Saturday, October 28, 2006

Zyka in Atlanta

Zyka Restaurent in Atlanta GA. I have never seen such a crowd in any of the Indian/IndoPak restaurents so far. It just reminded me my days at Bangalore and made me instantly homesick. I visited Zyka in Richardson, but it was quite different. The differences are quite striking with the Zyka in Richardson,TX. First and foremost is the crowd.

  • In Atlanta You have to wait atleast for 15 minutes at any point of time to get a seat. Many people easily give up their search for seat and eat standing or take home. In Richardson, there is no such problem. I never waited for more than a minute to place order. Seating is always avaialble. It is slightly bigger, looks like. But there is far lesser crowd here.
  • You see people come of the shells and be truly Indians for some time. I mean... you know. While getting to the counter to order or getting an empty table, if you wait in line like an obedient child, you are good to stay in line forever. I mean, quite frankly there is no line. People are quite afraid of going in lines, because they can not trust each other. So, they do what they are good at. I recently saw again such a mad rush and exuberant display of true intentions at Diwali Mela, at Texas Stadium in Irving. Some thing, I will never be part of and proud of.
  • Food is much better in Richardson. May be because of lesser crowd.

Typo or Perfect Marketing Message?

Some times it doesn't make sense to buy just one. Or quite expensive to buy just one. Found at a Old Navy outlet in Grapevine,TX.

Perfect Tees, now 2 for $10. Or $10.50 each.

Is it a typo or perfect marketing trick to get rid of their stock? 

Friday, October 27, 2006

Showcase of Indian Innovations - Proto.in

Its like a DEMO conference showcasing the Indian Technology and Innovation. Proto.in is organizing first of its kind 2 day conference on 20th and 21st of January, 2007. Chennai is the natural candidate for such a conference, as it demonstrated its enthusiasm and committment to bring ideas to life with similar conferneces earlier, like Blogcamp.

Proto.in

I picked up this image from WebYantra, showing a diaspora of Indian startups.

Mobile Mondays, Blogcamps, BarCamps.... and now Proto.in..... India is heatingup with Innovation and exuberance of startups. The place to be in, without any hesitation what so ever.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reading Blogs on your Mobile

How do you read a blog on your mobile? If you access the actual URL of the blog page right from your Mobile, your Mobile will not be able to display the content properly. The 2/3 column layout, large images, too many ads on the page, just don't fit on your small screen. And if you haven't subscribed to Unlimited Internet access (or as people call it Unlimited Data Plan), then you will be paying access charges for downloading all those ads and images, which you may not be interested at all. So then, how can I can read blogs on my cell phone?

RSS feeds comes to rescue again, atleast to an extent. ( Read more about RSS Feeds at What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery ). RSS feeds just contain the blog posts. Nothing else.  No banner ads. No photo galleries. No background images. No layout designs. Just plain posts. But RSS feeds are formatted as XML documents, which your mobile phone can not render to a readable format. (like Internet Explorer on the desktop).  Infact, Feeds are only  meant to be read by machines/applications. So we need

  • some application to format these RSS feeds in to human readable format.
  • it would be better to compress and optimize the content, so that you can download the blog content faster on mobile
  • preferably a webpage to configure what all feeds you want to read and all manage your preferences etc. Trust me, It is quite difficult to do any of them right from your mobile phone.

I searched for such applications and I found a few applications. Though, not all of them do all of those three things, many do atleast two of them.

    First set of applications are desktop counterparts of RSS Reader Applications. You have to download and  install on your Mobile just like you do it on a desktop. And you access RSS Feeds directly from this RSS Reader application.
  1. FreeNews : RSS Reader from Free Range Communications http://freerangeinc.com/  Read a review about this here.
  2. Mobile Feed Reader from FeedBurner : http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/mfr 

Main problem with this set of applications is you have to install software on your mobile phone. So, these apps are not for every mobile. And as history taught us,  there is no final solid version of software and you have to keep this software updated every month. And pretty soon, you might end up buying and installing a  Symantec /McAfee Internet Protection suite to protect you from viruses. Personally I do not prefer and recommend third party applications on my Mobile. Also, these applications will always download full posts available on the RSS feed whether you read it or not. Not good for my mobile's battery life, as it consume lots of processing power. And certainly not good for your pocket, if you are paying by KB of data downloaded.

    Second set of applications are actually web based applications. You register with one of these websites. You configure what  blogs you are interested in. They will give you a URL. And you access this URL from your mobile just like you access any webpage. These web applications, unlike the RSS reader applications,  optimize the content to fit on your mobile, with nice and easy interface. Moreover, you can just read the headlines and skip the blog if you wish. Your mobile will not download full 10s of posts, while you are interested in reading only one of them. Your mobile will download ONLY what you read. Content optimized for Mobile, No Installation Required. Lots of choice. Easy to configure and access. And most important point, quite healthy for batter life and your pocket.
  1. WinkSite: http://winksite.com/site/index.cfm
  2. Newstouch: http://www.newstouch.com/ 
  3. Bloglines Mobile : Bloglines mobile
  4. Google Personalized Homepage : mobile.google.com
  5. Yahoo http://mobile.yahoo.com/

One application stands out of the crowd and provides the benefits of both approaches.  LiteFeeds(http://www.litefeeds.com/ ) needs an installation on your mobile. But also offers configuration from a webpage. Only problem with this approach is you must configure all your feeds through Litefeeds web app only, whereas if you go with any of the above web applications, you are not tied to any particular vendor. You can access your feeds from Google and you can also access your friends' feeds from Yahoo. Or best of all, you can switch if you don't like. You can always get the best available.

    And next comes a special application/utility AvantGo, ideal for people who don't want to pay for internet access on their Mobiles, but still want to read blogs on mobiles.  AvantGo actually consists of two applications. One need to be installed on your Mobile or PDA. And the second one, a web based application where you configure your feeds. Whenever you sync your PDA/Mobile with desktop, latest from your feeds will be downloaded automatically to your Mobile phone. So, you can read them on your mobile without having access to internet. You can access internet and get the latest on the mobile if you wish to. Free version is allowed to download only 2MB, which means around 20 feeds with 5-10 posts in each blog. For many, this is just sufficient.
    My preference is towards Web Applications, particularly Winksite. I tried all of them, and settled for Winksite. Because winksite allows do a lot more than just reading RSS Feeds. It actually help managing your entire internet activities on the mobile. Checkout winksite website for more information.

WinkSite: http://winksite.com/site/index.cfm 

    And before I close, here are two links I found while searching on Google, that have a list of RSS Readers for pocket PCs.
  1. Top 10 Pocket PC RSS Readers
  2. http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-reader-handheld.htm
  3. I assumed that you have a mobile phone that is capable of accessing internet and you have subscribed to a data service from your service provider. Normally carriers charge per each KB you download. Check if you have unlimited data plans available. It pays to get unlimited if you access regularly.

[tags]mobile-applications, mobile-blogging, mobile-life-styles, blogs, mobile-rss-reader,winksite[/tags]

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Intuitive 'Interface free' touch driven screen !

    Science Fiction movies in Hollywood are pretty close to reality in labs. I remember watching The Minority Report. Wall-sized displays, gesture recognition, and seamless information convergence. Tom Cruise calls up and manipulate video footage and other data in mid-air after donning a special pair of gloves.  Its an intuitive touch-free interface.  

    Watch a similar intuitive interface, whick works on multiple touch sensors and eliminates the traditinal interface from the picutre. Wow!

    Jeff Han is a research scientist for New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Here, he demonstrates—for the first time publicly—his intuitive, "interface-free," touch-driven computer screen, which can be manipulated intuitively with the fingertips, and responds to varying levels of pressure. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 09:32)

    Watch the video here.

    Wonderful discussion on The Minority Report Interface here.

    The Minority Report Interface  by LukeW

    It turns out that Microsoft Research, MIT, and several design shops had a say in the interface designs found in the film.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Ringtones and The Symphony Orchestra

    “This is a great moment in history, when we can say to you, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, turn on your cellphones.’”, Paul Freeman, the group’s music director, told the audience beforehand. And that triggered the birth of a new style Musician called 'CellPhonists'. Audience went on to play ringtones on their cellphones at defined moments, signaled by the Conductor at the world premiere of the Concertino for Cellular Phones and Symphony Orchestra by David N. Baker in Chicago.

    Watch a NYT narrated Slide show of the concert here.

    Scores of cellular phones trilled and twittered, beeped and burbled all at once inside a concert auditorium in this community outside Chicago. The orchestra onstage was unfazed. The composer was delighted.

    On Sunday, in a perverse commentary on the scourge of modern concert halls, the Chicago Sinfonietta played the world premiere of the Concertino for Cellular Phones and Symphony Orchestra by David N. Baker, a professor of music at Indiana University and a prolific composer.

    A device similar to a traffic light signaled the audience members to activate their rings — red for the balcony, green for the orchestra seats — at various points in the piece. An assistant conductor, Terrance Gray, followed the score and activated the lights.

    Four amplified mobile phones were also onstage.

    Source: Chicago Sinfonietta’s New Work Incorporates Cellphones - New York Times

    [tags]mobile-handset, mobile-life-style, mobile-applications, symphony, ringtones[/tags]

    What will make mobile advertising tick?

    Whole Mobile world is buzzing about highly personalized Advertisements delivered on mobiles. If noise levels at the recent conferences is any indication, many are very serious about it.  Chetan Sharma wrote an interesting article "Sell Phones: What will make mobile advertising tick?" that delves into the details of Mobile advertising and what makes it tick. Here are some excerpts from the article that gives a headsup:

    According to Dentsu, mobile advertising revenues for 2006 will be approximately $373M or close to $3.8 per subscriber (for the year). By 2009, this number is likely to scale to over $6/sub/year.

    It is apparent that due to the availability of context, immediacy, and personalization, mobile has significant advantages over the other channels as an advertising medium.

    By 2011, global advertising industry will be close to $600B. Can mobile start to increase its revenue share from its current levels of less than 0.2% to 2-5% by then?

    Source: Always On Real-Time Access » Sell Phones: What will make mobile advertising tick?

    [tags]chetan-sharma, mobile-applications, mobile-ads, mobile-life-styles, Japan, USA[/tags]

    Guruji.com vs Google : First Impression

    thumbs_up My first impression is Thumbs Up!! Wonderful !!thumbs_up

    Guruji.com a new search engine from India, is challenging Google in bringing better results for local search. Guruji.com is attempting to bring much better and relevant search results than popular search engines like Google and Yahoo for local search in India, much like what baidu is doing for China. Google does not offer Local Search in India, YET. So Guruji.com is attempting to fill that gap along with providing better search results for Indian content.

    Learn about the new search engine and its recent win of $7 million from Sequoia Capital from CEO & Founder of Guruji.com, Anurag Dod in this podcast interview, Is Guruji the new Google for India? by Kiruba Shankar at podtech.net.

    Sounds quite interesting. Isn't it? I just gave it a try to see whether Guruji can beat Google and pull out better search results. After trying a few searches particularly in Bangalore, I am quite impressed. 

    About the name:

    Brute force translation means 'Dear/Respected Teacher'. In vernacular however, it  means a person of knowledge and/or wisdom. I don't know how they came up with this name. But it is quite catchy and easy to remember. However, it does not directly mean anything related to search as such. But who knows, if it clicks, we might make Guruji synonymous with search, like Google. On the fun part, Knowing the meaning I can not use it as a verb like say I guruji it, just like 'google it'.

    About the Search:

    I tried looking for pizzahut in bangalore. Have a look at the snapshot. There are two key differences.

    1. The top portion of the results page, 'City Results from Guruji' is actually pulling out results like an Yellow book offering address and phone numbers of pizza hut.
    2. The later portion of the results is generic web search for the keywords. Again in the web search, it seems Guruji.com is pulling out results from domains which are primarily Indian rather than general search on the whole world wide web. That means, better and intuitive local results than popular search engines, say Google.  

     

    The localized search is quite evident if we search for a generic keyword. So I tried Pizzahut at Guruji.com. And here is the result. The page impressed me by pulling out the Pizza hut's India website at the top, folllowed by results from webpages by Indians.

    If you just want Yellow pages results, you can try City search. Click on City above the search box. And then enter keywords. I tried 'Pizza hut in Bangalore'. The pages showed all Pizzahut locations in bangalore. Thatz exactly I wanted.

    Another impressive feat is when I search for a general keyword like 'blog', it pulls out the information about Indian blogs, even though they are hosted on sites like google's blogger(blogspot). This is quite useful and intuitive. Try searching for blog in Guruji.com. You can see for yourself.

    thumbs_up So, my first impression is Thumbs Up!! Wonderful !!thumbs_up

    One thing I wanted to see included in the search results is a link to a map showing the location of the business. Since number in street address alone does not make much sense in India for navigation, it would be wonderful to show the results in a map with reference to a well known landmark in the map. This is how we find an address in India right? First find a well know landmark, and go from there. That would be a killer.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    SMS Life Styles - New Apps this week

    Satellites deliver UV index via SMS

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60,000 deaths are caused annually by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In 'Satellites help ensure safe sunning,' the European Space Agency (ESA) reports that a new service using its satellites can deliver the UV index to your cellphone via SMS. The Happy Sun Mobile (HSM) service also will advise about how to protect you and send you details about sea surface temperature and sea water transparency if you plan to dive. So far, the service is limited to Sardinia and Tuscany, Italy, but several operators will start to use it next summer.

    Below is a screenshot of what you could see on your cellphone if you have access to the Happy Sun Mobile service. (Credit: Flyby, HappySun service provider)

    [ Source : ZDNet ]

    Yobbos? Just hit E for Eject

    SPECTATORS at this summer's Ashes Test at the SCG may be able to use mobile phones to have troublemakers kicked out. Cricket Australia yesterday confirmed it was considering a proposal to have fans text message a security hotline to have unruly fans removed.

    The dob-in-a-yob system would allow fans who felt threatened by misbehaving patrons to anonymously dob them in without fear of reprisal.  The dob-in-a-yob hotline has been used successfully in the UK to have football hooligans punted from soccer matches.

    Patrons can send an SMS to a security number, which is displayed on the venue's big screen and on the back of tickets. Offended parties must include the nature of the offence as well as a location. Once the message is received, stadium security use CCTV cameras to zoom in on the area and see if the complaint is legitimate.

    The text hotline is expected to be introduced at the Gabba for the first Test.

    [ Source : News.com, Smartmobs ]

    [tags]SMS, mobile-applications, mobile-life-style, italy, australia[/tags]

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    The death of PC as Smartphones take over

    In his keynote speech at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London, the company's chief executive, Nigel Clifford, told delegates that the dawning era of the smart phone represents a shift "as profound as the Internet and PC were in the 1990s."

    Clifford suggested that the popularity of smart phones in the developed world and the "leapfrog economies" phenomenon in developing countries--in which expensive wired infrastructures are bypassed in favor of wireless--would create a situation where there was a "smart phone in every pocket."

    "It will be a great relief to be liberated from the laptop," he added, citing poor laptop battery performance as a key reason.

    [ Source: CNET News]

    Looking at the current sales of Smartphones and market predictions, Smartphones are actually outrunning the desktop/laptop sales. And in the world of Mobiles, Smartphone will be ultimate choice of handsets. Read more on why Smartphones Will Rule The Markets  at The Cellular Life Style.

    Smartphones Will Rule The Markets

    Symbian's Nigel Clifford forecasts the death of PC, as 'dawning era of the smart phone represents a shift "as profound as the Internet and PC were in the 1990s." Clifford suggested that the popularity of smart phones in the developed world and the "leapfrog economies" phenomenon in developing countries--in which expensive wired infrastructures are bypassed in favor of wireless--would create a situation where there was a "smart phone in every pocket."

    Demand for smart phones and personal digital assistants is continuing to grow rapidly, according to the latest statistics from Gartner. Smart-phone sales have already increased by 75.5 percent in the last year to 37.4 million units, and will grow by a further 66 percent during 2006, according to data released last week by the analyst firm.

    And, Informa Telecoms & Media is predicting that the smartphone segment will be the fastest growing part of the mobile handset market in 2006 and will continue to enjoy healthy growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.5% until 2011.

    There is no question that the PC has democratised computing and unleashed innovation; but it is the mobile phone that now seems most likely to carry the dream of the personal computer to its conclusion. - The Economist (Via Emergic)
    We at ‘The Cellular Life Style‘ strongly believe so, for a reason. What about you? Would you like to carry an iPod, a Sony recorder, a Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop, …………….. OR a cool smart Cellular phone?

    It is so painful to carry each individual device and its accessories. And it is quite expensive to buy an individual device for each function. Read how you can actually save 100s of dollars if you buy a smartphone in my previous post Busting The myth of Smartphone Market . If you decide to have an individual device for each function, don't forget to buy a nice handbag as well, to carry all of them and accessories (:-))

    At ‘The Cellular Life Style‘, we strongly believe that It is fundamental and very important for users to think of and use Mobile as multi-utility device than just a simple phone. That is exactly why Smartphones will be THE key factor in success of Mobiles and will rule the markets.

    Read my recent posts on this topic for more analysis and discussion.

    And here is a point of proof of what we believe in. Informa Telecoms & Media is predicting that the smartphone segment will be the fastest growing part of the mobile handset market in 2006, showing a year-on-year volume increase of over 40%. Other segments will show slower rates of expansion of 4% for basic phones, 19% for low feature phones and 20% for feature-rich non smartphones.

    Although the feature-rich phone market, particularly smartphones, will continue to enjoy healthy growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.5% until 2011, sales of basic phones will start to decline from 2007 to reach about 129 million units sold in 2011 from 239 million in 2006.

    The strongest forecast growth to 2011 is expected to be in the area of feature rich low-end smartphones, mainly due to significant price reductions of these devices and improvements in their multimedia capabilities.

    [tags]smart-phone, mobile-handsets, mobile-applications, mobile-life-style[/tags]

    This Christmas, it is all about 3G Handsets

    This week it is all about new 3G handsets. Two of the leading wireless carriers in 3G space Vodafone and NTTDocomo have released a whole bunch of new handsets, that are expected to spur the growth of mobile content consumption this christmas season and days ahead.

    We can clearly see the trend towards music downloads and video downloads on the mobile phones.

    Vodafone : ( Read the press release here)

    24 Vodafone live! with 3G handsets, all offering Mobile TV services

    14 Vodafone live! with 3G handsets offering Vodafone Radio DJ, Vodafone’s innovative music service

    6 3G broadband consumer handsets from Motorola and Samsung, allowing faster access to multi media services such as mobile TV and full track music downloads, faster download of music and video files and high speed download of emails when the handset is used as a modem for the PC.

    NTT DoCoMo : (Read the press Release here) Unveiled 14 new handsets. Key features of new handsets released by NTT DoCoMo

    • Advanced Email capabilities with attachments up to 2MB
    • Push-to-Talk
    • 3G international roaming
    • Full track Music downloading
    • Play tracks transferred from PCs
    • Download music/video automatically overnight.
    • IC cards with triple the storage capacity
    • Mobile credit card
    • GPS services

    [tags]NTTDocomo, vodafone, mobile-life-style, mobile-handsets, japan, uk, europe[/tags]

    Cellphones & Indian fishermen - A Life Style

    Washington Post ran an article "For India's Traditional Fishermen, Cellphones Deliver a Sea Change" by Kevin Sullivan last weekend revealing the impact of cellphones in the lives of Indian fishermen. Very interesting.  Watch the video of the story available on the page.

    Few Excerpts from the story:

    The cellphone is bringing new economic clout, profit and productivity to Rajan and millions of other poor laborers in India, the world's fastest-growing cellphone market.

    A convenience taken for granted in wealthy nations, the cellphone is putting cash in the pockets of people for whom a dollar is a good day's wage. And it has made market-savvy entrepreneurs out of sheepherders, rickshaw drivers and even the acrobatic men who shinny up palm trees to harvest coconuts here in Kerala state.

    "This has changed the entire dynamics of communications and how they organize their lives," said C.K. Prahalad, an India-born business professor at the University of Michigan

    [tags]mobile-life-style, mobile-applications, india[/tags]

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Parking using your Mobile

    While going through the net I came through this great idea, how about locating a parking spot to people who are ready to pay a little more for the service. It sounds very interesting and www.spotscout.com has already come up with a service. I am sure driving around searching for a space to park while going to a meeting or an interview is never fun, that's where this the idea clicks.

    This is how it works. Registered users post the location of a parking spot they plan on leaving, as well as a price, for that information. Other registered users could search for soon-to-be-available spaces in a given area. Users can search for this information from their Mobile phones capable of browsing internet or from desktop computers. When a user finds an available space and agree to the price, SpotScout withdraws the money and put on block. When the user actually arrives and picks the spot, transaction is considered complete and money is exchanged electronically. SpotScout takes 15% of the total transaction fee to facilitate this. Remember, you are only paying at this point for the information of a free parking lot.  If there's a parking meter, you still have to pay that.

    Though the idea involves a person leaving a space indicating he is vacating it and the person requiring a space taking it up, the idea has a fair amount of gap. So the person taking the space pays for the spot and the person indicating he is vacating gets a share for his effort and ofcourse spotscout gets a share for the transaction. From the idea it is more of sharing information.

    The service is to be launched in San Francisco, Boston and New York in July according to a wired report. The report also indicates 800,000 people already registered for the service. If you think of it on the long run you save gas too along with your time.

    With Parking Garages joining the network, the users will be able to reserve a parking spot ahead as well. And users who have parking spaces in front of their condos/apartments can sell the parking lot when they are not using it through this network. That is an excellent service. For more, you can visit http://www.spotscout.com/.

    How to become next YouTube ?

    Many of the Web2.0 companies must be wondering why Google did not buy them or frantically scratching their heads on how to get there to be the next YouTube.

    Here is an interesting and quite a funny post from GapingVoid, "Top Ten Reasons why you didn’t sell your Web 2.0 company to Google for $1.6 Billion".  This post kinda explains why you are not You Tube, YET.

    1. You already sold your company. For a lot less, to somebody else. Ouch. Ouch. Pain.

    2. Instead of giving your company an easy-to-spell, easy-to-talk-about name like “YouTube”, you decided to give your company a name that [a] nobody likes and [b] nobody can spell. Robert Scoble explains.

    3. Your company probably isn’t even worth $1.6 million, let alone $1.6 billion. Heck, $1.6 thousand would be considered “not bad” in some books…

    4. You’re still working at Starbucks. So you went from dotcom entrepreneur in 1999, to a penniless barrista in 2001, to... ummmm.... still a penniless barrista in 2006. Life is unfair.

    5. Your business model doesn’t scale. In fact, I’m not quite sure about your business in the first place, let alone whether the model scales or not…

    6. Marc Cantor likes you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    7. “Inbound Links” is not the same as “Inbound Cash”. Some people take a while with this one.

    8. None of the A-Listers linked to your blog. If only people like BoingBoing and Engadget had agreed to a little ol' mutal backscratching, the market would have blissfully overlooked the fact that nobdoy likes or uses your product. Next time, offer cash bribes. Seriously.

    9. It doesn't say "Beta" on your home page. Why does that matter? What, you mean you don't know?! Loser.

    10. Valleywag doesn’t try to crash your parties. I know. Not having Nick crashing your parties takes some doing… it’s like having mosquitoes in Northern Maine not trying to bite you. Kinda spooky when it happens.

    Carnival of the Mobilists #48

    Helen Keegan (Musings of a mobile marketer) compiled the latest Carnival of Mobilists (#48) . Carnival of the Mobilists exposes you to the very best posts of the previous week, all written about mobile and gathered together in a central place.

    My favorite highlights from the Carnival #48:

    [tags]carnival-of-the-mobilists[/tags]

    Connexion, in-Flight broadband is now free

    Boeing has decided to unplug its inflight broadband service, Connexion.  But before they unplug, they made it free.

    Scott from The Mobile Weblog reports that "starting October 2 until each carrier unplugs the service, Connexion will be free of charge. That's right - all you can eat broadband in the air on long -haul flights". He received this communication from Boeing in an email.

    [tags]Connexion, Boeing[/tags]

    How mobiles change our lives - Reports

    I strongly believe that Mobiles have and are dramatically changing our lifestyles. And many people across the world have changed their life styles to embrace Mobile as an integral part of thier lives. In otherwords, these days, our lives more or less almost all the time depend on Mobile phones.

    There were many reports and books that corroborate that belief. Recent reports from UK's Carphone Warehouse conclusively establishes the fact that Mobiles have and are changing our lifestyles dramatically.

    The Mobile Life Report 2006 (PDF): How mobile phones change the way we live

    "Over 16,500 people were asked what they think about the mobile phone and how they use this ubiquitous piece of technology."

    "It is hard to believe that the mobile phone is now 21 years old. This is a generation, a whole section of society. People born since 1985 have never known life without a mobile phone."

    The Mobile Life Youth Report 2006 (PDF) : The impact of the Mobile Phone on the lives of young people

    Over 1,250 11-17 year olds were asked what they think about their
    mobile phone and how they use this ubiquitous piece of technology.

    Here I summarized a few important conclusions from the report regarding how Mobiles impact our lives:

    • 92% of mobile phone owners cannot get through a typical day without using their phone.
    • For people 18-24 years old, their mobile phone matters more to them than television
    • Most people aged 18-40 say mobile phones have improved their quality of life.
    • Mobile phones have given most women a much greater feeling of safety when driving alone and when out and about – shopping, going to a bar or travelling to and from work
    • Owning a mobile phone makes 80% of young people feel safer when out and about, shopping, socialising or travelling to and from their school or college
    • 45% of grandmothers think mobile phones can help strenghen communication between grandchildren and grandparents
    • 51% of 10 year olds and 70% of 11 year olds own a mobile phone
    • Asked which of five electronic items is the most important to them, 36% of girls, compared with 17% of boys, say their mobile phone
    • 78% of 11-17 year-olds say that having a mobile phone gives them a better social life, because they can more easily maintain contact with their friends. More widely, 70% say their mobile phone has made their life better
    • [tags]Mobile-Life-Style, Mobile-Applications, UK, Mobile-Life-Report, Mobile-handsets[/tags]

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Dial M for Mobile Music

    When I first posted my visualization of  features that will be part of today's mobile phone, many of you agreed, though with little hesitation and suspicion. Some of you were even reluctant to agree that even some of them will be part of mobile at all.

    But there are so many of us who believe that if not all, most of them will be soon part of mobiles. For example, read, what Bose, the best known brand for Sound Quality says in its October Newsletter article 'Dial M for Music: Todays Cell Phones Go Way Beyond Hello" about  today's Mobile Phone.

    "Can you guess which of these is not on the feature list of one of today's most popular cell phones?

    MP3 music player; Digital still camera; Video games; Text messaging; Calculator, with currency converter; Alarm clock; GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) service; Speakerphone; Phone book; Note pad; Calendar; Online music store access

    Actually, the phone in question has all of these features ... and many more. For example a voice recorder, 25 polyphonic ringtones, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a video recorder, Web access, streaming audio and video capabilities. And it all fits into an impossibly compact package.

    It wasn't that long ago that a telephone was practically a piece of furniture, thick as a brick and heavy enough to double as the "blunt instrument" in murder mysteries. Now, though, a cell phone user can dangle a six-ounce cell phone from his fingertips and call it "bulky." Such is the magic of technology today. "

    Read on the full article here: Dial M for Music: Todays Cell Phones Go Way Beyond Hello

    [tags]mobile-handsets, mobile-life-style, mobile-applications, bose, mobile-music[/tags]

    Friday, October 6, 2006

    Indian Road Traffic - Amazingly Precise coordination?

    Its always an amazing and adventurous feat to drive through the traffic in India. See this video, how so many drivers make their way through the traffic, with so precise coordination that there was not even a single jerk by any of the vehicles. The flow is almost like a fluid.

    Isn't it just the precise coordination?

    However, I bet we will be fully tired and exhausted even to drive for 15 minutes in this traffic. You have to cover all 360 degrees on the road to move. You never know what comes across.

    Technorati tags: , ,

    Thursday, October 5, 2006

    Busting The myth of Smartphone Market

    I recently read an article at 'Mobile Opportunity', discussing about the Smartphone market.
    The myth of the smartphone market : Who will buy smartphones? And what are the “killer” features?

    It is quite an interesting read infact. But I disagree to an extent the conclusions and predictions made about the Smartphone market.  I will quote only relevant text here for discussion. Read the full article here,

    Update (21st October, 2006): Posted More news reports from Gartner and Informa Telecoms & Media about current sales of Smartphones and predictions until 2011 in Smartphones Will Rule The Markets. Both sources reported that Smartphones are the hot selling devices and will continue to grow. Symbian’s Nigel Clifford forecasts the death of PC, as Smartphones take over. Read more at my recent post Smartphones Will Rule The Markets.  Back to the article, now.

    The main reason why Smartphones or converged devices will be the future, is it is so painful to do otherwise. You can carry an ipod, olympus recorder, Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop to access internet, …………….. or you can have a smart phone that can do all of these and more. 

    I had almost all of them, and it is so painful to carry all or some of them all the time, that I some time figure out a way to get things done without them !!. So I am all in for a Cellular phone that can do all of them. I want to see every thing in this picture on my cell phone.



    Coming back to the article, I was little confused about the analogy between the current mobile device and a PC. The ideal and accurate comparison would have been the list of features and applications on a desktop. There is a reason why one want to have ONE LAPTOP with office suite, Skype, GarageBand, Blogging application, Photoshop, Music Player, Video player, and ofcourse a browser and you want to connect to internet by ethernet cable, wifi, 3G, bluetooth and so on. Going by the same analogy, this is a smart laptop, that can do all you need. Otherwise, you will have one laptop with office suite, one laptop for playing music, and one laptop for editing pictures. Not exactly like that, but I hope you understand my point.

    Are people to willing to pay additional price for a converged device? The article says that people are ready to take features but don't want to pay for those features. It is true, not many of us are willing pay any extra buck than absolutely essential. But that does not mean, they will not pay even if they see value. Here is a simple math. (Highly approximated and average prices. Compare for yourself based on what you have or want to have and a smart single converged device available in market):

    • Audio Recorder : $65

    • Music Player: $200

    • Digital Camera : $150

    • Jumpdrive : $60

    • Palm Personal Organizer: $199

    • GPS : $145

    • Basic Cell Phone: $40

    • Accessories for all those devices: $300 (Leather sleeves, cables, warranty plans ..... )Total cost of all these devices : $1159


    One smart phone equipped with all those features and more: $500 + $200 for accessories and warranty. == $700.

    A saving of around $460. And did I mention that you need a handbag so that you can carry all of them as one pack if you have seperate devices. So painful !.

    Now make your own comparisions based on what you need. And see for yourself what you can save if you buy a smartphone.

    Carriers can not expect to make a buck of every feature they include in the phone. I love my camera on my mobile. But I rarely send an MMS. That does not mean, I don't like my handy camera on mobile.
    For an example of this effect, look at the high sales of subsidized cameraphones, and compare that to the low number of people who pay to send lots of MMS messages containing those photos.

    There is some nice classification in the posting, where they classify the users into different segments and all that. Read if you are interested.

    And the most interesting part where he explains why converged devices won't sell.
    These typically don’t sell well, for two reasons. First, unlike a PC, when you add features to a mobile device you pay a heavy price. If a PC gets a little heavier, or uses a little more power, no one will even notice. But do that to a mobile device, and it may suddenly become too heavy for most people to carry, or its battery life may become too short. Tiny differences in specs can create surprisingly huge changes in sales.

    Come on, if you are ready to carry a handbag full of devices, can't you carry a little bigger mobile phone? If you haven't noticed, the devices are becoming smaller and thinner day by day. Have a look at the Motorola Q phone.



    Point mouse here to see latest Amazon offer on this
    The second reason is about functionality:
    The second reason why “Swiss Army Knife” products don’t sell well is because most mobile customers are intensely practical. They buy mobile products like appliances, to do a specific job. All of the most successful mobile products are associated with a particular task that they do well. They may be capable of doing more, but there’s always a lead feature that they excel at. The iPod is fantastic at music acquisition and playback. The Blackberry is great at Exchange e-mail (and stinky at almost everything else). And the original Palm Pilot excelled at calendar and address book.

    How practical is this to carry a handbag full of devices to office every day, and juggle with them when you need it. Doesn't it sound practical and inexpensive to have them all in one device. And when it comes to functionality, a smartphone is reasonably close to its individual counter parts. The great thing about a smart phone and a converged device is that you can integrate all of them in a meaningful way. How easy it is to take a picture and send it to your friend or posting it to your blog using your mobile. Compare it with having a seperate device for those tasks: a camera, and a laptop to do the same. So go wherever you go, take a picture. Come home or goto a nearest internet cafe to send the picture. Come on. This is not that practical as we think.

    Remember, similar objections have been voiced all over the world about internet, e-commerce, and everything online a few years back. But look at it now.

    Not many of us know exactly afront, what we want and what we are willing to pay for. But when some thing nice is available, we embrace it.  If somebody would have asked any one of us in 2000, whether you spend $250 for an iPod and then buy each song at $0.99 online, I bet, nobody would have said, YES. Read for yourself reviews and analysis of online music and MP3 players back in 2000. But see now, how many of us do the exact thing, which we never expected to say YES to.  I hope I got my point clear. In digital gadgets world, users always have beaten the market analysts. And they will continue to do so.

    Not everyone of us want to have everything on a mobile phone, YET. But many love to see a converged device  with meaninful utilities converged onto a single device.  One converged device for youth, one for business people and one for enthusiasts and so on.  We are already seeing this. Camera has become an integral part of cell phones. Isn't it? So in the coming months (not years), we will see more converged devices. Will people pay for it? A resounding Yes. So is there a market for smartphones. I strongly believe, YES.

    [tags]smartphone,mobile-applications,3G,mobile-devices,motorola,converged-device,mobile-technologies,mobile-life-style[/tags]

    Wednesday, October 4, 2006

    Guy Kawasaki and his Mumbai trip

    Guy Kawasaki recently visited Mumbai to speak at IBM conference. He took some interesting snapshots of Mumbai as well. But Guy is not  Guy Kawasaki unless he writes 10 points about Mumbai. And he did not  disappoint me. He wrote a 10 point highlights of his Mumbai trip, 'Mumbai Guy'. It is quite interesting to read through the list.

    One thing any foreign visitor immediately notice in India is the striking differences between rich and poor and traffic conditions.

    • The contrast in living conditions for the very rich and the very poor is eye-opening—and I didn’t see the absolute extremes of either

    • “Traffic safety” is an oxymoron. Luggage isn’t tied down on roof racks. People ride on top of trucks. I saw a family of four on a motorcycle. Having said this, I saw no accidents.

    • Speaking of traffic, it can take two hours to travel fifteen kilometers there. If you have a choice, try to arrive on Saturday or Sunday. Speaking of arrival, I’ve never been to an airport that’s jam packed at 2:00 am.

    It seems Guy even bought a pirated 'The World is flat' book at the intersection. The World is Flat is sold at Rs.500 in stores and at special online discount it is sold at around Rs.350.

  1. India has its own version of Amazon.com. At two intersections, kids came up to the car to sell us paperback versions of current business books. We bought a copy of The World Is Flat for $3. Not sure if I should be happy or depressed, but The Art of the Start was not available.

    I some how don't understand why Guy is puzzled to see the special price of Rs.300 for Foreign Visitors to enter the Museum. The first thing that comes to my mind, which is quite relevant to the concept of differential treatment to non-residents in US, is college tution fee. Every foreign student pays an additional fee, called 'Non-Resident' fee at most universities and Community Colleges, some times almost 100% more fee than residents. Don't they?

  2. I loved Indian pricing strategy: for example, 10 rupees for residents and 300 rupees for tourists at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum.

  3. Technorati tags: , ,

    Overtaking US, India emerges second in Cotton

    Source: http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2001582

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently revealed that India has emerged as the second largest cotton producer in 2006-07 by overtaking the US, industry sources said here on October 03.

    China is the leading cotton producer and was followed by the US, but since 2002, cotton production in India has expanded phenomenally and sustained it for four seasons in a row.

    USDA estimated Indian output at 4.572 million tons, while the US itself will produce 4.430 million tons showing decrease from previous year's 5.201 million tons.

    China, India and Pakistan account for half of the world's cotton production and two-thirds of world cotton consumption while Pakistan itself is the fourth largest producer and third largest consumer of cotton

    Technorati tags: , , , , ,

    Tuesday, October 3, 2006

    Poll: What do you want from Mobile?

    What is important and what exactly you want to have on your Mobile? Rate your preferences on a poll that I created on ZohoPolls and let the world know what you think.

    What do you want from your Mobile?

    Mobile Phones offer a wide variety of utilities and applications right on your Mobile. But not all of them make sense to each of us. So, rate according to your relevance and use of each utility and application below. For more about Mobile phone utilities, applications, news and how a mobile phone can change your lifestyle, visit The Cellular Life Style

    http://zohopolls.com/Murali/what-do-you-want-from-your-mobile

    [tags]Mobile-Life-Styles, Mobile-Applications, Mobile-Devices, Poll[/tags]

    Poll: What do you want from Mobile?

    What is important and what exactly you want to have on your Mobile? Rate your preferences on a poll that I created on ZohoPolls and let the world know what you think.

    What do you want from your Mobile?

    Mobile Phones offer a wide variety of utilities and applications right on your Mobile. But not all of them make sense to each of us. So, rate according to your relevance and use of each utility and application below. For more about Mobile phone utilities, applications, news and how a mobile phone can change your lifestyle, visit The Cellular Life Style

    http://zohopolls.com/Murali/what-do-you-want-from-your-mobile

    Overhead Projector for Mobile Phone

    When I first read this on SMS Text News, I thought the Overhead Projector allows you to connect your mobile phone directly to show the Mobile screen. It serves the same purpose but slightly differently. Instead of directly taking output of Mobile device, it capture the mobile screen just like we see it and then projects it like an image. Just like an Old and traditional over head projector which you use to project your hand-written paper in a class room. Only more powerful to capture the screen of a mobile device.  Nevertheless quite useful for capturing snapshots of your mobile phone and making presentations.

    Source: http://tomshardware.co.uk/2006/10/02/project_a_phone/

    Project-a-Phone, a company that makes products for projection of cell phone screens, today announced the launch of the ICD-5000 Image Capture and Display system. The ICD-5000 allows cell phone owners to display the content on their mobile screen to a computer, monitor, or projection screen.

    Much like devices that teachers and professors use to display a calculator screen to an entire class, the ICD-5000 physically clamps onto and hovers over a cell phone or PDA screen and connects to a PC via a USB cable. Users can then project that image to a projector or monitor. It can also be used to record demonstrations of cell phones for later viewing and sharing.

    [tags]mobile-devices, over-head-projector, PDA, Mobile-Applications[/tags]

    Revisiting ‘The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs’- Part2

    Aaron Marcus, the founder and President of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc wrote an article “The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs” for Software Development Magazine and was published in May 2003. Its been more than three years since then and lots of things have changed in the Mobile world across the globe. So let us revisit those 12 myths and see if there is any change in the stand.

    In part-1, I discussed about the first myth 'Myth 1: 3G is here!', and found that the myth is still a myth. In this part, I will try to address the remaining myths.

    Myth 2: Features are everything : This is quite complicated and difficult to assert any view. I disagree that it was a myth when the paper was published to an extent. Users always wanted more features on thier mobiles. While it is beyond any doubt that users not only want features, but they want a simpler and intuitive interface to use those features. Feature or killer apps are going to drive the demand for mobiles and services. So features are key. Along with that interface plays a much more important and vital role in adoption of mobile as a lifestyle. So my take would be, it was not a myth then. It is a not a myth now. And it will not be a myth in the near future. NOT a myth.

    Myth 3: The Swiss Army knife approach is best : Again, I disagree to the original myth in concept. The Swiss Army Knives approach means, that you will build all the functions you can ever think of into one mobile device, means all-in-one device. This is not a myth. I strongly believe that you can not have specialized device for each function, but all common applications and devices must merge into one for ease of use and wider adoption. It is so painful to carry a seperate device for each function. As I mentioned earlier in many posts on this blog, "You can carry an ipod, olympus recorder, Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop to access internet, …………….. or you can have a smart phone that can do all of these and more. " So one device that can do all of it is a much  better choice than having one device for function. It is NOT a myth.

    Myth 4: Focus groups and market analysis tools are the best way to detect user needs.: I agree in totality, that this is a myth at any point of time, nothing in particular to Mobile world. The consequences are much more serious in mobile world, though, if we follow these so called market analysis tools.  The best and the only approach is to try it out. The traditional ways of guess work does not work for mobile devices and mobile applications, just like web applications on internet. Yes, it is a myth.

    Myth 5: If it works in Silicon Valley, it will work anywhere:  This is certainly a myth in general in most aspects of a market. And this a myth beyond any doubt when it comes to Mobile world. One of the striking part of Mobile revolution is that it does not start from Silicon Valley or USA, unlike other industries where Silicon Valley leads the innovation. Silicon Valley and USA are far behind in mobile technologies. Europe is leading in mobile adoption and The technology revolution is now happening in Finland, where Nokia is head quartered and Korea where the latest 4G technologies are introduced to the world from the likes of Samsung. In the world of Mobiles, Silicon Valley doesn't lead the innovation or has an relevance or influence, so there is no question about this myth. Yes, it is a myth.

    Myth 6: The killer app will be games—er, sales force automation; oh, no, I mean ... : This myth is about the uncertainity in coming to a conclusion about some application or feature as a killer application or feature that will drive wider adoption and usage of mobile. This is nothing in particular to Mobile world. This is quite true for any thing in the digital world.  This is a general view and is true almost at any point of time. Yes, it is a myth.

    Myth 7: The most popular device will be a combination phone-organizer-music and video player: This may seem to be a myth when the original article was published, but based on the recent hike in purchase of mobile phones which are equipped with video player, music player, a camera and full pledged organizer, I must say that this is quite a trend. Not a myth anymore. My belief is that pretty soon, mobile phones will be equipped with lot more features.  Look athe picture above. There are mobile phones available with all those features in the picture are quite favourites in Japan and Korea, which are undoubtedly leaders in creating a new cellular life style. And I believe that this will be THE trend in the near future across the globe. NOT a myth.

    Myth 8 : The industry is converging on a UI standard. : Personalization and variety are very important aspects of mobile devices. This is quite true that every key player in the Mobile world has its own agenda, so converging on a UI will never happen. And I hate if it ever happens. That would kill the innovation. Differentiation is the key to attract and retain customers. And converging on to a single standard on UI makes it highly difficult to differentiate.  I hope the manufacturers just make UI more intuitive, thats all. I don't want to see same or similar interface on each mobile. Its a myth.

    Myth 9: Highly usable systems are just around the corner: It quite depend on what you want from your mobile. If you want plain old voice calls on your mobile, you have a highly stable and usable systems available. From devices to networks, from features to applications, they are in pretty good shape at this point. However, if you want rich content and applications, faster networks, integrated systems that will enable to carry out your business or any business task, it is still a long way to go. And with so many influencers in the standards bodies and variety of platforms and frameworks, it will take a long time to offer meaningfully richer applications. Also the technology is constantly evolving. So at no point in future, there will be a stable system. It will be always on evolutionary path. So it is a myth.

    Myth 10: One OS will dominate. No point in discussing it. It is a myth forever.

    Myth 11: Mobile devices will be free—or nearly free. :  To an extent, this is true that you get a free mobile device or at a fraction of cost when you signup for 1year or 2year contract with any leading mobile operator. So in a way, it is not a myth. Also, with manufacturers from Asia are on the rise, like Samsung, the cost of mobile devices are going down, for a given feature set. So, in the near future, mobile devices will be almost free, when compared to what you pay for a nice dinner.

    Myth 12: Advanced data services are just around the corner: This is directly connected to availability of networks and applications as discussed in myth 1. So, as long as 3G networks myth is true, this myth is still a myth. Networks to be setup, applications to be developed and subscribers have to adapt to new life styles for advanced data services to fluorish. May be 3-5 years down, atleast
    .

    Technologies, Networks, Mobile Devices and applications are fast evolving. And users in Asia and Europe are adapting to the new cellular life styles equally faster. But USA is lagging behing in both fronts. So these myths will be alive for a longer duration in USA while they are becoming completely irrelevelent in Japan, Korea and most parts of Europe already.

    What do you think?

    [tags]12-myths, 3G, Mobile-Life-Styles, Mobile-Applications, Mobile-Markets, USA, Aaron-Marcus, Samsung, Japan, Korea, Europe[/tags]

    Sunday, October 1, 2006

    Cell Phones to feed Live Traffic Data

    Almost everybody carries a mobile phone these days. There are around 2.1 billion mobile phone users. US alone has around 217 Million users.  Its a good news for many reasons.  One reason is these cellular phones help you identify traffic congestions in real time. And this solution is quite inexpensive to deploy widely. No, I am not talking about cellular phone users contacting FM radio stations or traffic monitoring centers informing about traffic congestions.  All cellular phones announce its location information in almost every message they send to radio towers. This will essentially help in maintaining connection when you are moving, in technical terms, a handover.  And IntelliOne engineers found a way to combine this information coming from 1000s of cell phones and decrypt the hidden message, that can tell a lot about the traffic congestions. Interesting? Ofcourse, it is.  Well, then read on.

    Engineers have developed a system for taking anonymous cell-phone location information and turning it into an illuminated traffic map that identifies congestion in real time.The system takes advantage of the steady stream of positioning cues--untraced signals all cell phones produce, whether in use or not, as they seek towers with the strongest signals. It is the first traffic-solution technology that monitors patterns on rural roads and city streets as easily as on highways.

    Developed by IntelliOne of Atlanta, Ga., the TrafficAid system could not only help guide drivers around tie-ups, but also tell emergency responders where accidents are or how effectively an evacuation is unfolding by pinpointing clusters of cell phones.

    "Unlike sensors and other equipment along major freeways that is expensive and takes years to deploy, our system takes advantage of existing cellular networks in which wireless carriers have already invested billions of dollars," said National Science Foundation (NSF) awardee and IntelliOne CEO Ron Herman, a former engineer and computer scientist.

    [ In a snapshot from a single carrier's network in Tampa, Fla., blue dots represent all active mobile phones -- data sources for the IntelliOne system. Credit: IntelliOne Technologies Corporation ]

    Every cell phone sends its location information in almost all the messages it uses to communicate with the network. This information is sniffed out of the network and  funneled to IntelliOne's Positioning servers and then fed to Traffic servers for analysis and mapping to deduce the hidden message.

    [ Picture from IntelliOne's website ]

    Source : http://www.physorg.com/news76178303.html  and read more at IntelliOne's website:  http://www.intellione.com/tech_int_architecture.php

    [tags]Intellione, Mobile-Life-Style, Location-Applications, Mobile-Applications, traffic-monitoring, USA[/tags]