Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Entertainment, Desi Style

It is almost a laughing riot when I watch news on CNN nowadays. Well, first of all I watch it on really high volume for one of two things - the family that lives in the apartment above me stomps around on the wooden floor so hard that I need a tool to cut down that racket. Second, my folks watch Tamil programs on the Internet.

Well, just to clarify, and in the interest of brevity, let me confess that as my mom and aunt are visiting me I am forced to find web sites that host regional language programs every night. The Internet never ceases to amaze me, and to my own chagrin and to the delight of my folks, I did manage to find such a site.

What this boiled down to is the same routine every night:
1) visit the site
2) look for uploaded programs for the day
3) download them
4) up the volume on CNN as my folks watch their favorite Tamil shows

So, I hear Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper with a twist of Tamil ads and the dramatic music in the background as the grand soap operas play out every day. Mothers-in-law scheme against their daughters-in-law, long lost sons find that their newly found father has multiple wives, aunts plot against their nephews to take over ancestral property; and, I spend my evening trying to focus on two physics principles about politics and the economy - momentum and gravity.
1) Momentum - Hillary tries to find one as she continues to lose the battle against Obama.
2) Gravity - the stock market continues to figure out that Newton was right all along and that things do fall to the ground (Although Jim Kramer tries to refute it while evangelizing a Bull market, failing to believe in Newton).

Honestly, I have come to believe there is not much of a difference between the two forms of entertainment - Tamil soaps and the grand political and economic debates on TV. Or, maybe, my senses have been numbed so bad that I no longer see the difference. Didn't Bill Clinton have an affair? Isn't the current lame duck Prez a goofball? Isn't Jim Kramer a maniacal stock-broker who shouts his head off on prime-time? Maybe you will disagree. Maybe you don't. But, I do sure have a wild ride for the next few months.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wisdom of the crowds

A nice story about a new venture that leverages crowdsourcing here.  Organizing consumers to generate new product ideas fascinates me.  The holy grail of marketing lies in understanding or anticipating latent consumer needs and building the most appropriate solutions for these needs. It seems to me that a reasonable chunk of innovation in the near future will occur through this model.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Scrabulous and Change - At a loss for words

Yet again, a couple of firms have proven that most market leaders lack the short sightedness to accept change and adapt to a new business model.  I am referring to Mattel and Hasbro, the two firms that hold rights to make the popular board game Scrabble.  They are planning to bring legal charges against "Scrabulous", an online version of the board game that has become popular on Facebook.

Clearly, change is beckoning many industries, and, new ventures like Facebook are acting as catalysts for this change.  What we are seeing in this case is probably one of many wars that will shape up how social network platforms will influence new business models.  Already, big media is struggling to cope with sites as YouTube.  Wikipedia has grown into some sort of a directory-driven portal that Yahoo was in its early days, for knowledge.  Look up any topic on any search site, a link to the topic on Wikipedia is sure to pop-up in the first ten.  There is nothing that can comprehensively beat "Wisdom of the Crowds".

My students ask me if social networking will change the world.  A lot of them are even skeptical.  I tell them that is similar to what happened before the Internet boom and the subsequent bust.  An ecosystem is growing and surely the principles that govern Darwinian mechanics will shape up social networking.  There will be few left standing, maybe Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, and some of the also-rans.  But tons of money will be made, by investors, by entrepreneurs; much more will be lost too.

Surely, nothing is permanent except change.  Those firms that do not accept this, will be at a loss for a lot more than merely words.