Mint on our SMS Services

The Mint writes, as part of a story on mobiles and religion: “Customers such as Christopher say their text messages are less about religion than about sharing a beautiful idea with friends. He signed up for the service through the website The firm charges Rs2 to start and stop services and the SMS itself is free of cost, sponsored by churches and other religious organizations. Netcore Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs the site, declined to give details about its business model.”

Mobile Search

The New York Times writes: “Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have all trained their sights on cellphones, which they see as the next great battleground in the Internet search wars. They have thrown tens of millions of dollars and armies of programmers at the problem, seeking to develop tools that people on the move can actually use…The new offerings from the search companies are just the beginning. Search services that pinpoint a phones location using the Global Positioning System or that accept voice commands are coming out of the labs.”

Google and Video

Robert Young writes:

Theres a reason why the big media companies are aligning themselves around video distribution and not video content creation distribution is all that matters. The battle for control of the digital video market is essentially a race to figure out how to efficiently allocate consumer attention, both through search and browsing/discovery.

Google search is the greatest platform for efficient allocation of attention in the history of media. But its text-based algorithms break down for video content. What Google lacks for the first time, in this new video space, is content. Unlike text content, most video content from major media companies does not exist on the open web, and even where it does, it is not easily crawlable. This is why Google acquired YouTube because it needed an alternative way to aggregate and control the content.

Marketing Today

Tom Asacker simplifies marketing: “”Marketing is any attempt to influence a current, and/or future, exchange.”

The challenge for every marketer today [is]: How to uniquely orchestrate a bundle or continuum of “value,” infusing it into the product, service, packaging, store front, delivery truck, sales process, blog, shopping experience, advertising, et al, such that customers feel good about their decision to choose you.

And I am not talking about a singular “value proposition,” e.g. “Quality is Job One.” Those simplistic, advertising-as-brainwashing days died soon after Emerson. I’m referring to meaningful value, which actually has a chance at influencing a decision; e.g. entertainment, learning, connection, identity, purpose, etc.

Microsoft’s Next Billion Users writes: ” The software maker will offer the $3 Student Innovation Suite to governments that agree to directly purchase PCs for students to use in their schoolwork and at home. Gates plans to announce the program at a company-sponsored forum for government leaders. The collection of software, which will start shipping in the second half of this year, includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live Mail Desktop and several educational products…Microsoft is hoping this program and others will help the company reach more of the 5 billion people who have yet to benefit from the PC revolution.”

TECH TALK: Reflections from a Dubai Trip: Return to Sender

Recently, I went on a 3-day mini-vacation to Dubai. This was my second visit there the first one having been in 2000. Coming after Atanu Deys series on Creating Indias New Cities, I could not but reflect on what could have been in India. A simple story will illustrate how far we are in India from even getting the basics right.

In Dubai, we needed to visit a friend in a place called The Meadows. We got into a cab and even though the driver had never been there, just by following the signs on one of the highways, we got to the exact location of my friends house. We did not have to stop the car to ask anyone. The signs were clear as was the exact address. Meadows x, Street y, Villa z.

A couple of nights later, on a visit to Delhi, I needed to get to the place I was staying for the night City Club. The address I had was: DLF City Phase 4 in Gurgaon. By the time I finished my meeting, it was well past midnight. My cab driver took me to Phase 4, and there we were stuck. Not only was the address incomplete (no street name), but there werent even people on the road we could ask. Compound that with the dimly lit streets and we spent 40 minutes trying to find the place. I even called the City Club and their directions were near Galleria Market which is near Iffco which isyou get the idea.

It is easy to find fault with the government, but I cannot understand why a private organisation like DLF could not (a) create street names (b) provide signage (c) light up the roads a little at night. After all that has been spent in creating the residences and offices, this would have an incredibly small expense.

To compound matters, the next day I had a similar experience finding Sector 3 in Noida. After the DND Expressway, there is one signboard for Sector 3 which says go straight. At the next intersection, there is no mention of Sector 3! One is left with no option but to navigate by instinct or stop the car and ask people on the street.

And thats where I think lies the root of the problem. This is what I call brain-dead thinking, and it is too obvious around us. More on that later. First, let us go back to Dubai.

Tomorrow: Make No Plans