Google Nexus Q, a Google device in your house!

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Google

At the ongoing I/O conference, Google’s Project glass and Nexus 7 might be the most talked about devices but there is another device that Google has created that is ready to invade our homes, the Nexus Q. The Nexus Q is part of Google’s Project Tungsten, which looks at incorporating Android into Home devices.

According to Firstpost, “The Nexus Q is a minimally designed, spheroid home entertainment hub, and also functions as a streaming hub with 25-watt amp for external speakers that can link to your Android Smartphone or tablet”.

The device provides a functionality which is something which I have long dreamt of, the ability to let multiple users connect to the same speaker and choose which music to play!

 The Nexus Q will utilize the user’s Google cloud content – PC Mag

Would you use something like this?

The photoshop magic behind McDonald’s advertising campaigns

English: The mdonalds logo from the late 90s
McDonalds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week a customer from Toronto named Isabel M. got onto a website created by McDonald’s Canada, which allows customers to ask any question they want. Her question was, “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?” Looking at this as an opportunity to get some good public opinion going in favour of McDonalds, Director of marketing for McDonald’s Canada, Hope Bagozzi, addressed the question herself.

Bagozzi enters a typical McDonalds and orders a quarter pounder and takes it along with her to the Watt International,the advertising agency, to get it shot. McDonald’s claim is that the only doctoring they do is to make the ingredients visible so the consumer. Towards the end, Bagozzi also adds that the photoshop they use on the final images is only to “enhance the color and any accidents that might happen during preparation, which obviously doesn’t show the product in its best light.”

I am impressed with courage to take the customer behind the scenes. What do you think? Are revealing videos like this a good marketing strategy for McDonald’s? Or is the risk of potentially negative PR too great to consider something like this for your own company?

Microsoft launches Surface, their own Tablet.

A little over an hour ago, in one of the most secretive press conferences ever, Microsoft launched Surface. According to early reports from Engadget, the specifications for the new Tablet are as follows, “Measuring just 9.3mm thick, the Surface for Windows RT is built around an angled, all-magnesium VaporMg case that weighs just under 1.3 pounds, with an NVIDIA-made ARM chip powering the whole affair. Microsoft’s hardware partner has also gone all-out on extra touches, such as a built-in stand, twin 2×2 MIMO antennas for WiFi, and a 10.6-inch optically-bonded, Gorilla Glass 2-covered HD display.” [Update: The full specifications are now available here]

Another impressive feature is that Microsoft is offering the Tab with two types of Keyboards. A Type Cover full tactile keyboard, and a simple Touch Cover keyboard. According to the Verge, “It may seem like a minor difference, but the Touch cover keyboard is an improvement over the standard capacitive touch keyboard, while the Type Cover is a slimmed down version of a true keyboard with actual moving keys.

Below is the official video released by Microsoft

Do you think this will be able to make enough sales to impact the market share that Apple currently holds with their iPad?

The technology behind Apple Inc’s own Mapping system

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Apple Inc via CrunchBase

Apple just announced that they will no longer be using Google maps and will instead be using their own Maps on all iOS devices. Back in 2010 when SAAB filed for bankruptcy, an unknown company bought their missile guiding system. This unknown company was later identified to be Apple Inc. This missile guiding technology now forms the backbone of their new Mapping system.

How does this technology work

The video above shows a  corporate version of the process, which, as described by an article in MIT Technology Review, works in the following manner:

“C3’s models are generated with little human intervention. First, a plane equipped with a custom-designed package of professional-grade digital single-lens reflex cameras takes aerial photos. Four cameras look out along the main compass points, at oblique angles to the ground, to image buildings from the side as well as above. Additional cameras (the exact number is secret) capture overlapping images from their own carefully determined angles, producing a final set that contains all the information needed for a full 3-D rendering of a city’s buildings. Machine-vision software developed by C3 compares pairs of overlapping images to gauge depth, just as our brains use stereo vision, to produce a richly detailed 3-D model.”
 

Fascinating technology? Let me know your thoughts.

How to build a community around your Startup

market 1
(Photo credit: tim caynes)

What are the reasons that some startup succeed while some fail? Why do products instantly attract a multitude of users while other still lag at user acquisition, even after considerable marketing expenses?

The answer to this can be a variety of reasons such as user interface, design, customer service, utility value and sometimes even price. But very often one feature that gets left out is the impact and support of the community around.

A vibrant community can be a magical marketing and sales tool for a startup. While it is imperative for a startup to have a great product/service, an enthusiastic community around it can aid the company in garnering more attention, providing insights and gaining critical early feedback

While in India, our ecosystem surrounding Startups is still in the nascent stage, there are communities developing in Bangalore and around the Delhi/NCR region. One of the biggest problems facing tech entrepreneurs in India is the relatively small number of early adopters. In an excellent article about the “two speed” state of Indian market adoption, Mukund Mohan writes, “The Innovators (less than 1 % of the population or 12 Million individuals) in India (entrepreneurs mostly) who conceive and develop products for the Indian market and the early adopters (less than 5% of population or approx 60 Million individuals) together make up the entire “early adopter” category. Unfortunately less than 30% of them have both the interest, and the desire to be early adopters of technology.”

If you are a technology company, how do you build a community around your company?

1.Start early; make the community an integral part of your system: Start a blog before you actually launch and let people know what you are doing. Building a community takes time. Be patient.

2.Value your initial customers: Those first few people who sign up for your product are there out of choice, they have found your product and they are sticking by it because they love it. Treat them well. Value their feedback.

3. Let your customers know they are special: Marketing dollars might get you signups but word of mouth will get you user engagement. Don’t just value customer feedback; let your customers know that you are ‘listening’ and that you value their feedback.

4.Establish a mutual relationship: Once your community starts growing, as difficult as it might be, acknowledge contributions and hold events where your customers can interact with you or your team. This can act as a cohesive force and take people beyond just a bunch of people using your product

In a day and age when online customer loyalty isn’t really high, a community around your product can not only be your loyal user-base but also your very own cheering squad.

Do share your thoughts.

What are the key differences in being a tech entrepreneur in US and India?

I read this question on Quora and thought of adding my perspective to it. I am going to address the point of key differences between these two countries and their eco systems.

1. In India, our ecosystem surrounding Startups is still in the Nascent stage. Most people would say that the ecosystem is absent, but I don’t think as of today (May 2012) that is the case. We have certain IIT’s(Indian Institute of Technology) running incubators, we have Accelerators and Incubators such as http://themorpheus.com( who are in their 7th batch) and we have multiple VC’s investing their money in Indiann startups.

2. Though the First wave of Tech innovations in the US came around 1997-2001, we in India were a little late to catch on and had a good run around 2002-2005. These companies either had decent exits, got acquired or went to IPO’s. Which brings me to the important point, in India we are Now seeing second generation entrepreneurs. These people have seen the ups and the downs and are willing and able to mentor the current crop of entrepreneurs. This segment would include fantastic people like Mahesh Murthy & Alok ‘Rodinhood’ Kejriwal.

3. One of the biggest differentiating factors between being a (Tech) entrepreneur in the US and in India is that, in the US, failure is celebrated. In India, that may not be the case. In India we are very particular about the importance of “Completing one’s Formal Education”. Until the turn of the millennium, if an Indian girl/boy told their parents that they were “dropping out of school” to take up entrepreneurship, life would be very difficult (not impossible, but extremely difficult) for them. This mindset is also changing and most students are already forming small companies and servicing clients well before they are done with college.

Desert Rider
Jugaad: A mix of a motorbike and a tempo (Photo credit: Meanest Indian)
 4. To conclude, Indians, by nature are extremely entrepreneurial. They always find ways to complete a task in a way that would require less time and make optimal use of resources. Hence Local innovations in Agriculture and other such sectors which Indians have been introduced to for decades see a lot of Jugaad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad) But technological adoption in India has been slow through the 1980’s to 2000’s. Now that Technology has made inroads into India, I definitely hope to see some path-breaking innovation coming out of India in the near future.

For more on answers on this question, you can go to this link on Quora

You can also Follow me on Quora

Let me know your thoughts.