India Inc’s Acquisitions

The Economist writes:

So far this year Indian firms have announced 34 foreign takeovers worth more than $10.7 billion in all, according to Dealogic, a market-research outfit. Last year’s total was $23 billion, more than five times the previous record and more than the investments made by foreigners in Indian companies. For local industrialists, among the proudest Indians, the buying binge indicates a renaissance, and not only in business. There’s a new India emerging, says Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, a big conglomerate. This shows the new-found respect that India commands in the global arena.

the tide of foreign acquisitions by Indian companies will continue to rise, with more and bigger deals. How successful they will be is less certain. No big foreign acquisition has failed so fareven though, according to consultants at McKinsey, that is the fate of 60-70% of cross-border takeovers. It’s important for companies to look at the economic rationale, and not get taken to extremes by emotion and ego, says Ranbaxy’s Mr Singh.

Mobile Idle Screen

C. Enrique Ortiz writes:

One of the next “battlefronts” for mobile application vendors will be the idle (standby) screen – who gets to deploy to it, and the user experience.

It will be a “nasty” battle between application providers, network operators, maybe even handset manufacturers; all realizing the importance and potential of owning that little space on the handset, and all fighting hard for that special place on the handset; which is special because there is only one of those, and only one idle-mode application active at a time.

Who will own the idle screen? Who will have the final decision of which application will run as the idle-mode application? Would it be the network operator? Hopefully not; we don’t want to see a new kind of walled-garden, this time with respect to the idle screen. Would it be the handset manufacturer? Probably not; they will do what their customer, the network operator, ask. Would it be the end-user? Hopefully the answer is yes; it is the user, the one who is able to search for, choose, download and install their favorite idle-mode application anytime they want. The user, the decider. 😉

Newspapers as Community Hubs

MediaShift offers some ideas:

> Include outside voices in every phase of editorial planning, newsgathering, reporting and follow-up. That means that you bring in community members to town hall-style editorial meetings, you put out feelers on blogs and forums for possible subjects to cover, you query databases of citizen journalists when looking for expert sources, and you allow comments and email replies on stories to fix mistakes and follow-up.

> Reorganize newspaper sites into a series of micro-sites on niche topics. Each regular topic of coverage would have its own website: a local sports team, the city council, a business sector, a popular type of local music, each neighborhood, etc. A paid editor/reporter a.k.a. The Topic Chief would be assigned to run each niche site, with a main blog showcasing reporting as well as aggregation of other coverage on the same topic. There would be tiers of contributors, from the Topic Chief being full time, a crew of freelance writers or bloggers being paid a bit less, and citizen reporters or commenters doing volunteer work with the opportunity to move up the ladder with good work.

Dekoh Desktop/Web Platform

Read/Write Web reviews a product out of Pramati:

After the tremendous build-up and response to Adobe’s Apollo platform, which aims to integrate desktop apps with the Web, we must also remember there are other products trying for the same thing. Dekoh is one such competitor and, like Adobe’s Apollo, it is in the business of bringing the browser to the desktop.

Launched in private beta at the end of February, Dekoh is a cross-platform development framework for deploying Java, Flash, and Ajax applications.

Advertising Future

Bob Garfield writes:

We are not witnessing the beginning of the end of old media. We are witnessing the middle of the end of old media. Both print and broadcast — burdened with unwieldy, archaic and crushingly expensive means of distribution — are experiencing the disintegration of the audience critical mass they require to operate profitably. Moreover, they are losing that audience to the infinitely fragmented digital media, which have near-zero distribution costs and are overwhelmingly free to the user.

Free is a tough price to compete with. As documented by Woodward and Bernstein, Deep Throat’s advice to unraveling Watergate was to “Follow the money.” In imagining Chaos 2.0, you must follow the no-money. And when you do, you’ll have taken the Chaos Scenario one step further: to a digital landscape in which marketing achieves hitherto unimaginable effectiveness, but in which display advertising’s main role will be to quickly, straightforwardly, informatively draw you into a broader brand experience.

TECH TALK: Creating Indias New Cities: Planning

By Atanu Dey

Planning is uniquely human. Planning shapes not just human institutions and artifacts but indeed creates the future that is unknown and unknowable. Granted, the best laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry, as the poet lamented. When it comes to central planning, or planning by an all-powerful government bureaucracy, you can say that those schemes are guaranteed to go awry. But every failure of centralized government planning can be countered with numerous examples of successful private sector planning. The plain fact is that it is not planning that is a disastrous failure but rather it is centralized government planning that fails.

The Designer City, or DeCi, is the result of planning but not centralized government planning. In the case of the DeCis, the planning corresponds to figuring out the overall rules of the game, not the game itself. The game evolves through the participation of the players playing according to those rules. All of life is in some sense a game which organically evolves from a small set of simple rules. As much as we are compelled to play the game of life according to the rules derived from Darwinian evolution, we are also compelled to play the game of economic life according to man-made rules. If we have, for whatever reasons, a good set of rules, the resulting game is enjoyable. If we get the rule-set wrong, we suffer economic hardship.

Lets take one example. If the rules do not allow very tall structures, then the footprint of the housing required for a certain population will be very high, leaving little land for parks and roads. But if the rule merely outlined how much open area must accompany how much built up area and for how many people, then how tall the structures that finally emerge will be dictated by an optimization process which would include the constraints imposed by the cost of construction, the demand for living space, and other factors that no central planner can foresee.

There is a role for government planning, of course. But the level at which the plan is conceived and the granularity of the plan are related. Take for example, an airport. The decision to have an airport, and where to locate it, is part of the planning at the level of the government of the city which the airport will serve. Which private party is actually assigned — or wins the bid — to build the airport is left to market forces and a set of rules. The actual plan for the airport, its capacity etc, must be determined by the private party, not some government bureaucrat who probably did not ever set foot in a well-designed airport. The builder can figure out the details which dont concern the government. The builder can also figure out how the airport will be financed and how they will recover the investment. This they will do based on what the anticipated demand is, and will be in the future, for air transportation. People whose business it is to build airports know about these things. Otherwise they would not be able to survive in the business.

Tomorrow: Financing

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