Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Google+, Google voice, Chrome Webstore, Chrome OS, Google Music, Google TV, Google Shopping, Android, Google Fiber network; And most recently, Google Play.

Where do all these products culminate?

The answer is a tablet!

What Apple and Amazon understand and few other tablet makers such as Sony and RIM don’t is that tablet is not a device in itself. You need to give consumers an ecosystem to nurture the usage of the tablet and other devices.  Tablets are no longer a device that has a space between smartphone and computer as Steve Jobs introduced. It is inching closer to replace computers. There is a keyboard dock for iPad!

Google understands this as well as Apple or Amazon do. They also understands how people communicate and hence is striving to build a good social network, despite the early struggle.

There is need for a completely integrated ecosystem where a user can listen/buy music or movies, communicate with friends/family and share thoughts/news.

High speed Internet connectivity is also a big hindrance to ubiquitous usage of content accessible through these devices. Google has been setting up fiber optics and hopes to provide broadband 10 times faster than existing US average. The gamble by Google to create a complete end-to-end ecosystem from Apps and OS to hardware and internet infrastructure is as ambitious as it could possibly be. Pulling it off could be as revolutionary as Google search was for internet.

There are two important hurdles:

First, monetization could be a challenge: would Google try to put Ads on their devices and sell them at affordable prices (and hence go Amazon way?) or Make fully controlled premium devices (and go Apple way?). Hybrid option may seem the best alternative, but the trade off is not clear. Monetizing access to Google Play answers some part of this.

Second, Creating a seamless experience for user across multiple Android devices could be a challenge. Can Google make access to content purchased from ‘Play’ (and everything else) on Samsung SmartTV/GoogleTV, HTC Android Phone and Sony tablet seamlessly? It is a tough task, and an area where closed-system approach of Apple and its array of devices are scoring over Android. It becomes even more important in future.

Google seems to have or building (and integrating) all components of making a seamless entertainment experience on multiple devices. It would be interesting to see how Amazon and Apple play out. I think the first casualty could be Amazon if Google does well, before threatening Apple.

P.S.: Started writing ‘why Google tablet is important’ more than a month back, but only completing now. There is so much more I want to write about this, but got to run.

Read Full Post »

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

 

I realized the impact of lacking the knowledge of what customer wants when a product that I was working on was shelved for lack of market. An entrepreneur needs to know what customers want, be it in service or in product, in advance.

 

“It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Vision is almost everything for an entrepreneur. It not only steers the company in the right direction, but also motivates people who work for you. A good product is not a result of how much money you spend in developing it or how much you pay for hiring the best talent. I believe all that someone needs to be happy is something to be enthusiastic about. A good entrepreneur understands this, and leads the people with his vision and extracts the best out of them.

 

“I’m not afraid to start from the beginning.”

To me a real entrepreneur is one who can say this at any point in time. For these reasons, the entrepreneur I admire the most is Steve Jobs.

 

 

This was one of the the essays I wrote while applying to the Marshall School of Business last year. I am preparing for my first final exam (Strategy) of business school. We have a case on Apple Inc., and I can’t help but wonder the void Steve Jobs has left behind in consumer electronics industry.

Have a look at this article which captures this void beautifully:

feeds.harvardbusiness.org/~r/harvardbusi…

 

 

P.S.: Some portion of the essay has been edited for not-so-obvious reasons, but 95% is unchanged.

Read Full Post »

I’ve started tweeting of late. I know i’ve arrived late just like i arrived late to blogging. I guess gone are the days when people were paranoid to write about their daily activities (read personal) in public domain. I guess people now live more online, and less off it. Though LiveJournal started the cult at the beginning of this century, i think it took Twitter to bring about the change so drastically.

It’s good to see information being passed so quickly through tinyurls to accommodate the link to a detailed article on web with the gist in the tweet. Tweets like ‘Off for dinner‘, ‘Back from loo‘ etc is just plain stupidity. But i’m sure there are people who follow such tweets as well following up with a tweet Hey Britney just got back from bathroom, jeez that was quick!

It gets irritating when people use twitter for conversation. It happened to me. Someone wanted to know if i would do freelance product photography, the conversation went on for some 5-6 tweets, i had no option but to reply on twitter itself. Why don’t people use email or IM for that?! This is exactly like using scrapbook/wall for conversation before chat feature was integrated into social networking sites.

I love the new Twitter search feature, which has a simple search homepage, what Google did more than decade ago. But i wonder why don’t they have ads in the twitter profile page?! It makes so much sense to have a couple of text ads there. For example, one of my tweets went like this: ‘Seems like 400mm f/5.6L USM went out of stock even in US!!! Canon, do something!’ It makes a lot of sense to have an ad for Canon 400mm lens which is in stock. It is fine that you might not be able to facilitate such ads on all tweets, but i’m sure you can find quite a few which do match. Back from loo‘ can have a toilet paper ad. :))

On a totally different note, i’m finding it hard to understand Hyperfocal distance to produce images with greatest depth of field for landscapes. This supposedly explains it well, but i’d appreciate if someone can explain better.

P.S.: Can i change from a postpaid connection to prepaid without changing the phone number? I use Vodafone. This was another tweet for which i’d have appreciated relevant ads. I still haven’t found an answer, would appreciate if any of you can address.

Read Full Post »

Dinner with Dr. Dholakia of AIIM

Last Wednesday, i got an opportunity to meet one of the most distinguished person in Business education. Dr.Bakul Dholakia, who currently heads the Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management(AIIM) was the director of IIM-A from 2002 to 2007, chairman of RBI from 1992 to 1999 and was awarded Padma Shri in 2007 for his services in the field of education.

Our discussion varied and was mostly about the Blogging. Joel, Nikhil and myself talked about the phenomenon of blogging, its reach, and the way it works.

Dr.Dholakia talked about his days in IIM-A, where he was phenomenal in starting one year PGPX course for executives. Read this article on Rediff, How Bakul Dholakia nurtured IIM-A.

After quitting IIM-A, he has taken up the challenge of heading the AIIM, which would cater the specific management needs of the infrastructure industry. He explained how the infrastructure industry lacks quality managers, who are necessary for managing thousands of crores of investment in infrastructure in India.

AIIM aims to bridge the gap the infrastructure industry that does not have enough quality managers with an insight into infrastructure industry. Students at AIIM’s 1year course would have an opportunity to visit a foreign country for a field trip. Adani group has a lot of infrastructure projects going on, and the demand for quality managers would rise in the near future. This demand would give opportunity for students to intern and get placed in Adani group itself.

Read more about AIIM’s PGPIM course here.

P.S.: Please don’t hurl stones at me.

Read Full Post »

High price of crude oil, touching nearly $150 a barrel, has alarmed every nation across the world but the ones producing. Is it really the excess usage of non-renewable source of energy causing its depletion or a mere speculation using the threat of depleting resources for their ulterior motives? Really hard to say, but i tend to go with the latter.

We know, for ages, that western countries have higher energy usage per person. USA consumed 340.5 million Btu of primary energy per capita in 2005, which was roughly the same in 1980 (343 mBtu). Interesting to note is the rise in per capita energy consumption of Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and China. The middle eastern countries have a very high per capita consumption, probably needed for the continuously running air conditioners. Saudi Arabia’s consumption has increased from 166.3 mBtu in 1980 to 252 mBtu in 2005, an 85% increase. U.A.E has increased its consumption from 267.2 to 563.6 mBtu, a whooping 110% increase!

In South-East Asia, China has topped India by a significant margin. From 17.8 mBtu to 51.4 mBtu in China as against 5.9mBtu to 14.8 mBtu in India. Though the percentage increase of India is high, the per capita consumption is minuscule when compared to western, middle eastern or Chinese counter parts. Per capita consumption of oil, barrel per person per year is 2.18 for India, one of the lowest in the world (world avg: 12.52) whereas it is 78 in Saudi Arabia.

Oil consumption per capita across the world

Oil consumption per capita across the world.

These are the stats in 2005. The increase by 2010 or 2015 would be phenomenally more for reasons obvious below. Why has the consumption in middle eastern countries increased so much over the years? I’d say because of whimsical spending.

Al Burj, Dubai

Al Burj, Dubai is growing on what you pay for fuel

Nearly 25% of the construction cranes in the world are in Dubai. Wonder why? Two of the world’s largest sky scrapers, one under construction, Burj Dubai, and other, Al Burj, in proposal, are coming up in Dubai along with numerous other multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects. Artificial Palm islands, three man-made islands in Dubai, is the largest land reclamation projects in the world, and would be the world’s largest artificial islands. Besides this, there are several other highly ambitious projects to shell out billions of dollars like Hydropolis – world’s first underwater luxury resort, The World islands – artificial islands shaped like world map, and Dubailand – under-construction entertainment complex bettering Orlando’s Disney world. There are several high rise super luxury residential properties, and malls coming up along with Dubai Metro system, and world’s largest international airport.

The construction of transportation network, good shopping malls, and residential properties are, no doubt, ‘necessities’ of prosperous nations but projects like Ski Dubai, to ski in desert, is a whimsical idea, i would say, to splurge money made by selling oil to other countries. So are the projects like Al Burj, Palm islands, and Hydropolis. I remember another project to grow corals in the unnatural corrosive habitat in the coast of gulf by modifying the sea to assist coral growth. What next? May be they want to have Alps or Mount Everest artificially made!

About 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East with 62.5% coming from 5 Arab countries: Saudi Arabia (12.5%), UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Such huge spending can result in ever increasing price of oil as they have no other source of income. The concept of income tax does not exist as they are already making too much money by selling oil.

Supposedly there are more construction workers than citizens in UAE! What will happen to these people once these projects are completed in, say, another 10 years? Thousands of civil engineers, electrical engineers, and laborers would be jobless. Some of them might settle with hospitality sector for running and maintenance of these super luxury palaces of the rich, but the fate of rest is scary. Most of the workers are from developing countries like India. They would promptly be sent back home, and the unemployment would be rampant along with sky-rocketing fuel price.

The current increase of fuel price is funding these crazy spending spree of some of the oil rich countries. The effects of the completion of these projects would be felt all over the world, the cost of maintenance of these would sky-rocket the already high oil prices. Global warming might not reduce if the non-producing nations limit their usage when these oil rich nations are blowing up non-renewable energy sources for maintaining snow in desert or having underwater resort!

Source: EIA (Energy Information Administration) – Official energy statistics from the U.S. government for statistics on per capita primary energy consumption.

P.S.: I’m back!

Read Full Post »

This last month or so, inflation seems to be sky rocketing without any bound. The dollar is again touching 43 rupees just when i shortlisted a DSLR to buy. Nearly 4 rupee rise per dollar would increase the cost of owning the DSLR by 12%. Though the rising dollar would be a good sign for small and medium scale exporters, the effects of this would not be seen immediately. IT companies have already announced their single digit hikes for the top performers, and fired the non-performers. The crash of the markets has gripped the nation along with the increase in fuel prices. Also, there’s this food shortage crisis looming.

Albeit all these price rises, one thing seems to be decreasing. That is the cost for telecomm services. The tariff for STD and other services are being slashed every other day. First it was Vodafone and Airtel, and now it is BSNL. Though it seems like this is the result of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) decision to remove the access deficit charge (ADC), i feel that they would already be running these services at a very high price and this small cuts would be insignificant as their customer base increases.

What is the major cost for running a telecom service once they have their network up and running?

Preity zinta, BSNL best hai mere liye?

Advertisements, with big superstars and not-so-big superstars endorsing to call up your sister irrespective of whether she’s in Dehradun or somewhere nearby or the pug running behind you to help you. Yes, this is the only major cost apart from the salaries for their staff who take only a part of the top brass’ pay. So as these companies capture more market, they could afford to run the network efficiently and optimally without incurring more expenditure. This would maximize their profits. This is an ideal situation for them to get aggressive and capture more market. So, How do they do this?

Vodafone pug

By slashing the already high tariffs. This would make the customers to make calls more often, there by making higher utilization of the network, raking in more turnover and hence more profits.

The already over-priced telecom service is the only entity to be slashing prices in this near double digit inflation struck India, and i continue to wait for the D-Day.

Read Full Post »

Wouldn’t that be great to see on the news channels as breaking news? The whimsical show-off Dr.Vijay Mallya is capable of doing such antics with the god forsaken Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Bangalore Royal Challengers

Having Rahul Dravid as an icon player for a Twenty20 tournament, buying aged ‘star players of the yesteryears’ ignored by the cricket boards of their countries at exorbitant price (read Jacques Kallis), with the ‘first ladies of American football‘ showing off their talents (and assets) and serving liquor in the stands was he expecting to trash other teams in a game cricket? Why does he fire the sober looking sane and not-so-pretty guy in the whimsical Vijay Mallya’s stable, Charu Sharma? Probably he wanted to get Yana Gupta, or maybe Negar Khan as the CEO of the Royal Challengers team, only saved by sane decision to have Brijesh Patel when he was not so high on RC.

When you are in it purely for business, why would you wanna make a mockery of the esteemed sports personalities and commentators like Venkatesh Prasad and Charu Sharma? No doubt Venkatesh Prasad has done an excellent job as a bowling coach for the Indian side, grooming talented youngsters like Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma in the tour of Australia. Vijay Mallya thinks he is not good enough to coach the bunch of test-players lead by ever so slow, run-a-hundred-ball getter Rahul Dravid. Charu Sharma is a former national diving champion, and a good commentator. If he wasn’t good enough for you, why hire him in the first place?

A team performs as the captain leads. This has been proven by the dazzling Delhi Daredevils‘ skipper Virender Sehwag. So has Shane Warne with a bunch of mediocre players. The attitude of a leader gives a much needed morale boost for the team, and Rahul Dravid is not able provide that in T20 games. No doubt Dravid is a class player with technically perfect shots but T20 is not the arena for showcasing such hard-to-get talents. T20 is for the Dhonis and Afridis, where the bat speed matters more than the technique. VVS Laxman is another class player who fails to lead the team to success with worlds best hard-hitting star cricketers.

If BCCI would permit, Mallya would want to sport a team of 11 bikini clad Kingfisher calender swimsuit models instead of cricketers but unfortunately this is suppose to be “cricket”. Hope the game remains and not become entirely business, that too in the hands of crazy liquor morons.

Read Full Post »

The decline in the US dollars in the past few months, and increase in the cost of a barrel of crude oil to nearly $100 has given glimpses of the US dollar decline on it’s stronghold.

Dollar and euro

It is not just the Indian rupee that has gained in the recent past, but the currencies of many Asian countries including China, Indonesia, and Philippines. The exporters in India are struggling to keep up with the profit margins, the suffers are mostly the small scale exporters. The bigger IT companies are somehow keeping it up, and are trying to diversify their markets and also planning of making future deals in other currencies like Euro.

Oil is the key, with dollar declining the reserves of billions of dollars in the oil rich countries of the Gulf are feeling the heat, not just due to the desert temperature. Their billions of dollars reserves are losing their value. So they are in a way pushing towards neutral currency, you can say, Euro. The biggest fear could be Chinese converting their trillions of dollars reserve to Euro. That could propel the Euro to exchange rates as that of pound sterling. Good news for the ones waiting with forex reserves of Euro, here i’m talking about the retail investors. The ones would have gone to EU for an on-site trip, and have some Euros saved from their trip.

The rise in Rupee or decline of dollar is affecting Indian IT companies, which earlier had the edge over US Multinationals with cost effective solutions. Now, IBM and Accenture are giving stiff competition to the likes of Infy, Wipro, TCS and others. How are these tackling the dollar debacle?

Near-shore offices instead of on-site travel, more freshers, and hiring from relatively less explored or untouched regions like Czech, Bulgaria, Argentina and Mexico. The Indian IT companies stock prices are declining like never before, and the IT Mutual funds have -38% growth in the last one year.

The fall in dollar is affecting the lives of millions in a variety of ways, eroding stock prices, lower profits, depreciating forex reserves and in many uncomprehensible ways. The weaker-dollar has a few positives as well, for importers. Buying Bose QC3 at a cheaper price was possible due to a dollar at 39.8 rupees. My plans of buying a DSLR also seems viable. But the negative impact comes in the form of a lesser hike i get the next year as the business in dollars gets lesser rupees for my company. Effectively buying my QC3 would be at the same rate, isn’t it? But the psychological factor helps.

Another positive aspect of the stronger rupee is for someone planning to do masters in the US. Obviously their reserves in rupees would be worth more than it was a year ago. Hence the tuition fees and other expenses would cost cheaper for them. There is also a flip side to this, after they graduate, if they work in US, the spending capacity in rupees would not be the same if dollars were worth more for a rupee.

In the short term, though it has more negative impact on India, i’m sure Indian IT companies have gained enough expertise in the domain to take on the giant multinationals like Accenture, IBM and others not just in IT services at low-cost but also in consultancy to take advantage in the long term. The India story is still good, as they say. :)

Read Full Post »

The launch of Tata’s one lakh car has got more publicity and global attention than any other Indian product ever. A revolutionary step in the automobile sector, with many companies saying it can’t be made. Ratan Tata, the man behind this small wonder, said this has been achieved despite rising steel, tyres and other item prices, and ‘despite Mamta’ to keep up the promise he made four years ago.

Why only Tatas could make the 1-lakh car?

Suzuki and few other car manufacturers still maintain that a one-lakh car cannot be made by having a reasonable profit margin. Few others are interested in knowing the cost cutting techniques which made Tatas achieve this. Have Tatas done what Suzukis, Hyundais, and Bajajs couldn’t or have they compromised on the profit margin to make up in the bulk sales which the Nano could rake in? A business strategy with a risk only the Tatas could take.

Tata, having the Corus steel with them and being the 5th largest steel producer in the world, could get steel cheaper than any other automobile manufacturer in the world. This could keep the profit margin for Tatas higher than that for other automobile manufacturers. With almost every kind of product in offering, from watches, tea, luxury hotels, IT services to telecomm they know the Indian market, presumably the largest market for 1-lakh car, better than anyone else in the world. The nearest competitor for Tata’s Nano is in neighboring China a $3600 car, Chery QQ.

Hamara Bajaj, not anymore

Ratan Tata’s one-lakh idea came when he couldn’t help but notice a family on their scooter with Man riding, a kid standing in the front, woman holding a kid on her lap in the pillion. He wanted to make a safer scooter. Knowing about the failure of BMW’s safe scooter with seat belts and safety bars, which BMW had withdrawn, Tata wanted to make a full fledged small car at very low price. Thoughts of making the four wheel vehicle from two wheeler parts to modifying auto rickshaw making it a four wheel vehicle, they came up with some ingenious cost cutting and designs to keep up his promise.

Those were the days in late 1980s and 1990s when you’d see families riding on their Bajaj Chetak and Bajaj Super scooters. Bajaj’s ‘Hamara Bajaj‘ campaign being most popular and drew the attention of every middle class Indian. The coming decade could be Tata’s Nano, ‘Hamara Nano’ or ‘Hamara Tata‘.

Hamara Bajaj 1989 advert:

Read Full Post »

I just noticed now. Why has Google removed ads on Orkut? What are they up to?

One of my thoughts when ads first appeared on orkut, dated 15th November 2006 on my exclusive community:

My first thoughts on Ads appearing on orkut

I was not very happy to see text ads on orkut.
Why should Google make money from our creativity!?
The community owners and members should get a share of the profit Google will be making by these Ads..

Seeing the number of visitors to my profile everyday, i got a great idea!
wouldn’t it be nice to place a few text ad links on my profile and make a few bucks from it??

Hey Orkut are u listening??

As I mentioned, i was not happy. Did Google heed to my thought? :P

When did they actually remove those ads? I didn’t notice. What is Google planning to do next? With OpenSocial up its sleeve Google is not going to miss the revenues from Ads on these social networking sites. Are they coming up with a strategy to share profits with the third party application developers? Will Google ads going to appear on all OpenSocial compatible sites like MySpace, and others?

If that ever happens, Google would virtually become the undisputed king of social networking sites, with a dominant control over the revenues these ads would generate with OpenSocial. Third party developers would still be the losers as i mentioned in this post, and so would be the community builders who essentially are these site users, as i mentioned in my community post.

Will have to wait and watch the next step of Google.

 

UPDATE, 11:44 PM: Seems like Google has removed ads after complaints from Brazilian nonprofit group, SafeNet alleged that Orkut contained illegal content on some users pages. Some had views that social networking was not generating much revenues, which i doubt, but lack of revenue isn’t the direct cause of the ads being pulled.

Google said advertising appeared on only 1% of Orkut pages and represented a “test” of online marketing on the social-networking site, which is especially popular in Brazil and India. WSJ reports so.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »