September 9, 2014

Long Pending, now (I)mpending

September 09, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
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.

September 4, 2014

Android One - A late Google Bugle?

September 04, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
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

September 04, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
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.

August 24, 2014

Uniquely Universal

August 24, 2014 Posted by Vijay , No comments
Univercell launched a unique mobile store experience last year. It meant to go out of the way to woo customers to the store via dedicated consumer focussed services, and not just mobile and accessory sales. Today I had the opportunity to visit the Univercell Sync at Indiranagar as part of the Indiblogger contest. The marketing manager for Univercell passionately walked us bloggers through the store explaining the uniqueness of the whole experience.

With the sync experience, it is a simplification of the multitude of choices in the mobile world. Many bloggers and tech enthusiasts probably know the different Mobile OS systems and the ecosystems surrounding them. So explaining choices and helping with buying decisions for a mobile is much easier to such an audience. That is not the case for those who are not tech savvy or who are mostly in the late 40s and the elderly.

Just like how internet has been a revolution, the mobile revolution has already taken the world by storm. And so much of technology at one's fingertips can be overwhelming for those without the knowledge. Univercell Sync offers the perfect platform to make the transition from a feature phone to a mobile phone easier, comfortable and secure for those seeking for a switch.  This audience will not know whether brand is more important, or the processor speed. Or is it the mobile ecosystem? Or do they prefer a longer battery life? Or a budget friendly device? The choices are so vast, it is a niche mobile market Univercell is aiming to tap into.

August 20, 2014

My Mi

August 20, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
I can't be far away from the next gadget, can I ? For all the waves that Xiaomi has been creating across the globe one can't resist the temptation of wanting to own a gadget from Mi. When Xiaomi was still unknown to India in May, I set about researching for my next new gadget to tamper with. My Sony Xperia live with walkman was getting outdated software and hardware wise. But tweaking and rooting it had made it exceptionally functional and snappy.

So I went about another budget friendly gadget, for my wife. My Huawei Ideos is still going strong on the Dronix ROM. But we need to move forward with latest in technology - is the reason I gave for getting permission for my new gadget. Armed with a new 3G data plan which made sense with a CUG connection, it was but a formality that I would purchase a new gadget. I stumbled upon Xiaomi through and the review it carried for Redmi was impressive. Although Redmi is the original Mediatek version with 4GB ROM.

The updated hardware at the same price is the Redmi 1S. Powered by a quad core snapdragon processor and 8GB ROM it was a good step up from the original Redmi. Since it wasn't yet available in India, I started hunting for Chinese sites from where I could reliably order. turned out to be the perfect one for me, though price wise it is a little expensive. I  bought it for around 170$ from spemall, almost 3 months back, which is now being launched in India for just 7000! So I paid a premium for the gadget. But I don't regret it much.

August 18, 2014

Coastal Course near Chidambaram

August 18, 2014 Posted by Vijay , No comments
A tonsuring tour for my 30 month old daughter. Initially we had planned to do it in Tirupathi, but logistics and the fact that our daughter is growing up hastened the next possible place. Vacation plans always hinged around Hampi for the August 15th weekend. However, the tonsuring plan coupled with unfamiliar territory around Hampi meant we were looking for alternatives. Vaitheeswaran Koil was the immediate choice for the tonsuring. But what would a trip be without an element of fun mixed with a pilgrimage in camouflage.

Vaitheeswaran koil was ideal in many respects. Close enough to Chidambaram to explore the seashore beside it. Also providing visit to the famous Chidambaram temple, Sirgazhi temple among others. The distance from Bangalore is around 400 kms which can be done in one go. But with a toddler beside, things can get tricky, especially when driving during daytime. Fortunately we had strategic halting places in Salem and Mecheri. While my maternal aunt stays at Salem, my in laws are in Mecheri, which is also part of Salem.

The plan was to visit Chidambaram on day 1, Pichavaram and Tharangambadi on day 2 and Vaitheeswaran Koil on day 3. We stayed on 12th night at Salem, packed food for onward journey to Chidambaram and checked into Nataraja Residency. The visit to the Natarja temple in Chidambaram on the same evening was peaceful. The next day we were off to Pichavaram, which was always the highlight in my mind to be covered during the trip.

August 11, 2014

Bharat Ratna - A wasted Ratna?

August 11, 2014 Posted by Vijay , No comments
The highest civilian award in India has become a free for all - almost. And looking at the current candidate list for the award, it looks like an exercise of politics in retrospect than in genuine deservedness. No sooner had BJP started suggesting names of Subhas Chandra Bose and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the almost non-existent Congress party at the Centre demanded the award for Kanshi Ram.

With all due respect and admiration to all the potential candidates, it is truly embarrassing that there is a political slugfest to give th ris distinguished honour. Admittedly Bose was an exception leader whose contributions to Indian independence were probably never given its due. But to give an award inetrospect after more than 60 years, is a little puzzling.

As for Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it almost seems BJP wants its due from awarding it for a BJP leader. He may truly deserve it (and I am just expressing personal opinions here), but the BJP and Congress should introspect and think if they are being fair to the award itself. Maybe there is true merit in Vajpayee or even Kanshi Ram for the award. But it is the process and the credentials that need to be awarded. Not the political backing.

July 6, 2014

Live to Post AND Post to Live?

July 06, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
Today we live in a world where privacy is all about status updates. The private life one lives is available not only for your friends or relatives, but for the general public. Be it delivery of a child, or a muffin you eat - half way in your mouth; they deserve to be posted on social platforms. It is not just a private moment. It is a social tool for others to see who you are. Your true self. Yet, when it comes to privacy protection, everyone is up in arms. Facebook should not mess with emotions, apps should not access your contacts or call logs. But is there anything left called as privacy anymore? I guess not.

The internet and now mobile explosion has blurred the line between private and public life. As much as I want to follow technology, a complete invasion of private space is a total no-no. Yes, the argument goes that you can stay in touch with friends of yore, relatives unknown and colleagues who matter. But surely, you don't want to know how your friend eats, or how a new born looks. Why not send a mail to those who really matter, or call up. But no, if you don't have facebook or whatsapp you don't deserve to be in the know-how. Oh, did I just reveal my discomfort at this Facebook life we live in? Probably yes, but it also matters what we share. Or do we intend to share because we want to force others to feel us as important?

May 1, 2014