Tag Archives: Internet

14 Ways to Emotionally Engage users with your Product

Most conversations with entrepreneurs and product managers who want drive engagement and bring viral features to their products are answered as ‘We will gamify our product through features’. This post is about clearing some nuisance around the topic of gamification in products.

Gamification has nothing to do with building features. In fact, even Product Management has nothing to do with building features. It is not a rocket science, product managers usually figure out the ‘building features’ part of it with time and experience.

“People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of Themselves.”

So how do you ‘connect’ users with your product? Not through features, not through gamification, but by triggering certain emotions with your users.

Gamification = Getting People Emotionally Engaged with Product.

Below are some of the most powerful emotions people have along with few examples that will help you figure out how get users to emotionally engaged with your product / startup.
PS: The number of emotions could be more, I have referred to only 14 here.

1. Expression

Expression – People love to express themselves. Enable it.

Products that allow users to express themselves:

  1. Tumblr
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Medium

Products that allow users to express themselves anonymously:

  1. Secret
  2. Whisper
  3. FML

Tip: ‘Expression’ is used as a core use-case in product.

2. Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment: People love getting acknowledged. With interactions & endorsements.

Help people getting acknowledged. They love it!

  1. LinkedIn – Recommendations & Endorsements are social acknowledgments which users love.
  2. Twitter – Retweets and Replies on tweets are great way to be acknowledged.
  3. Facebook – Likes & Comments are acknowledgments to status messages users shares
  4. Quora – Upvotes & Comments is acknowledgment to your answers.
  5. Tumblr – Love & Reposts are acknowledgments to you posts.

Tip: ‘Acknowledgments’ lead to ‘User Notifications’ which further lead to Engagement. Always build features that enable acknowledgments in products that use ‘expression’ as use-case in product.

3. Exclusivity

Exclusivity or Privilege: People love being privileged. Make it exclusive.

Make it exclusive. No one likes the feeling of being left out.

  1. Gmail – Gmail invites were exclusive to few users. People were ready to buy invites off Ebay.
  2. Quora – Only existing users can invite new users.
  3. Pinterest – Users need to apply for access. After few days they were granted it.
  4. Mailbox – Users were in queue to get access to the app.

Tip: ‘Exclusivity’ works best for initial referral program for driving sign-ups.

4. Being Cool

Being Cool: People want to be Cool. People want others to know they are Cool.

Make your users look cool when they share your product.

  1. Frontback – Share a snap along with a selfie. Lets users be cool.
  2. Vine – Short cool creative videos.

Tip: ‘Being Cool’ will help you drive sharing on Social Networks.

5. Nostalgia

Nostalgia: People have memories. Sweet Memories. Remind them about it.

Remind users about some of the best times they have experienced.

  1. Timehop – Complete product is built around Nostalgia. Reminds users of special moments from the past.
  2. Facebook – 2014: Year in Review videos
  3. Twitter – 8th Anniversary: Which was your first tweet.

Tip: ‘Nostalgia’ helps get back old users and revives their interest. Can be only used once in a year on special occasions.

6. Curiosity

Curiosity: People want to know. They fear on losing out. Keep them curious.

Keep users curious. Keep them looking for more.

  1. LinkedIn – The feature ‘who viewed my profile’ tries to keep its users curious, and engaged.
  2. Twitter – Catching up with Timeline, mostly is the fear of losing out.
  3. BuzzFeed / UpWorthy / ViralNova – All try to trigger curiosity of readers through their post titles.

Tip: ‘Curiosity’ in products helps you increase repeat usage.

7. Competitiveness

Competitiveness: People love to compete with others. Creates a sense of achievement. Make it happen.

Drive users to compete with friends / others.

  1. Foursquare – The leaderboards between Friends was a great way 4SQ ensured people kept checking in.
  2. Quora – The feeling of ‘I have a better answer’ or ‘I can answer this question in a better way’ keeps driving engagement.
  3. Fitbit – Leaderboard that tracks your fitness with friends.
  4. Hackrank – Programming challenges.

Tip: ‘Competitiveness’ leads to greater engagement. Though its novelty in private group is lost after some time.

8. Stay Organized

Stay Organized: People love to organize things. Organize everything. Make it happen

Give users stuff that they want to sort / organize. Keep them busy.

  1. Pinterest – Lets you organize pins / interests/ stuff you love.
  2. Evernote – Organize all your notes.
  3. Wanelo – Organize fashion stuff. Ask girls how much they love doing this.
  4. Calendar / Contacts – They are always in a mess. Its a never-ending struggle to organize this. Google Contacts & Google Calendar help you keep them in place.

Tip: ‘Staying Organized’ helps your users spend more time in your product. It soon becomes a habit.

9. Importance

Importance: People love to feel important. Its about them. Their identity. They want to show off.

Make your users feel important about themselves.

  1. LinkedIn – My professional achievements., that is how a user sees it.
  2. Twitter – My views. My opinions., that is how a user tweets.
  3. FourSquare – Checkin is telling the world – I am here.
  4. About.me – This is me. This is my identity.

Tip: ‘Importance’, everyone wants to be important. The product usually ends up being shared, talked about – and results in others wanting to do the same.

10. Authority

Authority: People love to display their authority on a topic. Give them opportunity to do that.

Help create authority for users. Users want to be acknowledged as influencers by others.

  1. Quora – Authority by Topics. Asked to Answer is being authoritative.
  2. StackExchange – For programmers.
  3. HackerOne – For hackers.
  4. Hacker News – For Geeks.

Tip: ‘Authority’ is the importance others in a community or forum assigns to select users. Users want to be acknowledged as being authoritative, it helps increasing engagement and spending time on the product.

11. Visual

Visual: People love stunning visuals. Its a powerful emotion.

Visuals create impact in product. Don’t miss on it.

  1. Instagram – Personal Emotions.
  2. Flickr – Professional Emotions (yes unfortunately for Flickr).
  3. 500px – Photography community.

Tip: ‘Visual’ is a substitute to all unsaid emotions. Use well when your product is build around pictures and photographs.

12. Freebies

Freebies: People love Freebies. Badges. Credits. It all works.

Freebies work. Make use of them correctly.

  1. Quora – Credits users get when other upvote their answers.
  2. FourSquare – Badges for Check-in.
  3. Uber – Credits to Refer Friends.
  4. Facebook / Twitter / Google – Regularly use Advertising Credits to on-board new advertisers.

Tip: ‘Freebies’ – use it only for one purpose. Can be used for activations, sharing or driving engagement. Use it for one use-case that can measured.

13. Money

Money: People want to make Money. People want to receive Money.

Money is one of the strongest emotions. Portray it positively.

  1. Google Adsense – Opportunity for bloggers, individuals, publishers to earn money online.
  2. PayPal – Receive money from anyone.
  3. Elance – Get paid for free-time work.
  4. Kickstarter – Raise money for your projects.
  5. Gumroad – Make money by selling digital goods.

Tip: ‘Money’ – Receiving Money / Making Money is a positive emotion. Giving away is negative.

14. Sex

Sex: People want Companions. People want Dates. People want Sex.

Keep it simple, keep it safe.

  1. Tinder – Helps you find date.
  2. Match.com – Helps you find date.
  3. OkCupid – Helps you find date.

Tip: ‘Sex’ – It is more about selling the Hope. Keep the product simple. Don’t over engineer.

Concluding Notes:

When you build any feature, try to trigger a emotional engagement with user. If you are in early stage of your product development or in process of making your product roadmap, spent some time with this methodology – 15 Steps Towards Building a Great Product.

When it comes to including emotions in your product, ensure the following:

  1. Use max 2-3 emotions per product.
  2. Gamification is not about building features. It is about emotionally engaging a user.
  3. Don’t exploit users. Be subtle. Be good.

Building The Next Disruptive Startup

The most disruptive word in Startup Ecosystem is ‘disruption’. Its used / abused / misused by almost everyone – entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, mentors, press and so on.

Founders love to call their product / startup as disruptive and so do investors who keep saying they are looking for disruptive ideas, both have very limited explanation of what disruptive startup actually means for them or they run out of examples or ideas when you ask them what exactly is disruptive about it. Most of the answers are – ‘If this becomes big, it could disrupt the market’.

Disruption

This is a random post, not intended to draw any conclusion or summary but sharing few things I have learned about disruptive startups and ideas. Probably also on how to get ideas to build your next big ‘disruptive’ start-up.

Circa 2008

Early 2008, I moved in my new role at Rediff as Product Head for Ecommerce. This was still the time when Ecommerce was extremely small in India, concentrated with some players – Rediff, Indiatimes, Ebay and couple of others; and the other side of Ecommerce was Travel which was growing steadily. At Rediff, we had 3 ecommerce products – Rediff Shopping, Rediff Books and Rediff Auctions (We shut down auctions soon after).

These were the early days of Ecommerce and to say we were not innovating then would be wrong. To bring up more users to Ecommerce, COD (Cash On Delivery) was introduced. To expand reach beyond (limited) online audience, experiments like Reader’s Offers (in Newspapers) were attempted by many. We introduced real-time customer support calls to users who dropped out during checkouts and assisted conversions via IVRs. Debit Cards were integrated. Top 20% products in top 20 cities were delivered in less than 3 days. Back then, all major players were marketplaces – that involved a lot of co-ordination with vendors / sellers for inventory, logistics, deals, order status and operations.

Few days into my new role a colleague mentioned to me about a new service – Flipkart. It was selling books. I loved what I had seen on Flipkart. The product was good if not best, but for a site that was launched just few months back – it did all that it was supposed to do perfectly with attention to detail. Prices were comparable if not the best; what blew my mind was the shipping times – awesome 4-6 days of delivery time.

In 2008, books sold on any ecommerce service took 6-10 days to dispatch (most of them had common vendors) and books that required procurement from US took 25 days on a minimum side (and customers used to wait!). Flipkart was quickly dismissed as a niche website, and books contributed to a smaller percentage of overall business. In fact there was a time that competition was more worried about Futurebazaar for its blistering marketing budget (oh, btw its in dead-pool now).

By end of 2009 I moved out of Rediff. And over time I started ordering books (and then other products) much frequently on Flipkart and was never disappointed by its service. I knew friends and colleagues were admiring loving it too. Flipkart kept growing and so did the word of mouth for them. Flipkart was rejected not just by many Investors, but also by its competitors. Over a period of time, all its competitors lost out on Flipkart as it emerged to be the face of Ecommerce in India.

So what did Flipkart do differently to disrupt Ecommerce? Instead of marketplace approach, it started off as a self-managed service. It picked up Books – the most under-served category then (under-served, but large – in 2008 Rediff Books had 1.2 Million Titles listed). It used most simplest channel for $0 marketing – Search Engine Optimization. Adding a million books to Google Index (this is in 2008) in a category that had less than 10 players helped them rank up well. And they rarely did goof up on delivery, dispatch or customer experience.

That was Flipkart. And the story about ‘disrupting a industry’ by a startup or underdog remains similar across the world. Startups / Entrepreneurs don’t disrupt a industry or vertical by ‘launching just another product’ in existing market. There needs to be a remarkably different approach, addressing a large market which is loved (or appreciated) by its initial users / customers.

So how do you get ideas for a disruptive startup?

Another example in Indian context is Housing.com – picked up real estate as a vertical that had more or less no differentiation and existing players were hardly innovating on product and consumer experience over years. Everyone was a copy-paste product of everyone else. Housing launched with a better product from day one for discovering real estate properties, focused on verified data, authentic photos and awesome user experience. While its competitors were serving advertisers, Housing started serving users. It is still in its initial days, but I am hoping Housing.com will become big someday (PS: its product is now bit more complex that it was in the initial days).

Coming back, a existing market / vertical, a large category, that has not changed for a long time are prefect for disrupting with a product that brings a fresh approach to it. While existing players keep thinking that their ‘yet another feature’ will kill this new startup that is making a dent, unfortunately this never happens. ‘Yet another product’ in a large market does not really disrupt a industry.

This probably is true for almost every big startup or product that is out there today.

  • AWS for Hosting:
    Huge market, frustrating times to set up & costly infrastructure, disrupted by on-demand computing and pay-as-you go.
  • Gmail for Email:
    Huge market, competition offering 4-10 MB inboxes, disrupted by 1 GB mailbox and of-course better product.
  • Square for Offline Payments:
    Huge offline payments market, under-served, simple product to accept payments with a phone.
  • Dropbox for Syncing Files:
    Huge need; users mailed files to save on multiple PCs or used USB drives. Simple & fast web storage.
  • Stripe for Online Payments:
    Huge need; developers where busy doing complex PG integrations. Simple to use payment APIs.
  • Uber for Transport:
    Huge market, demand > supply; Under-served market. Cool product that made the customer look smart.
  • … and so many more I can think of…

So where do you go looking for big markets to disrupt and build large businesses?

 

1. Look for market segments that have not changed for years.

In India context, Flipkart and Housing mentioned above fit in this example. We are (probably) done with phase of getting most of the products / services from offline world to online. Some of the verticals are still broken despite being online for so many years.

Examples that come to my mind are – Travel (Vacations – it is still an broken and under-served market), Matrimony (Nothing has changed in this vertical for more than 10 yrs, however people and culture has changed a lot), Classifieds (Largely served by few players and the model hasn’t evolved much) and so on.

Some markets are so big that there is room for multiple big players – Fashion being one of them. Some of the verticals just came online (Online Grocery & Vegetables) but are struggling to grow, maybe they need to approach differently.

One of my favorite examples here is Stripe and how it differentiated itself from others in Payment Gateway vertical. Or even Quora that came up in QnA space that had sleeping products like Yahoo! Answers or Answers.com

 

2. Look for large products that are ageing fast.

Look for large products that are ageing fast and its early users are complaining or it fails to provide value to them.

Some of the examples, LinkedIn (The product has not changed much over years, its early adopters are not using it as they did earlier or now they have other ways to connect with them) or Facebook (Its evident that the engagement levels are dropping and instant messaging has taken over Social Networking). Twitter (Yes, Twitter is ageing. For new users its complex to use, to understand).

More directions – Facebook was default private product; then came Twitter that was default public product. There is lot of opportunity for both products to reverse privacy. For example, Twitter is a public identity to many people, its private aspect ie. direct messaging is massively broken. Forget private product, even Twitter as a public conversation platform is also broken or difficult to explain to new users. Twitter itself is experimenting with removing @ replies to appeal to new users (while existing users will miss the feature most).

 

3. Look for large products that serve multiple purposes.

Look for large products that serve multiple purposes. Perfect one of their use-cases.

Best example here is Facebook. Large products like Facebook serve(d) multiple purpose – Status Updates, Messaging, Photos, Staying in touch with friends, etc. WhatsApp took up Instant Messaging, Instagram took up photos, perfected the use case and in turn made a big dent with their products. Since usage on a large product already validates the market need, build something that makes it work for users.

One of my favorite examples here is Vine how it figured out a niche for itself in the online videos vertical owned by YouTube. Though Vine was not the first to start off (there was Viddy and Social Cam who focused too much on spamy growth hacking techniques on Facebook), it was Twitter’s push that built this one up.

Also recently Zuck announced ‘Un-Bundling of Facebook‘ which serves similar use-case.

 

4. Look for missing components in daily used products that are ignored

Look for broken / boring experiences in the products around you that are in daily use. Broken, because you can fix them. Boring, because you can make them cool (or add value).

This probably over laps the above mentioned use-cases. Mobile OS features like Camera got replaced by Instagram, Text Messaging got replaced by WhatsApp, Mobile Phone Book got replaced by Gmail Contacts. There is a big opportunity if you can identify and replace basic utilities around you with products.

PS: The biggest broken experience on phone or devices today is battery / charging. And this is a tough one!

 

5. Look for big news or market changes around you

If you are too much into technology news look for changes around you and a need for product that you could build because of market changes and opportunities that come up.

Skype was acquired by Microsoft in 2011. Ever since (and even before that) there have been tons of connectivity issues with Skype. Its time for a reliable Skype, one that works as it should. Big opportunity! There is Google Hangouts, but it still doesn’t make a cut and unfortunately Google still treats this product as a part of Google+ and/or Google Talk. It requires attention as a independent product like Chrome, YouTube or Android.

Another big blow was when Google decided to make Gmail for Business a paid service for all. There are other paid business service providers, I tried a few myself when I recently was looking out for a free / alternate solution, finally giving up and settled for a paid Gmail account. Its a great opportunity to build a awesome product here.

My favorite example here is AngelList, Naval is an angel investor in 100+ startups – sensed the opportunity of creating a platform that connects startups to angels much before anyone else did. Another one is how Admob discovered mobile advertising when the world started making mobile websites (WAP sites then).

——————

Concluding Notes:

How to find Disruptive Ideas for Startup?

Listing down the 5 methods mentioned above:
1. Look for market segments that have not changed for years.
2. Look for large products that are ageing fast.
3. Look for large products that serve multiple purposes.
4. Look for missing components in daily use that are ignored.
5. Look for big news or market changes around you.

Wait, your existing startup does not fit in the above criteria? Nothing to get disheartened with, this is just a reference point. In fact I also realized that my own startup does not fit in this :)

Some takeaways,

  • The above 5 pointers all lead to a large addressable market. So next time a investor tells you he/she is looking for a large market, you fit in.
  • Just another startup or just another feature in large market does not make a cut. It should be a differentiated solution / product.
  • Disruptive ideas are plenty, it is the execution and team behind that matters most.
  • Most importantly, don’t build a product or startup in a market that is considered hot. Instead build something that you understand (or understand it well before you start).

And Flipkart, you have my respect for life!

PS: All notes referring to Rediff are expressed as my personal opinion. Most details mentioned here are in public domain already.

2014 – India Startup Landscape

Overview of India Startup Landscape – 2014

Junglee and how it impacts Indian Ecommerce

Junglee has once again got us to debate on our current favorite topic – Ecommerce. Many of us doubting that if current Ecommerce models did it right because Amazon chose an completely diagonal approach to enter Indian market with Junglee.com.

Facts first – Junglee.com has not invented product discovery and price comparison. Pricegrabber.com is one of the best products in this space for US. Shopping.com is owned by Ebay, and many other players in India as well.

There are already lot of posts talking about how Junglee has got it right and it will be the door or gateway to drive traffic and enable transactions on Indian Ecommerce sites. Well that may be true, but honestly I find this really weird, just because Junglee is backed by Amazon – does not mean it will be success or that it is the correct approach. Herd mentality thinking! I guess it is too early, driven by speculation without valid reasoning.

Google Buzz went wrong; Google+ is a disaster; Google Search plus your world is a messed up product. Facebook withdrew from daily deals, Twitter launched activity tab (silently withdrew that in new roll-out) or Netflix tried Qwikster. Point is – big companies make big mistakes.

On the other hand – Amazon has a thing of entering market at very early stage by introducing new products/verticals like AWS, eBooks, Kindle or making an very thoughtful late entry like Kindle Fire (Tablet) or by acquiring category creator or owners like Audible, Diapers or Zappos.

 

Here are some points I would want to specifically highlight about Junglee –

Competition –

  • Junglee is not competing against Flipkart or Letsbuy or any other Ecommerce player in this market at this stage. Product discovery & product transactions are distinctly different verticals., but what Junglee is attempt affects these players.
  • Junglee is not competing even against Google. With 1.2 crore products, it means Junglee will contribute more pages to Google’s search index than any other Ecommerce site in India. Most consumers will discover Junglee through Google.
  • Amazon.com has unmatched resources/experience in Search Engine (paid & natural) expertise; it clearly highlights it as one of the reasons for partners to list on Junglee. (Read point 3 here: http://services.amazon.in/services/product-ads/how-it-works/#/services/product-ads/faq/)

 

How Junglee might change the rules through discovery –

Ecommerce services have limited options of online marketing – Direct Traffic, SEO, SEM, Display Advts, Affiliate Marketing, Email & Social Media. (The funded ones get to do – TV, Radio & Outdoors). Compared to the cost associated with other formats of marketing – SEO guarantees long term and sustainable traffic acquisition mode. Overall high cost of acquisition in other formats of marketing is leveled down only through Direct traffic or SEO. Yes, Social is free but cost of acquisition is still a big proportion as users are acquired through discounting coupons.

Taking previous point ahead, SEO is pure content play and Amazon is master at that. With 1.2 crore products – Junglee will add approximately 3Mn+ pages to Google index, index size is typically 3X-4X for factors like review pages/ recommendations pages / category pages and so on. Due to this sheer size of index and high quality content placement, Junglee will quickly start rising in its natural search rankings. This will affect both – partners who has listed on Junglee and others like Flipkart who have chosen not to.

Here is why –

All products listed on Junglee (or any Ecommerce site) can be classified as two

  • Standardized catalog products (Books, Digital Cameras, Laptops, DVDs, etc)
  • Non standard products (Jewellery, Toys, Clothing, etc)
  • For standardized product like say this Canon Digital Camera – the content includes product description which is standard on every site; but will be enhanced on Junglee with recommendations, reviews and more.
  • For non-standard products like this Mayur Pendant Sapphire offered by CaratLane, despite content being exactly the same, even without reviews or recommendations – Junglee will quickly be listed above CaratLane for multiple factors, key being vastness of catalog for Pendants & Jewellery.

And this is one of the key reasons why natural search traffic on both websites listed or not listed with Junglee will be affected big time. Over time, a high proportion of natural search traffic will be taken by Junglee and will be distributed by it.

This also provides a very large opportunity for small players (including unfunded) or offline retailers (who are lost at times on online marketing) to acquire qualified users.

For those who have not listed, it makes some perfect sense to get their products listed on Junglee as they will witness a gradual decline in natural search traffic. And to get traffic & acquire those customers from Junglee – they will require to be competitive on pricing.

 

Product listings are Free.

Really? and you believed that.

Amazon is selling Kindle Fire below its cost, because it is confident that it will recover revenues of the device through content consumption. If you are thinking that Amazon will not make anything out of Junglee.com – you are wrong. When it comes to churning out online user behavior data and consumption patterns, no other Ecommerce service can do it better than Amazon.

Junglee has the entire product catalog required for Ecommerce. Soon Amazon will have all the insights it wants to know about Indian consumers – Products consumer are searching for, Product-Price ratios or even Demand / Supply for all products categories.

 

Challenges for Junglee –

A product discovery catalog with 1.2 Crore products is not easy thing and Amazon is doing this more efficiently than anyone else with its own core product – amazon.com. Challenges for updating inventory, prices, reviews or recommendations exist, but are not big for Amazon. Junglee can really force upon real-time price and inventory updates to its partners and get them to standardize it.

What would be more interesting is Amazon could localize the product – showcasing partners who can ship in least amount of time to say – Panaji or Kolhapur; deep integrate with offline retailers and help making purchase decisions – like a Apple iPad 2 is available now in Croma (2 Kms away from your location) at Rs.500 discount than buying at an online store.

From what I know – Croma maintains a list of products available for sale in every store on its central inventory management (I was once asked to visit another Croma store to pick up an mobile phone, the staff kept the last piece off shelf). Currently Junglee.com is a minimum viable product, but can Amazon get to this?

 

Where does this all lead to for Amazon – 

Two options ahead for Amazon –

  • Amazon Market Place
    If Amazon is keen – this can happen tomorrow. Junglee has the product catalog, simply enable an payment gateway and instead of redirecting traffic to partner sites, start sending customer transaction orders which its partners can fulfill.
  • Amazon Store
    Keep it slow, learn more about users / markets. And when the time is right launch a full fledge Ecommerce service.

And its very likely that Amazon will take the route two. Feel like investing in Amazon now? Ouch.

Google+ may be miles away from being a great Social Product!

A Product Manager’s view – Why Google+ may be miles away from being a great Social Product!

There are various reports on super adoption of Google+, earlier about 10 Mn users and today it reaching 50 Mn users.  The key question is – How many users are engaged there? Also echoed by The Lean Startup author Eric Ries while Facebook has 750Mn active and engaged users.

I am trying to tell myself that first signs of product usage and assumptions change over time. It happened with me for Groupon where the business model was innovative, but not scalable; for Quora post initial adoption; for Twitter (where I was a early adopter) but found no one else there and stayed away for 2-3 years before becoming active again.

Same happened with Google+ my first reaction was Facebook killer, then next was Twitter killer – and over a period of time with my Product Manager’s hat – I feel that it may be miles away from being a great Social Attempt!

 

1. What is Google+? No one cared to answer!

A standard product management and product marketing practice is to tell consumers what the product is. The world knows about Facebook, despite its 750Mn+ active users – every time you visit Facebook homepage it tells you what it is.

  • Facebook – Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
  • Twitter – Follow your interests. Instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world.
  • Flickr – Share your life in photos.
  • YouTube – Join the largest worldwide video-sharing community!
  • Foursquare – Check in. Find your Friends. Unlock your City.
  • Quora – A continually improving collection of questions and answers.

While for Google+ – No one cared to answer what product use-case it solves or what should users are expected to do on it.

 

2. How does a user access Google+ ?

Users access Facebook on www.facebook.com; Twitter on www.twitter.com; and so on – is it www.google+.com?

And to prove this point – look at Google+ suggestions on Search –

Accessibility is a big question mark for Google+. The correct way to access Google+ is plus.google.com – which a technology early adopter shall ‘probably’ remember – but even he or she will end up accessing (most of the time) Google+ from within GMail on the notification bar at the top.

This point is also related with next set of arguments – User Psychology & Naming & Identification Psychology. I feel these factors are extremely important to consider while building any consumer product.

 

3. User Psychology for Consumer Products

For any Internet or mobile product – consumers are quick to label it with its strongest product use-case – which is typically the recall product value of the user. Simply stated for a normal user –

  • “I visit GMail to check my emails!”
  • “I visit Google to search the web.”
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to.”

Now it is extremely difficult for any product to have a “and use-case” for a product –

  • “I visit GMail to check my emails and Social Networking.” – No!
  • “I visit Google to search the web and Social Networking.” – No!
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also searching the world wide web.” – No!

“And use-case” works for features that support any product’s core value. Features that would be to better manage emails (for Gmail), to better display search rankings (for Google Search), to show more types of friend’s activities (for Facebook) and so on.

Google is aiming to take on Facebook with a Social Networking product. But launched it like a feature on Google Homepage (Search) & Gmail (Notification Header). In current avatar, Google+ is a feature – and will gain traction as much as a feature can. It will not gain identity as a social-networking stand-alone product.

Also note the big failures of other “And use-cases” –

  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also Buy Local Deals.” – Deals was abandoned by Facebook
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also to check-in in places” – Places as stand-alone attempt within Facebook failed, but as feature is gaining traction.
  • “I visit Gmail to check mails and Buzz up articles.” – Google Buzz… remember?

“And use-cases” work for B2B products, but have never worked for any consumer web product.

.

4. Naming & Identification Psychology

Social Graphs & Social Networks are all about giving identity to users. Currently, Google+ itself needs an identity. Users think and will continue to think of Search when they think of Google, and it is virtually impossible for them to perceive Google as a Social Network.

How consumers relate with social activities – “Are you on FB?” “Can you tweet this?” “Let me share it on FB” and so on. The terminology “Google” or “Googled” is built over last 13 years – will be impossible to change from search to a social context.

For sake of Product identity or for its different product use-case, Google+ should have been outside of Google identity with its own identity (probably a www.plus.com if it was available). But the lure of exploring existing user-base is too difficult to give away – and if that logic was to succeed Yahoo! would have still been the largest internet company in this world. They tried to do everything under Yahoo! brand name (Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Shopping, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Hotjobs, Yahoo! This & Yahoo! That), but for consumers Yahoo! was and always remained a content play.

Even Google’s largely successful consumer products outside Search – Gmail & YouTube were successful because consumers saw it as an independent product identity outside the core of Google’s Search. While Google Video, Google Buzz, Google Answers – all failed. I am strong advocate of one-product = one-identity for consumer web businesses.

 

5. Social Graphs are occupied; No place for Google+ to fit in

I mentioned in my previous post Building Awesome Social Products – successful social products are reflection of people’s offline behavior in the real world. Similarly – successful social graphs are also reflection of people’s social relationships in real world. Social Products reflect activities, Social Graphs reflect relationships.

A typical user’s social relationships involve –

  • Close Relationships – Friends, Family, Friendly Colleagues (present and past) – more importantly people you know personally.
  • Professional Relationships – Colleagues, Business Relationships, Partners
  • Loose Relationships – People you know, but they probably don’t know you. Celebrities, known professionals, domain experts

Facebook covers Close Relationships, LinkedIn covers Professional Relationships, Twitter covers Loose Relationships. So if Google+ is trying to create a new Social Graph, it will be a struggle (big struggle) – simply cause there is no use-case for a new social graph. Social graphs are distinct; by nature, by user behavior and are established over a period of time.

Features don’t make a product success by itself and expect it to later evolve in to a Social Graph; Instead having a use-case for social graph is essential and the features should evolve.

6. It is important to know whom to kill – Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, or what -?

Google+ though it presently looks like a Facebook killer – it is not. None of my friends are using it the way they use Facebook, instead I see more updates from technology adopters in Silicon Valley – and the posts look like extended tweets (beyond the 140 characters). I follow these technology adopters on Twitter, and hence my own assumption that probably it is a Twitter-killer.

Google+ still does not have a clear proposition – and is trying to overlap between all three Social Graphs (Close Relationships, Professional Relationships & Loose Relationships) without taking a clear positioning against one of them.

I am personally not happy with the killer-suffix (no products killers have ever killed anyone – they are still trying to kill iPhone & iPad). But its also important to know who your competition or what your benchmark really is. Or you might just try running behind all, but never able to catch up with any one of them.

7. Developer APIs will not enable Social Graphs; Instead Gmail invite contacts are more powerful.

There has been lot of noise about speculated Google+ APIs for developers to build applications and its release dates or so on. Developer APIs will provide access to features – posting an Google+ update, ability to do +1 through applications, and so on – but this sounds (unfortunately once again) like Twitter APIs or FB app APIs that allow you to post status updates and share pictures and so on. Most importantly, Google+ will not be able to build a Facebook Connect equivalent.

Today Social Graphs when referred are mostly Facebook explored through Facebook Connect (unless you write some algorithms on top of them to bring context to your product). F-Connect allows applications & developers to enable Social Graphs (of friends); which clearly explains why 1000s of applications prefer to have Sign-up with Facebook buttons.

Google+ has multiple circles (friends, acquaintances, doctors, techies – and you can delete and rename any other circle); relationships in these circle are mutually not dependent on each other – and hence cannot be explored even if Google+ comes out with a API to access them. Let me explain this below –

a. A user Larry might add another user Zuck in friends circle; Zuck may add Larry in My Gang circle. Hence social relationship between them is not mutual (as friends).
b. Further Larry might name his friends circle as Buddies; Zuck names his friends circles as Pals; Hence the social graph definition itself is flawed.


This is a huge flaw – Through APIs the developer’s applications cannot reach mutually accepted graph of both connections (mutual friends) or an validated status of their relationships (close friends, professional or loose). Hence at this stage it would be more preferred to use the Gmail Invite Contacts module – for simple reason that it is more powerful and treats all contacts at a same level (a social graph of email contacts / connections).

 

8. Not the best attempt at Social Networking

Google already knows so much about its users – whom do you chat (on GTalk), whom do you mail (on Gmail) or who are my most contacted people in real world (on Android). Google could have actually used a lot of this data, recommended people with circles (I still hate sorting people in circle all the time, but pre-cooked circles by associations would still have been so much better).

With Google holding so much data and wanting to go ahead with a strong social product; it is expecting users to do it again from scratch. Makes one feel that Google+ is a half-baked attempt.

Facebook users usually have about 150 to even 5000 friends. Usually added over years, and all added at a same level – ‘Friends’. However cool the task of adding people to circle is in execution – to add those many people again to circles is a pain. While most people that users see on Google+ are those who are discovered through the people you follow. Every time to add someone to a circle is little more effort than just adding as a friend (on Facebook) or just following the user (on Twitter).

Circle looks like Twitter lists – People get added on them once, later everyone forgets which user is put in what circle. And while the News feed (or stream) stays common for all – the Circles might as well be forgotten just like Twitter Lists.

The next point makes it more clear – why it is not the best attempt at Social Networking.

 

9. Real Capabilities of Social Graphs (or Networks) are absent –

Get this right – Friends (or Connections!) are the minimum one expects out of a Social Network. What stands out are the capabilities to engage those connections. Remember Orkut? – it had all connections; but Facebook just made the engagement so much better.

  • Ability to discover Friends or Connections in context –
    Google+ has done a simple job or fetching contact list from GMail and enabled it with the painful process (yes!) of adding to circles. But by enabling discovery of friends or connections who are active on Google+ – the suggestion engine for friends could have been so much better.
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    Example –
    1. I end of following lot of product enthusiasts & early adopters. There are mutual connections that could be added to my circles – which currently not recommended.
    2. My Gmail contacts list have endless email addresses of people I really don’t want to follow in circles or on any social network. So a smart recommendation based on whom I chat with, mutual friends, top contacts on Android and others need to be made discoverable.
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  • Stream or Newsfeed –
    The most important discovery tool on any Social Platform is Newsfeed. In its current stage – the Stream on Google+ is very Twitterish – a timeline of all people you follow.

    Facebook raised the standard with algorithms that help you discover feeds that is most relevant to every user, ranking every story contextually around a user. Newsfeed makes or breaks any Social Product and single most important activity & engagement enabler for any Social Product or Social Graph.
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  • Communication or Chat –
    The most cut-copy-paste feature of Google+ is chat – where user can chat with contacts he otherwise can also on Gmail or Gtalk. Quite honestly, this is the most ridiculous feature, with no context to people any user has put in his circles.
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    In context of chat (or video chat) – expecting users to do Hangouts with webcam is a big No. Hangouts are not conversation starters, but should be featured alongside as planned video conversations.
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  • Ability to drive Traffic –
    Remember Google Buzz? There was nothing wrong in the idea – attempting a Digg or Facebook Share or Tweet Share. Once a user Buzz’ed an article – it was critical to reach his Social Graph and drive viral traffic to that article. This story failed cause of poor dissemination of activity in user Social Graph. Google should learn lessons from Google Buzz chapter.
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    Social Networks like Facebook & Twitter are popular with publishers or businesses due to their ability to drive traffic to their own websites. While few publishers have added the +1 button to their webpages – still drives only an insignificant proportion of traffic to them; and lot of unclarity on how the dynamics of +1 button works for publishers and its benefits to them eventually.+1, Like, Share, Tweet this – are big distribution mechanisms for a Social Network. Should be given its required TLC.

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As mentioned earlier – the product use-case should be driven by features; and not the other way round. Google can always come back and say – we are working on this. But hey, if a product is coming from a product & technology resource-heavy company like Google – even user expectations also very high.

Even these are early days for Google+, web is dynamic and consumer interests change quickly and Google can still do lots of changes quickly and innovate, possibly even work on the above arguments if they agree with it.

This post is written over last several days with some last minute additions on stats before hitting the publish button. Meanwhile Facebook has launched a series of new features, which looks like they are (over)reacting to Google+. Facebook, you are miles ahead, don’t make mistakes, please.

 

Daily Deal Aggregators – what is your business model?

Deal Aggregators – what is your business model?
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Movie 300 – One of the most inspiring scenes, when King Leonidas asks his army – Spartans, what is your profession?
watch it here – http://bit.ly/4csyEj
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Post the series of daily deal sites that have come up in India (or across the world) – there are many deal aggregation services that have been launched. There are on going debates – is there a business model for deal aggregation services?
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While daily deals and coupon services are growing in India and else where – many users/customers of daily deals services as well as critiques of this business models have complained that people usually end up buying things that they do not want or would not have purchased otherwise. Which is little illogical because you buy it for the deep discount – and you buy it by your choice.
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My example – I am a regular eCommerce transactor – at least 10-12 product/books (non-travel) transactions per year. However I am yet to buy a deal/coupon as most services are offering deals that are not relevant to me or not close to my location. As a consumer, here is my take – I will not be interested in a coupon that gives me Rs 200 off at a restaurant in Andheri (Mumbai). The economics does not work for me, total travel time of 4 hours, commuting cost between Rs. 100 to 500 depending on mode of travel and accessibility of the service provider.
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There are two primary needs of consumers in this space that are not yet solved completely:
– Relevance of the Deals
– Location of the Deal
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While this is the problem that most daily deals and coupon services are themselves trying to address – the aggregators can do a better job at this for following reasons:
  • Most deal sites are limited to anywhere between 1 to 5 deals at any given time. That limits their reach to about 5-10 suburbs in a city like Mumbai (Mumbai + Navi Mumbai + Thane) or Delhi (Delhi + Gurgaon + Noida)
  • A deal aggregator can get such 5 deals from 5 different websites – and will have 25 deals to showcase and in most cases the span of reach will be wider – about 20-30 suburbs (which covers 40-50% of Mumbai)
The above statement is very logical, however deal aggregators now have to think beyond just aggregation and focus on distribution of such deals to relevant audience – relevancy by deals and location. At least in India, it may not be the daily deal websites that can take this business hyper-local but definitely the deal aggregators can if they wish to.
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If deal websites are focusing on – Deals in Mumbai; aggregators should focus on Deals in Andheri, Bandra, Chembur, Colaba, Ghatkopar and more!
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My two cents – Business model for Deal Aggregators should not be aggregation of deals. That is a simple job and that is minimum expected out of them. Your business model should be Distribution – distribution of deals, thats where they start testing their capabilities and adding value to the ecosystem!

Why LinkedIn should acquire Quora

Quora has seen unprecedented traction in last few months on 2010 and bound to be an one of the most talked about startup for 2011. Here are few reasons what makes Quora an perfect candidate for acquisition by LinkedIn.

1. LinkedIn is a network of professionals – however much activity is centered around initiating business contacts and building your professional resume/network.

2. LinkedIn tried getting into having its users into groups and eventually discuss, debate on topics within the community – if you are an expert a mere “recommendation” by colleague is emphasis of your performance at a particular role or organization. Recommendations always centered around – great team player, leadership role, knowledgeable, etc – but users were not able to demonstrate their expertise, opinions on to a common forum with industry leaders/ participants.

3. LinkedIn community features (like status updates) are mostly feed-into by Twitter or applications like Foursquare. Professionals will not share expertise without being asked for – Quora has questions, and hence ability for professionals to demonstrate their knowledge.

4. LinkedIn Groups have repeat questions – the perfect answer may be in some different group which is not discovered by the person asking the question. Quora has solved the discovery puzzle for users. I manage an 8000+ group on LinkedIn, the quality of answers on Quora are unmatched to those on LinkedIn. The issue is not quality of people, they same are on LinkedIn, issue is how to get those quality Questions & Answers discovered or re-used.

5. Other players – Twitter, Facebook, etc are more social and so is the content shared – status messages, pictures, links, etc. The level and quality of questions that are asked and answered on Quora will not fit within the Social Norms established by Twitter or Facebook.

Nevertheless Quora also has challenges like going beyond the web-startup community, dealing with self-glorifying users that at times add irrelevant answers to grab attention, highly prolific users with right expertise flooding user stream that overshadows other users, questions with multiple answers but few getting maximum votes causing difficult in discovering other relevant answers, and so on. These are good challenges to have and will only test ability of this product.

If LinkedIn has to acquire Quora, rather than integrating the same within LinkedIn as an component it should –

– Allow Quora to grow independently on its own

– Allow LinkedIn profiles to be linked with respective Quora profiles

– Build an rating/ranking system that allows determination of user’s expertise on subjects/topics based on crowdsourced feedback on user’s questions / answers / comments

– For LinkedIn users, show an Quora expertise quotient in subject/topic user has participated.

The great thing about Quora is its well maintained quality of questions and answers. The next great knowledge resource is Wikipedia (but in encyclopedia format). If Quora has to be independent it will grow in a Q&A’pedia; if not LinkedIn is best fit for professionals to demonstrate their expertise

This opinion was posted originally as an answer on Quora at: http://www.quora.com/Who-is-most-likely-to-acquire-Quora

Why Indian Languages Failed to make a mark Online!

Why Indian Languages have failed so far to create much desired impact on Internet?

With due respect to companies & entrepreneurs working in Indian /Indic languages – let me put practical thoughts on Indian Languages proliferation in Indian Online industry. Technology is nice, great infact – we love it when we type in English and the text gets converted to an Indic language. Technology does makes us say – WOW!, but it is not enough to assume that millions of Indians will adopt it and it would bring about an revolution in Indian Internet Industry.

Revolution in Indian Internet Industry will be when about 100Mn Internet users in India grows to 500Mn (not in next 20 years, but in next 3 years) & about 1XX Mn Mobile Internet users grow to 500 Mn (not in next 10 years, but in next 2 years). Hope the revolution of this sort does happen – but will acceptance of Indic languages lead to it – answer is definitely NO! The ecology for this change is simply non-existent in India today; and is far from created.

Having worked in the Internet domain – we have repeatedly heard that Indian languages to be the next thing. These predictions actually looked more like “me-too” product offerings – thats worked-in-US will work-here-too. Because China has Baidu does not mean we need one!

Coming back to Indic languages, in my opinion – the languages space has been highly misunderstood. We saw several efforts in this direction over years:

  • Rediffmail introduced feature to send and receive emails in multiple Indian languages many years back. However the usage of this service is not more than 1% of overall service. Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO, Rediff.com said earlier – “Lets not assume that (Indian) users want Indian Languages!”
  • Microsoft started offering its Windows Operating System and MS Office Suite products with Indian language versions since last few years. The adoption rate of same is questionable – to my best positive guess it will be still <0.5% of overall installations.
  • Keyboards / Input devices with multi-lingual keyboards were at one time were hailed as innovations to drive computing to rural India.
  • Indian fonts also saw its own best days when they were introduced to the market.
  • Bi-lingual (English+Hindi) mobile phone keypads were once a rage. Nokia introduced a series of phones and around same time we saw a huge interest in mobile applications working on Indian languages

Most of these services/launches were well received, were thought and perceived to be game changers. Maybe at times even I did think in same way – but while I have studied this space and have interacted with few wise people in Indian & International scene – Can strongly put forward the conclusion that Indian Languages will NOT make a mark in Computing, Mobile or Internet domain. It will not happen very soon – the ecology for such change to happen in India does not exist.

Here are of fews considerations that makes me form such strong opinion and conclude on absence of ecology favoring Indic languages adoption:

Diversity of India:

While this is what makes us proud of India – this is one of the strongest reasons why Indic languages have failed to make a mark.

Consider emerging markets like-

  • Brazil: Over 99% of population speaks in Portuguese
  • Other Central & South American countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, and many other countries have Spanish as the official language with over 90% population in these countries speaking in Spanish.
  • Similar with French – it is widely accepted in many European countries as official language.
  • Consider China – it is as diverse as India, but all most popular versions of Chinese languages are based on standardized version of Mandarin (based on Beijing dialect)

Consider India – while Hindi is leading official language, but no single language has adoption across the country. State governments have endorsed respective regional languages as official, Hindi failed to find the common ground – but English did!

How Innovation starts in Local Language:

Take market like China – The innovators, the early adopters, the influencers, the decision makers, the entrepreneurs – all of them DON’T KNOW English!  So innovators developed softwares, websites, products in Chinese; early adopters used Chinese products and so did the influencers, decision makers, and everyone else in China.

Take India – we know our Mother Tongue (our Mother Tongues are different) + we know English!

English is Aspirational language!

English is an aspirational language. Nothing official about it!

It can be confidently said that the percentage of users who will read/write/speak English language will keep growing for next 50 to 100 years. The same cannot be said about Indic languages.

How new users are learning computers:

For applying to government jobs that involve computer related work, few state governments in India have provided guidelines / benchmarks or minimum criteria based on examinations/programs acknowledged by them. Once such program with examination is MS-CIT for Maharashtra Government.

Had a chance to visit once such center – the communication with students may be in local language – however many users prefer to give examination in English language and during their classes learn computers that have English versions of Windows / Office and other software applications.

Indian languages are complex; Do not follow standard / global script:

One of the most favoring factor for languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc was the fact that they followed alphabets from English language (ABCD…XYZ). No additional fonts, hardware or input devices were required to be created when uses adopted computers usage in these languages – both reading and writing.

In contrast, all languages in India do not follow standard script and are very complex to input and still be grammatically correct. To a small extent, another disadvantage is – like English we cannot drop vowels (AEIOU alphabets) to make shorted and communicable form of any Indic language, an convenient SMS lingo of Indic languages could not be developed.

Even Devanagari script is very complex to be standardized for its multiple languages on a input device like keyboard; even if it were – all languages in India are not based on Devanagari; while in China most Chinese languages have standard Mandarin script.

Internet was built on Content; Indic languages lacked adoption by early movers:

Internet was built over years – the most popular activity till date on Internet has been creation & consumption of content – through content sites, social content, or services & products that communicate through a content (language). While content was created in other global languages based on English alphabets from early days of Internet – it took a long time before content in Indian languages started appearing on Internet. By the time ability to create content in Indian languages was available – English had taken a mighty lead in its adoption as Internet’s mother-tongue for India.

In early days of Internet in India, most early adopters had English as first/second language. It made more sense for these users to adopt English language than create content in Indian languages as content was readily available elsewhere to. Most early and popular Indian websites too focused on creating content in English.

Even if they were to adopt Indic languages – the question will always be – which one to start with?

Indian Languages are great for Consumption; Not for creation!

As users we consume all regional languages through other Media – Television, Radio, Newspapers. Its very easy to consume on traditional media and the ecosystem exists for – content (TV programs, news content, audio content for radio), publishers (multiple TV channels, news papers & radio stations) and advertisers (promoting products in Indian languages). There is huge amount of content produced, audience availability & consumption, and advertiser interest.

Indic languages are great for consumption; not for creation! Ask yourself –

  • How many times have you sent an official email in Hindi? No business may deny communication in lndian language if it gets you more business – but did you send?
  • How many times have you sent an email to an friend in any Indian language?
  • How many times have you composed and sent (not forwarded) an SMS in Indian language?
  • You may talk with your friends in any language – like Hindi, Telegu or Bengali – but did you write email to them in that language?

No Rewards for creating Content for Publishers

Even if large publishers now take efforts to create content in local language – the cost & economics associated with this may not justify the efforts. The questions to ask would be –

  • Is there audience that would accept content in Indian language. If there is – are they online today?
  • Are advertisers willing to include these in media buying plans, develop creatives in multiples of Indian languages – would the right advertisements be displayed to correct audience?
  • How will they get traffic? How will they optimize for SEO? If they post an message on their Facebook fan page – will the users reply back in local language or in English?
  • The monetization – how will they?

Monetization for local language content publishers:

Should we charge consumers to access our content in local Indian languages – that will not work. The debate if content should be free or paid has been ongoing since we have known – its best concluded that content should be free as it has been.

Coming to online advertising opportunities, agencies and publishers need to take extra efforts if they have to cater most of the Indian languages – the time and effort required in doing so may not justify the returns on many metrics.

Even current large publishers like Yahoo, BBC, etc having local Indian versions of its service – feature display advertisements in English itself and have comparatively less advt spots than their English versions. Many small and medium publishers will rely on Google Adsense for revenues – but Google does not do any wonders here. No robust technology available to content sense Indian languages – and even if it were available – there are no advertisements available in languages to match up and show them in relevance. Fill rates for advt-spots would been lower and with fewer revenue generation options – small publishers will think twice before putting efforts on creating Indic language content.

Take a look at large portals in Brazil, France, Spain or China – the ecology exists with an huge array of content providers, publishers and advertisers communication through respective local language.

Literacy Rates of India:

While most predictions about Indian languages are made that it will increase penetration of Internet users in India – we forget to acknowledge the fact that there still exist an huge population that is illiterate. Unfortunately, 35% of world’s illiterate population is in India.

As of 2007, India’s youth had literacy rate of 82%, while that of Chinese youth was 98%. Literacy rates are based on an individual’s ability to read and write, not on his ability to understand or use computers! Hence the addressable Internet market in India for any language will be far lower than the entire population.

Our Generation is learning to give up Indian Languages:

Few factors around us might be making us give up our inclination towards Indian Languages. One of the strongest is influence on Cinema / Bollywood – Indian audience is bombarded with promotions of movies close to its release date, most promotions today feature names of Indian Movies in English characters!

Did you notice that – Ghajini, Dabangg, Golmaal, Rajneeti, or many latest blockbusters from Bollywood came out with posters/promotions focusing with name of movie only in English (or Hinglish). And so are television programs and contests .

While sending SMS’s even to our friends – its easier to type a local Indian language in English (Hindi + English = Hinglish), not just for Hindi but for all languages.

We are slowly learning to give up Indian Languages when it comes to usage on Mobile or Internet.

The Litmus Test for Indian Language Usage !

Amitabh Bachchan on KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati) asks viewers a question for winning 1 Lac, users are expected to send SMS KBCQ followed by options A, B, C or D.

One fine day if he declares that only SMS in local languages will be accepted. How many users you think will send the answer as  (केबीसी क्यू क, ख, ग, घ)  or any other local Indian languages? Will there be a SMS responses go up or fall drastically?

For a simple message like this – there will be multiple variants in multiple languages.  Try composing this on your phone in Hindi or in your own mother-tongue. Now – Did you get my point about Indian Languages?

Concluding Notes:

There is definitely a pain area that has to be addressed here knowing the potential that can be unleashed will be tremendous. The challenge that needs to be addressed is not about creating a tool to translate content to Indian Languages or simplifying the creation in Indian Languages – but it is about creating an ecology that enables creation, consumption and monetization of Indian Languages!

Notes from above article:

  • Indian languages are based on complex scripts – it may be easier to read content, but not to create it.
  • There is no common ground for one Indian language – hence English takes a lead and will continue to.
  • Although there are technology innovations that lets one type in English and then auto-translate in a local language – but the minimum criteria to use the same is knowledge of English!
  • For Indian languages – it would definitely be the Mobile Story! Mobile Penetration in India is already about 50% of entire population – is the rest 50% a addressable market is questionable – even the new mobile operators in India have to prove themselves.

But with Indian youths – 82% literacy rate and high mobile penetration already are key factors. A solution for proliferation of Indian languages usage needs to be out before English becomes the De facto communication medium and an lost opportunity for Indian languages!

The Future of Television

Writing after a long break… Started writing this post over a month back!

On 20th May 2010, Google announced new Google TV in US, that was late evening by Indian Time. Incidentally, same day morning – my very good friend working in an Television Channel was discussing about how TV programming will shape up in next 10 years. Below is the extract of the same mail I had sent to her and followed by the presentation on SlideShare with some concrete ideas about the Television of future.

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“Past Few Years:

Television as hardware device – evolution from standard television box to slimmer versions
  • From Regular to Flat Screens
  • From Flat to LCD
  • From LCD to LED
  • The evolution will continue towards personalized broadcasting.
In future the televisions will act as display devices,that could be plugged in to any input devices not necessarily only satellite or cable channels.

They would be used to stream information. In US time spent by consumers online is today much higher than on televisions. Consumers are willing to view video streaming online for TV shows, Sitcoms and also movies. If that happens and continues over a period of time – TV business (as a hardware will go out of business) which large players like Samsung, LG will not want to. Simple because when users would want to spend time online and consume same content online – the players who will gain most are the laptop and desktop manufacturers – HP, Dell, Apple and others – among which LG and Samsung dont have much share.

So to keep TV in business they would reinvent the use of TV box. So expect devices like TV to get IP addresses and WiFi features that could be hooked on to the Internet. Consumers would want to create playlist (of youtube videos?) or information streams (twitter, facebook) or photo stream (family albums, etc ) that could be broadcasted over the internet to their TVs or personal devices.

Unlike what users see today – a choice of channels that they browse on TV, they would create their own broadcast and stream it to televisions. So users end of creating their broadcast, they would access it from wherever they want to. Like you are on a vacation, and you have a TV at your hotel, you would connect that to your own broadcast and view entertainment of your choice.

So media channels and networks will not just face competition from existing television competitors – but anyone would could participate in these broadcast of consumer’s choice – even a small website. These broadcasts online will be standardized to any web content format or APIs or anything as simple as a XML or RSS feed.”
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Below is the presentation format of the same ideas.

State of Internet

Came across this presentation – kewl one.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.