August 27, 2008

 

Minor things

Every time a new search startup is touted as Google-killer, I can not help smiling. From last 7 years, this is one destination which I visit in each web browsing session. They keep on tweaking minor, which are so subtle that they generally won't be noticed. One such subtle thing I happened to notice blew me away.

I was looking for the usage of the word "unviable." For the record, this word is not in the WordWeb. Do you know what Google suggested as the search term? Go, check it out yourself.

Google understands search a whole lot better than any other company in the world. That's the collective wisdom of thousands of Googlers accumulated in last 10 years. It's hard to unseat them. Especially when they are working so hard.

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August 20, 2008

 

Fantasy world

The Telecom Regulator TRAI has proposed to ease the VOIP norms. Everybody thinks that will push the long distance and international call rates even lower.

At the user end, to get cheap VOIP you need the following
Broadband penetration is at 4mn (compare that with 300 mn cellphones.) And you won't spend Rs 6000 for a IP landline so that you can make calls cheaper.

Now, only if there is an telcom operator who uses VoIP backbone, passes on the benefits of VoIP to the end customers. But, shouldn't backbone already very cheap. I mean, the telcos have thousands of kilometers of optic fibre. So effectively, there is no advantage in technology.

The only variable remains is that of interconnect charges for carrying voice calls to different network. It can't be zero for obvious reasons. They seem to be as close to free. Makes me wonder how further down the rates can go. The only thing that can happen is 'talk and sms all you can' for a certain amount.

Just put things in perspective, early in this decade, some of the long distance call rates used to be as high as Rs 18 per minute. International calls (to USA) were charged at Rs 60 per minute. The tariffs have already crashed by 90-95 percent. They won't move down any further.

So, next time you see a telcom expert on news channel saying that long distance call rates will get cheaper, say loudly, "Liar!"

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Then and Now

Then : The commercials of TVs used to highlight the surround sound, 3-D sound and other fancy features of TVs which were supposedly meant for auricle pleasure. But, the TV signal coming via cable used to deliver mono audio!

Now: The iPhone 3G is in India at a hefty price tag of Rs 31,000-36,000. Well, the Indian telcos are still fighting with each other, Govt and the regulator on 3G spectrum.

Essentially, people in India don't need by "I'm Rich" app. Buying iPhone is sufficient.

August 17, 2008

 

LinkedIn is huge!

This post is almost repetition of what I wrote four months back. Since then, LinkedIn has raised money at ten-digit valuation. Substantially lower than YouTube's price tag, but they are still in the game.

All the LinkedIn come to me in RSS Reader via a private feed. It is difficult not to notice the traffic on that feed. On an average there are 20+ items per day in that feed. Which means those many new connections or activities in my network on any given day. I'm no Robert Scoble and my network has barely 100 connections. Which means 20% of my connection are active on any given day. That is simply huge because LinkedIn is not a hangout joint like other fun social networks.

Given it is already so popular it needs the boost of platform-ization for it to sustain the growth. When it is open as platform, they can let thousands of ideas develop around the LinkedIn ecosystem. And few of those ideas will have the potential to be real money spinner. Let's see how they manage on this front.

BTW, apparently, I am user of LinkedIn since January, 2005.

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August 12, 2008

 

Coincidences and few rants

First of all, I am not going to apologize for my hiatus as this blog is not a daily fix for none of the dozen of you and secondly, I consider it an exercise in hollow narcissism.

Have you heard about the movie "Amu"? It boasted Konkana Sen Sharma as leading lady. That was 2005, but Konkana was a big name in offbeat movies even then. Did you just read 2005? Why would somebody talk about a movie which is more than three-and-half year old? Well, here the chronology of events.

Amu is a film based on 1984 riots erupted after Indira Gandhi's assassination. I watched this film in January 2005 at Pune Film Festival. Some of the crew members present at screening told us that the censor board approved the film after using their shiny scissors at couple of places. The crew was seemingly upset with the cut. We could watch the original film as it was in a film festival. Frankly, since there was nothing provocative element in the film, nothing would have been missed with censor board showing its supremacy.

Then I waited for the film to release so that some of my friends could watch a good - not great, though - film about riots as backdrop. And the wait continued. And continued. The reason was fairly obvious to me.

And it's obviousness couldn't get any clearer. Yesterday Amu was released on DVD. Now, it is understandable that sometimes tiff between producer and director can delay the launch of DVD as it happened with Lagaan. But, in this case the director herself was the producer. The delay is just perplexing.

Now here is interesting piece of trivia.

Congress will not get hurt in the process as hardly 100-odd well-wishers of CPM and few movie buffs will spend Rs 300 for this. But, just like a Bhagat Singh movie raises your respect for the hero a notch, the bulldozer of Congress will get a minor dent.

******

While I am at movies, let me crib a little move. Jaane Tu... is on its way to become one of the largest hit of year, didn't had the "kinnng" kind of buzz around it. Many told me its a neat movie. Even Amitabh Bachchan thought was fresh film. My personal opinion is that the writer Abbas Tyrewala manages to keep the movie in the territory of silly while director Tyrewala was all set to push into stupid zone. [gratuitous advice] Tyrewala, please go back to writing. There aren't many like you around.

Read Baradwaj Rangan's article on Aamir Khan: The Creative Art of Compromise. I think Aamir Khan is one over-rated person in the film Industry. In an interview to Outlook in 2007, he said , "I genuinely feel the role of cinema is to entertain. A filmmaker is not meant to educate an audience."

4 months later and just before the release of Taare Zameen Par, he goes on "It's a race to get 99.9 per cent but what do we truly learn? Why is intelligence about reading, writing and math?... yada yada yada"

There is hypocrisy or some such word for this.

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