Friday, March 31, 2006

my world resides on my mobile

Long ago, 24 months to be precise, we were pitching for the BSNL Mobile's (India's largest telecom network) advertising account. Our thoughts centered around just one idea - "my identity is my mobile phone". The thought was consigned to dust back then. SMS was just about starting up, camera phones were things rich kids played with. Ringtones were begining to get fancy and colour was a luxury. Two years on the bloody handset is like a identity tag. The first thing you notice is the handset model. The brick sized monsters mean that you are either a wannabe or have lots of money to buy the latest.

And suddenly my world resides on my mobile phone. I use it to message, email, talk, keep myself busy, update information, entertain, buy stuff. In a city like Mumbai where I live it takes about two hours to get from point 'a' to point 'b', it does not matter that the point b is three kilometers from the start point. This city measures distances in time and not meters. What do I do to keep myself from losing precious hair? I surf the net, download themes and get on to Google. I use the phone very little to talk. I assume the same happens in Delhi or Kolkatta.

Very recently I got on to Google via the mobile phone and typed in "shares" - the results gave me a bunch of results that were bang on target, now if I were to get ads in there using the Google Adwords and have a contact number right there on the results page it would be great. If I were the kind who wanted to invest in shares and found a number which was relevant at that moment, I would call.

The normal method is to click on the ads that Google throws up and fill in a dataform and wait for the company to call back. If the contact number were available on the mobile phone itself it would bridge the gap between the net and the phone.

Imagine being able to fill in a profile on your phone using a small application and then getting offers that interest you as you drive along. I imagine a time when while crossing Granth - a good bookstore on way to work, my cell phone getting a small list of books that might interest me and then being able to buy the ones that I want after reading a small extract by sending in an SMS. The payment added to my phone bill to be paid at the end of the month.

Imagine being able to download a small animated girlfriend - a tart who wants everything from diamonds to Rayban - or she gets angry and sulks away - the only way to satisfy her is to visit the diamond brand that sponsors the section or to the rayban section. You get points for interacting with the brand, the animated girlfriend is happy and you can redeem the points you collected for movie tickets or mechandise.

So if my world is on my mobile does someone have the appetite to exploit the arena. Can someone invest and reap the benefits. Believe me there is huge money here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Threshold of migration

When management guru CK Prahlad talks, everyone listens. Showing a pyramid where the elite
constitute the top few, the middle-class the middle and the poor the huge base holding up the top, he pointed out that the “invisible poor” were very much there. While a majority of businesses were focused on the top 1bn people in the world, there were several billions waiting to be serviced, and this, he said, was as good a business opportunity as any. The idea was to look at next practices. India could do it in several sectors, he feels — healthcare, automotive, FMCG, financial services and others.

Let me take retail as a case study, and InOrbit Mall in suburban Mumbai as the place where all the action would be. The mall is about two years old and caters to the upper end of the market, the high income group. My theory is that eventually these high income folks will move to better and more exotic locations because they can afford to do so. What happens at that point in time is that the vaccuum created is replaced by the next level of buyers. These are the SEC C in India, people who aspire to buy what they see the high income groups consuming. If you visit InOrbit mall today you will see a scatter of the SEC C families window shopping, be sure that within the next few months the ones who come to the mall to dream will collect enough to be able to buy the products on display. At that point the mall will have to consider whether they want to cater to the high end fickle minded customer or do they want to cater to the non english speaking consuming "save and spend" customer.

Eventually CK Prahlad's inverse pyramid theory works and the earlier innovations cater to the larger base of the population come into use the money money would be made.

The same applies to Mobile content, can we have at some point Hindi content available? Or Malayalam?

IS there someone out there who has a killer solution? If there is then the Threshold of migration of consumers will change drastically.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Another blog, another day

For a very very long time - some six months to be precise I have toyed around with the idea of writing a blog that has a few of my ideas. The thought was that some of these ideas and concepts seemed to have merit and when i talked about them in public they did get reactions. Now since I am one of those regular sort of guys with less money (three EMIs a month and bank balance is kaput), I never will get to implement any of these ideas. And many a times someone else seems to get the credit for what i thought up orginally. So let us say that this is a way to protect myself.

Do I hear a sniff that says that I sound pompous? Ok then let me prove a few points -

Point 1

In 1996 I and a rag tag team of software writers wrote a device driver which went on to get approvals from Bajaj Auto and Tata Motors - India's largest automibile manufacturers. this piece of code printed barcodes - those straight lines that you see on products in super marts which are used to total your tab - We went on to install these at over 900 locations. We also went on to do work for Benz and Bayer using the same code. The idea could have gone far but we never could get funding and it was sold off for a pittance.

Point 2

Heard of eMarket-places? No? Ok heard of eBay? Amazon? Hmm fine - was back in 1998 when ebay was just getting its biz plan in place when I talked about emarket-places as a concept would bring together everyone in the supply chain onto the same platform and bring value. Guess what? It did not happen. It died due to lack of funding ( actually everyone including John Broughton said good idea, but held on to their money) You can read this interview which appeared in Hindu BusinessLine if you search real hard on Google.

Point 3

Caferati and Caferati Blog

An idea that has been acknowledged as the very first attempt at collaborative publishing. (I did get fed up with ponderous people who took ownership of this and walked off)

So what am I trying to get at? Simple - this is to be an attempt at trying to get ideas into action, to see if there are ideas that can grow into viable a business and most of all to find funding for these projects.

So here goes... Hope we see a billion ideas bloom and flourish