Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Manned space flight: Govt adds Rs95cr to kitty

Apart from the Planning Commission approval to ISRO's Rs 12,400-crore manned space flight programme scheduled for liftoff in 2015 from Sriharikota, the Centre has hiked the pre-project funding for the mission by about Rs 40 crore this year, indicating its keenness to back the project.

ISRO chief spokesperson S Satish told TOI on Monday that the government has earmarked Rs 95 crore this year towards pre-project funding activity, which essentially involves initiating more studies relating to a human space flight.

Last year, the figure was Rs 50 crore. "We are awaiting formal Cabinet approval. It is possible that Cabinet will seek more clarifications before we get the final go-ahead," Satish said.

In Delhi, MoS in PMO Prithviraj Chavan said several aspects of the mission would have to be examined to ensure that the project was viable. "Planning Commission has approved it but the Cabinet is still to clear it," he said. The cost of the mission, at Rs 12,400 crore -- roughly the initial spending on NREGA -- has to be factored in before the government gives a green signal even though, as the pre-project funding indicates, it is interested.

The programme is perhaps the most ambitious one during the 11th five year plan after Chandrayaan-1. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K Radhakrishnan told TOI that the mission will lift off with the three-stage Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk2 version). "This rocket will be slightly reconfigured and human rated. Preliminary work has already been initiated," he said.

The GSLV-Mk2 will have an indigenous cryogenic engine and this rocket's maiden flight is slated to take place sometime this year. The current GSLVs are powered with the Russian-made cryogenic engine.

The flight plan envisages the manned vehicle with a two-man crew orbiting in the low earth orbit (LEO) for seven days. The LEO extends up to 2,000 km. There has been change in the flight plan as Satish said that originally it was to operate at an altitude of 400 km. "This has been lowered to 275 km because it will permit a heavier mass to fly and the crew compartment itself will be made more comfortable," he said. Some 16 minutes after lift off, the manned compartment will be injected into orbit.

Satish said that after the seven-day mission is completed, there will be a sea landing of the manned compartment. As precursor to this, ISRO launched the Space Capsule Recovery experiment on January 10, 2007 and successfully recovered it in the Bay of Bengal on January 22, 2007.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Windows Mobile 6.5 Debuts But Is It Too Late?

Microsoft puts on a good face at the world's largest wireless conference but not everyone believes Microsoft's efforts will succeed.

Microsoft trotted out a cornucopia of nifty new products and services at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, not least of which is a long-awaited Windows Mobile 6.5 update.

The announcements also included a competitor to Apple's MobileMe service – dubbed My Phone – and an online application store that bears more than a passing resemblance to the iTunes App Store, named Microsoft Marketplace for Mobile.

A major question remains, however: Will it help improve Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) also-ran image in the smartphone space?

"We need to take our Windows Mobile business to yet another level. The time has come for us to start bringing the full Windows experience to mobile phones," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a press conference at the conference.

To that end, Microsoft also announced deals with Orange, LG, and HTC, which will ship new phones that will use Windows Mobile 6.5 when it's available in the second half of this year.

Several analysts say the announcements are significant, but they disagree as to Microsoft's long-term chances in the mobile devices arena.

"While the user interface is much improved, it is not best in class, but it keeps them in the game," Philippe Winthrop, research director for business mobility solutions at Strategy Analytics, told

That doesn't mean that he's writing Microsoft off, though. "The investments [in mobile] say they are committed to this space. They need to build momentum and this is the first step in the ramp up phase," Winthrop added.

Meanwhile, Craig Mathias, principal analyst at Farpoint Group, has a somewhat different perspective. "Windows Mobile 6.5 isn't going to change the earth but it will keep Windows Mobile a viable product," Mathias told

"It's an important, incremental step … they're on the right path regarding the services," Matt Rosoff, analyst at Directions on Microsoft said.

However, Rosoff told that he has his doubts that Microsoft's plans are fully cooked. "It looks like their 'full on' taking on Apple strategy isn't ready yet," Rosoff said.

Microsoft has been trying to keep Windows Mobile 6.5 under wraps for months although many of the details of the system had already leaked out before this week's conference.

On the list of additions coming in 6.5 will be a dashboard-like user interface access e-mails, texts, missed calls, and calendar appointments. It also features what Microsoft says is an improved touch-screen interface. The new browser is based on Internet Explorer 6.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's free My Phone service takes a cue from Apple's MobileMe. It will provide users with storage for information on their mobile devices, along with capabilities to manage and back up their personal data.

"Apple charges $99 per year while Microsoft does it for free," Rosoff said.

Microsoft Marketplace for Mobile might be a tougher sell, he added. After all, the Apple iTunes App Store has thousands of applications for sale for the iPhone, including one from Microsoft.

Microsoft officials also mentioned in passing the long rumored Windows Mobile 7 but didn't give any information out regarding what Microsoft hopes will finally give it parity with the iPhone – including no dates whatsoever. Oft-repeated rumors, though, place Windows Mobile 7's debut sometime in 2010.
Will Microsoft succeed?

The question remains, however – not whether Microsoft will play a role in the evolving smartphone markets – but rather, how much of a role and for how long?

"I think that the Windows Mobile operating system will fade and they'll [Microsoft] build a shell on top of Linux," Mathias predicted. Why? Because of costs.

Profit margins on mobile phones are tight and anywhere a device maker can save a dime, it will. Windows Mobile is expensive in comparison to Linux, so he predicts that Linux will win out longer-term.

"Windows Mobile is the high-priced spread," Mathias said. "The first thing [device makers] do is look for ways to cut costs. The trend [to Linux] is well underway, and will become dominant in three years."

That prognosis may take a while before it becomes conventional wisdom, however.

A Canalys worldwide market report found that, in the third quarter of 2008, of the nearly 40 million smartphone operating systems shipped, Symbian held the lead with almost 19 million. Apple came in at almost 7 million, while RIM's Blackberry pulled in fourth place at just over 6 million. Microsoft was in a whopping fifth place with 5.4 million.

In sixth place, Linux came in at just over 2 million units.


Renault may not launch its cars in India by 2010

Major world car player Renault has said that it may not launch its cars in India by 2010. The company was very eager to launch its cars in India that has an expanding and very attractive car market.

Its Logan is a sure winner in India. Mahindra Renault have already launched’LOGAN’ -a true world car which has already sold more than 6 lacs units in more than 26 countries across the globe.

The car Logan has earned its reputation in the Indian market for its robustness, reliability, space, comfort & most importantly the famous Renault world series engine which has already broken many mileage records in the country. It comes with three engine variants – 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol and a 1.5 litre diesel. Besides, Logan is one of the safest cars in the country with Euro NCAP 3 star rating for safety. Renault’s engineering and Mahindra’s dealer-network ensure fantastic product quality & after-sales-services for Logan

The car is rated as India’s first wide body car and with a larger wheel base it provides ample legroom both in the front and rear. It incorporates Renault’s space optimization design to come up with the latest in car ergonomics – the wide body. Its unique advantages include maximum headroom, the biggest boot and the widest backseat with three individual headrests. With rich beige interiors, the car has extra luxury featuring a superb blend of space and comfort. The driver-side air bags, electronic anti-theft device, music system with CD are the other attractive features.

But the company has shelved its plan to enter Indian market directly. The company, which had last year announced a Rs 4,500- crore investment over a period of seven years to produce 400,000 cars annually in an alliance with its Japanese group company Nissan, has now stopped hiring for production activities and is awaiting for market conditions to improve.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

SugarCRM, Tata Communications Bring On-Demand CRM to India

Open source CRM software provider SugarCRM , has partnered with communication provider, Tata Communications, in a bid to bring on-demand CRM solutions to businesses in India.
The partnership between the two companies allows Tata Communications to offer SugarCRM's (News - Alert) On-Demand CRM services to small, medium and large enterprises in the country.
Tata Communications (News - Alert) will manage the service out of its certified datacenters.
Because the CRM solutions are open source and available on-demand, businesses can leverage them at an affordable cost while also reducing the risk associated with proprietary solutions.
“Our broad market reach and managed services expertise makes Tata Communications the perfect match for the Indian market when combined with the best in class CRM capabilities of SugarCRM,” said Mr. Sunil Joshi, president, enterprise business, Tata Communications. “Our partnership will enable us to offer a high-quality CRM solution to Indian businesses at an affordable price.”
SugarCRM offers solutions to gain better control over CRM deployments and are offered over the Web via the cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) model. The company's software solutions have been proven to improve salesforce automation, marketing automation, customer support and reporting processes for over 4,000 customers in 195 countries.
“The market for on-demand CRM in India is over Rs.150 crore ($32 million) in 2009 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 50-60 percent for the next few years,” said, Mr. Alok Bardiya, vice president, partner and alliance strategy, Tata Communications. “With our world-class infrastructure and leadership in emerging markets, Tata Communications is uniquely positioned to serve this market need.”