Business in Rural India

[via The Indian Economy Blog] Washington Post writes:

Started in late 2000, Project Shakti has extended Hindustan Lever’s reach into 80,000 of India’s 638,000 villages, on top of about 100,000 served by conventional distribution methods, according to Dalip Sehgal, the company’s director of new ventures. The project accounts for nearly 15 percent of rural sales. The women typically earn between $16 and $22 per month, often doubling their household income, and tend to use the extra money to educate their children.

Hindustan Lever is not alone in recognizing the vast potential for profits in rural India. As urban markets become saturated, more businesses are retooling their marketing strategies, and in many cases their products, to target rural consumers with tiny incomes but rising aspirations fueled by the media and other forces, according to experts.

“In four to five years the rural market will be a major sector that is well beyond anyone’s imagination,” said Rajesh Shukla, principal economist for the National Council of Applied Economic Research in New Delhi. “Nobody was expecting this was going to happen.”

Games and Imagination

Will Wright writes:

Now an entire generation has grown up with a different set of games than any before it – and it plays these games in different ways. Just watch a kid with a new videogame. The last thing they do is read the manual. Instead, they pick up the controller and start mashing buttons to see what happens. This isn’t a random process; it’s the essence of the scientific method. Through trial and error, players build a model of the underlying game based on empirical evidence collected through play. As the players refine this model, they begin to master the game world. It’s a rapid cycle of hypothesis, experiment, and analysis. And it’s a fundamentally different take on problem-solving than the linear, read-the-manual-first approach of their parents.

Bridging Global Digital Divide

[via Atanu Dey] The Seattle Times writes:

The digital divide is becoming less like a crack and more like a canyon.

More computers are produced than ever before, but they’re even more concentrated in rich, developed countries than 10 years ago, according to new research by the University of Washington.

The findings lend another voice to the debate over how to bring technology to the developing world.

While poorer countries tend to get computers much like hand-me-down clothing, cheaper mobile technology has spread relatively quickly.

“Most people around the world will experience new information technologies through their mobile-phone browsers,” Howard said. “Computers are still priced out of reach for most people.”