Technology

Audio Books – Should books be heard?

Can books be heard?

Indigo’s on air magazine gives you a lot to learn. One of the most different ‘packages’ on ‘Sale’ on that magazine was from a company called ‘Reado’ about 4 Classic books on Sale – But those weren’t normal books – those were in fact ‘Audiobooks’ . Books that are read to you! While this is fascinating and there are whole companies actually trying this model out – the real question is Do you need AudioBooks in the first place?

Why Audiobooks?

Audible – A recently acquired company by Amazon tells us three reasons why Audiobooks should be used –

Audible on why Audiobooks

Why should Audiobooks be used

So, I am going to give this a shot – Can books really be listened? Can they actually improve productivity? I can relate to the usecase – I haven’t really finished the book I started 4 weeks ago – Predictably Irrational – By Dan Ariely! Let me give this a whiz and get back frankly!

Audio Articles

But one particular use of Audio is without doubt – Audio Articles on a mobile app like ‘Umano’ is really a fantastic experience. I know a lot of savvy pros who use it, and absolutely love it. I haven’t taken their pro subscription , but like to listen to these articles once in a while on 3G or WIFI.

All said and done, the new age Audio media is sort of a reinvention of a very old format – the radio- but delivered to you as a stream , and on demand. While there is hot debate on whether personalised music worked or not, but this new format of audio books and audio articles surely is finding adoption among a niche audience. And, it definitely fascinated me enough to blog about it!

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Business, Marketing, Strategy

Four reasons why Diwali Shopping is different in 2014

Diwali Shopping Phenomenon

Nationwide, its been widely acknowledged that Diwali is the biggest festival in India. And, what does a festival mean? Festival means meeting family, friends, lots of sweets and of course shopping! This has been the norm for decades! But then, 2014 was different for India, so much so, that Minister for Commerce & Industry – Nirmala Seetharaman had to say this about complaints on Flipkart Sale Day

flipkart big billion day

Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday, that offered steep discounts on various products, has raised concerns among small and big traders that such campaigns would badly affect players in the traditional retail market.
 
“We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

So, what has changed? Here are the four things that have changed in the aftermath of the Big Billion Day on Flipkart, and similar discounts on all other players!


Smartphones have gone truly mainstream

Diwali Dhamaka week Amazon

While mobile was there in the pockets of Indians for a long time now, what has happened is that Smartphones have truly gone mainstream. Look at the offers going out – there is a smartphone element to everything . There is such a race to push apps to consumers, that extra discounts are being offered to make the app more attractive. This phenomenon started with Whatsapp going mainstream, and more and more people taking up data connections. The other day, the driver who drove me to the airport in Ahmedabad asked me the following:

Kya iss Samsung pe Whatsapp aata hai? (Does whatsapp work on this Samsung phone?)

This is truly the first MOBILE FIRST Diwali in the country, and the offline retailers just weren’t ready for it!

Online retailers and their funding warchest

Online retail makes anything available everywhere, that too at a great price. Checking top comparison engines tells you the story – flipkart, amazon, snapdeal, myntra are all in a league of their own when it comes to prices. Offline retailers will have to come up with something innovative as well, since Online retailers are entering the market with huge funding – Flipkart recently raised one billion dollars, amazon 2 billion, and Snapdeal too raised undisclosed funding with Ratan Tata himself participating.

Inhibitions to buy online reducing

Even now, roughly 10-15% business has gone online, and not more. Yet, why the offline retailers are feeling the pinch is that these 10-15% consumers were the top buyers. They were the ones who brought ‘Diwali’ to their shops in previous years. Now, with Mobile apps etc, people can shop on the go, and the products get reliably delivered to their offices/homes within 2-3 days. They have seen this with friends, and this has reduced inhibitions to buy online.

Unconventional tactics – Customer focus and unlimited choice

Check Snapdeal today on SnapdealOne big change that online players have brought to the table is customer focus. In order to attract customers, Online Players are taking customer service and customer focus to another level. Product bunding, discounts when shopping above a certain amount, same day delivery etc are taking customer focus to another level. Such level of customer focus isn’t found in the offline world. Just creating a huge offline store for customers to come and shop isn’t going to be enough from now on. True problem solving for customers is something that will win customers from now on. This has stumped the offline retailers in some way.


The future – will it be Online all the way?

So are winds blowing the online way only? I wouldn’t say that just yet! I would still back offline giants to come strongly back into the ring, with innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. They surely can, and thats when it would be interesting!

But this Diwali, the true winner in this hullabaloo has been the consumer! ‘Grahak Shakti’ has truly been on view in Diwali 2014, and that is the prime reason why 2014 Diwali has been different!

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seamless
Technology

Seamless – The Technology buzzword of 2013!

Lo and behold! More than 6 months of 2013 are already through and they have been simply explosive for the Indian Technology enthusiasts! India has been quoted as the fastest growing technology market in the world and the world is taking notice.

Three biggest things happened in India Internet / Technology / Product sector according to me in the first half of 2013-

1. Amazon entered India with Amazon.in – A company that I have been following for years, Amazon entered the Indian market and is already capturing sizeable market share, if not market share, at least eyeballs. It remains to be seen how many of those eyeballs can be sustained; also how other competitors react to it. Notice that Amazon is within 1.5 mn uniques of Flipkart within literally no time.

Comscore data amazon

 

2. Redbus acquisition and the aftermath – Redbus acquisition has proven to the world that Indian market is alive and well when it comes to potential M&A activity in the Internet / Technology sector and has definitely given a wave of hope through the entrepreneur / employee / VC / Angel ecosystem . This has also implied that a lot of startups hitherto struggling to find lead investors are finding the investor community a lot more approachable, provided the business basics are in place.

seamless

Seamlessness as a Critical success factor

3. Seamlessness – However, the biggest trend of 2013, in my opinion is Seamlessness – Everything of 2013 has to be seamless. If your product works ONLY on the web, sorry, thats just not good enough! Your product has to work cross platform. Do you have an IOS app? Well folks thats not enough too, for your app needs to also be on the app eco system that has 70% market share outside the US – Android. Android is taking over the world and the developer community knows it. Every company – a publicly listed one as well as fledgling startups are putting considerable effort and are placing considerable bets on the premise of attracting loyal userbase on the promise of a seamless experience.

Never has seamlessness been so important in my opinion.

What are your opinions? Let me know!

 

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Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Strategy

Opportunity hunting on the Internet

You have heard of so many things that the Internet has been promising to change for more than 15 years now. Whether it is the dream of online quality education, or finding dream job vacancies in Mumbai , or finding out amazing travel hotspots, Internet / companies doing online business has/have always tried to position themselves as ‘cutting edge’. I define this as ‘opportunity hunting’ – in essence Opportunity hunting is finding or discovering exactly what you want online!

Opportunity hunting has evolved –

One indicator of opportunity hunting online is the number of search visits on Google. How you may ask? Since the internet has evolved, there has been the phenomenon called the rise of platforms which unlock opportunities. Right at the start of Internet revolution in 1995, yahoo unlocked the opportunity of finding every important thing or ‘opportunity’ online on one single page. Then as the Internet started expanding and opportunities started getting created all over the place, there was the rise of the search engines, which can now be effectively put as the rise of Google circa 2002. Perhaps Google is the biggest ‘opportunity hunting ground’ on the Internet even now.

primary search engine interest graph

Number of searches of key search terms on Google since 2004

Then, in 2004 something happened. Internet started connecting people – first with the rise of Friendster, then orkut and then finally came Facebook. Facebook was a pioneer in what is called web 2.0 today and it unlocked a lot more and different ‘opportunities’ on the Internet. For one, it created social experiences – Check the Facebook widget on the right side of this page to know what I am talking about. Strat.in becomes a great place to hangout because of the people who read our posts, and that also excites authors to contact us!

Parallel to all of this, there was a rise of Wikipedia which unlocked Internet’s opportunity hunting from a knowledge perspective. Who would have imagined that the world’s most diverse encyclopaedia created is by a non-profit organisation? Or that Internet would crash the glass ceiling of knowledge which was till now reserved only for the privileged few who could attend universities? Similar examples of opportunity hunting include other such big platforms!

Right, so there are these opportunity hunting destinations – so how can you leverage them for your benefit ? Thats the moot question, isn’t it?

Here are my tips for opportunity hunting on the Internet

1. At least have a faint idea what you are looking for – That always helps! Even if you are looking for a date or an opportunity to work on a research paper with a professor from a top school in the world – knowing what you want always helps!

2. Start with Google & check out review sites – Typically, on the social web today, there are amazing review sites. Right from imdb or rottentomatoes for movies, to several book review / shopping sites for books – there are amazing ‘opportunities’ that have already been uncovered by people! Do not reinvent the wheel for opportunities such as these – to save time and even money!

3. Do not get overwhelmed with choices – Many a times, people get overwhelmed with choices. When you log on to a job site, do use filters well enough so that you can narrow down to a decent number of filters . Avoiding this situation helps when it comes to opportunity hunting!

4. If an opportunity is good enough, act on it – Indecision or not taking a decision is also a decision, remember that. Like in real life, opportunities do not knock everyday. If there is an opportunity you feel should be taken, then go for it! All great men/women have necessarily taken opportunities which others before them spurned !

What are your tips on opportunity hunting? Let us know in the comments section!

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Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Web

Amazon Junglee!!

About 150 million people in India or around 75 million households are ready for ecommerce in India today. However, less than 10 million are engaged in active ecommerce today. The potential of consumer e-commerce in India by 2024-2025 is likely to touch around 594.8 million individuals or 297.4 million households. You can only guess the market size of the ecommerce industry in the coming decade!!

Amazon India has gone live with the launch of portal, Junglee.com, which Amazon acquired in early 1998 from Indian entrepreneurs Rakesh Mathur and Ashish Gupta. Junglee is an online product comparison and advertising site with several first-of-a-kind features such “real-time customer reviews” from Amazon.com, inline seller store locator for sellers in India and one-stop access to selection from Indian and international sellers. Junglee aggregates detailed product information including customer reviews, price, and shipping speed across multiple sources, including Amazon.com, so customers can research products and evaluate buying options to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers can also write their own reviews, read millions of real-time customer reviews from Amazon.com, “Like” products or sellers, and share products through Facebook, Twitter and email.

Junglee is positioned as a market place which makes buyers and sellers meet, instead of an ecommerce website. It could possibly become a means to drive people to Amazon India in future when they launch the full fledged service in India. The incentive scheme for sellers to post their products on Junglee is very interesting. They can:
1. Drive traffic to your store/website: By advertising products on Junglee.com, one can convert Junglee’s traffic into their own customers
2. List Product Ads for free: No listing fees, no cost per click or subscription fees. On the other side, Ebay.in charges sellers to post ads!
3. Reaching qualified shoppers: Junglee puts products in front of customers who have expressed intent to purchase those exact products
4. Highly targeted placements: Recommended buys when classified in categories means a highly focused sales channel for the sellers

Customers can discover over 1.2 crore products and 14,000 brands, and purchase items directly from hundreds of retailers. Customers can buy products online by following the link to the seller’s website or find a seller’s physical store if they would rather purchase the product in person or call the seller and place an order by phone.
Junglee has an ambitious vision of organizing selection and buying choices. They are relentlessly focused on adding selection and making it convenient for customers to find, discover, and shop anything using the service.

Given that Amazon is launching its ecommerce service in India soon, Flipkart and other ecommerece websites need to ramp up at the earliest and quickly build presence in Tier-II and Tier-III cities of India. Flipkart or Amazon? Do you have a brand loyalty or you will go after the one offering lowest price?

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Marketing, Strategy, Web

Why Amazon Is Yet To Capture The Indian Market..and Mindset

Having reached the USA, one of the most visible things i saw in the first month here, was how much everyone relied on Amazon.
Professors buy books every week from Amazon.
Students buy books from Amazon.
Students buy used books from Amazon.

People shop on Amazon. For virtually all of their needs.

I was tempted to think of why its not the same in India. Why do we rarely hear students or professionals talk of buying from Amazon.
Ofcourse there is lack of widespread internet connectivity. A large fraction of the population still doesnt have access to a computer let alone the internet.

But even in urban areas, cities and universities where internet connectivity is at an all time high, ecommerce of the scale that Amazon promises…is yet to take off. Some reasons:

1) Large scale proliferation of used book vendors on the streets.
2) Lack of secure or trusted or reliable ecommerce payment channels.
3) Slow traction from partner banks in providing support to ecommerce payment products
4) Apathy to books: fundamentally, the Indian community has been built on a system of rote learning in the classroom. Students are happy to read their class-notes, and write exams. They get good grades. And they are happy. There is a lack of appetite for true and deep knowledge. And this shows in the lack of interest to actually search and buy books.
5) Lack of Indian retailers: Few bookshops in india have a full fledged web commerce presence. So most customers have to have the books/items shipped from global warehouses [ i am guessing that most r in usa]. This adds to high cost. So people would rather buy the books themselves.
6) Sharing: Indian mindsets are fundamentally built on the culture of sharing. Students share books/materials. And encourage reuse of books/materials by handing them over to their juniors once they use them. There is hardly any reaction to the editions getting old. Students just like to get the crux of the book.

Hmmm..something for Amazon to think about!
Over here in the usa, its A-Z and Amazon!!

Shantan

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