There’s an untapped market for Personal Entertainment Devices

On a recent visit to a well-known electronics store in Mumbai, I was disappointed to note the limited choices in personal entertainment devices (PEDs). In this age of mobile phones and tablets, which have enough capacity to hold thousands of songs and a few movies, one might ask if there is a need for a PED. You just need is a Bluetooth speaker and your home LDC TV — and the set up is complete, right?

Wrong.

A true PED must incorporate a combination of the following: support for diverse media (thumb drive, SD card, aux-in); high-fidelity audio; radio reception; high resolution video; voice recording; ability to copy media (remember mix tapes?); portability (small form factor); sound amplification; mixer; equalizer; connectivity options (for hooking the device to external amplifiers, mixers etc).

My search for the perfect PED took me to Lamington road, Mumbai’s electronics district. And here I saw elements of the perfect PED in an assortment of devices, mostly imported from China and Taiwan.

I remember my visit to that district in the 1980s. Every second shop was selling two-in-ones and three-in-ones — cassette player, radio, and later CD player.

And whenever anyone returned from a “foreign trip” it was customary to buy a shiny, sleek two-in-one with the word “STEREO” prominently printed on its fascia. Stereo sound was a big deal then, even though speaker technology in portables was a long way from delivering punchy bass — present in the “boom boxes” that arrived in the 1990s.

And in 1979, we were introduced to the Walkman and its high fidelity stereo sound.

Well, those were the PED’s of the 1980s and 1990s.

With the advent of the Apple iPod, smart phones, and the digitization of music, manufacturers stopped making those PEDs. Only a handful of them continue to manufacture two-in-ones today, with the cassette player now replaced by a DVD/CD player. Yet, very few of those devices are compatible with today’s media (SD cards, thumb drive) and fewer support Bluetooth connectivity. So, essentially, those PEDs are revamped versions of what you could get in the 1990s — with minor technology enhancements.

AN OPPORTUNITY

However, I do see a lot of progress in car entertainment systems. Touchscreen interfaces, LED displays for movies, USB connectors, advanced amplification, fancy graphics…

I think Pioneer, Sony, Kenwood, Blaupunkt and others could use this technology to create a new class of PEDs for the home. This new class of PEDs could be portable (like the old 2-in-ones), yet have a design and form factor that blends in with the living room and other home entertainment devices.

What about hard disk-based media players and media servers? These do exist but have not yet become mainstream. Perhaps manufacturers need to work on the pricing and marketing aspects. The technology can also be advanced to include support for all our media storage — pen drives, SD cards etc.

The new PEDs should also support multiple video and photo formats, and offer HDMI connectivity to TVs.

I’m sure that with the right set of features and right pricing, these devices can be the new PEDs that everyone will want to buy on the next foreign trip. Well, actually, things have changed a lot in India, and we could just buy these online in future!

I’m ready to consult for any consumer electronics company that wants to make the new PED.

Write to me at brian9p [at] gmail [dot] com

—————————————————————————————————————-

Phone batteries to improve in 2015

batteryA big regret, for ditching our Blackberrys and feature phones, is good battery life. I recently switched back to a Blackberry Curve 9220 and I now get 2.5 days of juice. The device is programmed to switch off after 9:30 pm and to wake up at 6:00 am. It’s not running any third-party apps, email or instant messaging. And thankfully, I am not disturbed by frequent beeps announcing a new post by someone on a WhatsApp group — late at night.  I have stopped habitually peering into my phone every 10 minutes while commuting, to check news and messages. Trends show that the retro phone may have a come-back moment for these very reasons.

Big screen phones with multi-core processors are hungry for power. On average, a smartphone offers 8 hours of battery life (by today’s standards, 10 hours is impressive). Last year, the demand for power and charging points opened up a market for portable auxiliary power, by way of Power Banks. Companies like Portronics were pioneers and now there are so many options available.

If you want some lasting juice for your phone or tablet, don’t settle for a power bank that offers less than 5,200 mAh (milliampere hour is the unit of measure for battery power). And if you use multiple devices on the go, then 10,000 mAh or above is recommended.

In 2015, you will see more phones with power ratings in excess of 3,000 mAh. Wireless charging will also become common. All day battery life will become the norm.

Already we are seeing phones that offer fast charging. For instance, Oppo Mobile offers phones that charge to 50 percent their battery capacity in 30 minutes.

With such technologies becoming a norm in portable devices, we may soon be leaving our power banks at home.

 

Microsoft is back, but what can we expect in 2015?

MicrosoftMicrosoft will unveil Windows 10 next week, and the tech world will once again gravitate towards the company. It’s the company we love to hate. Great products? We haven’t seen much of that lately, though there were a few announcements and product releases in 2014. Blame it on the previous leadership if you will. But Satya Nadella is the man to watch in 2015.

In 2014 IT giant Microsoft announced its third CEO and this time it picked a person who was born outside the United States. Satya Nadella was elevated to the CEO post on Feb 4, 2014. He immediately got to work and made a lot of changes.

Nadella successfully transitioned Microsoft from a devices and services company to a platform and productivity company. Among the first products that Nadella announced was Office for iPad. Its Surface Pro 3 tablet sales doubled compared to a year ago. Microsoft’s Digital Assistant Cortana got good reviews. Windows Phone 8.1 put Microsoft back in the smart phone race. The Nokia brand was edged out and replaced by Lumia; many employees lost their jobs due to this merger. The Microsoft Lumia 830 showed the competition what Microsoft can do with smart phones, but the shortage of apps on Microsoft’s app store continues to be a damper. Microsoft also introduced Sway, its graphics rich, easy-to-use and affordable publishing environment.

Look out for Windows 10 (previewing next week), a new browser called Spartan, new versions of the Surface Pro tablet, a wrist assistant called Microsoft Band, and other great innovations from Microsoft in 2015.

Meanwhile, you may want to read this story I found on Business Insider.

 

What to expect from e-commerce in 2015

e-commerceMulti-million dollar valuations for e-commerce companies; venture capitalists flocking to invest millions of dollars in these companies. That’s how we could best remember the business of e-commerce in India during 2014. Some highlights: Softbank committed an investment of $10 billion in India and invested in Snapdeal, Housing.com and OLA cabs. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos visited India and committed an investment of $2 billion. Rival Flipkart.com responded by raising a third round of funding taking the total to $1.9 billion. With that, Flipkart’s market valuation reached $7 billion by the end of the year.

In 2014, e-commerce sales through mobile phones picked up drastically. Flipkart and Snapdeal note an increase in the number of users shopping through their respective apps. At the beginning of 2014, Flipkart got 10 percent of its business from mobile apps and for Snapdeal it was 18 percent. By December 2014, the figures jumped to 55 percent (Flipkart) and 60 percent (Snapdeal).

What to expect: The e-commerce bubble is going to swell to massive proportions once the government permits international companies to sell products online in India.  Look out for the entry of giants like Amazon.com and Alibaba.com. And the e-commerce companies will make massive investments in India. Amazon and Flipkart will invest nearly Rs 2,300 crore. Some major acquisitions and mergers may occur. Since most Indians access the Internet on their mobile phones, expect to see more apps and shopping done through phones.  The introduction of 4G services and cheaper 3G phones will boost mobile internet and shopping through mobile phones.

WhatsApp – the tech with biggest impact on Indians in 2014

WhatAppWhatsApp was the killer app of 2014 and impacted many Indians’ lives. It is now common to see parents discussing homework assignments and school projects on WhatsApp. In the office, colleagues discuss work in their own spaces on WhatsApp. The year also saw more people using apps to book cabs from taxi aggregators. And society became more receptive to the unconventional —   dating apps (Tinder and Zoosk); buying groceries online; checking news on apps before consulting the morning paper. Indeed, technology can change the habits of Indians.

And WhatsApp recorded phenomenal growth, clocking 100 million users in just 4 months! WhatsApp cofounder and CEO Jan Koum said on Monday (Jan 5) that the messaging app has topped 700 million monthly active users.

What to expect: The majority of Internet users in India access the net through mobile phones and not PCs. And the common man has now acknowledged the convenience offered by apps.  Consumers will seek and use information-based apps and apps related to public and government services. For instance, farmers will seek weather forecasts. Commuters and travellers want information on bus, train and airline schedules.  Even information on rickshaw sharing or carpooling will be sought. Travel and hotel reservations will increasingly be done through mobile apps.  As the cost of sensors reduces, these will be incorporated into personal devices and communicate through healthcare apps. The state governments will also launch apps directed at citizens.

Since WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook, expect to see the little green icon appearing on your Facebook page sooner or later.

India and Germany – partners for Hannover Messe 2015; can together drive Industry 4.0

–Brian Pereira, New Delhi

WIN India 2014

WIN India 2014

At the WIN India show in New Delhi (10-13 December 2014), there were echoes of the Prime Minister’s Make in India, Digital India and National Skill Development policies. The Manufacturing industry in India has seen lacklustre performance, and has been regarded as the ‘Achilles heel’ in the Indian economy. Make in India will hopefully attract FDI in this sector, provide more jobs, and project India as a manufacturing superpower. But with increased automation and hi-precision technology coming into this sector, there will be a demand for skilled workers — something that is in short supply here

WIN India 2014

WIN India 2014

in India. Hence  the country also needs to look at skilling its workforce, through partnerships between the apex industry bodies in this sector and international manufacturing conglomerates. Discussions are already in full swing with the Ministry of Labor and Employment. But this topic took a fresh twist at a press conference here, to announce India as official partner country at Hannover Messe 2015.

It’s exactly 4 months to the date (12 April 2015) when the Honorable Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cut the ribbon and jointly declare Hannover Messe, the world’s largest and oldest engineering trade fair open (13 – 17 April, 2015). Hannover Messe was established in 1947.  And this is the third time that Germany has chosen India as partner country. When India was partner country for the first time was in 2006, it generated total business value of US$ 1.3 billion. Several major deal were finalized, including joint ventures between Mann age and Force Motors, Deutsche Bann and Indian Railways. For 2015, there will also be a focus on partnerships between German and Indian companies in the SME sector.

His Excellency, Michael Steiner, Ambassador of Germany to India

His Excellency, Michael Steiner, Ambassador of Germany to India

His Excellency, Michael Steiner, Ambassador of Germany to India said, “Hannover Messe will be the perfect platform for India to show its ambitions to the world on a global platform. The PM has outlined Digital India, Make in India, Skill India — and Hannover is the right place to showcase these.”

The overarching theme for Hannover Messe 2015 is ‘Integrated Industry – join the network’.  This alludes to the trend towards digitization that is sweeping the economy as a powerful force for transforming the world’s manufacturing industries.

Industry 4.0 will be a key theme at the Hannover Messe fair. It’s also an initiative taken by the German government and refers to the use of information technology and computerization in Smart/Intelligent Factories. Sensors, big data and the Internet of Things will be widely used in Industry 4.0.

“Germany has world-class manufacturing and India has a world-class IT industry. So they are a perfect match for Industry 4.0,” said Steiner.

With the cost of labour increasing in China, India has an opportunity to overtake China in manufacturing. However, there are some big challenges to overcome. Modern day manufacturing has a high degree of automation. How do you provide jobs if there is increased automation? There is a need for high-quality sub-contractors. And of course, reliable energy supply. Perhaps some of these questions will be addressed at the forthcoming Hannover Messe fair next year.

The 2015 fair will see 6,000 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors from over 100 counties and total exhibition space of 400,000 sq. metres. This potentially offers 4.2 million business contacts generated during the 5-day trade fair. Around 2,300 international journalists are expected. And 93 percent of trade visitors will be from the management level.

Over 350 companies are expected to participate and this is being coordinated by EEPC, under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Deutsche Messe. In India, Deutsche Messe is represented by its subsidiary Hannover Milano Fairs India, Pvt. Ltd.

—————————————————————————————————————–

The writer is an employee of Hannover Milano Fairs India, but writes in a personal capacity.

 

 

 

What I learnt about Audience Development for Tech Conferences

I am deeply encouraged by the good feedback that I received to last week’s post titled, ‘Tech events model has changed in India’. In this post I am going to write about audience development strategies. But before I get into that, here’s a quick summary of the comments in response to last week’s post. All these comments and likes appear on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141014070518-24924439-tech-events-model-has-changed-in-india?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_LIKE

Brent Goff, Journalist, TV news anchor, talk show host and moderator from Berlin writes, “In our world of constant connectivity the challenge is even greater to convince people that a show or trade fair can reveal anything new. This presents a great opportunity for conferences to emerge as integral parts of a successful show/trade fair. Why? Because the conference is now THE place where people meet, talk and THINK! Big ideas are as attractive as ever. And a conference venue is where big thinkers should convene–with an audience. One man’s old show is a clever man’s new stage!”

Arun Gupta, Ex-CIO at Cipla, Business & IT leader with multi-industry experience, transforming business with IT, writes about the four E’s that make conferences successful: Excite, Engage, Explain, Entertain. He says most Expos and Conferences are unable to create this magic formula.

Rachana Chowdhary, Founder Director – MediaValueWorks, Country Manager – African Press Organization writes, “…guess, the scale of events in India, concept, conceive, conduct, content needs an equal in-depth revisit as the 4 e’s above…we may refer – MWC- Mobile World Congress, Barcelona….. Another noted development, pls refer the SAP – Innovation Express, a multi-city roadshow, capturing and interacting with SME’s and Industry Associations…finding newer ways to showcase solutions.”

And Subroto Panda, CIO-CTO at Anand and Anand – Premier IP and Media Law Firm writes, “I completely agree with you Brian and at the same time the views expressed by Arun Sir also. But the awards also some how expose that it is not done with a real view to reward small time IT Experts who really struggle hard in pushing tough IT strategies in small scale industry.”

And then there were some ‘likes’ to the article including one from Jaideep Mehta, Managing director, India and South Asia at IDC.

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and for spending time reading my posts.

Over the weekend I was reading the iPad edition of Content Marketing magazine (you can search for it from Apple Newsstand or on Magzter). The article was mainly about developing audiences through Social Media. But the term “Minimum Viable Audience” or MVA kept leaping out of the digital page and catching my eye! Essentially, MVA is about how building an audience first can be a more efficient way to producing a successful conference.

In the six years that I devoted to developing various Conference Agendas I have always worked like this: Getting the Speakers and topics and agendas set first — and then pursuing delegates and visitors to register. I have seen people struggle (and falter) with delegate registrations (audience development). And I often thought to myself, “What if we could develop the audiences first, right at the beginning of the cycle, and then work on the content and speakers?”

But these activities must overlap and be done in parallel — audiences want to know who are the speakers. And partners and exhibitors want to know how many visitors are expected and what is the profile of these visitors.

Think about it. In business, you develop the product first, before the audience comes in. The cycle is: Market Research, Product Research & Development, Marketing, Selling, feedback, product redesign, development….

But if you look at the cycle carefully, you’ll see that customer feedback and market research are the most important elements. A company may pour billions into R&D and millions into marketing — but what good is all that if customers don’t want that product?

So, coming back to conferences, if you have done the show at least once, then in your second or third year (and in future editions), you could do extensive audience feedback exercises using tools like online surveys. calls, or just face-to-face meetings with randomly selected visitors. Social Media is another good tool for audience feedback and engagement. Build a community online — all your visitors should be discussing speakers, topics and other aspects of the conference there.

Also monitor trends in the industry, what are the issues being discussed in industry and in government (related to the domain).

These issues (and all the audience feedback) should serve as the basis for forming next year’s conference agenda.

Market the content to audiences first, then go get your speakers!

———————————————————————————————————–

The views expressed by the writer in this article are his own, and should not be attributed to his current organization. The comments are generic and do not refer to any specific conference or organization.