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The New Stuff

Mash smashed!

Last year I had written about Yahoo launching its social networking site “Mash” and it’s not even an year now when I get this mailer that Yahoo is closing down Mash! Curious enough to know the reason I landed up on Yahoo blog and here is the official statement from Yahoo mentioned in their blog:

“Dear Mash users,
You may have received an email recently regarding the shut-down of Mash on September 29, 2008. To provide more information about what will happen to your Mash profile, and how you can save your profile information, please see the list of FAQs below.
Thank you for trying out our Mash Beta service. We hope you had fun with it!
Matt Warburton
Yahoo! Community Manager”

When Mash was launched last year in September, I remember the membership was through invitation only and I requested one of my friends to send me the invite. Think “join only through invite” was introduced to keep that exclusivity as compared to any other networking site but well just that exclusivity doesn’t make any user to stick to any site esp. when users have hoards of other options to cater to their needs. It can definitely instigate one to register immediately but then you need to have some content or reasons to keep users engaged to any site. I had some hopes with Mash as this was a Yahoo product but well we all know the fate and doomed performance of Yahoo products these days, be it the new mail, yahoo search or their social networking sites, all are not able to compete against their giant competitor Google! After joining Mash, I had hardly visited it for maybe 5-6 times and so it doesn’t come to me as a surprise now that Yahoo had decided to shut it down. Frankly speaking there was nothing in it for me as a user to go to that site again and again. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt the same and Mash traffic slope has been on downside ever since its launch last year. Infact quantcast graph for Yahoo Mash shows estimated monthly page view count around 2,000 only!!! Well, if that’s the embarrassing pageview count for Mash then it means that its being used by almost none! Considering the reviews and performance I think it makes sense for Yahoo to shut the product down. Sad that yet another social networking site and that too from Yahoo reaches extinction!

Shelfari acquired by Amazon

Ah another acquisition of a web 2.0 startup by and I must say an interesting acquisition. Read it today on news sites as well as on Shelfari’s official blog that Shelfari which is a social networking site for book-lovers has been acquired by online book transaction giant While surfing today I didn’t see any direct link or connection to shelfari whereas already shows linking to now. Maybe it will happen on amazon also pretty soon.

I have been a member of Shelfari for quite some time now and I have always found this site to be very interesting. They have always been innovative and engaging enough and their mailer communication makes you click the URL atleast once. Though I don’t have many friends on shelfari simply because it’s a niche site and not all of my friends on other social networking sites are book lovers so to say. Also unlike Orkut or Facebook, the purpose of my visit to this site is not interacting with friends but the content of the site which matches with my taste. I love reading books and hence sites like these help me being updated about what to read by its release and user-generated reviews section. This site was already having small associations with Amazon like their “buy” option leading to Amazon’s website on their own website as well as their Facebook app but an acquisition like this has definitely given Shelfari a huge edge over all its existing and potential competitors. Start-up book lovers’ networking sites competing with each other was ok but now start-ups competing with Very- very tough!!!

Well, as is the case with most of the vertical-specific social networking sites, I don’t think even Shelfari was having huge number of registrations / large community which would have made Amazon acquire this site. For Amazon which is the obvious leader as far as books recommendations and transactions are concerned, it’s a natural progression to have a social networking site around books and what better option than to acquire a budding but promising site instead of starting its own! I will say it’s a good move for both these sites, for Shelfari things could not have turned out to be better than this and for Amazon another feather in its cap. Knowing Amazon’s capabilities (their recommendation engine is my personal favorite and I think they have the best recommendation engine globally) and Shelfari’s commitment, I’m sure bibliophiles like me will have a more engaged and pleasant user experience.

iPhone launch in India: A low-key event!

Well, it had to happen, I had expected the same fate of iPhone launch in India since the day they announced the price for 8GB model as 31,000 & 16GB model as 36,000! Indian consumers were prepared and were willing to pay premium for a premium product like iPhone but premium as high as 4 times than its price in US? Isn’t it too high esp. when most of the consumers have easy access to US market these days? As I anticipated, the launch of iPhone in India on 22nd Aug’08 in a mid-night launch event didn’t receive onlookers in as high number as US or other countries. The launch event went quite lackluster and even if bunch of people visited the event, the actual conversion number i.e., people buying it first day itself was quite low as against any other country.

Last year when iPhone was launched in US, it was the talk of the town and media was splashed across globally with the launch details and sales volume of iPhone in 1st day itself. Then what went wrong majorly in case of Indian launch? As reported in ET today, “the snazzy gizmo failed to draw crowds to the stores of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar in sharp contrast to the international markets where iPhone lovers had queued up the whole night to buy the handset. The mood was subdued at the midnight launch of iPhone at Mumbai’s Infiniti Mall with Friday being a working day. The stage was set for a grand launch, complete with confetti and cheerleaders, but at the stroke of midnight, there were just 10 people who actually bought the high-end device. At a Vodafone store in Connaught Place, Central Delhi, journalists outnumbered customers by a huge margin. Only about 15 customers turned up to buy the phone. The Airtel retail store nearby wore a deserted look on Friday afternoon, with not a single customer buying the iPhone. In Gurgaon, Airtel unveiled the iPhone at Sahara Mall. Despite the frenzy, the D-day did not quite match the expectations with just about 35-40 people lining up to buy the coveted smartphone.

Infact a day after the launch also, I don’t think there has been any noticeable upsurge in the sales volume in any of the cities. I remember reading it somewhere that more than 2 lakh people had registered on Airtel website as prospective buyers for iPhone. 2 lakh only on Airtel website! Then what would have been the overall size of the prospective buyers in India? But looks like such a high pricing has dampened the spirits of most of the Indian consumers who were eagerly awaiting this Apple product in India. I know of many people personally who were initially waiting for this phone but now have decided to settle for some other set stating that 31k for 8GB phone is just too high! Well, as of now it looks like iPhone has gone majorly wrong in its launch pricing strategy in India. But nothing can be concluded so soon, let’s wait and watch if service providers will bring down the prices to capture the mass or keep it at the same price to target the niche!

Bach ke rehna from "Bachna Ae Haseeno"!


Ah another unremarkable one from Yash Raj Films, went to watch “Bachna Ae Haseeno” last weekend with high expectations but alas L! I wonder what has happened to the powerhouse of Bollywood and why are they making such mediocre movies one after another! Think of yesteryears, people used to wait for Yashji’s films and YRF banner meant sure shot success and now??? YRF is giving movies like Tashan, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom & Bachna Ae Haseeno!

Bachna Ae Haseeno is a story of Raj and three women – Mahi, Radhika & Gayatri whom he meets at different stages of his life. Well, I won’t write the detail story of the movie in the interest of those who still want to watch this movie, but in a nutshell Raj is a modern guy who wants to just CHILL out with different girls and doesn’t believe in commitments at all, the movie shows his life for 12 years in which he breaks the heart of two women who are madly in love with him and with the third one he himself falls in deep love. Then begins his journey of maafinamas and after a draggggging never ending second half the film finally comes to a typical bolywoodish “& they lived happily ever after” end. First half was still ok but second half was so unbearable esp. because of those 70s kinda dialogues! Ranbir Kapoor was looking good and Bipasha was looking truly hot. Minissha Lamba looked very auntyish and the leading lady Deepika Padukone had hardly anything to perform. Her role was a little more than what we call “guest appearance”. What was more upsetting was wastage of a talent like Kunal Kapoor. Such a fine actor has been grossly wasted in the movie. Music was ok but the title number was definitely very good. Length of the movie was toooooo long and plot was not at all justified for those three hours. Overall despite having such good actors the movie was very weak because of script, dialogues and execution.

From my side, it’s a “thumbs down” for this movie. You can watch it if you want to see how Ranbir and Deepika are performing in their respective second movies but otherwise it’s totally avoidable. Well one thing is definitely noteworthy, despite it being a very boring movie both Ranbir and Deepika look promising enough as the next super stars of bollywood. They have proved it that they are not one-movie-hypes and are going to stay in times to come.

Phoonk Contest – Movie Promotion Strategy

So, it was not hoax… This contest news started doing rounds in media somewhere in last week of July’08 and almost every publication including ET has covered it. But somehow I kept on thinking that it’s not real and is yet another scandalous strategy to promote the upcoming horror movie of Ram Gopal Verma – PHOONK. But well, I was wrong, it’s true that Ram Gopal Verma is running a “Dare to watch it alone” contest wherein he is announcing a prize money of Rs. 5 lakh for anyone who dares to watch this movie from start to finish alone in a theater. Very interesting promotional strategy to instigate people to watch this movie.

Azam Khan the producer of the film says, “We're confident that the film is so scary that it will be extremely difficult to watch it all alone in a theater. We will be running a contest and giving out details on our website about how to participate in it. Right now we have decided that we will screen the film for the winners of the contest a few days before the release of the film, that is on August 22. At the moment we have planned four trials that we will screen in a preview theatre.” (source: Infact the contest details are out on their website as well as their official communities on facebook and orkut. Official communities on facebook and orkut are asking people to visit their website and I must say that PHOONK website is a very well done up website unlike many other movie website which are just a collection of some html pages promoting the wallpapers and ringtones. I really liked the UI of this website and the background score is creepy enough to scare a person like me at night :P, have a look on this snapshot yourself:

This contest has definitely become a hit I think, as out of 423 members (as of today) on the official community of facebook, more than 180 people have commented saying they are willing to accept the challenge. Not only that all official articles in online newspapers, official blogs etc are flooded with comments of people dropping their mobile number and email ids to participate in this contest. It had to happen for sure, general human psychology is that the moment you dare people for anything, most of them would like to try it out. I am sure that because of this contest and hype about Phoonk being one of the scaroest movies ever made, many people will go now to watch it in theater. Apart from this dare to watch it alone contest there is another contest announced on their website viz., “It Happened to me” contest wherein participants are supposed to share their real life scariest experience, black magic stories or ghostly encounter and the 10 best entries selected by Ram Gopal Varma will be paid Rs. 25,000 each. Not only that, if your story is good enough to be made into a feature film you will win as good as Rs. 5 lakh and if your story is selected and you can write a complete script for the film you will win Rs. 10 lakh!

Yet another exciting and very impressive promotional strategy from bollywood! As I mentioned earlier bollywood is getting seriously innovative day by day to promote its movies and PHOONK is another example of that. Now let’s wait and watch if these marketing gimmicks are going to give any success to Phoonk or it will be just another dud from RGV factory!

Internet shopping boom in India

Well, Rakhi season is here and as expected all my inboxes are flooded with promo mailers from different e-commerce sites about online Rakhi hampers and packs. After going through different mailers and hampers on offer, I settled for one of the Rakhi packs from shopping portal. I have been sending Rakhi through online shopping for last 5 years I think. Though it is bit expensive than the normal post / courier service but I still prefer it over those primarily because of delivery guarantee and presentation / packaging. I have faced some irritating issues earlier when Rakhi was not delivered on time even after couriering it well in advance and once I remember I had sent the Rakhi and a small gift in a very beautiful packet only to come to know later that my brother had only received Rakhi in an open envelope without any gift inside :-). So, considering the assurance and convenience which I get while sending it through these e-commerce sites I find it to be justified to spend those extra bucks for it.

But I must say unlike few years back, this year it took me some time to make my purchase decision mainly because every online shopping was having some or other interesting thing to offer with almost nil price differentiation. Another interesting thing to be noticed was the way packets were described in these portals, instead of simply saying packet consists of 1 Rakhi, 1 card, etc. most of them were focusing on the packaging and the relevance of it to the tradition of Rakhi. Ehhh quite attractive and strong marketing so to say. E-commerce sites are learning it well to push online shopping esp. during festivals in India. Despite the price curve moving steeply upwards during peak season these sites are very much able to sell their products as there is a certain set of TG in Indian market now who is becoming used to the convenience of online shopping.

Infact last week only I had read an interesting article in ET about internet shopping catching up fastly in India. As per the statistics, eBay India is selling one product a minute and its not only software or tech product which is being sold, rather its surprising to know that one of the most common products sold online is jewelery. Here are some other interesting figures from that ET article (dated 3rd Aug’08) about eBay India which reinforces the surge of internet shopping in India.

  • On an average day a piece of jewellery is sold every seven minutes, a coin or note sells every 16 minutes, a stamp sells every 19 minutes, an apparel sells every 22 minutes and a book is sold every 27 minutes on eBay India
  • 70-75% of buyers on eBay India are from age group of 25-30 years.
  • It is jewellery that is the most sought product on this site.
  • Buying trend wise electronic gadgets are popular among male buyers and jewellery is the obvious choice of Indian women.
  • Apart from jewellery, apparel category is the other area which is a favorite among women buyers.

Apparel and jewellery being bought online in India, online shopping is really catching up then :-)

"SLAP"stick comedy - Ugly Aur Pagli

After liking “Pyaar Ke Side Effects” a lot by Pritish Nandy Communications starring Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat, I was eagerly waiting for next PNC release. Watched this movie last weekend and I think the only thing which makes sense about this movie is its name – UGLY aur PAGLI, rest everything is as insane as possible. Yeah the movie is sort of Ugly with those dirty scenes like Mallika vomiting every now and then and absolutely PAGLI as its full of lunatic series and sequences.

Speaking of the story, it’s a story of Kuhu and Kabir…ummm nothing more to write as there is no story at all! So, no need to go into details of the same. Ranvir Shorey is playing UGLY and Mallika Sherawat is playing PAGLI whose only role in the movie is to SLAP Ranvir every now & then…slap if he does good to her, slap if he does bad to her! Quite a “SLAP”stick comedy I must say. Mallika was good in her acting as long as she was supposed to play this crazy girl who wanted her boyfriend to fulfill all her insane demands and the moment she was required to shed some tears, oh god what a disaster she was! She just couldn’t do any serious part even if it’s there for just few minutes. Ranvir Shorey was good in his acting as usual but his role was too miserable to impress. Though the movie definitely shows you some of those very popular old television stars like Sushmita Mukherjee, Bharti Achrekar and both have them have done their role wonderfully well.

I would rate this movie only 1.5 out of 5: 1 because of Ranvir and 0.5 because of “Talli” song. Overall it was a bad decision to watch this movie in a multiplex on a weekend, it was supposed to be a comedy but I don’t remember even a single scene which would have brought a smile on my face, forget about laughter! I would not recommend to anybody to watch this movie and yeah in case you still wanna do, wait for the DVD release, it would be a better idea to watch it at home as atleast you can switch to some channel if you find it to be too boring or forward those unwanted scenes which just makes you wonder – what happened to Ranvir’s specialized comedy skills and how come such a movie from PNC productions!

Internet rejuvenating Indian Art Industry!

Yesterday while just casually browsing through ET, one piece which caught my immediate attention was how internet is changing the face of Indian Art Industry. Indian Art and Internet, oh wow what a lovely combination as both happen to be my special areas of interests – art out of passion and internet out of profession J. I immediately stopped over to read the complete story and I was quite happy to observe the shift which is happening even in Indian Art Industry because of this overall internet revolution. Not only artists are using Internet for reaching out to different markets but they are also using it for expanding their canvas of inspiration. While offline stores and exhibitions give artists a chance to promote large number of creations at one go but at the same time Internet gives them a very wide avenue for promoting their work to right kind of TG across different geographies at a very economic cost. Most importantly you get to see work of other people, you can discuss and share feedback with like minded people as well as it provides ample opportunities for and artist to study and research the subject of painting thereby expanding his / her creative horizon. While downside of it is definitely there with more chances of plagiarism and piracy but as per me the positive aspects of it outweigh the negative ones.

Indian Art industry is moving ahead quite positively and thanks to the internet exposure that prices of Indian works are growing northwards. As per an estimate by the creator of The Fine Art Fund, Phillip Hoffman, the size of the Indian market has grown from $2 million to approximately $400 million in the last seven years and to add to that as per Yamini Mehta, director of modern and contemporary Indian art at the London-based Christie’s, “Indian art is becoming a part of international consciousness, why is why we have seen a spectacular growth in this field”. More and more people outside are looking out for Indian masterpieces and famous artists are getting unimaginable prices too. Early this year M.F. Husain’s “Battle of Ganga and Jamuna” sold for $1.6 million in New York! $1.6 million…this is seriously some money man :-).

As an amateur artist with a strong passion towards painting, I have always believed in the power of internet for promoting Indian Art to the right TG. Personally speaking I paint out of hobby and have never tried doing it commercially but I know of many good and senior artists who earn their living through art only and I know how difficult it is for them to meet their ends because of low potential in the local market. I know of this friend of mine who is a very good senior level artist but she was always confined to the limits of Indian Market. One fine day I helped her in building a website and we put her paintings in sites like e-bay etc. Though there was no miraculous result which happened immediately and of course she didn’t make any earnings in million dollars but results were not bad either. She started making money slowly out of online selling and atleast she gets lots of leads now through her website of people interested in learning painting from her. She has got steady income and now she keeps on telling everybody about power of internet and how it can help them in reaching out to wider sphere.

Reading that article in ET with the word “industry” suffixed everywhere after “Indian Art” instilled quite some hope within me. Wish like many other industries, internet revolutionizes Indian Art industry as well with more and more open minded artists who are willing to try out newer technologies and platforms.

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