Monday, February 22, 2016

Why Google's driverless, self-driving cars are really a big deal - some important reasons and thoughts

  • Uber is worried about Google's cars, because driverless, self-driving cars are both a threat to and an opportunity for Uber. A startup using such automated cars could usurp Uber because its drivers - the software - doesn't need sleep and doesn't fall ill and doesn't go on a strike. There's opportunity here too - such automated cars could work 24x7x365, quickly and efficiently transporting men and goods where needed. The larger/wider the network, the lesser the distance/time when these cars run idle, and the higher the utilization that generates revenue. Game-changer is a small word.
  • Apple [and also Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.] is worried about Google's cars because it knows that a significant proportion of any person's time is spent commuting inside a car. Google's cars, which won't have to be driven manually, naturally will keep the occupants occupied by serving them all sorts of context-sensitive/local/targeted ads and other content [audio/music, movies/videos, photos, news, etc.], and also by taking care of their emails, calendar, phone calls, searches, payments, and so on. Inside a Google car it'll naturally all be done by Google [and all of it will be monitored and recorded for analysis], thus tightly locking the owner(s) into Google's ecosystem and thus also progressively making Google's services better, more focused and overall more relevant/useful [and thus insurmountable after a point].

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

What an irony - Yahoo has a lot of users/visitors but no useful services, while OLX, Quikr have useful services but have to pay to acquire users

It intrigues me that established/veteran powerhouses such as Yahoo [especially] and AOL [to some extent] have a lot of regular users/visitors - numbering in millions - but neither of them has even a single new-age, innovative product/service in its portfolio. For example, in the last few years, India has witnessed an explosive rise of services such as BookMyShow, Flipkart/Snapdeal, OLX/Quikr, Ola, MobiKwik/Paytm, Zomato, etc., but there has been no such cutting-edge product/service from Yahoo India. Does Yahoo India have no idea incubator/startup incubator lab which gives wings to those creative guys who have the idea and the zeal to launch a new, innovative venture [drawing on the established user base of and funding from Yahoo India]?

In contrast, look at the startups. They're - and this includes OLX, Flipkart, Ola, etc. - literally burning money in order to acquire customers. These startups have the catchy ideas and the zeal, but are short on cash and customers.

What an irony.

Update [Feb'16]: It's of course painful to see Yahoo shutter product after product ["Product Prioritization"], including seemingly important/innovative ones like Yahoo Maps and Yahoo Pipes.

Artificially increasing friction and hassles in online financial transactions in the name of customer safety isn't good

I don't have any problem with Indian banks adopting a mandatory delay before money can be transferred to a newly-added payee [likely at the instructions of our RBI], in the name of safety. However, I do have a problem with banks not allowing this even to folks who are willing to assume all the risks upon themselves. For example, I'm willing to tell my bank that it should allow me to transfer any amount even to a newly-added payee [and also that I should be able to instantly activate a new payee, rather than having to wait for 30 minutes], and that I take upon myself any financial fraud risk this brings. But banks won't allow this, thus artificially making the online process slower and more cumbersome than offline methods [like issuing cheques].