The coming decade will be dominated by accessibility and compatibility of technologies and devices
The past decade has ushered in a world of multimedia communication through an incredible choice of wired and wireless devices. The coming decade, however, will be dominated by issues of accessibility and compatibility of technologies and devices. For instance, today you need ‘compatible’ hardware to run the latest version of the operating system (OS) from Apple, Inc—the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. And there are limitations to running any other OS, like Windows or Linux, on the same machine.
The Internet has provided us with an amazing network of clever humans and fast computers. To use this network to its full potential, we need to improve accessibility. To achieve this, we need devices that are smaller and cheaper and that can provide faster communication and enable better services like healthcare, education and e-governance.
Mobile technologies have leapfrogged a couple of ‘generations’ over the past decade. You can set up a video conference on a 3G (third-generation) network and save time and travel costs, but compatibility of devices and technologies remains a major challenge to unleashing the full potential of 3G.
Today, when you buy a ‘smartphone’, it comes with a pre-loaded OS. It is not possible to buy a mobile handset and install an OS of your choice. In the not-too-distant future, you can, perhaps, buy Apple's iPhone and install Google’s Android OS or Windows Mobile. This kind of flexibility will radically change the dynamics of the mobile-phone market.
The Internet is undoubtedly the biggest invention in centuries and to fully unlock its power, we will need compatible ‘smart’ devices in our homes and workplaces.
According to Wikipedia, a smart device is one that is “digital, active, computer networked, user reconfigurable and that can operate to some extent autonomously.” The term can also refer to any computing device that exhibits some properties of ubiquitous computing, including artificial intelligence. Take, for example, a ‘smart fridge’ that can ‘order’ milk and vegetables from your grocer without your intervention. Such refrigerators are already available from companies like Samsung, LG and Whirlpool, but they are currently too expensive for the ‘mass market’.
Nanotechnology is also set to become ubiquitous in the next decade. It has the potential to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications in medicine, electronics, etc. Today, there are many products that are sold as ‘nanotech’ devices. However, according to a study by David Berube, funded by the National Science Foundation, much of what is sold in the market as ‘nanotechnology’ is, in fact, a recasting of straightforward materials science, which is leading to a “nanotech industry built solely on selling nanotubes, nanowires, and the like” and that will “end up with a few suppliers selling low-margin products in huge volumes.”
Some very innovative technologies have emerged over the past decade that have transformed the way we live and communicate, but there is still much to be done to improve accessibility and compatibility of devices and technologies.
Indian markets powered ahead on the back of strong manufacturing and export data
A jump in manufacturing activity in December 2009, and the latest data showing a surge in exports in November 2009, helped Indian markets to remain positive throughout the day. The Sensex was up 94 points from Thursday’s (31 December 2009) close, ending the day at 17,559, while the Nifty closed at 5,232, up 31 points. Indian markets may open higher tomorrow on the back of today’s strong data.
During the day, auto stocks gained on the back of strong sales in the month of December 2009.
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) shot up 5%. The company reported 122% rise in its domestic sales to 22,754 units in December 2009 over December 2008. The company sold a total of 24,001 vehicles (domestic plus exports) in December 2009, as against 11,172 vehicles sold in December 2008.
Tata Motors rose 4% on reports that it registered 105% growth in sales to 51,627 units in December 2009 over December 2008.
TVS Motor zoomed 10% after the company said that its sales rose 34% to 1,19,701 units in December 2009 over December 2008.
JSW Energy closed at Rs101. The stock debuted at Rs102, a premium of 2% over the initial public offer (IPO) price.
Sical Logistics gained 6%, extending gains for the second consecutive day, after a unit of the company secured a contract worth Rs163 crore.
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) declined 1%. As per reports, the company has sold 2.5 crore shares at a weighted average price of Rs1,035 each or at a 5 % discount to Thursday’s (31 December 2009) market close, to State-run Life Insurance Corporation of India.
Ranbaxy Laboratories remained flat after the company said that it has launched a skin-care drug in India.
Marico declined 1% after the firm’s Malaysian unit acquired hair styling brand ‘Code 10’ from Colgate Palmolive for an undisclosed sum.
As per the HSBC Markit survey, the rate of growth in manufacturing rose for the first time in three months in December 2009, with activity reaching its highest since May 2009 on sharp rises in new work and output. The HSBC Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), based on a survey of 500 companies, rose to 55.6 in December from 53.0 in November. The reading was the strongest since May's 55.7, which was the strongest in 2009. A reading above 50 means activity expanded during the month.
According to the commerce ministry, India’s export sector has bounced back with outward trade growing by 18% in November 2009. The export figures turned positive after staying in the red for 13 months. The value of exports in November 2009 jumped to $13.19 billion compared to $11.16 billion in the year-ago period.
On Thursday, 31 December 2009, KC Chakrabarty, RBI’s deputy governor, said the apex bank would review interest rates at its next policy review scheduled for 29 January 2010 and not before. He further said that the credit growth will rise to 17%-18% when GDP growth reaches 8-9%.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, 2 January 2009, C Rangarajan, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the prime minister, said that the economy will expand 8% in 2010/11 after growing between 7 and 7.5% in the current fiscal year to end-March. He also said the economy would return to an annual growth rate of 9% in the fiscal year to end-March 2012 on the back of an improvement in the world economy and global trade.
Kaushik Basu, the finance ministry’s chief economic advisor, said that the economy is expected to grow at more than 7.5% in the fiscal year ending March 2010, boosted by better growth in the December 2009 quarter. He also added that the government is not expected to announce any monetary tightening measures for now.
During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea rose by between 0.24%-1.03%, while indices in Hong Kong and Singapore fell by between 0.14%-0.23%.
China’s Shanghai Composite was down 1%, despite Chinese manufacturing activity climbing for the ninth straight month in December 2009. The HSBC Purchasing Managers' index climbed to 56.1 for the month, compared to 55.7 in November.
Meanwhile, the ministry of knowledge economy said on 1 January 2010 that South Korean exports increased 33.7% in December from a year earlier, the fastest pace in 17 months.
Singapore’s trade ministry said that the economy contracted an annualised 6.8% in the fourth quarter to December from the previous three months after climbing a revised 14.9% from July to September.
On Thursday, 31 December 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120 points while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite index were down 11 points and 22 points respectively. US markets remained closed on Friday, 1 January 2010, on account of the New Year holiday.
In premarket trading, the Dow was trading 67 points higher.
Indian bourses extended trading hours by about an hour. However, the volumes in Nifty futures on the first day were one of the lowest ever in the past few years. Indeed, adjusted for one hour’s extra trade, volumes were 40% of what they should have been
Indian bourses have started business at 9.00am IST instead of 9.55am IST. It was also the first trading day of the year and the first day of the January series of derivatives. However, shockingly, market volumes crashed on the opening day.
During the day, total Nifty futures contracts traded were 2,37,231. This was one of the lowest-ever volumes of Nifty futures contracts traded, despite one hour of extra trading. The 40-day daily average of contracts traded over the five-and-a-half hour day is more than double that of today (5,18,184 contracts).
And what about the contracts traded in the first hour? The number of Nifty futures contracts today in the first trading hour were just 50,961 which is lower than what they were on 31 December 2009 (67,680). In fact, there is a reason why the first trading day of the new year of 2010 should have been much higher. A new series of derivatives started today. As a result, volumes in the first hour of trading were expected to go up massively. But the volume during the first hour of trading was poor—extremely poor—by that standard.
Markets have been trading on low volumes in late-December. As on 29 December 2009, the number of Nifty futures contracts traded in the first hour of the day were 44,426 while on 30 December 2009, the number of shares traded in the first hour of the day were 42,770. Since the global markets remained closed on Friday, 25 December 2009, for Christmas and on Monday, 28 December 2009, Indian markets were closed on account of Moharram, trading volumes remained low last week. Besides, most fund managers were on a year-end vacation. The market also remained closed on Friday, 1 January 2010 on account of the New Year holiday.
What kind of volumes should we have got on Monday? Here is an indication. The number of contracts traded in the first trading hour of Nifty futures of November 2009 contract (30 October 2009) were 131,134. This clearly shows that in the first hour of the new series of January, volumes should have been massive. However they were less than 50% of what they were in the November series.
And volumes never picked up later in the day.
So, the extended timing has hardly made any difference to the trading volumes in the early hours especially since all global markets were open after a long gap on 4th January. The reason behind the early opening was to attract back the trading volumes of Nifty futures traded in Singapore. However, the new timings have hardly made any impact on the volumes, despite the New Year and a new series of futures contracts.