The World of Maths

Business Week writes in a cover story: ” The world is moving into a new age of numbers. Partnerships between mathematicians and computer scientists are bulling into whole new domains of business and imposing the efficiencies of math. This has happened before. In past decades, the marriage of higher math and computer modeling transformed science and engineering. Quants turned finance upside down a generation ago. And data miners plucked useful nuggets from vast consumer and business databases. But just look at where the mathematicians are now. They’re helping to map out advertising campaigns, they’re changing the nature of research in newsrooms and in biology labs, and they’re enabling marketers to forge new one-on-one relationships with customers. As this occurs, more of the economy falls into the realm of numbers.”

Internet TV

The Washington Post writes:

The unmistakable theme [at CES] was how video is moving over the Internet onto home televisions and mobile devices in ways that will finally allow consumers to talk back to their TVs, much as they have been interacting with Web sites for the past decade.

It wasn’t just about time-shifting TV or watching shows on mobile devices, though both were prominently on display. A newer technology known as Internet protocol TV — IPTV for short — also made a stir by blending those capabilities while trying to remake regular TV shows into something more dynamic and personal.

Basically, IPTV allows multiple layers of video, pictures and text to be mixed with video feeds in ways viewers can control with their remotes. It’s the old interactive TV vision — point your remote at an actress on screen and up comes her name, prior credits and perhaps a “buy me” button for her blue sequined dress.

China’s Services Sector

The Economist writes:

The world’s factory, it turns out, has a sizeable canteen attached, not to mention an office block and shopping mall. Last month’s official revision of China’s gross domestic product revealed an economy worth 16 trillion yuan ($1.9 trillion) in 2004, 17% more than previously thought. Some $265 billion of the increase93% of itwas ascribed to the services sector. As a result, services’ share of the economy has jumped by nine percentage points, to 41%, compared with 46% for manufacturing and 13% for primary industries (mainly agriculture and mining).

Where has all this extra activity come from? The bulk of it is obvious to any traveller in China. As people grow wealthier, they want more restaurants and bars, clothes stores, car dealerships, bookshops, private hospitals, English language classes and beauty salons. In many of these businesses, however, turnover and profits have not previously been captured by a statistical system geared to measuring factory production. The small, often private, companies that dominate these areas have also often been at pains to escape noticeand therefore taxes.

But there is more to China’s services boom than dishing up stir-fries, shipping boxes and fitting out apartments. Recent years have seen a surge in media and technology services, including the internet; in financial services such as leasing; and in education and leisure. In a small way, for example, China is starting to rival India as an outsourcing hub: less for call-centres that require excellent English than for such tasks as preparing reports and patent filings.

Mobile Click-to-Call Ads

ClickZ writes about Google’s efforts to patent it:

The mobile search space has been heating up lately, with recent entries by AOL and others. Google has long offered a WAP version of its search engine, but it hasn’t yet distributed its AdWords ads on mobile search pages. In addition, Google and Yahoo! each launched large-scale mobile content and search initiatives last week, none of which includes ads at this point.

The pay-per-call market has also seen its share of growth, with providers like eStara, Ingenio and Jambo leading the charge to link up with search engine, directory, and classifieds partners. In June, Kelsey Group pinned the size of the market at anywhere from $1.4 billion to $4 billion.

Several Internet Yellow Pages providers offer mobile ads, but in a paid inclusion model instead of a performance-based model, said Sterling, though he added that usage of many of these services is “meager, at best.”

In the patent application, Baluja sets forth several reasons why “call-on-select” would be useful, including avoiding download delays on devices with limited bandwidth and preventing advertisers from looking bad when their site doesn’t render properly on a small screen.

The Art of Innovation

Guy Kawasaki offers a few pointers:

Jump to the next curve. Too many companies duke it out on the same curve. If they were daisy wheel printer companies, they think innovation means adding Helvetica in 24 points. Instead, they should invent laser printing. True innovation happens when a company jumps to the next curve–or better still, invents the next curve, so set your goals high.

Think digital, act analog. Thinking digital means that companies should use all the digital tools at its disposal–computers, web sites, instruments, whatever–to create great products. But companies should act analog–that is, they must remember that the purpose of innovation is not cool products and cool technologies but happy people. Happy people is a decidedly analog goal.

TECH TALK: India Rising: Malls Everywhere

Ah, Malls! They have become the new Temples in India. With fancy malls sprouting all over the place, they have become magnets for youth with money and families seeking to spend some time away from home. Most malls have incorporated multiplexes and restaurants.

I still remember being fascinated by the malls and huge shopping complexes in places like Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore. No longer. Not only are the Indian malls equally big and good, most international brands are available here. It seems only a little while ago that I had excitedly gone to Crossroads in Tardeo in Mumbai it was our first mall in the city. I used to take friends from abroad there and show off the changing Mumbai and India. At that time, the joke was that only the parking lot and McDonalds there made money. People came, saw, enjoyed the air-conditioning, and never shopped. All that has changed. Now, Phoenix Mills (renamed High Street Phoenix) is building a multi-storey car park to cater to the growing clientele. Malls have been the new weekend destinations for those choosing to stay in town.

A September 2004 story in TIME captured the essence of the mall mania and is still as true: Both for locals and for visitors from abroad, nothing seems to symbolize India’s transformation from a stagnant third-world country into an emerging economic super-power as much as its sparkling new malls. American brand names like Levi’s and McDonald’s clutter the air-conditioned interiors, teenagers in low-cut jeans hang out in groups, cappuccino is sold at kiosks, and everyone appears to be having a great time. Eager to cash in, India’s real estate developers are in a frenzy: up to 600 malls are likely to be up and running in India by the end of 2009up from 20 malls this yearaccording to KSA Technopak, a New Delhi-based consulting firm. The capital is the epicenter of the boom, with as many as 100 mallssome estimates put the number at 150planned for New Delhi and its vicinity in the next three years. There’s only one hitch: many of these malls will struggle to make money.

Malls are the visible face of the dramatic change in retailing thats going on in India. From the incumbents like Pantaloons (which also owns Big Bazaar seen as Indias Wal-Mart) to heavyweights like Reliance which is planning a big entry into the retail sector in India, selling in India will no longer be the same. For customers that means good news in the form of choice and discounts. For retailers, it means that they need to get to scale rapidly.

A story last May in the International Herald Tribune highlighted mixed early results from the mall expansion:

Shoppers are spending a lot of time and not much money here, and profits are beginning to fall. In short, India’s retail revolution, which began with the arrival of the first shopping mall less than six years ago, is having teething troubles.
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Retail analysts remain optimistic that the appetite for this form of shopping is just developing. The statistics look positive: Although 300 million people still survive on less than $1 a day, India’s middle class is estimated to number 250 million.

About 65 percent of the population is younger than 35, the right age for the mall experience, and designated as a powerful consumer force, having grown up without the shortages and self-denial that older generations lived through. Just 22 million Indians are credit-card users, but the number is expected to triple by 2008.

Ajay Khanna, executive director of DLF, a development firm, is relentlessly positive about the future of the shopping complex – a business in which his company has invested millions of dollars.

“India has a huge middle class, 60 to 70 percent of whom live in the big metros,” Khanna said recently. “They have large disposable incomes and through television are being exposed to what lifestyle is like in the rest of the world, so aspirational values are appearing. We think that the retail revolution is going to be bigger than the IT revolution in India,” a reference to information technology.

“In a way the mall experience is not new to the Indian psyche,” Khanna continued. “Like Europe, India always had a lot of village fairs; Indians like one-stop shopping.

“In a mall, you have entertainment, you have food, you have product retail – a very similar experience to a mela, an Indian fair. We see the phenomenon as set to grow dramatically,” he said.

Along with malls, there is another m-word which is changing India.

Tomorrow: Mobiles for All

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