Archive for the ‘ credit crisis ’ Category

Where is Innovation required in India – i.e Where is the money ?

This is a question that has been asked before and a lot of people and companies are striving to get the answer to this. India is a big country with varying socio economic sectors, each with a different requirement than the other. However the numbers is each sector would dictate what sector is the best sector for the maximum market reach or most profit.  Here are my views on where is the real market for an aspiring service or company in India.

First things first, to categorize India into sectors is very difficult. There are many factors and many conditions that dictate what the consumers need and where is the best place to work. But, largely based on the socio economic front there can be 5 distinct sectors in India.

  1. The Very Rich
  2. The Consuming Class
  3. The Climbers
  4. The Aspirants
  5. The Survivors

The first and second sectors are the ones that expect the products and services the same as that of the developed countries. For the most part, the rest of the sectors are only aspiring to achieve any sort of service that can be there. This is the real market for an aspiring new company. The majority of enterprises in the Climbers or aspirant sectors have ten or fewer employees, and are the main contributors of employment for the poor. Hence micro-entrepreneurs form the backbone of economies in these regions, and their development is crucial for socioeconomic improvement in a country like India.

The climbers / Aspirants and Survivors form the largest sector of the country. In India these sectors represent the sleeping tiger, which is the part of the country which has the most potential but still have to deal with infrastructural requirements that plague the country. There are great markets that can be worked on considering the sharp downfall of the government to provide these services to people:

POWER : For instance, for many it still is a daily struggle to get enough electricity to go about their daily lives. Those living in rural areas or in urban slums simply don’t have electricity. This could be addressed by integrating new battery technology, solar recharging, low-power technologies, or via devices that automatically utilize other ways of charging or saving power that are still being explored.

LITERACY : The UN estimates that nearly 20% of the world population is illiterate – with the vastmajority residing in developing nations. Before even basic information services like SMS can be used, more effort needs to be made into creating new user interfaces for those who can’t read, and more effort into finding the best ways of teaching literacy with mobile devices.

COMMUNITY : Rapid technological change in the world is going to inevitably create friction, as well as great opportunities. Finding ways to integrate technologies into traditional social structures in a positive way could play a huge role in community enhancement. Micro payments, encouragement for Entrepreneurship, Venture Capitalism are all venues where we could approach the community issues.
There have been certain products that have come around in the past few months to cater to these sectors. Good examples to these have been Mitti Cool, the Refrigerator aimed at the villages without electricity and made entirely of clay, and other innovations. You can check more of these inventions at http://www.jugaadu.com/.

Though it is tempting to simply assume that eventually growing economies will need many of the same things that developed nations already have, innovation and new services to help the poor and uneducated can’t stop because some parts of these sectors have crossed into what can be called “lower middle class.” For the vast majority, there are still many problems with accessing just the most basic requirements of human beings. The opportunities to improve the lives of millions of people with new services aimed at growing economies are incredible. As time goes by and new technologies become cheaper and accessible by more people, the possibilities for even greater services that truly improve the quality of life are enormous.

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What could have been of the iPad

In my last post about the iPad I showed my disappointment at the device and what is greatly missed in the iPad. What it could have been is not just my vision, it’s the vision of Mac Funamizu who made the concept photos for a hand held iPad kind of device which could change the way tablets would have been viewed (Petit Invention). I think in a move of premature ejaculation from Apple, the iPad was launched. Not because it was ready but more because of the pressure or 2 years worth of rumors. However, historically Apple have improved features on the future upgrades and releases of their devices in the past. We hope that they will do something like that for the iPad, because I believe it can be made awesome with some tinkering. i.e. 2 cameras.

 

So what could it have been, some application examples here definitely make the vision clear so to speak. So instead of text I will let you feast your eyes on these pictures for an application called the looking glass on the device. If at all the iPad had a camera, someone would have made one of these, or at least some of these functionalities could be added. All courtesy of Petit Invention.

Integration with Maps would mean information about locations in a blend of “street view” type functionality

 

 

Integration with Maps would mean information about locations in a blend of “street view” type functionality.

On further exploration it could even provide details of people you are following, on your friends list, or twitter feeds etc.

 

 

Or just accepting meeting requests it can guide you to that location

 

Just looking at monuments or tourist destinations providing information about the place.
Linking with Google sky it could chart out constellations in the sky or identify planets based on your geo location.

 

 

Real time information from Wikipedia for anything that the ‘Looking Glass Sees’

 

 

Nutritional value of foods that you are eating, such that the Diet freaks are always pacified.

 

 

Information about general foods that can be added by people all over the world, making the database better

 

 

 

Access to translation of languages, Thesaurus, Dictionary while reading making the experience even better

 

 

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Sharing digital photos etc a breeze, as it just connects to other known devices remotely, Bluetooth, wireless or something else that has not been invented yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine an IKEA catalog and checking if furniture ‘fits’ and how it looks before buying it

 

 

 

Real time and predicted weather information

 

 

 

As street view changes and grows, it can add historical information about a place, like what a place looked in the past.

 

 

To be able to ‘listen to conversations’ and convert it to text is an awesome application for the hearing impaired, don’t you think.

 

 

It could do interpretation of multiple people

 

 

 

Or just sounds

 

 

 

Even directional text for conversation outside the ‘looking glass’

 

 

The inclusion of one piece of hardware into the iPad can introduce immense possibilities into the device. Considering that this was a post made by in January 2009, Apple had over a year to think about including this. Mr. Jobs if you are reading this, please note it, since tones of people are also writing about this, blogging about it, sharing it, including myself. You know what people want. I guess now it the turn of the Microsoft Courier to work on some of this, hello…… if you are listening, this is what I want !!

Sorry Mr. Jobs, but this was a bad Job

By far the most exciting technology release that has happened this year is the Apple iPad, but in my verdict it’s all just the hype and no meat within. Just like my college professor used to say, “All fart and no Shit”. Just like thousands of people, I was really looking forward to the release of the then iSlate the device which would revolutionalize the way we from the physical world interact with the digital world. In the end its more of a glorified eBook reader and game player. Looking for the next game changing gadget like the iPod and the iPhone Apple has blurted out the iPad. And I think Apple has missed an exceptional opportunity to make another landmark in the history of technologies.

The specifications of the iPad are anything but exciting, it’s just a glorified Phone / Netbook device and in the process of doing this they might be causing more harm to the gadget industry than any good. They are killing the market that existed for the eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle which although had limited features was made for a purpose. But the iPad does not fit in any of the categories and neither does it fulfill any requirements for a new category of device. Have a look at the specifications of the iPad, (source) A trying-to-be Jack of Many, and Master of None is what I would call it.

  • CPU: Apple’s custom 1GHz A4 SOC, manufactured by Samsung. And we can tell you, it’s blazingly fast.
  • Display: 9.7-inch, 1024 x 786 (132 PPI), LED backlit IPS with capacitive touch.
  • Storage: The iPad will come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variations.
  • RAM: No word on this from Apple (just like with the iPhone and iPod touch).
  • Wireless: The devices comes standard with 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1. You can also purchase a version which has 3G connectivity (UMTS / HSDPA 850, 1900, 2100MHz and GSM / EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz).
  • Sim Card : The iPad uses new micro SIMs.
  • Other sensors: The iPad has a digital compass, there’s AGPS on-board in the 3G version, and both versions have an accelerometer and ambient light sensor.
  • Ports / input / output: Headphone jack, 30-pin dock connector, built-in microphone, built-in speaker.
  • Battery life: Apple claims "up to" 10 hours web surfing on WiFi, listening to music, or watching video, and over a month on standby.
  • Dimensions: height: 9.56-inches, width: 7.47-inches, depth: 0.5-inches, weight: 1.5 pounds (1.6 for the 3G model).

There’s no question that much of what the iPhone and iPod touch do translates here, but nothing I saw during the online keynote or online made me sit up and think, "Wow, I need this." If Steve Jobs hoped to answer the question about why we need this third device, or how it’s better than a netbook, he didn’t make a compelling case. Where is video chat? Where is multitasking (honestly, only one app at a time for a device of this size and speed)? Why is the lock screen so embarrassingly empty? Why are there no active widgets to fill that huge home screen space? Where is the expansion of the multi touch user experience? These are things that you will really expect from a device from Apple. In case you can’t tell by looking at the thing, the iPad does — indeed — resemble a large iPhone (actually, more like an iPod touch). The front of the device is a large, smooth piece of glass with no buttons save for the familiar "home" button in a bottom center location. There’s no phone or SMS functionality on this device, and no iChat, though the iPad can run "almost" (Steve’s words) all of the 140,000 apps made for the iPhone and iPod touch. Besides the standard music and video partnerships Apple already has for its stores (and those aren’t changing yet), the company has teamed up with give publishing houses to start bringing ebooks to the iPad: Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachett. What does all this scream out, Apple is looking at the magazine / ebook market and it’s not a secret with all the partnerships and slightly larger than eBook readers sizing.

Although most of the software chunks that have been missed out are going to be definitely plugged in by the Army of private Apple developers, the main trick that they have lost is in the hardware. Not including a camera for the front and the back was a cardinal sin if any for a device this powerful. 2 Way video chat would be ideal on a device like this and also the inclusion of a camera at the back would have given a break to the frustrated Augmented Reality world. What could have been is something I will ponder over the next post. But for now, unless Apple really works towards providing some hardware / software fixes to this device I am sure it will just settle into the eBook reader category with very little success. Sorry Mr. Jobs, this was a bad Job.

And now the Tablet – The battle continues

Its competition that eventually makes a product good or bad. I say that with a sense of a consumer. As long as there is someone who is willing to challenge you with a great product and an attractive price package to match it, you will have great innovations and even better products to play with. The beginning of such battles were seen with the browser wars of the early 90’s down to the PC and computers race and mobile platforms. The latest entrant into the warzone is the tablet. I would have said tablet PC but that is a bit of a failure as such. Touch sensitive tablets who have the ability of connect to the internet, have larger screens than your traditional phones but lighter and more agile than a standard laptop, are features that the tablets offer to us, encouraging us to look at this new ‘screen’ among the others that take away our time like the TV, computer, Mobile, Gaming Device and Movies. I believe that the launch of apple’s tablet might have just sparked off one of the biggest tablet race yet.

Tablets are not new and have been around for a while, but the touch sensitive tablets with good processing power and a host of great features has been missed by all. The ‘iPad’ might be a device that is aimed at the normal person on the street, but with no multi tasking, no camera and other small features that could have made it better; has indicated that the tablet business will not get ‘swept over’ by Apple. So the next straight question would be, if not the tablet then what will. It is hard to tell, but if I were to put my money on it, I would point to the Microsoft Courier. It is not usually the case, where I point to a Microsoft product as a game changer or actually something that can make normal geeks go wow. But it is clear with an initial look at this device that it will take on the best, and might even make it as the favorite of many. Featuring a dual screen with a typical organizer type look and feel this tablet and some of the features that it packs might just revolutionalise how we interact with the digital world around us, more so enabling Microsoft to reach heights that others can only dream of. Their foray into the world of PC’s is legendary, Mobiles not so good. But this could definitely bring them to our palms soon enough. Gadget blog Gizmodo has uncovered a set of illustrations that make it clearer how you would operate the device, and what its mains functions would be. On paper, Courier looks like it would be an innovative device, with some killer features.

Based on what has already been reported, the rumored Courier tablet would have two 7-inch color screens, with a flexible hinge in the middle allowing the device to close like a book. The hinge would also have a home button, as well as indicators for wireless signal and battery strength. The two screens can accept handwriting from a stylus or multi-touch inputs from your fingers. Courier would not have any type of keyboard, and rely entirely on handwriting recognition for text input. Courier would also include Wi-Fi connectivity, and a camera on the back of the device. There’s no word on whether Courier would include extras like a Webcam for video conferencing or 3G connectivity. At the core of Courier’s functionality would be the Infinite Journal, which is exactly what it sounds like: limitless virtual pages where you can take notes, sketch, and store Web clippings. Gizmodo says the Infinite Journal would have page numbers for easier reference, and every page receives a timestamp and a location tag once content has been entered. It’s not clear whether the Infinite Journal’s location tag would come from automatic geotagging through GPS or wireless access points, or whether it’s just a matter of manually entering your location for each page. You can also mark Infinite Journal pages with keyword tags to make it easier to search for content. The Smart Agenda would essentially be a condensed version of your Infinite Journal pulling together day-to-day information for easy reference including e-mails, to-do lists, appointments, and recent messages. Clicking on any of these items in the Smart Agenda would take you to the page where these items are stored in your Infinite Journal.

Microsoft is all about the cloud these days, with company executives constantly referring to Microsoft’s three-screen vision (personal computer, mobile device, and television all syncing or pulling information from an online database). Courier is no exception, as it offers a function that allows you to share portions of your journal with colleagues and friends online. When your content appears online, the people you share your journal with will be able to make notes and comments about your content. Once the comments have been entered, they are automatically updated on your Courier device so you can see what your collaborators are saying. One of the most interesting functions of Courier is its ability to clip content from a Web site and allow you to store and manipulate that information any way you like. Called Clip, Tuck, and Paste, with this function you would be able to clip information from a Web page, and then ‘tuck’ it underneath Courier’s hinge between the two screens. Then, you can flip or search through your Infinite Journal until you find the page you want to store the content in, and then paste the Web clipping into your journal. According to the illustrations, there’s a lot more to the Courier, including a Web browser, camera, a file browser called the Library for a quick look at all your stored information, easy-to-use painting tools and more. These new details about Courier make it sound like a fascinating and innovative device. However, we also don’t know some basic things about Courier like how it would handle Web-based video or what kind of storage this device would have. I should also point out that so far we’ve only seen illustrations, and computer-generated videos of Courier in action. Hope we see a real working device of this and that would be something that I would buy, for the time being I would suggest to give the iPad a pass.

The story of stuff, we are just consumer numbers …

Its been about a year since someone sent me a viral video about the Story of Stuff, and I was enlightened, frightened, and motivated all at the same time. Historically, I have been a person who has spoken about made presentations about and actually published presentations about going green. And after seeing the video again, I realized that I am not doing nearly as much as I could be doing. The video attacks the linear economic model that our economy is currently based on. Some of the info. presented is new, a lot is repeat, but it’s brought together in a very clear and compelling way. You can download and watch the video also on their website http://www.storyofstuff.com/

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. Since the film was posted, viewers in over 200 countries have visited the site over 7.5 million times. The Story of Stuff is more than a video cleverly explaining the life cycle of stuff. It’s a catalyst for awareness that gets people thinking about how all of our stuff is connected to environmental and societal issues.

Here is my list of 10 little and big things we can do, to make a change :

  1. Power Down: A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money.
  2. Waste Less: There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, workplace, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace … the list is endless!
  3. Talk to everyone about it: At work, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus… A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.”
  4. Make your voice heard: Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about climate change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. You could use your social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same as well.
  5. Detox: Many of today’s consumer products — from children’s pajamas to lipstick — contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary.
  6. Unplug: The average person watches TV over four hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community.
  7. Park and Walk: Car-centric land use policies and lifestyles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, and conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet.
  8. Change your light bulbs: Changing light bulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient light bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer.
  9. Recycle your trash: Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city wide.
  10. Buy Green: Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights.

I am sure you can think of many more uses of the same, the point is we need to do something. Anything.

Hierarchy of needs cause of Dubai crash ?

I just stumbled upon the Hierarchy of needs by Maslow which was published in a paper in 1945. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is also predetermined in order of importance. It is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the lowest level is associated with physiological needs, while the uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose.

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The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized. If a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs, but will not permanently regress to the lower level. For instance, a businessman at the esteem level who is diagnosed with cancer will spend a great deal of time concentrating on his health (physiological needs), but will continue to value his work performance (esteem needs) and will likely return to work during periods of remission.

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What has all this got to do with the Dubai crash that has been so vastly publicized earlier this week, well I think everything. Most of my friends who left India looking for better prospects a few years ago are now residents of those countries or well and truly getting there.  There might be various aspects in which I might be doing a bit better than some of them, but definitely they are in a position where they are now nearly getting their citizenship in those countries.

Looking at the attitude of those guys I realized that my love for Dubai is like a fish loving his bicycle. I mean its not that I dont really like Dubai, but I do not have a sense of belonging here. I have worked my way up a fairly small ladder and have spent my earnings .. all of them in this country. But still I have no sense of belonging. Being an Indian I have seen first hand the sort of discrimination that happens in this country when it comes to how much money an Indian guy makes or an european/arab national makes for a similar role. Moreover the largely Indian population in Dubai are to a certain extent responsible to keep the machinery of Dubai rolling. Having said that they are subject to a sort of discrimination and the “emiratization” they still seem to work here, one because their need of money / security or lifestyle is met in Dubai at some level.

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But South Asians ( mostly Indians) in Dubai have found more than just the nominal construction worker / cleaner / driver / clerk roles and have made their way into the greater roles like Financial Advisors, Financial Analysts, Planners, Engineering Managers etc. In fact the UAE cricket team that is playing to qualify for the Asia cup will not be allowed to play even if they qualify !! Because they are not citizens of this country. Why does this not happen to a South African cricketer who now plays for Australia ?? or an Indian Player who is now playing for England ? Because they are now up the ladder in the hierarchy of needs and have already received their citizenships.

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Getting back to what we were talking about, as these guys move up the ladder the sense of belonging to a country or a place where you dedicate a huge chunk of your life gives you a motivation to work in another country than your own. Bearing all this in mind I began to think would the financial advisers of the bigger firms in Dubai would have been the same like they have been ? And this is not only the Indian community but also the expatriates that are in decision making positions in Dubai. I think people would have splurged less and been more cautious with the decisions that they would have made. I could be wrong … but there is no way to find out.

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