Archive for November, 2012

Map wars

Since the launch of Apple iOS 6, one is seeing major activity in the world of Digital Maps. Both Apple and Google have been duking it out recently on this front. Before the iOS 6 was released, Google Maps was the default map application installed on the iPhones. But map application in recent times has become perhaps the most popular mobile app and hence substantial customer engagement and media sales get initiated with the map experience. The primary fruits of iPhone mapping app were being enjoyed by Google, until iOS 6 came along. With iOS 6 and iPhone 5, Apple decided to take the Map app internal and worked on Apple Maps for this version of iOS, thereby dropping Google Maps as the default Map app on the new iPhone.

In it’s haste to release the Map App along with iOS 6 launch, Apple mapping team seemed to compromise on reliability and accuracy in Apple Maps. The error proved deadly, as the Apple Maps app was widely criticized after iOS 6 was launched, being that rest of the iOS 6 as well as iPhone 5 was much appreciated. Apple Map Apps shows incorrect placement of landmarks and is frustrating mobile users around the world who rely on smartphone maps to guide them around cities.

This resulted in Tim Cook of Apple issuing an apology to Apple customers. Google, with a guilty pleasure, enjoyed the Apple Map criticism. Google has since announced that they are working on a custom Google Maps app for the iOS 6 platform. It is expected to come out before the end of the year.

Why are Map Apps such a big deal after all ? In an App survey conducted by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta, Google Maps was rated as the most popular mobile app. That means that navigation and directions via smartphone maps has become the most key use of these phones. One knew that Mapping Apps were popular and widely used, but who would have guessed that Map App is “the” most popular mobile app out there. Especially Google Maps. Obviously, smartphone users really use this app in their daily movements.

Maps are also used for the most cutting-edge of phone applications, that is Location-Based Services or LBS. LBS refers to finding businesses nearby and guiding customer traffic to those businesses. LBS also enables local advertising and shopping. LBS is key aspect of SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile – a concept referring to convergence between local commerce, mobile phones and social shopping.

Maps also facilitate searches now – Search is more relevant if locational aspects are added to it. Search Advertising has been a revolutionary concept and LBS makes Search even more relevant.

When the iOS 6 Apple Maps app faced ridicule, Tim Cook suggested that iPhone customers download Bing or other Map Apps from App Store. Google, of course, had not planned a iOS 6 compatible Map app, until it realized that iPhone users were clamoring for the Google version, after having experienced the cloogy Apple Map App. Apple Map flap has caused many a casualty at Apple office – with many execs including one of the most senior execs, Scott Forstall, being asked to leave. Just today, Apple fired another manager in charge of Map App.

With the Apple Map app mess, other mapping programs have gained eg Embark and Bing Maps.

Mapping wars are front and centre in the smartphone evolution, the various map providers need to check their coordinates in this new war.

November 29th, 2012

How to enable SoLoMo for a commerce firm

SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) has become the new fad in town for most commerce firms and retailers, as well as technology providers. This concept refers to the idea of enabling hyper-local retail via mobile convergence and providing a social interaction between users and retailers for engagement, sales growth and loyalty.

What are the technologies which enable SoLoMo ? What products provide best of breed solutions in this space ?

Below is a sample list of some of the leading firms / products which offer solutions in this space :-

a) Digby – Leading Mobile Retail convergence solution. They have potentially the strongest Mobile Retail convergence solution and are considered a SoLoMo specialist – Digby solution provides integration between web store / offline store / mobile commerce / social commerce / QR code solution / real time messaging. Digby Localpoint software enables brands to create geo-fences around their stores and other points of interest and embed those geo-fences into the brand’s app

b) Capillary Tech - leading retail CRM / loyalty solution – one of the hottest startups from India, now a global phenomenon. High quality retail CRM / loyalty / retail analytics solution

c) Facebook Connect and Twitter API – for close Social integration to enable Social commerce

d) Pluck from Demand Media – Pluck is interesting as it allows social engagement, social commerce and social loyalty solutions. Pluck enables these concepts via communities, content generation and gamification.

e) Foursquare Enterprise solutions may offer robust gamification solutions –  Foursquare is considered leading gamification firm around communities.

f) Groupon / LivingSocial / Snapdeal / mydala – these firms are known for the Group shopping experience and offer LBS capabilities. These are not products but full-fledged startups in the area of Social Commerce.

g) Antenna Mobile Platform / IBM Worklight / Sybase 365 - These Enterprise Mobility platforms offer Mobile app development which can enable a retailer to publish engagement and commerce apps for its customers. This includes Mobile POS on smartphones / tablets, mobile wallet and in-store apps.

h) Telibrahma – Telibrahma has solutions in the areas of virtual reality and LBS, which empower the consumer to have a closer interaction with the retailers. Telibrahma LBS relies on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi proximity marketing to allow retailers to engage the audience in the nearby vicinity.

i) ZipDial – ZipDial provides an intuitive missed call voting and feedback system, which allows a retailer to leverage the mobile shoppers in the store to respond to a retailer survey instantaneously. This helps retailer drive business intelligence and customer feedback about the store experience.

Here are some relevant links in this area :
www.digby.com, http://www.capillarytech.com, http://www.pluck.com/, http://www.groupon.com, http://telibrahma.com/, www.zipdial.com

A combination of the above technologies / products will enable the SoLoMo experience for a retailer or service business.

CellStrat’s next conference, the India Digital Forum on 07th Feb in N. Delhi, will address a lot of the SoLoMo topics and technologies outlined above. Be sure to book your seat today and hear from top speakers in the Social Commerce space.

November 27th, 2012

Main Themes from Nasscom Product Conclave (7-8th Nov), Bangalore

(from our Bangalore desk)

I attended this conference in Bangalore earlier this week – it was most interesting with hundreds of company execs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders speaking about product innovation, development strategies and emerging technologies.

I will list some major themes I picked up at this conference:-

  • In India, next decade belongs to Product development and these will have major impact on business and social empowerment.
  • Hiring best practices and product quality differentiate successful organizations and individuals from all others.
  • In the new world, individuals and professionals which take initiative and drive innovation will take their organizations to leadership positions. This applies to large and small firms alike. These individuals will be the ones in most demand going forward.
  • Design and Image is crucial in the new world – this translates to User Experience and Engagement in all we do. Think Apple or Amazon.com
  • The big opportunities are in Smartphones / tablets, Mobile, Cloud, Analytics, Big Data, Social – all usual suspects. These are all big enablers of new innovation and present opportunities for growth. At the same time, these technologies create a level playing field. As a result, larger firms now find that small startups can cause immense disruption in the former’s usual businesses – hence executives in the larger firms must think like entrepreneurs to create new opportunities and ensure customer delight via superb delivery and engagement.
  • India has 900 million feature phones and only 10% of these are smartphones. So Mobile Apps and Enterprise Mobility offer incredible opportunity growing forward – this is true of western markets as well, as Enterprises there adopt mobile in a big way for all their applications. Mobile has truly gone from Mobile Also -> Mobile First – >Mobile Only strategy. Now, major new programs and initiatives in leading firms are planning to do a Mobile only strategy.
  • Cloud Computing is the new way of doing almost everything in IT for end clients – IT investments are shifting to Cloud at an incredible space – so much so that most new projects or initiatives are looking at Cloud as a preferred solution over an in-house hosting strategy.
  • Big Data is not a fad – with all the Social channels and frenetic transaction activity, Big Data is a problem which is growing in size everyday – as such, it offers major opportunities for solution providers and product developers to slice, dice and analyze, in order to achieve actionable intelligence and business decisioning.
  • Open source technologies are now fully mainstream and driving major new development.
  • Collaboration and leadership are key aspects in driving success. Most new innovation requires good collaboration and partnership skills as well as passion to succeed.
  • Naveen Tewari, Founder and CEO of InMobi, said that the three critical factors for success for a startup are :
    • Thing Big – you can do it
    • Hire the best
    • Focus on product quality. Good products sell themselves
  • Naeem Zafar, Founder and CEO of Bitzer Mobile as well as more than a dozen startups earlier, said that for each CEO, the main responsibility is “Don’t run out of money”.
  • IBM-mers Peter Coldicott (Chief Product Architect), Robert High (IBM Fellow in IBM Watson), and Daniel Yellin (Enterprise Mobility Chief Engineer) spoke about IBM’s Smarter cities program, Cloud and the new IBM super-computer Watson which is making waves.
  • Sharad Sharma (ex-MD, Yahoo India), spoke about product entrepreneurs as transformers of the society.
  • Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip, spoke about his entrepreneurial journey and the Indian startup ecosystem.

The event is one power-packed event with almost 1300 delegates which included almost 150+ blue-chip speakers and thought leaders from India and abroad. The presence of so many Silicon Valley luminaries seems to indicate that action in Bangalore is accelerating and many westward folks are now looking east to this part of the world for next revolutions in tech and digital.

Kudos to Nasscom, Nasscom President Mr Som Mittal and all the dedicated NPC volunteers for putting together what we consider is a remarkable show.

For more updates from this event, click here.

November 12th, 2012

GPS navigation in India’s top-selling cars now powered by MapmyIndia

The year 2012 has seen an exponential increase in adoption of navigation into automotive platforms, with over 200,000 cars scheduled to come with built-in navigation systems in India in 2013.

MapmyIndia, India’s leader in digital maps, GPS navigation and location apps for consumers and enterprise, today announced that India’s top-selling car models now offer GPS navigation powered by MapmyIndia. The leading car models include Honda City, Tata Manza, Mahindra XUV 500, Mahindra Ssangyong Rexton, Ford Endeavour, BMW 7, 5 & 3 series, Jaguar-Land Rover Freelander 2, Fiat Linea and Renault Scala. MapmyIndia has upgraded its navigation solution to include the latest version 7.1 maps of India. The maps – India’s most comprehensive, exhaustive, detailed and updated map coverage – cover 7.1 million places of interest, 1.9 million road kilometers, 600,000 towns and villages, 4,751 cities with street-level details, 39 cities with house-level details and 36 cities with full 3D city models and includes best-in-class advanced and localized navigation and driver assistance features such as extended lane guidance, junction views, sign-posts, live traffic, city guides and rich points of interest, regional voice guidance and regional maps.

MapmyIndia’s maps are being aggressively adopted by Indian consumers and car manufacturers, with MapmyIndia occupying the dominant market leader position in automotive navigation. Top-selling car models have introduced MapmyIndia navigation as part of their offering, starting this festival season – such as the new Honda City sedan, the new Tata Manza entry-level sedan, the top-selling Mahindra XUV 500 SUV and the premium Mahindra Ssangyong Rexton SUV, the Ford Endeavour SUV, the BMW 7, 5 and 3 series luxury sedans, the Jaguar-Land Rover Freelander 2 Luxury SUV, the Fiat Linea sedan, the Renault Scala sedan, among others. MapmyIndia has already collaborated with all leading car manufacturers across India to offer MapmyIndia GPS navigation to their consumers, including BMW, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Renault, Mitsubishi, GM, Ford, Tata, Mahindra and Maruti.

MapmyIndia’s own GPS navi-tainment systems, including Portable Navigators, CarPads and fitted in-dash systems, are the best selling navigation systems and MapmyIndia has sold over 140,000 such systems already through its network of over 1500+ car showrooms and car accessory shops across 100+ cities in India. MapmyIndia’s version 7.1 maps provide first- and best-in-class advanced navigation and driver assistance features with visual cues, such as:

  • Extended lane guidance (telling the user which lane to get into prior to a turn or exit)
  • Junction views (how the upcoming intersection looks in real-life)
  • Sign-posts (which major landmarks, localities and cities lie in the direction of upcoming turns)
  • Day-time based turn restrictions (based on time and day, whether the particular road is 2-way or one-way in a particular directions)
  • Live traffic (what is the live congestion on roads in the city)

(Source: MapMyIndia)

November 8th, 2012

Numbered Rating System to power Foursquare now

Foursquare unveiled a new numbers-based ratings system for locations within the mobile app. When users look for locations to visit using the “Explore” feature, places are ranked on a 10-point scale, taking into account signals like tips, loyalty and popularity from over 25 million people worldwide. Instead of other sites like Yelp, where every place gets 3.5 stars, Foursquare comes up with its cores using the same Foursquare magic that powers Explore.  And, with every check-in and Explore search, it’s scores will get smarter and better.

November 6th, 2012


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