Ronnie05's Blog

Truecaller- the nemesis of telemarketers!!

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces by Manas Ganguly on July 7, 2014

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Truecaller has been around for a while and currently boasts of the first global telephone directory to identify calling numbers not stored on devices. In effect it substitutes yellow pages and takes the functionality a step further by instantly recognizing unidentified numbers. What makes this service remarkable is that it multiplies it’s intelligence in terms of crowd sourced data – which is a handy thing. In times to come Truecaller could become the search directory for mobile numbers hosted on a cloud – which to me, makes it extremely attractive to the likes of Google or Facebook.

Another interesting takeaway is that with its crowd sourced database, Truecaller could be spanner in the works for the telemarketing folks. How many times have we had that irritating phone call from a telemarketer trying to sell us things that we don’t require. With increasing sub base, and the fact that users can block or report spam, these repository of telemarketing numbers and calls from them simply mean that such calls can be silenced or refused.

In effect, True caller plays the bane of telemarketing. Something that DND registries did not achieve is done with ease by the Truecaller!

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Mood sensing Ads on Apple’s mind (We always knew that, didn’t we??)

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 25, 2014

I fell out of love with Apple when they launched iPhone5S. I fell in love back again when i read their iWatch concept.

iWatch

In an earlier post, i had written about iWatch and the path breaking dimensions it was adding to the whole technology domain by being able to monitor (and possibly measure) the state of being. The state of inner being is key to Apple’s ambitions.

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By being able to infer a person’s inner state of being, inferred by changes in Systolic, Diastolic pressures, pulse rates, Apple has an algorithm that estimates the person’s mood and serves him with suitable triggers based upon a variety of other external coordinates such as time, location,visit frequencies, past behavior. Apple has filed a patent application that describes a system that would try to gauge some of the user’s physical and behavioral facets to serve up ads that may better appeal and contextually relevant.

The ad delivery system would start by compiling a “baseline mood profile” against which it can compare your future moods. Information that might be captured would include your heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline level, perspiration rate, body temperature, vocal expression, and even your facial expression. The time of day and your current location may also be incorporated to associate those factors with your various moods.The system would then select a specific type of ad based on your current mood and other criteria. As one example listed in the patent application, certain ads might be sent to someone with the following characteristics: gender, male; age, 19-24; location, Northern California or New York City; mood, happy.

Apple's filing describes the system as

It may not be exactly music to advocates of privacy – who could be considered to getting creep-ed out, but this is one exiting dimension which could do a new tthing to the world of ads…

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.

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.

What makes an Application disproportionately (Wildly) successful than most others?

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces by Manas Ganguly on October 13, 2013

700K Apps and there-abouts on Android and Apple and yet the Pareto principle is more disproportionately applicable to the commercial smartphone apps than most of the other instances of Pareto. So, why do apps and services like Instagram, Twitter, Gilt, Tinder and Airbnb rise above the rest? What keeps users coming back to them?

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Any casual reflection on the nature of most popular applications will through up the most obvious results-

There had to be a key Proposition buttressed by Design and Usability/ User Experience. Airbnb for instance is one of the best propositions for travel freaks. A clean, clutter free design and a smooth and free flowing intuitive user experience makes the application easy to use. The way i see it Applications on the cloud or Hybrid Applications which have limited footprint/ light weight device will be key to the user experience. Currently Cross Platform presence is a given, but what would truely be a wow would be cross platform integration – i.e the App on iPhone learns what you last did on your Android Tablet last. Currently this may not be a very easily comprehended scenario – but Apps would need to share intelligence across platforms to create a relevance in user experience. The main intent is to drive Scale.

All app developers aspire to higher degrees of social transmission a.k.a Word of mouth. Breaking this code – The willingness of people to spread your message and to reach and influence customers has an inherent DNA and a marketing strategy/structure which app makers need to take cognizance. Jonah Berger, associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania provides a construct to understand profusion and/or lack of it which can be applied to understand the exceptional flight of some apps amongst others which dont get downloaded. According to Berger, there are 6 key drivers to virality – which applies to Apps as well.

1. The ability of an App to make the user smarter and look better in his social circles is key to the App being recommended around social spheres of influence and affiliation.
Social currency is the idea that people are more likely to talk about something the better and smarter it makes them look, and the more special it makes them feel.

2. WhatsApp is to Messaging what Skype/Viber are to Video Conferencing – These are very powerful associations that drive the penetration of Applications in users.Very strong cases of positioning and occupation of the mind space.
Triggers —linking products and ideas to cues in the environment increases word of mouth.

3. Engagement and Involvement are key to building a relationship with the App. If there are any doubts, one has to reference the rise of Arab Spring – the critical role of Facebook and Twitter as beacons of people’s movements.
The more you can get people fired up, excited, or even feeling negative about something, the more likely they’ll be to pass it on: That’s emotion.

4. One has to only look at the multitude of ordinary no-ones who have now a voice on twitter or a channel on YouTube with followers. Applications with high “showcase” quotient of showcase have a high stickiness and re-use quotient with users.
Public refers to the idea that by making behavior more observable, so that it can be imitated, you make it more likely that your idea will catch on.

5. The oldest lesson in marketing is Proposition and a strong proposition is clearly the key value driver for the application. Without a strong proposition, the App doesnot stand any chance even if its great on design or interface.
When something has practical value—when it is useful—people share it with others to help them.

6. While this hasn’t exactly flown yet, a critical decider to success of apps is the real world integrations. I can think of Layar enabled apps that integrate the mobile with real world. The ability to wrap service layers around the app is intrinsic to creating great stories around the applications
And finally, stories enable you to wrap your product or idea in a narrative that carries your brand along for the ride.

These then are the 6 key factors driving application penetration and social transmission, thus the critical points distinguishing apps from blockbusters to one in the long tail.

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The paradigm of Multi screen experiences

Multi screen apps

Rapid adoption of mobile devices such as the Tablets, Smart TVs, Connected Cars and Augmented Reality units are creating a huge impact on the way consumers interact with content, potentially putting billions of consumer dollars up for grabs: cable licensing agreements, advertising budgets, on-demand subscription fees, not to mention the future of the connected home. But despite all of the excitement — or perhaps because of it — there is still a lot of confusion about what the different types of multi screen apps are and how the technology is evolving to support this use case.

Simultaneous-Usage

Multi screen scenarios imply the instances when the user is engaged across multiple screens – the most notable is that of a TV and a mobile device. Google recently shared that a stunning 77% of users are using a second device when they are watching TV. On the surface of it, a content owner could be upset about this dual activity being a distraction and yet – Dual screen apps present an opportunity to engage the user on more than one consumption platform. For example- watching the Superbowl on TV and tweeting about the event online. Thus, this allows creation of an interactive experience that enhances it with additional information, related advertising, or calls to action. These are the types of experiences that are poised to radically transform the way consumers engage with content.

Top Activties across multi screens

Social Aggregators of multi screen content i.e Companies like GetGlue, Shazam, Zeebox, and Sidecastr have all created apps that detect what program a user is watching and present social or companion content on their device. Their hope is that they can assemble a large enough audience to become interesting to advertisers that want to target these users

Amongst the bigger players, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are each building enabling technology for dual screen apps into their platforms, as they view content-centric apps as a key battleground in their overall platform war. Also participating are consumer electronics giants like Samsung, Sony, and LG.

Prima Facie, the key here is when fundamental technology architectures are in play, platforms generally win in the long run. If one can successfully deliver the capabilities that enable armies of developers to build vertical or use case-specific applications, the network effects will generally overwhelm any individual competitor that is trying to do everything on its own.

Infographic on the Multi screen play
The new multi screen world

In Midst of Transition- Adobe Systems (Part II)

Continued from Part I

If the early results are any indication, Adobe, has become a model for companies coping with tech’s changing landscape. But the Business transition is easier said – Adobe will have to navigate the rise of cloud, Mobility, social media and highly targeted online advertising. It also pits Adobe against some very well entrenched competition – Microsoft and Apple in productivity programs, IBM and Google in digital marketing.

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Image Courtesy Fortune

Adobe’s move into digital marketing- which has its roots in the acquisition of Omniture, a web analytics company in 2009 is an equally adroit move. The second leg of Adobe’s strategy re-orientation includes data driven marketing – real-time bidding on Google search ads, targeting display ads using Facebook profiles, analyzing which Tweets or blog posts drive traffic, testing different site designs to see which generate sales. To make those features possible, Adobe has spent $800 million in the last 3 years on acquisitions since Omniture: Day Software for website-content management, Demdex for ad targeting, Efficient Frontier for search and social media ad exchanges, and Auditude for inserting ads inside streaming videos. According to Gartner, marketing budgets will grow 9% this year, compared with 4.7% for IT. Adobe wants to benefit from that growth by selling marketing services and software simultaneously. Thus, Adobe tools once relied on just for creating a website, have become much more useful as a digital marketing suite.

Death of Adobe Flash

Still, Adobe’s marketing push means going up against deep-pocketed companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Google — all of which are more experienced in the enterprise software market. The next year or so will be critical for Adobe as it changes tracks and dons a new gear. It is a risk but then its vastly better than waiting for the emminent death of Adobe Flash.Adobe’s post-Flash strategy was announced in November 2011, alongside the restructuring that made digital marketing and Creative Cloud the company’s top priorities Adobe saw the writing on the wall and conciously anchored itself on the Creative Cloud and Digital Marketing as the next streams of business. Now we await the new Adobe!

In Midst of Transition- Adobe Systems (Part I)

In the age of Cloud,Mobility,Social Media and altering business models,Companies that simply try to preserve the status quo will fail – Inspired

Adobe is the midst of transition would inspire many a case studies. A company that epitomized Shrink Wrapped High Quality Software is working on complete re-doing of its business and revenue models with an eye on the future. Historically, Adobe has been a productivity suite company with its software being centred around enterprises, film-makers, webmasters and content creators and it has done well till recent times. Not wishing to be caught on the wrong foot holding on to status quo, Adobe has readied and implemented a radical change in its business model- It has embraced the cloud based distribution and digital marketing and is phasing out the CD based version of “pay beforehand $1400-$2400” software distribution to Software in the cloud, monthly subscription service. This sachet service works three ways – It steadies revenue per month, it reduces piracy (Adobe was losing a reported $1bn to piracy of its software) and it also increases penetration (The move to subscriptions is a clever and thoughtful way to lower the price point). This model works on a $20-$50 subscription model – and this would bring 325K subs by end of 2012 as per Adobe. Lready Adobe has a million free memberships on its Cloud.The current onboarding rate is 11K per week. Overall average revenue per user is 20% higher compared with the old product. That number will rise even further, the company says, because it is much more likely to sell support services, website hosting, or server management to cloud customers. Already Adobe is augmenting its cloud product by addition of features and functionalities such as Creative Cloud for teams, making it easy (collaborate effort); Adobe Muse (For creation of Mobile websites); Creative Cloud Connection for desktop synching and collaborative sharing;Creative Cloud Training; and demonstrating the unlimited access to the Digital Publishing technology used by major publishers to create interactive content for the smartphones and tablets.

Adobe

Sure this audacious moved spooked the stock which lost steam in 2011 but it is back in action and has traced a healthy recovery. The stock is way behind its historic highs of $47.9- however at $35.5 it is trading 47% above its 2011 trough of $24.17. Even while the stock is underperforming as per analyst’s expectations- the 3Q, 2012 profits have reversed a trend of 3 quarters of dipping profits. In the most recent quarter, profit increased by 3.2% year-over-year. Looking back further, profit dropped 2.4% in the second quarter, 21.1% in the first quarter and 35.4% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year. The turnaround seems to be working for Adobe and we would get to know more about this in time. As for the shift from boxed software to subscriptions: It is far from over. In fact, it is the company’s greatest source of uncertainty.

This Post is continued in Part II

Is Apple Lapsing into the Ordinary (Part II)

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on December 10, 2012

Over the last few months now, Apple has been behaving like the big daddy – reminiscent of Microsoft in the 2000-10 decade. Firstly, there is the push into patent led legal processes with Samsung; then the whole act of reducing supplies of the Samsung chips and then there is the whole maps fiasco for which Tim Cook has also had to apologize in public. Apple’s push to pack all of its eco-system in its walled garden is becoming a bad press issue. The latest being the Map application errors which has led Australian Police to issue a warning on use of the Apple Maps application in North West Australia categorizing the app as “Potentially Life Threatening”. The latest map glitch puts motorists 70 kms off from where they are supposed to be.

Again then – the question that arises- Post the Jobs era, Is Apple lapsing into the ordinary?

iSolated: Bad Apple Maps directions lead to desert
Apple Maps glitch could be deadly: Australian police
Apple’s Australia map glitch: Snakes! In the desert!

Death of the Smartphones

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on December 3, 2012

Smart-phones are ubiquitous devices globally and it feels funny to write an obituary to such a mega-hype. But as with most and many technologies, there is a lifecycle – and the alternative will come through sooner than later. Disruption is inevitable.

The end of smartphones!

The end of smartphones!

Computing as a consumer activity and behavior is evolving and the interfaces are getting as close to human social behavior, thought processing and sensory valuation as it can. The devices of tomorrow will be a coherent mix of Immersive Internet Media, Inclusive “user centered ”Computing, Portability to the point of ubiquity, based on Sensory Platforms and Always Real time. All this builds up-to a future in devices where the devices will be controlled by Mind and be an extension of the human self.

Coming back to the replacement of Smartphones, the recent developments in Augmented reality, Speech Recognition methodologies and Gesture based controls combined together could spell the next platform in computing – a wearable one at that – the prototype of which is Google Glass. Microsoft also has a product in the pipeline currently code named as Photosynth. As a gadget, the concepts are very interesting and far reaching in terms of harbingers what the next wave in technology –called wearable technology. These devices will overlay data with predictive analytics, Social Media and Digital Illustrations and other commercials application such as payments etc. Predictive analytics, Speech Recognition, Gesture Control, In memory analytics, social analytics and Augmented Reality are already at various stages of maturity in the technology life cycles. The trick is about getting them together and my bet is that Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM and a couple of the technology companies would already be working to get the concepts in place.

Google Glass-How it works!

Microsoft Photosynth

Google Glasses are in the developmental stages now and have been demoed for LAYAR (Layered Augmented Reality Apps). Microsoft’s Photosynth is still in the concept development phases. Understandably both concepts and the PoCs are in infancy right now with a lot of rough edges, but then these technologies will be truly disruptive once they start hitting the threshold/critical state numbers.

The Google Glass demo!

The disruption will be in the sense that there will be no additional devices such as smartphones and tablets – it will be a wearable unit controlled by human interfaces- speech, motion etc. To that extent it is clearly disrupting the smartphone kind of interface signaling the end of the smartphone era.

The obituary for Smartphones is done and dusted. The key challenge for wearable computing will be the productization of these concepts. Watch this space for more.

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