Showing posts from October, 2016

AI Predictions

AI system, MogIA, developed by Sanjiv Rai, who founded Indian start-up, has correctly predicted the last 3 U.S. presidential elections. This time the AI system puts  Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton for the Presidency. MogIA analyses millions of data points from public platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to give predictions. It was started in 2004 and has been getting better all the time. It had already correctly predicted the results of the Primaries.
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Startup Ecosystems Grow in Tier-2 and Tier-3 Cities in India

Startup activity and angel investor interest is picking up in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India, as was evident from the turnouts at recent pitching and networking sessions held in small cities by investor network platforms.
Angel investors have started roadshows and organising networking sessions in small cities to evaluate the startup ecosystem there and connect local investors and founders. These investors are investing in local startups as well as in other startups through their platforms.
There appears to be growth in the investor base from Guwahati, Kanpur, Pune, Raipur, Visakhapatnam, Agra, Jaipur and Chandigarh. Mumbai-based venture capital is also expanding into cities such as Surat and Raipur, and are holding several pitching sessions in the tier-2 and -3 cities.
The cost of building a company is lower in these cities, and several towns like Ahmedabad and Kanpur that house IITs and IIMs also have the right ingredients for startups, which is why investors want to develop the…

Bitcoin Exchange Rates

After the Swiss provide access to exchange currencies for Bitcoin, other public exchanges will open up providing more opportunities for people to get into digital currencies and go cashless.

Switzerland's national rail service (SBB) said Friday it was set to launch a new service selling the digital currency Bitcoin at all ticket machines across the country, reports Times of India. The SBB said it had been testing customer demand for Bitcoin across the wealthy Alpine federation and decided to launch a two-year pilot project beginning on November 11. "Until now, there have only been limited opportunities to purchase Bitcoin in Switzerland," the rail service said in a statement. It said that it would use its network of 1,000 ticket machines to let customers swap other currencies for Bitcoin, provided they give a mobile phone number for identification.
Swiss financial services company SweePay is providing the electronic conversion services. Transactions will be capped at 50…

Mobile ad dollars rise as mobile data consumption dominates

Mobile ad dollars rise as mobile data consumption rises.

75 percent of internet use will be mobile in 2017, up slightly from this year, as a growing number of consumers around the world access the web on smartphones and tablets, media buying agency Zenith forecast this week, reports Times of India. Zenith previously estimated that 71% of internet consumption would be mobile in 2016. Sixty percent of global internet advertising dollars will come from mobile advertising in 2018, Zenith said, following the release of its "Mobile Advertising Forecasts" report on Thursday. Mobile advertising expenditure in 2018 will total $134 billion, which "is more than will be spent on newspaper, magazine, cinema and outdoor advertising put together," it said.
Zenith, a unit of French ad agency Publicis Groupe SA, had estimated global mobile advertising expenditure in 2016 to be $71 billion. As more ad dollars shift to the digital realm from television, brands are rushing to Faceboo…

eBooks and other Digital Content in India

eBooks and other digital content consumption in India is growing. Perhaps not fast enough but recent results from Netflix, attributes its growing customer base to emerging markets like India. This shows India has an appetite for digital content. Although, cybersecurity concerns have made consumers more cautious. Amazon also wants to now publish Indian content itslef rather than just be a platform.

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon is acquiring the publishing business of Tata-owned Westland for an undisclosed sum, reports Times of India. The acquisition will enable authors of Westland, a subsidiary of Tata Group firm Trent, to grow their physical and digital book businesses in India as well as expand their reach to customers globally, Amazon said in a statement here. Earlier this year, the online marketplace had acquired a 26 per cent stake in the Tata-owned publishing company,

"Our acquisition of Westland continues our commitment to India -- enabling Amazon to bring Westland'…

Apps, Bots and Clouds

Not a day goes by without one of the tech giants announcing the launch of a new app, bot or cloud service.
After Google's recent launch of its Pixel smartphone, it announces the launch of its new travel app, Trips. Apple launches its new TV app, Facebook launches new bots and Microsoft expands its cloud computing services.
Google and Apple seem to be focusing on their smartphones and getting users to use more services through those devices. Will it impact Facebook and Microsoft who do not have major market share in mobile devices?
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Tripping on Google: Apps to Organize your Life

Tech giant Google is intent on helping us to organise our lives through apps.
Google recently launched a new app, Trips, reports Times of India. It's developed to help users plan their travel better while they are on vacation. It also includes features like travel itinerary, reservation details and maps. And now, Trips has been launched in India. Google Trips lets users plan, organize and manage their trips in a more efficient manner. Each trip consists of some key information categories such as day plans, reservations, things to do, food & drinks and more. Users can customize their daily itinerary with places they want to visit and detail how long it will take them to reach their destination(s).
The app comes with a unique 'offline' feature which enables all trip details and itineraries to be downloaded for offline use. Users just have to tap the 'Download' button under each trip to save it to their smartphones. This can be quite helpful as users may not alwa…

Lobbying and Digital Marketing at the Same Time

Getting your user base to lobby the Government and do some PR and digital marketing for yourself at the same time.

Uber has started a petition to gather support against the Maharashtra Government's proposed rules for aggregators like itself and rival Ola. The petition has gathered over 10,000 votes so far. It urges users to support it saying the proposed rules will mean "an end to the Uber I know and love today".
Maharashtra Government brought out the proposed rules for taxi aggregator recently, which demands that taxis with Uber and Ola use either CNG, hybrid or electric drivetrains. It also fixes the exact fare which cabs on these services will be allowed to charge customers. Karnataka and Delhi have introduced similar rules for taxi aggregators also.

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User Data Shock

Do you know how much data you are using on your smartphone? We got adblockers online but perhaps ads that use less data should get more airtime online on your smartphone, thereby making advertisers more data conscious?

Taking stock of the "serious problem" of automatic video downloads without consumers' knowledge, telecom regulator Trai today said it may come up with technological solutions to tackle these unsolicited online advertisements that lead to "data shock" for users, reports Times of India. "Let us see if we can do it without a consultation paper...whether we are able to come up with some technology solutions, which we will recommend," Trai Chairman R S Sharma said on the sidelines of a CII event. Yesterday, Trai had conducted a session in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad on the issue on "unsolicited downloads and background actioning of data" where officials of technology companies including Google and Facebook also participated, …

Artificial Dispute Resolution

Might we see arbitral disputes or even criminal trials being decided by AI?

Using Artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning technology, a team of researchers has predicted outcomes in judicial decisions at the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR) with 79% accuracy, reports Times of India. The AI method, developed by researchers from University College London (UCL), University of Sheffield and US-based University of Pennsylvania is the first to predict the outcomes of a major international court by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm.
"We don't see AI replacing judges or lawyers but we think they will find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes," said Nikolaos Aletras, who led the study at UCL's computer science department. "It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights," Aletras add…

Building Brand for Bootstrapped Startups

Building Brand for Bootstrapped Startups is always the challenge.

Pune headquartered Brand Launch Center (BLC) under the aegis of Seagull Advertising, has announced a new Startup Launch Accelerator aimed at helping consumer focused startups with their go-to-market strategy with a clear 180 day programme, reports Times of India, Wings for Profit. Brand Launch Center currently only works with consumer facing companies who are functionally and operationally ready to go-to-market. Sameer Desai, chief strategy officer, BLC said, "While working extensively with early-stage companies in the past few years, we have realized that most start-ups fail despite innovative ideas and products.
They fail not because of the product/service, but because of their inability to create a strong brand image among target consumers and the absence of go-to-market strategy and execution. Brand-building and go-to-market is a major challenge for the bootstrapped startups, whose marketing budgets and knowle…

App Behaviour in India

A study of app behaviour in Asia  provides useful insights for developers and marketers alike.

Of the 33 mobile apps Indians install on their smartphones, they end up using only about 9, a study by Google and TNS has found, reports Economic Times. In general, the “Mobile App Marketing Insights: Asia” study found that emerging markets have fewer installed apps compared to developed markets. 
The study looked at 10,000 smartphone users in ten Asian countries — India, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and China — in the age group of 18-64 to understand their app behaviour.
Surprisingly, India tops the list of users who have made an “in-app” purchase or made a payment for app related digital goods.   
App store searches and personal recommendations are top sources for new app discovery across Asia, but in India, suggestions from family and friends are the reasons a user would install an app.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Increasing the Payment Options

Taking on Visa and Mastercard with Rupay will be a tall order for India. If India's diaspora starts using Rupay then perhaps there is a chance.

India should try and replicate China's success in taking its payment network China Union Pay (CUP) global by developing Rupay as an alternative to other international payment systems in the medium term, said K V Kamath, MD and CEO, New Development Bank (Brics Bank), reports Times of India. According to Kamath, Brics nations can replicate success stories in other member countries through knowledge sharing at banking or government level.
"There is a lot of scope for two-way transfer of knowledge and that would be the key going forward. The knowledge exchange could happen at banking or government level. But I would think there should be a nodal point within the government, which has the ability to take a decision and invest, otherwise there could be transmission losses,"said Kamath. Besides CUP, India could learn from China'…

Investing in Content Creation

Shares in Netflix recently rose drastically due to higher than expected new customers signing up. Netflix says this is due to the original content it creates.
Investing in your own content creation for customer acquisition can pay off. 
Reliance Jio which has recently come on the scene has spent huge amounts buying content will probably think about creating its own original content for the Indian market to attract customers and differentiate it from the other telcos.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Gigs in India

The sharing or gig economy in India is going to be prevalent among the millennials, who may be more comfortable with consuming products without necessarily owning them.

The 400 million-plus millennials in India will have an increasingly active role to play in the economic and consumption story, reports Economic Times. The world over, millennials and post-millennials are influencing most aspects of business for brands and retailers. A need for a similar focus on the millennials is being acknowledged by the Indian business world as well. So, what is it that really makes them different, especially in the Indian context? 
The smartphone is their connect with the world — at work, with friends, it is their hyperlink to reading, shopping, entertainment, banking, eating out, dating. Unlike the older generations, the millennials are comfortable living in a virtual world. Therefore, technology and a virtual connect at various levels are now business hygiene when addressing this generation.

Talent in the Tech Hubs

Tata on the lookout for talent in the tech hubs.
Tata Motors is in the process of setting up an office in Palo Alto, the startup hub in the US, joining a long list of global carmakers that have built up a presence in the home of the world's most disruptive technology companies.
The company, India's largest automobile manufacturer by revenue, is already engaged with half a dozen startups. The move to go to the Californian city is part of a plan to create a network of offices in global startup hubs — Tel-Aviv, Portland, Warwick and Pune being the other — and partner with budding technology entrepreneurs in its efforts to define the future mobility solution for the company.
A team of 10-15 executives will scout for technologies including on autonomous vehicles and alternate fuel to make Tata Motors future-ready against the world's leading carmakers, a senior Tata Motors executive told ET.
The strategy for the future goes beyond products to creating “innovative mobility solut…

It Pays to Improve Your Digital Dharma

Digital ads, especially for the mobile format, are in demand and profits are to be made by those who can make good ads.

After telling stories on celluloid by way of 2-3 hour-long larger than life feature films, producer Karan Johar is now looking at retelling stories in 20-30 seconds by way of commercials, reports Economic Times. Johar’s Dharma Productions has entered into ad film making through a separate in-house division Dharma 2.0, headed by young director Punit Malhotra (‘I Hate Love Stories’ fame). Malhotra told ET that he had this idea of getting into ad films and provide complete creative solutions to clients.
“When I persistently presented the idea to Karan, he finally gave in and allowed us to launch Dharma 2.0. He asked me to ensure the quality of brand Dharma,” he said. The division has already got Aadar Poonawala and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio as initial clients. “We have already shot campaigns for Poonawala’s Clean Initiative, Reliance Lyf ’s TVC with Priyanka Chopra …

In the Sharing Economy, Share Yaar!

Sharing workspaces is becoming more common in India's sharing economy.
Every weekend, the party-goers flood into a New Delhi restaurant and dance club called Social, a three-story destination on the edge of Hauz Khas Village, one of the city's most popular nightlife neighborhoods, reports Times of India. After nightfall, the bar is busy and the dance floor is full. The lines regularly stretch out into the street. The dancing goes on until 1 a.m. But just a few hours later, the watering hole will be clean, the tables will be cleared of silverware and plates and the nightclub will have been transformed into a cozy office where no one gets fired for drinking at work. Everyone shares desks at Social: photographers, designers, journalists, software programmers. They bounce ideas off one another, hire one another and collaborate to expand their businesses. Everyone is either a freelancer or working for a small startup. As India emerges as one of the biggest markets in the world for…


The large tech giants, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook, have acquired almost 140 Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies since 2011 and that includes about 40 buyouts this year alone.

Google's Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Facebook chatbots are all just the beginning of where these tech firms are heading with AI.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

The Empire Strikes Back: Fight to be the Biggest R-etailer

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, is ramping up its e-commerce capability to take on Amazon. Walmart purchased, the fastest growing online retailer, recently. Walmart has also heavily invested in its logistics with new automated product sorting and tracking technology to compete with Amazon. Walmart has acquired several e-commerce startups since 2011. 
Walmart means to cause disruption to the disruptor, Amazon.
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Don't Want Your Boss to Know?

LinkedIn starts a new feature to let you secretly search for jobs online without your boss finding out. With this service, called Open Candidates, you can privately let recruiters know that you are looking for a new job opportunity. You can select the sort of company you are looking for, relevant roles, size of the organization, etc. Recruiters on LinkedIn will be able to see that you are looking for a job but people within your own organization won't know. Open Candidates is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia and will be available elsewhere later. But LinkedIn doesn't guarantee your current employer won't find out about your job search.
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Reversal of Fortune

Reverse auctions, or reverse bidding, a proven business model in advanced economies, are catching on in India, where a number of startups have sprouted to tap into opportunities in a range of sectors, reports Economic Times. In the US, for example, the leading reverse-auction player Priceline is listed on the Nasdaq and has a market value of nearly $75 billion. 
What happens in a reverse auction is that instead of the service provider quoting the price, the customer makes the first move by suggesting a price she or he is willing to pay. This information is passed on to sellers on the platform, who then compete and make a counter-offer, if needed.

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Subscribing to New Business Models

Subscribing to New  Business Models

As the Indian e-commerce industry gains pace and size, several entrepreneurs are experimenting with new business models in a bid to get consumers to buy more products online, reports Economic Times. About half a dozen ventures are offering a range of products, including cosmetics, educational toys and gourmet food on a monthly subscription basis, mimicking a model that is very popular in global markets.
"Subscription-based selling is cost-efficient for a startup like us since we get a better estimate of demand and there is no need to store inventory," said Arunprasad Durairaj, co-founder of recreational toys provider Flinto.
The seven-month old company founded by Durairaj, 32, and Vijaybabu Gandhi, 33, has already signed up 3,000 monthly subscribers for its activity boxes aimed at enhancing a child's motor and social skills, creativity and memory.
Durairaj quit his job with Samsung in Korea and came back to India to start Flinto Box w…

Digital Content Marketing Strategy: How Useful is Twitter?

News on CNBC today shows large companies like Salesforce, Apple, Google and Disney downplaying Twitter that they may not make any bid for it.
Twitter may not be able to make sufficient profits as a standalone company but as part of a larger tech company, like FB, Google, Apple or Amazon would be an invaluable tool in their digital content marketing arsenal to have.
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India wants to go Totally Digital

From paper tigers to the digitally empowered? Can Indian Government Ministries go totally digital? Or perhaps the question should be: should they go totally digital?

After its announcement to go "totally digital", the Coal Ministry now wants other ministries to do away with physical files and move them into a digital format, saying it will help ministries exchange papers and documents electronically, reports Times of India. Meanwhile, the Coal Ministry has advanced the date for going "totally digital" from November 1 to October 16.
"We have discovered the value of transparency and technology in the ministry first in the context of the coal block auctions, then in the context of increase in coal production and now (we are) taking the final step in the terms of doing away with all physical files," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said. 'US in strong support of Digital India programme'. "And we are now writing to other ministries that if they also do…

Google Hardware Store

Google Hardware Store
Google's new smartphone Pixel aims to get people to use more Google apps, continue dominance of Android on smartphones and get more people using Google's wireless phone service. I can imagine Facebook wanting its own smartphone or device with its apps pre-installed.
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Automation and Digital Disruption Threatens more Jobs in Asia and Africa

Automation and Digital Disruption Threatens more Jobs in Asia and Africa.

Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India and 77% in China, according to a World Bank research which says technology could "fundamentally disrupt" the pattern of traditional economic path in developing countries, reports Times of India.
"As we continue to encourage more investment in infrastructure to promote growth, we also have to think about the kinds of infrastructure that countries will need in the economy of the future. We all know that technology has and will continue to fundamentally reshape the world," World Bank president Jim Kim said.
"But the traditional economic path from increasing productivity of agriculture to light manufacturing and then to full-scale industrialisation may not be possible for all developing countries," Kim said in response to a question at the Brookings Institute during a discussion on extreme poverty yesterday. "In large parts of Africa, …

Moving from Social to Commercial Media

Facebook starts a new online marketplace feature that will let users buy and sell items locally. The marketplace will first roll out in US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. An app will be also be launched soon. FB is already being used for selling and buying via Facebook groups.
Facebook says it will not currently be involved in the payment process and will not charge for putting items up for sale but you can bet that monetisation ideas of this marketplace will be top of the agenda.
This marketplace will compete with the likes of Amazon, eBay and Flipkart (when FB starts the marketplace in India).
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Moving on from the Early Majority in Advertising

Moving on from the Early Majority in Advertising

If you've got the Uber app on your phone, and deploy it hourly whether on a trip around town, or a quick ride round the block, you are what the cab service considers its early majority, reports Times of India. Which means you are not really the target audience for its online video driven ad campaign, its first major effort of this sort in the country.
An ad blitz appears an odd choice for a brand that gets a lot of (mostly favourable) word of mouth and which has grown via peer recommendation, a model that's worked across the globe. It has run driver focused campaigns in markets like the US, France and the UK, but has been short on what most of the world recognises and acknowledges as advertising. Let's just say it is in no danger of dislodging the FMCG, auto or tech giants for the 'advertiser of the year' sweep-stakes. But as Ashwin Dias, general manager, Uber India points out, "There was a need to go beyond ou…

Startup Co-Promoter Model

Startup Co-Promoter Model

Last October, Bengaluru-based intra-city logistics startup Shippr was in a bit of a muddle, reports Economic Times. The company was spending thousands on acquiring each customer, who never came back. After all, nobody needs packers and movers every month. They would run out of cash soon, founder Rohit Fernandes realized, though the company was growing at 100% every month. So Shippr's investors and co-promoters Venture Factory sat down with Fernandes and did an analysis. They decided to change their strategy to focus on profit rather than aggressive growth. Shippr became a last-mile logistics company for e-commerce and FMCG companies rather than a trucking platform, and in May turned a profit and has grown from four to 180 employees. 
When the offer of funding came from Venture Factory early in 2015, it wasn't the highest Shipper could have got. Money was easy to come by last year, but Fernandes chose Venture Factory because the firm was offering offi…

Seven Year Twitch

Amazon gets the seven year twitch

Designed for success as a popular livestreamed game, team action game "Breakaway" is one of three new games revealed by Amazon at TwitchCon, a livestreaming conference dedicated to its Twitch TV platform.
Positioning itself as the trio's game that is nearest completion, "Breakaway" aims to make the most of a popular MOBA genre that includes tournament heavyweights "League of Legends" and "Dota 2" as well as Amazon's own livestreaming platform Twitch TV.
It's got an alpha testing phase that is inviting prospective players to sign up and put it through its paces and is being demonstrated throughout TwitchCon via a public stream.

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Brand Message Apps

Facebook planning ads on its messenger services, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. FB says that brands will have a good fit with its messenger services and it sees more opportunities for monetisation on this front. On some predictions over 2 billion people will use messenger apps by 2019.
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