Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google launches Goo.Gl

Google has launched its own URL shortening service, aptly called goo.gl.

At the moment, its only being used for Google Toolbar and Feedburner. The shortener is not a stand alone service and is not available for “broader consumer use.”Google assures that its shortener will be stable and secure to help protect users from clicking on malicious sites. And Google promises a speedy service.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sony Ericsson Launches Mobile Content Submission Challenge for Developers

Sony Ericsson Developer World (SEDW), a global support program and web portal powered by Sony Ericsson has announced today the launch of its 'Get on the Train to Fame' contest exclusively designed to foster the growth of professional developers across India. Through this contest, the developers get a chance to feature on the Sony Ericsson go-to-market channels - PlayNowT and Fun & Downloads that are available to consumers in upto 70 countries. In addition to this, the best prospective application every week could win a Satio (Idou), a high-end Symbian smart phone by Sony Ericsson. The contest also offers developers a chance to receive 70% of revenue from the sales of their content. Entries can be submitted at www.sonyericsson.com/in/traintofame.

The aim of 'Get on to the Train to Fame' is to encourage and reward developers to submit innovative content for multiple platforms like Java, Symbian, Windows and Android, which are the backbone of new age mobile phones. The best prospective application or game will be announced every week, providing unmatched opportunity to Indian developers to showcase their competence on the international platform.

Encouraging the mobile content developers in the country to participate, Natasha Dutta, Manager- Marketing & Communications, Sony Ericsson Developer World, commented, "Get on to the Train to Fame is an excellent opportunity for mobile application or game developers looking to make a name in the mobile industry. This contest is open for content developers who have a creative eye for innovation and ideas that go beyond a common man's imagination, or maybe who know how to bring life to a mobile phone through addictive content and games."

Sony Ericsson brings to its users a robust range of applications and games through its application store, PlayNowT. The categories under which applications and games can be developed are: For Applications - Communication, Entertainment, Education, Health & Lifestyle, Languages, Location Services, Music, Productivity, Sport, Web Applications, Email, Messaging, Security, Travel, Others For Games - Nostalgia, Adventure, Entertainment, Fun & Lifestyle, Motion Games, Multi player, Racing, Sport, Strategy, 3D, Action, Boardgames & Cards, movie & TV, Music, Puzzle, Simulation, Classics, Others

Content can further be submitted on the following platforms:

-- Java ME (Sony Ericsson JP-6 and above; Symbian SJP 5.0.0)
-- Symbian^1 (S60 5th Edition) native
-- Windows Mobile®
- XPERIAT Panels, including native, Flash, Java and HTML Panels created using new Panelizer tools
- Windows Mobile native applications.

For those who would like to convert their content to Panel format, it is recommended that they use the simple Panelizer tools.

Sony Ericsson will review each application on the following criteria:

-- Compliance with Sony Ericsson Content Policy & Guidelines
-- Compliance with Verisign and Thwate testing protocols
-- Assessment of application quality
-- Review of the supplied materials
-- Relevance to the portfolio of content. For example, a clever new idea or interesting niche application is more relevant than an application that is very similar to something already available on PlayNowT.

The best applications selected will get a chance to be placed on Sony Ericsson Channels to market and be made available to consumers across 70 countries on Sony Ericsson's PlayNowT and Fun & Downloads.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

HTC Service Centers now in Delhi & Chennai

HTC has finally launched authorized service centers in Delhi and Chennai. This is surely a good news for all the HTC customers like me who have to rush here and there to get their phone repaired.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Samsung Bada OS unveiled

South Korea's Samsung Electronics on Tuesday launched its new smartphone platform, named bada, as the focus of the cellphone industry increasingly shifts to software.

Bada, which means ocean in Korean, includes a support platform for software developers, as the company aims to catch up with rival systems that offer an easy to use and feature-packed interface for applications such as games, the Internet, location-based services and music.

Driven by the success of Apple Inc's (AAPL) iPhone and its App Store, phone makers and wireless operators have started to push their service offerings hard.

Samsung's bada includes motion sensing, face detection, social networking and other interactive features, and its launch coincides with a challenge by the company to developers to win a share of a $2.7 million prize fund by using bada's features to build applications.

Development partners for bada include Twitter and games companies EA Mobile, a unit of Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), and France's Gameloft (GFT.FR).

The platform provides an opportunity for developers "to get their applications onto an unprecedented number of Samsung devices across the world," said Hosoo Lee, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics' Media Solution Center.

Samsung will initially launch bada-based touch screen phones for the mid-range segment and thereafter on lower-end devices, Hosoo Lee told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

He said bada phones will mainly be released in Asia and Europe in the first half of 2010, followed by other markets later, but Samsung had yet to determine a more detailed roadmap or set of targets.

The company will gradually expand the number of bada handsets but will also continue to use other platforms such as Microsoft Corp's (MSFT) Windows Mobile, Google Inc's (GOOG) Android and Symbian, said Lee, adding that the company still hasn't decided whether it will open up bada to other mobile phone manufacturers and operators.

Samsung's market share has grown steadily in recent quarters, helped by a competitive offering of phones with attractive hardware features such as touch screens, said analyst Neil Mawston at research firm Strategy Analytics, and bada looks to be a move to strengthen its position in the fast-growing smartphone segment, where profit margins are higher than for cheaper devices.

In the third quarter 2009, Samsung's global handset market share increased to 20.7% from 17.1% a year earlier, narrowing the gap to market leader Nokia Corp. (NOK) which had a 37.3% market share in the quarter, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

While bada will provide a platform for software developers, it will also mean operators can easily customize the user interface.

Still, Mawston said bada is a relatively late response to what some of Samsung's competitors are doing, and might not be too different from rival platforms such as LiMo, which Samsung already uses for some devices, or Symbian, Nokia's principal smartphone interface.

Speaking last week at its Espoo, Finland headquarters, Nokia Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said: "In 2010, we will drive user experience improvements, and the progress we make will take the Symbian user interface to a new level."

The launch of bada challenges Apple, one of Samsung's biggest customers for flash memory chips and screens, as well as Microsoft and Google, the firms it now relies on for the main software in its smartphones. Google's Android phone operating system is now on a growing number of phones globally. But Samsung has said it wants the flexibility and control that firms like iPhone-maker Apple get from owning a phone platform.

In addition to mobile phones, Samsung is the world's largest maker of memory chips and flat-screen televisions by revenue. "The global market is huge, but we also enjoy the benefits of the other areas where Samsung competes such as TVs and other devices, which gives us confidence in our approach of driving smartphones to a wider market," Hosoo Lee said.

HTC HD2 arrives on Tata Docomo in India

The Touch HD2, the first device to use the Snapdragon processor, which operates at 1GHz, and uses 448 MHz of RAM and 512 MB of ROM will arrive in India on Tata Docomo exclusively.
Tata Docomo released this news on Twitter just now:

Living up to our promise of DOing the New, we'r pleased to announce the EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of the HTC HD2 handset ONLY at the TDOCOMO contd..Dive In Stores from 8th to 14th December! This will b followd by 7 days sales exclusivity , wherein the hndset can be purchased..contd..

...only from the Dive In Stores at our launch cities! V'l preview da HTC HD2 Xclusivly 4m Dec 8 -14, follod by 7 days sales exclusivity , whrein da hndset cn b prchasd only 4m r Dive In Stores

HTC HD2 -- Super Screen (4.3 inchs tchscreen), Super Slim (11mm) n Super Speed (1 GHz) ..available only at TataDOCOMO Dive-In Stores!

This is the compilation of various tweets from Tata Docomo.

Pricing details are not out yet onl;ine. If you want to know pricing just march to you nearest Tata Docomo Dive-In stores as tweeted.
To know more abt da pricing details and other specs abt the HTC HD2 hndset visit any Tata DOCOMO Dive-In Stores in yur circle!

More About HTC HD2:

The HTC HD2 is a high-end smartphone with a large touch screen and a customisable user interface, which comes about as close as you can currently get to the experience of Apple's iPhone on a Windows Mobile handset.

With its larger than average 4.3in screen, HTC's Sense user interface, and a powerful enough processor to drive it all, the HD2 makes touch input much more practical and usable than on many other handsets we have seen.

On the downside, this screen makes the phone itself a little large to easily fit in a pocket.


In hardware terms, the HD2 is similar to many other high-end smartphones, with HSPA support up to 7.2Mbit/s, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and built-in GPS capability.

Click on the Image to see full specifications

Monday, December 7, 2009

ABB bags Rs.506-cr order from Bangalore Metro

Leading power and automation technology group ABB Monday said it has won an order worth Rs.506 crore from Bangalore Metro Rail Corp to provide power solutions for the city's proposed metro network.

"ABB will design, supply, install and commission four substations that receive and distribute electricity," said the company in a statement.

Bangalore's population has grown at a rapid pace in the last decade owing to a flourishing IT industry resulting in the city's infrastructure coming under tremendous pressure.

The urban population is expected to rise to more than 8.5 million by 2011 from the current 7 million or so.

Godrej Properties plans residential project near Chennai

Mumbai real estate developer Godrej Properties Monday said it will jointly develop a mid-market residential project near here in association with the city-based cutting manufacturer Addison.

As per the deal, Godrej Properties has acquired the developmental rights on a 12.57-acre plot owned by Addison.

"We will promote a mid-market residential apartment project after getting the necessary approvals," said Godrej Properties chief operating officer K.T. Jithendran.

"As per the agreement, Addison will be entitled for 30 percent of the saleable constructed area and our share will be 70 percent," Jithendran told reporters here.

Last year, Godrej and Addison had signed a deal to jointly develop commercial and residential buildings on 17.39 acres in Tiruvallur district near here.

The Mumbai firm paid Rs.8 crore to Addison for its share of land, measuring around 8.75 acres.

According to Jithendran, Godrej Properties is looking at mid-market residential apartments in Chennai and Kolkata, apart from other cities.

The company will hit the capital market Wednesday for raising around Rs.500 crore, to be used for acquisition of land development rights, construction and repayment of loans.

Indian retail sector to be $410-bn by fiscal-end: Assocham

The Indian retail market is expected to reach $410 billion by the end of the current fiscal, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

Another report on India's retail market released here late last month had made similar projections, saying the sector was expected to reach $535 billion by 2013.

"With anticipated $30 billion fresh investment over the next five years, modern retail will show impressive compound annual growth rate of 40 percent," said the Fashion and Lifestyle Franchise Report 2009-10.

"With this growth rate, the market is expected to reach $535 billion by 2013," added the report compiled by Franchise India Holding Ltd, a franchise solutions provider.

As per the Assocham study released Monday, the retail sector is estimated to grow 5.5 percent to become $410 billion market by April 2010, registering growths of more than 22 percent and 30 percent in the third and fourth quarters this fiscal.

The study noted that the share of retail trade in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) was between 8-10 percent in 2007.

With strides of development in the organized retail segment, its share has now risen to 12 percent, Assocham said.

Also, organised retail, which currently accounts for nearly 5 percent of the retail market, is pegged at around $9.23 billion and was expected to grow at 2.3 percent to touch $13 billion by the end of this financial year.

"Retail sector is witnessing exponential growth with development taking place not only in major cities and metros but even in tier-II and tier-III cities in India," said Assocham president Swati Piramal in a statement.

Nokia to fund four Indian software developers

Finnish mobile handset major Nokia will fund four Indian software developers under its $10-million joint open screen project fund with Adobe for developing multi-screen infotainment applications, a company official said Monday.

Infotainment applications are information-based media content programmes.

The Indian firms and content aggregators, which will develop the four applications, are Bollywood Hungama, Eros Bollywood, India Today and Aaj Tak Videos.

"The applications, selected out of 900 entries from 60 countries across the world, will be available to consumers through our Ovi Store later this month," Nokia India managing director D. Shivakumar said at the Forum Nokia Developer Conference-2009 here.

Nokia also released the new software development kit for its series 40 mass market mobile devices to help developers create applications and services for the high-volume feature phone market worldwide.

The kit will also feature support for Indian regional languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi Tamil and Telugu.

"Mobile users are consuming more and more content daily. Considering that the next billion mobile users will be from emerging markets like India, our developers have the opportunity to not only shape local and global consumer mobile experiences, but also lead the mobile applications ecosystem," Shivakumar noted.

Nokia has about 180,000 local developers to leverage off its investments and the market opportunity to innovate and create new revenue opportunities for themselves.

"With the internet entering into the core of mobile experience, we see huge opportunities for local developers in shaping the future of mobile services," Forum Nokia vice-president Purnima Kochikar said on the occasion.

Nokia also showcased at the conference its latest Linux-based Maemo 5 OS (operating system) that will help deliver a true PC like experience.

The company will market and distribute applications developed on both Maemo and Symbian platforms through its Ovi Store globally.

About 650 developers from across the country attended the conference.

Nokia's open screen project fund has been designed to accelerate development of applications, content and services that leverage the Adobe Flash Platform and run across mobile, desktop and consumer electronics handsets.

Dell launches Inspiron Zino series

Dell India today announced the mini-sized Inspiron Zino and Inspiron Zino HD desktops which are versatile enough to handle tasks from basic computing chores to driving a big-screen, High-Definition video media center. With a choice of colors, the Inspiron Zino desktops can be easily personalized to add flair to any room in the home. The Inspiron Zino is available starting this month, and the Inspiron Zino HD will be available in India next month.

"The Inspiron Zino proves again that great things can really come in small packages," said Girish Mehta, Consumer Marketing Director, Dell India. "It is a fashionable and functional computer that is small enough to fit almost anywhere in the home and can be personalized for the style-minded."

Inspiron Zino

Starting at Rs 17,500 the Inspiron Zino is ideal as a household PC that can fit in tight spaces and make home networking a cinch. It measures about 7.8 inches square and 3.5 inches tall. An added value is that the economical Inspiron Zino is available to customers in India with a choice of 4 colors - Piano Black, Plum Purple, Spring Green and True Blue.

Inspiron Zino Features:

-- Intel® AtomTM 230 processor
-- Intel's integrated 950 GMA graphics
-- 160GB* - 250GB* hard drive storage options
-- Media card reader and 4 USB ports (2 front, 2 back) make it easy and convenient to quickly transfer files and data
-- 8X DVD-ROM drive or DVD+/-RW drive

Inspiron Zino HD

While small in size, the Inspiron Zino HD is a big performer with standard HD-capable integrated graphics, HDMI output and built-in networking that make it smart for typical home and student computing activities such as word processing, e-mail, organizing photos and music, and surfing the Internet. With optional additional memory, hard drive storage, combo Blu-ray disc player, wireless remote control and Windows 7 Media Player, the Inspiron Zino HD can be configured into a powerful home media center computer

Inspiron Zino HD Features:

-- Choice of AMD Athlon processors or dual core Athlon Neo X2 6850e.
-- Up to 8GB dual channel DDR 2 memory
-- Up to 1TB internal hard disk storage
-- Combo DVD/CD RW drive with optional Blu-ray Disc combo
-- Integrated 10/100/1000 networking with wireless option
-- Optional wireless keyboard and mouse
-- Built in 2.1 high-definition audio and 4-in-1 media card reader
-- Integrated ATI graphics adapter with standard HDMI and VGA video connections, and optional 512MB discrete graphics adapter
-- Four USB ports (2 front/2 rear); two eSATA ports (rear).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jobless data shows "much-needed progress"-W.House

The White House said on Friday a sharp slowdown in job losses showed ''much-needed progress'' and the Obama administration was looking at the prospects for using remaining financial bailout funds to help create employment.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, however, that President Barack Obama would not use an economy speech scheduled for next Tuesday to unveil a second economic stimulus plan.

Gibbs was speaking to reporters after a government report showed U.S. employers cut far fewer jobs than expected last month. The economy shed only 11,000 jobs in November while the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 10 percent from October's 10.2 percent.

Railway tickets from BSNL Seva Kendras

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will start 'Seva Kendra' at village panchayat level in villages in this district.

BSNL General Manager (Dhar) Vijay Nayak told reporters here that villagers could get railway tickets through internet facility-equipped 'Seva Kendras'. Besides, pensioners would also be benefitted as they would not be required to visit district headquarters often.

Broadband facility had been expanded by setting up 53 towers in the past one year, while 11 towers were underconstruction, he added.

Uninor plans to achieve 8% market share by 2018

Uninor Global GSM Services Andhra Pradesh Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Satish Kumar Kannan today claimed that the company will become a significant player in the country by achieving eight per cent market share by 2018 in terms of subscriber perspective.

Talking to newspersons here, he said Uninor had launched its GSM service in seven circles-- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West and Bihar (including Jharkhand)--, few days ago.

Stating that the GSM services operation would be expanded with more launches in the offing in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal and Goa by June 2010, he claimed that in terms of GSM footprint, the launch in seven circles in the country was the largest Greenfield launch operation in the telecom history.

Mr Kannan said the 11 hub offices being set up across the country would decide what is important to a particular state in terms of products or services from local office.

There would be 50 exclusive outlets in the country for rendering the service to the customers, he said, adding in Andhra Pradesh alone seven stores and 20 franchisee stores would get ready in the next 30 days.

The CMO said the network would cover a national footprint of close to 600 million, providing a global connection and pan-India access to the world's largest population and claimed that 2,000 towns and villages in the state would be covered by the Uninor network.

Stating that national and international roaming services would be launched shortly, he said Uninor would be retailed at over 21,000 points of sale through close of 1000 exclusive distributors in the seven circles.

The company holds a pan-India UAS licence to offer mobile telephony services in each of India's 22 circles with spectrum to roll out these services in 21 of the 22 circles, he said.

On Talkmore@29p, he said it was designed for the customers who talk longer on their calls. The plan offers customers local calls at 29 paise per minute and STD calls at 49 paise per minute, with a call set up fee of 39 paise.

On Callmore@29p, Mr Kannan said the plan was designed for the customers who call more often by offering the lowest per minute local call rates in the market. The plan offers local calls at 29 paise per minute and STD calls at 49 paise per minute with a daily rental of Rs two.

Dhaka's new notebook users are mostly gamers

Computer businessmen of Bangladesh call 2009 the Year of the Notebook due to the growing popularity of the small computers here. They noted 30 percent rise in sales, mainly to youths who are home-users or go for gaming.

The businessmen said Thursday about 40 percent of the customers were gamers. According to them, the entry-level home users come to the market for relatively cheaper computers within 25,000 Taka ($355) on an average.

Many home users buy laptops at higher prices too, but most of the computers with high configurations go to gamers' homes.

Laptops and notebooks are popular among different age groups thanks to relatively low price and mobility, The Daily Star said.

'Google disabling applications for Cuban users'

Cuba's official Juventud Rebelde newspaper has criticised Google for blocking access to certain applications, including the Zeitgeist search trends tool, for users on the island.

"Even though Google has a domain for Cuba (.cu), Zeitgeist appears to bypass the Caribbean archipelago in offering its results," the official daily of the Cuban Communist Party's youth organisation said Thursday.

The US-based information provider has also blocked Cubans' access to Google Earth, Google Desktop Search, Google Code, Google Toolbar and Chrome, Juventud Rebelde said.

"It appears that for Google, which, according to its creators has the goal of making possible mass access to information, we Cubans do not count," Juventud Rebelde said, without mentioning the numerous restrictions that the Cuban government places on Internet access.

"This is not the first time, and will almost surely not be the last, that Google contradicts its own 'philosophy' and joins in the US embargo against Cuba, even going against the statements made by the current president, Barack Obama, who said he was committed to facilitating access to new technologies for Cubans," the newspaper said.

Juventud Rebelde accused Washington of "blocking and increasing the cost of purchases of technological equipment" needed to develop the Internet in Cuba, and of "orchestrating campaigns to damage the prestige" of the island and "creating cyber mercenaries", a reference to dissident bloggers like Yoani Sanchez.

State media regularly criticise US Internet firms, without ever mentioning that Cubans cannot have Internet access at home and service providers must block access to hundreds of websites that the authorities do not like.

Single screens must for showbiz, but few takers

Salman Khan starrer "Wanted" has proved that single screen theatres can spell good business for Bollywood. But scarcity of land and the kind of movies being made are deterring their resurgence.

Manmohan Shetty, the filmmaker who spearheaded multiplex culture in India, now feels that single screens are "vital". Bobby Bedi too has expressed angst against the exorbitant movie tickets at multiplexes.

"Single screens play a vital role in box office collections. Most of the states in the country don't have a multiplex and these survive on single screens," said Amit Awasthi, manager (programming and operations) of Spice Cinemas at Noida.

"We cannot just kill single screens. Both have their own clients because of the gentry and the pricing."

Yogesh Raizada, corporate head, Wave Cinemas, said: "Pricing has always been a sensitive issue since day one for the public."

But the owners of single screens say not much land is available for them. "Where is the land or property or location to start a new single screen?" Piyush Raizada, director, Delite Cinema that upgraded itself into a two-screener, told IANS.

Kiratbhai Desai, owner, Moti cinema, said: "The land is so costly today that no one will invest big amounts for a single-screen. It's not viable. No one is interested in making a single-screen theatre because it is not worth it."

"Wanted" grossed about Rs.38 crore across the country in its first week and 70 percent of the collection came from single screens. But one film is not enough to motivate people to open or renovate single screen theatres.

"It's a catch-22 situation. Multiplexes have actually generated revenues but their ticket rates are high due to property prices. Single screens are mostly family owned and it's just that we are emotionally attached to cinema so we keep upgrading," said Piyush Raizada.

Desai said: "Films today are being made for the multiplexes and that's why single screens are not doing good business. Producers get good revenues from multiplexes and hence we do not get films like 'Wake Up Sid' or 'Rock On!' or 'Paa' because they are now concentrating on films for the classes and not masses."

Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan shares the same opinion.

"Where are the movies for single screens? The only film that did business this year in single screen theatres is 'Wanted'," he said.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said: "The point is you have to make tickets available for the common man. Today piracy has spread its wings everywhere and you have movies available for peanuts due to that. So if you want consistent footfalls, you have to have a nominal price structure for that."

PM welcomes progress on 3G auctions

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said he was happy that the process to auction third generation (3G) spectrum was on track after the defence ministry agreed to vacate 10 MHz of radio waves held by the armed forces.

"I am happy that the auction of spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access services will be conducted very shortly," he said at the valedictory function of India Telecom 2009 conference.

"This spectrum will be allocated at a market-determined prices rather than through an administered mechanism," the prime minister told delegates at the conference organised by the Department of Telecommunications and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce.

"This will also make available data services to a wider section of consumers and give a fillip to broadband on wireless, unfettered by last-mile constraints," he added.

The cabinet late Thursday evening approved a Rs.10,000-crore project to build an alternate optic fibre cable network for the armed forces, enabling the defence ministry to vacate spectrum and allow 3G auctions to be held early next year.

The government hopes to raise Rs.35,000 crore from the auctions.

Manmohan Singh also said that India's telecom sector, the "fastest growing" in the world, indicated its future.

"It (the sector) tells us about the future prospects of our economy, of our polity and our society. The future is here. The telecom industry displays characteristics which can give you a glimpse of things to happen in our country."

The prime minister also noted the rapid progress made in the sector in the past decade, and said: "This is exemplified by the achievement last week of the figure of 500 million mobile subscribers. We are today the fastest growing telecom market in the world."

At the same time, he said, one needed to be conscious of the digital divide in the country.

"Our rural tele-density is 20 percent. We must therefore double our rural tele-density in the next three years. It is imperative that we exploit the opportunities offered by mobile telephony for promotion of financial inclusion."

Amazon Kindle 2 International Version Review - CNET


Pretty much everyone's talking about eBooks and eBook readers nowadays, this brand of devices managing to move from a fairly niche segment to mainstream status over a very short period of time. And the one device that begun this revolution by providing a comprehensive combo between an online content store and an actual physical device is Amazon's Kindle portable eBook reader, which was initially launched back in the second half of 2007.

Since then, the Kindle has undergone a major hardware overhaul, its second iteration, simply dubbed the Kindle 2, officially arriving in stores in February 2009. Furthermore, Amazon decided to launch a wider-format Kindle as well (the newspaper and magazine-oriented Kindle DX), but also to finally allow customers from other countries all over the world to enjoy this very interesting product, with the launch of the Kindle 2 International Version in October 2009.

Over the course of time, we've kept track of pretty much everything Amazon and its Kindle have achieved, so we obviously loved actually going hands-on with a Kindle 2 unit. Of course, since this is the first Kindle we tested (hopefully, not the last either), we weren't really able to carry out some comparative tests to the previous version, so what you'll read about as follows refers just to this incarnation of the device and that's pretty much it.

As usual, we won't go into too many details regarding the Kindle 2 in this introductory segment. We will point out, however, that there are a couple of specific areas where we've found this version to be slightly inferior to its US-only counterpart, most being related rather to the lack of support from local mobile carriers rather than something being wrong with the actual device.

Overall, the Kindle 2 experience was a very pleasant one, and we've really managed to see why Amazon hopes that it will become the “iPod of portable eBook readers.” Hopefully, you'll manage to see that as well, after going through our review.

Aesthetics and Design 
To tell you the truth, we really didn't know what to expect from Amazon's portable reader when taking it out of the box, given the fact that we had only seen it in pictures up until then. However, upon unboxing it, we had a very pleasurable surprise, since the Kindle 2 is, without a doubt, one of the most attractive, sleek and carefully designed products of this type available out there (on par with Sony's Reader family, which we also took for a significantly quicker spin back at IFA 2009).
Buy Amazon Kindle International Version Now

So, similar to the original Kindle, the dominant color in the case of the Kindle 2 is white, the reader's front side and buttons being manufactured out of a white, reinforced plastic material. However, the rear side of the reader is all brushed aluminum, which is in fact a very good choice, since it protects the device when placed on some surface, while also delivering an enhanced grip level. Moreover, it's quite “fingerprint-unfriendly,” which, as far as we're concerned, is always a very good thing.

And since we're on the issue of grip, it's also worth mentioning that the e-reader features a gray, rubber strip on the upper, rear side, which further enhances the device's level of stability while in use.

Now, while we'll refrain from going into more details regarding this thing's level of portability just now (but we'll get back to that right away), we feel compelled to tell you that the Kindle 2 has a very sturdy build (despite its more or less “flimsy” look), all the materials used having quite a good level of quality. In other words, we're talking about a sleek and elegant product, which will surely draw some attention while in use, besides providing quite an advanced level of functionality.

Size and portability

We promised you earlier a more detailed discussion about the Kindle's size and level of portability, so we'll start by providing you with the basic numbers, both in terms of dimensions - 8 x 5.3 x 0.36 inches (203.2mm x 134.6mm x 9.1mm) and weight - 10.2 ounces (289.2 grams).
However, if we stuck to simply offering you these figures, we would be sort of downplaying the actual level of portability provided by Amazon's device. Hence, upon first picking up the Kindle, we were astonished by just how lightweight this thing is, despite its fairly large size. Plus, as far as the dimensions are concerned, we can really say that, at least at a first look, this has almost the same thickness as an iPod or iPhone, albeit a much larger size.

Button and control options

Right from the start, we'll mention that the Kindle 2 doesn't come equipped with a touchscreen display, and, for this reason, all of its controls are analogue (in other words, control buttons and switches).
Buy Amazon Kindle International Version Now

The first and, obviously, most important button is the power switch, located on the top side of the device, and is one of the two metallic buttons on the device. The other metallic button is the Volume Control (up and down), located on the right side of the Kindle. All of the other control elements are the made from plastic, but that doesn't make using them any less pleasurable. Plus, they're all placed on the front side of the portable reader.

So, on the front/left side, we can find, from top to bottom, a Previous Page and a Next Page button, whose functionality is pretty clear. On the opposite side (across the screen, so to say), we can find yet another Next Page button, but also a Home button, whose purpose is to take users back to the Main Menu, from wherever they might be at the moment.

Beneath these buttons, we can find a triad of control elements, which, in fact, are extremely important for the overall functionality and control of the e-reader. So, what we've got here are a Menu button, a Back button and, finally, a tiny control stick (placed between the other two buttons and used for navigating through the various menus and the pages themselves) that also doubles as an “Enter” button when pressed.

The Kindle 2 also sports a full QWERTY keyboard, as well as a couple of other buttons (ALT, SYM, DEL, etc.), found right on the front side of the e-book reader. Apart from the “Space” key (which is a bit larger), all of the other keys are circular and roughly have the same size.
Buy Amazon Kindle International Version Now

What's interesting to mention is that, despite the fact that the keyboard looks very small and crammed up at first, that's really not the case, with the spacing between the keys being just right in order to prevent accidental activation (at the same time occupying a decent amount of space on the Kindle's body). In fact, typing on this keyboard is very easy to do, even people with larger fingers encountering little problem when adding some notes or searching for something.


Like most electronic devices arriving on the market nowadays, the Amazon Kindle 2 (international version) sports both physical and wireless connectivity options, the wireless ones being the most important, in this case (for this reason, we'll also leave them for last).

So, as far as the “physical” options are concerned, we're only talking about a 3.5-mm headphone jack (found on the top side, near the power switch), and a micro-USB port, found on the bottom side of the Kindle 2. This micro-USB (micro-B type) interface is used for connecting the eBook reader to a computer (for data transfers / charging) or to a special power adapter included in the package, just for recharging purposes.

As mentioned before, the connectivity options that really “matter” in the case of the Kindle 2 are found within its slim body, in the form of a built-in 3G (HSDPA) modem and an EDGE/GSM wireless module. They offer access to Amazon's Whispernet network (or its equivalent in other parts of the world), allowing users to connect to Amazon's online book shop (and the Internet in general) even when they're not in the immediate vicinity of a Wi-Fi hotspot or something of the kind.

In fact, this enhanced degree of freedom, self-sufficiency and mobility is what makes the Kindle 2 really stand out from the increasingly larger crowd of eBook readers that have arrived on the market over the past couple of months, most of which require a Wi-Fi connection or a USB connection / memory card for transferring data/files. With the Kindle 2, one will have no problems in searching, purchasing and reading a book pretty much wherever they might be, which is really something worth pointing out.

Oh, and did we mention that Internet access is completely free with the Kindle, with Amazon covering all of the usage costs?
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Display and speakers

Last, but certainly not least, we'll have to say a few words about the e-Ink display that represents pretty much the centerpiece of the Amazon Kindle 2. So, in strictly technical terms, we're talking about a 6-inch e-paper display, providing 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale... but these are just figures, and, to tell you the truth, they don't reflect the actual shock one will feel when first taking a look at the Kindle's e-paper screen, especially if they have never laid their eyes on a similar solution before.

The idea here is that most of us are used to LCD or even OLED panels, which have a very high brightness level and, more importantly, a very high refresh rate. This is great when working, but when relaxing and reading a book, the last thing you'd wanna use is a solution that takes a serious toll on your eyes.

However, the e-Ink e-paper display is quite different, since the refresh rate is far from fantastic, one actually being able to “see” just how quick pages are refreshed. At first, this might look like a negative feature, but for long-time users, it will prove extremely useful, since it will keep their eyes “fresh” and ready for more content.

As you might have noticed from the Kindle 2 photos, the portable e-Book reader also sports a couple of speakers, installed on the rear, lower side. If you're wondering just why an e-Reader requires speakers, the answer is a fairly simple one – because it's also able to play music and, more importantly, read text out loud, via voice synthesizer software. But given the fact that the audio playback is fairly limited, the same can be said about the quality of the built-in speakers, which are not exactly the best you've ever encountered.

Tech facts
In general, within our tech facts section, we talk about a certain product’s technical specifications, as they're provided by the manufacturer. However, in the case of the Amazon Kindle 2 International Edition, we're about to make a slight exception, namely the fact that, besides the specs list provided by Amazon itself, we'll also offer you some additional info on what the e-Reader has on the inside, in terms of hardware.

Official Kindle 2 spec list by Amazon

Display: 6-inch diagonal E Ink electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale;

Size (in inches): 8 x 5.3 x 0.36 inches (203.2mm x 134.6mm x 9.1mm).

Weight: 10.2 ounces (289.2 grams).

System Requirements: None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer. Check wireless coverage.

Storage: 2GB internal (approximately 1.4GB available for user content).

Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to one week with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to two weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. In low-coverage areas or in EDGE/GPRS-only coverage, wireless usage will consume battery power more quickly.

Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately four hours via the included U.S. power adapter. Also, it supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.

Connectivity: HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback to EDGE/GPRS; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide wireless coverage via AT&T's 3G high-speed data network in the U.S. and partner networks outside of the U.S. See Wireless Terms and Conditions.

USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) for connection to the Kindle U.S. power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.

Audio: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, rear-mounted stereo speakers.

Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

Included Accessories: U.S. power adapter (supports 100V-240V), USB 2.0 cable, rechargeable battery. Book cover sold separately.

Documentation: Quick Start Guide (included in box) [PDF]; Kindle User's Guide (pre-installed on device) [PDF]. Additional information in multiple languages available online.

Additional information by iSuppli and iFixit

As promised, we'll also provide you with some additional information regarding the Kindle 2's hardware configuration, this time obtained from famous market research company iSuppli, which carried out a breakdown of the Kindle's components while also revealing more than Amazon was willing to admit in the process. Corroborating this info is this break-down by iFixit, which took a very close look inside the Kindle 2.
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So, what iSuppli's study reveals is that the Kindle features a wireless broadband module from Novatel Wireless, as well as a multimedia application processor coming from Freescale (MCIMX31LVKN5C M91E CTAH0850 - 532 MHz, ARM-11 90nm 14mm package).

Additionally, the device sports a 32MB mobile DDR SDRAM chip manufactured by Samsung, as well as a 2 GB moviNAND package (pertaining to the aforementioned Korean company). Also worth noting is that the Kindle packs a 3.7 V, 1530 mAh lithium polymer battery, on whose overall functioning time we'll comment a bit more in the near future.

Real-life performance

Overall functionality, setup and menu navigation

We've talked enough about just what we might expect from the Kindle 2 in terms of design and hardware components, so it's about time to see just how they blend with the software in order to create an encompassing reading experience.

We've decided to divide this section into a couple of different segments in order to provide some sort of differentiation between the functions and features the Kindle 2 is able to provide. However, we'll have to point out that, in reality, all of these functions are linked quite tightly and seamlessly, passing from one function (reading a book, for example) to another (like searching a word from the text on the built-in dictionary or Wikipedia).

When one first switches on the Kindle, the first screen they'll be presented with is a nice photo of a person underneath a tree, followed by a quick explanation of the meaning of the word “kindle.” From there, users will be taken to the main menu, where they'll be provided with a list of the items available for reading, whether we're talking about actual books, “clippings” (excerpts from books selected and copied by the user), online newspapers, etc. Moreover, also from the main menu, they'll be able to start searching for words from the “New Oxford American Dictionary” or access the device's settings and experimental features.

The device's main menu allows users to easily search books following certain parameters, including Author, Title and location. When selecting a certain eBook, numerous options are provided, as readers will be able to either start reading the respective text, move to a certain location within it, read a short description of the respective book, or even search through it. Ultimately, the book can be easily removed from the device.

Navigating the menus should prove to be an easy enough task, carried out via the “Next Page,” “Previous page,” “Menu” and “Back” buttons found on the Kindle 2. While we won't go into more details regarding this particular issue right now, we'll just say that one should get accustomed to the Kindle 2's overall control and navigation system pretty quickly, since it is, indeed, quite user-friendly.

As we've mentioned above, one will be able to easily access the settings menu from the main page. Here, they can switch the wireless connection on or off (in fact, this particular option is available from pretty much every single menu) and edit some registration-related data. So, for example, the user and device's names can be easily changed, and the same goes for the owner's personal information or the e-mail address used for automatic file conversion and transfer to the Kindle.

Now, this brings us to another important issue we were keen on tackling, namely that of file support. At least theoretically, one shouldn't have any file compatibility issues if they decide to only purchase e-books from Amazon. But what if you decide to load some of the free e-books available online onto the Kindle 2, or even other file types? Well, in this case, things get a bit complicated.

Besides the AZW format, the Kindle 2 also supports, natively, TXT files, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI and PRC files. However, in order to view HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP files, a conversion process is required, typically involving using Amazon's own conversion service (via the e-mail address attached to every Kindle).

Up until recently, the latter case applied to PDF files as well, but given just how popular this file format is on the Internet, Amazon has decided to up the ante a bit and, within its latest firmware update, added a native PDF reader to the Kindle software. Unfortunately, we've tested the Kindle prior to this update actually becoming available, so we'll just have to applaud Amazon for this decision and move on to the next segment of the review.

Purchasing and reading e-Books and e-newspapers (e-magazines)

Quite obviously, reading e-books and e-newspapers is the most important feature the Kindle 2 has to offer (after all, this is what the e-reader was built for), and this is exactly what we'll deal with as follows.
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Now, naturally, before actually being able to read a book, you'll have to purchase it, and in order to do so, you'll have to access Amazon's online book store. Luckily, as we've mentioned before, doing so should be a task pretty easy to do, since the Amazon store is available directly from the Kindle 2 (the “Shop in Kindle Store” option can be accessed by pressing the Menu button from pretty much wherever you might “be” within the device's menus).

After entering the store, you'll be able to choose exactly the type of content you want to shop fore (Books, Newspapers or Magazines) and you'll be provided with an extensive list of results. Of course, it's a good idea to narrow the search results by selecting the particular genre you're interested in.

After you've decided on a certain title, you'll be able to get some additional info on the book (as for example, the original publishing date, number of printed pages, ranking within the Amazon Store, etc.) and, more importantly, you'll be able to “order” a sample for downloading and storing onto your Kindle. Of course, the sample is limited, but it's typically enough to help you make up your mind on whether to purchase the book or not (which you can always do at a later date).

As far as newspapers are concerned, Amazon is offering a fairly wide selection, but consisting mostly of titles from western countries (very few international ones). When opting for a certain newspaper, users can either purchase the current issue or make a subscription to receive each issue on a daily basis. Pretty much the same scenario applies to magazines, the main difference being the fact that pricing for magazines is typically higher than in the case of simple newspapers.

Now that we're done with the purchasing process, it's time to talk about just what reading an e-material (whether we're talking about an e-book, newspaper or magazine) implies. So, after purchasing such an item from the Amazon store, it will be displayed on the first page of the Kindle 2, where you'll be able to easily access it (simply move the cursor and click on it).

As in the case of a paperback or hardback books, you'll first be provided with the book's cover (just in grayscale, sadly, but that's one of the few limitations imposed by e-paper technology), followed by the actual content. Moving between pages is done via the “Next Page” and “Previous Page” the Kindle 2 comes equipped with, while one will also be provided with several useful navigation options, such as the possibility to check out the table of contents, move directly to the beginning of the book or to a specific location, sync to the furthest page read, read a short description of the book or search it.

Some of the most interesting features available here are the possibility to search for a certain word within the text or to add bookmarks, notes or highlights, which are saved to a special location called “My Notes and Marks.” Highlighting a piece of text is quite an easy task, carried out via the control stick.

One can also easily add notes while reading a certain book by simply moving the cursor to the place in the text where they want to add a note and starting to type on the built-in keyboard. Of course, don't expect some complex word editor, but this feature is quite useful for making some annotations to one's texts (especially when talking about some text-book used for academic purposes).

Also, if you're not quite sure about the meaning of a certain word, you'll be able to easily search for it either via the “New Oxford American Dictionary” we've mentioned above or by using Google or Wikipedia. The last two are particularly interesting, but we'll refrain from commenting more on this issue here, since we've got a whole chapter dedicated to Internet-related features coming right up.

Anyway, back to e-book reading. So, if you've decided to search for a certain word within the dictionary, you'll be provided with a short definition right on the page you'll be reading at that moment, and if that doesn't prove to be satisfactory, you'll always be able to access the full dictionary entry by simply selecting “more” from the menu.”

Before moving on to other matters, we'll also have to say a few things about the overall reading experience provided by the Kindle 2. Without a doubt, the eInk e-paper display is worth every dime, since it really manages to mimic the feeling of reading a book to a very high degree, taking only a minimum toll on one's eyes. Plus, this type of display solution requires only a minimum amount of power in order to work, which is one of the reasons why the Kindle's battery is able to last for so long.

Internet browsing

Since it packs a 3G module, the Kindle 2 is also Internet enabled. Unfortunately, this Internet connectivity is somewhat dependent on the area where the user finds himself/herself at a certain moment, since, in our area of the world, the web-browser installed on the Kindle 2 International Version didn't really work. Unfortunately, the same applied for the Google search option.

On the other hand, the Amazon Store worked flawlessly, the pages loading up without any significant delays. Also, strange enough, Wikipedia worked quite fine as well, albeit there was somewhat of a problem with the photos (on the other hand, the Kindle user guide does warn us that pages containing a lot of photos might have some issues).

The web-browser built within the Kindle is rather basic, but offers quite a few interesting navigation-related options, such as the possibility to clear the cookies, cache and browsing history but also to enable/disable JavaScript and images. To tell you the truth, if you're looking for a device that will let you browse the web on the go, you'll have to look past Amazon's Kindle 2, but this browser might prove to be an interesting side-tool, in certain situations.

Experimental features

We've already covered one of the Kindle 2's experimental features above (the basic web browser), so now we'll talk about the remaining two, namely the text-to-speech technology and the MP3 player, both of which make use of the e-reader's built-in speakers.

The Text-to-Speech function can be activated (for the books that actually support it, because, due to certain copyright issues, some of the books available from Amazon don't support this function) by holding down the “Shift” key and pressing the “SYM” key to start/stop playing.

Much to our surprise, the voice rendering is actually pretty good, a lot better than we'd expected it, anyway. Of course, some people might find it a little... robotic, but, then again, we must not forget the fact that this is not an audio book read by a real person, but just an advanced software. As far as the power of the voice rendering is concerned, the built-in speakers manage to rise up to the task quite well.

Another experimental feature provided by the Kindle 2 is MP3 playback. In order to enjoy some music while reading their favorite book, users will have to first transfer the respective songs into the “music” folder on the device (by connecting the e-book reader to a computer via USB), then hold the ALT key and press Shift to either start or stop the playback process, while F skips to the next track.

We've tried that as well, but, honestly, the result was far from impressive. I mean, sure, one will be able to “hear” the song, but enjoying it... well, that's a whole different story. As far as we're concerned, it's better to opt for a pair of headphones in this case rather than use the built-in speakers.

Battery life

Battery life is also a major issue with the Kindle, since, as we've mentioned before, the eInk e-paper display requires a lot less energy than a normal one (which should translate into a longer functioning life).

Initially, Amazon claimed that the Kindle 2 should work for around one week with the wireless module switched on and for up to two weeks with the wireless switched off. Then, via the firmware update mentioned above, battery life with the 3G module on was allegedly pushed to around seven days.

Now, since we tested the Kindle 2 prior of this upgrade, we'll only be able to relay you the data gathered under these conditions. So, in our case, the Kindle 2 worked for around 3.5 days with the 3G module switched on and for around 12 days without ever going wireless. As far as we're concerned, that's pretty impressive.


The good

- very cool design;
- impressive eInk e-paper display;
- user-friendly control system;
- integrated access to the Amazon online book store, Wikipedia, Google;
- text-to-speech technology;
- built-in web-browser;
- support for MP3 playback;
- built-in PDF reader (via the latest firmware update);
- possibility to make notes in the text;
- possibility to search for certain words in the built-in dictionary or online.

The bad

- sub-par built-in speakers;
- some problems related to Internet connectivity outside of the United States;
- relatively poor file format support;
- certain problems in displaying photo-rich websites;
- some users might have an issue with the built-in keyboard.

Overall impressions

In the first section of the review, we promised to try and show you just why Amazon might have a point when considering its Kindle 2 as a prime candidate for the title of “the iPod of portable e-book readers.” As you've been able to see, the device does bear some similarities to Apple's product, featuring an attractive, well-finished and elegant design, a very good level of integration with an online store (despite the fact that the available content is not exactly as affordable as the songs available via iTunes).

The eInk e-paper display is, without a doubt, the main selling point this product has to offer, since it's a lot less tiresome for one's eyes than an LCD or OLED display, for example. Also, this display requires less power in order to work, which translates into a longer functioning life, but users who've never laid eyes on an e-paper solution might have some problems getting accustomed to it.

The only question that remains to be answered is that related to its actual value. Now, if you really like reading (especially if you're a “power-reader”), then spending a couple of hundred dollars on the Kindle 2 will certainly be one of the best things you have ever done, given the enhanced reading experience it provides. Otherwise, I guess you might find a better use for your money.

Sales package

- Kindle 2 International version;
- USB cable (with micro-USB port at one end);
- USB – mains power adapter;
- User's manual.
Buy Amazon Kindle International Version Now

Credits:: CNET

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Hindustan Times now on Kindle
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Uninor Launches GSM Services

Uninor, the joint venture telecom company between Unitech and the Telenor Group of Norway, Thursday launched its mobile services.

It also announced low rates of 29 paise for local and 49 paise for STD calls, a move that could further deepen the mobile tariff war. Uninor is the brand name of Unitech Wireless.

The service was launched simultaneously in seven telecom circles -- Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West and Bihar (including Jharkhand).

Uninor said it would launch its operations in Orissa this month and add five more circles early next year.
Uninor introduced two plans for its subscribers -- 'talkmore' at 29 paise base plan and 'callmore' at 29 paise subscription plan. Under the base plan, customers can make local calls at 29 paise a minute and STD calls at 49 paise a minute, with a call set up fee of 39 paise, whereas in subscription plan, local calls will be charged at 29 paise a minute and STD call at 49 paise per minute, with a daily rental of Rs.2. It has no plans to offer the per-second tariff option.

Telenor Group Chief Executive Officer and President Jon Fredrik Baksaas said: "In terms of GSM footprint in a single day, this is the largest greenfield launch operation in telecom history. With launch in seven circles and roaming agreements in place for the rest, we have started our service in India as a pan-Indian national operator."

Unitech Wireless Managing Director Stein-Erik Vellan said Uninor would be retailed at over 2.1 lakh points of sale through its 1,000 exclusive distributors in the seven circles. The company expects 8% market share in terms of subscribers by 2018. It targets EBITDA break-even in three years, and operating cash-flow break-even in the next five years, he added.

About their plans for the forthcoming 3G spectrum auction, he said they were still discussing it, but Uninor would not bid for all-India 3G spectrum license.

Ramco Systems to offer Core Banking Analytics solutions

Global enterprise software solutions and service provider Ramco Systems today announced that it will offer pre-built Core Banking Analytics Solutions providing real time performance management application to Indian banks based on HEP's Neoview software.

The company has already tied up with two Indian banks for pilot projects and will also roll out the product in the global market.

''The platform, specially designed for banks will change the way banking is done in terms of speed, efficiency and risk management. Executives at different level will be able to take appropriate decisions in real time,'' said Ramco Systems, Chief Operating Officer Kamesh Ramamoorthy.

He said that 69 per cent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) regard Business Information (BI) and Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) as the two top IT spends. EDW industry is growing at more than 20 per cent CAGR especially in the banking and telecom industries.

Microsoft launches consumer education to avert piracy

Microsoft India today announced the launch of new consumer-led education and enforcement initiative to reduce the menace of piracy in the country, based on the voluntarily submitted consumer reports on piracy.

Aptly calling the initiative the 'Consumer Action Day', the move aims to protect consumers from the risks and perils of pirated and counterfeit software and to educate, enable and empower consumers to fight and reject piracy by reporting instances of software piracy and counterfeiting by the resellers and instances where they have been the victim of piracy.

Over the last few months, Microsoft received numerous complaints of serious nature from alert and diligent consumers, who had unknowingly purchased unlicensed and counterfeit software and found it riddled with viruses or malware.

Today, consumers who are victims of piracy or those who are aware of pirated products which have been sold to them by fraudulent means can register a complaint with Microsoft by logging into www.microsoft.com/piracy or can write to piracy@microsoft.com or call phone numbers provided at the said sites.

Online resources like http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/ provide detailed information and examples of unlicensed/counterfeit software to help consumers identify if their software is original, while Microsoft Genuine Advantage(WGA) and Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) help consumers validate whether their software is original or not.

Microsoft has taken steps to help consumers, who have provided full support, information and evidence to Microsoft's anti-piracy team. Additionally, based on these complaints, Microsoft sent several caution notices to those resellers identified by the customers, and initiated few civil legal actions on the errant resellers based on the consumer reports.

Microsoft also undertook police led criminal market sweeps against channel pirates in the known hot-beds of piracy in the country that included Lamington Road and Fort Area in Mumbai, Lalbagh in Lucknow and Krishna Nagar in New Delhi.

Commitment to Dadri power project intact: Reliance Power

The Allahabad High Court's decision to restore the rights of farmers to protest acquisition of their land for Dadri power plant neither dilutes the commitment to the project nor is it a setback, Reliance Power said Friday.

Reacting to the court's judgment upholding Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act to restore farmers' right to protest land acquisitions, the company hoped the state government would take immediate steps to acquire land for the 7,480 MW gas-based project.

"It is surprising and shocking our corporate rivals are, as usual, distorting the scope and effect of the judgment of the honourable high court and spreading malicious and false information through their known public relations agencies," Reliance Power chief executive J.P. Chalasani said.

"The project will be the world's largest gas-based power plant at a single location with an investment outlay of over Rs.25,000 crore. The company has in place all approvals and clearances required for the project," Chalasani said in a teleconference call.

He said the high court has only asked the state government to follow certain procedures in the land acquisition process, and that land owners, who wish to raise objections, are required to refund the compensation received by them.

"Thereafter, the government will decide on their objections," he said in the call intended in the interests of over 11 million shareholders of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, of which Reliance Power is a part.

Reliance Power had signed an agreement with the Uttar Pradesh government in June 2004, under which the state was to acquire 2,500 acres of land and provide it to the company for implementation of the project.

The project has been planned at the Dhirubhai Ambani Energy City in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh, on the outskirts of the city, to supply electricity not only to the state but also neighbouring cities like New Delhi.

The Anil Ambani Group is fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court to secure some 28 million units of gas per day for the project at $2.34 per unit for 17 years. The Bombay High Court had earlier ruled in Anil Ambani Group's favour.

The company has blamed the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries for the delay in implementation of the project, as the later had failed to extent a bankable agreement for the former to arrange for the finances to fund the ambitious power plant.

$1-bn World Bank loan sought for urban development

India has approached the World Bank for a $1-billion loan to fund urban development projects, Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy told the Lok Sabha Friday.

"The ministry of urban development has taken initiative to get World Bank assistance for urban sector projects," Roy said in a written reply in the lower house.

"The department of economic affairs has already recommended a proposal to the World Bank for a loan assistance up to $1 billion", he said.

Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy Thursday met World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, who made a four-day visit to India that ended Friday.

"Future resources will be aimed at supporting India's urban development, additional infrastructure needs in transport and power, elementary and secondary education, and development in agriculture and the rural sector," Zoellick told reporters Friday.

Hindustan Times now on Kindle

You can now access Hindustan Times on Kindle, Amazon's best-selling e-reader.

With the click of a button, the paper pops up on the screen, no matter where you are in the world. HT is the first Indian newspaper available on Kindle.

Click here to Buy your own Amazon Kindle now in India

A monthly sub scription to Hindu stan Times on Kindle will cost $9.99 (approx Rs.
460). The paper will be delivered to the device every day at 6 a.m. IST.

Click here to Buy Amazon Kindle in India now for Rs 19,000 Only

More About Kindle Here

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A.R. Rahman gets two Grammy nominations for 'Slumdog...'

Music maestro A.R. Rahman has been nominated for two Grammy awards for the film "Slumdog Millionaire".

The Mozart of Madras, as Rahman is fondly called, has been nominated in the best soundtrack for motion pictures, television or other visual media category for the film, and in the best song for motion picture, television and other visual media category for "Jai ho", said the official Grammy website.

Written by lyricist Gulzar, "Jai ho" has been sung by Sukhvinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalaxmi Iyer, Vijay Prakash and Rahman himself.

Nominated for the first time at the Grammy's, Rahman won two Oscars for "Slumdog Millionaire" and the best original score award at the 2009 Golden Globe Award.

The 52th edition of the Annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Jan 31 next year.

BSNL partners British Telecom for conferencing solutions

State-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has tied up with Britain's BT Group Plc for offering audio and web conferencing solutions to its customers, the company said Wednesday.

The partnership with BT, formerly British Telecom, will enable BSNL to offer the latest conferencing technologies to its customers.

"This partnership enables our customers to collaborate easily with their domestic and international users, partners and vendors, wherever they are in the world," BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal said in a statement.

"It also helps our customers manage and reduce costs, improve productivity and create a greener environment."

BT operates in about 170 countries.

It's B-school time for Indian ambassadors

Guess who is getting lessons from the premier Indian School of Business (ISB)? Indian ambassadors who are learning "economic diplomacy" to promote their country abroad.

With the country growing as a global power, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has roped in the ISB to teach the top diplomats how to promote "brand India" in the countries where they are posted.

"We have already trained 30-35 ambassadors, high commissioners and other top officials under the Indian Foreign Service after being contacted by the external affairs ministry," Deepak Chandra, associate dean of the ISB, told IANS.

"We will train another batch of such top officials next month. This time also the number will be 30 or more. What they are learning in short is economic diplomacy," said Chandra, who was in Delhi on an official visit.

ISB, a premier management school based in Hyderabad, was contacted by the MEA earlier this year.

"India is a growing global power. The economic interest of the country is growing. What these officials are learning is contextualising Indian interest in their country of posting," Chandra said.

"By aligning the economic situation of their posted country with that of India's need, they can help the country's brand image," he said, adding that qualified and capable people are key to promoting brand India across the world.

Chandra said among other things the envoys have been taught about India's future and its relationship with countries vis-a-vis economic growth. "Let me give one example, we have taught them India-China relations from this perspective."

"As educationists, we now understand that they (government) have recognised they need such kind of education. This is a great move forward."

The authorities said while the already completed course was for a duration of two weeks, the upcoming batch would study for around 10 days next month. However, they did not divulge the details of the course fee or the countries where these top officials are posted.

"These are part of our agreement with the government and details cannot be given," Chandra added.

Besides these foreign service officials, the central government has engaged the ISB for training Indian Police Service (IPS) officials too.

"We are working with IPS officials at three levels - probation level, superintendent level with around 10 years of experience and at the additional director general of police level. So far we have trained over 100 such officials in total," said Chandra, who is also a member of the ISB's management council.

Jaypee launches residential project

aypee Greens, a division of diversified infrastructure and industrial group Jaiprakash Associates, Thursday announced the launch of a residential project at the Jaypee Greens Sports City in Gautam Budh Nagar near here.

The project, Lake District, is spread over 200 acres and offers a range of options, with apartments starting from 850 square feet for a two-bedroom unit to 2,100 square feet for a four-bedroom apartment.

The project is scheduled to be completed within three years from the date of commencement of construction work, the company said in a statement.

"At Jaypee Greens, it has been our constant endeavour to develop state of the art projects to cater to every individual," said Jaypee group director Rita Dixit.

Lake District, designed by London-headquartered architects WATG, is a part of the 2,500-acre Jaypee Greens Sports City launched Nov 7, which will have sports facilities like motor race track, go-karting facility and stadiums.

ISB launches executive MBA for Rs.2.5 mn

Senior industry executives looking to "broaden their perspective" and "leadership qualities" can now do so at the premier Indian School of Business -- by paying a whopping Rs.2.5 million for a 60-day course spread over 15 months.

"We are launching the executive MBA (EMBA) for senior executives with 10 to 25 years of experience. The course will be world class and the fee is Rs.2.5 million plus travel expenses," Ajit Rangnekar, dean of the Hyderabad-based ISB announced here Thursday.

The classes will be held for six days every one and half months. Thus, this part-time EMBA will spread over a period of 15 months. Rangnekar claimed the course is first of its kind in the country.

During the 15-month period, students will spend one week each in the campus of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Kellogg School of Management -- two premier management institutions in the world.

"Consistent feedback from industry leaders have revealed the need for developing a leadership pipeline, and this has been the driving force for us to create the ambitious programme. I am confident that it will break new ground in management education in India," said Deepak Chandra, associate dean of ISB.

"The course has been developed by incorporating EMBA best practices in Kellogg and Wharton. Senior faculties of Wharton, Kellogg and ISB will teach these senior executives," he added.

Asked if the course fee is too high, Rangnekar said: "We don't think it is expensive. We believe, we give it in a throwaway price. Internationally such courses are very expensive."

"See, a senior executive won't have to take leave. So, he or she will continue to earn the salary while pursuing the course. Six days of class in every six weeks won't be problem for such senior executives," he added.

Sanjay Singh, head of this EMBA programme, said they are looking for a batch of 60 students from the coming academic session. "The batch size will be 60. We are also open to foreigners joining the course."

HCL ties up with Sahara Petroleum

IT services provider HCL Technologies will offer enterprise resource planning solutions to the Middle East-based Sahara Petroleum Services, the company said Thursday.

With the implementation of the software, Sahara Petroleum hopes to integrate its business processes and standardise systems and controls.

"Being a highly diversified group, we have embarked on this project in order to have a seamless integration across all companies and points of presence for financial consolidation, better control and standardised human resource processes," Sahara Petroleum chief executive Hesham Fouad said.

Added Kevin Graybill, global head of the oil and gas business of HCL Axon: "We look forward to extending our expertise, thought leadership to enable Sahara Petroleum gain competitive edge in its marketplace."

Reliance Media World to be listed Friday

Reliance Media World, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, will make its debut at the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange Friday, the company said in a statement.

The company runs businesses like leading radio station BIG 92.7 FM, out of home media business BIG Street, digital content provider BIG Digital, and BIG Reach -- the activation division.

"The radio division of Reliance MediaWorks Ltd has been demerged into Reliance Media World," the tatement said.

"The shareholders of Reliance MediaWorks have already been allotted one equity share of Reliance Media World for every one equity share held. The promoter shareholding is at 61.47 percent," it added.

Said Reliance Media chief executive Tarun Katial: "The main purpose of the listing is to unlock shareholder value."

Unitech Wireless to offer more schemes post-Christmas

Mobile telephony operator Unitech Wireless that has launched services under the Uninor brand across seven circles with uniform tariff plans, may offer more options post-Christmas, said a senior company official here Thursday.

"Based on the market feedback we get starting tomorrow, we may offer other schemes," said Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) managing director Stein Erik Vellan.

"To start with, we have launched the services in seven circles with two uniform tariff plans," Vellan told IANS after the launch of the company's services in Tamil Nadu.

The company is offering two schemes -- Talkmore (local calls at 29 paise per minute, STD at 49 paise per minute with a minimum charge of 39 paise), and Callmore (local calls at 29 paise per minute, STD at 49 paise per minute and a daily rental of Rs.2).

According to Vellan, the two prepaid tariff plans with a call charge and call set up charge will not confuse the subscribers.

"The per second billing has lost its sheen. The ARPU (average revenue per user) of telephone companies are going down. For a large number of users, current prices, including per second pricing are in reality much more expensive," he said.

For those who make a minimum of four calls per day, Unitech Wireless will work out economical, Vellan argued.

The company will charge 99 paise per SMS and plans to offer value added services (VAS) some time next year.

On the marketing strategy, he said there were five company-owned retail outlets, 164 distributors and 45,000 points of sale across the Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The company has 3,125 base stations, of which 60 percent are shared and the remaining, which are anchor stations, have been outsourced.

Acquisition plans still on hold: Bharti

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel Thursday said its overseas acquisition plans were still on hold.

"There is no change in acquisition plans (as of now)," Bharti Airtel chief executive Manoj Kohli told reporters here on the sidelines of a telecom summit.

Earlier this year, it had held merger talks with South African telecom major MTN group, but the $23-billion deal did not materialise due to regulatory hurdles.

Kohli also said there was not much change in the number of subscribers in November.

"We have had very stable growth despite new competition."

Bharti added 2.7 million mobile-phone subscribers in October, while the November figures are yet to be announced.

Asked whether there is any scope of further reduction in tariff, Kohli said: "India's affordability is best. It should (only) come free from high tax burden."

He also said sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), should look at "predatory pricing" -- the practice of selling a product or service at a very low price.

The telecom sector is witnessing a tariff war as all major operators have cut rates drastically to remain competent in the market.

Recently, leading service providers, including Bharti Airtel, launched per-second billing plan under which subscribers would be allowed to make call for one paisa per minute.

State-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's (BSNL) chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal had Wednesday warned that the price war would hit the profitability of the company.

"Of course, some hit on the revenue would be there," he told reporters in New Delhi.

However, telecom operators hope that the expected volume growth would make up for any reduction in revenues.

Older but naughtier: Shah Rukh plays old man in ad

You've seen him as an action hero and playing the lover boy, and now you will see superstar Shah Rukh Khan play a septuagenarian in a new Dish TV ad.

"I love doing the role of an old man and that too in a very romantic manner," Shah Rukh said tongue in cheek during a video-conferencing session here Thursday from Mumbai. He is the brand ambassador of Dish TV.

Conceptualised by adman-turned-lyricist Prasoon Joshi, the ad has been directed by Anurag Basu.

"I enjoy doing ads because it is a great way of storytelling in 30 seconds and the best way of emoting," said Shah Rukh.

The actor was speaking during the unveiling of Dish TV's new brand identity campaign "Ghar Aayi Zindagi" and its new logo. Also starring Tanvi Azmi, the ad will hit the small screen Dec 6.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

GM India November sales up 65 percent

The Indian arm of the US-based auto giant General Motors has reported a 65 percent jump in its November sales as compared to the corresponding month last year.

General Motors India sold 7,118 units last month as against 4,307 units in November 2008, the company said in a regulatory statement.

The auto industry saw a slowdown last year due to the global financial crisis, but the stimulus packages announced by the government helped the sector return to growth.

The November sales include 4,202 units of the Chevrolet Spark, 1,264 units of Chevrolet Tavera and 524 units of Aveo U-Va, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

It also sold 412 Aveo models, 518 units of Chevrolet Cruze, 114 units of Chevrolet Optra and 84 Chevrolet Captivas.

On month-on-month basis, the November sales dipped a marginal 3.97 percent from 7,413 units sold in October this year.

The company said it would appoint more dealers and authorised service outlets in urban, semi-urban and other cities to widen its network.

It has also entered into financing arrangements with some public and private sector banks to offer low EMI (equated monthly instalment) schemes to its customers.

Big Cinemas opens 15th multiplex in Malaysia

Big Cinemas Lotus Five Star, a joint venture between Reliance MediaWorks Ltd and Lotus Five Star group, inaugurated its 15th multiplex in Malaysia Tuesday.

Housing six screens with a seating capacity of 1,000, the multiplex has been opened in Kulim town of the Kedah state of the country. It would screen Hollywood, Chinese, Indian and Malay movies.

"This expansion underscores our attempts to build scale, quality, innovation and pioneering formats which improve the movie going experience for audiences the world over," Anil Arjun, CEO, Reliance MediaWorks Ltd said in a statement.

"There is a great opportunity in exhibition infrastructure worldwide... while domestic expansion continues to be an area of thrust for us, we are also fully committed to expanding our global footprint," he added.

Big Cinemas Lotus Five Star owns 15 properties that amount to 72 screens across 15 cities in Malaysia.

The new property also escalates Big cinemas' global footprint to 500 spread across India, the US, Malaysia and the Netherlands. It also makes the company the third-largest cinema chain in Malaysia.

With a domestic presence across 115 cities, Big cinemas has an international network of over 260 screens across 40 cities.

Kerala Voyages launches backwater packages

Tour operator Kerala Voyages Tuesday launched travel packages centred on the state's backwaters which have been recently rated as the world's 23rd best destination by National Geographic.

The tour company said it has launched three special packages -- a village backwater cruise in Poothotta, a village exploration tour in Kumbalanghi (both in Ernakulam district) and a houseboat ride in Alleppey.

Travel magazine National Geographic Traveller in its latest issue has selected the placid backwaters of Kerala as one of the 133 "World's Greatest Places".

All three programmes provide the tourists an exclusive opportunity to experience the serene and pristine backwater life in Kerala villages, the tour operator said.

"We have taken extra care on cleanliness and hygiene and preserving the environment is always a top priority," Kerala Voyages managing director George Scaria said.

"We use the best category house boats and eco-friendly resorts to promote these programmes. An online chat facility is also there on our website to enable travellers to talk to our experts and plan the tour with the best possible options," he added.

Mahindra Satyam to expand operations in Malaysia

Mahindra Satyam is expanding its operations in Malaysia by moving more software development and delivery operations to its solution centre in that country, the IT bellwether said Tuesday.

In a regulatory statement, the company said it would enlarge its Global Solution Centre in Kuala Lumpur by moving more global software development and delivery operations there.

The centre is located in Cyberjaya, a prominent information technology corridor in Malaysia.

The state-of-the-art solution centre, which has a 1,100-seat development block and a data centre to host 1,100 servers, will serve as Mahindra Satyam's largest technology development and delivery facility outside India.

At present, the centre has 500 full-time local engineers serving local and global customers.

"Selecting Malaysia to launch our international expansion underscores the faith we continue to have in Malaysia's advanced infrastructure, rich talent pool, and competitive cost environment," Satyam's senior vice-president (Asia Pacific) Rohit Gandhi said.

In June this year, the Hyderabad-based firm, formerly known as Satyam Computer Services, was acquired by Tech Mahindra, the IT services arm of the Mahindra group, after its founder B. Ramalinga Raju confessed to manipulating the company's accounts for several years.

Mahindra Satyam has development and delivery centres in many countries including the US, Canada, Brazil, Britain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China.

TVS logs 23 percent sales increase in November

The country's third largest two-wheeler company TVS Motor registered sales of 120,844 units last month, an increase of 23 percent over the 98,402 units sold in November last year.

In the domestic market, the company sold 106,836 units as against 77,491 units in the like month in 2008, it said in a statement Tuesday.

TVS logged most of its volume growth from moped sales -- 36,641 units as against 14,005 units in November 2008.

Its scooter sales stood at 25,115, an increase of 6,905 units over that of November 2008 sales.

The company saw a dip in motorcycle sales to 45,080 units from 45,276 units in the corresponding month last year.

Exports too fell to 14,008 units as compared to 20,011 units in the year-ago period.

Delhi again among 10 most expensive office markets

Delhi has again joined the list of 10 cities worldwide that command the highest rentals for office space, says a report released Tuesday by global realty consultancy CB Richard Ellis.

Mumbai dropped one place to the seventh position, the report titled "The Semi-Annual Global Office Rents" added.

"While Mumbai continues to remain in the top 10, Delhi has re-joined the top 10 ranking of most expensive office markets after two years," said Anshuman Magazine, chairman and managing director, CB Richard Ellis South Asia.

"Although the rentals in the Delhi central business district have remained stable for the past six months, it has moved up to the 10th position primarily due to other global cities declining significantly in office rentals," Magazine said.

Delhi moved up from 12th to 10th position, while London reclaimed its position as the world's most expensive office market.

Tokyo's Inner Central, which was at the top spot in May slipped to the second place, followed by that city's Outer Central market.

Hong Kong's central business district and Moscow are fourth and fifth respectively, said CB Richard Ellis, which tracks office occupancy costs in about 180 cities around the globe.

"From the third quarter of 2009 onwards, we have seen corporates coming back into the market and office space take-up has improved," Magazine said.

"To reduce office occupancy costs further and facilitate more supply of office space, we need to urgently improve our infrastructure and amenities. This would bring our world rankings down further and make India more competitive," he added.

The year-on-year change in prime office occupancy costs of the cities monitored reveal an average drop of 7.7 percent worldwide over the 12-month period ending Sep 30, 2009.

Kiev led with the largest year-over-year decrease in office occupancy costs, falling 64.6 percent from year-ago levels.

"While there are signs that commercial real estate values are stabilising in some markets in Asia and parts of London, underlying property fundamentals are still weak," said CB Richard Ellis global chief economist Raymond Torto.

Forty-one markets experienced positive growth, with Aberdeen and Rio de Janeiro growing more than 10 percent.

For the Asia Pacific region, Singapore experienced the largest decreases (53.4 percent)followed by Ho Chi Minh City (45.4 percent) and as well Hong Kong (over 30 percent) in the past year.
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