Digital Consumers turns 1 …

Today by a chance encounter , I checked the date of my first blog post – it was on 19 th June ,2012. So this blog has completed one year and so far I have written 37 posts totally.

I was not sure why I wanted to write this blog in first place. I had this idea in my mind and I thought I can give it a try. Results have been pretty mixed I should say. I was not very focused on this blog as my attention span has come down to a few seconds. I find making short observations on social media sites more easy and comfortable than writing a blog.

Blogging is a pain , especially after putting lot of effort into drafting  a post only to find that at end that is  not  up to the mark. Some times those kind of post stay in drafts and at other times , I shamelessly hit the Publish button without feeling guilty.

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It’s not Apple, but Google, the most valuable tech company on planet

In early 2000, Google was nothing more than  an internet company that specialized in search. Later it ventured into Google Maps and Earth.Few years later , Google bought Android and started fighting with most of tech companies on all front – with Apple for mobile ecosystem supremacy , with Facebook and Twitter for social networking and with host of providers like Amazon,iTunes for digital content.

 

It was like equals or competitors to each of big tech industry players and it was mostly on digital and internet space. But for last few years , Google has embarked on some thing more daring and ambitious with the launch of Google X , a secret lab where  some projects that are crazy enough are being dreamt , designed and tested with Sergey Brin (one of the founders of Google ) at the helm . These projects that could alter and change of way we live.

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Enhancing maps,gps based navigation in India using pincode

Has Pin code lost it’s purpose in 2013 in this digital world at least in urban India?  Pin code were primarily used in India for delivering letters/courier and is still very popular in the rural areas though advancement in telecommunications with onset of mobile has reduced its popularity to great extent thus in 2013 , it has little or no relevance.

Most of us would have faced this situation of explaining our residence address to family or friends or cab drivers. It is last mile route  that is difficult to find and it takes around 2-3 calls to find the exact location.

In India , we always rely on the passer-by help for  finding the address especially in smaller streets for which maps are not that good. During  rain or late nights , we hardly find people on the road and finding address becomes difficult.In many instances one need to come out  of the house, stand on the road  and guide the people who are on the phone in other end.

Even with the advent of GPS and Google maps along with explosion of smartphones at various price ranges , locating and navigating to specific address is not quite easy.Google Maps solves the problem to some extent.One option is to search and  save the address by browsing through maps  and then navigate easily.

With Google Maps , it’s easier to search common point of interest likes restaurant and other common land marks  but not individual house or small establishment etc.

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Culture of Online User Reviews in India and Improving Credibility

If you are in India and hooked up to social media like Twitter or Facebook , you would not have missed out the controversial blog post by a group of youngsters who have cribbed about the horrible experience of having a brunch in a restaurant and being mistreated pretty badly and ended up being in a police station.

What is interesting to note is that the blog post was anonymous and it described in detail the trauma that the youngsters had to go through . And being the typical social media enthusiasts we are , without trying to understand both sides of the story ,the blog post was tweeted and re-tweeted back and forth that it received nationwide attention and it is trending for last 2 days.

User Reviews are all about bad experiences

It’s quite a harrowing experience when business treat customers badly using force especially and it is quite normal that we  crib about the experience by  writing bad reviews on popular sites , lower the ratings,talk about it repeatedly in social media sites so that the business gets your attention and tries to fix the issue.Most of the bad customer experience that every one of us had in the past coupled with power of social media try to bring brand and business on their kneels. Brands too keep an eye on social media and try to reach to you to solve the issue.

But of late online reviews and social media interactions are more towards cribbing about a problem and trying to claim noise. I hardly see any interactions about how good an experience was .Every bad experience could have always 2-3 good experiences , of-course not with the same brand or business but with some thing else. But are we talking enough about good customer service and appreciations ? Lack of good reviews is one of the main reasons why users tend to choose  some products or service since they don’t have much choices in many cases.

If we look at reviews in MouthShut or Burrp or Zomato , other than a select few reviews , most of them are generally negative and it is more about trying to bring the brand down.

It brings me to the question . Are we using social media or internet effectively that all of us get immense benefit from each other’s experience ? Every time a pleasant transaction happens , are we registering it some where so that it balances the negative reviews which can help in making an informed decision?

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Why closing of Flyte by Flipkart is many steps backward for music industry

It’s only last year that Flyte, music library akin to iTunes was launched in India. Few , very few people was actually interested in news about buying music legally. Rest all continued with piracy route.

And it’s no wonder within a year , the service is closed since there is no traction from buyers to this new concept of paying for music. Digging deep into this , it is alleged that there is a minimum guarantee money that needs to be paid to music label irrespective of whether music is sold or not. And this amount seems to be higher than the income made by service and hence it was not profitable for Flyte to continue the service.

And some are not believing that to be the case and how better advertising could have helped the service gain more traction.

Music Industry is non-existent without movies

First , let us try to understand the music industry in India.Music industry is nothing more than  complimentary to movies made in India. Music industry as stand alone doesn’t even exist in India. Unlike Western countries where music industry is independent from Hollywood , in India is totally dependent.

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Re-thinking fine dining experience

There are few innovations that are currently being rolled out in fine dining space such as booking seats in advance and managing good set of content on the restaurant website. But what about the experience once the customer reaches the restaurant ? What kind of experience that can really wow the customer ?

Automated Food ordering through tablet

1.Interactive UI for exploring the menu using tablets

Visualizing the dish

Whenever i visit a new restaurant and browse through the menu , i find dishes whose names are very difficult to comprehend and come to a conclusion as to what this dish is all about.  It is always a good idea to provide actual pictures on how the dish would look like giving an idea whether it is served dry or curry etc.

Is that quantity enough for 2 or 4 ?

While ordering food , am not also not sure about the quantity that will be served as it differs from place to place and also depending on cost. This will make me conscious not to order too much. So what could be done is that a picture when taken with the actual quantity in a proper bowl will add value so that we can order food based on the quantity . It will also give a chance to people to order more than one dish since they are sure about the quantity. In some instances , i have ordered food and found the quantity to be less but would not order anything else due to time constraints. This could help in this aspect.

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FM Radio – India’s Spotify for music streaming

I was surprised by the news that Samsung Galaxy S4 does not have a FM radio. And it’s interesting to read the reason provided

Our studies show a trend shift of interest to digital broadcasting, specifically – focus on listening to music content in social networks or on the channel YouTube. The flagship model of our products are focused on customers who use digital content, which use modern formats and channels of information consumption

Galaxy S4

Source:AppleInsider

While i felt it is an important omission as FM radio is a standard feature in almost every device now , my friend replied that when some body buys a phone for Rs.45000 , wont they buy digital music? FM radio’s are so old he added . Spotify is the new in thing that lets you stream music and that it will come to India shortly.People who buy high-end smart phone will be willing to pay for such services was the focal point of discussion.

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Key take aways for Android OS and apps from Facebook Home ?

So the Facebook Home is revealed and so are the reviews . Every review is positive about how Facebook cleverly managed to sneak itself into an unique layer of smart-phone and OS battle front. It is neither a phone nor a OS but just a wrapper that makes it all the more unique.

Bringing people to center of smartphone was an idea flouted by M$ when launching Windows Phone 8. It even had a lock screen implementation for Facebook which looked a bit similar . But blame it on  less traction and without a clear strategy that idea did not take off quite well.

Facebook home

Source:extremetech

What was running through my mind when Facebook was making this announcement was that why no app in Android did take advantage of occupying the lock screen for so long. My personal understanding on  how Android was built made me  thing that lock screen is not accessible  for stand alone third party apps and that is why no is able to come up with cool features that takes advantage of the big screen real estate. But Facebook has proved now that it can be done and that it can make the experience good as well.

Apple Passbook to an extent used the lock screen in a good way to display the Passbook related notifications  based on geo-location though there is no clear idea on how the lock screen is going to be taken forward in iOS. But with Apple being closed , it can take more time for Apple to collaborate with Facebook to bring such a deeply integrated feature in iOS.

Though Facebook Home undermines Android OS to an extent from visual design point/app launcher and notification , there are few take away for Android which when implemented can make the experience more awesome.

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TV shows coming exclusively to Netflix for binge viewing.Future of TV ?

You may have read the news about the world premiere of a new TV show ‘House of Cards‘ available exclusively on Netflix. It is a first-rate show produced by Netflix with a list of A starers like Kevin Spacey playing the lead role and directed by the critically acclaimed David Flincher .The icing on the cake is  that the mini tv series is available for binge viewing i.e.  all the 12 episodes of Season 1 are available  at one shot for viewing in Netflix.

Binge viewing is the concept of watching back to back episodes of a TV show over an extended period of time for people who cannot figure out time to watch one episode a week. This is an established way of watching TV series, mostly re-runs that are normally watched over a lazy weekend with the help of DVD set or through internet streaming services.

This path breaking step of Netflix could be either end up as a game changer thereby  posing a great threat to traditional tv broadcasting or could end up as an experiment that may not be continued due to financial viability or distribution complexities etc.

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How Twitter real time search achieves human like relevance and context?

Twitter has explained how the real-time search works and ways of using real-time searches to get relevant advertisement for each of search query. It is explained in great detail and is bit vague to understand with various jargon floated around.

twitter real time search

Source:cache.clickonf5.org

This is my attempt at explaining the whole process in a simplified manner.

1.User makes a search in Twitter.

2.In the back ground,Twitter monitors each such keyword search and displays results from automated search result algorithm similar to how Google uses search algorithm.

3.But if the same keyword is searched for multiple times and the volume of search increases for that keyword,instead of automated search results, a different process is followed so as to get more contextual and real-time relevance.

4.Twitter sends such keywords search request  to Amazon’s ‘Mechanical Turk‘ (Amazon’s crowd-sourcing online platform for small jobs). So when Twitter sends these search queries,people would analyze and tag them with appropriate photos,articles or any relevant videos etc.

5.Once the response is received,Twitter gets more context to the search query,it has a human context and relevancy to search keyword.Finally Twitter returns the search result with the usual search result algorithm and in addition to that all the relevant pictures , links , videos tagged to search queries making the search results more relevant through the  combination of both human and machine based search algorithm.

Also Twitter will also add any relevant advertisement to these search query results there by making money from search results similar to Google. Only difference here is that the search results are real-time.

Sounds amazing right?