Thursday, April 28, 2011

Of Greatest Gadgets and Greatest Markets

I have always failed to understand why some of the greatest gadgets ever to be launched never make their debut at the same time in India or China (touted to become the biggest consumer markets), as in the western markets. Well, I get the argument that a lot more people in the western countries can afford them. However, gadget makers are missing a point...

Let's take the example of Apple. They have always been a niche segment player in the western economies catering to the higher end of the market. I believe they were forced to operate in the fringes with their Mac line of products due to Microsoft's dominance and the open architecture of PCs. 

With the iPod, iPhone and iPad line of products, Apple had a chance to change this in the emerging markets of India and China at least. Apple had a 12-18 month lead in the all these products before a worthy equivalent entered the fray from a competitor. However none of these were introduced in India to take advantage of this lead time. Even when they were introduced, in the case of iPhone they were tied to network operators much like the model in US, a model I feel never caught the fancy of average Indian consumer who likes choices and is spoilt by them.When iPad 1 was introduced there was a lot of media frenzy created by the local media. However the gadget was not even available in the stores to take advantage of the demand created just by media frenzy. Along came Samsung's Galaxy Tab that soaked up all this demand.

Extend this example to Amazon Kindle. Not available at the same price to this day in India as in US. While it costs 7000 INR in US, buying it in India via some of the resellers means you pay not less than 9000 INR. I am sure you will have a Asian version soon to soak up the pent up demand.

At least with iPad 2 to be launched the coming week in India, I think there will be a reversal in this trend. Hopefully gadget makers in the western economies realize sooner than later that emerging markets give them an opportunity to change their market positions vis-a-vis what they hold currently. If you have a path breaking innovation in product ready form, there is absolutely no reason for you not to make the product available in emerging markets and reach out to the billions.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

R.I.P Typewriter

I felt a strange tinge of sadness reading the news on Indian Express that mentioned the last typewriter company in the world, Godrej and Boyce is downing the shutters on the production of type-writers

A device synonymous with offices across India right till the turn of the century, the end of the road was always a writing on the wall, given the relentless shadowing by computers. While offices were the first to switch, government bureaucrats and courts to this day persist with them for reasons that I do not understand. 

Finally the last company on the planet that still catered to this dwindling segment has decided to throw the hat in the ring. They have the last 200 pieces up for grabs, if any of you feel that is worth an investment.

Remember the funny YouTube video that portrayed what typewriter users would end up doing !! Ha ha ha...Enjoy it here and wish 'Rest in Peace' to a device that held mankind in good stead till the computers announced their arrival.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Losing out on English too?

It is quite commonly said that the biggest legacy left behind by the British after decades of colonial rule over India is that of the English language. This language has been a key ingredient in India's economic rise to super powerdom. A key ingredient in heralding India's almost unshakable dominance over IT services entering into the 3rd decade now.

However if we were to go by a recent report released by Education First, we may soon be overtaken by the Chinese on the IT front. For the first time, China has been ranked ahead of India in English proficiency for the first time in a decade. Pointing to a change in currents in the school education in both countries this clearly is the result of the Chinese government giving impetus to English teaching in their primary and high schools. As the first of these students start passing out of the universities, the availability of low cost English speaking labor from China en masse will become a reality that will start haunting us. 

Are our education departments doing anything to arrest this trend? 


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