May 6, 2010

Innovators Dilemma [Solved]

A friend of mine forwarded this link to me from, and while reading through it a different train of thought started chugging.

In the book Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen talks about Disruptive Technologies. He talks about various well established companies in various industries failed to adapt themselves to the disruptive technological changes and which led most of them to fail in longer run. These kind of changes keep happening all the time around us, and once we map it to disruptive technology, suddenly we see reason.

When I applied it's principle to my previous company (SiRF), I suddenly could see why the company failed. SiRF had established market leadership in GPS chips being used my navigation devices and in other niche segments. Profit margin in these industries was close to 50% and the company thrived in this market. Market for GPS chips in mobile phone was quite small then, and the profit margin quite low (30%-40%) for SiRF to address this market. But the market for GPS chips did change drastically in favor of mobile phones, where the requirements were completely different (low profit margin, low power etc..) and SiRF could not hold on to its leadership position.

While I was reading the article on MondayNote, a similar thought ran through my mind in the PC market space. That article clearly highlights that the PC market has reached the maturity of its technological S curve.

Smartphone is not really a disruptive technology to PC's, but the technology market today is disruptive in favor of smartphone. I think Apple successfully made this transition from PC market to smartphone market with iPhone. The defining moment was when Steve jobs in his keynote announced that Apple Computers Inc is now being changed to Apple Inc. He clearly saw that the PC market has evolved to it's maturity and for any PC company it only makes sense to ride the next technology wave, if they have to survive. That was 2008, and this is 2010 when HP goes and buys Palm.

I don't know if HP's attempt to enter the smartphone market through Palm will help it successfully transition to the new market. I am sure Dell must also be considering to enter this market one way or other. But clearly Apple, under Steve Jobs leadership has emerged a true winner in this transition.

I was quite puzzled while reading that book, that the reason for big company to fail is actually quite simple. Yet none of the company he talks about in his book could successfully make the transition. With that thought in the back of my mind, I think now I have even more respect for Steve Jobs.

He has solved Innovators Dilemma.

Mar 12, 2010

SMS Long Code Finally Arrive

So finally IPL starts its third edition on a big note. IPL, in my opinion is not so much about cricket as much it is about the advertisement revolution that it has brought to this country. Zoo-Zoo's were launched in the last season of IPL, and the advertising fraternity does realize that it has been THE most talked about advertisement in a long time. They made an entry again today and people were again fascinated by them.

But it was another advertisement that grabbed my attention. Abhishekh Bachchan, asking people to play a contest on their mobile phone by sending a sms to a regular 10 digit number. It can easily pass of as a regular advertisement asking people to vote over SMS. But NO it is not normal at all. Here's why.

At the turn of this century, Realty shows made a huge impact on the Television industry and how viewers interact with it. Every realty show would ask their viewers to vote by sending a SMS to a short code. These short codes were extra VAS numbers (regular short code would cost Rs 3 and this one would cost Rs 6). Viewers did not realize but both the television shows and the mobile operators made loads of money when millions of viewers started sending their sms.

But now after almost 10 years, in my opinion number of people sending sms to a short code has started to decline. You will want to participate in a reality show and make your star a winner. But after some time the novelty of method dies down and your rising phone bill start to make you choosy about when to sms.

And so Abhishekh Bachchan asking you to vote by sending SMS to a long code, marks a huge shift in the way producers view this consumer market. They are ready to forgo the money they were making on the shortcode and really focus on consumers interacting with them over sms.

This option has been there for a long time. But people were just not aware that the kind of interaction that they do over a short code, by paying premium cost could be done on a regular 10 digit mobile number. This will now change. You will start to see more and more long codes coming in advertisement and TV contests now. And I am really excited to see this change coming in the market.

Way to go AB.

Mar 6, 2010

xAuth for SmsTweets

SmsTweet as you know is a fun application that I created to let me update my twitter status using sms. It gives me a great flexibility to update my twitter status on the go. Users either register on the website using OAuth or I would store their username and password HTTP digest if they registered using their mobile phone only. Former was breeze but the later caused a little bit of problem. For people who registered using OAuth, Twitter displays the source as my application (SmsTweets), but who registered over mobile phone (with their username and password), it displayed the source as API. That caused a little problem for me to track people who were tweeting through my application.

Recently Twitter released xAuth using which applications can request user tokens by just providing their username and password. This has been a pending request for a long time mainly by desktop and mobile based twitter clients. For them access to the web may not be straight forward and it was difficult to get oauth access tokens.

But the access to xAuth is limited. You need to send an email to to enable your application for xAuth. Once they have enabled your application, you can pretty much follow their documentation to get it working. Documentation is far from clear right now, and it may take a lot of iterations and exchange of emails to twitter to get it to work for you. As was the case for me. But finally I got xAuth working for SMSTweets, and I have moved all my users who had provided their username and password over mobile phone to OAuth based authentication.

And yes, Now I can get rid of all the duck taping that I had done to get OAuth based and HTTP based authentication to work.

Feb 21, 2010

Managing Loyalty on Mobile Phone

Since the day I formally started my own company, one of the idea that I was toying around was running loyalty program on mobile phones. I am not a shopping freak, but still do manage to carry atleast 4 different cards in my wallet. Even though I hardly use them, the fear of actually being in one of these shop without the card dithers me from dropping it. On the other hand a mobile phone is something I always carry and use it constantly. So why can't my loyalty card turn into my mobile phone?

A lot of company like mCheck and others are actually trying to solve the bigger problem. That is to get rid of your credit/debit card or your wallet itself completely. Indian government does allow service providers to deduct money over mobile phone so we don't have any regulatory issue here. And the technology used by all the providers is quite secure so that is not the problem either. Moreover with 500 million subscribers in this country, you can't even deny that the market is not there. So why do you think companies like mCheck have not been able to make an impact in this market?

I believe mobile payment in India is a classic case study where an idea is beaten down not by market need, but the cultural underling of the market. We've had the dot com revolution for a decade now, But still the number of people who transact online is abysmally low. The number is increasing no doubt, but still it's a fraction of overall market. Mobile payment may be downright easy and the most convenient way to do it, but you just can't change the way people transact.

This market does not want convenience. If you offer that as a service, it will not take it. People don't mind carrying their wallet. So don't try to replace it. Basically don't expect the market to learn a new way of payment. And by that I don't mean don't provide mobile payment at all.

Well, coming back to loyalty on mobile phone, we recently launched mLoyalty for Games n Gadgets. GnG is a premier shop focussed exclusively on Games and accessories. You can become a member of GnG either by filling up a simple signup page on or by just sending a simple sms ADDME GNG to 9243000111. That's right, the amazing thing about this program is that you access it over your mobile phone. You can register, find out about your points, sms your complaints/queries over SMS.

You don't get a physical card as part of this membership, but instead you just use your mobile phone which you anyway carry. You shop and at the checkout, mentions your mobile number, and the points are automatically added to your account. You can send sms MYPOINTS GNG to 9243000111 and get to know the number of points you have. The shop is going to launch attractive contests which you can participate on your mobile phone itself. If you win the prize, you will the gift on your mobile phone as a SMS, which you bring to the shop, show the SMS and walk away with your prize.

For a change it is actually going to be fun to be a part of such a loyalty program. So go ahead, register yourself and enjoy the gen X ride.

Jan 15, 2010

EzeeCoupon Advertisement

This is how the EzeeCoupon's mobile coupon corner looks like in the Jayanagar CityPlus Edition.

Jan 9, 2010

Good Morning Jayanagar

Yes the title is inspired from the blog post of Twitter announcing it's collaboration with Bharti Airtel. But that is as far as the similarity goes.

Tomorrow early sunday morning, as Jayanagar (locality in Bangalore) wakes up and picks up their weekly edition of Cityplus newspaper freely delivered to them, they will become part of an advertising innovation which delivers promotional offers and discount that they are interested in on their mobile phone. Yes, What an Idea Sirji? Indeed. Our company EzeeCoupon, has tied up with 14 establishment in Jayanagar to deliver their discount offer to people who request for it. Cityplus readers just have to look up the mobile coupon code from a "Mobile Coupon Corner", SMS that code prefixed by EZEE (For example "EZEE BAP1") to 9243000111. Immediately they will receive an exclusive discount for the requested store.

Sounds simple? Yes it is. It is meant to be. You don't register anywhere. You don't fill out a form. You don't start your computer and connect it to Internet. You don't even have to have a fancy phone. And guess what? You don't have to pay 3 or 6 rupees as a VAS SMS as well. If you have a free sms plan from your phone service provider, you can download as many coupons for free. In essence that is the core of the services we envision to provide.

The idea as such is not ground breaking, but most definitely quite new. It involves the whole ecosystem of advertisers, to the advertising media and the consumers. We have really been lucky so far to get the advertisers and the media (Cityplus) to work with us (a story I'll save for later). But now is the real challenge when we present it to consumer and see how they react to it. Consumers usually detest changes. But there are a handful of innovation that has passed this crucial test. Hopefully we will pass as well.

Finally I do need help from everyone reading this blog to help us spread word about ezeecoupons and provide us feedback on it. So grab your copies of Cityplus Jayanagar edition, or call your sister, in-laws, friends or cousins staying in Jayanagar and ask them to check out this corner. And if you don't fall in any of that category, go to and lookup the mobile coupon online. But most importantly, Avail the discount and let the advertisers know, that this is indeed a nice way to advertise. Talk/Tweet/Blog about it to your friends and help us spread virally.

Into the New World.