RBI Christmass gifted a relaxed and a more wider ambit to the banking and telecom eco-sytem in India with wider and more relaxed mobile payment transaction and banking guidelines
In the overall context the number of cell phone users is four and a half times the total number of bank accounts in India. So mobile banking is being looked at as an option for providing transfers across the length and breadth.
The transaction limit: Essentially the RBI has now said that banks will be able to do transactions with a daily cap of Rs 50,000 per customer for both funds transfer as well as transactions involving purchases of goods and services. Presently the transactions are subject to caps of Rs 5,000 and 10,000 respectively.
Lower Value transactions: RBI has relaxed the technology and security standards and allowed banks to undertake transactions upto Rs 1,000 without end to end encryption. So, they have basically in some ways reducing the cost of transactions.
Remittance of funds for disbursements in cash: Directly related to facilitating the use of mobile phones for cash. In the prepaid mobile phones which accounts for about 90% of the entire user base across the country, the transaction is essentially a cash transaction where the user puts in money, gets the credit and uses it. Mobile phone companies have been therefore talking about extending this for direct transfer so if you have a phone in Delhi where a person adds Rs 1,000 that money can be delivered somewhere in the hinterland of Bihar or UP. The maximum value of these transactions will be Rs 5,000 per transaction; the banks can place a cap on the velocity of such transactions subject to a maximum of Rs 25,000 per month per customer. The disbursal of these funds can be done through both, an agent or an ATM.
Given the lack of infrastructure/ATMs and Banks in the rural areas, banks have been allowed to appoint agents to do such transfers. Some of these agents could well be the mobile phone operators, the service providers and the handset resellers in the hinterland.
Analysts and experts and banks see this as a big push for financial inclusion across the country. Also, this is a move for retail payment from cash and cheque based transaction to mobile based transaction, which means great convenience and also reduces costs. While Operators, device makers and banks will now be able to drive this initiative across the geography, it is the consumer in India who will now be able to exercise more convenience for the money that he owns.
Nokia combines a bit of crowdsourcing,its GPS/compass capabilities and its smartphones to create an interesting and cool application called the Nokia Image Space.On a higher level, the Nokia Image Space a service for organizing and presenting community generated content, e.g. storytelling, without it becoming too computationally intensive.Put simply Nokia Image Space lets the user create his own 3D pictorial presentations of the places visited. It requires a Nokia smartphone with GPS and compass and a Flickr account.
As illustrated in this screenshot representing a harbor in Honfleur, France, the service displays links to neighboring photos overlaid on the foreground photo. User can navigate through the location by browsing the interlinked photos.
The service prototype consists of three elements:
1.Servers – content and data storage. The servers also provide necessary APIs for creating the spatial presentation of the content.
2.Camera client – the mobile client for S60 delivers rich sensor data when the photo is taken and uploaded to the server.
3.Web browser – a flash-based browser allows the user intuitively navigate the space, comment the media and communicate with other users. The system needs an Adobe Flash 10 plugin for browser and Firefox, IE or Safari.
4.Nokia Image Space uses digital maps, location-based content and MapTP technology from NAVTEQ.
The user has to take a few shots of the place he is visiting while the GPS records the coordinates of the place where the image was taken and the digital compass records the orientation. The GPS coordinates, the compass orientaton and the metadata-heavy image are then uploaded with the mobile Nokia Share Online client.
Image space then crowdsources other photographs of the same location (measured by the GPS coordinates) from Flickr and generates a 3D presentation using all the photos.The full pic can then be viewed on the Nokia Image space browser (which needs to be downloaded on a laptop).
The Nokia Image space is available on the Nokia N97 mini, Nokia 6210 Navigator, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia 6720 Classic and is also expected to work on many more phones powered by S60 (3.2 or 5.0), which also have an built-in compass.
Below are two YouTube videos that detail the Nokia Image Space.
Yet another report by yet another survey agency has yet again concluded the usage disruption that the iPhone is bringing about in mobile computing. Morgan Stanley puts Apple in the pole position to control mobile internet computing. Not only that the study also concluded that the iPhone, iPod touch and iTunes platform has seen the fastest rate of adoption of any new technology in history.Though the iPhone and iPod touch represents just 17 percent of global smartphones, the two devices are responsible for 65 percent of handheld Web browsing, according to Net Applications, and half of all mobile app usage, according to AdMob. Compare that to Nokia’s Symbian platform, which has 45 percent of all mobile devices, but just 7 percent of the Web share.
The Morgan Stanley presentation goes on to define the future of the mobile Internet as the overlap between social networking and mobile devices (Haven’t we heard that before?).
Smartphones have been smartphones for a while, but Apple is perhaps the first device and platform which pioneered the internet on the handheld. The iPhone thus has become more than a device as it integrates internet, social networking, music and gaming into the handheld device helping people live out their “internet lives” seamlessly. The US markets are definitely swaying away to the iPhone and Apple.
In another report, by Comscore which measured the usages of smartphone and operating systems, Apple has upstaged Microsoft as the No.2 smartphone in US. The bad news for Microsoft is that there is Android in 2010, which is waiting to get past Microsoft. As reported earlier in a post, Android will ship through 50 or more devices in 2010 and it is only a matter of time before, Android pushes past Microsoft. Microsoft’s WinMo 6.5 has been a damp squib (it was supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to Android). Microsoft can only hope that WinMo 7 is able to work it out for them provided it is released before Microsoft is all and written off by the market. There is a dangerous trend building on that as well.
Nokia is feeling the heat all over. It now has closed down in North American stores in Chicago and New York and one of its two London stores across the pond. It is also shifting its Sao Paolo store in Brazil. Not only in its brick and mortar form, but also with its online Ovi store, Nokia seems to have hit a breaker. Nokia’s case is quite paradoxical to Apple which has tasted success in both forms of the stores: Online as well as Brick and Mortar. A beleagured Nokia faces competition from RIM, Apple, Palm, Moto and Samsung in the Smartphone space; is threatened by OEM imports in emergingmarkets and its software services platform never really took off. Once a stock market darling, Nokia’s shares have fallen 20% since September even as the broader market has rallied.
Nokia launched the Ovi Store in May/June 2009 clearly challenge the Apple Dominance on Apps. However 5 months after an otherwise lukewarm launch, Ovi has stats on its side, but these pale infront of the Apple Juggernaut.
• Ovi Mail has more than 3 million subscribers, and carriers like the push email because it boosts data usage. Nokia has signed over 20 partners for a carrier version of Ovi Mail.
• Downloads of apps on the Ovi Store are growing 70 percent per month, and every registered Ovi user has downloaded eight apps on average.
• In terms of downloads, Ovi is the No. 2 app store
• The number of users downloading apps is going up 50 percent every month.
• The Ovi suite – which also includes music and mapping services – now has 80m active users, up from 54m in August.
George Linardos, head of products at Nokia’s media group, said on 8th December 2009 that Ovi Store had been outpaced by Apple after complaints on stability and reliability. He also admitted that the chorus of complaints from end-users were driving the next version, noting that his company has “screens up in [their] offices running Twitter feeds [of gripes] all day long.” In fact, he likened the act to “sitting there and getting punched in the face.” So while the first coming of Ovi was beaten comprehensively unable to compete with the Apple Apps store, a second coming of Ovi has been planned in Spring 2010. New features will include in-application payments, a redesigned user interface that makes apps easier to discover, and faster operation. Longer-term, Ovi Store will include recommendations based on friends’ app purchases and more localised content.
In its second coming, the company wants to localize the Ovi Store for 20 countries by the end of the first quarter of 2010. Localization can mean instant success. In India, for example, Nokia’s music download service is becoming popular mostly because many people don’t have PCs and are using their phones to download music. Similar trends are being observed in Brazil and Mexico. Nokia believes the success of its Ovi Store and services is going to come from its traditional strongholds: Europe, Latin America and Asia. Ovi’s big opportunity is overseas — outside of the U.S. However, while US is not on the focus geographies list, it is also important for Nokia to maintain a mind share in US so that they are abreast of the best apps and platforms and are exposed to the most advanced development eco-system globally.
On Ovi, Nokia need’s to get all their ducks lined up, including hardware, software and services. At the moment, none of those are working properly. One hopes that Ovi gets it right this time because second chances are rare, and there are no third chances.
The Google smartphone and its impact on the telecom eco-system has been covered in an earlier post.
So here it is… Ending a month long speculation of whether it be or not be, Google has unveiled its own Android smart-phone which means a direct assault on Apple on yet another front. The Google phone is named as Nexus One. This one is powered by the Android 2.1 and packs in a WiFi, Google Navigation, Google Goggles, a dedicated volume key and from the looks of it an updated OS features with new 3D elements to the app tray and a new grid icon at the bottom of the homescreen, which when pressed brings up a webOS card-style preview of all homescreen pages — which raises some interesting possibilities.
On the other hand, Android’s trickle (10 products released this year), looks set to become an avalanche in 2010 with 50 products lined up for launch. This includes 5 products from Acer, 5 from HTC, 10 from Motorola and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Android phone. However, Having its own device gives Google more control over how the hardware and software works together, and intensifies competition for Apple. The trend world over is getting to access the internet through smart-phones and Google needs to make sure it has an influence on that. The Google smart-phone makes sure they Google influences how the mobile Web will develop.
Google’s phone may be “unlocked,” meaning that it wouldn’t be tied to a specific phone network. Customers would then have to sign up for wireless service from a carrier.
Advances in online search have been picking up momentum in recent months, culminating in a burst of announcements this week that could change the face of search all together, according to industry watchers. They see the increasingly heated battle between Microsoft and Google as bringing an avalanche of innovations that should continue well into 2010 or 2011. Google has the keys to the castle and everyone else is storming the gates. Whenever you have heavy competition, you’ll see rapid changes.
Google started giving real time search results to its users this week. That means users who query a topic can get results only a few seconds old, and it also means that Twitter posts will also be pulled out in users’ result lists. Google this week also unveiled Google Goggles, a photo-based search. That announcement came the week after Google announced that it was personalizing search results.
Not to be left out, Microsoft Bing last week released the beta of the latest version of Bing Maps. The feature-rich update has some industry watchers saying that Bing may have bested Google Maps at its own game.
Search, which used to be a slow evolving domain once, has seen a wave of change in the recent times. While, search has never really been static. search is growing from something that served up the same search results to everyone to a service that’s more individualized and more about images, video, tweets and posts. Search is starting to look much more like the dynamic online lives of its users. It’s getting much more personal and granular. With these new capabilities, you can now pull up much more specific results that resolve down to a single – non-famous — person or opinion.
The competition between Microsoft and Google is driving a war of innovation and a constant ‘upping the bar’ in terms of features and function. And the face of search is changing as a result.