Monday 29 September, 2008

Golden Gate to the Nature

Have you ever seen a what is under the rainforest? Don't worry just go to the last floor!! The new Academy building in the Golden Gate Park has a 4 storey Rainforest.In the Top floor you can see the birds and butterflies in the Tree branches,zoom down to the last floor  and watch the roots in water along with the piranhas above your head.

image       The new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park

The building designed by Renzo Piano has a 2.5 acre living roof has1.7 million native plants.Apart from the 4-storey rainforest,there is  also an aquarium, a planetarium and the natural history museum.

Mr.Piano says '"This museum has always worked on three levels - displaying the collection, educating the public, researching the science. The spirit of this new building is to announce and enforce this complexity of function."

Lined with photovoltaic cells and recycled denim as insulation it is a true green building.Visitors even get a discount if they took  public transport to the park.

It will be wise thing to bring in more green elements even in building ordinary buildings like homes,offices etc.If you are about to build your home or design a building check out the green options available to you which can be incorporated in the new building.As for the existing ones,switch to power saving bulbs atleast.


Soul Search-N/A in Google

Sunday 28 September, 2008

The Great Indian Shopper

According to the latest Mckinsey report,organized retail in India will occupy 14-18% of the total retail sector by 2015.Currently it accounts for around  5% only.But the retail boom will sustain provided if retailers will bring in new & innovative formats suiting the Indian consumer.

The report also gives insight the nature of Indian Shopper 

  • least loyal to a single retailer,
  • dislike for pre-packaged fresh foods,
  • willingness to pay more for convenience and services but not a premium price for a brand
  • demands ethnicity in apparel accessories.
  • And, in the absence of quality control, information about the product and trust in retailers, brands serve as a proxy for all these factors.

It is evident that retailers should focus on creating value on a more functional basis than an emotional one.Even though the brand image of the retailer will help,I think it will be the Sales promos , good aisle space,great parking space will be the key factors.

Also note that Indian consumers are willing to shell out a couple of bucks extra for convenience and services,So its high time Big Bazaar to rethink its organized chaos strategy.Read Prof.Ray's view on this.

Saturday 27 September, 2008

Brand China Banned

Beijing 2008 brought new attention ,respect for China as one of the emerging economy powerhouses.But Brand China has taken a heavy hit due to the Melamine Milk Scandal.4 infants have died and more than 50,000 have been affected in China. EU,Japan,East Asian countries and recently US too ordered to take of all Chinese food items including dairy products,toffees,instant tea etc off the shelves.Many countries have banned the import of Chinese food stuffs until further notice.

The root cause of the scandal  is still a mystery because almost every brand is affected.Many global brands like Heinz,Lotte have recalled their products while Starbucks & McDonalds in East Asian countries have replaced Chinese dairy products with others.Nestle,Oreo cookies have issued notices to the public assuring the safety of their food items.

Previously Chinese Toys were under fire due to certain toxic chemicals in the paint. Now the baby food scandal has done some heavy damage to the Made in China brand.

Once people lose faith in a brand it is very hard to regain it  simply because  of  the available alternatives. The local companies may regain their faith of the Chinese public but it will be a very long time before one can see White Rabbits again in US stores

Its Time Up for UPA

Another blast in Delhi-boy killed & many injured.Just another day and life goes on.

Exactly how many blasts should take place for the Government to wake up and smell the smoke? For God's sake Delhi is India's capital and this is third blast this month.Imagine what would happen if it were New York or Washington....US Bombers would have soaring the skies to bomb another country.

What is India doing about it. Our beloved Prime Minister is hugging Presidents developing International Relations saying that  all Indians love them.

Just because it happens everyday,they cannot be ignored.These incidents must be given high level of priority and stringent measures must be taken accordingly. Anyway,whether or not the nuclear deal is completed,it is sure that UPA's time is up and Mr.Singh will be going home after the coming elections.

Gimme My Change

Rupee is Losing no  hold on- One rupee has lost value

The other day I was getting a pancard form over the counter and was waiting for my change Rs.1.The staff did not give the change ,he did not even say something about it.When I asked him,he gave me a surprised look   as if he did not understand what I was asking. When I asked him again,he and his colleague smiled at each other with a smirk.Finally he did give the change but told to the next person" What to do sir ? I have to deal with such people" Most of the bus conductors  in Bangalore often do the same thing and if asked"what sir are bragging for just a rupee"This not only happens with public sector, my friend had a similar experience in Fabmall.

Its not that I am fixated with the change,I usually tell the auto drivers to keep the change if the meters worked properly, tip the waiters if  I eat out or to small boys selling in streets.But when I am getting a product which comes with a price tag ,why should I give the change when there is no specific service offered and they don't even bother to say something about it.

Does one rupee has so little value that nobody cares about it? Will they accept if I had given a rupee less? I don't think so......

Wednesday 24 September, 2008

T-Mobile G1 unveiled

The first ever Android powered mobile T-mobile G1 was  unveiled yesterday.The phone has got almost everything what other touch phones have.

But most importantly it has a open source software,so that it allows users to tune develop and add any application at their will. Google search,push Gmail & eye catching  Roadview using Google Maps make the phone even special for Google lovers.It even has a dynamic Compass!!! Like Itunes,Google has teamed up with to allow users  to download songs directly onto their G1's. 

From a marketing view the following caught my attention 

  • The phone is priced at $179 which is cheaper than many touch phones in the market.
  • The phone is said to hit the stores by Oct 22 which will help T-mobile to have a good holiday shopping season
  • T-mobile is not the best service provider in the US as it does not cover the entire US .This might be a dampener
  • The backside of the phone says Google while the manufacturer HTC is not seen anywhere on the phone.HTC touch is well recognized brand for its touch phones why  leave it? Seeing Google on a hardware also feels weird-will it be Google everywhere soon ?    

Well it has certainly got the attention,but I would say Apple has still got  time to correct its flaws in the Iphone,before any serious market competition.    

Tuesday 23 September, 2008

Dark Times for India Inc

A CEO,of a Italian Company has been Killed by his own employees.

Just when one thought it will get better,today a much graver and darker incident has brought India Inc,to the world's attention for all the wrong reasons.

Throughout the month , Tata Singur issue raised questions of future investments in West Bengal.Communal violence in Orissa and Floods in Bihar & UP,has caused serious damage to the business firms there.The Wall St washout is posing  a major threat to the Indian IT companies as there  are unsettled bills by the Investment banks who are among the major clients.India Inc is in bad shape for quite sometime with micro as well as macro issues creeping up everyday.But this is not just another bad day.

Lalit Kishore Chaudhary, the CEO of an Italy-based company Graziano Trasmissioni, in Greater Noida was BEATEN UP TO DEATH with rods and hammers by the firm's own employees who were a dismissed earlier over a dispute.Over 50 executives and staff were injured out of around 10 are in the ICU.When the police was called,only two constables arrived that too after an hour. The Italian Embassy has expressed a "deep shock" over the matter,which was not expecting this kind of tragedy.

More worse than this how our Indian Government is handling this problem. Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes told reporters at a press conference "This should serve as a warning for the managements. It is my appeal to the managements that the workers should be dealt with compassion,There are disparities in the wages of permanent employees and contract workers. The workers should not be pushed so hard that they resort to whatever that had happened in Noida,”.

What  in the world he is trying to say? Is he telling to the MNC's that if they do not pay well to the local staff,their CEO's will be beaten to death?.

I am just shocked to see, how politics is rotten in India, which makes ministers to say such things. 

MS puts up new Window for a Life without Walls

Enter Phase 2 of MS ad campaign and its little relieving to get an idea about what they want to say.
MS windows launched an direct hit on Apple's ads through its "I am a PC" ads and at the same time released a series of print Ads featuring "Life Without Walls" tagline.
First the commercial ...From celebrities like Eva Longoria ,Deepak Chopra to African High School Teacher ,a cattle ranch owner say "I am a PC" rather proudly.The website says "if you are a PC we will celebrate you".
Now the obvious question is while Mac users may proudly say they are MAC's , how many people are really 'proud' of using a PC? Moreover MAC is a brand, PC is not a brand or trademark connected to Microsoft.Of course it would ridiculous to say "I am a Windows" but even if this line catches up,how it will strengthen the MS or Windows brand?
But one clever thing they have done is they have invited users to post their own videos saying "I am a PC " which will feature in Times Square,New York as well their website. Hundreds of videos are already in the website.

The print Ads make much more sense and give a clear message about Life Without Walls which points to MS' interest in Cloud Computing. In fact Live Mesh,an application which can connect your desktop,notebook,mobile & even a Mac!!(coming soon),is available as a tech preview.

Although it is not great,atleast phase 2 seems to make more sense as it has a clear message for the customers what they should expect from MS- a life without walls.

Saturday 20 September, 2008

Try Paintings instead of Painkillers

According to a recent study conducted by Marina de Tommaso & team, of the University of Bari, beautiful artifacts lessen the intensity of pain felt by the onlooker. Participants of the study rated one third less of pain while looking beautiful paintings than the others who did not.

It is said the paintings soothes the viewers and calms them so they embrace the pain more comfortably.Prof de Tommaso who published her findings in the paper Aesthetic Value of Paintings (And) Affects on Pain Thresholds says "Hospitals have been designed to be functional, but we think that their aesthetic aspects should be taken into account too".

Although more detailed studies have to be conducted to arrive at specific conclusions ,I suppose it will be helpful for many.All those art galleries out there have now got a new list of potential customers,the premium hospitals who care about aesthetics too.

Next time you want to give someone a bad news, tell them a in a room with good art.
Got a headache,see a Da vinci before seeing a doctor.

Thursday 18 September, 2008

Nokia & Sony Buzzing Through Web

Nokia recently launched its N96  mobile regarded a  much powerful Mobile than the well-acclaimed Apple Iphone.Visit the N96 website - project6x which is in the form of a small seek and find game through which all the prominent features of the N96 mobile is shown.

Sony  is also using the web extensively.It has launched a viral video campaign -Who is Johnny-X?  for its highly anticipated Xperia X1.Webcasts about the phone are updated every now & then to keep the buzz alive.

Digital Convergence is the in-thing in mobiles.How many applications can you put in one single device along with superior performance and stylish designs? Whoever does it best wins the game.

Nowadays,Customers are pulled through the web to explore the new products on their own by creating viral marketing using the web .Check out my previous post on Electronic Arts' viral for NFS Undercover.  

Microsoft Ad Campaign entering phase 2 : Seinfeld has left the Building

The widely discussed Microsoft Ad campaign is entering                phase 2 ..atleast that's what they say.

So, what now? First Seinfeld has been signed out. MS says they hired the popular comedian($10 million) simply to get people's attention.  Second it is said that "phase 2" which will feature the official campaign  will be more focused about the Windows brand unlike the first teaser  ads.       

  Actually the first ad of phase 2 will be a reply to "I am a PC" line used in Apple's Ads. Third Seinfeld will not return,Bill will feature on a few spots,Eva Longoria,Author Deepak Chopra & Pharrell Williams & around 60 MS employees will feature on  ads based on the tag line Life without Walls.

Well, certainly a buzz has been generated ,but not in a positive manner.We will never know whether they pulled the plug on Bill & Jerry ad series or it was "preplanned" as said by MS. We can't even say whether they were a failure or success as their intent behind is ambiguous as the ads itself. Anyway,the next ad is said to attack Apple,which is again considered by a bad move by experts because if MS responds to smaller rivals like Apple(in terms of market share) people may feel Apple's claims were true. But MS says all this is done to get the attention to the Life Without Walls campaign which is the real deal.

I just hope they know what they are doing!!

Wednesday 17 September, 2008

HTC Dream coming truly on Sep 23rd

Yes its true.Invitations have been sent to media persons from T-Mobile regarding the launch of the first android powered phone on Sep 23rd. Although there is no official confirmation about the name sources say it will be HTC Dream or T-Mobile G1.invite1

If can't wait  catch a sneak peak of the android powered phone below.

Tuesday 16 September, 2008

Will Google Dream Phone become a Nightmare to Apple I Phone?

Google might be unveiling its much anticipated Google Dream phone made by Taiwan mobile Co HTC by next week . The phone will be the first of its kind based on the open source platform the Android. T.Mobile will be the service provider 

Although it might not make a great  impact on the mobile sales,it will certainly cause a impact on the developers front,as Android is a open source. the phone is said to feature a host of  Google products  like search, maps,earth,mail,docs and possibly chrome too which is still in beta stage. There are mixed thoughts among techies about the level of impact by Google Dream on Apple Iphone.  (HTC touch has been a great success despite the competition from Iphone)

It is said the the phones will hit the market  during the holiday season,to take advantage of the Christmas shopping spree.

Coming Home this Christmas         Android 's Dream & Apple's Nightmare 

Sunday 14 September, 2008

Microsoft's 2nd Ad :Bill & Jerry Connecting With Real People

The second episode featuring Bill & Jerry,shows their attempt to connect with a family by staying with them as guests. The advert is better than the first episode(shoe circus) and has received a positive response.Its still not funny enough nor it is informative as there is no mention about Microsoft or Windows. But it has got the attention of all those who thrashed the previous ad.Viewers say that they can now see that something new & exciting is going to come from Microsoft and their curiosity has increased much more to see the third instalment.

I think,its very smart ad, as MS & CP+B have got what they wanted.First ad made everyone to talk about it.The second has made them to ponder the idea behind the campaign. Now everyone is all eager as to what will be in the third advertisement.Also it seems the ads will get better and better as it develops,the first one was lousy and not at all funny as everyone expected ,the second one is still not that funny but better than the first.May be the next one will actually be funny.Lets see......

Friday 12 September, 2008

Airtel Singing Innovation Tunes

Airtel ,the no 1 telecom service provider in India today a launched a venture fund with a initial corpus of Rs.200 crore(approx $44 million).This is a first time where a dedicated venture fund platform has been launched to motivate new venture creations based on new & innovative technology especially in the telecom sector. Although IT companies like Infosys,Wipro have venture funds for its staff members,Bharti’s venture fund platform will be different as it is targeted at innovations outside the company.

Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal said,
“The Airtel Innovation Fund is a pioneering step to promote innovation and help budding entrepreneurs realise their dreams. We are confident that this initiative will co-build the twin pillars of innovation and entrepreneurship to usher in a new wave of entrepreneurs in India”

Happy Onam Everyone. , orkut ascii designed scraps , glitter graphics

Onam is one of the beautiful,culturally enriched festivals,regardless of religion, unique to God's Own Country.Happy Onam everyone.

Thursday 11 September, 2008

SONY-Like no other- justified

Sony has recently launched its CS11 laptops which look like fashion accessories from Milan.With increasing competition in the laptop market and recent battery overheating problems,it looked like Sony may take a hit. But Sony still sets itself apart from the rest at least in the Notebook market.The notebooks are not just made but crafted and justifies Sony's -Like No other tagline.  Take a look at the CS,QR & LM series of notebooks below

 image image

Sony is able to differentiate itself because it has understood that in today's scenario consumers are emotional towards their electronic gadgets & gizmos.Unlike other laptop companies Sony uses high level of emotional appeal than the functional appeal.Because at the final point,its the emotional element that makes us to open our wallets while the functional appeal is effective only till the learning stage.

Hidetoshi Takigawa, Marketing Director for VAIO of Europe, says about the new Vaio CS “This is a companion, not a tool. If you want tools, there are plenty out there. If you want something that’s special, that’s ahead of the curve, then here is where you need to be. The VAIO CS is fresh and colourful, and sheer style is going to be a big part of its appeal, but it’s clever as well as beautiful. It can become a part of your lifestyle, letting you communicate, helping you manage your digital world and have fun at the same time. You don’t just own it – you will treasure it.”

Now that's  excellent brand positioning which will attract consumers.

Nevertheless,for a brand to connect emotionally,the functional quality should be of high levels.The default assumption in a premium brand is that Excellent Product quality will be delivered.So Sony should not drift away from its core activities and should maintain high quality  standards in order to retain brand equity.

Palin!! Power!! -Prez & Play???

Tired of seeing the power plays by the US prez candidates? Well you can relax by playing with their Action Figures.You can get either the Power Palin or Obama Sock Monkey depending upon your support(Possibly the opposite party's?!!)

While Palin comes in like a Secret Agent and a School Girl, Obama is the beach dude.Hey dont forget the the bouncer McCain , who is often forgotten as it seems that the fight is between Ms.Alaska Barracuda VS Mr.Barack.

From a marketing point of view,what was the need for these action figures? who are they targeting?.I think these dolls are made for the parody lovers (people who mock ads,make spoof videos etc).Spoof videos are one of the highest watched category in sites like youtube,dailymotion etc. And since the dolls having a mocking tone,the Palin toys are for the democrats and the Obama sock monkeys are for the republicans.

Its time for Prez & Play!!!!

Tuesday 9 September, 2008

Plastic Logic unveils Paper of the Future

Plastic Logic today unveiled its thin electronic reader which is likely to become the paper of the future. Its made of plastic,weighs less than a pound,sleek,has long lasting battery and supports many formats like MS word,pdf etc.Although the product is pitched for corporates to handle important documents,many are discussing about its future as the electronic newspaper.
Take look at this cool product below

By the way it is not yet been named about "e-pad" or simply "Papyrus"?

CERN's LHC -Largest research on Smallest Particles

CERN's LHC experiment - which is said to be the largest experiment in the History of mankind, is set to commence at approximately 9.30 am (France) tomorrow( Sep 10).
The $9 billion project, which includes a group of 5,000 scientists has been completed after 20 years its start, battling various issues including a series of lawsuits.
The experiment will start with the pumping of a beam of particle at the speed of light particles,which will smash with a similar beam pumped from another direction after a few days.
Scientists have ensured that no black holes or any such apocalyptic activity would arise from the experiment as feared by some groups. Although it is expected to bring out some startling discoveries which will help in exploring the possible existence of parallel universes and the like.But scientists say it may take months or almost an year to identify the initial outcomes itself.

If the research becomes a success,it may also help in the research of teleportation,time travel etc... Now that's a fascinating news for sci-fi lovers like me :)

Monday 8 September, 2008

Micrsoft kicks off Ad Campaign -Delicious or Desperate?

The $300 million ad campaign of Microsoft which started on Sep 5, last week is getting mixed reviews.Some say its boring,showing a not funny Seinfeld and are confused about what exactly the ad wants to tell the viewers.But others as well as MS say that it is the first ad of the complete series and was intended to create merely a buzz than to change the consumers view about MS or Windows Vista.The ad mentions nothing about Vista but ends with a Windows Vista Icon with the tag line "Future is Delicious". While Apple Fans are happy that the ad was not well received,they say the ad is desperate attempt by MS to attack Apple. Guys at CP+B say that even though the ad bombed,it has sure created a buzz which was the whole idea.

Watch it yourself and decide if MS' future is delicious or desperate

Sunday 7 September, 2008

Fiat 500 Cinquecento-the Costly Cute Car

Its a car ,a classic,its cute and its also costly. Meet the Fiat 500 Cinquecento a blast from the past,originally introduced in 1957-50 years ago.

Its got great style bringing the cool retro look to the Indian roads.Its got the 74bhp, 1.3 multijet diesel (same engine as Swift diesel in India) which reaches 0 to 100 in a decent 16 .81 seconds and tops a good 155km. Well its definitely not a speedster but sure can find its way through the narrow Indian streets.It weighs only 980 kg but at the same time sturdy enough to be handled in Indian roads.A huge list of customisation options are available from stickers to body kits.

All this is good except for the price tag .Its priced at a whopping Rs 14.85 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi-Almost 18 lakhs on road). Now that's too costly for Indian roads!!(one of the main reason is that the car is imported from Europe )

If your pockets are deep enough you will definitely will love this stylish small fun ride.

Or you can wait for the VW Beetle which is set for its Indian launch 2009

Sony Vaio TZ-Total Recall

Sony Vaio Laptops are always Hot -yeah but that's the problem.
Due to some flawed wiring in the Vaio TZ laptops,the laptops are getting overheated becoming a potential burn hazard to its user.So far more than 200 cases have been reported of users getting minor burns.Due to this Sony is recalling around 440,000 laptops of the 19 models of its Vaio TZ series.

Although Sony has taken the responsibility by taking the necessary actions it is already feeling the heat. Though it may not cause any serious financial problems now,its brand value has been seriously affected.Sony shares fell by 4.2 % hitting a three year low on Friday after the recall was announced.

This is not the first time Sony is having battery problems.In 2006 ,Companies like Dell,Toshiba,Hitachi,Lenovo recalled around 9.6 million laptops which had Sony batteries after reports of overheating causing burns.
It high time for Sony to do some damage control to maintain its brand value to retain its loyal customers like me :) BTW I writing this post using my Sony Vaio CR which looks good but not hot enough to recall!!!

Friday 5 September, 2008

Happy Teachers Day

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
William A. Ward
I thank all my Teachers who opened the doors of knowledge for me & I Wish them a very Happy Teachers Day.

Wednesday 3 September, 2008

Ganesha & the Golden Boy

After laptops,cellphones this year  Lord Ganesha poses with Olympic Shooter Abinav Bhindra

    "Happy Ganesh Chaturthi"

Make Room for Google Chrome

That's right people, Google has did it again what it does best.....simplifying and thereby enhancing the online experience. There are many interesting things around Google Chrome, the new web browser from the search engine giant.

The Timing: Microsoft recently released its improved IE 8.Now users will be curious to compare and contrast between chrome and IE8.Though I think both are quite well differentiated.IE boasts of its security factors but Google stresses on fast, no frill web browsing.

Firefox Getting the Heat: Mozilla which has a profitable business relationship with Google(Google accounts for $56 million of the $66 million that Mozilla Corp. made in 2006) is not very much comfortable with Chrome as it poses a direct competition to . However Mozilla's CEO John Lilly said "Competition leads to innovation.More smart people thinking about ways to make the Web good for normal human beings is good, absolutely". Sergey Brin, Page's fellow co-founder, said Google planned to continue to work closely with Mozilla and hoped to see future version of Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox become more unified over time.

Apple Connection: Chrome has used Apple's Webkit extensively in developing chrome.Sundar Pichai, Google's VP of product management said "We have borrowed good ideas from others,Our goal here was to bring our point of view but do it in a very open way,"

Another interesting thing is the comic book released by Google which explains everything about chrome,why  & how it was developed & its special features. Even non techies will be able to understand why chrome is said to be a good browser. 

What fascinates me is how Google steadily expands its web presence .First just a search engine. then web 2.0 sites (orkut, youtube etc) now with software like Chrome and Android, Google is set to capture the mobile Internet domain....No surprise if they develop a OS in the future.

Netizens believe that if something is from Google it must be Good. Lets see if Chrome captures  their hearts...

Monday 1 September, 2008

Yahoo Set to Smash its Mash

Yahoo has announced that it will be closing it will be closing its social networking site Mash.Even though Yahoo has a wide base through its popular mail service(personally i prefer Yahoo mail over Gmail except for the spam) it has not been able to attract its users to its other services like Google.Flickr is one of the most successful website in the Yahoo mix.

Mash had everything, all the popular features from the popular websites like Facebook,MySpace,Orkut etc. So what went wrong with Mash? Nothing except that nothing was new. Product differentiation-that was the missing element.It was seen us a mash up of other popular sites and was not able to differentiate itself from other networking sites. It did not have any unique features other than 'create profiles for your friends' which was not welcomed by many users. Nor it has a special focus on a specific demographic like Bebo-under 21 or HI5(Latin America).

Mash will be off the web by the end of September,but Yahoo 360 which is a similar service will be continued. Yahoo is trying to give Y! 360 a complete makeover and also has announced a launch of all new networking site.

Lets hope the users will go Yahoo!! looking at the new site......