Friday, April 08, 2011

The broad path the Russians should follow to sustain and grow sales of Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft

The Ilyushin Il-96 is a nice, large-sized aircraft. It's relatively modern, large, based on the proven Il-86 product, and crucially, it hasn't faced the quality/reliability issues that have plagued the Tupolev Tu-204. Plus, it's significantly cheaper than comparable offerings from Airbus/Boeing. Equally importantly, it belongs to the Russians' political camp, meaning thereby that anti-America nations such as Iran and Venezuela can buy it.

A beautiful Il-96 taxiing in Poland. (Source)

However, these good points aside, the Il-96 can't really match the comfort, economics/efficiency, prestige, quality, reliability and safety of comparable aircraft from Airbus and Boeing. Additionally, while all-new Russian aircraft are being developed in the small and medium categories (Sukhoi Superjet 100 and Irkut MS-21), there's no program to develop an ultra-modern, large-sized airliner to replace Il-96. Finally, as of today, the Il-96 has logged negligible sales.

What should the Russians do to sustain and grow the sales of Il-96? I think UAC should launch a program to release an overhauled and Westernized version of the Il-96, with the specific intent of selling it to the West. The Superjet 100 and MS-21 both incorporate a large amount of Western technology, and it shouldn't be a concern if this Westernized version of Il-96 also relies significantly on Western technology. The objective, it should be remembered, is to steal at least some sales from Airbus and Boeing. And any airline that matters in the West asks for brute quality, something that can't be achieved using contemporary Russian technology alone. In any case, if pure Russian Il-96 results in zero sales in the West, and a hybrid Russian-Western Il-96 results in some sales in the West, then choosing the latter is preferable.

Apart from this, I think UAC should also do what Airbus and Boeing do - release frequent and regular updates to their aircraft, that improve performance and reliability, reduce cost and increase safety. The Il-96 is a nice aircraft that can sell more than it's selling at the moment. There's no other aircraft of this size at this price (neither passenger nor cargo), but the Russians apparently aren't taking advantage of this strong advantage.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

On treating adulterators and criminals equally

That there are a lot of adulterated food (including beverages, etc.) and spurious medicines on the market today is not hidden from anyone. I'm quite concerned about it.

A thought has been running in my mind for the last few days - that adulterators (not to be confused with adulterer) should be treated just like criminals. What does a criminal do? He shoots at you or stabs you can causes you bodily injury. What does an adulterator do? By way of making you consume adulterated food and spurious medicines, he too causes you physical harm (albeit slightly indirectly).

This striking commonality alone is sufficient to convince me that all those who adulterate cosmetics, drinks, fruits, medicines, milk products, vegetables, etc., should be considered dangerous to the public and punished harshly - like criminals. Remember, a murderer might kill only one person, but an adulterator will probably harm dozens simultaneously, including such delicate lives as infants, little kids, pregnant women, the elderly and others.

It's my desire that every product on the market be pure, so that I and others can start enjoying the pure milk that once sold in Punjab :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Foreign companies operating in India shouldn't be allowed to take Indians for a ride

I've frequently read complaints (on Consumer Complaints, MouthShut and other websites) about cheating, fraud, poor service, etc., given to Indians by foreign companies operating here (AIG, Allianz, Barclays, GE Capital, HSBC, RBS, etc.). I feel outraged when I read such complaints, and I wonder why foreign companies operating in India are allowed to deceive Indians and get away with it. Why aren't they punished harshly, making it clear to the world that if you're coming here to make money, you won't be allowed to cheat Indians.

I'm not suggesting that Indian companies should be allowed to deceive Indians, but I'm proposing significantly harsher penalties for foreign companies. I would also like to see these penalties delivered quickly, so that the affected customers don't have to wait for remuneration for a long time.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Antennagate, iPhone 5 and Apple's opportunity

As an attempt to calm down the negative publicity about iPhone 4, Apple had initially posted a webpage (since taken down and replaced by a milder version) comparing the antenna performance of various smartphones from Apple's competitors (HTC, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, etc.). The comparisons showed that phones from Apple's rivals had at least as many antenna issues as iPhone 4 has. A backlash ensued and Apple quietly removed the offending material from its website.

If the following assumptions are true, Apple has a nice opportunity in its hands to humiliate and hurt its rivals:
  1. Apple, based on innovative engineering, virtually eliminates the antenna/signal issues from iPhone 5.
  2. Apple's rivals do not take any material steps to eliminate the antenna issues highlighted by Apple's original comparisons.
Assuming that the above two assumptions come out as true, Apple can reinstate the offending material that it had put up on its website, and this time (with iPhone 5, that is) its rivals won't be able to claim that the comparisons are false. Apple will have a potent marketing weapon in its hands with which to strike at the heart of its rivals.