Showing posts from February, 2016

What dictates which mobile handset customers will buy - hardware or software?

What dictates which mobile handset customers will buy - the hardware or the software? Facebook using is clout to get users to upgrade smartphones.
Times of India reports there's some bad news for BlackBerry users, global messaging service WhatsApp is ending support for BlackBerry devices by the end this year. The Facebook-owned company announced this in a blogpost. Also to get the axe will be mobile phones running on Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Android 2.1 and 2.2, and Windows Phone 7.1 operating systems. "While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," said the company in the post.
WhatsApp has asked users to upgrade to a new device in order to continue to use its messaging service. "This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using Wha…

Government Gauging the Mood Online

Government can now gauge the expectations of the twitterati on social media by researching online chat.
Economic Times reports that a survey conducted by ET Magazine and conversational research firm  MavenMagnet to gauge the public mood around the Union budget shows a strong set of expectations among people. Conversational research focuses on online conversations on the Internet on various public forums. The ET Magazine-MavenMagnet study looked at 6,350 conversations around Union budget 2016 by 6,090 people. The conversations can be divided subject-wise into four different areas: business & industry, national issues, personal issues and the less privileged sections of society. The good news for the finance minister is that expectations are along a direction he will like — lower taxes, greater ease of doing business and social security — stuff that the Narendra Modi government had already tried to do.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Price of Freedom in India: Disrupting the Market

Is the controversy surrounding the Freedom251 smartphone just an anti-disruption drive by competitors or is their something to all the allegations being made in the media?
SJP @DigitalAsian

At Loggerheads over Solar Power

India's solar power programme can have a big impact in India but America seems o be putting obstacles in the way.
BBC News reports that "Is the US undermining India's solar power programme? Whatever happened to all the talk of international co-operation to tackle climate change that we heard during the climate conference in Paris just a few months ago? That is what many environmentalists are asking after the United States delivered a damaging blow to India's ambitious solar power programme this week. In response to a US complaint, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled that India's National Solar Mission breaches trade rules. It judged that India's policies on buying locally made solar power equipment discriminates against imports. "The ink is barely dry on the UN Paris Climate Agreement, but clearly trade still trumps real action on climate change," Sam Cossar-Gilbert of Friends of the Earth International said in a statement."
SJP @Di…

An Apple a day won't keep the FBI away

India watching closely the tussle between the FBI and Apple over access to data on the iPhone.
Times of India reports that Indian authorities are closely watching the ongoing tussle between Apple and America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which has asked the Cupertino-based company to help build a backdoor to data stored in the iPhone of a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Apple has so far turned down the request. The outcome of the tussle may set a precedent for Indian legal authorities while dealing with Apple and indeed other technology companies. In the past, Indian authorities have struggled to get companies like Apple to the negotiating table and extracting data from foreign entities continues to be a complex process. "There is no recourse," said a senior government official who did not wish to be identified.
"If Apple is not agreeing to a US court order, why would it agree to ours — if we ever issued one?" the official added. …

Non-Tech Founders of Startups dealing with Tech Developers

The trials and tribulations of non-tech founders of startups dealing with tech developers.
Times of India reports that when Vinit Srivastava decided to start DriversKart, an app that provides drivers on demand, it was a roller-coaster ride for him. Lacking technological background, he approached a developer in Bengaluru to build the platform but the developer delivered a substandard code. As huge prices were demanded to make changes, Srivastava approached another developer in Pune. "This time we thought we shall give a timeline to the vendor and define at each stage what we wanted. But he kept prolonging the project because he was being paid on an hourly basis," recalls Srivastava.
The company then figured out a technology partner, Kaay Labs, which now works with it on a Build-Operate-Transfer model. Non-tech founders have always found that building a tech startup without knowing how to code could be tricky. From not being able to put across the exact idea to being taken fo…

Jio-Politics of India's Telecom Sector: Expanding 4G Footprint in India

All of India's telecom operators are expanding their 4G footprints across the country. Competition for communications and content is heating up.
Economic Times reports that Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman  Mukesh Ambani has said that the telecom unit is "ready" to roll out its fourth-generation (4G) services, and will cover 80% of India's 1.3 billion population by the second half of 2016. "We are ready to launch (4G services) and in the second half of 2016, 80% of India's population will have high-speed mobile broadband Internet. So, 80% of India's 1.3 billion Indians will have high-speed mobile Internet," Ambani said in a television interview to CNN International's Fareed Zakaria aired on Sunday. RIL will be offering high-speed broadband services through its unit,  
Reliance Jio Infocomm, is the only telco to own 4G bandwidth across India. Jio is widely expected to launch commercial services around April, a development which experts say wil…

Pay for using rather than buy to own: Life without ownership

Pay for using rather than buy to own. Digital disruptors like Uber are getting a new generation used to the idea of paying to use goods or services rather than buying things to own them. whether it be cars or household items. E-commerce firms in India are getting users to rent household items for short periods rather than buying them. Cloud computing services are proliferating.

This is life without ownership.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Thoughtful Chinese Digital Content Wall

Thoughtful Chinese Digital Content Wall. China is adding further control to the digital content available in the country.
Times of India reports that China is to ban foreign firms from "online publishing" under new rules issued this week, as the country increasingly seeks to minimise Western influence. Chinese websites are already among the world's most censored, with Beijing blocking many foreign Internet services with a system known as the "Great Firewall of China."
Regulations posted on a government website, set to go into force next month, state that foreign firms "are not to engage in online publishing." The regulations define online publishing as the provision over the Internet of books, maps, music, cartoons, computer games and "thoughtful text," as well as other content.
It was unclear how the ban would be enforced or whether it would be applied to websites hosted on China-based servers or sites aimed at users in China. The State Ad…

Bells Ringing in your Ears: World's Cheapest Smartphone

Hells Bells! How do they do it? Everyone is wondering how Noida based company Ringing Bells can sell a smartphone for just Rs.251.
Economic Times reports that the world's cheapest smartphone,  has hit the Indian market at an unheard of price - Rs 251 or below $4 - making the Android-operated device attractive, although some handset industry experts and analysts were sceptical and even called it a gimmick. Noida-based Ringing Bells, set up last year, launched the ultra-affordable 3G smartphone hoping to catalyse sales and help bring millions of Indians online in the world's second largest market, after China. "We're looking to corner a 40% market share in 12 months from now," 
Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha told ET. "The vision is not to be making any avaricious margins, but to make them reasonable so we sustain ourselves and give back to the customer the true value." South Korea's Samsung Electronics had a 27% share of India's smartphone …

Experimenting with disruption in India

Experimenting with disruption in India
Times of India reports Uber or Ola? Oyo Rooms or AirBnB? As new ideas and enterprises in what is dubbed "sharing economy" or "collaborative consumption" sweeps the world, India has become the great crucible of experimentation to see what works and what doesn't. Two back-to-back talks at TED2016 by Uber co-founder Trevor Kalanick and AirBnB co-founder Joe Gebbia offered a fascinating glimpse into the predatory evolution of two of the most talked about disruptors in the world that have shaken up the transportation and hospitality industry.
Ride share app company Uber, growing at warp speed, has added UberPooling in several cities across the world even as it experiments with everything from food delivery (UberFresh) to courier service (UberRush) to water taxis (UberBoat). "Our mission is how to turn every car into a shared car and reclaim our city to replace our parking lots with parks," Kalanick told …

Jio's Digital Content Gets a Global Platform

Reliance Jio is trying to take Digital India global partnering with other major telecom operators. Potentially Jio's Indian digital content from its providers can be promoted outside of India.
Times of India reports that Reliance Jio Infocomm on Monday said it has tied up with eight global carriers that will allow partner businesses to more efficiently and quickly bring innovative products and services to customers around the world. An official statement said the eight global carriers are British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Millicom, MTS, Orange, Rogers, TeliaSonera and TIM. "Jio is set to enable each Indian to live a digital life. To this end, we have built the globally largest green-field 4G and fiber network, as well as a suite of digital services that enable entertainment, cloud, payment, and much more. "We invite the best partners to work with us to co-create a Digital India," said Rainer Deutschmann, chief product and innovation officer of Reliance Jio Infocom…

Indian Startups Look East for Financing

Asia's economic growth has given more options for Indian startups looking for finance rather than the usual private equity from the West.
Economic Times reports that when Nasdaq-listed MakeMyTrip, one of Indian Internet first success stories, was looking to build a war chest recently, several events were playing out in parallel. Rival online travel agency Goibibo, backed by the deep-pocketed South African media group Naspers, were discounting heavily and budget hotels aggregator Oyo Rooms was on the verge of overtaking the 16-year-old company's valuation. 
MakeMyTrip did something unconventional: It looked eastward to its larger peer in  China instead of hitting up  private equity funds in the West. Last month, the company announced a $180-million ( Rs 1223.1 cr) investment from China's largest online travel firm Ctrip. "We believe MakeMyTrip and Ctrip can help each other to remain leaders in our respective markets by sharing wisdom and perhaps a few battle scars as …

Fictional Earnings: English Fiction Authors in India

Indian authors struggle to make a living from English fiction books in India. ePublishing may be an easier route to getting your work published but does not guarantee sales. eBooks are slowly gaining ground in India and this will allow more budding authors to try their hand at writing and getting their stories published online as eBooks in India.
Economic Times reports that at last month's Jaipur Literature Festival, Ashwin Sanghi, who ranks among India's bestselling English fiction writers, was in conversation with Bollywood actor Kajol. No surprise really that the session was a huge crowd-puller, especially for young starry-eyed fans of both the writer and the Bollywood diva. But despite his large number of fans and autograph seekers Sanghi, whose first book, a thriller The Rozabal Line, was published in 2006, is sceptical about the possibility of Indian fiction writers being able to make a living out of their stories. 
"Overall, India produces 84,000 titles every year…

IIT-Madras Faculty Sabbaticals for Startups

IIT-Madras, one of India best engineering institutions, has made policy changes to allow its faculty members to take time off to pursue their own startups.
Economic Times reports that when Prof Balaji Srinivasan, faculty at IIT-Madras as well as co-founder and director of Chennai-based startup Unilumen Photonics, attended a tradeshow in 2014, he found new markets opening up. The new found demand for the technology he was developing was so high that Srinivasan felt the need to accelerate work and push things forward. 
Initially he tried to take some hours off every day from teaching and focus on his startup, only to find it was not making much progress. "My day would be really torn between different things such as coming to class, teaching students, attending meetings, doing research and meeting my students, and in between I would have to find time to go to the company to take care of some emergencies there," he recollects. 
Finally to sort out things he went for a sabbatica…

Tech Share Buybacks in Fashion

Tech share buybacks in fashion. Apple and now Amazon, buyback their shares. 
Times of India reports that Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce company, said on Wednesday its board authorized a $5 billion share buyback programme. The buyback replaces the $2 billion repurchase programme approved in 2010. The company had $763 million remaining under the previous plan. The company's shares rose 1.5% to $498 in after-hours trading. Amazon recently posted its most profitable quarter ever but the world's No. 1 online retailer still managed to disappoint Wall Street by badly missing estimates.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Pivoting is the Spice of Life: airlines expand their revenue streams.

Pivoting is the spice of life! Spice Pivot: airlines expand their revenue streams.
Times of India reports that SpiceJet has readied plans to cash in on the e-commerce boom, as the no-frills carrier looks for new streams of revenue after a near-death experience more than a year ago. The Gurgaon-based airline plans to buy 100 mini trucks and open as many as 40 warehouses across the country to provide fast delivery options to the click-happy Indian consumer who increasingly buys everything from groceries to expensive gadgets from e-commerce platforms.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Budgeting for brand building for e-commerce startups

Budgeting for brand building for e-commerce startups.
Economic Times reports that in order to encourage startups, especially e-commerce companies, the finance ministry may look at according beneficial tax treatment to their brand building expenses in the forthcoming budget. According to experts, the government could allow  startups and  e-commerce companies to appropriate initial brand building expenses over several years for accounting benefits. "The AMP expenses are very important for e-commerce companies to acquire new customers. 
A major part of this expenses is intangible and the government should allow identified category of AMP expenses to be capitalised," KPMG (India) Partner Tax Amarjeet Singh said. The expenses towards advertisement, marketing and sales promotion (AMP), according to Rakesh Nangia, Managing Partner, Nangia & Co, should be allowed to be capitalised as an intangible asset. "E-commerce sector is still grappling with outdated laws not flexible…

Visual and audio search gains ground in e-commerce

Visual and audio search options gaining ground in e-commerce.
Times of India reports that more and more e-commerce and fashion sites are introducing visual or image search. The solution allows the user to use a smartphone to click a picture of, say, a shirt pattern that she likes -- either in a magazine or one that someone is wearing -- and the system will search the portal to find a similar, or even the same shirt. The traditional method of text inputs -- even with a host of filters that sites now provide -- can never precisely give users what they want. On the contrary, the visual search option can potentially provide a more relevant set of options.
More so during an impulse moment when a person is attracted to something she sees. Flipkart introduced the feature last year, and Abof, the online fashion portal of the Aditya Birla Group, moved into this territory recently. Online marketplace for ethnic products, Craftsvilla, and fashion e-portal Myntra are also working to get this fea…

Getting your Priorities Right in Social Media

Twitter still trying to find its place in the social media world, while trying to catch up with Facebook, its larger rival.
Times of India reports that the hashtag #RIPTwitter became the top trending US item on Twitter on Saturday, after a report from BuzzFeed said the company is planning to change how it displays users' tweets. The BuzzFeed report, which went live on Friday night and did not disclose the source of its information, said the social media platform will reorder tweets to prioritize those it believes more users will want to see. Currently, Twitter arranges tweets in chronological order.
The response to the news on Twitter was overwhelmingly negative, with the hashtag #RIPTwitter suggesting many users of the micro-blogging site believe the changes would mean the death of the company. Many users were upset that tweets from accounts with fewer followers could possibly be suppressed under the new system. Others complained that the changes would make Twitter too much like…

Whenever I Want You, All I Have To Do Is ... Stream, Stream, Stream

Consumers in India moving from text to video content and communication.
Economic Times reports that in a crusty industrial estate in Andheri West, a northern suburb of Mumbai, the office of Pocket Aces Pictures provides a sharp contrast to the general air of decay in the neighbourhood. A modern office with sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows, bright furniture and wooden flooring, this 2,000 sq ft space is a beehive of activity as a motley crew of 20 churns out an assortment of content, fuelling an explosion in the delivery of streaming video services in India. With mobile and broadband Internet connectivity proliferating, and smartphone prices dropping by 40-50% in the past five years, a raft of content producers, technology and analytics companies and over-the-top (OTT) content distributors are looking to cash in on this new opportunity. They are also counting on shifting consumer sentiment, as browsers reposition their focus from text to photo to video-driven communication — the deca…

Digital video content creation and distribution joint ventures

Joint venture partnerships in the digital video content creation and distribution
Times of India reports that less than six months ago, TVF Media Labs and Dice Media (video division of PocketAces) partnered up to create the mockumentary, 'Not Fit', a web-series that was launched on YouTube; many emerging entertainment startups creating digital video content eye partnerships as an important metric for growth. "Collaborations in this space will continue to happen organically, considering our existing audience, if we have creative concepts coming our way from other entertainment houses that are great, then partnership is a win-win situation for both players," says Arunabh Kumar, CEO of TVF Media Labs. With their slice-of-life, drama and comedy content, TVF Media Labs has 1.35-million Youtube subscribers and has seen a reasonably consistent growth of 40,000-50,000 viewers coming on board every month.
"These month-on-month metrics don't really work with content …

Join the Party: Mobile Advertising

Research is crucial for any mobile advertising campaign with First, Second and Third Party Data.
Economic Times reports that "the mobile advertising industry is fast paced. In the course of a little over six years, we have watched the industry grow from a minor niche into one of the major advertising channels used by brands, businesses and developers across the world. Therefore, it is essential to remain ahead of the game in this fast paced industry. How though, do businesses do it? The answer is through their use of research and technology. 
By analyzing three key categories of research data and using  technology to enact the insights drawn from those in mobile advertising campaigns, businesses are able to stay ahead in this fast paced sector.To understand why this is the case, we need to consider the uses of research and technology individually before understanding how they work together. 
Research is critically important for success in mobile advertising because it provides t…

Going It Alone in India: Single Brand Retail Licence

Single Brand Retail in India is the way big brands are going.
Times of India reports that Samsung may join Apple in applying for a single-brand retail licence as the South Korean electronics giant looks to strengthen its presence in a crucial market, said executives aware of the matter.
Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, a relatively new entrant, confirmed its intent to apply for a direct presence in India, which eased foreign direct investment rules for single-brand retail in November. Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and Gionee are also keen on such a move. ET reported last month that Apple had filed for a single-brand retail licence.
Samsung executives said the company was looking at "opportunities" stemming from the policy but a final decision hadn't been taken. There was no response to questions emailed to Samsung, which has 1.5 lakh points of sale in the country.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Consumers React to IPR Application

When the Fine brothers tried to trademark a video format on YouTube, there was an adverse consumer reaction and the brothers have now said they are withdrawing their trademark applications. The Fine brothers 'reaction videos' lost subscribers due to this issue.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Indian Startups: Getting High on Proposals and Low on Implementation

Indian government proposals to give a boost to startups are not being implemented fast enough. The government is high on proposals but slow on implementations.
Economic Times reports that the limit on sweat equity for startups could be raised to 50% from 25% of paid up capital, improving the incentives for innovators and giving a boost to the Startup India initiative. A committee set up by the government to review issues arising out of implementation of the Companies Act, 2013 has suggested changes to improve ease of doing business, encourage startups and harmonise various laws. The committee in its report has suggested that the government may also allow issuance of ESOPs to promoters working as employees or whole time directors of startups, which would help promoters to gain from increase in future valuation. 
"Sweat equity limit for startups may be raised to 50% of capital". The Companies Act, 2013 currently restricts issue of ESOPs to promoters or promoter directors even i…

Ecommerce firms looking to expand their revenue streams

Ecommerce companies are looking to expand their revenue streams. In a recent article in the Economic, BookMyShow was described as lacking in the revenue streams that others like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have.
Times of India reports that Flipkart's new CEO Binny Bansal is seeking to rev up the company's growth through the business he knows best, its logistics unit Ekart. Flipkart is preparing to build out Ekart into an independent business catering to other companies as well, and has started talks with investors to raise capital separately for the logistics unit at a valuation yet to be determined, according to four people familiar with the developments. The company also recently injected Rs 666 crore (nearly $100 million) into Ekart, regulatory filings show. "Fundamentally, everyone has realised that they have to monetise all pieces of the business," said a venture capital investor familiar with Flipkart's plans.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Used Smartphone Market in India set to grow

Second-hand market for smartphones in India set to grow.
Times of India reports that India, the world's third largest smartphone market, is also a huge market for used handsets and is forecast to generate about $1.7 billion for owners this year, a report by consultancy firm Deloitte said. In its TMT Predictions 2016, Deloitte India said India is estimated to generate about $1.7 billion for smartphone owners at an average value of about $90 in FY 2016 with outright sale or trade-in of approximately 20 million handsets.
"Growing at a CAGR of about 32% till 2020, the used smartphone market is forecast to grow to about 46 million units generating an estimated $4 billion for its owners," it added. India is the world's third largest market for smartphones after China and the US. Analysts expect India to overtake the US market in the next few years, fuelled by high consumption by youngsters and falling data prices. Also, global sales of wearable devices is expected to be a…