Long Pending, now (I)mpending

September 9, 2014

Though I have always disliked Apple because of the suffocating ecosystem, there is no doubt that Jobs and Apple revolutionized the mobile phone market. Jobs took it to the next level by convinvcing the world of another must have device in the form of the iPad. By calling it magical and with his marketing abilities it became a runaway hit and was garnering over 80% market share in the year after its launch. Fast forward 3 years after Jobs' passing away, and Apple has not introduced anything revolutionary. Unless a fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S qualifies as revolutionary.

Honestly, there hasn't been much innovation even from Samsung which pioneered the Android ecosystem to the beast it is today. Android commands over 80%  of the smartphone market, and most of the credit is due to Samsung leading the efforts and giving customers a cost effective alternative to the oh so expensive iPhone. Even Samsung's Android tweaks have been more gimmicky than revolutionary. Of course some of the features like split screen and the stylus are certainly worthy of mention. While Samsung pulled away from iPhone in terms of smartphone shipments, Apple probably resisted being pulled into the rat race of competing low cost phones.

Samsung introduced the phablet concept via the Note, and the past year phablets have picked up massive adoption at the cost of tablets. So tablet shipments and sales are now on the vane. Apple could not have ignored customer needs when large sized phones in the range of 4.7 - 6 inch began flooding the market. Maybe Apple did not want to be an also ran company when it came to smartphone competition. Probably devoid of ideas, Apple finally seems to have succumbed to the pressure from its hundreds of Android rivals.

Android One - A late Google Bugle?

September 4, 2014

Is Google late into the party? At a time when local players like Micromax, Lava and Karbonn are redefining budget smartphones in India, Google wants to enter the rat race with Android One. Announced in June, Android One is Google's initiative to give a pure Google experience to millions of customers wanting to switch to a smartphone from a feature phone. While the whole intent is to give the pure android and google experience, the end objective is to bring as many users into the Google's internet web. A perfect strategy, but one which could fall flat if local market sentiments are not given due respect.

India is too cost conscious for Google to bring out smartphones priced at over $100. Though on average disposable income is on the rise, the average Indian customer is still very picky when it comes to pricing. Firefox has already made an aggressive entry with phones priced at $30-$40 which is probably more than enough for first timers or those who are from the lower income strata. And then there is the middle class which is equally cost conscious and since the days of Moto G, the choices in the $100 market are abundant. Options range from Windows phones running on the latest 8.1 to the explosive new entrant, Xiaomi. Xiaomi's Redmi 1S phone with its hardware specs and pricing easily beats all local players to dust. Of course, its unique and times frustrating strategy could also backfire.

Indiantity Crisis

Looks like the new BJP government has made all other political parties introspect their true identity. Though polarisation is often associated with BJP and the RSS, it looks more a case of refusal to come out of the English colonial role. As much as I am proud of my religious beliefs and traditions, it is inappropriate to force these upon anyone. And though there have been instances quoted and reported in the media, India as a nation has a unique national fabric of whole hearted acceptance. And that makes me feel immensely proud.

What BJP has done, increasingly so with a majority mandate now, is forcing everyone to introspect. Honestly, it does make me feel upset and sad that the political parties still fight over minorities who are well under 20% of India's population. It almost seems as if the remaining 80% have been sidelined and taken for granted all these years. If we are being told that we are a Hindu nation, going by majority it is probably a true statement. Being tolerant doesn't mean that India should continue doling out freebies and overtures to the minorities till eternity.

In this context I find it amusing to note that state governments in the country do not like celebrating Guru Utsav. But are fine to celebrate 'Teacher's day' ? It almost sounds a refusal to accept one's true identity, and insistence on clinging to the age old colonial past. Either as Indians we accept a national language and follow Guru Utsav, or the very least call it by the regional language. Not harp on terming Guru Utsav as BJP's attempt at forcing their agenda across states. If anything, governments like Tamil Nadu should rename it according to Tamil language.

Such instances are a true reflection of identity crisis brought upon by 6 decades of total neglect of the majority and insistence on vote bank politics There is nothing wrong in embracing one's religion and culture. But to hide it behind the garb of secularism  is to disown one's own roots. I just wish we as a nation grow up and accept that there is a true majority population and truly respect that. Right now it seems that if we refuse owning up to being a majority hindu nation we automatically qualify as secular.