India Cellphone Market

WSJ writes:

A recurrence of familiar old problems — regulatory roadblocks and foot-dragging by state-owned competitors — is threatening to cool expansion in India’s red-hot cellphone sector and is frustrating telecommunications investors.

Cellular companies are spending billions of dollars on infrastructure each year to meet booming demand, but call quality in many areas is deteriorating because of bureaucratic bottlenecks beyond their control. Consumers in some cities complain that the quality of their service is deteriorating, with a rising number of dropped calls and lousy reception. Meanwhile, cellphone companies aren’t raking in as much revenue as they could because connectivity problems are jamming up networks and making it tougher to sell value-added services such as those that let users download games.

ContentSutra has a counterpoint.

Best Time for Internet Business

Tony Perkins writes:

Back in the mid-90s — when it was just beginning to become clear to industry insiders and VCs that the commercialization of the Internet was going to be a really big deals — you had no customer base; unreliable, slow, and expensive technology; and only a vague idea as to which business models were going to win or lose. In other words, anyone who wanted to build a successful Internet brand at that stage had to raise a lot of moolah early in the cycle, before the investors blew out in 2000. In retrospect, most of the big Internet brands that came out of “Web 1.0” did raise big bucks, including Amazon, Yahoo, CNet, eBay, and VeriSign.

As you follow the Perkins Curve down, what I am trying to make clear is that the period from 2002 to 2010 is the best time to start an Internet company. Why? One reason is because we now have over a billion people on the Internet, and this number is still growing. You also have cheap technologylast time I looked, PHP and MySQL were still free!and a whole generation of geeks trained, ready, and willing to build you a kick-ass Web service, also for very cheap (especially if you go to India or China for development). According to the Perkins Curve, it is starting to get expensive again to start an Internet company, largely because all the hot business models and new sector opportunities are quickly getting filled, and it will become increasingly expensive to compete as a follower. That is why the time to make the jump is now.

NPR on Edward Tufte

NPR writes:

Edward Tufte has been described by The New York Times as “The Leonardo da Vinci of Data.” Since 1993, thousands have attended his day-long seminars on Information Design. That might sound like a dry subject, but with Tufte, information becomes art.

Tufte’s most recent book, Beautiful Evidence, is filled with hundreds of illustrations from the worlds of art and science. It contains historical maps and diagrams as well as contemporary charts and graphs. In one chapter alone, there’s an 18th-century depiction of how to do a cross-section drawing of how a bird’s wing works and photos from a 1940s instruction book for skiing.

They all demonstrate one concept: good design is timeless, while bad design can be a matter of life and death.

TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: Business Models

What are the avenues to make money on the mobile Internet? I think there will be three options: ads, alerts and relationships.

Advertising on mobile internet sites is not likely to be very different from what we see on PC websites. The limitations of the mobile will mean than ads need to be used carefully. The standard approaches of banner ads and pay-per-click ads will be complemented with click-to-call ads. One point to keep in mind in countries like India is that for brand or transactional ads, it is key to have mobile websites. Considering that most businesses in India still do not maintain websites or have websites with outdated information, creating publishing tools which enable easy management of mobile websites will be critical.

The second potential revenue source is via SMS alerts that can be sent on demand to users. These can be for specific events. For example, a user may want to receive an alert a few minutes before a TV program. Another user may set up an alert when a stock price crosses a high or low watermark. A third user may want to receive an alert when Tendulkar comes out to bat. SMS alerts can be set up while a user browses the mobile Internet. In India, users would be prepared to pay about a rupee or so for every incoming SMS.

The third, and perhaps the largest, opportunity is around enabling relationships. One can think of this as permission marketing, but it is much more than that. In this case, the information communicated by a business to a user isnt advertising but is akin to editorial. The relationship is built around incremental information the whats new. Mobiles are the perfect devices to both create and consume this incremental information. Relationship-driven marketing is, according to me, the next big thing beyond contextual advertising. It puts the user in control by enabling the user to subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. It also reduces the cost of marketing for businesses.

With every new medium comes a new form of interaction. The Internet made searching the reference web easy and advertisers have flocked to put ads based on the content that users are searching for. The next step is, according to me, where users define their interests via subscriptions on future content. In emerging markets like India, given the limitations around the installed base and the usage of the PC, the mobile will emerge as a key marketing channel.

Tomorrow: The Bigger Picture

Continue reading