Byte Me

India V Pakistan @Work
By Arun Kumar on 28-Mar-11, 12:22 in Uncategorized |

So the big day is Wednesday. For two countries, it will either turn into a day of mourning or one of pride. For those of you who live on the moon, India plays Pakistan in what has been billed as the biggest match of the on-going cricket world cup this Wednesday. One of the big problems is a 5pm Singapore start. This is usually when clients want to organise conference calls or media partners want to catch up for a drink or one of your critical team members decides to call it quits.

Not to worry, thank god for digital media we should be able to enjoy this match and collect our pay cheques without depleting the holiday account.

1) Memorise this URL: crictime.com. There are many like this but after careful research during office hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that live telecasts on crictime load fast and are generally not interrupted. No guarantees for this Wednesday though. I have nothing against mio TV but cricket on office TV sets is only seen in India.

2) If for whatever reason, you are unable to access crictime, search for bulletin boards that discuss the match. Usually in one of the conversation strings, you will see a url that has the live feed.

3) The cricinfo iPhone mobile app is a good companion to the live telecast. Take a swing at Shastri and co online while they make fools of themselves on TV.

Given that I’m not sure about the Indian team beating Pakistan this week, I prefer to rest on past laurels. Here are a few gems on the Aussie team, one that I can afford to make fun of, given that they are back in Sydney.

What do you call a world class Australian cricketer?
Retired!

What’s the difference between Ricky Ponting and a funeral director?
A funeral director doesn’t keep losing the Ashes.

What do you call an Australian cricketer with a champagne bottle in his hand?
A waiter.

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Come Close to Me... or NOT
By Arun Kumar on 28-Feb-11, 14:50 in Digital |

Have you noticed the increasing complaints from Singaporeans on crowded MRT trains? Commuters congregate around the gates and are careful to at least allow for an elbow length space between themselves during off peak times. Switch to Tokyo and you can’t get a finger width with the next person. Mumbai is an extreme outlier. If you aren’t prepared to have your face in someone’s smelly armpit, don’t bother getting on the Mumbai local. Watching people defining their personal space in different environments is interesting especially when one contrasts different cultures.

Recently on a bus ride in Singapore, I casually stepped back thinking about whether I would want to be Steve Jobs in my next birth when I heard a crunch and a scream. I had unfortunately amputated a well manicured nail from a slender foot. The lady’s eyes bore into me as if I had robbed the Marina Bay Sands. Contrast this with my office lift in Shanghai. At any point in time, about 20 people can be found in an elevator. Girls, women, old ladies, young men… They are all there. It’s a very asexual environment…. Everyone is packed in like sardines with no feelings. No exposed nails with ladies here though. So feel free to step on toes!

I can’t stop myself laughing in Japanese office lifts (absolutely no disrespect for the Japanese people intended). There are signs that request you to be quiet. There would be 10 – 15 Japanese people meditative & silent,  trying very hard not to brush against each other, and maintain safe distance. If you dropped a pin, you would get 10-15 stares. The intense respect with which the elevator journey is treated amazes me.

Does physical space and the need to maintain distance get reflected in social media behavior? Would a person who ensures there is a foot long width between them and others in a suburban train have the same consideration of space in their profiles? Would they be willing to ‘connect’ with people they don’t really know on Facebook? Globally, a person stays in touch with an average of about 52 people through a social network. (Source: Wave 5, UM). Let’s look at countries where physical space is valued. A Singaporean stays in touch with an average of 67 people through a social network profile. That’s significantly more than the global average. In Japan it’s closer to about 40, a factor of the Japanese not keen on sharing their personal information online.

In China ironically where physical crowding is acceptable and common, the figure is 50, similar to the global average. India is higher at 58. In effect what it seems to show is that there are countries such as Singapore where people are comfortable sharing their life online through social networks as opposed to sharing physical space on `crowded’ trains. In countries like China and Japan, crowding is accepted but people are far less likely to connect with others through social networks.

I, for one, don’t want my toes crushed or share too much information with Facebook.

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The Pictures you will not see
By Arun Kumar on 04-Oct-10, 14:14 in Uncategorized |

So the CWG is off to a start. And it’s surprising that the Straits Times which thought a story on a bridge collapse in Delhi was front page news didn’t bother to put pictures up of the opening ceremony in the front page. If you wanted to catch hold of a person to blame apart from the corrupt politicians etc etc on this whole fiasco, the PR agency or the PR department of the Indian Government would be a great place to start.

Channel Seven does a sting and it takes ABC in Australia to expose that as meaningless drivel. Where were the photos of the new airport terminal or the new Metro stations? How come there were photos only of rubble or filth? In a classic case of bad PR management, not one story has been published on the improved state of infrastructure without a lot of talk about corruption and rubble. The Organising Committee completely washed its hands off the mess but how come there were no statements from officials on how Fenner and Hooper were equally at fault?

If one ever needs a reason to have a PR department, this is it. If the Indian Government had been honest right upfront, taken reporters earlier through facilities and been combative about statements emanating from foreign press or leaders, the situation could have been quite different. Instead peripheral issues have now become linked with security or hygiene and have become stories in their own right.

It’s always been difficult to build Brand India. From snake charmers to IT giant has taken a long time to achieve. And probably a lot of that has been lost over the last month in the CWG coverage. Snakes and monkeys fit into the Indian archetype which is why the organisers should have been even more concerned about the value of PR.

So here are the pictures that newspapers will not publish because it doesn’t fit into the CWG story. It’s been a bit of a rant but bad PR should be no reason for an entire country to get tarred with the same brush.

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Unlocking the Power of Mobile
By Arun Kumar on 26-Jul-10, 14:00 in Uncategorized |

The latest report on Mobile Devices from Initiative, an IPG company reinforces the strength perceptions of the medium but most importantly quantifies the extent of its influence across markets. Mobile has been the happening medium for the last ten years now…. but its days may have finally arrived.

Not surprisingly, people are spending more time doing everything but not talking on their phones. Data acounts for 49% while voice calls account for only 37% of all mobile activity. For all you integrated media junkies, mobile internet usage has spiked and in doing so, it has led to a boost in total media consumption. Consumers browse the mobile internet in addition to what they are consuming on other media. This experience leads them to consume more of traditional and digital media.

And if you thought that mobile usage would be highest when traveling, think again. Mobile Internet usage is highest when people are relaxed. Relaxation differs by country. Americans get up in the morning and send emails while the Chinese wake up and play games. Looking at the state of the economies, I guess the Chinese can afford to play.

No surprises when it comes to the popularity of Apps with an average of 13 apps per smartphone (global average). Interestingly Chinese consumers download an average of 14 apps per phone but use only 5. The best way to promote your app is still WOM. More than half of the people surveyed indicated that they would download apps recommended by friends and family.

The real power of Mobile will come through only when it finds its place in a larger mix. Just understanding how mobile phones spur media consumption on other platforms by itself can improve our media choices by leaps and bounds. For more information on the study, visit http://www.madebylab.com/Initiative/Reports/

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Facebook meets Four Square: Are we up for it?
By Arun Kumar on 22-Jun-10, 15:40 in Digital |

Facebook seems to have had a really good meeting with developers and other interested audiences in London recently where it announced the possibility of adding location based services to its social networking platform. It isn’t clear yet whether Facebook will simply integrate with location based providers like Four Square or start a new service itself.

In either case, the novelty has definitely worn out for me. Firstly, it’s a pain to search for and check in to any building. And then there doesn’t seem to be any positive coming out of it. It’s interesting though that certain retailers have quickly and smartly used Four Square to announce their discounts and specials. I was surprised to see specials being advertised in the vicinity of Ion Orchard; unfortunately I wasn’t the mayor and hence there went the 15% discount.

Remember all those long winded presentations which we made and still make in agencies about finding the best point of receptivity for consumers. Location Based Advertising takes you there in one big leap…. the problem though is in getting the context and the offer right. The key is in rewarding the consumer for being at the right place and at the right time. Not many brands can make such an offer and hence should be careful before announcing the next discount.

But Location Based Advertising inside social groups and maps could be the trigger for a lot of retail oriented activation programs.

Would we see a Unilever or a P&G tie up with Facebook’s location based services a la iPad?

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Will the next Bill Gates come from China?
By Arun Kumar on 16-Jun-10, 17:14 in Digital |

A lot of news stories have broken out on Chinese Internet companies going out to other markets and giving a fight to Yahoo, Google and other local players in their own turf. Personality pieces on top Chinese entrepreneurs have done the rounds. Taobao, Alibaba, Baidu have all ventured to overseas markets after slaying eBay, PayPal and Google. Question is: are they really going to be successful? And will Chinese internet entrepreneurs design innovation the way a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have?

The markets most receptive to some of these me-too brands are likely to be Japan, Korea, Taiwan and perhaps India. North Asia shares many common characteristics with China both culturally as well as from a perspective of user experience.

The big stumbling block though is going to be government support. As Baidu gets stronger in China for example and works more closely with the government, overseas regulators are going to get uncomfortable with acquisitions or mergers that involve Baidu in their markets. Ultimately, big Internet brands transcend boundaries when their product is unique and cuts across barriers.

Even in a market like India that has been highly receptive to North Asian brands such as LG and Samsung, brands have had to offer a very different value proposition. Samsung’s position as an innovator was probably well established in India before the rest of the world recognised it as such. Therefore the challenge for brands like Baidu and Taobao is going to be in developing identities and products that vibe with a different set of consumers who are quite exposed to international players without a biased regulatory framework.

This will ensure that the next Bill Gates atleast for the moment is not going to emerge from China

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Give Mark Zuckerberg a break!
By Arun Kumar on 03-Jun-10, 15:55 in Digital |

It’s a bit bizarre to read some of the anti-Facebook comments floating around in media reports. So Facebook sold data about its users to make some bucks. Well, what exactly were we expecting Facebook to do… give us a free-of-cost networking tool that would somehow know what information to share and what not to and Oh… not expose us to pesky ads.

What is surprising is the extent to which some personal lives are available for all to see on social networks. You can’t hold Mark Zuckerberg responsible if your drunk face got tagged by your friend and watched by your wife, can you? The concept of privacy has yo-yoed since the time social networks have come into being.

Initially you were cool if you participated and multiplied your friends. It became like music: the number of files you had defined your musical taste. Today, with privacy concerns being raised, there is a vast network of voyeurs: those who prefer to watch while others share. You can easily spot a voyeur. One photo, maybe one group, no wall posts and about 200 friends.

And then you have people who are squeamish about sharing their appointment books with their secretaries posting their locations on Foursquare. It always amazes security experts on how people are so easily convinced to share their most intimate information online or on mobile but think twice before allowing their neighbor to see that they’ve bought a new pet. (Check out the pet’s cute snaps on Facebook neatly tagged and organised for Google to pick up!)

So why do we blame Facebook (some call them the Borg) or Foursquare when we want to be a part of the collective? Facebook, Foursquare, Google…. you name it they are all in the business of data. And as consumers we are extremely naive if we believe they would not use this information to sell more ads. As context and location come together, targeting will only get more precise and more prevalent. So get used to it.

I got a friend request from a really pesky relative whom I have successfully avoided all my life. Now I’m faced with a decision: Confirm or Ignore? I think I can safely blame this on Mark….

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First step towards Google's version of Nirvana
By Arun Kumar on 24-May-10, 14:28 in Digital |

So Google has finally landed up on TV. About time too… If you get out of China, you need to get into some serious play don’t you?

But realistically, it’s going to be watching YouTube on TV. The connection between Android phones to TV is compelling given that market shares are rising especially in Southeast Asia. But this could be the killer app for the monetisation of YouTube.

Here’s the advantage that Google has over Apple. Being a search engine, it can index content across all sites and platforms without necessarily doing any deals. So Google TV could end up being the iTunes of video without having any one formal payment structure. It also throws up immense opportunities for content producers to experiment with web videos, webisodes and link social aspects to content.

By getting Sony and Intel as partners, Google has taken the Android approach to TV. It’s a smart way to build leverage on a platform without having to pay for it.

Here’s one step closer to Google Nirvana: access to all content anywhere and everywhere.

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