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Rise of rural India

Rise of rural India

Neelkanth Mishra, a classmate of mine from DPS Bokaro and IIT, Kanpur opines on India’s rural growth story, provides some recipe for betterment as well in an Indian Express article – Rethinking Rural.

Rural roads, cellphones and electrification lead to better
productivity, phone penetration, electricity usage and vehicle ownership

He currently serves as India Equity Strategist for Credit Suisse. I have seen him being quoted in newspapers, TV channels many times earlier, but a great full article.


Offline Product Search Engine into Junglee

Amazon had forayed into India as online product comparison avatar, Junglee. Online shops had listed the product prices over there. Now, it has started showing offline shops for mobile and TV products in the following cities: Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon. It just lists store addresses and phone number, but doesn’t show the availability or price.

Shops selling Samsung Phone in Mumbai

Shops selling Samsung Phone in Mumbai

It is an interesting route for world’s biggest marketplace Amazon and a different model as well. Amazon USA, UK etc have 2 models:

  1. An inventory-based model, where they sell, what they have in their warehouses.
  2. Additionally, it has a marketplace model, where they allow sellers to list their products in the marketplace and the website visitors can buy on the platform.

The latter is very successful in emerging markets esp BRICS (Brzil, Russia, India, China) as well as Korea, Indonesia etc.

The 3rd model, wherein a location-based price comparison sites show prices from offline stores near you is interesting one in country like India. As a first cut, Junglee Nerby aims to drive web users to make a call to the stores and drive footfalls. I can not find any monetization built into the product as yet.

Comparison of services

Portal Launch Year Products Cities Shops USP
Junglee by Amazon Feb 2012 (site launch). May 2013 Nearby Launch 2 categories, mobile and TV Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon Handful Coming from Amazon
PriceBaba 2012 Electronic Items Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Gurgaon, Noida 400 Stores are listed post personal visit by verification team
Wicfy 2011 Multiple Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata Lots Patented iso-pricing technology and interesting retailer-crowdsourcing model

Competitive Landscape

500 Startups recently funded Pricebaba.Another player is Pune-based Wicfy, which takes crowd-sourcing model to find cheapest price for a product and had raised money from Eco System Ventures. Naaptol have an Android app listing prices of product from stores, which never expanded beyond Mumbai. MySmartPrice also lists products from e-retailers. A yet-to-be launched portal, IndiaOrders will launch with 60 stores of Mumbai showing their wares for online buying. It takes slightly different route of enabling a buyer to get the products delivered to their homes. Interesting twist here is that a buyer can go to the store for queries, refunds, exchanges as well. It is an interesting segment with increasing middle class of India, but getting constantly updated price from retailers is a challenge. IPO-bound Justdial had a portal called Quick Quotes in works, which they had announced in Feb, 2012. That got coverage from Medianama in Sep and other portals as well. But, that page has been taken off Justdial website since.

Mobile and Social enterprise

Taking your Enterprise Mobile is no longer an option, but a necessity

Mobile adoption is increasing in industries – healthcare, construction, govt. Field workers can download a part of workflow offline. When reconnected, it’d synchronize with the backend application. CIO

  • 77% plan to use personal devices to access company data and applications.
  • Deploy more than 25 mobility apps in next 2 years.

Mobile enterprise strategy

  1. Build and Connect: Connect to and run backend systems in support of mobile
  2. Manage and Secure: Mobile Devices, services and applications
  3. Extend and Transform: Existing business capabilities need to be extended to mobile devices. Also, create new opportunities to transform the business

Technology backbone

The priority needs to be decided for targeting mobile OS. If it is primarily smartphone devices, a technology like Phonegap can be used to reuse code across iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone 8 OS. The technology should be able to support:

  • Social networking,
  • smarter commerce, and
  • analytics.

Sometimes you need to look at the support for feature phones in addition to smartphones. The analytics piece mentioned above, allows developer to track the mobile experience. It also means automatically detect customer struggles, obstacles, or issues. It should enable us to drill down into actual user behavior.

Business Continuity with unreliable networks

The solution should enable companies to connect a distributed system (like point of sales or the sales force’s mobile devices) to a centralized database even though the network infrastructure is unreliable, a common challenge in India. The solution also should provide a cost-effective way to automate highly distributed business processes leveraging remote knowledge workers by replacing heavy web/app servers with lighter client apps.

Build and Connect innovative apps and interactive experiences

Background: There are going to be 10B devices by 2020. 61% CIOs put priority on mobile 45% say that they can achieve increased productivity with mobile apps according to a report by IBM.

It will find its way B2E, B2C applications in different industries like – Retail, Financial services, Distribution according to 2011 IBM tech trends report. It also mentions top mobile adoption concerns. Increasing trend that we are going to witness is BYOD (Bring your Own Device). There will be 200m BYOD soon. My employer Justdial has rolled out Ambassador program, which empowers employees to take our enterprise software on Ipad with 3G connection, wireless Logitec keyboard.

The increasing number of operating systems as well as the mix of devices, form factors and standards has turned native application development into a cost-prohibitive strategy, resulting in a growing market of cross-platform solutions and mobile development tools, like Phonegap and IBM Worklight. It provides device application programming interface (API) using JavaScript.  So, one can use HTML5, CSS4 and JavaSscript libraries like, Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile. There a provision for Server – push notification, version management, security, integration. APN (Apple Push Server), Google Push Servers (GCN, formerly C2DM), RIM Push Server, Microsoft Push Server

Social Communication

Focus for enterprise unified communication has shifted from reach to relevance. Messaging tools need to provide real-time translation across languages, and IM lingo as well. Soft phones are in vogue, as they use broadband removing voice costs and have better integration on applications. This can be extended to customer interaction as well. The following are components:

  1. Voice
  2. Meetings
  3. Video
  4. Mobile
  5. Instant Messaging
  6. Social
  7. Call Management

There are going to be 1b smartphones by 2016. Do you need more reasons to focus on enterprise mobility.

Web and mobile presence for SME

Consider this fact: There are 18,000 pearl dealers in Hyderabad. But, only 3 are present in web searches. Given the fact that there are 125M internet users and 70M mobile internet users in India, there is a missed opportunity for these businesses.

  1. Users: According to eMarketer reports, emerging economies saw 88% growth in internet user. There are 70M mobile internet users, which represents 60% of total internet users. In 2015, these figures will be 300M and 180M respectively. These users are moving their times from other media like TV and newspaper to mobile and internet now constituting 30% of their media consumption on an average.
  2. eCommerce opportunity of India will be 40B representing 6x growth over current numbers. 80% of eCommerce is projected to be travel. While, only 1/10 of total online users buy online, it will jump to 1/3 in 2015.
  3. Habits: On internet, a user has 7hr purchase decision time, which is only 1hr on mobiles for categories like restaurant etc.
  4. With growth rate of 463% between Q1, 2011 and Q1, 2012, India is among the world’s fastest growing countries in terms of mobile app sessions. Also, with increasing smartphone adoption (smartphones are expected to be ~15% of total mobile device sales in 2012, doubling from 2011), India is emerging as a potential target market for mobile apps.

Today there are almost 2 billion Internet users worldwide. In 2000, there were 361 million worldwide. But go back even farther in time and you’ll find out that back in 1995, the Internet had a worldwide user base of less than 40 million.

For perspective:

  • The Internet user base of today is 50 times larger than it was in 1995.
  • Facebook today is 15 times larger than the entire Internet was in 1995.

Some businesses enabled by internet to compete with big businesses having big marketing budget.

  1. Dollar Shave Club started in Jan 2011. It raised $9.8 million in Oct 2012for international expansion. A true internet company ready to disrupt gillettes and Bics Here’s the video:
  2. Red Tomato Pizza has come up with VIP Fridge Magnet to revolutionize home delivery of pizza. When hunger strikes, Red Tomato Pizza to rescue.
  3. Beatlabs
  4. Kissflow

Some cool Google products are:

  1. Google Business Photo – Philips Light Studio, Hyderabad has piloted this.
  2. Apps in Google Hangout – e.g. Cacoo lets you share diagrams.
  3. Google+ Events leaves any event site to dust with part mode picture sharing letting attendees post and share pictures seamlessly.
  4. OCR and image search is baked into Google Drive.

Sencha Touch 2 tutorial


Sencha 2 is a mobile framework. It is a big leap from version 1. It includes a nifty code- generation tool, a handy build tool, which minifies JavaScript, CSS and even generates native iOS and Android applications.

Live demo

Creates a basic folder structure of a Sencha mobile app. For detailed command overview, read the documentation.

$sencha create

Since a mobile app does’t have a domain, under whose context it runs, cross-domain security restrictions (aka same origin policy) don’t apply. For testing purposes in a desktop browser, you need to open browser with security disabled. For Chrome,

$open Chrome -args disable security

Code browsing

IDE: Webstorm -paid tool, but a good one for JavaScript and HTML5  development. Now, let’s go through the generated code. Aptana is a good free alternative, which is Eclipse based.


App.js – launch


Home.js – 40 icons built-in Ext.panel



Use config, less property, more method n events


Model in storage should be full class hierarchy – learnt it the hard way.

The company behind this framework is 12 years old doing JavaScript. So that shows in their advanced usage. It also gives confidence in the framework being a delight for advanced JavaScript developers. Let’s proceed with our Places demo app.

Details view


Newbie tip: Refresh and test in js coding. That way you can view impact of code changes immediately. If you make too many changes and something screws up, it is hard to get back to correct state without losing substantial work.

Advanced features

Theme is supported in sass file.

Dragging support is available in the framework itself. For charting, Sencha provides a mobile-friendly framework.

Some gotchas

Sencha does not work with ICS because of webkit bug. Hopefully, it should be fixed in Android 4.1. It works ok, but sub-par in 2.2 and 2.3. On iOS platform, it is having some issues with certificate-signing, which should be fixed in next release coming out next quarter. Till then, Phonegap is the goto method for compiling into native IPA and APK files for submission into Apple AppStore and Android Play.


We talked about the latest app acquisition, instagram at an astronomical valuation by Facebook. As a hobby project, if one wants to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Amazon EC2 will cost Rs 4,000 per month, which is costly. So there is a need of product, which provide service at usage, like  the following:

  1. Kinvey
  2. Parse
  3. Stackmob
  4. Onelineserver – Can somebody point out correct name?
  5. Limning – Can somebody point out correct name?

Talking of GoMo (Go Mobile) products , there is a service mooveup (Can somebody point out correct name?), which can crawl an old desktop site and produce a mobile- friendly site on the go.  time to start building decent mobile apps in the hottest area, LBS.


Smartphone growth and LBS opportunities in India


Mobile Local Search is experiencing unprecedented growth in India and is poised for increased adoption in the years to come.

MobileLocalSearchSocial Local Mobile
Globally, there 6B mobile subscribers. 1B out of which are smartphone users. We are seeing a proliferation of mobile apps. 80B apps were downloaded in year 2011. GPS is standard (97%). This is Fuelling demand for LBS technology and application. It is bringing about  a paradigm shift. There is a greater demand than ever for serving relevant info based on location, be it biz listing, restaurants, reviews, events and what not. We are using mobile to shop, not just search for listings. 3 utmost important things with regard to LBS (Location Based Services) are performance, privacy and relevance.

  1. What performance means is to provide intuitive, fluid, and quick experience. Speed (3G, 4G) is increasing for mobile internet. 45% population is covered by 3G network. 150 countries have 3G adoption. Wifi is another ways of connecting. These high speeds enable dynamic and rich content to be delivered to mobiles. Still there are substantial users on Edge or 2G.
  2. Privacy – A user must be cognizant that they share location and what they want in return. There are operators, who misuse client’s location by flooding them with spam. An LBS needs to be very transparent with how they are using client data.
  3. Relevancy – Accurate. Evolve, constantly navigate. Easy to navigate on smartphone device. minimize time and cost. Contextual relevance – time of day. Search queries. Time of day, day of week, holiday. LBS now needs to go specific. Instead of just searching for restaurants, a user could be searching for pizza place. Getting recommendation for diff venue.

Poynt Overview

Poynt started in June 2008 as a Blackberry app in North America. It has rich listing and actions – Reserve a table, add to calendar, saving on smartphone for future reference. Local theatre, watch trailer. Actionable search experience. It continues to evolve based on billions of interactions. It is pushing itself into Ad publishing space. It is present in 9 countries with India being latest launch. It has following ways of doing location detection – wifi hotspots, cell tower, triangulation, are used first while activating GPS.
China is going to be their next geography. Cost and effort to enter new market can be taxing. Carrier, OEM, users, marketing, monetization need to be put in place, so Poynt has been using a partner to enter a new geography. In India, it found right partner in Timescity. It established relationship with OEMs like Blackberry, Samsung, Nokia, Apple. It brought global experiences and learning during launch in EU, adoption to the table. India is culturally different. Gave a leg up on competition. Globally, Poynt has 15M users, 70% of which come from North America. India is also doing significant growth rate. User retention (> 80%) in India is standing out. Nokia Lumia 700-800 devices have it preloaded in India. 85% users come from such preloaded phones. Average retention of rest of geographies is 60-70%. with the result that other OEMs are showing  interest. Samsung will pre-load timesPoynt soon.

Smartphone Market in India

Currently there are 20M smartphones in India and growing at 100% rate. In first quarter of 2012, 2.5 M smartphones were sold out of a total 50.2 M. 6M smartphones were shipped in 2010. That figure grew to 12M in 2011. Mobile internet has a high uptake in emerging market like India. According to Google MD, Rajan Anandan, 40% of Google search queries in India come from mobile, which is higher than US (14%), UK (6%) and Russia(11%).
Usage Pattern:

Behavior of 15-24 will not change, so when they hit 31+, internet use will become higher for that age group as well in 5-8 years. Source of data – Industry sources and reports. Newspaper articles.
Network capabilities, smartphone adoption, relationship with OEM’s are current barriers to quicker uptake of LBS apps.

iPhone Apps Stats For India

  1. A total of 103.29 Million iPhone apps were downloaded in India.
  2. 12.92 million iPhone app downloads in India in August 2011.
  3. Of the 12.92 million, 11.74mn were Free Apps and 1.18 million were paid.
  4. 20,493 new iPhone apps in India in August 2011.
  5. Downloads of iPhone apps with in-app purchase in India in August 2011 stood at 4.23M (32.77% of all downloads).

LBS app showcase: timesPoynt

Best of breed Data needs to meets LBS technology for the growth of LBS app. Restaurants, nightclubs, bars, events, movies and more categories need to be served. More content to make it useful to users. As a brand advertiser, how do you get involved? Banner. Dynamic and rich is challenging on 2G/Edge. Getting eyeballs, adoption is first priority. monetization will come later. What do you see it going in 1 year? Android platform growth has been phenomenal. We have barely scratched surface. Poynt is device-agnostic. So, it sees device differences in different geographies. Their main competitors are Google generic search among others. Actionable, transactionable and Hyperlocal search is the new frontier. Sometimes, demographic assumption can be made on the basis of phone. Blackberry vs iPhone user. Jaguar case study. Blackberry is communication device, not video. While iPhone is also a good video consumption device. Keeping these in mind can help to get high CTR and ROI.

Facebook is down at 1:03PM IST

[Update: Facebook Architecture links added]

  1. Quora link on Facebook architecture
  2. Facebook‘s Github page – Hiphop PHP to C++ compiler, memcached, cassandra
  3. Facebook OpensourceApache Hive,
  4. Facebook Engineering FB page
Facebook website is down image

Facebook website is down image

Yes, it is true. Facebook, which if considered a country is the 7th most populous one, is down. The following message appears on the site:

Sorry, an error has occurred.

We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.

Facebook logo Last time, there was an outage on July 2007 for 1 and 1/2 hours. Last week, there were a lot of phishing attacks, like