Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Dec 08, 2005
Info-Tech - Outlook
India on right track, says Gates
New Delhi , Dec 7
THE Microsoft Chairman, Mr Bill Gates, has said that India was moving in the "right direction" and had a huge role to play in the worldwide stage.
"While software potential in India is amazing, issues such as literacy, productivity, digital inclusion, and innovation would determine how quickly the country scales up," he said, calling upon both the Government and the private sector to redouble efforts in these areas.
Stating that the demand for IT professionals exceeded supply, he said that India was the only country in the world that was producing more skills in IT than consumed domestically.
"The US, on the other hand, is a big net importer of IT skills. Ironically, the number of students in the US opting for computer science is going down. It is really bad because the IT space is poised for really interesting breakthroughs. India is on the right track. Scaling up (the supply) is the only issue and I believe that private colleges play an important role in addressing the situation," he said.
Investment apart, the company is also hoping to pump "renewed energy" into its agreement with Reliance Infocomm to tap opportunities in IPTV.
"It is really exciting, and an ongoing work between ourselves and Reliance. I had a chance to meet up with Mr Anil Ambani and talk about how we can help them roll out broadband capabilities. Over the next year you will see a clear picture of exactly how IPTV software together with their infrastructure can create something novel."
Stating that IPTV had met with great success in countries such as the US, he said that the initiatives with Reliance marked the first effort on taking the approach into a developing market.Mr Gates evaded a direct reply on the Korea Fair Trade Commission's decision to fine Microsoft $32 million for abusing its market dominant position.
"If you take a product like Microsoft Office the price is much lower today and the capabilities are better than ever before. We are giving our customers more flexibility in terms of different versions ranging from Starter Edition to our server type offerings."
Without getting into the specifics of the latest ruling in Korea, he said: "I believe that consumers wish that the competition that we have in software should exist in every part of the economy."
In a similar case in March 2004, the European Union had asked Microsoft to pay $586 million, share code information with software rivals, and offer a version of Windows without the Media Player software.
The company is appealing the ruling.
Indian fans of Xbox 360 would have to wait longer to get their hands on Microsoft's next-generation video game console. Mr Gates said that while the company intended to roll out Xbox in more markets, there were no "specific plans yet."
He added: "Clearly, as broadband is becoming more popular, India is one of the markets we will look at."
On low-cost computing, he said: "Our founding principle is about computing for everyone and there is nothing more that we would like than hardware to cost zero. Why stop at any number," he quipped, adding: "We want people to have as much money left to buy software."
He also said: "Year by year the price of PC and communications will come down. This is the reason why we think having a research lab in India would be fantastic."
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