Showing posts from January, 2016

Opportunity Iran

With the sanctions recently lifted, Iran is now on a spending spree, signing multi-billion dollar agreements for goods and services in Europe and elsewhere. A big market like Iran to come online now is good news for many depressed economies. Foreign competition will be fierce for a lucrative market like Iran. 
Let's see how fast and how far businesses transform Iran to a digital economy.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Spend on DX technology set to increase

Spend on DX technology set to increase.
Times of India reports that global spending on digital transformation (DX) technologies is expected to cross $2.1 billion by 2019 as companies look at making better use of information related to customers, markets and products, research firm IDC said. The spending is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8% over the 2014-2019 forecast period, IDC said in a statement. Spending on DX technologies in the US will follow a similar trajectory, reaching nearly $732 million in 2019, it added. "Enterprises are forecast to invest the most (nearly half the worldwide total in 2019) on DX technologies that support operating model innovations," the report said. These investments will focus on making business operations more responsive and effective by leveraging digitally-- connected products/services, assets, people and trading partners, it added.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Consumer Cost of Digital India

With the high spectrum auction prices for the 4G band in India, it will be the consumer that will ultimately end up paying for Digital India.
Times of India reports that Trai's (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) pricing recommendation on the coveted 700 MHz 4G band has sharply divided analysts and industry experts. Some experts said that the suggested starting price of Rs 57,425 crore ($8.5 billion approx) for a pan-India 5 MHz block, or Rs 11,485 crore a unit, of 700 MHz spectrum wasn't too high, given the easy financing options, the fact that this was a 20-year asset, the money telcos make currently and the ongoing data growth. But others say given stiff base price, the efficiency gains from deploying 4G on this most cost-efficient band aren't enough to offset the higher up front investments involved. Both sides though agreed that telcos will be left with higher debt levels.
"The seemingly high starting price translates to a very modest EMI payout of Rs 574 cr…

Apple bets on India for sales of iPhone while it looks for new killer product.

Apple is betting on India's demographic for sales of its iPhone while it searches for that all new killer product.
Economic Times reports that Tim Cook is betting on India for the long term.  Apple Inc, hit by slowing worldwide iPhone sales in its latest quarter, is hoping that the country's younger population, thirst for top-of-the-line consumer products and economic growth prospects will help pick up the slack as other markets falter. In its first-quarter earnings call, CEO Cook said Apple will continue to invest in India despite global slowdown and currency fluctuations. 
"During hard times like now, it provides an opportunity to invest in newer markets such as India where there are long-term prospects," he said. Apple's financial year runs from October to September. The call took place early morning on Wednesday, India time. Apple's India first-quarter revenue surged 38%, albeit on a smaller base, compared with 11% growth in overall emerging markets and …

Indian IT Faces Restrictions Abroad

UK's various visa charges, surcharges and other costs are like a tax on doing business in the UK and amounts to protectionism.
Times of India reports that even as US visa issues haunt India's technology outsourcing industry, the UK has proposed changes to its skilled-workers visa policy that could increase costs for companies and make transfer of workers more difficult. The UK is the second-largest market for Indian IT companies and accounts for 18% of their export revenue, amounting to about $19 billion annually, according to National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).
The UK's Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has proposed increasing the minimum salary level of IT employees entering the UK for short or long terms to £41,500, according to a report on its website. It has asked for immigration health surcharge and immigration skills charge to be levied on each employee sent to client sites in the UK, which will have a combined impact of £1,200 per a…

Idea Development

Microsoft plans to change its work processes to ensure ideas get from the drawing board to the consumer faster in order to take on the likes of Google and Facebook. Skype Translator is an example. For any large corporation with a research arm, trying to spot ideas that have the most potential early on and develop them quickly before your competitor does is a tricky business. Microsoft will have its researchers work more closely with product groups. Ideation or idea development from concept to product is what its all about.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Selling Flash

Selling Flash: flash sales become the norm for digital marketplaces.
Times of India reports that after selling over 2 million smartphones through flash sales in six months and over 60,000 Maggi kits in just 5 minutes, Snapdeal betting big on the 'flash sales' model for 2016. "While the 'flash sale' model was introduced more out of compulsion, it has turned out to be a winning strategy," said Karan Khara, VP strategic alliances, Snapdeal. The company plans to offer products across categories in the 'flash' format in the upcoming months. Snapdeal forayed into flash sales when they faced constraints with supply in early 2015.
For products such as smartphones that have substantial amount of pent up demand, selling the product through normal sale created logistics constraints for the e-commerce company. Its first flash sale with Micromax Canvas Spark in April 2015 resulted in sales of 20,000 units within 2 minutes of commencement of the sale. The resoundi…

Ideas, IPR and Startups Marketplace @ IdeaIndia.Com

Ideas, Intellectual Property Rights  and Startups

Digital Marketplace for Startups to promote and sell Ideas and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Platform to bring together buyers and sellers/owners of Ideas and Intellectual Property Rights - Copyright, Trademarks, Patents etc. 
Go to IdeaIndia.Comto find out more

Travel Disruption Ahead

Uber and other travel startups have not just disrupted economy travel for consumers but are now also disrupting business class travel. They could go on to disrupt first class travel also. Uber saw huge growth in employees giving Uber travel expenses to their employers, as did other startups. Car hire services are losing market share to the likes of Uber.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Value of the digital economy

Value of the digital economy
Times of India reports that the combined value of digital transformation -- for society and the industry -- could be greater than $100 trillion over the next 10 years, according to a new research by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The research, which is part of the Forum's Digital Transformation of Industries (DTI) project, focuses on the "combinatorial" effect of digital technologies -- mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence, sensors and analytics, among others.
Examples of societal value generated by digitisation include mass adoption of autonomous vehicles and usage-based car insurance, which could save up to 1 million lives a year worldwide by 2025. In the electricity sector, a cumulative reduction in carbon emissions worth $867 billion by 2025 could be achieved through adoption of digital technologies. "Society and environment stand to gain the greatest share of the rewards from digitisation through improvements in welfare, health a…

Enterprise startups on the rise in India

Enterprise startups on the rise.

Economic Times reports that on January 8, Avlesh Singh, chief executive of WebEngage, kicked up a tweetstorm announcing the launch of his company's latest product while also pouring out his angst on the spotlight hogged by consumer Internet companies. A couple of tweets caught everyone's attention. "These folks didn't know that WebEngage is on road to clock $10 million in annualized revenue by end of 2016," wrote Singh, whose new marketing automation tool will shortly be rolled out to more than 1,000 customers across 50 countries. "It was hard, but I am glad we didn't lose focus. Uninformed folks mistook the lack of hype as 'lack of ambition' in us."
What WebEngage did to get here, several other enterprise software firms, too, have been doing in the past couple of years. They put their heads down and focused on improving their technology, strategy and global reach, not entirely oblivious to the hoopla around ec…

Risk in startup stock options for employees

Risk in startup stock options for employees is shown in this case if the high valuations on paper vanish:
CNBC reports "A $250 million acquisition probably sounds like a lot to many employees of privately held companies. But for startups backed by big venture capitalist money, even a deal that big can be a financial bloodbath for employees. Case in point: Re/code spoke to a half dozen former employees of flash sale site Gilt Groupe in the two weeks since its $250 million acquisition by Hudson's Bay Company was announced. And at least three of them lost more than $10,000 as a result of the deal. The outcome is a stark reminder that buying shares in a startup you work for is often a riskier financial bet than it may seem, even at a company as hot as Gilt once was. The story of Gilt, which was once valued by investors at more than $1 billion, also serves as a cautionary tale for the 100-plus startups with valuations of $1 billion or more today: That number on paper can vanish i…

Tips for Startup Founders dealing with Investors

Uber's Kalanick gave a few tips to founders at IIT-B when dealing with investors.
Economic Times reports that Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, likened entrepreneurship to a game of chess where founders and investors square up on opposite ends for a battle of wits. Speaking to a crowd of over 3,000 at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, Kalanick, 39, exhorted founders to stay "five or six moves ahead of your investor". 
Uber, now valued at an estimated $61 billion, has raised over $ 8 billion in 13 rounds from 52 investors. Those backing the startup include China's Baidu and investment firms. "Being an entrepreneur is like playing three dimensional chess; you play chess 80 hours a week," said Kalanick during an open-house discussion moderated by Ronnie Screwvala, the founder of Unilazer Ventures. 
Cheered on by the crowd at the alma mater of his main India rival Ola's cofounder Bhavish Aggarwal, Kalanick had tips and tricks to share on how to manage…

Connect in India: Tourism and Telecom Connect in India

Communicating and connecting in India may get easier for tourists. There's also probably some opportunities here for digital content providers.
Times of India reports that foreign tourists visiting India are likely to soon enjoy complimentary local SIM cards, as the government is contemplating giving away local mobile phone connections with 30 days validity to foreign tourists with their e-tourist visas. The development comes after tourism minister Mahesh Sharma met communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday to discuss modalities. According to sources, the government has set up a panel of secretaries headed by tourism secretary Vinod Zutshi with telecom secretary Rakesh Garg, foreign secretary S Jaishankar and home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi as members.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Keeping It in the Family: Digital Communications and Content Services in India

Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) and Reliance Communications (RCom) have signed spectrum trading and sharing agreements. This will help them launch 4G services across India. These agreements between brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani will help them take on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. It is a battle for digital communications and content services in India.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Tech Funds with FANGs

Funds that invested in FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) generally outperformed those that didn't in 2015. Will these tech companies do as well in 2016?
SJP @DigitalAsian

Digital Proxy Wars: Unblockers making NetFlix Discontent

Digital Proxy Wars: Unblockers making NetFlix Discontent
Times of India reports that video-streaming service provider Netflix's subscribers will no longer be able to use proxies to watch content not available in their home country. Subscribers often resort to proxies, or servers that facilitate access to Internet content not available locally, to watch Netflix's popular shows such as "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black." "If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn't be a reason for members to use proxies or unblockers," David Fullagar, Netflix's vice president of content delivery architecture, wrote in a blog.
The company said it would clamp down on these proxies or unblockers in a few weeks. The announcement comes just a week after Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, India, Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia, covering almost the entire globe except China. 
SJP @DigitalAsian

Private Messages at Work Not So Private

Your private messages at work are not so private now.
European Court of Human Rights has given a recent ruling whereby employers can read workers' private messages sent via chat software and webmail accounts during working hours. ECHR said a firm that read an employee's chat messages sent while he was at work was within its rights. Judges rules the employee had broken the employer's regulations and that his employer had a right to check on his activities. 
This case involved an engineer in Romania and his employer found out that he was using Yahoo Messenger for both personal and work messages. This judgment would be binding on countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Stay in India to curb startup exodus from India

Modi's new plan, Stay in India, to curb startup exodus from India.
Times of India the Indian government is planning a series of measures that it hopes will curb startups from fleeing the country, reacting to concerns that companies prefer to domicile overseas after reaching a certain size. The government will announce broad measures to help startups "Stay in India," according to two people familiar with the matter, as part of its Startup India conference on January 16.
The government is adopting some proposals from a 36-point list presented to it by software product think tank iSPIRT to reverse the exodus of technology startups. "About 75% of funded technology startups are redomiciling outside India due to regulatory irritants," iSPIRT said in a post on its website, written by Eko India Financial Services chief executive Abhishek Sinha, after a meeting with the Prime Minister's Office. "It was clear that all the officials were determined to make quick…

Fortune Causes Controversy with Vishnu's Digital Avatar

The latest cover of Fortune Magazine has caused controversy amongst the Hindu community in the US as it depicts Amazon's Jeff Bezos as the Hindu God Vishnu. Fortune writes about Amazon's expansion in India.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Financial Inclusion Boost with First Time Card Users

Financial inclusion in India gets a boost as first time card users go with RuPay.
Times of India reports that aiming at financial inclusion for all with India's domestic card service RuPay, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said that as many as 170 million of its 230 million customer base were first-time card users. "We already have as many as 596 members who are in the RuPay network, including national, international and state cooperative banks. We are now trying to get the district central cooperative banks (DCCB) also in the fold," says A P Hota, managing director and CEO of NPCI.
RuPay also helps curb forex loss. For every transaction involving foreign card providers like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, there is the transaction fee on it going out of the country - an estimated 400 crore annually. "With a domestic card service system, there is a tremendous amount of money that India can retain," says M Balachandran, chairman, NPCI. Anoth…

Apple Android Portability

Apple reluctant to allow iOS users to migrate to Android.
Times of India reports that Apple may be about to make it a lot simpler to switch from the iPhone to an Android phone. The rumour is that Apple is building a tool to make it easier to put your contacts, photos and other data onto an Android handset. It would work in a similar way to the 'Move To iOS' app on the Google Play Store, but obviously the other way around. An "industry source" has spoken to The Telegraph and claimed Apple will be making the tool after pressure from a selection of European telecom operators.
Apparently, with only a limited amount of customers switching over to Android after being integrated in iOS, it means it weakens operator's commercial negotiations with Apple. Apple is working on the tool at the moment, but there's no confirmation it will ever see the light of day. It'd be another step away from former CEO Steve Jobs' vision for the iPhone as he believed in locking…

News Consumption changes with Apps

Consumer behaviour is changing the way news is delivered. Consumers may prefer soundbites on their smartphones when it comes to viewing/hearing the news.
Times of India reports that  Times Internet Limited, the digital arm of The Times of India Group, has acquired Gurgaon-based micro-content app Viral Shots. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Viral Shots -founded by Shalini Tewari and Kumar Apurva, who have over 15 years of experience in the mobile and Internet space - curates stories from over 300 social destinations and web publications. It presents the 'content shots' in less than 60 words, accompanied by a picture and clocks approximately 100 million views per month. Times Internet is eyeing 1 billion screen views per month with the app.
The app currently serves differentiated content in English, Hindi, Bengali and Telugu languages and shall be available in all the major Indian languages by mid 2016. Miten Sampat, vice president of corporate development,Time…

India's regional languages get a boost with Digital India

India's regional languages get a boost with Digital India.
Times of India reports that all feature phones sold in India will soon have to be compatible with a local language. The Department of Electronics & Information Technology recently sent a draft amendment to the Bureau of India Standards (BIS) for notification of the norm. "It is critical to have digital content in Indian languages and for devices to be compatible with at least one Indian local language for Digital India to succeed," a senior government official told ET. Digital India is a programme aimed at transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
The BIS is expected to notify the order requiring the compatibility by March, the official said. The department hasn't decided when to extend the notification to smartphones. Most handsets in India already support various local languages, but this is being made mandatory now. Feature phones make up over 60% of the handse…

India-China dialogue on the move with mobiles

India-China dialogue on the move with mobiles.
Times of India reports that mobile phone industry players of India and China will deliberate on cooperation opportunities to enhance handset manufacturing eco-system in the country. "Chinese companies are keen to participate in the 'Make in India' campaign and establish mobile handset & component manufacturing facilities here," Mobile World (Shoujibao) Shenzhen Founder & CEO Wu said in a statement.
The deliberations between India and Chinese firms will take place at first 'China-India Mobile phone and Component Manufacturing Summit' on January 13. It is being organized by Indian mobile phone industry body Indian Cellular Association (ICA) in association with Mobile World (Shoujibao)-- China's leading mobile industry service platform and technology media.
"This 1st ever China-India Mobile phone and Component Manufacturing Summit is the fructification of the high level visit of Prime Minister Nare…

Tata Goes Digital to Take on Rivals

Tata Group, India is building an e-commerce platform for its numerous companies partly to compete with rivals in the digital sphere.
Times of India reports that India's largest conglomerate Tata Group is seeking the help of startups to help it roll out its much-awaited e-commerce venture. Group firms such as watch-to-jewellery retailer Titan Industries and electronic goods seller Croma are talking to startups for technology inputs, a move that will expedite the rollout and also reduce their dependence on IT company, Tata Consultancy Services.
Technology and ecommerce executives in both companies have met startups working in customer data analytics, payments, mobile application design and website optimization, two people with knowledge of the Tata's group's technology plans told ET. The rush is needed as rival group Reliance Industries has already rolled out their venture 'Jio' for their employees in December and an official rollout is expected by April.

Getting Sellers Addicted to Digital Platforms

Online marketplace platforms, whether Flipkart, Amazon or food delivery platforms like Foodpanda, get their sellers/etailers addicted by subsidizing them initially and offering good incentives to join their platforms. Once hooked, these platforms then try to maximise their use of these sellers/etailers.
Times of India reports that after heavily subsidizing restaurants for most of last year to win their loyalty, food delivery startups Swiggy, TinyOwl and Foodpanda have steeply raised their commissions. It's either that or scramble for funds. The startups can afford to do that now, having got a large number of restaurants addicted to selling to a huge base of consumers through them. Swiggy and TinyOwl are in the market to raise funds and need to convince investors that they have changed tack and are focused on building sustainable businesses.
The startups also have mostly stopped offering discounts to consumers — implementing corrective measures more aggressively than ecommerce gia…

Digital content streaming competition

Digital content streaming competition hots up with the likely entry of Netflix to India. Bollywood will have to now get in on the act.
Times of India reports that as many had predicted, Netflix will increase its global footprint and launch in India. Today the company said it will come to India with competitive plans. This is excellent news for the industry and viewers as the company will provide lot of content to be streamed over the Internet to its users.
For some who do not know about the company, Netflix is an on-demand Internet media streaming facility that is very popular in the US and parts of Europe. It is available in more than 50 countries across the world, including Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany and more. Last year, the company expanded its services to Japan, Spain, Portugal and Italy. And now it will be available everywhere including India (except China).
SJP @DigitalAsian

eCommerce Confusion in India

Battle in India between the eCommerce marketplaces and he traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers continues
Economic Times reports that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the gatekeeper for foreign investment in India, has told the Delhi High Court that the marketplace model used by ecommerce companies is "not recognised" in the country's foreign direct investment (FDI) policy. The department has also suggested that it's up to the financial watchdogs to investigate whether there has been any violation of FDI rules by online retailers. 
DIPP is "mandated only with formulation of FDI policy", it said in a reply late last month in a case filed by brick-and-mortar retailers. The department's position assumes significance as the country's biggest online retailers such as Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal function as marketplaces — platforms linking buyers with sellers — because the rules don't allow overseas investment in en…

Collateral Damage of a Digital War: Online Publishing

Google FB and Apple are in long battle with each other. There are media reports that Facebook has a backup plan that would keep it running on Android should Google ever pull its Android app from the Play Store.
The Guardian also reports that "When Apple revealed that its new operating system for mobile phones, iOS 9, would feature what the company called “content-blocking Safari extensions”, no one really blinked. Though it may look as though online publishing has fallen prey to a dastardly plot from Apple to attack its revenue at the source, publishers aren’t really the targets at all. Newspapers and blogs are collateral damage in the latest flare-up in the long-running cold war between Apple and Google. Google’s revenue from advertising came to $59bn in 2014, almost 90% of its total revenue; $45bn came from ads on its own sites including search and maps, while $14bn came from ads served by Google on other websites. 
For all its diversification, from smartphone operating system…

Idea Validation in Indian startups

Trying new ways at making ideas into startups and into viable businesses.
Times of India reports that Shabaz Ahmed has attended over 40 hackathons and won at least 13 of them. But the hackathon that happened in January 2015 was going to be life changing. After the usual idea pitch, the Science Inc team loved it. Ahmed's hackathon 'idea' was chosen to become a 'product'. Ahmed's app 'Simply' helps users keep track of their prepaid mobile spending. Science Inc, which is run by Michael Jones, the former CEO of Myspace, has set up a base in Bengaluru so as to extend their US incubator model which rapidly builds on ideas and brings out a product. Science India is among one of the few new-age incubators or 'startup foundries' in the country.
Instead of only providing mentorship or infrastructure assistance, like the traditional incubators or accelerators, these setups become co-founders in a venture and provide help to the entrepreneurs in idea validati…

Harnessing the Power of the Indian Crowd

The power of the Indian crowd is being harnessed by startups for various causes. Crowdfunding by NRIs would be a good way to get them more involved in projects and causes in India.
Times of India reports that when Nikhil Sarup, founder of a legal startup, learned about the deplorable condition of Tara Balgopal, an 82 year old veteran danseuse, he offered to fight her case pro-bono. He also initiated a campaign on crowdfunding platform, Ketto. In less than 2 days, over 3 lakh poured in and when the campaign ended, Sarup had raised over 8 lakh from over 400 backers. That's the power of crowd.
As a concept, crowdfunding is not new to India. From Dhirubai Ambani's then small venture funded by locals to temples being built overnight with donations, India has harnessed crowd power. Startups such as Ketto, BitGiving and Wishberry have repackaged this age-old concept with a digital bow.
Crowdfunding platforms now cater to a plethora of causes from disaster relief, entrepreneurship, a…

Digital Mobile News Distribution: India on the Move

Digital mobile news distribution is the latest battle front for for companies wanting to acquire digital content for consumers. Facebook is trying various methods at distributing news as are Indian concerns such as Raghav Bahl's The Quint and others. 
News and other digital content for mobile consumption in countries like India where a lot of people's first Internet access is via mobile devices is getting very competitive. Big players are moving in. Netflix, with its movie streaming service, is also planning to enter India. Reliance is spending huge amounts buying up digital content to provide with its Jio service. 
Digital content consumption is now predominantly via mobile device in India. India is on the move.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Peer-to-Peer browsing and Net Neutrality

Peer-to-Peer browsing and Net Neutrality
Times of India reports that as president and CEO of BitTorrent, the world's leading peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfer protocol, it's not surprising that Eric Klinker is a firm believer in net neutrality. In India this week on a short visit, Klinker made a whirlwind trip to Pune to address tech enthusiasts at a talk arranged by Pune Tech and GS Lab, a company cofounded by Shridhar Shukla, Klinker's PhD thesis advisor back in college. Klinker told ET that his company would continue to remain at the forefront of keeping the Internet free and open, and is working on various ways to do that. "We are close to launching our browser — right now it's called Project Maelstrom but we'll change that name soon. This at its core, will change the way we access the Internet," said Klinker.
The browser will retrieve web content from peer-to-peer-distributed torrents instead of traditional servers. It can function as a regular brows…

Indian Android Users Order More Food

Times of India reports that Zomato, one among India's most talked-about startups, recently conducted a study to know more about the consumer trends pertaining to the online food ordering market. The survey, which included brands like Domino's, TGIF, Burger King and others on board, reveals several facts like how much money people in various cities spend on an average while ordering food, which payment method do they prefer, and what time they usually prefer to order food. 
An interesting finding that caught our eye was the fact that almost twice the number of people order food from their Android phones as compared to those who own iOS devices.
SJP @DigitalAsian