Saturday, December 04, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guiding young careers - Career Strokes

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, chairman, National Senior Cricket Selection Committee, has launched CareerStrokes.com. Career Strokes is an online career consultation service that will offer career enhancement skills to young professionals, especially undergraduate and graduate students. The mode of learning will chiefly be through live interactive web seminars and online discussions with experts in the field of training and management mentors.

 

 

I did take some of their sample lessons and found them quite neatly done and presented in a lucid fashion. Worth a definite check out by young folks who are at crossroads of their career paths.

 

 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wink wink...Now a desi ebook reader

We first had a India low cost Laptop....Then a India specific browser...Now a Bangalore based company has announced the release of a e-book reader for Indians. EC Media, will release Wink, the ebook reader in all Tata Chroma stores across the country by Sep 1st.

Techtree has published a review that you can access here

Priced at Rs. 11,490, the Wink resembles the Amazon Kindle in appearance and form factor. As for the e-books repository, you can visit the Wink Store that claims 1 lakh pls titles in English, Hindi and other regional langauges. The e-titles would be priced at 60-75% of the paperback editions.

While the current Wink XTS with its 6 inch screen is priced 10K+, there is mention of a Wink XTR with a 5 inch screen that is supposed to be priced lower. I hope the price falls below in the 4k to 5K range so as to be accessible to a bigger section of the Indian audience.

What price range would prompt you to go for one?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Rupee Symbol on Keyboards

 The new Rupee symbol has already found its way to the keyboards.
 TVS, known for its computer accessories has released a keyboard that sports the Rupee symbol on the ~ key.

The company plans to release the keyboards on the occasion of the 63rd Independence day celebrations. This should be some news for celebration…

Have you started using the new symbol in your daily transactions?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Solving the Junk SMS problem

Junk SMSes are the biggest source of irritation for a mobile user in India today. Every alternate SMS is a solicitation SMS trying to sell you a service or a product. The government has tried setting up the National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry without much success. Now they are mooting a National Do Call (NDC) registry. Which means by default no mobile subscriber can be contacted by the bulk advertisers. Only if you subscribe to certain mailing lists can the bulk advertisers send you focused SMS. I am not sure how much of a success will this have provided it even sees the light of the day. The bulk advertisers are fighting it tooth and nail.

 

What is the problem here?

1.       One, side the consumer is complaining that he/she is receiving unsolicited SMS.

2.       Two, the cost of sending a SMS is less than 1 paisa for the telecom provider. Hence he is providing bulk SMS packages to advertisers

3.       Three, a lot of places where you provide your mobile numbers with a sense of trust are also doubling up as aggregation points where the collector is reselling these mobile number lists for a commission.

4.       Fourth, the customer has no way of reacting to a junk SMS except to register in the NDNC; that too without any palpable effect

5.       Fifth, there is no law that imposes punishment in the form of penalty/ fines on either the telecom provider or the bulk advertiser today

 

If you look at the multi-faceted problem, you suddenly realize that there are 2-3 alternate ways to tackle with it

1.       Impose hefty penalties on Telecom providers who allow their network to be used to deliver unsolicited SMS

2.       Give the mobile customer more control.

a.       Give him / her the ability to report SMS abuse

b.      Provide customer a mailbox to reroute all SMS from unknown numbers as emails. SMS will be delivered over the phone only after the customer white-lists them

c.       Create one time codes that that customers can pass onto agencies to which they need to provide mobile numbers that entitles them to SMS the customer a fixed number of times.

3.       Crack down on small time phone number aggregators who sell self created lists to advertisers

 

It is only when you look at the problem from multiple dimensions that you see multiple approaches to tackle the problem.

 

Your ideas are welcome !!

 

 

 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ecosystem Creation around Amazon Kindle

Amazon has just launched the new $139 priced Wi-Fi enabled Kindle – The e-book that took the world by storm when it was introduced about 2 years back. At Rs. 6489 at prevailing exchange rates, I think this would pave the way for Indians to start vying at owning one. Making a device cheaper is all about enabling mass adoption. It is also about spurring an ecosystem creation. Attaining the tipping point where owning a Kindle will become a necessity rather than a luxury. Imagine what the ecosystem could do with a low priced Kindle

1.       Schools adopting Kindle to replace bulky textbooks that kids lug around

2.       Kindle could become the de-facto way news-paper could be distributed to houses every morning. (Not just newspaper-but newspapers). Even magazines need not be printed anymore. Last month’s Kindle can be exchanged for another Kindle loaded with the latest magazine edition

3.       Kindle can also act as self-help documentation pads required at community centered services like post-office, banks, etc

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

World's Top 10 Technology Companies

I compiled the Market Cap and revenues of the Top 10 Technology companies in the world.

 

Rank

Name of company

Market Cap

Revenue

1

Apple

$ 235.06 Billion

$ 42.90 Billion

2

Microsoft

$ 220.41 Billion

$ 58.40 Billion

3

IBM

$ 161.79 Billion

$ 95.75 Billion

4

Google

$ 154.07 Billion

$ 23.65 Billion

5

Cisco

$ 129.44 Billion

$ 36.12 Billion

6

Oracle

$ 119.40 Billion

$ 26.82 Billion

7

Intel

$ 115.17 Billion

$ 58.4 Billion

8

Hewlett-Packard

$ 107.43 Billion

$ 114.18 Billion

9

Amazon

$ 53.50 Billion

$ 24.51 Billion

10

SAP

$ 57.82 Billion

$ 13.51 Billion

 

Total

$ 1.32 Trillion

$ 494.24 Billion

 

1.       The top 10 technology companies in the world have a combined market cap equivalent of India’s GDP

2.       Their combined annual revenue is half of India’s GDP

3.       9 of the top 10 companies (also the top 9) are US based companies

4.       Services companies like IBM and Hewlett Packard have revenues exceeding their market cap

5.       Product companies have market caps that are roughly 4 times their annual revenues

 

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 EPIC India Browser Features that will 'wow' you

A Bangalore based Web company has release EPIC, the first Indian browser based on the Mozilla platform. The news hit me first thing on last Friday and I must admit I absorbed it with skepticism. However that did not stop me from giving the new browser a spin and lo...a second admission. I came out pleasantly surprised. While the browser would not have much difference from Firefox browser which is based on the same platform, it differs fundamentally in its positioning. It is an INDIAN browser.

What makes it Indian? A bunch of features built right into it
  1. Support for Indic languages - You can type in native languages
  2. A huge collection of India specific wall papers and themes to personalize your browser
  3. News portals, entertainment, sports and business channels built in that stream news from various Indian websites
However, I would recommend it for any Indian netizen on account of its 5 features I thought are a first for any browser
Slick App Bar
The cool appbar on the left is what caught my fancy. You can consume any content offered as a service right from this bar. A lot of pre-configured apps are available for the individual to choose from. The bulk of them being India specific again.


India specific Wall papers and themes
Satisfying the Bollywood (or even Tollywood, Mollywood, Sandalwood) fan in you, the  cricket buff in you, the patriot in you, the nature lover in you or any other persona, EPIC offers a whole range of themes and wall papers to dress up your broswer

Built in AntiVirus
Another top utility that should seriously get you thinking on whether EPIC should be your default browser

Collections
While Firefox and IE have these as addons, the obviousness of this feature mandates that it be offered as a pre-built feature. EPIC does just that and won a few brownie points from me. With upto 4 people in my house who use the same laptop, collections offer the much needed respite. Simply put, collections allows you to bundle as many websites as you want under a common name. When you next want to open the same set of websites, you need not type all the URLs. Just double-click on the collection name and lo...you are presented all websites in different tabs.



Website not opening?
Not a feature you would want to be using too often. However it provides you a whole set of decent choices rather than the only option of "Refresh" or "Reload" that IE or Firefox offer. You can ping the address, request for a cached version of the page from Google, search for the nearest match... At least you do not have only one choice (more often than not a useless one) when you next find a URL not opening.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Facebook as a Sentiment Barometer

Vaseline is under intense criticism for their Facebook app that enables a user to whiten/lighten their skin shade on their profile photos. While the application has been a roaring success, questions regarding the racist nature of the app have been raised.


While the actual debate rages on, it is worth stepping aside for a moment and giving a thought to user sentiments as expressed for a brand’s marketing efforts over different channels. While Vaseline and its contemporaries have been marketing these fairness inducing products for decades on traditional channels, I have not heard of racist allegations against them. However, when they attempted at using the power of a Facebook app to further their brand, they ran against a surge of sentiment outburst. I am not even suggesting or getting into a debate of whether they are right or wrong in having released the app that is at the center of debate. I am drawing attention to this vast difference in sentiment expression as expressed for ads in traditional channels versus newer channels.

Is this expression of sentiment happening due the ease with which the newer channels facilitate expression /sentiment sharing?
Is this also influenced by the ability to get immediate feedback from your trust circles of immediate friends, their friends, etc on what they think?

OR

Is it because these newer platforms provide an immediate high of an ego boost by giving the ability to express one’s stand without dependency on externalities.


Do post your views…

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Internet : Fundamental right of the Finnish

Finland has become the first country to make broadband Internet a fundamental right for its citizens. Not that it means every is gonna get free access. Rather he / she can sue a provider who refuses to get a connection provisioned stating location, non presence, etc. 

What's more! The right is for1 Mbps speed broadband. The government has also promised a 100 Mbps connection to every citizen by 2015.

The underlying significance of this legislation that the Finnish government has passed is simple. Internet has become such a powerful presence in our lives today that the government considers just as basic for civilized human living as electricity or drinking water. 

No one would argue against that!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Indian applications on Facebook

I did not know there were 213 India specific applications on Facebook that is till today. Curiosity just got the better of me and I did a search for India against Facebook applications. A full 213 of them popped up.
The big majority of them are around Cricket and Boolywood, two things Indians never get tired off. However I did find a few other that were a tad different. Take for example "Mahatma Gandhi's Quotes" or the "Sacred Places of India" or the "Flag of India".

The one with largest active users was "What's your Airstrology"

However I was disappointed with the lack of creativity in the applications. Absolutely non addictive applications, I should say!!




Monday, May 17, 2010

BPOs to be run out of Indian prisons

In a first of its kind anywhere in the world, Cherlapally Prison Authorities in Hyderabad, India are planning a BPO behind bars in association with global IT firm, Radiant Info System Ltd. While some have welcomed this as a move to reform the prisoners and give them a chance to be absorbed back into the mainstream society more easily as they finish their prison sentence, this still comes as a  terrifying proposition for those being serviced by them.

While the world debates on the pros and cons of this move and its ramifications on the society as a whole, the question I ask is "If its BPO today,why not IT tomorrow?" and secondly "In a society where a 40%+ chunk of people still live below poverty line and caste and creed still rule, would this move create fresh convicts who want to get into the jail coz they sense a better opportunity of making money staying in rather than stay out?"

Surely these deserve some thoughts ! Do post your comments

Friday, April 30, 2010

12 Facts to know about UID Project in India for Citizens

  1. The Indian UID (Unique Identification for Citizens) project is named Aadhaar
  2. It involves giving each Indian a 16 digit unique ID
  3. The Government authority involved is Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
  4. Aadhar project, apart from scanning fingerprints will also scan your iris, as part of biometric data collection
  5. Aadhar Logo - Halo of the Sun on the imprint of a thumb
  6. First phase of UID will be launched in Feb of 2011
  7. First Phase will cover Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar
  8. 19 bids have been received in response to UIDAI’s tender floated to engage in Application Software Development, Maintenance & Support. Some of the bidders are TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and IBM
  9. The UIDAI will collect fingerprints of all 10 fingers.
  10. Adhaar project will give 600 million numbers to citizens in the next four years.
  11. BPL families enrolling in the project will receive Rs 100 along with their UID numbers in a new bank account to ensure their financial inclusion.
  12. The logo design was chosen from over 2,000 entries and Atul Sudhakarrao Pande is the brain behind the adopted design



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shrinking products - Miniaturization is the new in thing

Two articles that caught my attention over this week.

India's smallest satellite set for May 9 launch  - The smallest Indian satellite, promising to send Indian education into a higher orbit, will leave the Isro Satellite Centre in Bangalore and move to Sriharikota for integration with the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launch on May 9. StudSat, an acronym for student satellite, has been classified as a pico-satellite, which weighs between 0.1 and 1kg. - Times Of India, April 28th, 2010

IBM has created a miniature 3D map of the Earth that is so small that a thousand of them could fit on a single grain of salt. IBM scientists created the map though a breakthrough technique that uses a tiny, silicon tip with a sharp apex — 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil — to create patterns and structures as small as 15 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. IBM said this patterning technique opens new prospects for developing nano-sized objects in fields such as electronics, future chip technology, medicine, life sciences, and optoelectronics - Softwaretop100.org, April 26th, 2010

Both of them point towards a future that is increasingly nano. Miniaturization is the name of the game in every domain today. Miniaturization helps pack more features into a device, lowers power consumption and most importantly allows newer ways of using devices.

Building satellites even a decade back was the turf of government backed agencies that had access to huge funds.Today students in engineering colleges are doing it. The same stands true for robotics. I read about school kids starting to build and experiment with robots in Chennai

What it also means for a country like India is lower cost, easy reach of technology aided products, medical implants driven by technology to the common man.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tweet Tweet...Bang Pow Bang

Speak of the power of the new media. India and even traditional Indian media like the news houses are just waking to it. While we had seen "jhalaks" of it in the past when Shashi Tharor had tweeted, we are seeing an empire crumbling this time. Twitter entered India with a bang and has been creating lots of bangs ever since. Tweets from Lalit Modi revealing Kochi franchisee's share holding pattern on the 11th of April have generated so much of furore and back lashes that 
  1. a central minister lost his crown, 
  2. all IPL franchisees are under pressure to reveal their shareholding patterns, 
  3. three central revenue agencies are investigating the allegations of big time money laundering, betting and trails leading back to the chairman of IPLT20, 
  4. Lalit Modi, the chairman himself is staring at the axe coming down on him at the behest of BCCI on the 26th of April,
  5. The UPA is taking a moral high ground for having dismissed Shashi Tharoor as his proof of innocence did not convince them
  6. The Congress, the media suspects, may not be in all too favorable a mood to pursue the truth behind the allegations as it stands to incur the wrath of BCCI president Sharad Pawar, an ally of the UPA That too at a time when a big finance bill needs the full support of the house to get passed.
  7. The NDTV and Times NOW channels are calling the whole episode "Indian Paisa league" and "IPL's Dirty Truth"
  8. Times of India today morning is claiming that the total amount of betting money involved is 3500 crore INR
 All in the span of 1 week since the tweets were posted. The onstage drama is nearing a climax with the semi finalists raring to clash. The off stage drama is reaching a crescendo and newer developments are flowing in by the minute. Still feel like tweeting .....Be careful on what you tweet :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Banking to the Masses via mobile phones

Eko, an Indian start-up that has partnered with State Bank of India (SBI) to provide mobile banking to the millions who would otherwise never realize the benefits of modern day banking, has truly chartered a course in building a business aimed at the 'Bottom of the Pyramid' espoused by C K Prahalad.

The business model is straightforward and focussed.The primary problem Eko tries to address is to get the millions of Indians who have never had an account in a bank to benefit from banking services. Eko tries to solve this problem by using the ubiquitous mobile phone as the channel. The “tellers” are the tiny corner groceries that dot every neighborhood and street corner in India’s crammed urban areas and expansive rural areas. A Eko customer pays another person by typing the bank’s short code, then an asterisk, then the mobile number of the person being payed, then an asterisk, then the amount, then another asterisk and finally the "signature". No SMSing, No WAP, No GPRS required.

The signature is another innovation. Each Eko customer has a mini pocket booklet that contains 11 digit codes. Each 11 digit code has 4 black marks positioned randomly at any of the 11 digits. The person needs to enter his/her 4 digit  pin against these black marks. Verisign has endorsed this method !

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Business as Usual or Business Unusual !

Paypal was suspended by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week from performing bank withdrawals for exports of goods and services. This affected businesses as well as personal remittances that expatriates from abroad used to send into the country. The problem was basically that of getting Paypal to toe the line of the country's regulations which needs the governing bodies to keep a tab on the nature of merchant transactions happening and also the nature of remittances. 

As business start expanding globally, there comes the headache of tweaking your operations to comply with local rules and regulations. While this is no doubt a hurdle to overcome, it becomes difficult at times for businesses originating in democracies to digest the draconian laws that govern closely guarded economies. Take the instance of China. Google has entered the market but has found the gagging of search results by the government stifling. So much so that it has had to be content with a 2nd position in the Chinese market. Its own "Do no evil" proclamation has come back to bite it as it grapples between the big business opportunity in China and steadfast adherence to its principal.

The problem is highlighted since neither party involved can claim moral high ground. One wants to preserve their hold over power or to see it the positive way its way of life; the other wants to expand its business to the worl's most populous state or to see it the positive way connect 1/6th of the planet's population to the rest of the world.

Paypal's case was more straightforward....right? Enterprises and their compliance to geo specific laws are a fine balancing act that companies are forced to do as they expand the businesses at a pace unseen of in the  last decade

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Techno Tots

My 8 month old kid Avantika has been keeping me on my toes. Partly because of the attention any kid of her age needs and mostly because of the attention that a kid of her generation needs. Her generation kids are born dabbling tech toys. Be it the TV remote, my smartphone, her mom's clam shell phone or any other gadget she can lay her hands on, she knows by now what is used for what purpose. If we enact a mini drama with the TV remote as the mobile phone, she sees through it and loses interest in a jiffy. Her grandparents voice flowing through the mobile speaker interests her only if she has the mobile in her hands. Not if me or my wife hold it a distance for her to only listen.

Laptop for her is the equivalent of a mirror since she sees a wall paper of us both and her ensconced in the center. She knows that tapping the keyboard generates a sound. A favorite time of  pasttime of hers. The Casio music keyboard is another favorite coz each key produces a different note.

Her ultimate choice is the idiot box (TV)  since it keeps providing her unlimited entertainment without her asking for it. She recognises some of the oft repeated daily soap tracks and turns her head when they keep playing.

Today's kids are growing up to be in a totally different league than ours for sure !

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