Blue Screen Of Duds

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Importance of emerging markets in technology

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I can’t resist posting this one, but you have to read this piece in Ars Technica on how hand held device manufacturers and the chip manufacturers who manufacture the processors for the devices are being forced to look at newer markets:

The vast bulk of the history of computing up until the present day has been about moving semiconductors from the server room to the business desktop, then from the business desktop to the first class cabin, and then from first class into coach. At this point, everyone who can afford a cheap plane ticket or a pair of Nikes is already wired to the gills with transistors, and the major bottlenecks in getting those folks to buy even more of them are mostly out of Intel’s control (i.e., screen size/quality, battery life, connectivity, usability).

To see real growth in the coming decades, Intel, AMD, and the rest of the semi industry must focus on markets where an iPhone would cost a month’s income, and then on markets where it would cost a year’s income.

This is a drum I’ve been beating for a long time that someone has to blink first and introduce a device that is a bare bones internet access device, at a price point of INR 4000 – 6000 (a Nokia E50 that supports EDGE currently costs INR 9000) and take about INR 2000 per unit of that as cost for a couple of years to kill the penetration issue and unleash internet access on the masses, like how it happened with mobile phones.

A fairly usable unlimited data plan on Airtel these days (Mobile Office) costs INR 500 per month. A proper device (the right form factor much in the lines of PSP and a full QWERTY keyboard) along these lines can set the market on fire and give the ever-hungry telcos a whole new breed of consumers and the silicon guys a new market to power using their new chips.

What is even better is that EDGE works pretty much around the country, essentially meaning that you get decent access to the internet pretty much from a whole host of places where it is just not available due to various reasons (Airtel refuses to provide me with a DSL link till they can find some more people from the same area).

The critical factor in all of this is getting someone to blink. Such a device would not find much uptake without the telcos actively pushing it. But, for all of this to happen, someone has to go out of the way and place themselves in the risky position of being the first ones to open up a new market.

I guess we are still a bit away from any of the players getting that desperate, but I guess the time is not too far off before something like that will happen.

Written by shyam

December 22, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Wrecking a product launch online 101: The Mahindra Scorpio Mhawk edition

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Mahindra had recently launched an upgraded version of the Scorpio range called Mhawk and it is a perfect illustration of how not to handle a product launch online:

The vast majority of the content has been authored in Flash for the website. While Google does index content authored in Flash, it does not do an excellent job of it. There should always be a non-Flash version of your website if you have to get indexed effectively. And guess what? There are no search results right now on the first page that leads to the product page.

The pages are hosted on ifctest.com and rendered within an IFRAME on the mahindrascorpio.com domain. This deprives the company of even more Google mojo. Incidentally, the domain is owned by the company’s creative agency FCB-Ulka and they could have at least warned the company against doing something as silly as that.

And in a horrible snafu, details on pricing for the Mhwak model is buried deep in a pop up that has the FAQs and the existing pricing pages for the regular Scorpio is what that shows up in the main interface under the pricing link. Most people who would land up on the website obviously would be looking for the pricing. It is a pity that you have to dig so deep into the website to find it.

Written by shyam

December 21, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Is the Indian mobile advertising market _actually_ exploding?

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I normally tend to ignore studies done by market research firms since they are only an imperfect indicator of the market and it becomes your best buddy only when you have to selectively quote numbers during a Powerpoint presentation. A while ago, I had seen a report on Adotas (which quoted a Business Standard piece on a study by Thomas Wiesel) that mobile advertising in India will surpass traditional online advertising in 2009. Now, that is a tall claim for anyone to make, for various reasons that can fit easily in another post.

And as usual, I had ignored the post after giving it the regular ‘raised-eyebrow-followed-by-a-smirk’ treatment. That was till Russell started posting his mobile-specific website, Mowser’s, numbers. If you look at his numbers, it is a bit of a shocker. India leads the way in page views for the month of October with 611,319 page views, followed by South Africa at 303,380.

I do not quite know how to interpret this, but it is a whopper that we are at least 2x in terms of number of mobile page views, compared to any other country. Now, there is a possibility that Russell’s numbers are skewed, but if it is true I’ll have to start tracking one more segment.

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Written by shyam

November 3, 2007 at 8:56 am

Posted in advertising, India

An hour late, anywhere in the world

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Delays at Indian airports are so routine that we have mostly accepted as a fact of life and the situation is no different either on the budget or the full fare carriers. One of the most hopeless airports in terms of delays is the one at our so-called IT capital – Bangalore. In the past six months, when I have been flying to and from the city fairly regularly, there has not been a single instance where a flight has taken off on time.

Normally, you lose about 10 – 20 minutes after the boarding is announced because of overcrowding and other infrastructure-related issues. Then you have to wait (im)patiently for the engine start, following which you wait in the slot that has been assigned to you for take off. By the time you are airborne, you are already at least 15 minutes late. Unfortunately, for me, the nightmare does not end there.

Skies above Delhi, anytime of the day or night, is like a vortex of aircrafts in their different stages of descent. Losing another 10 – 20 minutes looking down at the tangled web of lights down below is the norm these days and by the time you get out of the airport, you have comfortably lost over an hour from your scheduled arrival time. To make matters worse, these days the airport arrival board does is often not regularly updated in case of a delayed flight, which means you spend another 15 minutes trying to spot your driver who does not know you have finally arrived.

But hey, there is hope. We have now institutionalized the delays to such an extent that soon we will going get hotels in the terminals that will enable business people to conduct their meetings. In any case, the common refrain in such circumstances is usually a jab at our status as a developing and crowded nation and the conversation usually veers to how different it is in the west and other foreign countries.

Well, apparently, the affairs in the realm of air travel anywhere ain’t all that rosy as it is made out to be. This report, in the NYT, details how more than 100 domestic flights are officially late by at least 15 minutes 70 per cent or more of the time. It is so bad in some cases that they had to go to church and light a few candles, when all else failed to get some of the consistently chronically late flights to be on time. I guess we are not the only nation that turns to faith to work out matters that are meant to be covered by anything but that.

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Written by shyam

September 6, 2007 at 6:51 am

Posted in aviation, India

Three (good) Indian blogs that you probably don’t read

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Time to post something different for a change than the regular longwinding ones.

Shashikant’s tiny world: He posts across a wide variety of topics covering technology, the economy and other aspects of current affairs. He has something that is desperately lacking in most of the Indian blogosphere: a perspective that is not a wannabe version of the popular western ones. If only he would change the circa 2001 blogger template to something more contemporary, but I can hardly complain since I read the full feed in an RSS reader. And, no, I am not linking to him because he’s linked to me.

Gopal Vijayaraghavan: Gopal works for Yahoo! and is one the leads for the PHP APC cache. That does not mean he posts only about profiling PHP code and race conditions in it. He also writes about movies (from a very non-critic and normal viewer point of view) and a lot of other non-tech related things. The only minus point is that he does not allow comments on his blog.

Cleartrip blog/Hrush: I know this is a corporate blog, probably disqualifying it from being considered as a normal blog. But most of the content on the blog is penned by Hrush Bhatt, Founder & Director, Product and Strategy for the company. Other than the fact the blog is one of the best and the most open blogs among Indian corporates, he also gets additional brownie points from me for quoting two bloggers in the web data sphere that I follow closely: Danny Ayers and Joe Gregorio. Minus point: Not updated frequently enough.

While on the topic of blogging, I was wondering recently if the only major difference that blogging has brought to the platform is that being biased is no longer uncool? These days, I tend to switch off from any discussion that aims to figure out the biases of mainstream media. The fact of the matter is that everything and every human being is biased and we are conditioned by our biases.

The only difference is that it used to be cool to claim that you were unbiased as a media entity. When you report from the field, you are supposed to stick to the facts and not colour it with your biases. I think this is quite badly misplaced. While, as a blogger, it is cool for you to be biased. In fact, you are encouraged to come clean on your biases than cover it with a veil faux neutrality. Other than that, if you take out the scale and economics of the matter, there is hardly any differentiation: Both sides have bad reporting, band language and myopia to the obvious.

Interesting and hypothetical over-the-top question of the day: Can you imagine a newspaper filled with op-ed writers?

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Written by shyam

August 29, 2007 at 9:26 am

Posted in Blogs, India, social media

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