Google to float helium balloons over rural India for internet connectivity – Source The Economic Times

Google will float helium balloons over rural India for Internet connectivity if an experiment testing the concept yields promising results, a senior official of the company said.

“Though we are still in the pilot phase, we have received several queries on the project and India has also shown great interest in the project,” said Todd Rowe managing director for global sales channels at Google. However, he said there was no time frame to launch the project in India as it depends on the success of the ongoing pilot project. 

Project Loon was launched as a pilot earlier this month in New Zealand to provide affordable Internet access in remote and rural parts. The plan is to have several balloons floating around the earth at an altitude of 20 km, or twice the height at which commercial aircraft fly, and beaming connectivity to areas that are not served by traditional copper or fibre optic networks. Special equipment that can be fixed on the roofs will communicate with the balloon, acting as the link enabling the user to communicate with the balloon. 

As part of the pilot phase, 30 balloons have been sent up from New Zealand, and 50 test users were able to access the Internet using the access provided by the balloon network. The 15-m-wide balloons can stay in the air for 100 days. 

Google, whose business prospects are directly related to the number of Internet users, considers the balloon solution as an audacious project bordering on science fiction. The company claims that connection speeds will be comparable to typical 3G access provided by cellular networks. India has over 130 million Internet users, and nearly 900 million cell-phone users, an increasing number of whom are using their mobile phones to access the internet. 

Google already runs Google Fiber, a project to provide Internet at speeds of one gigabit per second, or fast enough to download a high-definition movie in a matter of seconds. Launched in 2011, the service is now available in three American towns. Rowe was in Hyderabad to announce Google’s strategy for small and medium enterprises as well as the company’s growth plans for that market. 

Google sees “great potential” in the south India and hopes to double the number of sales and distribution partners it works with by 2014 end, he said.

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Microsoft woos developers with ‘re-blended’ Windows – Source The Economic Times

Microsoft on Wednesday courted application makers with a “re-blended” version of the overhauled Windows 8 operating system released late last year. 

Windows 8.1 incorporated feedback from users and developers, and came with the promise that the US software giant was speeding up its release cycle to adapt to the dizzying pace of innovation in consumer technology. 

“We pushed boldly in Windows 8 and got lots of feedback,” Microsoft chief executive Steven Ballmer said while kicking off the company’s BUILD developers conference in San Francisco. 

“Users said ‘Why don’t you go refine the blend?,” he said. “We will show you a refined blend of our desktop experience and our modern experience.” 

Cheers burst from the audience when Ballmer assured them that changes in Windows 8.1 included a return of the “Start” button icon on screens that provided shortcuts to commands and applications. 

Microsoft made a preview version of Windows 8.1 available for developers online at preview.windows.com and said this was just the beginning of a shift to “rapid release” cycles for software. 

“Rapid release cadences are absolutely essential to what we are doing,” Ballmer said. 

“It is about the transformation that we are going through as a company to move at an absolutely rapid release cycle; our transformation from a software company to a company building software-powered devices and services.” 

Windows 8.1 was remaining true to the vision of an operating system tuned for touch-screen controls and multi-gadget lifestyles increasingly revolving around tablets and smartphones, according to Microsoft. 

“When we rolled out Windows we talked about touch, touch, touch,” Ballmer said, noting that when people went to stores there was a dearth of Windows-powered touch computers. 

He said there would be a “proliferation” of small Windows tablets released in the coming months. 

Microsoft used the keynote presentation before BUILD’s six thousand attendees to showcase Windows-powered devices ranging from Nokia Lumia smartphones to Lenovo and Acer devices as well as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro tablet. 

“You will see an outpouring of new devices that are notebook computers in every respect yet have touch fully integrated and usable,” Ballmer said. 

Microsoft also announced that it was opening its Bing Internet search engine to developers so they can harness its capabilities to power features inside applications.

South Korea’s mobile network touted as world’s fastest – Source The Economic Times

South Korea’s largest mobile operator is this week launching what it says is the world’s fastest wireless network.

SK Telecom Co. said Wednesday that the LTE-Advanced network can download data at speeds twice as fast as LTE networks and 10 times faster than third generation services. 

With a transfer rate of 150 megabits per seconds, the network can download an 800 megabyte movie in just 43 seconds. 

The service will be initially available in Seoul and its suburbs. 

South Korea has witnessed rapid growth of the fourth-generation LTE, or Long Term Evolution, service as the country’s mobile phone users are quick to adopt faster wireless technologies 

More than 60 percent of South Korea’s 33 million smartphone users have subscribed to the LTE service. 

GSA, an association of network suppliers, projects that LTE networks will be available in 87 countries by the end of 2013. 

With the launch of the new mobile technology, SK Telecom has begun selling the Galaxy S4 LTE-A smartphone made by Samsung Electronics Co. that can run on the fastest network. 

The LTE-Advanced technology, however, has room for improvement. While it boasts the fastest download speed, its upload speed is same as LTE networks at 37.5 mbps

Intel introduces 4th generation core processors – Source The Economic Times

Chipmaker Intel today introduced 4th generation Intel core processors, which the company claims will reinvent personal computing with longer battery life, more advanced graphics and new usages in devices like tablets and ultrabooks. 

“The 4th generation Intel core processors offer the most significant gain in battery life ever achieved by Intel, up to double graphics and significant CPU performance improvements,” Intel South Asia Managing Director (Sales and Marketing Group) Debjani Ghosh said here. 

The US-based firm’s latest offering will also serve as the foundation for computing in two-in-one devices, which work as a PC and can also serve as a tablet, she said. 

The latest processors are capable of delivering upto 15 per cent better performance than the previous generation, while consuming lower amounts of power. 

To achieve this breakthrough, Intel worked on the power reduction at the CPU level to as low as 6 watts and also worked across the system for power optimisation, Ghosh said. 

The 4th generation processor enables every day computing to be about two times faster, helps systems wake up around eight times faster and allows users to edit and share HD video about 20 times faster, than a similar 4-year-old computer. 

Explaining the dynamics surrounding the growth of computing in India, Intel South Asia Director (Marketing and Market Development) Sandeep Aurora said for such a development people need to look at making full use of the technology. 

“While, Intel has been running several programmes, from training teachers to senior citizens and youths, there is a need to increase focus of technology and people need to be made aware of the wonderful things it can do,” he told reporters. 

On the 4th generation core processor, Aurora said this year the market is expected to see original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) launching more than 50 products that will be powered by the latest processor. 

PC makers like Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo are in the process of launching products with the latest Intel processor. 

Acer is expected to launch its ultrabook, starting at about Rs 37,000, during mid-July. The Taiwanese computer marketer said it will also come out with 15-20 products powered by the latest Intel processor in the next 4 months. 

Likewise, Dell will release its XPS 12 ultrabook in the first week of July, whereas, HP will soon be launching its HP Envy AiO (All-in-One) PC. 

Similarly, Lenovo will launch its AiO PC in the coming couple of months, which will be powered by the Intel 4th generation core processor.

Tech Mahindra completes Satyam merger, becomes 5th biggest IT firm – Source The Economic Times

The Satyam brand has been consigned to history by acquirer Tech MahindraBSE 3.07 % which said its main focus now will be to take steps to mitigate the impact from impending changes to work visa rules in the United States. 

The Mumbai-based company, which is a part of the diversified Mahindra group, said on Tuesday that it has completed all formalities relating to its merger with Satyam Computer ServicesBSE 4.27 %which it acquired in 2009 after its founder Ramalinga Raju admitted to financial fraud at the Hyderabad company. 

“Today, we have fulfilled the commitment made in 2009 when we acquired Satyam – to jointly become one of the largest, diversified players leveraging technology for business solutions,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said. 

With $2.7 billion (Rs 16,000 crore) in sales, Tech Mahindra is India’s fifth-largest software exporter. It employs 84,000 staff, has 540 clients, and operates in 46 countries. The company’s aim is to clock $5 billion in sales by 2015. 

To achieve this goal in a tough market and protect its profit margin, Tech Mahindra will move work out of the United States to nearby locations and India to offset the likely impact of proposed changes in visa rules, Chief Operating Officer Rakesh Soni told ET . 

“Some clauses of the US Immigration Bill have a detrimental effect on us. Once it comes into place, some of our associates will not be able to operate from the client’s offices,” he said. “We will need to increase the ability of offshore offices. This will be a healthy trend as, for companies like ours, this move will improve our profit margins.” 

Tech Mahindra acquired Satyam Computer Services through a government-mediated auction in April 2009 after Raju admitted to cooking the company’s books to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore. After close to a year of hearings, the Andhra High Court approved the merger of the two BSE-listed companies. Satyam shareholders will get two shares of Tech M for every 17 shares of Satyam. 

Tech Mahindra has six development centres in the US. The proposed changes in immigration law in the US, in the form of higher fees and more restrictive rules, could make it costlier for Indian IT companies with a majority of their US staff on visas. Soni said that company would consider expanding in so-called nearshore centres such as Canada and Mexico to cater to US clients.

iGATE wins Rs 590 crore contract from US insurer MetLife – Source The Economic Times

 IGateBSE 0.00 % has won a five-year contract worth $100 million (Rs 590 crore) from insurer US insurer MetLife, a rare large deal in a market generally not conducive for mega outsourcing pacts. 

IGate, which lost its CEO Phaneesh Murthy to a sex scandal last month, will provide IT infrastructure support services to MetLife, an existing client. 

“This win is a strong validation of iGate’s domain and technology expertise in the insurance industry,” said Sanjay Tugnait, executive vice-president and head of sales for North America. “Our 10-year long relationship with MetLife has given us deep understanding of the company’s global businesses and will enable us to achieve definitive business imperatives.” 

Shares of the company were trading at $14.79, up 1% in early trade on Nasdaq. Before the announcement of the board terminating the services of Murthy as CEO, iGate shares were trading at $16.40 apiece. 

The deal is a shot in the arm for iGate, which sacked Murthy in mid-May for failing to disclose a relationship with one of his subordinates. The company has engaged the services of Russel Reynolds Associates to find a new chief executive. A former Intel executive Gerhard Watzinger has been appointed by the board of directors as interim CEO. 

Murthy was instrumental in scaling up the $300 million iGate into a billion-dollar company by acquiring Patni Computers in a leveraged buyout with help from private equity fund Apax Partners in 2011. 

Analysts are sceptical of iGate’s ability to bounce back from the loss of Murthy, who was known for his sales prowess and was aggressively pushing the so-called ‘outcome-based model’ where clients are billed based on mutually-agreed business results rather than for labor deployed. As part of differentiating itself, the company ran a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in the US urging corporations to insist on outcome-based billing by clients. 

A contract worth $200 million which iGate had won recently slipped through its hands because of delays in commencing the project.

Matrimony portals making serious efforts to counter rising tide of divorces, ensure lasting unions – Source The Economic Times

Online matrimony portals are adopting innovative measures to coach the young on living a happy married life, concerned that the rising tide of divorces across urban India could threaten their businesses.

From counselling services and free books on the dos and don’ts of a happy marriage to mailers and links to social media and blogs, they are making concerted efforts to ensure lasting unions for couples who meet online.

“Youngsters should not take online matrimony as a means to instant gratification as they do in other forms of e-commerce,” said Gourav Rakshit, COO at Shaadi.com that has launched a series of online campaigns and counselling services at over 100 contact centres.

“We advise couples to take at least 6-9 months before they decide to tie the knot with someone they have met online,” said Rakshit, who estimates about 20 million people use the portal.

Chennai-based Consim Info Pvt Ltd, which owns Bharat Matrimony.com, is distributing 50,000 copies of a book that lays down the principles for a successful marriage and ways to sustain it.

Matrimony portals making serious efforts to counter rising tide of divorces, ensure lasting unions

These moves come in the wake of estimates by divorce lawyers that nearly half of marital break-ups involve partners who met online. “About seven cases out of every 10 that I handle are of marriages arranged through matrimonial websites,” saidUjwalaMandgi, a partner at Bangalore-based law firm Mandgi Associates.

Experts said misrepresentation of facts by people during online interactions is one of the primary reasons for the breakdown of such unions. “Five out of 10 cases that I handle are of this nature,” said Ganesh Iyer, an advocate in the Bombay High Court. “Online matrimonial companies are not guaranteeing that everything will be hunky dory,” he said.

As traditional family networks become weaker and young professionals migrate to cities, online marriage portals are becoming the prime source of matchmaking.

COS ADMIT THERE ARE PROBLEMS

The online matrimony market is valued at Rs 510 crore and is growing at around 30% annually, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

However, as divorce rates rise, a number of these companies admit there are problems that need to be addressed.

“We are building online social connections through LinkedIn and Facebook to our members’ accounts so there is better trust,” said Sanjeev Kumar, business head at SimplyMarry.com, which has a user base of about 5 million. SimplyMarry is a part of the Times Group, which publishes this newspaper.

Posting incorrect information on age, religion or marital status are the most common problems in online marriage portals, as is lying about salary. “I have seen a dramatic rise in matrimonial disputes in past 3-4 years. In about 70% of the cases, couples are citing social media output, matrimonial profiles, SMSes, photos and emails as electronic evidence,” said Pavan Duggal, an advocate in the Supreme Court and a cyber law expert.