Insights & Strategy

2011 as year of Social Media revolution

2011 was truly the year when Social Media and technology took big leaps making its presence felt in the mainstream discourse of the country. Impressed by the revolution brought about by Arab spring, Indians immersed themselves watching desi viral videos, tweeting about their love for fighting corruption and also being threatened of censorship.

The year of Social Media revolution

Anna’s fight against corruption proved how to use Social Media socially in true terms. From uploading Anna’s speeches to YouTube right from Tihar jail, to letting supporters know the nuances of Lokpal through collaborative Google docs and presentations. Facebook and Twitter was used to their best advantage garnering more than half a million followers on Facebook, and thousands of tweets every hour.
Internationally, the Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in Dec 2010 e posted his last message on his Facebook wall before setting himself on fire after repeated police harassment. What started in Tunisia was tweeted and blogged throughout the Middle East leading to Arab spring. Countries like Egypt, Libya and Syria erupted despite government imposed internet blackouts. Armed with their cell phones and access to proxy servers the Arabs let the world know about their revolution through YouTube, twitter and Google Maps among others. Common people like Google employee Wael Ghonim played their part in mobilising people, reporting the massacres and atrocities by using technology to stay one step ahead of the government.

India Wakes to Flash Mob viral video after 26/11 anniversary

A group of 200 dancers dressed in casuals danced to the tunes of ‘Rang de basanti’ at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus generating more than a million hits on YouTube within first 4 days. Organised by Mumbaikar Shonan Kothari this flash mob synced into the national psyche riding on a patriotic wave.
Inspired by the CST Flash mob, cities like New Delhi and Chennai organised their own riding the viral wave. Talking about viral Videos, Kolaveri Di a love song sung by Dhanush went viral within 24 hours of its launched. Loved and tweeted by celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan led to the viral onlslaught on YoutTube. In little over a month, the video now has 30 million hits and has been even featured on YouTube’s blog. Several remakes of the original version has only led to its popularity establishing the importance of video as a critical content marketing tool.

Social networking top pass time among Indians

Nothing suggested otherwise but the final reaffirmation came in the month of December through a a report titled ‘It’s a social world’ by ComScore which proved beyond doubt that online Indians are truly social as much as their international counterparts. From a total online population of 45.9 million users, 43.4 million spend time on social networks like Facebook, Orkut, BharatStudent, LinkedIn and Twitter. 94.8% of online Indians use social networking, that is an average time spent of 3.4 hours. Facebook became the dominant network in India last year and continued to stay ahead of the competition.

India gets tough on Social Media

Kapil Sibal, the Indian took the Social Media companies by the horns asking them to remove offensive material from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google. As netizens cried censorship there was confusion all around regarding what measures he intended to take to clean the web for Indians. Pharses like #idiotKapilSibal were most tweeted the day this announcement was made. Sites like Facebook and YouTube have extensive set of guidelines to remove defamatory content from their streams. However, Kapil’s pre-screening of content was considered just undoable and simply an impossible task which would required millions of pages to be screened.

India delivers Akash, the world’s cheapest tablet

What was supposed to be worth $35, the Indian tablet was launched for $60. The wifi enabled tablet based on Android operating system is set to revolutionise the education sector. Akash was widely reviewed internationally for features that prove its worth for the money with rugged features suited for Indian conditions. However, it was also criticised for its poor battery life with limited options for apps,, software, and not so impressive construction.

Lets sign off 2011 with this interesting video from Google

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Insights & Strategy, News

RIM slashes Playbook rates by over 50% in India

blackberry playbook size next to my tiny hand....

Image via Wikipedia

Research in Motion (RIM) the Canada based makers of Blackberry Playbook is offering the tablet at a highly discounted rate of over 50% in India. This was announced today as part of limited season offer.

The 16 GB model can be bought at Rs.13,490 ($254) in the Indian market instead of Rs.27,990 ($527) as it was originally priced. The 32 GB model is available for Rs.15,990 ($301), the 64 GB model is being offered for Rs.24,490 ($461) against their regular prices of Rs.32,990 ($401) and Rs.37,990 ($462) respectively.

This could be the much needed push towards gaining a part of the market share in emerging markets like India where Apple products like iPhones and iPads are just beginning to make their presence felt. RIM has just been able to sell 800,000 Playbooks globally during the first 9 months of its launch which is dismal when compared to Apple, which sold over 11 million iPads till September. With a growing middle class having a disposal income, gadget shopping is fast becoming the favourite pass time of Indians.

No doubt Asian markets like India are price sensitive and could provide RIM the much needed depth when global cues have increasingly added to its long list of woes.

The year 2011 has been particularly bad for RIM, when it saw being threatened to be banned by governments of India and Indonesia for not being able to follow local government data and privacy laws. Recently, RIM announced that it would be taking charges worth over half a billion dollars due to two major failures this year.  The over production of Playbook tablets had amounted to $485million as surplus inventory for the company. Earlier another major disaster struck RIM in the form of network outages in October which affected users in Europe, Middle East and Africa, further lowering consumer confidence in Blackberry.

RIM’s shares this year have plummeted to a multi-year low, the company has shed about $30 billion in value this year so far. The year is not yet over for Blackberry, which is also facing a trademark lawsuit from BBM Canada, a research measurement organisation over the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) trademark. In an earlier instance a US court had forced RIM to change the name of its operating system from BBX (now its called Blackberry 10).

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Insights & Strategy

Google+ swells to 63mn mark with 625,000 joining every day

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google +, the social network launched by Google earlier in the year to compete against Facebook have crossed 62 million user mark i.e. a daily growth of 625,000 user sign ups every day. This was reported by Paul Allen, as expected on his Google+ page on Wednesday. Paul leads research firm Elance that has been tracking Google+ data ever since it was launched.

This is a huge jump from the 50million user mark which was reported on Dec 1 this year. Google+ holds the record of fastest organic and viral growth when it touched 10million user base within first 2 weeks of its launch in July. There could be several reasons for this growth as Paul clarifies in his update on the network, “Google+ is adding new users at a very rapid pace. It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks.”
Google has engaged in aggressive advertising strategy this December with a commercial highlighting Google+’s ‘Hangout’ feature with Jim Henson’s The Muppets. Hangout is a group video chat feature allowing multiple users to have group chat sessions at the same time.
The festive season has given a boost to the numbers as 24% of the total number of users joined the network in December. By this rate Paul predicts Google+ to touch 293 million users by 2012, “If this rate of new signups (625k daily) continues then Google+ will reach 100 million users on Feb. 25th and 200 million users on August 3. They will finish 2012 with 293 million users.”

Recently another report released by ComScore titled ‘It’s a Social World’ has pegged the total user base at 67 million members. Google+ was also the number 2 most searched keyword of 2011 as put by Google’s annual Zeitgest list reaffirming the growing interest in the network. However, with the exception of this spike in the month of December, interest in Google+ has been on the decline overall. Google hasn’t released any figures regarding the total number of active users on the network which it has managed to retain. The number of active users is often substantially low as compared to the total number of sign ups on social networks which have high attrition rate. Google+ is expected to enrich user experience by assimilating +1’s (equivalent of Facebook Likes) in search engine queries and across all Google services.

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Insights & Strategy, News

Trademark lawsuit leads to Blackberry’s woes

BlackBerry Bold 9700

Image by Roozbeh Rokni via Flickr

Adding to the woes of Research in Motion Ltd, the Canada based manufacturers of Blackberry devices has been sued by BBM Canada for using the BBM trademark. BBM popularly known as Blackberry Messenger (BBM) is the messenger service by RIM with 50mn users’ worldwide.

However, BBM Canada which stands for Bureau for Broadcast Measurement, a broadcast and audience measurement organisation has expressed the trademark infringement citing that it has been in operations longer than RIM. BBM Canada was established in 1944 much before RIM’s messenger service came into existence. Though, Bureau for Broadcast Measurement started using the shorthand of its name BBM only since 2001.

RIM has been known to spend a considerable amount advertising its BBM services and such a suit if settled against it could lead to losses. Earlier in the month, a US court had forced Research in Motion to change the name of its new operating system, which was originally called BBX. BBX has now been renamed to ‘BlackBerry 10.’

It has been possibly the worst year Research in Motion Ltd with several lows. RIM was threatened to be banned from countries like Indonesia and India for non-compliance with government policies and refusing to share encrypted data services provided on Blackberry mobile phones.

After a recent warning last week regarding the delay in the launch of new Blackberry device which is now scheduled to arrive only in the latter half of next year, RIM’s shares had plummeted to a multi-year low. RIM is not doing good sales and is facing tough competition from Apple’s iPhone and other Android based devices. Rim has also shed about $30bn in value this year so far and has been facing problems due to over production of Playbook tablets which amounted to $485million as surplus inventory. The prolonged network outages during October in Europe, Middle East and Africa had played its part in dipping consumer confidence in Blackberry’s ability to provide a seamless service.

This article of mine was originally published in Daily Post. You can access it here

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News

Google’s Android touches 700,000 activations every day

English: Android Robot. Français : le logo d'a...

Android

The interest in Android based mobile phones and tablets has been growing and according to a recent update by Google’s mobile chief Andy Robin, there are now 700,000 daily activations on the platform each day. The update was made on Google+, a social network launched by Google in July 2011.

The hike is explosive growth for Google promoted operating system which was pegged at 550,000 devices by Google chairman Eric Schmidt at a Le Web conference held in Paris two week back.

In his public update on Google+ Andy further mentioned that “…and for those wondering, we count each device only once (i.e. we don’t count re-sold devices), and “activations” means you go into a store, buy a device, put it on the network by subscribing to a wireless service.”

According to http://www.9to5google.com, a web resource on Google, “to put it in perspective, 700,000 devices a day is almost 5 million every week, or 21 million a month, or over a mind-boggling 250 million a year.”  These figures play a fast catch up to Apple’s iPhone which sold 4mn iPhone 4S within the first week of its launch.

It should be noted here that Apple’s generates bulk of its revenue through the sale of iPhones and ipad leading to iOS activations. However, Android is installed on various mobile and tablet devices through various vendors like HTC and Samsung reaching low cost emerging markets selling products at a cheaper rate compared to Apple’s iOS enabled services.

Google has been aggressively promoting Android and trying to fill in the void left after its mentor Steve Job’s demise. Andy Robin during a AsiaD conference held last week had remarked, “…the DNA in the people walking the halls at Apple is a very powerful combination of the arts and computer science, and I don’t think that’s changed with Steve’s passing. That combination of creativity and computer science, it’s still there. Apple will certainly miss Steve’s leadership, but now it’s time for the other guys to step up.”

Experts on the blogosphere believe that if Android is able to sustain the growth rate then daily activations by the end of next year could touch 2.5 million a day, amounting to at least 900 million activations a day. However, Google may not be making much money out of Android activations as they are routed through third party vendors, meanwhile Apple makes a healthy margin of more than 30% on its activations and sales.

This article of mine was originally published in Daily Post. You can also access it here

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Insights & Strategy

Last week: SOPA, Facebook, Google+ and its a Social world

New Scribd.com logo

Image via Wikipedia

Covering major highlights of last week: SOPA, Facebook, Google+ and its a Social world

SOPA: The beginning of the end?

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill with US congress had the online community entrenched with guns blazing against the government and those companies supporting it. The part of the  community consider the bill as an misguided attempt to stop web piracy. Among other things the bill proposes to introduce website blocking at the DNS level, and against any associated sites that is “facilitating” infringement, or “enabling” it on the web holding copyright infringement to websites that host user generated content. This would amount to blatant censorship and wipe millions of pages of content from several startups and companies like YouTube and Facebook. More than 40 of top Silicon Valley companies are now publicly against SOPA including Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Google, AOL and Mozilla among others.

The online community is protesting against those supporting SOPA. This week GoDaddy, which initially supported the bill came under fire from users on social media, some companies even threatening to withdraw 1000’s of their domains registered with it. GoDaddy finally got the message and on Friday withdrew its support to SOPA.

On Wednesday Scribd, the social reading and publishing website made every document on the site disappear word by word to reflect the implication the bill has against free speech. Paul Graham, the founder of Ycombinator, the most successful business incubator threatened to block companies supporting the bill from its demo day denying them access to millions of dollars in seed funding.

Advertisers get access to Facebook Timeline

Keeping advertisers at bay from the personal space of users has been the hallmark of social networks that have thrived in the last decade. Facebook this week announced the introduction of ‘Sponsored stories’ allowing advertisers to cannibalise your News Feed, though it would be limited to one story a day and marked as ‘sponsored’. The phenomenon of social advertisements which will utilise the content from users social graph as advertisements promise a higher conversion rate.   Facebook even created a special webpage to explain users what this new feature is and that the company spends more than $1billion each year to support its business and needs ads to pay the bills.

It’s a Facebook’s Social World

A report by the same name by Comscore for 2011 proves that it actually is a social world with 82% of world population engaging in social networking sites representing 1.2 billion users.  Facebook is way ahead of other networks and despite the launch of Google+ and LinkedIn gaining momentum none of these platforms seem likely to cause any disruption in this segment.  “In October, Facebook reached more than half of the world’s global audience (55 percent) and accounted for approximately three in every four minutes spent on social networking sites and one in every seven minutes spent online around the world.”  In Indian context 95% online audience use social networking and older age groups are catching up fast. Though, the total online users in India remain unimpressive at 45.9mn.

Google+ losing steam

Within first 2 weeks of its launch in July Google+ the much awaited and hyped social network from Google was quick to gain 10million users. According to Google’s annual Zeitgest list, ‘Google+’ was the number 2 fastest growing search term of the year.  However, the spike hasn’t lasted since the launch and the network has slowed down considerably with the exception of times when new features for the network were announced. When compared to search queries for Facebook, Google+ seems like a dwarf. Search queries are indication people’s intent and the lack of it reflect the loss of interest in the network.

This article of mine was originally published in Daily Post. You can also access it here

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Insights & Strategy

95% of online Indians spend time on social networking sites

English: India Gate

Image via Wikipedia

The trend of social networking has been growing worldwide and India is no exception with 95% of the online population spending time on social networking sites. This data was revealed today as part of Comscore’s 2011 Social report unveiled today.

For China the figures stand at 53%, US and UK lead with 98% followed by Brazil at 97%. India holds a total online audience (15+ age group) of 45.9mn with those frequenting social networking sites pegged at 43.5mn. The average time spent by Indians on these networks is 3.4 hours. Regardless of how open or closed a society may be, more than half of local online populations are engaging in online social networking, making the practice comparatively ubiquitous around the world.’ This is part of data for October 2011.

It’s no surprise that Facebook has emerged as dominant player among social networking sites behind Google sites and Microsoft sites. Facebook overtook Orkut in July 2010 as the number one player by the virtue of total unique visitors. Facebook has 81.9% reach to India audience with 37,600 total unique visitors followed by Orkut, LinkedIn, BharatStudent and Twitter. Facebook is way ahead of the competition in the Indian market with an avergae user spending 221.8 minutes, for Orkut its 21.4 minutes and others even less.

Facebook has managed to reach 55% of world’s global audience and accounted for approximately ‘3 in every 4 minutes spent on social networking sites and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world.’ Facebook is showing no signs of slowing down after it overtook orkut in India and is expected to soon become the dominant social network in Brazil as well. However, it still trails behind regional social networks in Poland and South Korea. Facebook is blocked in China losing access to a large online audience.

According to the report, social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s online population, representing 1.2 billion users around the world. This is in sycn with the global internet adoption curve and increase in connectivity with nearly 1 in 5 minutes online is spent on social networking sites.

Where age groups is concerned, social networking sites are no longer frequented by young ‘kids’ only. In India,  55+ age group is fast emerging the leading segment with a penetration of 83.3% (males) and 87.6% (females).  The highest reach is for the 15-24 age group with 99% of the population.

Compared to rest of the world the East Asian countries spend least amount of time on social networks with the exception of Phillippines, where 43% of the online time is spent on social networks.

The full ComScore report can be accessed here

This article of mine was originally published in Daily Post. You can also access it here

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