Saturday, June 23, 2018

In offline retail we discover and choose, in online retail we have to trust the results shown to us [COMPACTIDEA]

Realized this on 10-Jun-18 when doing some searches on Amazon India [screenshot below], and once again today when read this article on NYT. Can I trust Amazon's search results for my query? What if it has secret deals with some manufacturers to covertly promote their products in the search results [even if those products aren't the best]? What if Amazon is trying to sell me Western-made products [or American] rather than Asian ones, in order to "help" its fellow American companies? Considering how dirty these giant Western corporations are, I don't think there's any reason to trust them [especially when electronics and software give their deeds invisibility and also deniability].

When we enter a physical market or supermarket, we roam around and choose what we want to buy. Although the placement of products on different shelves - in terms of visibility - has some similarity to which search results are shown on top on Amazon, the similarity isn't too strong and it's also hard for the supermarket to quietly show different "results" to different shoppers.


A thought similar to this occurred to me in 2012 too. The conclusion remains the same. Let us fear our fellow Indians less and these Westerners more.

Look at the screenshots below - searches performed on Amazon India just moments ago. Amazon is literally trying to kill Energizer and Duracell, perhaps by juxtaposing its own much cheaper deal with a handpicked far more expensive deal from Energizer/Duracell [and maybe by sinking better deals by these two brands much lower on the search results page].



Friday, May 4, 2018

Samsung needs a brand positioned at low-end so that it can sell affordable products to fiercely compete with Chinese sellers without spoiling the premium image of the Samsung brand

PROBLEM: Samsung is trying to be present in every product segment with the same Samsung brand. Won't work in the long run. Selling both ultra-cheap basic mobile phones and also iPhone-rivaling Galaxy S9 smartphones under the same brand isn't a good idea. The ultra-cheap basic phones spoil the premium image of the Samsung brand. Further, in light of my this prediction, Samsung is continuing to face immense pricing pressure from Chinese smartphone-makers [and the Chinese firms are going to get only better and better].



SAMSUNG'S RESPONSE AND WHY IT WON'T WORK: In response, Samsung is trying various [mostly desperate] tricks, like churning out some models with "alternative" SoCs from MediaTek or Spreadtrum, among other things. While these tricks could/should eventually be successful, such lower-end products will also dilute the overall premium image of the Samsung brand, and this could end up hurting Samsung more than helping it. No owner of a Galaxy S9 will like or accept it if his maid is also talking on her Samsung-branded phone. Or if his driver takes out his J2 Pro from his pocket [with the same usual Samsung ringtone as the one on his S9!]. That's the real issue basically, in frank words. Not only does a rich man want product-exclusivity [S9 gives this, since his maid/driver can't afford a S9], he also wants brand-exclusivity [Samsung brand doesn't give this to him, whereas brands such as Bang & Olufsen and even Sony give this because these latter two brands only play in the high-price space, thus cutting out maids/drivers].



SOLUTION: A good solution [and maybe the only?] to this problem is that Samsung should create a new, separate brand which is positioned in such a way that it can take on the Xiaomis and the Huaweis through fierce pricing and other methods/promotions without negatively touching the flagship Samsung brand. It can do all those things under the banner of this new brand that it can't be seen doing under the main Samsung brand. Crucially, however, the procurement and manufacturing of this new brand should be in the same factories/plants as Samsung-branded products, so that costs remain under control [think of VW producing both Volkswagen and Skoda cars under the same roof, without the buyer knowing about the immense commonalities]. This dual-brand strategy is numerically the lowest-possible case of the multi-brand strategy used by the world's top hotel groups - Hyatt, Radisson, Marriott, Hilton and others. While these hotel chains go to the extreme, with perhaps a dozen or more brands, Samsung can likely solve its problem with just one additional brand.

It should be noted that customer segmentation done by these large hotel groups is done on two levels - brand-level and product-level. For example, if you choose the Hampton by Hilton brand, you've already chosen a rather affordable brand from within the various Hilton brands. You've thus expressed your customer segment on the brand level. Now within a Hampton by Hilton hotel, further fine-level segmentation happens when you choose a room type - King Room, Suite, Twin Room, etc. Similarly, the various smartphone models that Samsung sells can be thought of as produce-level segmentation, whereas the two different brands that Samsung should run will cover the brand-level segmentation.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

The need to be seen as leading everywhere - no matter the cost - can make a leader take dangerous, harmful and inefficient decisions, and this can contribute to the demise of this leader's leadership

Because America is the leader in many areas, it now has this urge to appear as the leader everywhere, even in areas where either it isn't the leader or where it doesn't necessarily need to be the leader [or need to only appear to be the leader]. This ongoing desire to look like the boss makes America take incorrect actions many times. Actions which cause an overall harm to America, while making America look like it's leading others. A good example is the currently ongoing case of British accusations against Russia of using a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy on British soil [no evidence provided by the UK so far]. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and Britain along with the United States pressured countries across the world to expel Russian diplomats to show "solidarity" with Britain. Many countries - chiefly those without an independent foreign policy and which are in reality merely vassals of the US - succumbed to the pressure and expelled Russian diplomats [in different numbers]. Now, America being America felt this pressure to be seen leading these expulsions. It couldn't accept being seen somewhere in the middle of the list of countries expelling Russian diplomats, so it expelled 60 Russian diplomats - far more than any other country, including the UK - in order to come out as the clear leader of this effort ["topping the charts"].

Now, America spoiled its own relationship with Russia in order to not be seen in the middle of a list of countries taking anti-Russia actions. Was this a wise move tactically or strategically? In my opinion the self-created pressure to always seem like the boss forced America to take a route that was not the best route to take, and this action will hurt the US more than helping it [even if the negative effects become visible after a long time]. This generalization seems to apply manywhere - those who feel the desire/need/pressure/urge to be seen as leaders might unknowingly take inefficient or self-harming actions just to fulfill or satisfy this need, without consideration to which course of actions is the most beneficial.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sony must resist the temptation to get into everything once again and should instead maintain its focus and direction [COMPACTIDEA]

Sony's flirtation with tax-hailing is a distraction, not an opportunity. Sony is recovering, but profits shouldn't mean that Sony [once again] gets distracted and starts doing things it shouldn't be doing. Cabs and taxis aren't things Sony should be concerned with. Leave those to the Olas and the Ubers. Instead, Sony should stay laser focused on business and consumer electronics, software, online services, cameras, chips/components/sensors, game consoles and games, smartphones and tablets, IoT devices, automotive electronics, robots, etc. These are the businesses that are Sony's strengths and that Sony can do well in.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Amazon's online stores aren't insurmountable - Google Play can easily be converted by Google into a broader online store for everything

Sometimes it might seem like Amazon.com, Amazon.in, etc., are insurmountable online stores. But take a look at that Google Play store inside almost every Android phone out there. What stops Google from converting it into a general-purpose online store selling everything from shirts to jewellery to perfumes to industrial products? In my opinion, nothing, actually. The Play store already has massive "footfall" in the form of billions of Android users browsing, searching, surfing, and using the store. Google also has deep knowledge about what its/these users like and want, based on their Google searches, Gmail emails, Chrome URLs, YouTube video viewing, Google Play applications installed, and so on. Using this trove of data, Google can target specific products at individual users [just like currently it targets ads for products/services]. The Play store doesn't have to be - and eventually/probably won't be - restricted to only movies, TV shows, magazines, books, games, applications and other types of digital content pieces. I think Amazon knows that it's vulnerable in this way.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Buying online rather than offline can make you richer on an overall basis even if you pay more money for your online purchases on, say, Amazon

The basic idea here is that if buying online - say on Amazon.in or Flipkart or Jabong - saves you time, then you can utilize the same time to earn more. The extra income [or profits] that you generate from this newly-released time will most likely compensate [many times over] for any [slightly] higher prices that you might have paid for making your purchases online. One of the questions to be asked is this - will you be able to invest the time saved into raising your income? This is related to the fantastic concept of opportunity cost. Another question to be asked is - [how] does buying online save you time? The answer to this question is a relatively straightforward yes - you don't have to drive to the market [or to different shops], you don't have to waste time finding parking spot for your car, you can do comparisons far more quickly online than offline, you won't get stuck in costly traffic jams, you can sort and filter as you like, and so on. Another thing, if you don't want to invest the newly-liberated time into increasing your income, you can always use this extra time for enjoyment and entertainment activities, say with family and/or friends. You'll certainly be happier even if not richer. And who knows, your extra happiness might by itself make you wealthier!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Thought experiment - how would we think about alternatives to Microsoft Office if we were told and assured that compatibility of file formats will be pristine and perfect for all suites

ALSO SEE OID 224Z, 225Z

Just like compatibility of JPEG or .txt or HTML is largely similar and perfect irrespective of application used. If 100% file-format compatibility was assured, I'm sure that the landscape of productivity suites would be much more fragmented in terms of market share. There wouldn't be just Microsoft Office dominating. Corel WordPerfect Office, SoftMaker Office, LibreOffice, Apple iWork, Google Docs, IBM Lotus SmartSuite, AppleWorks, and others would also have had meaningful market shares, depending upon which customer segment they targeted/target. Different office suites from different vendors are priced differently, have innovations of their own, and are targeted at different types of customers, but the only thing that stops people from happily accepting these is compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats. Remove this barrier and all of a sudden people will start choosing that particular suite which best matches their requirements for features, contained applications, price and other factors. Currently people are forced to ignore these other requirements because of file-format issue.

North Korea's rocket, missile and nuclear weapons programs all probably got significant help from piracy of widely developed and available Korean-language software packages, research papers, and other scientific books and knowledge

It's kind of ironical. The very fact that North Korea and South Korea are brethren is one of the likely factors for the fast pace at which the North's rocket, missile and atomic bomb projects have evolved. Because of the South's vast, developed and flourishing economy, there's widespread availability of advanced, Korean-language 3D CAD, CAM and simulation programs, as well as top-quality scientific and research papers on physics and mathematics, including perhaps on engine design and rocket science. It isn't hard to imagine that a lot of this knowledge got transferred to the North, either because it was already available on the Web, or because of piracy. Once the North got/gets access to a particular advanced program, it was/is forever. You can't undo it. And because it was/is in Korean language, they're immediately comfortable with it and start milking the benefits. Had the North been a state with its own, separate, nowhere-else-used language, it wouldn't have been able to as easily understand and/or use software applications in other languages [because no meaningful software company would've developed applications in this nowhere-else-used language of North Korea].

Saturday, January 6, 2018

It can't be ruled out that Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were deliberately crafted by Intel at the request of NSA, or to force the world to replace, or both [COMPACTIDEA]

Don't take whatever is happening at face value. In the case of these giant American corporations, anything is possible. It's more likely than not that these spectacular "bugs" were deliberately introduced in the microprocessors, either because the rouge agency NSA wanted to covertly steal data from all over the world, or because Intel wanted to force the entire world to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on buying new technology equipment from the computing industry [including itself, of course], or both. The general public can never understand the nefarious thinking of those at the top of these evil private companies. There's more to this development than meets the eye.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Products, a majority of whose functionality depends on physical components that can be seen and measured, are more susceptible to getting copied than electronics and software [COMPACTIDEA]

Realized this when reading this article on China's first high-bypass turbofan engine. It's so much easier to reverse-engineer a "physical" product such an aircraft turbine than it is to, say, Microsoft Office. You can see a powerplant's components. You can disassemble it and measure each component and how one component connects to another. Only the software portion of the engine might not be possible to copy. But a bulk of what constitutes a CFM or Pratt engine is out in the open, naked, unprotected, ready for copying by China. Can the same be said for Microsoft Office? No. You have no idea of Office's source code, and so it isn't easy to reverse-engineer software. Software's very nature dictates this. Online services such as Facebook that rely on server-side software are even more difficult to copy, if at all - you have zero access to Facebook's backend software. Even if you had access to it and built a copy of FB, how will you overcome network effect of the billions of users of FB? Seems next to impossible.



Friday, December 29, 2017

Device manufacturers aren't forced to strictly follow net neutrality - Amazon's Fire range of products use a clever, hybrid model

Start with this from Wikipedia: 

"Amazon Fire OS is an Android-based mobile operating system produced by Amazon for its Fire Phone and Kindle Fire range of tablets, Echo and Echo Dot, and other content delivery devices like Fire TV; the tablet versions of the Kindle e-readers are the Fire range. It is forked from Android. Fire OS primarily centers on content consumption, with a customized user interface and heavy ties to content available from Amazon's own storefronts and services." - [link]

It's these "heavy ties" to Amazon's products/services that make Amazon's Fire Tablet and other products sort of hybrid when it comes to following net neutrality. Ostensibly they do follow, but "effectively" they're somewhere in the middle, because even if the device does technically support other storefronts and services, Amazon actively steers/nudges users to its own goods and services.

Further:
  1. By just not having any app for some/all of competing storefronts and services, and
  2. By forcing users to have a heavily degraded [perhaps unusable] experience when using these rival storefronts and services from Fire's Web browser,
Amazon effectively provides only its own storefronts and services. It's able to make a legal claim that others's stuff too can be used, but it knows that:
  1. Others' stuff isn't much usable, and
  2. So Fire users practically won't use others' services.
This sort of a hybrid, deniable approach isn't easy to prove because it looks benign on the surface. But just because it's hard to spot and prove doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or that it doesn't have distorting effects on the market [effects that net neutrality is/was meant to avoid].




Thursday, December 28, 2017

To break Google, high-quality, Google-free, Android-based, Android-compatible mobile operating systems are needed [COMPACTIDEA]

Application compatibility must be maintained. Google-free or Google-presence-reduced versions of Android, such as Amazon's Fire OS, OxygenOS, Samsung Experience, Aliyun OS/Yun OS, ColorOS, etc., are good steps in this direction. Of course, a full-fledged alternative app store is also needed [Yandex.Store? Amazon Appstore?]. Native YouTube support is also an issue, since Google won't provide its YouTube app for these alternative operating systems. But to break Google's back, alternative OSes need to be done. Even Microsoft should launch a full-blown, Microsoft-powered version of Android, complete with Bing/Cortana, Office, Outlook, etc.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rivals of Google's search engine should combine their crawling, indexing functions to massively reduce their costs [COMPACTIDEA]

Yandex, Baidu, Naver, and maybe Bing too, should combine their crawling and indexing assets to significantly reduce their costs. They're merely duplicating the same activities without any extra benefit. Their innovation is in the actual ranking [and also the interface/presentation] - that's where they can and should differentiate. But why waste billions on duplicating crawling and indexing? No point. Perhaps they could create a separate firm called "Global Search Crawl and Index" which maintains exact copies of the index [and also the crawling and indexing software/technologies] in the different countries in which these rivals are domiciled [so that due to political reasons a certain client - say Baidu or Yandex - cannot be cut off from the system]. If such a combined system is made, it'll massively reduce the costs for Yandex, Baidu, etc., and thus allow them to better compete with Google. Who knows, a combined index might even make the index much bigger [after discarding duplicates of each one] and thus produce better results for each of the rivals.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The only reason why I don't like Bitcoin is because of its exorbitant, staggering energy usage [COMPACTIDEA]

Can our planet, our world really afford to do billions of transactions using a system that consumes so much energy that your eyes could really pop out?

"The electricity consumed for a single transaction is 251 kW⋅h..." - [link]

My 1.5 ton air-conditioner consumes only 2 kWh of energy per hour of usage. Now imagine spending 251 kWh for every single Bitcoin transaction. Bullshit. Forget capitalism and free markets - the world, on an aggregate basis, shouldn't be wasting such a large amount of energy on doing and recording Bitcoin transactions, even if it's profitable for a subset of the folks.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Does Rossiya's Ilyushin Il-96-300PU presidential plane realize that it shoulders the entire world's safety and future each time it flies with Vladimir Putin?

Realized this while watching this nice video. Mankind really has all of its eggs in one basket. The Rossiya Ilyushin Il-96-300PU aircraft really carries the one man who is single-handedly saving this planet from getting enslaved by the American monster. So much weight on the shoulders of the Ilyushin airliner. So much responsibility. We, the rest of the world, don't realize the gravity of each of Putin's flights. Out fate, our future, our safety, all depend on the safety and well-being of Vladimir Putin. America would chew us all alive if not for Putin. He is the one indestructible, impregnable adamantium wall that's standing between the insatiable greed and lust of America, and the rest of us.