Ronnie05's Blog

Google’s effort at offsetting Carbon

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on July 23, 2009

eclipse09

Google logo on search on the day of Solar eclipse (22nd July 2009)

 Only a few days back, I had posted a blog on Yahoo’s efforts for Carbon off setting. https://ronnie05.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/9834/. Google is also following suit in terms of efforts to neutralize carbon footprint.

 Ambient Cooling is one of the approaches highlighted in the article http://www.reuters.com/article/gwmTechnology/idUS338804957820090722. In its Belgium data centre, rather than using internal air-conditioning for cooling the hardware, the company is relying on the normally low atmospheric temperatures to provide all the free cooling its servers need. The climate in Belgium will support free cooling almost year-round, according to Google engineers, with temperatures rising above the acceptable range for free cooling about seven days per year on average. The average temperature in Brussels during summer reaches 66 to 71 degrees, while Google maintains its data centers at temperatures above 80 degrees. On days, when the atmospheric temperature is above the data centers temperature, Google will turn off equipment as needed in Belgium and shift computing load to other data centers.This approach is made possible by the scope of the company’s global network of data centers, which provide the ability to shift an entire data center’s workload to other facilities. As a result of its use of outside-air for cooling the data center, Google will save tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in cooling costs, while also cutting back on the greenhouse gas emissions tied to the electricity used to run the chillers.

Indian Telecom Story (Part XIV): Can pricing differentiate new Telco services?

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on July 23, 2009

Of late, the number of foreign operators who have entered the Indian shores is impressive. Global Operators like MTS, Etisalat, Sistema, Do Co Mo have started offering their services to consumers.

However, what is disappointing is that all of these operators have yet again taken the price route to establish themselves in the market. Sample Tata Do Co Mo in Karnataka/Bangalore for instance. They have innovated on the talk times, charging consumers for seconds of usage instead of minutes of usage. This squarely means that if I make a call for 3 minutes and 20 seconds through the network, Tata Do Co Mo charges me for 200 seconds of usage instead of 4 minutes. That is very good news to the consumer. A rough calculation and analysis of my call minutes showed me that over the last 24 hours or so, I had actually used 2381 call seconds, while my operator would be charging me for 59 minutes/ 2940 seconds of usage. Going by the Minutes of usage concept, I was paying for 10 minutes that I did not use. These were the residual seconds that I was charged for! That is a 19% waste of my money! The seconds of use is thus a terrific value to the consumer. No wonder than that Tata Do Co Mo had signed on 400,000 users in the first week of launch.

Now let’s flip it over from the business perspective. Many of the new entrants have deep pockets and hence are keeping the advertising and media happy with marketing spends. However, a deeper analysis leads me to think that the approach is likely to be very short term. Here are the reasons that I put forth for the same:

  1. Without Pan India presence it is very unlikely that these new entrants will find a lot of business segment consumers (who are typically high value)
  2. Thus these price based promotions will land them with a base of medium of low and medium value consumers.
  3. Even if we assume that this may attract new subscribers to the services, but the ARPUs will not be sustainable and profitable.
  4. Such promotions do not act as differentiators or entry barriers in the long term. It wont be long before Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance and older players follow suit leveling the ground.
  5. If anything, this tactic only serves to lower/break the floor prices of the services.

Lowering the cost of ownership has been extremely successful ploy in terms of expansion of the Indian Telecom markets. The ARPU today is around the theoretical $5 break point. In mature markets an ARPU under $5, does serious harm to the bottom-line. In a growing market like India, the strain of a decreasing ARPU may not be significantly visible presently. However, with markets maturing, the focus will shift from growth to sustainability. The new classes of consumers are mostly rural and their ARPU would be well below $5 (probably $3-3.5). Managing bottom-lines at such low levels of Revenue per user and increasing costs of acquisition will prove to be a challenge.

I had expected a higher degree of service innovation by the new players. I had expected that they we would see some exciting innovations around value delivery. It could have been Internet, VAS or the MVNO based delivery. By playing the price route, the new players seem to be playing it right to the incumbent’s advantage. I have always thought that in absence of compelling value propositions that the consumer is willing to pay a premium for, it is always cost that the consumers fall back upon. It seems that branded value services are one of the most obvious businesses that the current Telcos are missing to capitalize. Lets then wait for the discontinuity from the current price based business model to value based ones!

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Apple: What next?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on July 23, 2009

Apple’s Q3 results have been very good! The thought is that this is Apple’s brightest hour and having hit the peak, there is no way but a gradual slide down. However there is more in the communication from Apple on how they let their own products cannibalize themselves and how they are innovating the future! Apple COO stops short of naming iTablet as the next from Apple Stable

Ref: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124820913514969595.html; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124821056118269783.html; http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/07/21/live-blogging-apple-earnings-2/

Apple has been heaped with praises for its non-conformist strategy and super-hit portfolio of products which have upstaged the industry incumbents. The Q3 results declared this week have been Apple’s moment in history! Third-quarter sales rose to $8.34 billion, up from $7.46 billion a year ago, due in part to strong sales of the iPhone. Net income rose to $1.23 billion, up from $1.07 billion. Apple’s growth of 4% with IDC forecasting negative 3 percent and Gartner forecasting a negative 5 percent, puts them 7-9 points ahead of the market.

Apple range

  • Response to the new iPhone 3GS has been tremendous with over 1 million sold by the third day after its June 19th launch. Apple goes on record saying that they are currently unable to make enough iPhone 3GSs to meet demand and are working to address that.
  • Apple registered outstanding sales of 2.6 million Macs setting a new June quarter record and nearly meeting the all time quarterly record.
  • Apple sold 10.2 million iPods which was down from 11 million in the year ago quarter. There were two key reasons for this decline: First, we reduced channel inventory by over 400,000. Second, sales declined by 4% year-over-year.
  • The iTunes store delivered another great quarter fueled by strong sales of music, video and apps.
  • Apple retail stores hosted 38.6 million visitors during the quarter compared to 31.7 million visitors in the year-ago quarter –an increase of 22%.
  • Apple’s app store has more than 65,000 apps, compared with 1,000 to 2,000 at the Nokia store. Apple thus has a substantial lead on apps.

 There were a few significant announcements during the earnings call, which warrant attention.

The first point 

  • The iPod growth story now appears to be tapping off. Shipments of iPods fell 7% from the first quarter to second. And iPod ASPs also declined, despite the growth of the more expensive iPod Touch.
  • Revenues from selling Mac computers actually fell 8% last quarter compared to a year ago. The company sold 4% more Macs than it did in the same period last year, at a lower price point.

Macs and iPods are slowing down and may be entering the declining plateau stage of their life cycles! Apple would have seen this coming, and the $99 iPhone would be cannibalizing the iPods, by design.

Secondly, if you read between the lines of Timothy Cook’s message, it appears that Apple has a trick up its sleeve. Quoting Apple COO, Timothy Cook

I think some of the netbooks that are being delivered, or many of them, are very slow. They have software technology that is old. They don’t have a robust computing experience. They lack horse power. They have small displays and cramped key boards.”

Apple

Is this what Apple is going to spring upon Netbook manufacturers?

The invective makes you think that while Apple rails against the existing Netbook makers, may be, it has a net-book product that it plans to launch soon! Is this the Apple heralding its iTablet.

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