Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A reality check on the Indian cell market ?

There is a storm brewing in the Indian Corporate world !!  Read the article from NY Times here.

Well, we all have done it while using cell phone in India.  Give a ring and cut the call.  Wait for the other person to call you !!  I guess the players are all banking on the volume of customers to compensate for low revenues and margins per customer.   India, as noted in the article, has one of the lowest tariffs in the world.  I couldn't help think of my visits to the famed "Jagdeesh market" in Abids, the commercial hub of Hyderabad.  You can find high-tech gadgets here at very low prices (don't ask where the seller got it from, you wouldn't want to hear). 

In my opinion, the most important thing that fueled the cell phone boom in India is the pay as you go cards and the influence of the distribution channel.  These recharge cards are available in low denominations (as low as a dollar) in the millions of paan dabbas, medical, kirana and grocery stores all over the country.  That was the masterstroke - inadvertently or by design the 4 P's came together beautifully to create a virtuous cycle that lead to the market boom.  Throw in a few "jagdeesh" markets per city and we have an astronomical growth rate of 7 million subscribers in a month and therefore the firms serving the market salivating at the prospects of their cash registers ringing.  Taking it a step further - in the US mobile providers are able to milk corporate subscribers, and consumers of media content, whereas in India, the cell phone would primarily remain as a phone, than a device to push content !

My car wins the Best Car Award!!!

After a long hiatus, GM won both the best car and best truck of the year awards at the Detroit auto show.

We bought our new Saturn Aura end of October and our satisfaction with the Aura was not was voted the best car for this year. In other words, it beat the hell out of Camry and Accord :). Go Saturn!!! and Go GM!!!

There is a saying which goes, perception lags reality. Well, in the auto industry it seems like the lag is over 10 years. I am happy, I am not a victim of perceptions !! I am laughing my way to the bank with the dollars I saved for a much better car at a much lower price.

From a news clipping:

A packed house at Detroit’s Cobo Center saw two General Motors divisions win the 2007 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards this morning on the Michigan Hall stage.

The new Saturn Aura sedan won the car of the year honors, beating the redesigned Toyota Camry and the new Honda Fit subcompact. The Saturn Aura received 205 points; the Honda Fit got 176 and the Toyota Camry 89 points in the voting.

Saturn AuraJill Lajdziak, general manager of Saturn, with the Aura, the North American Car of the Year. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

The North American Truck of the Year award went to the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, which defeated the Ford Edge crossover and the similar Mazda CX-7. The Chevrolet Silverado received 243 points; the Mazda CX-7 got 135 and the Ford Edge 92.

The North American Car and Truck of the Year jury is composed of 49 American and Canadian print, broadcast, television and Web journalists, who this year went through three rounds of voting to arrive at the winners.

Research Rankings

Check out this cool report on university rankings based on research expenditures.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iPhone from Apple - success or failure?

Apple finally announced its iphone, read the story here.  Will mass hysteria result one more time and iphone become a phenomenon like the ipod or will it fall wayside just as another device that serves a basic necessity ?  I bet on the second.  Although the market reacted quite positively today to the announcement by boosting Apple's shares by almost 8%, I am skeptical of the momentum the device itself can build up in the marketplace. 

The device is going to be sold exclusively through Cingular and Apple is just making the wrong bet by just tying itself to one provider.  Whatever might be the transfer of payments between Cingular and Apple, the device is being restricted to one carrier and therefore Apple is losing out on almost 70% of the wireless market in the US till 2009 (when the exclusivity ends).  Given the pace of technology change in the telecom devices market, there is bound to be a killer device and Apple will not be able to garner the lion's share of the market due to its exclusive agreement with Cingular. Wake up Apple!

Nittany Lions to Tar Heels - Optimal Groups!

I guess I am about to finally transition to my new role as an ardent fan of the Tar Heels (for those who are not very familiar - Tar Heels is the UNC team while Nittany Lions are from Penn State). Read the story on Tar Heels being ranked No.1 here.

Well, it will be NCAA basketball - March madness and all, while earlier it was College football :). With my impending transition to UNC at the corner, I have developed a sudden interest in the fortunes of the Tar Heels - well, to be truthful only their basketball team. One of my professors once told me that every individual belongs to multiple cheering teams - his idea translates to the notion that when I am in India I cheer for India against Pakistan, when I was at Lucknow I cheered for IIM L, when I am indetroit I cheer for the Pistons against the Suns, when I am in Penn State I cheered for Penn State against Michigan and when I am watching the superbowl I cheer for the Steelers against Patriots.. and therefore when I am in NC I will cheer for the Tar heels against the Blue Devils. What I cheer for (and implicitly which group I associate myself with) is being determined largely by the social context or "my world" as it means to me at that point in time.

My prof called it optimal group stimulation - or some variation of that, which I do not recall very well now. However, the idea did have a profound effect on my thoughts. The social construction of reality was at work here - the world as I see it - its meaning, structure etc. are all what they are because of the various groups that I belong to at various junctures in my life. There is a world - that is unchanging that underlies all of it and that is what is created by everlasting impressions through the eyes of my parents and people really close to me. And then, there is the changing world, the periphery, it is through the lens of various people that I know and hang out with through time. Taken together, I have a unique world, and that makes me the person that I am - a manifestation of the reality constructed by my "society".

I need both these worlds - the core with the transient periphery to be what I am.

The Minority Report or the B Doctrine

News reports are just emerging on a new attack on Islamic fighters in Africa. Preemptive use of force - the core principle of the current prominent military doctrine is the primary driver for such actions. While the entire legal system is based on the premise that the accused are assumed innocent until proven guilty, this doctrine violates this philosophy with no scruples. If an act is not committed yet, would you punish the "supposed offenders" - doesn't it seem like the plot out of the Spielberg movie - The Minority Report.

Where will this stop? Can one nation continue to encroach on the sovereignty of other nations using aggressive doctrines? Will a rich/powerful country allow attacks on its soil if there are who are plotting to kill citizens elsewhere? A great calamity on its soil surely cannot give the moral (or amoral) authority to a powerful country to seek vengeance and cause collateral damage on innocent people elsewhere.

Monday, January 08, 2007

ctrl+alt+del for Cars?

Get ready folks, Microsoft is getting ready to crash your cars !!  Read this recent news release on the partnership between MS.  Of course, it is a peripheral system and might not interface with the car's onboard computer, well, at least for now.  However, I am sure MS has long -range plans of writing the OS for future cars and making us all dependent on its software - do you see any parallels now?

I am happy for GM ! The senior management is going crazy at Ford and sooner or later, a Ford car equipped with MS's software is going to crash because MS installed buggy software and there was no time to hit the ctrl+alt+del button, and therefore indirectly GM will be better off, with one fewer american kid on the block, in its fight against the Japs.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Myths about Athesim

A good article that busts ten myths about athesim - read it here.