a surprise move: abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in theoffice

A memo explaining the policy change, from the company’s human resources department, says face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture – a hallmark of Google’s approach to its business. 

In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country’s biggest workplace issues: whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration. Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen Hamilton and are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees. 

Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office. 

Employees, especially younger ones, expect to be able to work remotely, analysts say. And overall the trend is toward greater workplace flexibility. 

Still, said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and executive coaching firm, “A lot of companies are afraid to let their workers work from home some of the time or all of the time because they’re afraid they’ll lose control.” 

Studies show that people who work at home are significantly more productive but less innovative, said John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University who runs a human resource advisory firm. 

“If you want innovation, then you need interaction,” he said. “If you want productivity, then you want people working from home.” 

Reflecting these tensions, Yahoo’s policy change has unleashed a storm of criticism from advocates for workplace flexibility who say it is a retrograde approach, particularly for those who care for young children or aging parents outside of work. Their dismay is heightened by the fact that they hoped Mayer, who became chief executive at 37 while pregnant with her first child, would make the business world more hospitable for working parents. 

“The irony is that she has broken the glass ceiling, but seems unwilling for other women to lead a balanced life in which they care for their families and still concentrate on developing their skills and career,” said Ruth Rosen, a professor emerita of women’s history at the University of California. 

But not only women take advantage of workplace flexibility policies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly as many men telecommute. 

The bureau says 24 per cent of employed Americans report working from home at least some hours each week. And 63 per cent of employers said last year that they allowed employees to work remotely, up from 34 per cent in 2005, according to a study by the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group studying the changing workforce. 

During the recession, the institute expected employers to demand more face time, but instead found that 12 per cent increased workplace flexibility, said Ellen Galinsky, its president and co-founder. She attributed this to companies’ desire to reduce real estate costs, carbon footprints and commuting times.

Budget 2013: IT industry seeks reduction in MAT to 5% – Source The Economic Times

The IT and IT-enabled services industry here has sought the reduction in minimum alternate tax(MAT) to 5 per cent in the Budget 2013-14 for all IT companies operating in SEZs. 


The Finance Minister is slated to announce on Thursday the budget proposals for the next fiscal. 

“With the introduction of MAT for SEZ units, it has become very difficult for the IT companies in India (specifically for SME) sector to operate competitively and in a profitable manner,” ITsAP (the IT and ITES Industry Association of AP) said in a statement. 

“This has reduced the employment generation rate and further FDI investment in India. Hence the MAT should be rolled back or decreased to 5 per cent,” it said. 

Under the present IT laws, business losses can be forwarded only for a minimum of 10 years and the same should be allowed to carry forward without any limitation. 

In the current economic downturn globally, recouping the losses in 10 years may not be possible and many countries are allowing losses without any limitation to period, the IT body requested. 

ITsAP also requested the FM to give an opportunity to set -off the taxes payable against refund due to the assessee which will increase the liquidity and save time in following up for the refunds. 

On Service Tax issues, the ITsAP said all export companies in IT/ITES are entitled for refund paid on the input services. 

“However, the same is not a reality as of today barring a very few cases. A series of meetings with Nasscom and other agencies with the Central Excise and Service Tax officers is not improving the refund process. Further, many small companies are not applying for the refund considering the hassles being created in the chain of refund claim,” the industry body said. 

BVR Mohan Reddy, Founder and Chairman of Infotech Enterprises Ltd, said for the software industry, withdrawing the MAT on SEZs, initiating a new SEZ policy to further improve IT exports, implementing a policy for R&D in software industry and promoting Tier II/III towns for inclusive growth will help accelerate growth in the software industry (IT Industry). 

As SME sector is the backbone for the industry and employs 59 million people, it can be a growth driver for future. And hence a special package for the SME sector will help sustainable growth, Reddy said. 

The tax on SEZ was introduced in the Union Budget 2011-12. The SEZ players said the benefits offered in the SEZ Act 2005, provided a wide range of incentives to investors in SEZs including exemption from MAT and 100 per cent income tax exemption on export income. 

According to a recent survey by research firm Ipsos, companies attributed exemption from tax as the key reason for investment in SEZs, which stood nullified with the imposition of the MAT.

Facebook builds ‘cold storage’ archive for old photos – Source The Economic Times

Facebook is building a vast new “cold storage” facility in the US to archive all the messages, photos and other postings that its over billion users do not need every day but want to retain for future reference. 

A 16,000-square-foot data centre under construction in Prineville, Oregon, is designed to provide a more efficient home for older and less popular material. 

The new cold storage facility will join two existing data centres in Prineville, The Oregonian reported. 

Facebook knows you might want to see your old photos again someday. Or scroll back through your Timeline to revisit your posts as an online diary. But storing all those pictures and keeping them immediately available takes a lot of space. 

Not in the physical sense, but in the virtual. That means lots of hard drives, lots of storage and lots of energy. 

So Facebook is preparing to try out a more efficient storage system at its Prineville “cold storage”, for those archival posts that people don’t need every day, but that they don’t want to lose altogether. 

Facebook says 82 per cent of its traffic is focused on just 8 per cent of its photos. Its cold storage facility is designed to create a more efficient way to store those photos that are not in heavy rotation. 

The cold storage building is just a skeletal frame now, and a concrete pad. Facebook hopes to have the first of three phases up and running soon. 

Each of the three 16,000-square-foot data hubs could hold an exabyte of data, equivalent to 1 million hard drives inside a contemporary personal computer. 

The tens of thousands of servers inside the two existing buildings are always on, ready to deliver your pictures and musings to your Facebook friends around the world. 

By contrast, most of the computers in the new cold storage facility will be asleep. A few will be alert, awaiting a request for old material and ready to summon the slumbering computers to provide their data. 

This material won’t reach your computer as quickly as something posted just a few hours ago, but Facebook says it won’t take long. 

“The principle will be so that it doesn’t impact the user experience, so think about a matter of seconds, or milliseconds,” said Michael Kirkland, a Facebook communication manager. 

Facebook estimates a cold-storage data center will cost one-third less than its standard data center.

HP sells webOS operating system to LG Electronics – Source The Economic Times

Hewlett-Packard Co said on Monday it will sell the webOS operating system to South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc, unloading the smartphone software it acquired through a $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010.

LG will use the operating software, used in now-defunct Palm smartphones years ago, for its “smart” or Internet-connected TVs. The Asian electronics company had worked with HP on WebOS before offering to buy it outright. 

Under the terms of their agreement, LG acquires the operating software’s source code, associated documentation, engineering talent, various associated websites, and licenses under HP’s intellectual property including patents covering fundamental operating system and user interface technology. 

HP will retain the patents and all the technology relating to the cloud service of webOS, HP Chief Operating Officer Bill Veghte said in an interview. 

“As we looked at it, we saw a very compelling IP that was very unique in the marketplace,” he said, adding that HP has already had a partnership with LG on webOS before the deal was announced. 

“As a result of this collaboration, LG offered to acquire the webOS operating system technology,” Veghte said.

Scott Ahn, President and CTO, LG Electronics, said the company will incorporate the operating system in the Smart TV line-up first “and then hopefully all the other devices in the future.” 

Both companies declined to reveal the terms of the deal. LG will keep the WebOS team in Silicon Valley and, for now, will continue to be based out of HP offices, Ahn said. 

HP opened its webOS mobile operating system to developers and companies in 2012 after trying to figure out how to recoup its investment in Palm, one of the pioneers of the smartphone industry. 

The company had tried to build products based on webOS with the now-defunct TouchPad tablet its flagship product. 

HP launched and discontinued the TouchPad in 2010, a little over a month after it hit store shelves with costly fanfare after it saw poor demand for a tablet priced on par with Apple’s dominant iPad. 

WebOS is widely viewed as a strong mobile platform, but has been assailed for its paucity of applications, an important consideration while choosing a mobile device.

Chinese smartphone makers Huawei, ZTE target Apple, Samsung – Source The Economic Times

China’s Huawei, little known to consumers just a couple of years ago, is now leading the pack of smartphone makers chasing Apple andSamsung , with ZTE, another Chinese company, snapping at its heels. 

Huawei, which sold 32 million smartphones in 2012, up 60 per cent on 2011, unveiled its new flagship Ascend P2 smartphone in Barcelona, boasting a connection speed of 150 MB per second, the fastest on the market. 

The company was third in smartphone sales in the final quarter of 2012, according to research firm IDC, with ZTE in fifth place and Sony sandwiched in between. Samsung and Apple, however, were far in front with half the market between them. 

Wan Biao, chief executive of Huawei Device Co, said the Ascend P2′s faster download speeds would make a difference to customers using 4G networks in countries such as Japan. 

The device also includes power-saving technology, developed using expertise from its networks business, which Biao said helped it stand out against other high-end phones running Google’s Android software. 

“Our target is for Huawei to provide the best smartphones in the world, better than the iPhone, better than Samsung,” he said in an interview on Monday. “Our target is top three in market share.” 

Huawei, which became established by selling unbranded phones to operators, said the Ascend P2 would be available from the second quarter priced at 399 euros, hundred of euros less than flagship devices from its rivals. 

Biao said that the company was still establishing itself as a brand in the minds of consumers, so its phones did not attract high subsidies from network operators. 

“Operators give a high subsidy to Samsung and Apple,” he said. “We have a very high quality product but the price we set is not as high as these two smartphones; we have to develop differentiated products.” 

Analyst Carolina Milanesi at Gartner said the Ascend P2 was a notable step forward for the Chinese company, showing a focus on the most important aspects for consumers, such as speed, an impressive screen and longer battery life. 

ZTE, which also developed its technology by making devices for others, is equally ambitious. On Monday, it said it expected to increase smartphone revenue by 30 per cent this year. 

“We at ZTE consider ourselves as not tier one yet, we see ourselves as tier two, comparable to HTC, Sony andMotorola,” He Shiyou, head of mobile services division, said in an interviewer via a translator. “We have to be as aggressive as possible.” 

He said ZTE would reduce its product range to achieve larger sales of fewer models, and focus on the strongest markets for smartphones – the United States, China, Europe and Australia. 

It previously took ZTE six months to catch up with the Samsung’s software and hardware specifications, he said, but now it only took a quarter. “We need to close that gap,” he said. 

“By 2015, we are hoping to achieve the top three by market share, but in terms of branding image and also pricing segmentation, we want to reach the top five,” he said. 

ZTE unveiled a 5.7 inch Grand Memo handset in Barcelona, firmly in the “phablet” screen dimensions that Samsung has popularised in its Note range, and the ZTE Open, a smartphone running on Mozilla’s Firefox OS open ecosystem. 


Indian IT cos like Infosys, TCS & HCL must log on to Japan to cross next $100 bn hurdle: Experts – Source The Economic Times

As the Indian IT industry crosses $100 billion (about 5.4 lakh crore) in revenues and aims for the next $100 billion, it cannot afford to ignore Japan, the world’s largest IT market after the US. Most large Indian information technology providers have been present inJapan for close to 20 years but success has been slow in coming.

Of the $125-billion Japanese IT services market, Indian service providers get only $500 million. Embedded services contribute another $500 million, according to technology researcher Gartner. In all, Japan contributes less than 2% of India’s software exports.
“If we fix the language and culture issues, growth will happen,” said N Chandrasekaran, Nasscom chairman and chief executive of Tata Consultancy ServicesBSE 1.14 %.
For instance, India’s fifth-largest software exporter HCL TechnologiesBSE 1.34 % trains all its employees working in Japan to speak and understand Japanese.
But even bigger is the cultural barrier. Unlike their western counterparts, companies in Japan do not do big bang outsourcing. They initially look for proof of concept, and if that works and they are comfortable with the vendor, then the relationship progresses to the long term, said Sameer Kishore, corporate vice-president who heads the Japan business unit for HCL Technologies.
“From my experience of working in this market for a fair bit of time now, organisations here value relationships,” said V Sriram, senior vice-president and head of Japan business for InfosysBSE 2.62 %.
Attitudes in Japan are also changing, forced by the rapid pace of technology changes. “The battlefield is shifting to software,” said Nobuhiko Hidaka, president of Gartner Japan. Companies, which previously followed a ‘rice-farmer culture of doing everything same every year’ and were more inward-looking, are now changing as they globalise.
Hidaka said most applications used to be custom-built, but as Japanese companies go global, custom-built applications are being replaced by more standard packages. “Because attitudes are changing and Indian providers are winning in the global IT market, the door is open for the first time for India.” In addition, the CEO is getting younger and chief information officers more westernised.
US IT providers, which have a 14% share of the Japanese IT services pie, are moving in to tap this opportunity. Firms like IBMAccenture and HP-EDS are well-entrenched compared with the Indian providers. However, most of their operations are staffed by Japanese locals and done out of Japan.