Thursday, January 31, 2008

We serve you all

Check out the top line on google search results. For the ignorant dumb mortals - it shows how to save a nano-second while searching.

Why? I can't imagine more than a very small fraction of population finding this useful. Secondly, who cares? Finally, where do they make keyboards with "return" key these days? Stupid!

Download until I die

Windows thinks that it will take me 48,851 days (~133.83 years) to download a 134MB file. This was while I downloading at a quick speed of 1 meg every 2 seconds.
Did they just do the math wrong or is this some sick prank? Sure, things are just slower at Microsoft these days, but how sluggish is that :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Customers are smarter than you think...

Marketing is THE most difficult, painful and important task for any consumer facing business. All of us who are in the process of building a consumer brand will recognize that and will agree that often times it's tempting to do things that arent' quite right. But, what the heck! In the long run, we figure, when you are a "BRAND", no one really gives a damn about a few wrong things you did while getting there.

That is, ofcourse, true if you are still living in the 90s. Things have changed. And thankfully, whenever I am tempted to think otherwise, I come across stuff that keeps me honest. Here's two recent posts I came across recently, about two internet brands in India that are quite big and I quite respect.

The first one is apparently a complaint by a BharatMatrimony user being spammed by the company despite unregistering. Feedback from others - mark them as junk, and you will be saved from further pestering.

Individually, we consumers, may not be as smart or as big as a business is, but as a community, we are much smarter and much smarter. Lets ship stuff that helps leverage this power and not get caught in pretty short-term gains.

The second one, though quite different, is interesting, nevetheless.
Cleartrip apparently is cross-selling hotels to air customers. This is a common strategy, and almost everyone does it online. And those who don't do it are either stupid or dead. The difference here is that cleartrip seems to do it on the phone, through voice! And while this might work for a number of their customers, one of them got irritated and wrote back on its blog.
Hrush acknowedges, and hopefully they'll stop.

The reason, I hope they do stop, is because online travel is largely a business of breaking "ties". When price is equal across all, and inventory is the same, we consumers decide on the intangibles. Having read this post, now I am worried that I'll receive calls from them after i make a booking and I'll be reminded of this every time I am on their billing page and they ask me for my phone number. Ouch... not a good thought for your consumers to have, when they are just one-step removed from paying you money.

Build it slow... build it right. And if you fail, just because you didn't cheat, that's ok. Die with dignity!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fools rush in

I could not help but laugh off the reaction by the hordes of dumb investors who were affected by the stock market blood bath in the last few days.

The news snippet below, cited by - is worth a chuckle :)
In Mumbai, a huge number of ambulances were pressed into service between brokers’ offices and nearby hospitals to reach persons complaining of chest pain or uneasiness. Doctors in hospitals across the city were hard-pressed to examine the increasing number of patients being brought in with chest complaints and related illnesses. The ICUs of almost all city hospitals were full. ECG machines in several hospitals reported to have failed as the volatile signals were too high to measure. According to unconfirmed reports, hospitals have placed orders for large number of new equipment to meet the massive demand. Fire fighters had a tough time in various parts of the city trying to bring down people from the terraces of high-rise buildings as they threatened to jump to their death having lost all their savings to the market crash.

In another news, there were heavy protests outside the finance minister's home with angry investors shouting slogans like "Chidambaram Murdabad" blaming him for the market crash

We blame the finance minister for a market crash, the umpires for a lost cricket match, the local policeman for a traffic jam. When don't we just own up our stupidity?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yahoo sucks... big-time!

Google's dominance in the search market is well-documented. Its always surprised me quite a bit that Y! just cannot make any gains in its market share. Sure, Y! has more cluttered interface, its focus might be somewhere else and its algorithm might be inferior. These things are obviously fixable and it might over time.

But what makes Y! so unpardonably pathetic is that their SEM program sucks. True their overhyped Panama platform might help make some algorithmic gains over time, but why does the interface suck? They may not be smart enough to match keywords and serve ads, but c'mon guys - don't tell me you cannot a simple usable interface for your advertisers.

Between Y! and Google, the former has generally demonstrated better ability to produce fantastic UIs, but SEM is another beast. Make no mistake, Google's adwords is far from being ideal and could very well do with a more thought-through design, but Y!'s looks like a school-boy project.

If as an advertiser, where Y! clicks come at a 70% discount to Google's, if I still cannot make myself to increase my spend on Y! SEM, there is a serious problem. Not being able to drive customers to pay you is one thing; but when you do not have the etiquette to accept more money from a paying and willing customer, you are doomed, i think!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

No Chaos! Just Unconference @ Barcamp Ahmedabad

All you techies, geeks, web/mobile/startup enthusiasts, techno-philes or phobes, etc. - be sure to attend the BarCamp (un)conference at IIM Ahmedabad this coming Saturday the 19th.

For those who don't know, BarCamp is just what it sounds like, well almost. Its a camp of like-minded people to hang out and talk about fun stuff related to internet, mobile, technology, startups, etc. Its open, its democratic and its fluid. No pre-appointed speakers, no agenda, no sales pitches and unfortunately no beer.

Daniel Tardiman explains here why its called so. While Ahmedabad has been a bit slow to get on the BarCamp scene compared to our more techier brethrens in Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc. - there's no reason why we can't leapfrog them in quality.

For more info, visit the wiki and register yourself. And if you wish to get in behind the scenes action, become a groupie here

When - Saturday, Jan 19th. 9.30 AM - 5PM
Where - New IIM Campus, Ahmedabad

I am considering doing a talk on Startups there. Hope to see you there!