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Packaging as a service

Last Wednesday I was at the ASSOCHAM Packaging Summit 2012 giving a talk on the new opportunities for the packaging industry.

Very wisely (as I would discover at the event), at the outset, I decided to eschew the usual Packaging related topics. i.e. innovation, new trends, numbers, stats etc.

Instead, I talked about how the Packaging Industry could look beyond the traditional confines of rigid, flexible packaging etc. and look at their business as a service.

If you rewind a little over a hundred years or so, you will see the example of Levi's. Levi's made his fortune during the original California gold rush supplying riveted jeans.

And then fast-forward a hundred years from there, you have Bill Gates, who made his fortune by providing tools for the information age. As you would have guessed from the title, the analogy I drew was that in any gold rush, people who provide infrastructure (Amazon/Microsoft Cloud anyone?) are the ones most likely to walk away with the prize,

Whi…

The Medium is the message - Are we the same?

Recently Hitachi unveiled what it claimed was million year storage media. essentially binary encoding micro-etched into a quartz crystal which is readable by a microscope.

There are a couple of problems, the crystal in itself will need to be protected for a million years, and a microscope protected (or invented again).

A truly million (or even a billion) year storage would be a living organism in itself. It propagates itself. DNA is the carrier as well as the information being transmitted.

The more you think about it, the more logical it seems that this is a good solution. The sum of knowledge encoded in our genes and developments in the environment triggering further revelation (insight/genius or whatever).

Which makes you wonder, if, (Paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan) we ourselves are the message.

A Conspiracy of Silence

I have been following twitter pretty actively over the last few weeks. The right wing Internet Hindutva brigade believes that mainstream media (read: all media critical of Narendra Modi) is intent on preventing Modi from becoming the PM.

If that were really the agenda. They would just stop talking about him. Totally blackball him. No criticism, no praise. No mention of Gujarat in any comparison.

Nada, zip, zero, zilch, nichts, niente, nulla, ni gota, niets, niks, rien, cero. nothing at al

Now there is an idea. 

One of the other beliefs of the aforesaid brigade is that INC controls all media. If true (very very unlikely), the Congress needs need to trigger this and their job is done.

A conspiracy of silence.

Why FlipKart will make the cut

Did you read today's article in TOI on Flipkart's funding round by Samidha? Amazed? shaking your head? Wondering about that story in Forbes?

While I can't comment on the valuation with any authority. It seems rich to me, maybe investors see value being created over time. I can comment on why Flipkart has made it as a brand. not because of the huge media spends, but an altogether different reason.

Here is why Flipkart will survive the current race amongst the ecommerce startups (including the newly arrived "German Brigade").

But first, two instances I want to illustrate, why.

Madhu Menon, who I follow on Twitter, a few weeks ago, made a comment (prompted by my recommendation of Homeshop18), which was on the lines of the following (I am paraphrasing). For the difference of only Rs. 200 extra, I would much rather go with Flipkart for the mixer-grinder than another provider. This is not an isolated incident, I have read many such tweets, especially those that val…

Transparency Portals - An invitation to Identity theft

Pleased as punch
So, you read with glee the number of cylinders your minister was using. He should not be using so many subsidised cylinders? Fine

Guess what? Your name, address and number of cylinders and when you ordered them is there too.

Privacy Disaster
This portal is a disaster from a privacy perspective. The idea was very poorly thought through. Imagine an e-commerce company just dumping customer data on the web, amillion people would be baying for blood.

One of the Gas companies has embedded dealer ids in the URL query string itself. which allows for ralatively easy automated scraping. I could do a data scrape on ALLcustomers all over INDIA and filter for customers who use a certain number of cylinders. A perfect database to to do direct marketing.

Not scared yet?

Identity Theft

It is an even more perfect database to commit identity theft. All your basic identity/citizenship documents are predicated on your gas connection. Authentication to your bank. Gas bills are one of …

Action Pack – Tablet computers for Execs

I got out of an especially grueling session of our weekly management committee meeting. A typical meeting for us is the board room table occupied by different business unit heads from different offices, each armed with a tablet or a laptop (and a couple with both).
Today, someone commented on the appearance of the ever popular iPad with yet another participant. And the few hold-outs (yours truly included), queried about utility and whether we could junk our laptops in favour of the iPad. After the gushing was over, the usual grumbles started. Great for consuming content, but not so great for creating it. You need to be hunched over to type at a decent speed (God help when the soon to arrive aches and pains from bad posture start). No Excel. No Outlook (I piped up).
Which is what set me thinking.
What is an ideal Tablet for Execs? The core functionality that you need a computing device for.
A device with a sufficiently large screen to read reports and presentation. (Rules out a phone.…

Curious case of the Chinese Tourbillon

What is the first thought that comes to your mind. when I say "I am wearing a Chinese Watch"? Not a Casio, Made in China watch, but a Chinese watch?

It's a fake? Copy of a Rolex. Omega Seamaster clone.
Well, yes. There are those, but there are also Chinese brands like Sea-Gull, Parnis and my personal favourite Tao International (primarily for great finish and sub $100 prices (including shipping)). So the Chinese (watchmakers for now), like the Japanese, 40 years back are starting to make the slow long climb to respectability. But first… A flashback on respectability and watch technology The Swiss watch industry (with notable exceptions like Patek Philippe) was chasing the volume market and like anyone going down that path was known for indulging in counterfeits. Copies of British marques like George Graham and Eardley Norton was common and for a while the American brand Walthams (Walthams became famous, because they brought precision mass manufacturing to the watchmaking…

Amazon.x, Junglee and India

A lot has been said about Amazon's offering in India. Chiefly amongst them, why not a full fledged site.

I have a different question for you. What's the hurry?

First, the legal question is not clear. Till the regulations sort themselves out (and they will, retail giants are beating down the door to enter India).

Second, Amazon can serve the Indian market well from their existing properties in the US/UK/Germany and others and quite often it is cheaper than buying it India (performance and warranty issues aside)

I have had a good experience shipping books, toys, DVDs and electronics from across the seven seas from the US & UK. Germany is the latest in the lot. All without a hitch (Well, there were some unexpected delays a few times. But still).

Germany is important because the voltage range of the electronics is the same as ours AND the plug is the same unlike UK. More compatible electronics.

A thought for a product manager at Amazon.de. Introduce an English language versi…

Wikipedia and News

As the 63rd Republic Day celebrations wound down. I happened to be on the Wikipedia page on the topic (Wikipedia Republic Day (India)) and started fixing some presentation issues regarding the references used.

I noticed something. News articles seem to have been sourced from Wikipedia. No big deal, blame it on a lazy journalist etc.

Here is where it started getting stranger. The wikipedia article started referencing the story that was sourced from wikipedia. In effect it was self referencing itself.

In this particular case, it was the list of Chief Guests at the Republic day parade. The older reference were links to MEA etc. which progressively started changing into references to news stories done in the recent past.

So, is wikipedia shaping the way we are being fed news? Sure, that is clearly the case.
Further, is wikipedia reinforcing the biases and errors that may have been crept in (as is expected in a crowdsourced article)?