Posts tagged 'Microsoft'

Start-ups Dilemmas

Envisioning success is key when it comes to establishing a startup. After all, if you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t think big, chances of ever seeing your idea materialise are close to nil. But often times – especially in a startup’s first year – entrepreneurs find themselves in Catch-22 situations and don’t quite know how to escape them. Two of the many  possible examples below with solutions teach us a lot:

1.  No money, no honey

PROBLEM

In order for start-ups to finalise their product and establish a proof-of-concept, they need funding – and lots of it. The dilemma is that you need money to finish the product, but it is difficult to obtain funding without that finished product.

How can entrepreneurs get their hands on some cash so they can start operations and launch their product?

SOLUTION

Three words: Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is one of the most important principles of “The Lean Startup”. MVP is a version of a new product that allows a team to collect and gather the greatest amount of knowledge about customers with the minimum amount of effort or resources involved. By employing this technique, startups with limited resources can carry out a strategic plan and focus on the creation and selling of their product to customers.

2. You get what you pay for

PROBLEM

It has been reported that when investors evaluate a startup’s proposal, around 25 per cent of their final decision is based on the team alone. In fact, most investors believe the success or failure of a startup rests in the assembly and quality of the team.

Most of the high-tech products built today are very complex and require a handful of experts to take part in the creation and launch of the product. Having the right mix of people with diverse backgrounds and skill-sets is necessary for the operation of the startup and will be the key to success.

However, the problem is that it is rare for startups to offer a substantial salary to attract Grade-A employees when building their team.

SOLUTION

Build a strong team using equity. Be generous to the team – few investors will look at a one-person company. If the team members won’t join until the money comes in, sign a letter of intent that will allow you to include them in your team and secure funds.

Alternatively, you can hire junior members or interns that don’t demand high wages for ancillary positions. However, you will definitely need to have enough funds to hire experienced and highly qualified people for specialised positions, such as programmers.

One of the main strengths of successful startups is the ability to pivot. It’s possible that the product or service isn’t groundbreaking, but the company succeeds because it was able to adapt and overcome the challenges they were confronted with. Think Microsoft versus Apple.

Entrepreneurs see a list of problems in front of them and can quickly grow discouraged. In these cases it is imperative for entrepreneurs to acknowledge the problems they are faced with, seek valuable advice and understand that there are always solutions that could help them put this ongoing dilemma cycle to an end – once and for all.

December 2nd, 2014

PaaS – Platform as a Service

The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market is predicted to reach $20.1 billion in 2014. Huge brands occupy this emerging space, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com. Many newer startups enter the market each month, too. The recent trend is that more features and functions win the day, especially those with the ability to instantly provision resources for PaaS-built applications, such as elastic storage, compute, and database services.

(via Giagaom)

October 19th, 2012

Microsoft launches Surface RT tablet for $499

Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet is available for online pre-orders with a starting price of $499 with delivery expected on Oct. 26. The starting price includes a 32 GB tablet running Windows RT, a version specifically made for tablets powered by smartphone chips. Microsoft’s innovative thin Touch Cover keypad option adds another $119 to the price if purchased separately.

The Surface RT is unique in a few respects and represents a new strategy for the company. This is the first Microsoft-designed computer that the company is selling; something that Microsoft’s hardware partners were caught unaware of in advance. This edition of Windows 8, called Windows RT, also runs on ARM-based chips that typically power smartphones and consumer tablets. With Windows RT, as well as the Surface device that it designed, Microsoft hopes to slow down Apple’s iPad momentum, which currently has a majority share of the overall tablet market.

I agree that Surface RT will surely create some dent with it’s price in the overall tablet market (for people who feel more comfortable with MS products or are highly sensitive to prices in developing countries like India) which has been forecasted to hit a whooping 377M units by 2016. But, I also feel, it’s a dead miss from the word YES. Unit sales will be very disappointing considering non-inclusion of the cover (priced at $100 just to say tab costs just $499), the apps just aren’t there – stick with an ecosystem that has the apps you want (Android or iOS). At this price, they will be perceived as an “also-ran” and will not gain the momentum to substantially move people from capable and proven consumer tablet alternatives.

October 18th, 2012

Mobile Device Parade looms this week

This week, we watch in excitement as a mobile device parade looms from leading device makers. Motorola, Nokia and Amazon are all expected to announce new devices ahead of Apple’s iPhone5 announcement next week.

Motorola is bringing out a Droid Razr smartphone, which amounts to revival of the Razr brand, which Motorola sold successfully for many years before smartphones stormed the markets. Motorola, now owned by Google, has been a struggler in the last few years, and none of its smartphones have caught the fancy of the consumers yet, so far.

Nokia is announcing new Windows 8 phones – Windows 8 phone OS is the prelude to the Windows 8 desktop OS to be announced by Microsoft later this year. Windows 8 is supposed to work seamlessly across PCs, phones and tablets. Nokia’s Windows OS, so far, as been lackluster. Windows Phone OS has only 3% market share in the smartphone market compared to 64% Android share and 18% Apple iOS share.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is set to announce the next version of Kindle Fire at an event on Thursday. Kindle Fire’s last version has reportedly sold out, as per Amazon, one is sure these device makers produce such products in limited quantity to create the marketing effect of a device in short supply. But certainly, after the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire is the most successful tablet so far.

Then comes the big brother Apple on Sept 12th, with its reported iPhone5 launch.

While we feel that Apple is the mover and shaker of the mobile smartphone business with bulk of app and device profits as well, sometimes one wonders if the Android market share of 64% vs iPhone OS market share of 18% bodes well for Apple or not. No wonder, Apple is spending millions in it’s lawsuits against the Android device makers like Samsung.

Samsung had recently released the Galaxy Note 10 inch version – Galaxy Note has been a runaway success for Samsung as was the case for Galaxy smartphones.

Device wars are heating up and it can only get better for consumers the world over.

September 4th, 2012

MWC 2012: Microsoft Launched Windows 8 for Consumer Preview

In Barcelona, Spain at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

On the third day of MWC event, Microsoft showcased Windows 8 running on a selection of new x86- and ARM-based reference hardware. The OS will be offered on PCs, tablets, and smart phones.

Microsoft says that since the Developer Preview it ran back in September, the forthcoming OS has progressed, and represents a “more complete view” of the capabilities of Windows 8.

Microsoft says that Windows 8 will be capable of running on four “system-on-a-chip” sets: the Nvidia Tegra 3, the Qualcomm Snapdragon, the Texas Instruments OMAP, and the Intel Cloverfield. The same code can be used for both X86 – and ARM – based devices.

Individuals are able to have a look at the Windows 8 cloud functionality, and the new user interface that feature tiles which update in real-time. So, if you happen to have a weather app loaded on your device, its tile will automatically be updated any time there is a change in temperature, for instance.

Microsoft showed off several Windows 8-based devices during its event, including an Acer Aspire A5 that comes with a motorized door that opens to reveal ports. Unfortunately, many of the devices were already on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, so there wasn’t much new to see.

Through this preview, Microsoft has also launched the beta version of the Windows Store, which features a collection of new Metro-style apps created by the company, as well as third-party developers. They can be downloaded for free. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available for download (Free Download) in English, French, German, Japanese, and simplified Chinese languages.

(Source: CNET)

March 1st, 2012

10 predictions for mobile in 2012

Make no mistake, the coming year will bring much change to the fast-paced mobile tech landscape. Companies will continue to battle for consumer dollars as both computing and mobile broadband advances put even more power in the devices we carry around with us and even the ones we wear.

  • We’ll remotely connect to our smart homes. Some tech savvy people in India are early adopters in this category, having in 2010 enabled a home automation system that they can tap via my smartphone. 2012 year, more will do so and the idea of a “smart home” will be a term that most consumers are familiar with, with increasing number of real estate developers now providing these facilities in new properties. Trying to tap the growing number of smartphone users, companies will aggressively compete for the business of installing sensors in the home and offering software and services to monitor them.
  • A jump in wireless home adoption. With increasing high speed data cards being sold by telecom carriers, more people even in villages have started adopting fast speed internet access in their households. I am myself  pleased to have been able to configure wifi without router or data card and be able to do video calls and connect 5-7 devices simultaboeously without spending anything extra beyond my laptop internet.
  • Windows Phone usage grows, but slower than expected. Microsoft will make headway in smartphone platform market share in 2012, but still won’t see double-digit share in 2012. It will, however, surpass BlackBerry market share for phones sold in 2012. Windows 8 will actually help create demand for Windows Phone in the second half of the year as desktop upgraders will want the Metro user interface on their phones for a unified experience.
  • Windows tablets in 2012 will sell like Android tablets did in 2011. Windows fans will trumpet the success of Windows on a consumer tablet this coming year, but the total sales of such devices will be less than 10 million units from all hardware makers combined. The iPad was the king of tablets in 2011 due to a strong ecosystem and intuitive interface and won’t be dethroned in 2012. Tablet choice for consumers in India in 2012 will be iPad first, Android second and Windows third.
  • Research In Motion will no longer exist as we know it today. I’d like to be wrong on this, as competition is good for all, but RIM’s missteps and late reactions to competition finally exact a toll: By year-end, I suspect the company will be purchased, mainly for its patents, or will refocus as a services-oriented entity.
  • The patent wars worsen. The situation won’t get better in 2012; it will worsen as platforms are now less disruptive and show more parity. With fewer ways to differentiate from the competition, lawsuits will multiply. However, I do expect that of all the companies involved in such suits, Samsung and Apple, will come to terms in 2012.
  • There will be an iPad Pro available in 2012. The iPad 2 will continue on as a current model in 2012, but see a price reduction, while a double-resolution iPad Pro will launch this coming year. The new Pro model will be priced the same as the current iPad 2. There’s the off-chance that Apple retires the iPod touch so as not to compete on price with the reduced-cost iPad and because iPhone sales will continue to siphon off potential iPod touch buyers.
  • Android’s momentum will continue thanks to Android 4.0. The new platform will be seen by many as more comparable to iOS, which will keep selling phones and begin to finally build a large following for Android tablets. Even so, developers will continue to generally make apps for iOS first and will make far more money as a collective group. However, the adoption of Android 4.0 will be the impetus for noticeable improvements in the quality and availability of Android apps.
  • Hybrid apps with HTML5 will be the norm. The standards for HTML5 are still in motion so native apps will continue to be stronger than web-based apps. But as in 2011, many of the native apps on smartphones will use HTML5 as a base with a native wrapper around them. With the number of HTML5 compatible handsets expected by 2013, we’ll see momentum grow for true web apps on low-end phones.
  • We’ll see a smaller Kinect in 2012, with expectations that such technology fits in a mobile device the following year. The promise of gesture-based mainstream interfaces began in late 2010 as Microsoft debuted Kinect. A smaller version for the Xbox will arrive before the 2012 holiday season and Microsoft will demonstrate an integrated prototype that works with Windows Phone or a Windows 8 tablet.

(Via Gigaom)

January 3rd, 2012

Indian e-commerce – nuances and challenges

Everybody and their grandma in India now knows that Indian e-commerce market is set to explode – it is expected to go from current 7 billion dollar (of which 6 billion is online travel alone) to 40 billion by 2015 – ie in 3-4 years.

In view of this, dozens of new ecommerce startups have launched in India and some of them are increasing market share at a breakneck speed. Some of these include Flipkart, Snapdeal, Exclusively.in, yebhi.com, babyoye.com, myntra.com and several others from large brands as well as startups.

But Indian ecommerce is not like that in the West – where online credit card payment and cheap shipping are the order of the day. India has presented these online commerce vendors with its own unique challenges – eg. :

  • COD : customers are reticent to use credit cards online. COD or Cash on Delivery is the preferred method for payment for most online sales.
  • Free Shipping : Indian online customers do not want to pay for shipping – as a result, Indian ecommerce vendors have to bite the bullet on shipping as well.
  • Categories for online shopping : Indian customers so far are mostly interested in online travel purchases – but when it comes to other products like toys, baby products, household items, books, music CDs and such, physical stores still take more than 99% of the customer pie. Of course, now electronics, books and apparel are some products gaining traction in online sales.
  • Where are the profits ? : Of course, it is well known that most India ecommerce startups are taking a loss on online sales – just to grow market share. One expects a market shakeout on this sooner or later and only the strongest (and well funded) ones will survive this fight to the top. We feel that the shakeout will begin to happen over the course of next year with several pulling the plug on their ventures or being bought out by other stronger ones.

Above list highlights some major challenges for the Indian ecommerce players. Enter Indian Jugaad – or Indian version of “make it work somehow“. New services like Gharpay and chottu.in have been launched to tackle the COD cash collection challenges, as well as product delivery in some cases. These services are building networks of collection agents in various circles or cities and provide Cash on delivery collection services as well as product delivery for the major vendors like Redbus.in, Myntra and Flipkart. Within months of launch, these services have signed  up many leading online vendors as customers.

Well – one has to admit – when it comes to India, it is all about “Jugaad Karo“. In India, if there is a problem, there is always a “Jugaad solution” lurking somewhere – it is upto creative entrepreneurs to find such gaps and exploit them to make new ventures.

December 14th, 2011

The Indian Web and Mobile Markets by the numbers

(excerpted from GigaOm Pro article at http://t.co/20B9JVyo)

Katie Fehrenbacher with Gigaom is traveling with Geeks on a Plane in India. She writes following stats provided by Google CEO Rajan Anandan to the Geeks on a Plane group :

Rajan Anandan on Indian internet scene : “We’re probably in 1996 in the U.S. in terms of the Internet market in India.”

Here’s the stats from Anandan’s deck. India has:

  • 1.2 billion people
  • The 9th largest economy in the world, with $1.7 trillion GDP
  • 600 million people below the age of 25
  • 22 languages
  • 250 million in the consuming class — these are the folks that buy e-commerce
  • 900 million mobile accounts, with 600 million unique mobile subscribers (many people have more than one account)
  • 30 million PCs — it’ll be a mobile broadband world
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU) is $3
  • 100 million Internet users, and 120 million Internet users by the end of 2011
  • By 2015 there will be 300 million to 400 million Internet users
  • 37 percent of Internet users access the web from home, 27 percent from an Internet cafe, 22 percent from an office, 3 percent from school
  • There are 50 million mobile data subscribers
  • 5 million access Internet only on the phone
  • In 2010/2011 e-commerce emerged as a $7 billion market, with $6 billion of that going to online travel
  • By 2015 the e-commerce market is expected to be $40 billion
  • 67 percent of e-commerce customers by electronics and cell phones. 18 percent buy apparel.
  • 15 million 3G mobile subscribers
  • Broadband is 250 kbps to 500 kpbs fixed line
  • The use of smart phones will grow 52 percent CAGR
  • There are 37 million Facebook users
  • Google Plus use is bigger than Twitter use
  • 23 million unique users on YouTube India
  • There will be $1.3 trillion in online ad spend in 2011
  • The English Internet will not scale beyond 200 million, says Anandan
  • 159 million read Hindi newspapers and 31 million read English newspapers
  • There will be a massive tsunami toward vernacular content on the web, says Anandan
  • 70 percent of non-travel e-commerce is “cash on delivery” (no online payments, buyers pay cash when goods are delivered)
  • This cash on delivery market has a 30 percent return rate
  • Web 1.0 and 2.0 are happening at the same time in India, says Anandan.

Some Internet sites that have found success in India:

Thanks to Gigaom for the above post.

December 14th, 2011

Book Review : “India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam

“India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” is a new book authored by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam, renowned professors at the elite London Business School. The book is published by Harvard Business Review Press and released in Nov 2011.

This book is about the “invisible” innovation which India today provides to a multitude of corporations and entities around the world. The book starts with questions like “Where are the Indian Googles, iPods and Viagras?” and “Can Indians innovate?”. Valid questions but which make slight of the fact that innovation is much more than consumer facing direct innovation. Indian ingenuity is enmeshed in so many products other multinationals make – likes of GE, Microsoft, IBM, AstraZeneca, Intel, Motorola and many others.

Globally Segmented Innovation :

As Western firms have outsourced large parts of the IT and research work to their Indian divisions and R&D labs, the skill profile of the Indian worker is increasing and firms are increasingly entrusting them with higher-end tasks. In this regard, the authors talk about the Skills Ladder concept – which says that when one creates an army of talent at the bottom of the product development pyramid, it is likely that innovation leaders emerge from this lot and remain in the geography where they are situated – as such, one can say that, thanks to Western outsourcing, a huge no of Indian engineers and innovators are being trained and are likely to boost the local innovation ecosystem via new entrepreneurial ventures or contributions to domestic economy.

In short, there is a talent shift to Asia from the Western hemisphere, which in turn will lead to accelerating growth and innovation in that part of the world.

Outsourced R&D :

For multinationals, Indian service providers like Wipro, Infosys, Tata and HCL are conducting outsourced R&D in labs all across India. Wipro pioneered the concept of outsourced R&D with it’s innovative Product Engineering Services division or PES starting way back in early 80s. Infosys products like Finacle and others like i-Flex have become global leaders in banking and finance. Outsourcing of R&D to India-based outfits creates talent pools in that part of the world and self-perpetuates further innovation and increased western investments.

Process Innovation – An Injection of Intelligence :

Indian call centers are often staffed with folks who are normally more qualified than a mundane call center job. This has caused the so called “injection of intelligence” into the mundane call center and BPO processes – processes which the Western world had written off as commoditized and boring. As a result, call center outsourcer 24/7 is injecting analytics-driven market intelligence into customer service calls and interactions – thereby increasing web / phone consumer loyalty and conversion rates. Higher qualified Indian talent is converting routine BPO processes into more strategic higher-value initiatives for western clients, thereby increasing ROI on outsourcing even more.

Management Innovation – The Global Delivery Model :

Infosys and other Indian IT firms have pioneered the global outsourcing and cost efficiencies which can be achieved in large projects. Saving costs and making the process faster, leaner and efficient is certainly innovation in it’s own right.

Visible Innovation – Frugal Engineering :

The emerging Asian middle class is known to demand and desire Western style products at cheaper cost. The Indian concept of “Jugaad” - or an ability to make do with less resources and still get things done, is now finding acceptance as a strategy in global Boardrooms. Tata Nano (and more recently Aakash tablet, I might add) are changing the debate of value vs cost. Developed markets are fascinated by Indian creations like Tata Nano and are studying such models closely to see how a quality mass market product can be developed at such a lower cost.

The authors also acknowledge the India’s innovation challenges eg slow bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure, lack of capital and population’s risk-averse nature. However, the Indian innovation train has started and few can turn the clock back now. As such, authors provide recommendations to both Indian and Western firms as to how to leverage or face the oncoming Indian innovation onslaught. We highly recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about the India’s growth and innovation story.

CellStrat Book Rating : **** (4 out of 5 stars)

December 1st, 2011

OmniTouch puts device control in the palm of your hand

A device created by developers from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University could eliminate the need for touch screens and keyboards, and replace them with the user’s own hand. OmniTouch uses a shoulder-mounted, depth-sensing camera to project an image of an interface onto the wearer’s palm, or any other surface, which can then be controlled through traditional hand gestures. “It’s conceivable that anything you can do on today’s mobile devices, you will be able to do on your hand using OmniTouch,” says Chris Harrison of Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

This reminds me of another MIT guy some years back presenting in a TedX event that he had created similar technology and if I am not wrong, named it sixth sense and showed a whole video of the same how and where all he uses it. He had said that he is currently in experimentation stage and had been able to achieve this but for commercialization, it would take some time. Can anybody tell me if this has been made by the same guy and he joined Microsoft to work on this product???

(Excerpted from SmartBrief)

October 22nd, 2011

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