Monday, 6 July 2015

Digital Dialogue in India

Times of India reports that Indian Prime Minister now wants to hold a Digital Dialogue on social media after his recent launch of Digital India.

Also TOI reports people are forgetting important information because they've handed over responsibility for remembering it to their phones, a new study has found. Most people can't remember the phone numbers of their children or their schools, or their work, the study by Kaspersky found. But 47% of people could remember their home phone number between the ages of 10 and 15. 

The forgetting seems to be a consequence of people never needing to remember because the information is always accessible on a phone, with 53% of young people saying that their smartphone has all the information they need to know. The effect, called "digital amnesia" by the cybersecurity company, applies across all age groups and equally between men and women, it said. 

As we give over the power of information to our devices, the risk of losing them becomes greater, the study found. Among women, 44% would be "overwhelmed by sadness" if they lost their devices and so lost memories they might never get back. A large number of women and young people would "panic", since their devices are the only places they store their important data.

Smartphones changing the way we function everyday. Now you worry about charging your phone.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Putting the Cart before the Horse: Internet in Rural India

Times of India reports that in an innovative move to educate rural women about the Internet, Tata Trusts and Google India announced a special programme to send 1,000 specially designed 'Internet Cycle Carts' to remote villages. Built on the back of a regular bicycle, the carts are modelled on India's traditional distribution system used to ferry everything from ice-creams to industrial goods and will help empower the rural communities. The cycle cart operator or 'Internet Saathi' would train women and act like the postman, who was the single point contact for the village with the outside world both for information and communication.

Tata Trusts will manage the on-ground rollout with its partners, while Google India will invest in providing the Internet-enabled carts and training content, bringing India closer to the Digital Vision. The launch was attended by Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata and Google India and southeast Asia vice president Rajan Anandan. The Cycle Carts initiative will provide women with basic training in the usage and benefits of the Internet. "While women are making rapid progress on adoption of Internet in urban areas, women in rural India are getting left behind. Today only 12% of Internet users in rural India are women," said Anandan.

Putting the cart before the horse in India to get more people online.


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Novel Litigation: Selling Books Online

Times of India reports that writer Amish Tripathi's latest novel, which retells the story of Ramayana and turns it into a gripping thriller, is now scripting the latest battle in the digital world, as a spat over its online selling rights between Amazon and Flipkart has reached the Delhi High Court. Westland Ltd, the Tata Group-owned publisher of the 'Scion of Ikshvaku,' has dragged Flipkart.com to the Delhi High Court, alleging that the e-commerce company is violating copyrights and IT Act by selling the novel on its platform.

Westland says it has signed a two-month exclusive deal with Amazon to sell the book through its online platform. Flipkart, however, denied any violation. "Flipkart is a marketplace which helps sellers connect with customers across the country. The matter is sub judice before the Honourable Delhi High Court, which on 30 June 2015 declined to pass any restraint order against Flipkart India or any of the sellers on the sale of the said book," a company spokesperson told ET.

That sounds just the same as what an Amazon spokesperson had said last year when the two e-commerce giants had a similar spat over Chetan Bhagat's novel 'Half Girlfriend,' for which Flipkart had an exclusive deal with publisher Rupa to sell the book online. Then Rupa had objected to Amazon selling the book on its platform. And a spokesperson of the e-commerce platform said: "We are an open marketplace and sellers on our form are free to choose the selection that they wish to offer their customers using our marketplace platform."

Now, the tables have turned.

Digital marketplaces are battling it out over rights to sell copyright material online. They are going to all lengths to ensure they get the maximum number of sellers and the most digital content online.

Biometric Payment Systems becoming the Norm

BBC reports that "Mastercard is testing a smartphone app that uses facial recognition to verify online purchases. Users in the trial can hold their phone up as though taking a selfie to approve transactions.
"The new generation, which is into selfies... I think they'll find it cool," the firm's security expert Ajay Bhalla told CNN. One security expert told the BBC facial recognition should be complemented with "extra layers of security". "Google tried facial recognition on Android phones and there were a lot of problems in the early days", said Ken Munro, security researcher at Pen Test Partners. "People realised you could take a photo of somebody and present it to the camera, and the phone would unlock.""

Moving a step closer to making biometric payment systems the norm.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Smartphone Growth will Fuel Digital Content and Services

Times of India reports that buoyed by growing sales, India will overtake the US to become world's second largest smartphone market by 2017, says a report. According to international research firm Strategy Analytics, global smartphone sales are forecast to grow from 1.5 billion units in 2015 to a record 1.7 billion by 2017. China, India and the US are the three big countries driving smartphone growth worldwide. "India will soon overtake the US to become the world's second largest smartphone market by 2017 behind China, selling an impressive 174 million units," the report said. 

"We forecast global smartphone sales will grow from 1.5 billion units in 2015 to a record 1.7 billion in 2017," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics in a statement. India is fast becoming the next major growth wave. "India's growth is being driven by low smartphone penetration, expanding retail availability of devices, wealthier middle-class consumers, and aggressive promotions from local smartphone brands like Micromax," added Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics. 

India is going mobile in a big way. Population size is a factor in smartphone growth. And the digital content and services to satisfy the needs of smartphone users will follow.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Creating Trust in Mobile Banking for M-Commerce to Grow

Economic Times reports every year, millions of dollars are stolen from customers' bank accounts by hackers, or due to the carelessness of customers. JP Morgan Chase systems were hacked and the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of 83 million account holders were reportedly exposed in one of the biggest data security breaches in history. As was the case with Tesco's customers. Even though banks in India haven't reported any significant breaches yet, their giant leap in the digital world to enhance customer experience exposes them and their customers to potential losses. 

Trust in mobile banking or m-banking and mobile payments needs to improve significantly if m-commerce is to take off. Once current users become comfortable with the security in place that will then drive further people to m-banking. 

Indians may trust in their God but until they begin to trust in the mobiles also, m-banking and m-commerce will not become widespread in India.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Mobile App Growth: It's All APPening in India

Times of India reports that As Indian mobile app usage outpaced global app usage, mobile app usage in India grew 131%, as per Yahoo's latest report. Growth in app usage far exceeding its global peers, driven by country's obsession with mobile app shopping, which contributed to 19% of their time spent on their smartphones (second only to gaming, which took 25% of user's time). App growth in Asia stood at 77%. "The shift from e-commerce to m-commerce is accelerating, with Indians engaging with their mobile shopping apps almost round the clock," Christopher Klotzbach, head of product marketing, Flurry from Yahoo, told ET.

The Flurry team from Yahoo analyzed data gleaned from over 700,000 apps and 1.8 billion devices from across the world, and the 42,000 apps and 82 million devices from India, that use Flurry. Phablet is the fastest growing mobile device globally, with growth in India outpacing growth in the US -- 38% of user sessions in India are on phablets vs 21% in the US, as measured by Flurry. "Phablet users in Asia engage in apps 78% more than the average smartphone users in Asia, which is driving the app growth in the region," Klotzbach said. The top three app growth categories in India, according to Yahoo are personalization (such as Android launchers like Aviate and Hola), followed by News & Reading and Photography. 

India is fast becoming a predominantly m-commerce destination.

UK Likes Click Farming in India

Times of India reports that  low-cost IT workers in India are populating what have been described as "click farms" in fake Internet traffic to help British companies boost their online presence, according to a media report. An investigation by 'The Times' newspaper found that western companies are being offered packages costing as little as $1 per 1,000 clicks to increase Internet traffic or purchase 1,000 to 10,000 Facebook "likes" or Twitter followers. 

The newspaper's reporter posed as a potential customer for a British singer seeking to boost his online profile and was offered a range of services by several providers in Delhi and Mumbai.  "I can give you 1,000 likes on Facebook in six to seven days," Navdeep Sharma, whose company Indian Facebook Likes specializes in what he calls "social media optimization", told the newspaper. "It will take double the time for 2,000 and so on. Once the numbers increase, it will get faster. YouTube views are easier. I can give 3,000-4,000 per day," he said. Sharma said most of his clients were American or British corporates. 

Grow your own online presence with Indian click farming.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Locking in Vendors into your Digital Marketplace

Times of India reports that Amazon.com Inc will launch its business loan program for small sellers later in 2015 in eight more countries including India and China, where credit is becoming a key factor in competing for new vendors and grabbing market share. Until now, the e-retailer has offered the service only in the United States and Japan. Amazon Lending, founded in 2012, now plans to offer short-term working capital loans in other countries where it operates a third-party, seller-run marketplace business, the head of Amazon Marketplace, Peter Faricy said.

The countries are Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The service is on an invite-only basis and is not open to all sellers on Amazon's platform. Other large retailers including eBay Inc's PayPal and Alibaba Group Holdings, which run third-party marketplaces, are also turning to credit to boost their vendor base. Some lending industry officials who help lenders assess credit risk say these retailers are taking on risky loans because they don't know the shape of the credit market in which the sellers are operating.

Digital marketplaces are attracting as many sellers as they can to build their vendor base. And they are fast developing their supply chains to compete with the likes of Walmart and Tesco. These loans will tie in vendors into a particular digital marketplace.

Health Insurers Looking in Your Social Media

BBC News reports that "A UK health insurer is facing criticism for advising its members to use a Facebook-owned fitness-tracking app in order to retain a popular perk. Vitality - formerly known as PruHealth - has emailed users suggesting they download Moves if they want to keep getting a cinema ticket once a week. Privacy campaigners say the app's connection to Facebook has not been made explicit enough. But Vitality says the initiative will "motivate healthy behaviour". Neither the private insurer's emails nor its webpage detailing the activity tracking scheme mention Moves' link to Facebook."

Now your social media use affects your health insurance policy. Now insurers are looking into your social media use as a factor to assess you in your health cover.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Monday, 29 June 2015

Indian Politicians Get Caught Off-Guard: Social Media Changing Politics

Economic Times reports that the most potent argument supporting the claim that Kapil Dev did not score an unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe on July 18, 1983, is that there are no signs of it on the internet. Not on Twitter. Not on Facebook. Not on YouTube. Yes, the BBC was on strike that day and no footage was made available by the official telecaster. It is also a fact that smartphones with video camera functions were yet to be invented. But that is no excuse. Barring a few obviously posed Nataraja-hook shots of Kapil, there is no visual evidence of that World Cup-saving event. And, trust me, you can believe the print journalists who wrote about that day at your own peril. The bottomline: if it's not on social media, it didn't happen.

But there's the flip side to that truth about: If it is on social media, it happened. Like the strange Russian Yeti caught hopping on camera (goo.gl/hBwPPt). Or Narendra Modi dancing his knees off with Atal Bihari Vajpayee during Holi AND reading out his own poetry (goo.gl/UA76Zt). Take the YouTube clip of railway minister Suresh Prabhu observing World Yoga Day last Sunday by having a power nap while performing the savasana. It was understandable. The ex-sherpa in Kochi was far-away from his boss in Delhi. What would have been a minor incident worth, at best, a newspaper diary item a decade ago, became a YouTube hit. Once the clip went viral, you couldn't put the paste back into the tube. Was Prabhu overworked? Was he protesting against the Bibek Debroy Committee Report on railways reforms? All such pertinent questions erupted on social media.

Smartphones and social media are changing the behaviour of politicians. Smartphones are the bane of Indian politicians.


Sunday, 28 June 2015

India's Digital Yuga: Launching Digital India

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to launch Digital India week on 1st July 2015. Digital India is one one Modi's flagship programmes to provide digital services to India's population. India's Digital Yuga is about to begin.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Digitising India's Culture, History and Mythology: Kumbh Mela's Digital Yuga

Times of India reports that Kumbh Mela is fast approaching and Nashik city youths are doing their bit to promote the once-in-12-years mega-religious and touristic attraction through social media networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Wikipedia is one such website that has been utilizing local youth to help build an accurate webpage on Nashik. Through its project 'Wiki takes Nashik', the website has decided to upload up to 5,000 pictures of Nashik that would provide a glimpse of the city to people all around the world ahead of the Mela.

Team Wikipedia had in January sought college students from the city to update information on Nashik on the backdrop of visitors seeking information about it during Kumbh. This time too, a similar event has been organized for uploading pictures about the city on the webpage. The team aims to upload 5,000 pictures by the first week of July. Over 100 students from various colleges across the city came forward in January and uploaded correct information about the city. The information was uploaded under 18 categories including geography, history, mythology, arts and culture, agriculture, people, industry and tourism.

Digitising India's culture, history and mythology in this Digital Yuga.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Fly-Tipping: Mobile Tipping for Foodies

CNBC reports that "Mobile payments are set to explode over the next few years and while tech companies might be excited by the profits to come, there is a another group of people also looking forward to the technology – restaurant waiting staff. Restaurants and mobile payments companies said they have seen a boost in customers tipping when using apps on their smartphones to pay for meals. La Patagonia, a rustic Argentinian restaurant in the middle of London reported a 4 percent rise in tips since it first started using a mobile payments."

Mobile payments will increase at a fast pace with most major tech companies having their own mobile payments systems. It seems mobile payments are making foodies more generous.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Uber Driving Digital Disruption

Uber taxi service app is in the news regularly and is the focus of the most protests due to its disruption of the taxi industry in various countries. Uber is the prime example of digital disruption. 

If Uber were to get into driverless cars the protests would get a lot worse.



Thursday, 25 June 2015

Digital Cognisance in India

Economic Times reports that "Have you seen the Matrix? Remember the scene where Neo and Trinity get into a helicopter and don't know how to fly it. So Neo just downloads the instructions into his brain and they're off ? This product is exactly like that," says Harrick Vin, vice-president and chief scientist at Tata Consultancy Services, describing the company's latest product. The description itself is a shift for the industry. Indian IT firms, known more for their labour arbitrage model than innovative technology, rarely get to compare products to something seen in cult sci-fi films. But Ignio, an artificial intelligence platform that was in development for four years, may justify the comparison. Ignio uses what TCS calls neural computing — a platform backed by machine-learning capabilities and the computing power of the cloud that is meant to handle a lot of the work currently being done in managing IT infrastructure. 

Digital cognisance takes its first steps in India.

SJP @DigitalAsian

In Digital Space Nobody can Hear you Stream

Times of India reports that a pop group unhappy at how music streaming service Spotify pays recording artists has created a web app that artificially generates royalties. The Eternify app puts any artist's songs on endless repeat, playing just 30 seconds at a time - the minimum required to be considered a "listen". Spotify said it was looking into whether it broke the service's rules. Eternify was devised by New York-based act Ohm & Sport, who said streaming was "virtually worthless" for musicians. The amount artists receive from streaming services has been put under heavy scrutiny of late - buoyed by the imminent launch of Apple Music, a new music streaming service from the iPhone-maker. Compared with physical sales - or even downloads - the money artists make from streaming is minute.

This highlights the battle between intellectual property right (IPR) holders, digital marketplaces and consumers.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Battle over Digital Delivery to the Consumer

Times of India reports that Apple's abrupt about-face on paying royalties for songs during a three-month free-trial period for its new music service was a symbolic victory for superstar Taylor Swift and other artists, and a shrewd business move by Apple, at a time when the streaming phenomenon is causing major changes in the music industry. The olive branch extended by Apple comes as music is increasingly being consumed on streaming services like Spotify and Deezer "to the detriment of album sales and iTunes downloads" heightening tensions between artists, labels and service providers over who gets paid and how much.

Apple had already agreed to share revenue from the new Apple Music service once users start paying a $10-a-month subscription fee for the service, which it plans to launch June 30. But the technology giant wasn't planning to pay artists and labels directly for the use of their music during the free, 90-day trial period that it's offering to get fans to try the service. That changed quickly, after Swift posted an open letter to Apple opposing the lack of royalties during the free period, and declaring she'd be withholding her latest album "1989" from Apple Music because of it. Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue reversed the company's trial-period terms, which had gone out to thousands of independent labels, including Swift's Big Machine Label Group, after the technology giant reached a deal with major label groups Universal, Sony and Warner in early June.

Now that digital consumption is becoming the norm in the music publishing business there is a battle as to the digital delivery or distribution method that consumers will prefer to receive their music. Amazon seems to dominate the eBook market and the publishing houses are struggling to fight back. We have not yet seen a book author do to Amazon what Taylor Swift has done to Apple. It is clear that now the battle will be on consumer preference of digital delivery for products/services that can be digitised.

Also in other news it is reported that Facebook is now apparently worth more than Walmart which is the world's biggest retailer.