Archive for June, 2008

Reuters see business opportunity in Indian Rural areas…

Yesterday, I read an article in International Herald Tribune about Reuter’s trial in India for generating business out of rural areas…quiet an impressive one indeed. I thought, I will share the same with all the readers here as well…

Whether it is for a Wall Street trader or a farmer in India, the right information at the right time is a necessity for success.

For 157 years, since signing a contract in 1851 to supply stock prices from exchanges in Continental Europe to the London Stock Exchange, Reuters has served up numbers to the finance set. The International Herald Tribune has a partnership with Reuters, under which the two companies jointly publish the Business with Reuters section of the paper.

Now, Reuters, part of Thomson Reuters, is trying to provide analogous services to farmers in India, where price information is stubbornly hard to compare. If successful, the program could become a model for economists and international agencies for the use of technology – in particular, the mobile phone – to burnish economic growth in places like India and sub-Saharan Africa.

To that end, the company has been testing a program called Reuters Market Light for several months in Maharashtra, an Indian state about the size of Italy. The state is one of India’s prominent agricultural centers, with farmers growing onions, oranges, corn, soybeans, wheat and bananas. But the farmers’ business suffers from the difficulty of comparing prices from one market to another.

“We kind of saw that there was a clear market inefficiency,” said Mans Olof-Ors, a Reuters employee who had the idea for Market Light three years ago. “The farmer would decide which market to travel to, then would just sell to that market. So there was no competition between markets.”

Reuters has dispatched about 60 market reporters to the region to report on the going price for, say, oranges or onions, and to package the data into a text message that is sent to subscribers.

The service is signing up about 220 subscribers a day at a price of 175 rupees, or about $4.10, for three months at post offices throughout Maharashtra. The average monthly income of a farm household is about $50, according to the Indian government. The service has about 40,000 customers so far – a tiny portion of India’s farm population, which is in the hundreds of millions, but it proves that many farmers are hungry for more information.

Reuters has collected anecdotal evidence from farmers about how the service has influenced their decisions about crop sales. One farmer, according to Reuters, held back the sale of 30 quintals of soybeans – one quintal equals 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds – for 15 days after noticing that prices had been rising for several days. He was able to get 400 extra rupees a quintal.

Amit Mehra, managing director of Market Light, said early data showed that most subscribers were making more money from their crops.

“We’ve seen that about 70 percent have benefited and changed their behavior about when to sell and when to harvest and where to sell,” he said.

Some academic research has shown that mobile phones can have a stark effect on economic growth in rural areas. Robert Jensen, an economist at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, has studied the impact of putting mobile phones in the hands of fishermen in Kerala, a southern region of India. His study found that both fishermen and consumers benefited: profits rose 8 percent while prices of fish fell 4 percent.


2 comments June 30th, 2008

Mobile Towers in India being seen as threat by insurgents & Terrorists

India’s Maoist insurgents destroyed two mobile towers and have shut down six others in the country’s east, blaming the network for revealing their movements to the police, officials said.

Rebels, fearing mobiles are being used by informers, have banned the use of mobile phones in villages under their control in India after hundreds of suspected insurgents were arrested this year.

Police said armed rebels set two towers of Bharti Airtel Ltd on fire on Thursday in Bihar state, snapping communication lines in the region.

“The Maoists are angry since the police were able to locate their movements through the mobile network, leading to many arrests.”

June 29th, 2008

Mobile gaming revenues in India expected to cross $500 mn by 2012

India is seeing a huge surge in mobile gaming activities. As a result of this activity, well known research firms across the country are estimating that mobile gaming revenues in the country will exceed $500 million by 2012. This is based on the fact that continually increasing number of users are signing up for wireless services in India, the world’s fastest-growing telecom market. Worldwide mobile gaming revenue is on pace to total USD 4.5 billion in 2008 according to according to Gartner, Inc.

The mobile game market has outshone the PC and console game market in the emerging territories of Asia largely because of the low penetration of PCs compared with that of mobile devices.

June 29th, 2008

Microsoft – Yahoo saga

Gosh.. this does not seem to end. I wish this went one way or the other and we were spared the glut of news around this on every tech board. Microsoft needs Yahoo to be anything in the internet space and it is as simple as that. For Yahoo it is a good exit plan. But for consumers and internet users, a merger is not good news. We want more competition rather than a few monopolizing the net. Regardless, I wish this would end and we can move onto some more interesting tech happenings and some new ideas in hot areas like mobile.


June 26th, 2008

Mobile Marketing

I have been pondering over ever increasing hue and cry about mobile marketing, for a while.

I have been going around to people from US to Europe to India to Australia etc. etc. etc. asking about their views on top 10 points to consider in Mobile Marketing area. Received numerous responses.

To give out the results of this survey, I am putting my views and the results together in a white paper on the same…which will be out soon…

If any of you would like to get the same…please get in touch with us and we will send it promptly. Till then…keep reading and sharing your views/ comments…


June 26th, 2008

Global Telecom Companies in race for increasing their worldwide Reach…

The world of telecom is now all about various overseas companies investing globally. This is clear from the following:

  • Tata Communications of India is investing in China Enterprise Communications (CEC) of China. They have bougth 50% stake in CEC.
  • Beyond seeking opportunities to invest in Europe, the aggressive Israeli investment firm Koor Industries is said to be setting its sights on Asia–in particular, on pan-Indian cellular network operator Tata Teleservices.


June 19th, 2008

When it comes to technology, late movers often seem to do better..

Businesses always make more profits when they get early mover advantage in the market for new technologies and ideas. Individual/ end users many a times get benefited when they adopt a technology in later stages of its development. Because by then, most, if not all, lacunae would have been filled by the manufacturers.  I sincerely hope that the reader of this post is getting, what I am pointing at…Yes…U guessed it right…I am talking about Apple’s new 3G iPhone

In India especially, there is a huge market for second hand phones and Chinese duplicate versions. When iPhone was launched first time by Apple, it became an instant hit everywhere around the world. But since it was on costlier side (Approx. Rs.30000+ in Indian currency), it could be afforded only by either business class people or people in high positions in companies. Surprisingly, it didn’t take even months or weeks but just a few days when iPhone came into market with no guarantees or warranties what so ever. These were imports from United States where iPhone was released first. Many people lost huge sums of money in buying these models just in hope that these may work just as good as the original one. There were hacking programs available in market which claimed to break the iPhone lock and make it work on the usual GSM carriers (similar story occurred in China).

And now…here you go…Apple has launched an all new upgraded version of iPhone and that too at less than half the old price (Approx. Rs.8000 – Rs.12500) in two storage versions i.e. 8GB and 16GB capacities. It has come out with more storage, better features and more affordable rates for everybody. Its 3G iPhone…and more

With fast 3G wireless technology, GPS mapping, support for enterprise features like Microsoft Exchange, and the new App Store, iPhone 3G puts even more features at your fingertips.And like the original iPhone, it combines three products in one — a revolutionary phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device with rich HTML email and a desktop-class web browser. It redefines what a mobile phone can do — again.

All these features are making the old iPhone users fume as they spent more to get less and now even if they want to resell their models, they will not be able to get even Rs.5000 for the same as the new upgraded 3G iPhone version with 8GB capacity will be just Rs.8000 approx. so why will anybody buy an old one for almost the same price…This justifies the title of this post…


June 14th, 2008

Relief in sight for Indian users of Blackberry

One of the senior officer’s of Department of Telecommunication in India has informed media that “There is no problem with the BlackBerry handsets or services and BlackBerry services are not going to be discontinued in India.” This is inspite of the fact that Research in Motion — the Canada-based maker of the push-mail device — is yet to resolve India’s security concerns.

The issue rose due to recent terrorist attacks in Rajasthan. Indian security department officials had raised an objection on encrypted messaging that happens from Blackberry devices which is being used by terrorist groups regularly for communication.

RIM’s spokesperson in India informed that they are still in talks with senior government officials over this issue but he also said that till date outcomes of these meetings have been positive.

Thus, I can say that many Blackberry enthusiasts in India will now be able to buy the device and fulfill their wishes to be among Blackberry users.


June 13th, 2008

FCC Chairman gets into the hair of wireless carriers

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin has a love-hate relationship with wireless carriers. Sometimes he is known to help them with corporate plans and growth strategies, at other times, he gets into their cross-hair and creates what mobile carriers may consider obstacles.

Recently he spoke about regulating ETF (Early Termination Fees) fees which carriers charge when customers leave before the end of their contracts. Typically these fees range from $125-$250 per subscriber and are levied when the customer decides to disconnect her or her service before the usual 2 year contract ends. The fee is levied to recoup the discounts provided on phone sales. If a customer gets a discounted cellphone, they have to sign a contract promising to remain loyal to the carrier for a set no of years, typically 2 years. If the customer breaks the contract and leaves before the end of the contract term, they are liable to pay the ETF.

Mr Martin wants to regulate the ETF amount and tie it to the price of the device. It may be logical to suggest that a $200 device does not warrant the same ETF as a $500 device. Also Mr Martin wants to reduce the length of the contracts and let consumers jump ship sooner. It is all about consumer choice.

There have been lot of class action lawsuits recently on ETFs and per Mr Martin’s plan, states won’t be allowed to entertain class action lawsuits on these topics once FCC starts regulating the ETF and contract practices.

On this one, FCC is with the consumers..


June 13th, 2008

Startup Event in New Delhi

India is catching up too in number of new startups and number of candidates looking for taking risk early/ late in their careers, to join these startups.

Last weekend,  I attended a Startup Lunch event held in Delhi (India) as a team building exercise. About 25 startups registered for the event and about 18 presented their businesses to 80+ prospective candidates. Many candidates were interviewed by these startups and results were almost mind blowing. Many candidates were hired by more than one startup.

I also presented showcasing CellStrat’s products and services. We got lot of attraction from almost all present there. This is because Mobile applications area is still a brand new area and people are just now beginning to get their hands around mobile data apps and uses.

Although venture funding companies are investing less in Indian companies in comparison to other countries, but good ideas and people behind the same have no fear and quite a few might become successful.


June 11th, 2008

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