Indian Consumers Spending

WSJ writes: “Unlike consumers in another emerging Asian giant, China, Indians appear more inclined to spend than save. One telling indicator is that India’s gross national savings rate, or how much people earn over what they spend, is 26%. Although that is high compared with what Americans save, it is low relative to other Asian countries and about half China’s rate. This trend has raised hopes that India will play a bigger role in stoking global demand, joining Japanese and Europeans in shifting the burden from the American consumer.”

Great Product

Guy Kawasaki discusses the DICEE approach to great products:

* Deep. A great product is deep. It doesnt run out of features and functionality after a few weeks of use.
* Indulgent. A great product is a luxury. It makes you feel special when you buy it. Its not the least common denominator, cheapest solution in sight.
* Complete. A great product is more than a physical thing. Documentation counts. Customer service counts. Tech support counts. Consultants, OEMS, third-party developers, and VARS count.
* Elegant. A great product has an elegant user interface. Things work the way youd think they would. A great product doesnt fight youit enhances you.
* Emotive. A great product incites you to action. It is so deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant that it compels you to tell other people about it.

Broadband Year

Om Malik puts together the highlights of the past year in the context of broadband:

1. USA remains the largest broadband market with over 40.9m lines.
2. China comes in second place with over 35 million broadband connections.
3. Japan is third with over 22 million lines.
4. South Korea has over 12.0 million lines
5. Point Topic suggests that the UK will have 9.8 million broadband lines by New Years Day 2006, while France will have 9.7 million.

Web on TV

WSJ writes:

Now some of the biggest technology and media companies are trying to make it easier to watch Web-based content on TV sets, as well as on computers.

Those efforts, a major focus at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, eventually could have a major impact on the way consumers throughout the world watch television. While cable and satellite TV services offer hundreds of channels and up to thousands of video-on-demand choices, the amount of content available on the Web is virtually limitless.

“We’re going to see in 2006 and 2007 a much more well-established Internet access into televisions,” says Peter Weedfald, who heads the consumer-electronics business in the U.S. for Samsung Electronics Inc.

Intuit and Quicken

The New York Times writes:

Quicken is thriving once again. The unit’s revenue grew faster in the most recent quarter, up 24 percent, than the company average of 20 percent, a clip that has made the unit a model of innovation. It also adds to Mr. Bennett’s growing reputation as one of the smartest chief executives in Silicon Valley.

How to explain the remarkable turnaround? Intuit did something that runs counter to what software companies typically do. First, it stripped Quicken down and made it simple for users. Then, Intuit began pushing beyond personal finance, with new products for managing medical bills and investment properties.

Intuit’s operating margins, the highest in the industry after Microsoft, have grown to 27 percent from 14.6 percent in 2000, said Glenn Greene, a securities analyst with Think Equity partners.

In short, Mr. Bennett was able to invigorate a company whose corporate culture had prevented it from making hard decisions about people and products, said William A. Sahlman, professor of entrepreneurialism at the Harvard Business School. “It turned out he was a spectacular success because he got the company out of a cultural logjam.”

TECH TALK: 2006 Tech Trends: Mobiles as Next Platform

3. Mobiles are becoming the next platform.

Mobile phones are not only more visible but they are also becoming more powerful. The positive feedback cycle between the mobile devices capabilities and network speeds is akin to the hardware-software combo which powered the personal computer revolution. Mobiles phones are now becoming replacements for watches, cameras, photo albums, MP3 players and even credit cards. In emerging markets, they are becoming the lifeline for millions bringing forth not just connectivity to those whove been deprived of it for long but also the potential for increasing incomes and opportunities. The next big thing will be around mobiles and data. The promise of 2000 when i-mode became the envy of the world is all set to be realised.

John Battelle: I repeat my mobile prediction from last year, in the hope that it will come true this year: Mobile will finally be plugged into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user and a major mobile innovation – the kind that makes us all say – Jeez that was obvious – will occur. At the core of this innovation will be the concept of search. The outlines of such an innovation: it’ll be a way for mobile users to gather the unstructured data they leverage every day while talking on the phone and make it useful to their personal web (including email and RSS, in particular). And it will be a business that looks and feels like a Web 2.0 business – leveraging iterative web development practices, open APIs, and innovation in assembly – that makes the leap.

Fred Wilson: Mobile is a platform that the current web giants don’t control. The carriers control it today, but are going to lose that control slowly and surely over the next several years. This is a place where someone new can come in and shake things up.

James Kendrick: With several new smartphones due to appear early next year with new features and cool appearances we should see this segment start to take off. The upcoming Treo 700w running Windows Mobile will see brisk sales exposing the technology to consumers who have never seen them before. This will escalate sales even further and other smartphones like the Motorola Q will be well met by computers. Carriers will continue to add download services offering all sorts of video and music that will make the smartphone fill a larger role in the consumer’s daily life. When you add easy photo sharing of photos taken with integrated cameras that offer good quality images into the mix I think you’ll see sales in numbers bigger than ever. Price concessions will need to be made by the carriers to bring the price point down low enough to generate mass market sales.

Mercury News: The list of new features that $150-and-under mobile phones have or will have in a matter of months sounds a bit like the Ginsu knives commercial of old: It slices! It dices! Phones these days can play music, show television clips, swipe credit cards, scan product labels, act as debit cards, locate a person on a map, wire money to bank accounts and send video voice mail. Heck, They can even show full-length movies — that’s if anyone will want to stare at their phone for that long.

Tomorrow: Digital Home

Continue reading