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Bob’s Byte: Nicolas Carr Flips on “The Big Switch”

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Nicholas CarrYou remember Nicholas Carr, sure you do.

While at Harvard Business Review, Carr penned a famous report called: “I.T. Doesn’t Matter.”

Now apparently it does matter as he has taken the time to write a book about I.T. The first half of the book explains how computing is switching from a box sitting in front of the user to being a utility-like electricity.

Utility computing is old news, although he presents the story well. So it’s the second half of his book that has the industry talking. In that half, Carr starts to develop a plot to rival sci-fi virtuoso Arthur C. Clarke.

The Big SwitchCarr says a revolution is coming. He might talk to Steve Ballmer whose speech at CeBIT featured the news that our 5th revolution has just begun, but never mentioned “utility.” But Carr sees a different revolution: he sees the internet, a network of computers, becoming a gigantic computer itself.

Users will write programs to run on this "World Wide Computer," as Carr refers to it, and sooner or later, this system will, like Hal 9000 in 2001 A Space Odyssey, gain a level of artificial intelligence. And that’s when the fun starts.

The Big Switch, by Nicholas Carr, Norton, 258 pages.

The Mystery of the Corporate 5 Note Tune

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Remember the 3 seconds music tone of INTEL that chirped so famously on TV ads across the world? It played once every 5 minutes somewhere in the world.

Now Cisco's selected a new musical logo. Cisco was quite chuffed  as apparently it takes 18 months to compose an adequate five-note tune and Cisco completed this in six months. Whew!
Cisco is in a touchy-feely corporate mood these days, although it fires execs who can’t do touchy-feely without blinking. Which would indicate a source of musical inspiration for their music could be the song: You Have to be Cruel to Be Kind.

Instead Cisco let 12,000 employees fill out surveys last summer with suggestions for the logo. Some even created tunes of their own. After a small group of finalists were picked, the employees voted on them.

Given Cisco’s track record with notes, we think they could have saved a lot of fuss and recorded the sound of the cash register ringing in the bills.


Micron, Nanya Will Cooperate On Chip Design

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Micron and Nanya Technology sign a preliminary deal to set up a joint venture and cooperate on technology development.

Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. The deal centers on collaborating on technology for making DRAMs.

Micron is the biggest U.S. DRAM maker by revenue. Nanya is Taiwan's second-biggest producer (after Powerchip Semiconductor Corp.)

Prices of DRAM chips fell nearly 80% in the past year.

The weak environment is forcing DRAM makers globally to seek partners to share the cost of shrinking circuitry to boost data-storage capacity. Sony. and Qimonda AG agreed last October to form a JV to design DRAM for consumer and graphics applications.

Collaborating with Micron could bring Nanya to "stack" technology. (Nanya now uses trench technology.)

For both companies, this deal could help share R&D cost and add production capacity less expensively than the company could alone.

Don’t Underestimate Microsoft Surface computer. See the video.

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Launched last year, Microsoft Surface was brought out at CeBIT for Steve Ballmer’s presentation in front of two prime ministers and other celebrities.


There in Hannover, on stage, the heads of countries marveled as Ballmer manipulated images and data on Microsoft Surface, faster than any politician could manipulate the voters.

SurfaceDefinitely Surface will be taken up in commercial environments, contrary to the consumer driven trend in technology. If you are not in those markets, Surface will “sink” for a while until it bounces into more general use. It’s a must-see product and we promise you it will have more legs than Tablet PC.

The Video You Need to See

Emerging Markets GDP Surpasses Rest

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 Cisco’s CEO makes it clear why vendors want to focus on India, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

“This last year,” says John Chambers, “…emerging markets passed the developed markets for the first time in hundreds of years in GDP. In terms of purchasing power, the emerging markets are for the first time bigger than the developed markets. GDP growth in emerging markets is dwarfing that of the developed markets.

“And unlike what occurred a decade or two ago, it is now the emerging countries that are actually leading in technology implementation. We haven't seen that before.”

Gartner confirms these emerging regions will generate IT spending of $1.1 trillion in 2008, and will grow to $1.3 trillion in 2011, becoming a major force of IT growth worldwide.

The CAGR for IT spending in emerging regions for 2006 through 2011 will be 8.5 percent versus 4.3 percent for mature markets.

A BRIC in the a wall of emerging markets, Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) will represent about 39% of all emerging markets’ GDP in 2011.

Africa and the Middle East
The forecast for 2011 IT spending in Africa and the Middle East is $259 billion, up from $182 billion in 2007. Africa and the Middle East are strongly advancing in all IT areas and are narrowing the gap in IT spending with Latin America. The large size of the region, with its relatively lower IT penetration and its engagement in major telecommunication deployments, is making a strong IT trend. This region shows a forecast CAGR from 2006 through 2011 of 77 percent, which is the strongest of all the emerging regions.

Eastern Europe
IT spending for Eastern Europe is forecast to reach $155 billion in 2011, up from $125 billion in 2007. Eastern Europe's growth and dollar transactions are lower than in other emerging regions, as the region is the lowest in population among the four emerging regions. Russia is the largest IT economy in this region, but shows the lowest real GDP among the largest emerging countries, partially because of existing infrastructure. It faces challenges in modernizing business practices, expanding its small business base and diversifying to beyond oil, gas and minerals, which present large IT opportunities for IT providers.

“As IT spending in these emerging markets continues to grow, new opportunities for technology providers will arise. Technology providers need to be aware of the trends and realign their resources and strategies on a regional basis. P

Additional info is available in the Gartner report “Market Trends: Unveiling IT Trends in Emerging Regions." The report is available on Gartner’s Web site at


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