Tag Archives: Mobile phone

Why Don’t Indian Companies Take Their Web Presence Seriously?

By Ankit Chandra


My friend Gaurav Sharma (name changed for privacy) asked this question. He is the CEO of a leading Indian web solutions company, so his question has got to have a good mix of bewilderment, frustration, anxiety and most worryingly, facts behind it…

This is an interesting question, and when I began exploring it, it unravelled into a many folds of Indian society, and economics which I think we all see, but maybe overlook. I come from a unique (remember everyone is unique? 🙂 ) background of Anthropologist father, Zoologist mother, Bachelors in Engineering and MsBA in Technology Management.  So I tend to have diff perspectives (which more often than not, confuse me more than anyone else) on issues close to my heart. This one sure is: after all, it is things like these that make India look technologically inferior, and not up with the rest of the world etc etc.

So back to the question. I will try and put out my reasons for the question in separate posts: to save you from information (read opinion) overload, but I hope it makes an interesting read.

Perspective 1:

Lets begin with an example.

Any person who grew up in South Delhi would know of Lodhi Sports. This is a shop we respected as one of the few ‘up market’ sports showrooms in Delhi. In the early 90’s it was rare to see exercise equipment in many shuttered shops. This one was all glass and had a wide range of exercise equipment. 20 years later, Lodhi Sports has expanded to many shops around Delhi, in big shopping malls etc. Now look at their current site: http://www.lodhisports.in . It doesn’t even open currently.

Now, its target market very much overlaps the active internet users category in Delhi, so I think it does make sense to at least have a functioning site! That leaves us with two options, either the provider is off the track of the consumer doesn’t want it. As in most cases, I think its the chicken and egg problem.

Reason 1: Coming of age of Indian consumer.. A little more distance to go…

Generally this is what I think other people call as maturing of a market, and I agree. Indian consumers have only recently begun taking a computer for granted in their living rooms, and fewer of them, between 3-8 crores have begun accessing the net actively. The definition of active here is using the internet at least once a month. It is pointless to say that if a person is only ‘accessing’ the net once in a month, he/she is definitely not comfortable looking at it as a utility. It seems more like a picnic; once a month, to try out something ‘new’.  Hence, it seems, that an average Indian internet user is still not getting on to the net to use it for transactions, and information gathering for purchases. That, will take time. Maybe something similar to plastic money and time taken for its traction in India.

Perspective 2:

But then I think internet and cell phones came up almost at the same time in India. And there is no points guessing who won the race. So whats the deal there? The utility of cell phones, and initial investment for cell phones is much clearer to people. And hence, the reception to cell phones is like a raging forest fire. And people indeed are benefiting from it! Whether Internet provides the same amount of value to Indian people is something I cannot comment on. I think it does, given the kind of stuff people in other parts of the world have done from it, but then one can disagree very well on this.

So then why nature chose cell phones over Internet? I think first because every thing about cell phone was very well modularized and tangibly managed. prepaid cards made it easy, compact, hassle free, and decoupled from any kind of red tape, for people to start making calls cheap. Internet revenues on the other hand still depend on credit card swiping. The infrastructure needed for cell phone companies to work on was revolutionized into the ‘Indian model’ now so widely studied across the globe. Internet however, could not come up with its own India strategy. Maybe all the smart brains were still busy making money from the cell phone market. Then the content delivered on cell phones was inherently local, unless of course you call an international ‘talk to me’ lines. Here too, Internet lagged much farther behind, because of its ‘broadcasting’ model vs. the peer to peer nature of phone calls.

Reason 2: Lack of macro-environment support and luck?

2 technologies, equally promising, but ultimately having very different paths…

Ultimately, while cell phones transformed themselves into the Indian context very well by providing cheap calls to lower costs, lightening speed information on prices for farmers, cheap way of keeping in touch for long distance relationship lovers, for moms to check up on their ‘in school and not bunking’ kids, and free sms etc etc, Internet couldn’t really strike the same chord in the daily lives of Indians. It could not go much beyond educated, and computer literate people to the non english speaking housewives, moms, lalajis, and Gangu Bai for the betterment of their daily lives.

Does it mean Internet is irrelevant to India? Absolutely not; it just needs to wear colors of India over it, and ultimately go beyond rediff and naukri. The sites like Saleraja.com, mouthshut.com are getting into different spheres of our lives, beyond the traditional demographic which was being served…

An Idea A Day Keeps A Doctor Away

idea machine

By Ankit Chandra

I think I am obsessed with the idea of creating new ideas. Since my undergrad days, when a mere look at a stepper motor interface made me think of the numerous possibilities there were to make something cool with it, I have been fantasizing about the next cool thing I could make with the basic building blocks I have at hand.

Only with time, my building blocks evolved and became a mix of technology pieces, business concepts and social issues. That’s a great concoction though! But with more information in my head, I guess my idle time goes into thinking about new things to make, new companies to start and a new world to live in.

Most of the times I get out of my day dreaming and move on with my life… but the idea sticks on as a ‘Could have been the next revolution’ Sometimes I have actually realized that someone made a killing out of it 🙂

Here is a small list of a few of those ideas.. These are in no particular order DO NOT judge me on this!

  1. Automatic pet fish feeding system
  2. SaaS based Supply Chain Management system (Patented by IBM I think)
  3. An earth based car positioning, and guiding system, which I proposed, to Reva the electric car company. (They shot it down)
  4. An advertising system based on ring back tones on mobile phones (too late on this one)
  5. A virtual Chai ki Dukaan (Road side tea shop) where people get together and gossip, discuss new ideas or understand the world, Office politics, course curriculum, or their love life. This is still a very potent idea, if the Chai ki Dukaan ambience is successfully implemented.
  6. A local area customer – vendor handshake platform for services. So you can get a local plumber/carpenter/nanny without having to hunt for one.
  7. A concept similar to batchmates.com but much before batchmates.com came about
  8. Setting up a Sabji Mandi in US to promote healthy food
  9. Opening recharge stations for electric cars in India.
  10. Opening a p2p shop rating system, which is accessible through mobile phones.
  11. And a fresh one.. A doctor rating system!!

Well the list is longer… but you get the gist… and yes you are free to implement any of these.. It’s open source now 🙂

Social Etiquette – The Forgotten Good-natured Behaviour Code

Commercialization has taken precedence over most of our good values! Is advancement in Science inversely proportional to advancement of ‘human-ness’? Ganesh Subramanian discusses our behavioural code which has changed with our so-called ‘advancement’ in this post.

good beh1

The biggest fear of advancement of mankind is that in the mad pursuit of developments and an equally insane dash for material possessions, somewhere there is a risk of losing our social values and a possible deviation from accepted behavioural norms. With crass commercialization of almost everything in humanity, good old values like respect for others, maintaining public decency, respect for elders etc., are well on their way towards a fast-tracked capital punishment.

The simplest example for illustrating this argument can be seen in the ubiquitous use of mobile phones. The problem is not in using mobiles per se, but in the way in which it’s being used in simple conversations. Often, while travelling in buses or trains, we see some strange specimens (let us say, Mr. X) shouting at the top of their voices into their mobile phones. Somewhere I feel that it won’t be a bad idea for Mr. X just to scream what he wants to say without actually making a call. The loud enough voice of M. X can be easily transmitted and heard via air without the need for 2 mobile phones and the network. This kind of behaviour demonstrated with scant regard for others in the surroundings is completely deplorable and irks others present in the vicinity. By the time the bus/train journey is over, all the passengers are sure to have a good knowledge of the entire background of Mr. X, courtesy the mindless telephonic screaming.

Another behaviour that can’t be called courteous is the failure to apologise when someone accidentally elbows others or stamps on the others’ feet accidentally in a crowd. Behaviour in restaurants, behaviour in traffic signals, behaviour while we wait in serpentine queues for some service – the list is never ending when it comes to exhibiting unacceptable behaviour. A funny incident that my friend narrated springs to my mind here. My friend and his college classmates went to a coffee shop for hanging out. One of his friends, after ordering for milkshake wanted to tell the waiter not to add ice to his beverage. As the waiter had moved away, this guy shouted at the top of his voice in his native language with a localised slang. This act attracted the eyeballs of all those who were present in the shop much to the embarrassment of the guy’s classmates. Some may feel what’s unacceptable in this. But the point, I am trying to make is that even small instances like this could have been handled subtly with a good understanding and awareness of the presence of public.

good beh 2

All these instances point to the fact that good social behaviour has taken a backseat in this age of commercialization. It is upto each one of us to understand that what irks us also irks others and we must ensure that even if we can’t become role models of social behaviour, atleast we do not end up being a bad example of socially acceptable behaviour.