- Thoughts on the iPad
- The Future of Personal Storage
- Apple sets cat among mice (yet again) with iPhone 3GS
Link to full article
Following my previous story on the grassroots movements, here are some of another developments.
Car Activities in Tohoku on Google Map: Google, Honda and Pioneer visualizes car activities in Tohoku by using gathered data from communication-enabled car navigation systems.
Blue lines stands for routes on which one or more motor vehicles have run on the previous day. On gray lines, no vehicle have run during the period. This helps you find which routes are available.
This website was launched on DropBox and shows you realtime public transit-related tweets sorted by railway operator and line. I suppose this is working on a keyword basis.
Area Map of Scheduled Power Outages[J]: This website shows you which rotation group your area belongs to at a glance and helps you find which hours of the day your area will be out of power. It’s based on the announcements by Tokyo Electric Power Company and tweets from the region.
Cookpad, a social network specializing in sharing meal ideas online, shows recipes for disaster survivors with limited foodstuffs[J].
ThumbApps scraps fee for their iPhone app (Tsubueki) that aggregates transit-related tweets. (original price: 230 yen) This helps you to find better routes and avoid traffic confusions.
More news to come.
[Startup->SMEs– A series where we will take a look at startups that we profiled 2-3 years back and analyze their current status/performance (i.e. if they have transitioned from startup to SME or still stuck in the chakravyuh). If you want us to review any particular startup, do let us know via the contact form]
Launched in 2006, Chakpak is a Bangalore based startup that was started with a vision to be the one-stop shop for latest updates/reviews of Bollywood movies. The site had an astronomical rise in traffic owing to great SEO and is one of the survivors of web2.0 boom (there were a whole lot of other sites that started around the same time, but they eventually shut down).
Started by IITians, the site raised funding from Accel and later Canaan Partners. The core idea behind the VC funding was to become “the” digital marketing platform for Bollywood production houses as the site had the captive audience and hence, there was a potential to monetize the audience in a much better way.
Social was/is an important play and Bollywood production houses needed the major push in social media space. Typically, the production houses do not understand Internet so well (as opposed to print/TV) and that’s where existed an opportunity for a social site like Chakpak.
Back to the Present, i.e. 2011.
Chakpak traffic is on a decline* and it’s quite obvious that the company failed to crack the Bollywood ‘dream’ (of selling the ad inventory to production houses). In fact, if you look at it closely, none of the Bollywood websites have managed to break through the ‘mafia’ of middle-men in the Bollywood industry and that’s where Ajay Devgan’s site holds a promise (given that he is an insider).
Unfortunately, Chakpak’s content strategy too hasn’t changed much over the last few years – same focus on SEO (i.e. review page of a movie is created months before the movie is released – a black-or-white hat SEO practice followed by most of Bollywood sites in India) and of course, there hasn’t been any improvement in user experience.
As far as I see, monetization is still ruled by Google Adsense which I don’t believe is a great business strategy (unless you are a content farm).
So who ate the lunch?
Facebook is where the community is. Facebook has killed/made irrelevant so many organic community ideas owing to its deeper penetration in online communities.
For a Bollywood production house, it’s much easier to advertise on Facebook, reach out to a very well defined targeted segment as opposed to any other online service. And for general branding campaign, these production houses use Google/other ad networks.
Possible Play for Chakpak?
There are two ways to monetize an online content business – either you sell ad inventories (i.e. direct sales/discounting the adsense model) or you sell related services. Best is when you do both.
Do you think Chakpak should (have) explored movie ticketing business (if not directly, then as an affiliate?).
What’s your take on Chakpak model? Are there any other services team should look into?
Aside, is there a huge opportunity in Bollywood business in India? After all, we still do not have IMDB/RottenTomatoes of India.
[Also, if you want us to cover any of the oldie startup, do let us know via the contact form].
* – While Comscore doesn’t really provide the correct traffic numbers (doesn’t measure cybercafe data), a look at Alexa too confirms the fall.
Times of India has launched Times Infoline, a teleinfo service in Bangalore. Like Justdial, the service will give you information about products/services etc via telephonic service and is currently available only in Bangalore (080-44333333).
The details of the service aren’t yet known (i.e. if the data is only from Times’ Yellow page service or includes other partners?), but one often wonders why launch of a service in a space which has been commoditized (and has scaling challenges). Most importantly, why is this being pitched as ‘Times of India’ service and not Times Group (just for brand awareness?)?
A look at the past and even after all the funding in technology startups, Justdial emerges as an unbeatable warrior in local search space, which is mostly dominated by voice search and less of Internet searches (though Google has shut down voice search in India). The truth behind online local search service is that they aren’t yet monetized to an extent voice search is (i.e. a track able lead generation model) and that’s probably why Times has taken the old school route.
If you have more info on Times of India’s service (especially the data partners), feel free to share in the comment section (or via the contact form).
Recommended Read: Facts & Myths in Indian Local Search Space [Insights from an Insider]
A cross-post to Asiajin and Startup Dating.
SXSW is currently taking place in Austin, Texas. Asiajin contributors Serkan Toto and Paul Papadimitriou are there for moderating panels on Japanese web services and social media. A team of the moderators, the presenters and the panels are now joining forces to help the disaster relief efforts in Japan.
We just got a press release from Who’s Free (an LBS for smartphone to find your friends nearby) and Tonchidot (known for its augmented reality app called Sekai Camera), and it says, the two companies expect to have an event titled SXSW Save Japan Fundraising Night on 14th local time, in the morning of 15th Japan Time. It will be officially announced at Japanese Mobile Leaders Forum, a sectional meeting of this year’s SXSW.
The two companies has already held parties to save the efforts, and nearly 20,000 US dollars have been fundraised on their donation website. (as of 4pm, March 14th, Japan Time)
As well as Tonchidot, attending Japanese key social media players such as GREE, Geisha Tokyo Entertainment and Mixi will join the event and appeal for awareness and international assistance.
It is coincident that the massive earthquake has attacked just during this year’s edition of SXSW. Serkan and Tonchidot teams were forced not to leave Narita Airport but to stay for a while, but they fortunately arrived in Austin.
It is very important to tell what’s going on in our country to those who will visit the event and to appreciate their consideration. Furthermore, we would like the Japanese teams to tell the world that we will never give up however much difficult the situation is.
The press release is as follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JD,CEO: (415) 425-8621
“WHO’S FREE” SXSW SAVE JAPAN FUNDRAISING NIGHT
Fundraiser to help save Japanese earthquake victims at SXSW
** Official Announcement at Japan Mobile Leaders Forum Monday 14th, 11am, Hilton **
MARCH 13, 2011 – Austin, TX – Who’s Free, the new social location app that “lets you see your friends who are nearby & FREE to hangout” along with Japanese mobile leader Tonchidot, creators of Domo, & a selection of Japanese Social Media leaders will be officially announcing a SXSW Save Japan Fundrasing night on Monday 14th with Who’s Free founder, JD, Japanese TV celebrity & veteran of Japan.
At the SXSW Japanese Mobile Leaders forum set for 11am, Monday 14th at the Hilton, Japanese mobile thought leaders including: Gree, Mixii & Tonchidot, will announce the location & time of the SXSW Save Japan Fundraising night on Monday. Who’s Free founder, JD, will be in attendance to possibly help with the announcement of the SXSW fundraiser, where the night will be dedicated to help save the victims of the Japan earthquake & tsunami.
More info on the Japanese Mobile leaders forum, where the announcement will be made: http://schedule.sxsw.com/events/event_IAP8378 All funds raised at the SXSW Save Japan Fundraising night will be contributing to the American Red Cross relief efforts in Japan.
ABOUT WHO’S FREE
Just because you’ve checked in doesn’t mean you’re free to hangout! Launched by Australian startup MeeBee, a Techcrunch top 100 global startup & Red Herring Europe Winner, Who’s Free is the best, fastest way to meet up. Ready for SXSW attendees scattered amidst Austin, Who’s Free is bringing them together by bridging the gaps between online and physical, social worlds. No other app lets you know when your friends are free to hangout!
JD is founder and CEO (Creative Entrepreneurial Officer) of the NEW mobile app Who’s Free. An Aussie & Samurai at heart after 20+ years as a Japanese TV celebrity, he is a serial entrepreneur and Internet visionary having created numerous world firsts for the Internet and mobile market. JD is also author of 2 books, and has been an Internet pioneer since the mid 90′s. He’s climbed Mt. Fuji backwards in a Guinness World Record attempt. Always at the epicentre of where the Web meets Mobile & TV.
Oh, these days in Shanzhai world is bit boring now. The products they make really is nowhere closed to being exciting. We can’t blame Shanzhai, that’s due to big brands just don’t invent any new gadgets that have unique design for the Shanzhai to copy. So blame Apple
This one, named as WoPad, is a product of this kind that’s hard to differentiate itself. From the front, it looks like iPad clone, but its side frame would remind you of the iPhone 4, so its a iPad-iPhone-4 clone, if you want to categorize it precisely.
WoPad is powered by a 1Ghz samsung pv210 chip, coming with a 7-inch 800×480 capacitive touchscreen, 512MB RAM, 1GB Flash storage, 3000mAh battery, and Android 2.2 OS with Flash support. The dimensions are 197×125x14.5mm. We get no words about the price. Below is a hands-on video that’s show all its basic functions really work and you can play Angry Birds on it with no problem.
We first featured crowdsourced video subtitling site Viki (Ed: formerly known as Viikii… we wonder where the i’s went) four months ago and since then, it has raised US$4.3 million in funding, launched a new version of the site, and was the first Singaporean startup to scoop the Best International Startup award at Crunchies 2010 – an award show organized by TechCrunch, VentureBeat and GigaOm.
Viki was founded by Razmig Hovaghimian, Changseong Ho and Jiwon Moon and the team consists of six full-time engineers. Recently, Viki hired former head of product marketing management at Yahoo SEA, Nadine Yap as a product manager.
We spoke to three engineers at Viki – Andras Kristof, Peter Kim and Sam Hon — on its engineering culture, product plans and development process.
How has the product changed from its previous version?
Andras: When we launched initially, we launched with a minimum set of features. In the last two months, we implemented again the features that were required but was not essential.
Peter: In the previous site, we had a peak-time limit and only privileged users could watch the video. Now, none of that exists.
Andras: The old product could not scale. We were hitting the ceiling for what the system could do and there was nothing we could do.
Peter: Hence we had to disable features and that was the only way it could handle more traffic. The old system was done in PHP and it was running in six web servers. The new system is done in Ruby on Rails on a cloud-based server. So, it’s much stable. The page load times are much faster. Previously, the UI was messy, but definitely the new one is much more approachable.
Sam: The previous site was optimized for the contributors and not users.
Has there been any changes to the product development process?
Andras: From the engineering point of view, we’ve got lots of things done and we have lots of procedures established. We do Agile Development, Pair Programming and Test Driven Development. It’s a very strict way of development and requires a lot of focus from the engineers. And almost everyday all of us go home at 6, which is unusual for a startup.
Peter: Yeah, we learnt from Pivotal Labs. Without Pivotal it would be very difficult to implement anyway. (Viki engaged Pivotal Labs to help with the product development.)
Andras: We have a single queue of stories or tasks created by the business owners. They create the stories and they create the sequence, which is very important and that gets prioritized. The engineers estimate the effort needed for each of them and then the owners prioritize. What the engineers do is — pick the top story and they do it. And whenever we are few stories down, we release.
So, we don’t have a release every second week . We release two-three times a day. So it’s like, we push out features as soon as we are done.
How do you determine what features to kill?
Peter: We’ve killed a few features and implemented features that we know for sure is needed. We haven’t had the chance to kill features in a newly implemented site yet.
In traditional software engineering, it’s difficult to kill features partly because it could break other features. They are dependent on each other. We are doing strike Test Driven Development, and there are automated tests in place. So, if something is not working, it will tell us automatically. Ideally, if you change one line of the code in the system, it should break a test code.
Before building a feature, we like to test code and we are really at ease when we are changing things.
What is the engineering culture like at Viki?
Peter: It’s tiring. We focus for eight hours a day — if you do pair programming and you’re sitting in front of a computer, you can’t be Tweeting, checking Facebook, watching YouTube, or instant messaging. We can’t even go on Slashdot or the e27 blog.
Sam: But we go to the washroom when tests are running.
Peter: Also, the individual roles are not clearly defined. We do everything; we have pair programming in place and it’s not like a set role for each engineer and we rotate. Today, I could be working on the video player, and tomorrow I could be working on the backend. It’s part of the agile process.
Andras: It’s the engineers themselves who manage the task. So there is much less need for the traditional way of engineering management.
Peter: Since everyone has touched a little bit of everything, if engineers are on sick leave, it’s easy to swap jobs with someone.
Andras: When the new guys come, immediately he has to program with someone who know the system, so that he can pick up very fast.
What’s the average time to build a feature?
Peter: Most of our features get implemented in less than two days.
Andras: The thing is, if we estimate that the feature will take more than two days, then we break the features. It’s very important for us, for any task we start — most probably we are going to finish it today, so that we have a sense of accomplishment. When we create tests, we make sure to break it into small parts.
What’s the most challenging engineering problem you’ve faced?
Viki: Caching. The platform we are on is Heroku, an extremely beautiful platform to build applications. If I need more power, I log into the web interface, push up a dial and I’ll have more servers. The only problem is the way they have implemented caching. It’s not very optimal. So we had to write a lot of code that went around the limitations.
What are the future product plans?
Peter: One thing I can say for sure is that for now we are focused on a lot of Korean content, but we are expanding. Soon you’ll see a lot of content from other areas — Bollywood for example.
Andras: We are getting a lot of content from South America. We are expanding our reach and are not focused on Korea only. We’re happy that we’re really getting a lot of content.
Are you expanding to other platforms?
Peter : We have plans for mobile products.
Andras: There are many countries where 80% of the Internet is consumed through mobile devices.
Peter: Like Thailand for example, where fixed-line Internet is not as common as mobile Internet.
What’s the team like these days following Viki’s growth and fame?
Andras: We are truly an international team. We have people from Hungarian, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Spanish and South Korean nationalities in the team. I joined Viki last May or June, and it seemed like a company with future potential. At that time, they didn’t have Series A funding or Crunchies. I was looking for a more Agile environment.
From Hotmail to not-so-successful Arzoo to Live Documents and then Sabsebolo, Sabeer Bhatia has come a long way. While he is often considered a one-time success, he isn’t deterred by any sort of cynicism and has announced supporting Trinamool Congress in defining the digital strategy of the political party for the upcoming election.
Sabeer Bhatia is helping the political party develop a portal through which people will be able to interact directly with Trinamool through cellphone. Apart from developing the party website, allindiatrinamoolcongress.org, the cyber team will also oversee the net and SMS campaigns.
While you might consider this an insignificant news, isn’t it time that technology entrepreneurs bring technology to the governance/political system, instead of cribbing about the same on Facebook/Twitter? Lately, even Rajesh Jain (Netcore founder) has talked about his political side, though largely to bring the change we all want to see in this country.
What’s your take on entrepreneurs joining politics? If not full time, at least from a technology implementation perspective – i.e. a step somewhere to bring the change.
We have seen 28 local deals sites aka Groupon clones in India. The next obvious play is to become a deal aggregator and hopefully provide traffic to these players. There is already some discussion on what should be the real business model and technology concentration of a deal aggregator site, though very little is really being done in this space.
Here is a list of players attempting to crack this model. Except for few the others only seem to add noise.
Desidime.com – This is a forum kind of attempt to list deals from local deal sites as well other ecommerce players. Though from the first look it just seems to cluttered with little effort in capitalizing on the forum model.
DealRater – Though very new but a promising player in the space. The concentration is not on listing all the deals from everywhere possible but letting the crowd submit the deals and have a forum kind of score board for contributors and deal popularity. The deals need not be from one of the Groupon clones but from any source possible. They need not be a discount but as long as they are a good deal, they fit the bill.
Buzzr.in – The site is already popular with about 22K Facebook fans. They aggregate deals from local deal sites and a lot of popular and non-popular ecommerce sites. A crowd sourcing and user rating model for sharing deals and keeping the users more engaged is being explored.
Dealites.com – On the first look i was expecting something different from this site but on the second click looked nothing beyond a listings site. Deals are from local group deal sites as well as other ecommerce portals.
Getalldealz.com – A pure listing attempt only. There are some narrow down feature but none of real use. The real narrow feature needed in this space is locality, gender and age targeting and not category.
89Deals.com – Aggregates deals from local deal sites to Ebay and other ecommerce players. Just too many ads, no effort on doing anything worth while.
Deals22.com – Same as 89deals the aggregation is from all sorts of ecommerce site and local deals sites. A little more concentration on getting the SEO right.
Dealmandi.com – A single page view of all the latest deals from local deal sites and some other deal based ecommerce services.
Dealuniter.com – Listing from few local deal sites only. Nothing really to talk about.
Mydealstreet.com – A decent effort in technology with ajaxy feel to the site. The only 1 extra feature i see is a price filter.
Dailydeal.in – Aggregating deals from Local deal and ecommerce sites. The navigations seems broken.
We must have surely missed a lot of other sites/blogs that are attempting the same. Do share it in the comments if you know of them.
What do you really think space needs? More content aggregators, smart technology or public participation or … ? Your thoughts?