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Indian Telecom 2013: The year that was and the way forward

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on December 31, 2013

End of Year 2012, the internet subs in India totaled 135 million and mobility subs were 864 million
2013 exit numbers would be 205+ million internet subs and 904+ million mobility subs
It is expected that the figures for Internet subs would pass 330 million by 2015
At the same time, Internet’s contribution from India’s GDP to grow from 1.6% in 2011 to 3.4% in 2015. India’s i-GDP (internet contribution to GDP) is expected to hit about $100 billion by 2015 – making it one of the most attractive investment locations and industries globally.

As a state, India is fully aware of the criticality of telecom sector not only in its contribution to the GDP – but also in its ability to transcend geographies as an enabler – and telecom as the portal to next generation services on wireless.

NTP provides the policy framework but the process based uncertainties exist – most of these around the spectrum pricing and tax disputes. The under-pinning policy regime and execution road map has to be clear.

In 2013, two important policy enablers have been the announcement and approval of the mergers and acquisitions policy and foreign equity participation of 100% in Telecom sector. Dominant players can now old up-to 50% telecom market shares.

However in the same breath, regulations such as airwaves acquired by a acquiring major would only be used for 2G services becomes extremely self limiting.

Telecom players were looking for market capitalization and consolidation. The operators have started to focus on subscriber quality and have done away with the lucrative dealer commissions and promotional minutes. After 2008, for the first time, India has witnessed a surge in voice tariff

While the industry hopes to hit the 1 billion subscription mark by 2014, it continues to be deeply constrained by the negative growth witnessed in 2012.While the industry hopes to hit the 1 billion subscription mark by 2014, it continues to be deeply constrained by the negative growth witnessed in 2012. The Indian Telecom Industry accounts for 13% subscriptions and 2.3% share of the global telecom revenue.

Low cost driving reach and affordability would be critical but a derivative of a favorable Tax regime. Telecom tower companies given slew of benefits (such as gap funding, external commercial borrowing, lower import duties, excise exemptions) with Infrastructure status is a major step forward in this direction.

I am not sure why MVNO is a dirty word for Indian Telecom – may be because Indian Telecom barons only see it wholesale voice and data resale. However, the more successful MVNOs world over(especially in Europe) offer far enhanced services to its customers.

Digital Literacy through Vernacular applications is a key enabler for spread of Internet.

Indian Telecom also need to get their act right in terms of spectrum, pricing and business cases. For instance, TDD LTE which has been provided the 2300/2500 MHz band, doesnot make any commercial sense. The network at those bands will be extremely local and patchy and thus a below par experience. There needs to be a clarity on the Digital Dividend 700MHz, which will not only help operator business cases but also enable wider coverages for broadband – which is so critical to the growth of the iGDP.

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Hydro-graphics – the science of water transfer printing

Posted in New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on December 29, 2013

Hydrographics or HydroGraphics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, or cubic printing, is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional objects. The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and various other materials. In the process, the substrate piece to be printed is pre-treated and a base coat material is applied. A polyvinyl alcohol film is gravure-printed with the graphic image to be transferred, and is then floated on the surface of a vat of water. An activator chemical is sprayed on the film to dissolve it into a liquid and activate a bonding agent. The piece is then lowered into the vat, through the floating ink layer, which wraps around and adheres to it.After removing the piece from the water, a top coat is applied to protect the design. With multiple dippings, hydrographics printing can achieve full 360° coverage of the part surface, including small crevices.\

Content from Wikipedia

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Driven by a narrowing price gap, Smartphones begin to penetrate deep into Indian markets

Posted in Device Platforms, Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on December 29, 2013
India: Smartphone contribution to Mobile phones sales and %age

India: Smartphone contribution to Mobile phones sales and %age

1. Smartphone shipments to India exceeded 10 million units mark for the first time in Q3, 2013. For Q3, 2013, the numbers stood at 11.10mln mark.
2. The import numbers of smartphones to India have increased by 192% (Q3 2013 versus Q3 2012)
3. Coupled with the fall of volumes in featurephone shipments by a factor 25.5% (QoQ 2013 versus 2012), Smartphones now contribute 21% of the total mobile shipments in the country
4. Mobile phone markets in India have moved past the historic highs of 58-59 mln units/quater(Q3/Q4 2012).

Smartphones have now acquired the critical mass and threshold pricing (~Rs.3500-5000) to capture mass markets in India substituting the feature phone. The change agents for this rapid shift of consumer preference towards Smartphones have been the narrowing price gap between feature phones and smartphones.

Correspondingly, the number of internet users on handhelds (Smartphones) is expected to grow exponentially as per a recent IAMAI report which pegs a 20-30 million increase in internet mobile user base every quarter.

Indians on Internet

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Of Vertical searches and Applications Indexing

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on December 25, 2013

A few eternities back, I had written a blog about vertical searches i.e Search which categorizes and indexes results not only as a part of information and discovery, but also as a part of a contextual experience – i.e Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action paradigm. You can read the blog here. Google takes the first steps to integrate vertical searches across platforms by Application Indexing and Ranking on its search engine.

Google is now planning to index the contents of the app, something it has not done before. This enables Smartphone users to open a contextually relevant app from mobile search results itself. This will change the search results a little bit and include links to apps along with the regular search snippet that Google already displays. However, these deep links to apps from within the search results would be displayed only on Google search results on Android.

This is a revolutionary enhancement made by Google in order to feed the demands of an increasing number of Android app users. Sites that already offer specific apps for their audiences can expect an increase in the number of users using their apps because Google would be sending direct visits to site-specific apps from the search engine result pages itself. This feature is currently available on Google search app version 2.8+ for Android 4.1+ and also in Android specific mobile browsers.

A search string will automatically enable Google to identify and list only those apps that are already installed in user Smartphone. Also, only sites that have app indexing and app deep links enabled would be shown in the search results. Also, with increasing usage of app indexing would eventually produce a ranking of apps as per its popularity index reliving the SEO paradigm all over again from the Applications perspective. All of this is rapidly adding onto the concept of Application based internet.

The Mobile Economy in India

Posted in Technology impact on economy and population by Manas Ganguly on December 19, 2013

Mobiles and Mobility in India is a empowering industry which is expected to grow 408% with 2012-20 @ 19% CAGR
This adds atleast 1.3 million jobs between 2012-2020 and…
.. contributes to 375% increase in public funding
This also means a 409% increase to infrastructure investments

India’s citizens rely on mobile technology and mobile-enabled services to a degree that few would have predicted only a few years ago. With nearly 900 million mobile connections across the country, India represents a quarter of all mobile connections in Asia Pacific, and this figure is expected to rise to 1.16 billion by 2017. With improved
spectrum pricing and management, growth of mobile broadband service is expected to continue, with 3G and 4G adoption projected to increase by 31% between 2013 and 2017.

Nevertheless, India still lags behind the world’s major economies in mobile maturity and penetration. Network investment by mobile operators is held back by low tariffs due to the market conditions, an unusually high level of competition, and the financial burden caused by government policies that channel funds away from the sector, such as the high cost of access to spectrum. Indian operators are amongst countries that have the highest debt and lowest profitability ratios in the Asia Pacific region. This affects their ability to upgrade consumer services, meet demand in highly populated urban areas and expand networks to provide coverage to people living in rural areas.

India is lacking a regulatory environment that allows the sector to surge ahead and deliver the full, transformative
power of mobile to all. To do this, the government must design policies and regulations — working with the mobile
industry — that maximise long-term private sector investment. In order to invest, the industry needs clarity on the direction and the overall economic and regulatory environment that will be put in place to support this path. Only with a sustainable mobile industry will India be able to achieve the vision described in the country’s National
Telecommunications Plan — “to provide secure, reliable, affordable and high-quality converged telecommunication services anytime and anywhere for accelerated, inclusive socio-economic development.”

Increased penetration of mobile technology in India will bring with it many socio-economic benefits. In Agriculture, mobile solutions improve yields and provide greater access to markets. Greater access to healthcare and reduced mortality are facilitated by mobile solutions, while mobile technology brings financial services to rural and underprivileged communities. With mobile solutions, education for all is a goal that is increasingly within reach. Government and Administration has an important role to play in all of these areas by removing barriers to the integration of mobile solutions in an increasingly connected world.

Excerpts from the GSMA BCG study on Mobile Industry in India

The Google Zeitgiest – 2013

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on December 19, 2013

Here’s summing up 2013, Google style.

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64 Bit Chips: How Apple out-smarted Qualcomm and Samsung!

Posted in Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on December 17, 2013

Innovation is the name of the game and none understands this better than Apple. So just when their device and design innovation was hitting the plateau – they got the other enablers firing. The one being discussed here is Apple’s 64 bit A7 micro-processor.

The industry standard in micro-processor is a 32 Bit thingie – which plays in all smartphones. A 64-bit processor handles data in bigger chunks than 32-bit processors, so it can get jobs done faster. PCs have had 64-bit chips for a while, but until Apple introduced the iPhone 5s in September, nobody had put one in a smartphone.

While both Samsung and Qualcomm, both key players in the Android eco-system have the 64 Bit micro-processor in their roadmaps with a Q1 2014 and Q2 2014 time frame of launch – Apple’s Q3 launch of the A7 – puts Apple ahead of its rivals – in terms of perfecting the chip and rubbing off the rough edges. In the past, the iPhone was zippy not because it boasted a super-powerful processor, but because of the way Apple integrated the whole system — hardware and software — and the fact that Apple could tightly control how developers wrote code for the iPhone. An analogy would be a sports car that manages to be fast with a small engine because it is light, well-engineered, and has a great suspension. But now Apple can also claim an advantage in raw horsepower. The new 64-bit A7 chip is the smartphone equivalent of a big V12 engine.

Many in the industry do not still behold the importance of 64bit microprocessor. If the convergence industry is venturing into uncharted lands such as wearables – with different other functions such as Body monitoring or Augmented Reality applications, a higher order chipset will then become the next essential. Apple with its iWatch sees this as the promised land and the 64bit chip as the deliverance and has made the jump. It would have a 1 yr experential advantage with this 64 Bit chip when compared to others. Deep down, I am sure that a 128 Bit Chip could also be in the Horizon.

The hegemony of traditional media versus the disruption of new media

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on December 14, 2013

Google, Facebook, Wikis, Twitter and other such internet properties have upended traditional media and fundamentally altered media based interactions. Newspapers and print media estates are loosing out readership and advertising dollars to a pincer attack from the new media properties offering-

1. Hyper localized and personalized news relevant to the reader – thus creating a stronger ad-connect.
2. Media itself now means a bi-directional pipe of conversation – with the reader being an active creator of content, news and reviews.

The trust factor
In the wake of the Arab Spring – the Jasmine Revolution, the Lotus Revolution, the Pearl Revolution and various public outbursts / uprisings around governance in India (Anna’s Lokpal fasts, Baba Ramdev’s Anti-corruption tirade, the Nirbhaya outbursts or even the alternate media support to formation and coming to prominence of AAP), Web-based alternate forms of media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google have gathered credibility and threshold numbers. The parameters of freedom and space found in the mainstream media are directly or indirectly prescribed by the government. Such a media environment also brought about a worrying culture of self-censorship within the journalistic community. The new media gained popularity and acceptance because of the need to have freer information flow as the mainstream media is perceived to be controlled by the government.

An empowered reader
With the coming of the new media, people who have long been on the receiving end of one-way mass communication are now increasingly likely to become producers and transmitters. The distinction between information producers and consumers will become increasingly difficult to draw.As experiments with global citizenship go forward, the empowerment offered by distributed, networked digital communication may become shared more widely. This warrants an important adjustment to media hegemony theories.

Lite Business Models
Mass media news outlets are struggling with changing gate-keeping standards due to demands for interactive content produced by audiences themselves. Mainstream mass media are typically highly centralized, require significant investment and resources and can be heavily influenced by governments through various mechanisms and forms of control.The new or alternative media on the other hand have radically different characteristics. The new media such as the Internet can be used for both points to mass communications as well as point to point and mass to point message distribution. They are also extremely de-centralized, require very low investment, provide greater interactivity and public participation and are much more difficult to control

It is therefore not surprising for the new media to gain popularity and acceptance in civil society. People are now free, and have the opportunity to create their own news as well as to get the other side of the story by getting news from the Internet which is seen as free from control. But will the traditional media hegemony cease altogether or there could be other alternate models bringing forth a hybrid of the traditional and the new media.

Education next is all about hyper personalization

Posted in Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on December 10, 2013

Content, Context and Semantics – Education is soon to see a wave of hyper personalization which will be tailored to every individual student’s needs and focused on learning outcomes that enable one to do something meaningful with their learning. This is a far shot from the current “one size fits all” approach of textbooks – which trips out on the individual capacity and interest of a student to absorb.

Nearly 4.9% of the world GDP is spent on education, the percentage figure higher in the G20 states and lower in the third world nations. Currently the mode of education is mostly linear in terms of learning a theory and application of the theory to get standard set of observations and answers. The learning methodology is a well versed on vertical path with no scope for horizontal discoveries along it. For instance, a discovery and learning of a particular word is not followed up by a thesaurus mode of synonyms and antonyms or the formation of the word (origins and semantics). The objective is memory by rote accessed by stress inducing examinations as against application, self-discovery and aided learning of the concepts beyond the scope of the text book syllabus.

1. Hyper personalization would refer to tweaking and timing of the content as per the learning and understanding ability of students with visual, aural, experiential and demonstrative tools and techniques.
2. Tablets, Smartphones are an ideal medium for this kind of facilitation of learning.
3. Over and above that, higher concepts such as augmented reality, location services and others could become powerful tools of ingraining education.
4. Application of learning’s across different contexts also is a key enabler tool in this process i.e dictionary access to eBooks.
5. The Semantics medium of learning – by nodal association of concepts, theories, cores and application would have a multiplicative effect on the ability of students to understand and appreciate the concepts in full.

This doesn’t mean the eventual substitution of teachers. Teachers would have to graduate from the source to the medium of curation of content and learning. All this is not going to be easy in implementation – but from a perspective of the future where exposures would be unlimited and learning itself would not be classroom dependent, hyper-personalization would be the key.

Augmented reality glasses by Atheer: Promises and Possibilities

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on December 6, 2013

Yet another augmented reality video by Google Glass competitor Atheer demonstrating possibilities and promise of Augmented reality as a service.

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