TOI is too petty!

25 05 2009

 The Times of India (TOI), Hyderabad edition carried the headline on the first page “Team Hyderabad are the Nizams of IPL.” The web-edition of TOI carries the headline “Hyderabad turn IPL upside down with title win .” It is common knowledge, that the team which has won the IPL trophy in 2009 is Deccan Chargers. Yet, TOI never used the word Deccan Chargers anywhere in the news or in the headlines, including the IPL table which it used to publish daily. It is true that Deccan Chargers is Team Hyderabad, just the same Royal Challengers Bangalore is Team Bangalore. Yet, TOI used Royal Challengers Bangalore, but never Deccan Chargers. I presume that TOI decided not to use the correct name, Deccan Chargers for the simple reason that Deccan Chargers is owned by Deccan Chronicle, a rival newspaper of TOI. The short name for Deccan Chargers will be DC, which is the acronym for Deccan Chronicle. In Hyderabad, most recognise the abbreviation DC as Deccan Chronicle. By using the phrase Team Hyderabad instead of DC, TOI did not wish to give any mileage to Deccan Chronicle, even in the news.

Now to me this is pettiness. If TOI really did not wish to cover DC it could have given limited coverage to IPL. It did not. It knew that the young readership of TOI prefers IPL over elections, yet it had to stoop to such levels so as to not give any coverage to a competitor, even obliquely.

– G. Mohan





Quiz Miscellany 1

21 05 2009
 Here are the Questions and Answers to the weekly quiz published by Business Standard  in their Tuesday supplement dated May 5th,2009
 

Q1.Who said: “I expect the personal computer to become the kind of thing that people carry with them. A companion that takes notes, does accounting, gives reminders, handles 1,000 personal tasks?”  

Ans : Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft

Q2 .Name the company and the metric it created that measures research spending divided by gross margins for each new product line. This helps it to focus its resources on innovations that maximise profits. 

Ans : Hewlett Packard and Research Prodcutivity 

Q3. Smilemakers is a division of which company? 

Ans : Staples  

Q4. An Indian company recently introduced a brand positioned as an emergency lemon refresher. Name the brand and the company. 
 

Ans : LMN by Parle Agro

Q5. Which brand claims that it is the world’s largest selling non-Scotch whisky?

Ans : Bagpiper  

Q6. The co-founder of a consumer products company sent one of his products to a lab in New York for analysis and got back a report which said that the product had only .56 per cent of miscellaneous particles. This prompted him to come up with what became a well-known catch phrase for this product. What’s the phrase? 

Ans : Ivory soap is 99.44 % pure, it floats
 

Q7. Mahatma Gandhi called it one of the few useful things ever invented. Name it.

Ans : The Singer Sewing Machine 
 

Q8. In which journal was Parkinson’s Law first published? 

Ans : The Economist 

Q9. The birth of this brand goes back to 1921 when a school teacher and local candy shop owner was inspired by a little boy’s inability to decide between ice cream and a candy bar. Name it. 

Ans : Eskimo Pie
 

 –    G. Mohan





Mobile VAS: The Music of Money

19 05 2009

Which is India’s largest music company? Clue : It’s not Saregama India or T-Series. Answer :- It is Music Bharti , the mobile value-added-services wing of Bharti Airtel. Rediff  reports:

Music Bharti has become the largest music company in India, overtaking Saregama India Ltd  in terms of revenue,” Bharti Airtel’s Deputy CEO Sanjay Kapoor said.

While Kapoor did not disclose the exact revenue earned by Music Bharti, which provides music services like hello tunes, call-back tunes and music on demand, Saregama had a annual revenue of about Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) in the fiscal ended March 31, 2008.

A closer look into the advertising messages of major mobile services companies indicate the focus on value-added services. Aircel TVC has MS Dhoni advocating the use of Mobile phone for locating a hotel, making air bookings, cricket information and downloading music. Vodafone through its new TVCs which are being aired frequently during IPL matches is using the newly created characters Zoozoos using the various VAS provided by Vodafone. The latest Airtel TVC also has Madhavan and Vidya Balan on vacation in a tent, subscribing to the astro service, again a VAS.

With India having reached a mobile penetration of over 30% and urban centres reaching saturation level penetrations, all mobile companies, new and old are looking at VAS to differentiate as well as to enhance their ARPUs from the existing customers.

In a related news item in Deccan Chronicle, the size and growth rate of mobile VAS market in India are reported as :

“Mobile VAS industry is expected to generate sales of Rs 11,000 crore. It will achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44 per cent in the next few years. As of today, 60 per cent of the content of mobile VAS comes from the audio downloads.

In his blog, Rajesh Jain, an Internet entrepreneur , who has business interests in providing content and services to cell phone service providers, while giving a detailed breakdown of the market size for various services, makes a key point

” What is touted as a $1+ billion industry (what subscribers pay) is in reality only a $200 million industry from the VAS providers point of view, thanks to the skewed revenue shares between the operators and the VAS players.”

When 3G services are rolled out al over India the market for Mobile VAS would expand and  go beyond the frivolous to more useful services, for which customers would be willing to pay.

– G. Mohan





Is Tata Nano Booking Figure Anything To Crow About ?

10 05 2009

Tata Motors has announced the booking figures for Tata Nano which closed on April 25. The company has issued a press release that they received 2.03 lakh bookings. Since the company will issue allotment dates for 1.0 lakh cars only, it can be said that the oversubscription was more than two times.

However, given the hype surrounding the model and the media projecting it as a game-changer, the response received is rather lukewarm. Tata Motors had sold over 6 lakh forms through their various channels, yet only a third of the applications were submitted. Industry analysts had estimated that there will be at least 5 lakh bookings. Even BusinessWeek in a recent story titled “Why Indians are thrilled about Tata Nano” had estimated that the bookings will be over  3.5 lakh. The actual numbers turned out to be far less.

In terms of the models preferred, the most expensive LX model got 50%, 30% for the mid-priced CX model and only 20% for the lowest priced model. Readers may recall, it was the lowest priced model which came close to the Rs 1.0 lakh dream car of Mr. Tata.

Some of the reasons which may have led to the poor response as analysed by TOI is as follows:

It is believed that the high booking amount fixed for the Nano, as well as almost no chance for any customer to test-drive the car, could be among the reasons for this subdued response. Uncertainty among people on whether they would be selected in the draw of lots, considering that Tata Motors will deliver only around 50,000 units in the first year (starting from July) and that too on a scattered basis, could also act as a dampener. The fear associated with buying a new model, that has not yet proved its actual road worthiness, might be another reason.

In addition, to the above reasons, I would like to add the huge uncertianty surrounding the survival of Tata Motors because of its debt overhang may have been weighing in the minds of some of the buyers. Also, the fact that Tata was going to use the booking advance to build the Nano factory did not go down well with some buyers. Tata was acting like a typical real-estate developer, who shows a model flat, takes bookings before even starting construction and then using the booking amount to build the flats using the customer’s money. 

 

The premium LX version getting better response than the base version also indicates that the analysts and Tata himself expecting that millions of two-wheeler owners will aspire for a low-priced car like Nano seems to be a myth. Nano for the present is only snatching away market share from Maruti-800/ Omni and second-hand car buyers and not from the two-wheeler market.

 

When Nano comes on road and the factory starts producing to full-capacity, it will be interesting to watch the market dynamics.

 

– G. Mohan





A HOT NEW VERTICAL FOR THE PLACEMENT INDUSTRY

3 05 2009

If appintment pages in the newspapers are anything to go by, I think, i have now a sense of the current  trends in the job market.The number of advertisements is a far cry from the heydays of 2006-07 and most of the advertisers are educational institutions, looking for faculties.

It looks like corporate executives too are being sought after  for faculty jobs in engineering institutes and B-schools, reports DNA :

“ Marcel Parkar, chairman of Bangalore based HR solutions company Ikya Human Capital Solutions, said, “Institutes need good faculty with practical experience to produce quality students.

There are several professionals looking for a change in career as there is not much advancement happening in their current corporate environments. People don’t mind taking lower salaries but they want stability.”

More than the institutes needing the faculty or the executives looking for a career switch into academics, I feel it is the placement consultants, who need a new vertical to combat the slowdown, which has affected their business badly.

The same story mentions that TMI, a leading placement firm, has launched a faculty practice.

“Hyderabad based talent management and talent acquisition company TMI Group has started an initiative called Faculty Practice, which would help engineering and MBA professionals find teaching jobs in private institutes.”

The faculty crunch in B-Schools and engineering colleges is real. The need for experienced professionals to bring in their real life practical knowledge in the class-room is also well accepted. But not all executives are likely to make a smooth transition into a faculty position. Least of all are the corporatewallahs who see an academic job merely as a stop-gap arrangement.

As for the placement firms, who are used to fat commissions of 25-30% annual CTC of the recruit as commission, dealing with the educational institutions may mean bringing in some pricing innovations as most educational institutions are still comfortable following traditional modes of recruitment through print advertisements and referrals.

– G. Mohan








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