Dec 27, 2009

3 Idiots - Movie Review



3 Idiots - Raju Hirani and Aamir Khan's new offering is a good movie.

It is light, entertaining and gives the right messages. In some sense, it is also one of the many forms in which art in our country is trying to convey the change in people's mindset.

The movie begins with 2 friends trying to meet their third one who has been missing for some time. And then the story moves back in time when they meet first time. Three engineering hostel roomies - Farhan Qureshi, Raju Rastogi and Ranchhoddas Chanchad become best friends during their studies.

The gag fest begins there. Non-stop. Some of them outrageous, some picked from many of the jokes / anecdotes - of these some are contemporary and some very old. At times, you laugh (and really loudly) and at times you can only smile. But the good part is that the message is always delivered.

There is that element of suspense built up in the middle of the story that is good. But the climax feels contrived and, therefore, slightly stretched.

Aamir is good but his role, as an all-knowing, cannot do anything wrong fellow, seems stretched after some time. Madhavan seems wasted in a rather small role. Boman continues his only-needs-change-of-heart villainy.

Who shines? Sherman Joshi in a more sensitive role, Kareen Kapoor in a small but great role and their Uganda-born Pondicherry educated enamored-with-marks classmate (I don't know the actor's name).

The movie has some fantastic campus scenes, great dialogues and locales.  Raju Hirani continues his mission of spreading the right messages. This certainly looks in line with the earlier Munnabhai episodes. All-in-all, good watch.



Added later to post
The movie has elements of various sources from around the world. The ones I see obvious connections to - Earlier Munnabhai episodes, Taare Zameen Par, Kite Runner (the book), Forrest Gump

Dec 24, 2009

The very interesting "Missed Call"

This article in WSJ shows the power of technology through this innovative use of mobiles by the fishermen  in Tamil Nadu. This article points finger to the miserable weather forecasts of traditional agencies that makes fishermen feel the need of above SMSes. In developed countries the forecast is quite accurate and there is no need for such services.

But then, India is a market full of innovative uses, especially in the mobile space. The earliest innovation being the missed call. For readers from outside India, a Missed Call is where a caller calls and disconnects before the call is picked up. With mobile users, the caller's number is displayed on the mobile of the called party. It is quite widely used in India.

Now what is the use of a missed call? I will list few scenarios, but I am sure there are many more depending on the inter personal communication protocol (IPCP). I will come to IPCP a little later.

Scenarios:
1. Caller does not have money to spend on a call and wants the other person to call. He/she makes a missed call. The other person calls and speaks. This is probably the most basic of the uses.

2. Both parties have agreed to meet at some place. Whoever reaches first will give the other person a missed call.

3. A missed call is made to economically convey nice emotions like, "I miss you" or "I love you".  The thoughts reach the destination without costing anything to the entrenched parties.

So what is IPCP - Consider scenario 2 above. Now the 2 people have decided that a missed call means "I have reached". IPCP is established and will expire with the missed call.

Similarly, say A and B are going to a wedding. They are reaching the venue directly and they need to buy a gift on the way. Whoever buys a gift first gives a missed call. Similar to above, yet different.

One can think of hundreds of such examples. The idea of IPCP is the users decide the meaning of the missed call. And who framed the concept of IPCP....well that would be none other than yours truly :)

And, IPCP also leads to some really amusing and sometimes embarassing situations. More on that in some other post.

Dec 21, 2009

How 2009 Went By? Part 1

As is the ritual, year endings are mandated with the lists of 10 somethings...top news, best, worst....

So here are the 2 telecom updates:
1) MBB on top 10 telecom news
2) Telecom M&A details from Unstrung - Check the AdMobile story in there. Interesting.

As I gather more such lists, I will either update this post or post next part.

Also posting these / some of these individually on twitter under #How2009Went. If you got any interesting ones, post in comments here or tweet them.

Dec 17, 2009

How not to engage Stakeholders - 101!

In families, when taking a major decision (like buying a house or deciding to move out) people generally talk to parents, spouse, kids and everyone who matters. Business schools call it Stakeholder Analysis and Consensus building. While it is a Organizational Behaviour topic, the point is raised in strategy, marketing, governance and even corporate finance discussions.

The recent decision from BSE to advance time by 10 minutes and the reaction from NSE to advance it by 55 minutes is a classic case in this area. The decision was being thought over for sometime. In fact, it was more on lines of 9 to 5pm. But there were issues of settlement etc.

The supposed positives include more volumes, greater overlap period with some Asian markets and possibility of allowing more investors to invest/trade due to increased time. But these are all guesses as of now.

But the strange part is the very little time given to the brokers to adjust to the new timings - less than 3 weeks! Generally brokers would be a happier lot because of the additional business that extended timings offer them. But they still need their offices to open early, employees to come early, make arrangements for starting the trade early (like turning on lights that may be contracted outside) etc.

And for large cities like Mumbai or Delhi where employees travel for more than an hour the initial inconvenience is also likely to generate some hurt within.

Change, for a logical reason, is fine. But if a gradual change is a valid and viable option, why not exercise it? If for 2 decades, this time was suited for trade/investing, how can these institutions justify a sudden switch with a 2 week notice?

And to top it all, I heard voices saying consensus was taken. What was the sample size to build consensus?

What could have been the way - Possibly few months notice, gradual feelers to "all" stakeholders, some dummy operations in extended hours to allow system testing, etc. Stakeholder consensus goes a long way in building reputation.


P.S.: Made some factual corrections.

Dec 16, 2009

Going Green in India - Story of Solar Entrepreneur

An excellent article on story of a Solar Entrepreneur in WSJ - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126090748287292467.html

It speaks of how the costing of solar power is difficult and the entrepreneur needs incentive (or subsidy...any way you see it is fine) from the Central Government. IMHO, just reduce the environmental hazard element from the cost and the equation will get balanced. (Yes I know it is not that simple...but then what is?)

The article is also a reflection on how much more we, as a country, have to travel to become a truly pro-entrepreneurial society.

Just one question, why use farmland for such energy generation when we have deserts and mountains that are relatively free from farming / cattle grazing needs? I am sure there is a reason, just that, I am not aware.

Dec 15, 2009

Green Telecom News & Nortel Sells Equipment!

For a change, it is not its divisions that is in news, but it is a product from Nortel that has made news.
Lightreading has reported sale of Nortel's 100GBPS system to Verizon Europe. Interesting.

---

More interesting stuff in this report on Green telecom initiatives from Tim Hills. While most companies have been focussed on reducing power consumption. This report and many market indicators indicate that now telcos have decided to take steps that improve the quality of power consumed.

The report correctly points to smart use of technology that will lead to major changes in system architectures.

One thing I would like to see is how can telecom equipment harness alternative energy. For example, a lot of mobile transceivers use Solar energy. Can this be brought to a significant level? Other ideas can be idle time harnessing, footprint optimization etc.

As the report correctly concludes Green telecom sells....but it also gives back to environment and ensures happy communications.

Dec 5, 2009

2 States - Book Review

Interested in light entertaining stories? Pick up Chetan Bhagat's "2 States". It is light, nicely humorous and meant to be read fast. Bhagat knows his readers or writes such that that segment of readers enjoys his books the most.

So, the story is about a Punjabi boy Krish and the love of his life - a Tamil Brahmin girl Ananya. They fall in love at IIM Ahmedabad and decide to get married after getting their respective jobs. As is the story of many many love stories in India, Chetan Bhagat explains that the boy's family needs to love girl's family and vice-versa to ensure that the love marriage is really accepted by the parents!

Krish goes to Chennai to woo Ananya's family and then Ananya comes to Delhi for the same. The real challenge is getting the 2 families to like each other. A lot of incidents in Chennai, in Delhi and eventually in Goa keep things rolling. The reading is full of humour. It keeps you interested without break. There are events happening non-stop. At times the story jumps from one event to another.

One thing that kind of does not add up is the character of Krish's father. The character is abrupt and his actions are mostly inexplicable. The last part of the story is somewhat cliched but I am ok with it since it finishes off quickly.

There are some interesting similarities in characters of his previous work "3 mistakes of my life" and "2 states". But the story is completely different. The biggest similarity is in the lead male and female characters of both the books. The characters here seemed to be more complete versions of those from the earlier book, especially Ananya.

There is also a sense of nostalgia that Chetan Bhagat brings in for folks who graduated around 1999/2000. The high cell-phone charges, tech bubble, use of STD booths etc. are so dear to the generation who were there then. Also, at times, some North India - South India marriage stuff reminded me of the 1993 Aamir Khan - Juhi Chawla movie Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke.

All in all, great read. Enjoy!

Nov 30, 2009

Going Green - LEDs to replace CFLs?

Light Emitting Diode or LED has come a long way from being mainly used in small Indicators and signs to being used for traffice signals. The most common use in 90s was in power circuits. LED market really picked up in India when banks started using them to display token numbers. In the last few years, they have become so common that we have lost count - traffic signals, remotes, TVs, small devices...so many uses.

LEDs have already become the choice technology for traffic signals in many cities. They have saved substantial energy for many traffic departments.  This article assesses that traffic signals saves upto 80% power with LEDs. They can also be used with their own Solar Power source.

LEDs are now being considered a substitute to even CFL bulbs. Yes CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs are replacing the Incandescent bulb as the greener choice with much lesser power consumption and longer life. LEDs are now being considered for domestic lighting. Even I was surprised to stumble upon this report.

Check this calculation from OSRAM where the power consumed by LED lamp is same as CFL but its life is almost 25 times. It also suggests that the cost of manufacture is also small.

Now we have to wait and watch when this technology becomes viable for sale in domestic markets. The demand will have to be generated using the green merits of this technology. But the idea sure seems great at the moment.

The Indian market (and other emerging markets) will pick up only when the prices fall enough to allow the LED lamps to compete with CFLs. Higher prices will only generate lukewarm interest from a limited segment.

Here is a detailed article on NYTimes on this one.

Nov 26, 2009

Telecom Market Evolution & Part 3 of Nortel's Story

Nortel has sold its GSM business. This article from LightReading summarizes the sales so far and the expected asset sales.

Telecom Market Discussion
Now check this article from Economist on forecasted mobile subscriber base. 2 things of note:
1. Check the forecast by 2011 when the mobile broadband subscriber base passes fixed broadband subscribers.
2.  The costing of the netbooks and other low cost computing devices meant to improve internet penetration.

Another point is that as 3G is made available across the world, the mobile eliminates the need of a separate computing device. This matters a lot to 2 types of subscribers - convenience oriented and cost oriented. The convenience oriented market has been more or less addressed.

The cost oriented ones are the ones that are forming a very large part of the mobile broadband forecast in the Economist article.

Finally, fixed broadband has a role to play in rural and other emerging areas. That is described in the intern-kiosk model that is there in Economist. And of course the folks who are already onto it in established markets.

Nov 25, 2009

Mobile banking for shareholders

Here is a very interesting application of m-banking. This article in Business Line reports mobile share transfer: Transfer your shares through mobile phone

Such VAS services are forming important part of the ever expanding telecom offerings. Offerings that go much beyond voice and SMS. For example, check this earlier post where I spoke about location based services being used to encourage use of public transport in the Bay Area.

Security is very important in these cases. At the least, the interface should take multiple confirmation since the network should be sure that the subscriber is indeed requesting this service.

Check one of my earlier articles if you want to read more on that:
Mobile Money Transfers - Opportunities and Issues

Technorati test blog

Publishing a technorati test blog to claim token.
This one on the login : R53YSXHWAZQ8
This one on the mail: 2QW363ABBKRP

Nov 24, 2009

3G in India...more discussion

Here is an article that discusses the role of rural market for 3G providers.

http://www.mobilebusinessbriefing.com/article/rural-areas-to-drive-indian-3g-growth

Interesting forecasts there.

As I had mentioned earlier, the recent cut in prices is probably a beginning towards the rates that will arise once 3G markets open. Since the rural areas still have potential, they need to be tapped. It is obvious that service providers would want to generate as much demand there as possible.

Nov 16, 2009

Accountability in Advertising?

There is an ad that shows a kid being fussy over normal food (veggies, rice, roti and dal). The mother then pulls out a powder that is mixed in milk and the kid is happy. The ad says that this product gives all nutrients of a food to children.

Really? One tablespoon of the powder and one tbsp of sugar and a cup of milk? I just have one thing to say....Get the executives of this company give a written commitment that they and their children live on this mixture. Nothing else. Breakfast, lunch and dinner - this mixture. Lets measure their "growth" with this.

I bet if this is raised, the only thing that will come will be a font-6 note in the last 3 seconds of the ad that basically means "Don't take this ad too seriously.".

Are such ads not too much to digest? They are misleading to the point that they can affect the health of children. In fact, I am ok with those fairness creams which you know need to shout so much to sell. But things that you consume...

Such ads need to be regulated. They better prove what they say. No irresponsible claims. Just like pharma cos. need to go through stringent approvals before their medicines can be sold, certain advertisements should go through approval. One cannot have such ads gone unnoticed .

Or perhaps there is scope for US like litigations where companies are forced to pay through nose when people take the ads a little too seriously and then file suits.

To avoid both above, the players would do well to be rational and self-regulate what they do and what they publicize. Reasonable claims are the way to go.

Nov 15, 2009

Investing in Alternative Energy - Scenario Analysis

Fundamentals of Alternative Energy
OK...no introduction in this post. We know alternative energy is one of the biggest possibilities in the future. There are several technologies in the arena - Wind, Solar, Nuclear, Tidal. Each one has its own technical needs. Each one has been invested in from investors across the world.

The obvious reasons these are promising are because they are independent of burning fossil fuels. That means lower carbon emissions and hence reduction in warming. I know, there is still some debate on whether global warming is really happening. I am not an expert but I believe in the phenomenon. In my opinion, it is the manifestation of the effects of the uncontrolled experiment of letting smoke into the atmosphere.

Current Status and Hindrances
Wind power needs only incremental changes to turbine technology but it has huge land needs and site selection is critical. Solar technology is still behind in efficiency terms. Nuclear energy poses the challenge of toxic waste.

Add to the above, the above are not yet financially competitive. And each one is facing the uphill task of competing with traditional power. One of the problems is of economies of scale. For example, the demand for solar cells is not high enough to cause scale production. This means higher cost of equipment which translates into higher price per watt.

 Also, the incumbents are not going to easily make space for new technology. While they continue to invest in this area, they are still ok since green power is still not the automatic choice of consumers.


Possible Tipping Point?
Across the world,  the moment substantial incentives are announced such that they make solar / wind energy affordable, then the demand for green energy will shoot up. Green energy has an inherent appeal for most people. When challenged with questions like, "Would you not like your grand-children to breathe cleaner air?", people choose green energy over thermal energy. Then it is left to how much they can afford to pay?

When the incentives come and eventually costs match, consumers will start shifting. Then, the current conventional power companies will start heavily investing in generating green energy (Remember, they already have the required land needed to put up solar or wind plants.) This will further push up the supply and bring down the costs.

The Big Question
Incentives are already existing that encourage these alternative energy sources. It is said that these are not enough. So, either they will be raised or newer incentives (like bonus for saving emissions / coal / etc.) will be introduced.

The question is When? That, my dear reader, is anybody's guess. The real winners will be those investors who would have been already invested in this sector when the announcement(s) come.

Nov 12, 2009

Going green - Smart power using wireless tech

Smart Grids are the talk of the town. The per capita consumption of power in developed nations is higher than that of developing / under-developed nations. The developed nations have been working with the idea of Smart Grids for some time now.

The idea here is to have smart devices and smart tariffing that encourage consumers to adjust consumption as per the overall demand of the city/area. For example, the price is high during peak hours. Something like airlines, most of whom demand more money when you book for weekend. You book a red-eye flight, you get lower fare...sometimes even a bump up to business class :)

And it is not only about tariffs. It is about intelligent management of power. For example, schools and offices close after 5pm....then the substations and other devices used by them exculusively can be regulated or switched off as and when the grid "detects" a drop below a certain level.

Some cities like Austin have been experimenting with this idea for sometime. Check this link which describes how operational expenses and other savings were effected through smart grid.

For example, reading meters wirelessly, communicating consumer needs are some of the examples of this case of use of smart grid.

The case of India
Indian power sector is reeling in crisis. Outages, T&D losses and theft are some of the perpetual pain points for India. At the moment the T&D losses are somewhere around 35% of the overall generation. The associated loss to output is also a definite worry.

Smart grids can address some of these issues. Use of wireless devices connected to central management systems can revolutionize this sector.

For example to reduce theft it can point to problem areas, generate alarms and flags when the consumption goes beyond set patterns etc. Also, an increase in regular consumption can also flag off the need of new equipment and tariff plans.

Check this NYT news piece and this interesting paper from WiFi alliance which NYT refers to.

The cost may be very high for countries like India but it should be considered in terms of direct losses mentioned above plus the opportunity cost in terms of lost business due to the above problems.

Indian newspaper and news websites

The Hindu, one of India's oldest and better newspapers, has a new beta website (Hat tip - tipblog.in). This blog is not to review it but I need to use it as one of the examples for this post.

Now what is most important in newspapers? For my generation, probably the last generation in India to have read newspapers that fed news and intelligent analysis/investigation, the frontpage is the most important part. Next, for the serious readers, the editorial and columnists sections.

If that is agreed upon, then the homepage and edits should be the most important on a website. Check any of the major Indian news or newspaper websites - You need to scroll to find the opinion page. There may be an exception....but just that exception.

Next, the most irritating part of these websites is the barrage of advertisements that hits you when you open the homepages. The advertisements actually interfere between you and the news. I am all for the ads but when they are placed at one side. Let the reader click if he/she is interested...just like you have the ad in newspapers where a reader chooses to read it. It is like those advertisements that make you lose interest in a cricket match because the ads gobble up the first and last balls being bowled in an over.

Also, many news sites have completely irrelevant pictures / videos like those of some fashion show etc. Who cares? Keep them restricted to the entertainment section.

Here is where news aggregation like Google News works wonderfully well. It extracts headlines for the reader and allows the reader the freedom to choose.

Coming back to the new Hindu website....it is elegant. Simplicity of a website is important for news readers and this website gives that. Hopefully this new site will not succumb to the temptation of allowing advertisements to hijack reading experience. In fact I liked their old site too...it has the old internet charm and is effective news providing site.

If we consider worldwide sites, of the sites I have visited, my favourites are NewYork Times and BBC News. NY Times is fast and shows columns on the top right side. BBC News has a very nice front page.

As a reader, my request to the newspapers and news sites is to create sites that create stickiness amongst readers. They should swear by your site's content. Most people are found searching for that close button or trying to find the news they want to. The longer a person takes to find content of his/her choice, the lesser is the chance that you will be his/her choice the next time he/she wants to find something.

Nov 9, 2009

Going Green - Denmark's Samsoe island

Denmark, in 1997, decided to have a showcase island to show how an entire area can be independent of hydrocarbons. This is impressive. Go ahead and read this story of the Samsoe island.

Also, more importantly, check this link where a case is made for sustainable economic growth while going green.

Amazing...I think all other countries should ask Denmark to help them in establishing such hubs. One by one, perhaps in next 50-60 years if each country keeps a target of 50% of its needs from renewable / alternate sources, then there is a good chance that we will be able to handover this planet to the next generation in a healthier and greener state.

Nov 7, 2009

Going Green - Case of incentives to Solar and other green options

One more article that reflects thoughts on incentives that many green power supporters have been speaking about - http://www.livemint.com/2009/11/05214331/Will-India-light-the-fuse-for.html?h=B

I had also written an article some days ago about the need here http://indian-eagle.blogspot.com/2009/10/going-green-with-lower-solar-costs.html

Here is an interesting link that gives month-by-month price indices of Solar electricity. Lots of other links that have great info -  http://www.solarbuzz.com/solarprices.htm

One more great link is the fast-facts link http://www.solarbuzz.com/fastfactsindustry.htm

Nov 4, 2009

Economics Conundrum - Case of Information Over-supply?


I read this amazing article in BusinessWeek - "Why No One Knows Where the Economy Really Stands".

Check this excerpt about the Jobs Data during the boom, "BLS overstated the strength of the economy during good times, and now that fiction will come crashing down on our heads in the first quarter of next year."

The next excerpt of note is on the Stock Markets, "But using what the stock market is doing now as factual data is potentially treating another asset bubble as financial reality."

Just makes me think if the if we are living in a world of Information oversupply where every little bit boosts one section of investor or another? It is Irrational Exuberance, but is it just unavailability of well organized data? Reminds me of our MicroEconomics Professor - Prof. Gupta's favorite phrase, "Garbage In, Garbage Out". :)

Sometimes one feels so much information just leads to more confusion. But then, without it we have the information asymmetry problem. Not sure what we can do of this paradox.
I guess, the author concludes well when he says that real issues can be tackled once accurate data is obtained and analyzed.

Nov 3, 2009

Warren Buffet invests in Railways.

Warren Buffet is investing in railways in US. Looks like he is convinced on the economy's rebound as well as the return of consumer buying in the US.

More importantly it seems that the he is convinced that US will see a rise in usage of railroad infrastructure over highways etc. That also indicates an interest in green infrastructure initiatives.

BNI also has presence in Asia which is continuing as the growth story across the world. The railway co.'s shares jumped a good 30% (from a P/E of 14 to almost 18).

Here is the LA Times story - http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-berkshire4-2009nov04,0,6604215.story

NY Times is also reporting that Buffet is paying a part of this deal in Berkshire stocks for tax purposes.
http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/berkshire-to-buy-rest-of-burlington-northern-for-44-billion/?ref=business

Incredible India? How much is it and how much it needs to be?

This Sunday was one of those days when I tried to unravel the hidden meaning of that slogan 'Incredible India'. Went to see Red Fort. It looks magnificient from outside. The flag waving high makes you wonder how it would be from inside. In a nutshell - not too good. 

It starts outside, where you have to buy a ticket. For the unitiated, Red Fort is one monument that almost every Indian recognizes. On a Sunday morning, we had all of 2 ticket windows. The booths are almost underground and there are no signboards. So you end up asking others, "Is this the line for tickets?" The speed is slow. There are arguments over change. And 2 ticket windows are closed.

It is vacation time and a lovely October Sunday and there are hundreds of visitors and you keep 2 ticket windows closed. Bye bye Operations Management principles. Folks aint there to see the ticket seller. I am sure many people just leave after seeing the long queues.

While the exteriors are certainly well kept, interiors leave you disappointed. 

Dust left uncleaned, maintenance tools left unattended, odonil packets inside the supposed trasures from Mughal empire (trust me Odonil of all odours along with royal curtains, bedsheets and gowns), Pan spits left unpenalized...

The only thing that was well maintained was the lawn inside and outside the Fort. 

What about the visitors?
Not too encouraging. I think we, Indians, are not even good tourists. Many were trying to sneak inside restricted areas. Or trying to test the toughness of glass protecting the antique items. Or ensuring that red fort remains red with their lovely paan spit. Is there a way to make people wash their mouths before they enter such places? Just enforce it. Just because the ticket is Rs.10 does not mean that the monument is there to waste. I really think that the ticket should be raised such that people start valuing what is inside. Make it Rs. 50 or even Rs. 500 to keep these spitting idiots away.

Misery a-la-carte
In the afternoon we went to the restaurant inside - Daawat (run by Samrat Hotels). While the menu claimed several exotic items, they had, for our information, highlighted in red (no - not stricken out but highlighted) those items that were not available. With 50% items gone, we learnt that only lunch items were served at that time (fyi, that time was 3.30pm). So we had a Paratha and tea/coffee. It took super long  for these 3 extremely complicated items to arrive. I must admit the taste of all 3 was good - no complaints there. But then, the bill would simply not come. I actually volunteered to pay at the desk, then the calculator came out...

Finally, out of the fort, we wait for a good 20 minutes to get an autorickshaw. But that I guess is out of the purview of the tourism rant. That is back to Delhi's old ways.

Incredible huh!

My suggestion to folks in charge. Get the basics right. You really don't need any slogans after that. Else these lovely monuments are just relics abandoned as relics.

Nov 1, 2009

Nortel values its Patent portfolio

Nortel is paying about 350K for about 3500 patents it is planning to sell. It has hired Global IP for the valuation.

I had discussed the valuation approach in terms of market potential and the possibility of options in this part sometime ago. The news does not speak of option but it does say of market potential and value maximizing using scenario analyses.

Check this URL for details -
http://www.allaboutnortel.com/2009/10/31/nortels-patent-analysis-deal-with-global-ip-2/

Interesting telecom blogs

Some very interesting telecom blogs

http://3g4g.blogspot.com/

http://developing-telecoms.blogspot.com/

http://comworldseries.blogspot.com/

http://www.mobilefuture.org/blog/

Oct 29, 2009

WSJ reports taxi disputes in Aamchi Mumbai

WSJ is reporting how old cabbies are trying to block newcomers.

I wonder why this focus on cabs in Mumbai?

I know for sure Meru Cabs offers very good service but I don't have big problems with old cabbies either. You get them everywhere, mostly they are reasonable and go by the tariff card. They are certainly threatened by the new nice cabs...but as far as I remember there were also "Cool Cabs" of Premier Padmini as well. While they still made you feel the exact texture (is that the word?) of the road, yet they did offer air-conditioning.

As is true with everything else, old has to give way to new and resistance is... not just limited to electrical circuits.

Oct 28, 2009

Going Green with Lower Solar costs

This NYTimes Green Inc. article reports a decline in cost per watt to generate solar energy. In US, it has reduced from by about $0.30. 

What I found interesting is this line - "...though the actual cost to homeowners actually increased slightly as state incentives for installing solar arrays fell faster than module prices."

I remember doing a study on solar power generation during my studies. We actually realized that the installed base of wind power has increased at a far higher rate than solar in India in last 10 years or so. We concluded that while technology improvements will bring down costs, yet Government focus on this sector is very important. 

Especially for a technology that is seemingly stagnant for a long period. Probably the only nation that has solar power firmly on its radar is Germany. Most other nations are allowing industry to come up with solutions that have to compete with traditional power generation.

There is a need to stimulate demand that will lead to reduction in prices. Such stimulus comes through incentives. Another way is to allow individual users to use solar tech to bypass the grid. Perhaps small steps are the way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Telecom Market Dynamics - Part 2

I had written an earlier article on telecom industry and the recent market reaction.

This ET article is similar to what I had written earlier. Although, the difference is a slightly conservative conclusion. Only time will tell how things unfold.

Oct 27, 2009

Valuing Nortel's LTE Patents - Part 3


Nortel has come out with ~3400 patents. All About Nortel reports that these will be assessed for its value and the strategy for sale will be decided after their consultant provides inputs on the portfolio's potential.

As I had discussed in my earlier blogs, there are 2-3 methods to assess the value of the patents. Most probably it will be a mix of direct market potential and value of real option.

The older posts - Patent related post 1 and Patent related post 2.

Oct 26, 2009

Movie Review - All The Best

***&1/2 out of 5*

All the Best is everything you want to end a perfect weekend. The only prerequisite for enjoying this movie - keep your brain outside the cinema hall.

Back in mid-90s when Ajay Devgan was new and was mostly doing forgettable action movies - critics used to pan him at will. One newspaper had called him "oily and retarded" (To be  precise it was "tupkat mandabuddhi chehryacha" in Marathi). Devgan over last 10 years or so has been consistently proving why he should be considered one of the better actors in the industry. This is one more comic addition to those good roles.

The movie is fun. Ajay Devgan (sans the 'a' in last name) plays Prem Chopra and Fardeen Khan - Veer Kapoor they are friends and both are subprime loan cases. However their creditor is a local goon (played by Johnny Lever). Bipasha Basu (as Janhavi) and Mugdha Godse (as Vidya) are their respective lead actresses. Their subprime situation leads to Prem Chopra giving extremely creative ideas to Veer on how to get money from his rich elder brother (Sanjay Dutt playing Dharam) from Africa. These creative ideas lead to confusion that make elder brother think Bipasha is Vidya. The whole movie is on this confusion.

The gags are in dialogues, sight gags, references and every other possible way. That said the jokes are not repetitive, they keep you interested and they don't make you wait long for the next joke.

Ajay Devgn reaffirms why he is a good actor. Almost half the movie is poking fun at his character. Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha are great. Fardeen has increased his expressions to more than 2 and that is encouraging. Johnny Lever is looking better with his translator sidekick. BTW, I loved Sanjay Mishra nicknamed RGV :D  who mimics Pran in the entire movie. He with Atul Parchure are awesome. And finally the ultimate Mallu accent from Ashwini Kalsekar is zimbly awzum.

Endpiece - The experience in this movie and mirth levels in the theatre reminded me of Andaz Apna Apna that I had seen back in 1994.

Oct 25, 2009

Aussie strategy for Bhajji?

Ricky Ponting, Australian cricket captain, recently said that Harbhajan Singh will be a dangerous bowler against Australia. Really? IMHO, this is a fine new strategy from Ponting to ensure that the ex-turbanator remains in the Indian cricket team.

These days, batsmen from opposing team are hardly threatened by his bowling. He cannot take wickets and he cannot give less than 4 runs a over in ODIs these days. His bowling is flat. He will not take risk of giving flight. There is no turn. Then what exactly is he doing in the team? Today, young Jadeja was bowling infinitely better than him. For the last several months the only thing that Bhajji has been achieving is preventing other spinners from getting into the Indian team. 

And all the selectors can do is show Dravid the door. I am sure if Dravid is needed to bowl, he will bowl exactly what his team needs. And that would be the difference between him and Bhajji.


P.S. - I guess Bhajji made up for his bad bowling by brilliant batting and courage in today's ODI. He can certainly do some transfer of courage to the bowler part in him.

Oct 23, 2009

Going Green with Mobile Technologies (Location Based Services)

It is a no-brainer on how much greener the earth will get if folks start using public transport where possible. Interesting ways to encourage people to board that bus or railway train will help reduce emissions.  It also helps improve health since you need to walk at least a few steps farther than the garage to the bus or train stop. Location based services uses location of a mobile to deliver value added services.

I am impressed by this game that Bay Area public transport authorities have started to encourage usage of public transport systems. Reached this location from NewYork Times BITS page.

Countries like the US, where urban dependence on public transport is pretty low, do need such initiatives. Particularly impressive is the use of the location based technology. What makes you play this game are incentives such as "being a Mayor gets you some freebies".

Awesome!

Oct 21, 2009

Mobile Charging - Case for alternative energy

Hmmm. Interesting. This report from GSM World says that emerging markets that can provide for alternative means of power off grid for mobile charging may lead to an eventual increase of revenues by about 10% or so for the mobile industry.

I remember when I was a kid, some of my cousins from US used to have Solar powered calculators. They used to work fine. Rarely did I see these devices need battery replacement. That was 20 years ago and I am sure that technology has evolved over the years.

So why exactly are solar powered mobile phones still seen as a thing of future? Really, I understand the limitation for equipments like A/Cs or heaters which consume more power. But small mobile phones can come with solar power charging at least.

Consider this case, from this report, 485 M cellphones use chargers of about 1-2 W rating ...so 485MW. If 1/5th of that is charged through solar (or other alternative means), then the net saving is about 100MW, imagine how many houses can be added to the grid. (OK, this calculation is way too simplistic and you can see 2445 logical problems in that...but I hope I made my point.)

While some handset manufacturers are bringing out such devices, it helps to have an agreement on such things. There can be a coordinated effort so that there is some level-playing field in terms of effort and cost. The output in terms of technology should lead to modifications that may be mandatory.

In general, network connectivity and electrical connectivity have a lot to do with improvement in standard of living. The sooner the divide is bridged, the better it is for all of us. The greener the way to bridge the divide, the better it is for our next generation.

Oct 19, 2009

Oct 13, 2009

Enticing the market - IPO Advertising

As recession has started showing signs of giving way to better times, the IPOs have started coming back. While there is the discussion on IPO valuation, company prospects and other such aspects, I am particularly amused by their TV advertisements.

It is one thing to make a cricketer wax eloquent about an insurance product or a movie star speak about a soap or a phone network. But it certainly needs creativity to make advertisements for things like a power plant or a shipyard or even oil drilling.

And what exactly is the objective of these advertisements? Imagine this scene...

"The board room is in complete silence - pin-drop silence.

The Chief Investment Officer of the big investment company has sweat on his brow. His heart is racing. 2 of his last 6 decisions had failed to enthuse the Chairman. This might be a make or break decision for him. He was not sure what went wrong. He genuinely thought they would have been correct. 

They are watching the top business news channel. They are impatient as the news about current market goes on. They are waiting for the moment. The much awaited break comes and the chairman says "Shhhh".

The entire board room turns to the TV as the first images come of a desert. Then the huge windmills across the landscape. Finally the hero - the CEO of the wind-mill generators climbs atop the windmill and sings ...
"I have got the wind power, 
So I climbed on the tower,
Our IPO is on the market,
Apply and earn $$ by the hour!" 

And the chairman shrieks in ecstasy, "Yes! Yes! We will invest in this company. I love this guy with exactly 4 strands of grey hair. His red tie and the redness of his eyes tell how many nights he has been awake busy assessing the value of his own company. His suit is from Paris and shoes from  Milan. We will invest!"

The Chief Investment Officer heaves a sigh of relief. The board has concurred with his decision. Thank God for the wonderfully towery ad...."

Or perhaps the retail investor chooses IPOs just like he chooses the paint for his home or the next bottle of shampoo. "No, I don't like that this company chose to have 2 kids instead of 20 in their ad for hotels. I will not invest in this one."

Are there any Return-on-IPO-Marketing numbers that prove that IPO advertising has led to more applications? In general, when almost every IPO has subscriptions in multiples of the floated share, does it matter if it is advertised or not?

As long as it is discussed in the business news, I think the interested investors (institutional or retail) will decide yes or no. Of course, there is the question of valuations and order books but that is a fundamental need.

Endpiece - The best part of any IPO (or NFO) ad is the last 0.5seconds when the narrator reads at supersonic speed..."Investments are subject to market risks. Please read the red herring prospectus...".

That is like those 2.5 font asterisk notes by the humongous million rupee assured prize offer ads*


* Conditions Apply. The prize is assured to 1 in million customers. :D

Oct 10, 2009

Telecom stocks hammered - Why the haste?

Indian telecom stocks have been heavily hammered in the last few days. I was surprised.

Further to the pay-per-call, there was the 50 paise call and the discussion about possibility of mandate for per-call pulse that caused almost panic selling in the markets. It seems a hasty conclusion that all telecom is going to lose overall...

Following points need to be thought of in the context of Indian telecom scenario:
1. The ARPUs are falling but they still seem to be a function of the demand-supply equilibrium. Consider this, which markets are still untapped in India? Rural markets. The teledensity of rural ndia is far behind the urban. So the rural market is probably stimulated at a lower price and the industry is probably responding to that.

2. Commoditization is natural but this rural market would still allow the business to be a good business because of the volumes.

3. Now, in the recent times, operators have adopted several measures that are cutting costs like Infrastructure sharing, outsourcing their network operations etc.

If the operators are willing to pass this cost savings to customers, then that is actually good news for customers. Perhaps the demand generated by this will more than compensate the reduction in revenues.

4. The 3G scenario has still not even started. I am sure every operator definitely would have a strategy for 3G. They will find new ways to generate interest in 3G apps in the urban market. Particularly, business customers and the youth segment.

5. Operators are also trying to unlock value by spinning off businesses like tower business etc.

Considering this, I thought it was a little premature to assume that telecom story is over. I would rather wait and watch.

Oct 8, 2009

Themes for Google Chrome

Hey..I just noticed Chrome Themes. If you are using Chrome, then check on the right-bottom corner. The area looks like a page is being turned. That takes you to the themes at this link
https://tools.google.com/chrome/intl/en/themes/index.html

I am not sure if these were already there and I noticed them only recently. Anyway, they are cool. Similar to the light-weightedness of Chrome, applying these themes is also light. And using a theme does not change the viewing experience in terms of speed of browsing or loading of pages.

And, well if you have not tried Chrome itself, it is available here...
http://www.google.com/chrome

Oct 7, 2009

New Tech - Wirelessly Charging Mobile Phones

Wireless power charging is being worked on. Just read on Techtree and Ubergizmo websites that Nokia has joined the consortium that is bringing together work in this direction.

What this promises is that you no longer have to plug the charger wire in the phone.

I was wondering if this means higher power needs, since the charging will be in wireless mode. The following analysis on the Wireless Power Consortium says that the efficiency is comparable. Efficiency of wireless power.

I suspect the handsets with this technology will remain expensive till the time the technology is new and the demand low. Although, in cases of such technology the adoption is pretty quick. Especially if people think that this is really useful.

The good part is that the above consortium is already trying to ensure interoperability.

I had blogged some time ago about standardization of the normal (wired) chargers Good News for Mobile Customers. I think most of us, at least once, have been through the experience of forgetting the charger and then trying to find from people around if their charger can charge our mobile.

Then there are the technology questions -
1. Is this safe?
2. How long will it take to charge a phone?
3. Is this used in some other field / technology?

Another thing to see is the business promise of the technology. I agree that this will be adopted. But the current costs and its comparison to wired chargers will be useful to assess how soon and to what extent.

Oct 3, 2009

Inglorious Basterds -Movie Review

My Rating - ****&1/2 out of 5*

Anything handled in the Tarantinesque manner definitely feels different.

The same is the case with World War II. Tarantino is again in his own splitting the movie into chapters and the final chapter bringing together the earlier ones to a final denouement, there is the typical dark humour, characters with their whims, shootouts, extreme violence and the accents. There is US Southern, several German accents, French and Italian.

A Nazi SS Officer Landa who is a Jew Hunter opens the movie with his exploits. Then a group of American soldiers is sent in to kill Nazis and spread terror - these are the Inglorious Basterds. And a Jew girl who runs a movie theater in Paris. All the characters get intertwined with their separate plots intersecting the plot of others.

As usual the movie is a thriller in typical Tarantino style. If you have acquired the taste, you will enjoy it. If you have not, then this may be a good start. Finally, if you did not like his earlier works, you may not enjoy this one either.

What I found fascinating was the absolutely free use of the very big characters of the War. I mean almost everyone from the Third Reich's top leadership is shown as well as some from other side of the sea as well. Again a lot of dialogue is in French and German, you have to read the movie in those scenes.

In the actors, Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa of SS stands out. He always speaks in jest but is menacing. His scenes are the best. Brad Pitt is great with that Southern accent as the terror spreader amongst Nazis. Check out his scene in the last part of the movie. Finally, Melanie Laurent is amazing as the girl who has somehow escaped Landa.

Rant - My friend and I had a bunch of college going kids by our side. Now I agree you want to have fun at cinema but it does not mean you ruin others fun. These kids found it difficult to understand the movie because it suddenly broke into German or French. And they were not reading the subtitles. You may not like the movie making style and you are within your rights to criticize it but NOT when the show is on. Afterwards, outside. 


Anyway, I once requested them to sit quiet. They tried to but could not because of reasons of emergency such as an irrepressible urge to make a comment on Brad Pitt's moustache. So then, we shifted to a more quieter zone.


It is a shame that they were not trying to appreciate what was made, especially considering they are fortunate that such movies get released to cinemas they can easily reach and their parents can easily afford.

Oct 2, 2009

Stock Market - Current Valuation & Primer Articles

Some very interesting articles on how to view market valuations.

Today's Business Standard article Shobhana Subramanian: Is the market overvalued?

Current rally analysis by the Economist in Liquid Fuel

Warren Buffet's Owners Manual of Berkshire Hathaway - Intrinsic Value on Page 5

2 primers from Paddy - Value of a Stock

Oct 1, 2009

Dinosaurs in India

Something very different from what I usually follow. ToI reported that a Huge nests of Dino Eggs has recently been discovered in Tamil Nadu

My knowledge about dinosaurs is about the same level as theirs about me. The main sources of my knowledge include the thick GK books read during childhood, 3 movies from a certain Mr. Steven Spielberg and one visit to an area where Dino footprints are preserved in Texas.

Despite my virtually zero knowledge about these giant lizards that lived millions of years ago on our planet, I still am fascinated about the topic.

Some of the basic questions that come to my mind are
1. What made these lizards so huge in the first place?
2. Did these lizards have evolutionary intelligence? That is did they show characteristics similar to animals of this age?
3. Do we really know about their DNA / other physiology as shown in the movie 'Jurassic Park'?
    3a. Did mosquitoes really exist at the time of Dinos? If yes, were their proboscis long enough to suck Dino blood? :-)
4. The usual question of what led to their extinction?

If you know about this just post it in comments or if you know where this info is on the net then do please post the links in response to the post. Thanks in advance.

A related article from National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/08/0812_030812_indiadinosaur.html

Sep 29, 2009

Miscellanous and Interesting

1)
An interesting discussion in NYTimes on Wireless On-board.
http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/the-in-flight-menace-wireless-chatter/

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2)
Mumbai municipal corporation has just earned Rs. 26 Crore for scientific handling of garbage dumpyard. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Mumbai-dump-gets-Rs-26cr-in-carbon/articleshow/5048215.cms

I am witness to this change because I lived in that suburb. We used to hate going near the creek because of the smelly garbage pile that could be seen and smelt from a kilometer away. This summer I went to Gorai Island and actually did not smell the stink. When I checked ( that is turned my head in the direction of dumpyard), the pile was transformed into a smooth surfaced hillock. It was obvious something was done about the thing but I did not know at the time that this was the work that was going on. Something to be proud about.

---

3)
Swapan Dasgupta's article "Bust the myth of Good over Evil" in this Sunday's Times of India left me baffled.
What exactly is the point of this article? That we stop believing in the values we built? Or stop believing that, ideally, there should be law and order...and that if it breaks down there is a judicial process?

Mr. Dasgupta, who is generally articulate and logical, is all over the place with this article. Speaks about 80's movie endings, then about Ravan's virtue, then Kumbhakarna's moral dilemma. But what is the whole thing about?

After a certain age we all understand the reality and flaws of a system that prevent the world from becoming perfect. But does that mean that we abandon praying for the victory of good?

More than anything else, the social value of occasions such as Ramleela / Durga Puja is reason enough to keep the tradition going.

Sep 27, 2009

Psychology behind pay-per-call schemes

Tata recently launched the Pay-Per-Call , Pay-per-second schemes and its variants for SMS as well.

Naturally, while some have praised this scheme as a brilliant marketing, some others have pointed out this is outright price war and will lead to an overall lower earning for entire industry (this assumes that others will follow suit).

What is it that must have led to this scheme?

The obvious first reason is the upcoming Mobile Number Portability deadline. This implies a subscriber can change his / her service provider yet retain the number for a small fee. This scheme is a carrot for new customers and bigger carrot for other SP's subscribers (assuming their SP will not offer this scheme).

More importantly, will this scheme not bleed the firm offering such an offer?

Generally, the way customers behave, it is said, is that people pounce on any such scheme in hordes initially. That is proven by the recent stat that Tata added more subscribers than Airtel in August. But what about the possible cash outflow for Tata because of customer's overusing this scheme?

Well, initially, it will. But eventually, all customers will "settle" to their initial needs. Most people who use such schemes in small to medium businesses etc. will not speak beyond a certain time because of diminishing marginal utility. The only possible group that may cause a hit by overuse are the youngsters who will use this to the end. But are they a substantial majority?  I don't know but probably not. Also, they are not the probable target for such schemes. Also check the finer details like the pay-per-call is still not in Mumbai where the highest concentration of users is.

So the gist - initially there will be a mad rush for the scheme as well as mad usage to capture the entire surplus, yet in time it will settle down to older levels, perhaps slightly more than older levels.

And MNP....it does not matter, in long run most of service providers will offer about everything that is available and people opting for a switch must have had a really really poor experience from their SP.

References :
MNP deadline
Diminishing Marginal Utility

Sep 24, 2009

Valuing LTE Patents of Nortel - An approach - Part 2

I received a few comments on part 1 of this article. Thanks to Paddy and Fehrzard for their comments. This article is an attempt to make the first one more complete.

1. First, the disclaimer - Black Scholes assumes efficient markets as well as liquidity of the asset. Both may be challenged and rightly so.

2. Now, one very interesting thought on how to view patent is how to define it? It may be as a product or a service that can be developed as a result of the patent - this was the primary assumption in the earlier article.

However, the patent is also something that gives exclusivity to the innovation, not the innovation itself. Hence more pertinent is the value of 'exclusivity', or even the benefit from suing the competitor who infringes the patent.

3. The time to expiry is minimum of patent expiry or time for technology obsolescence.

4. A big assumption in my first article is the knowledge of investments needed in developing marketable products from the patents. Obviously, this is a difficult thing to predict. One can go by historical stats but that too is no guarantee to future. Only thing we can do is scenario analysis.

5. Finally, the opportunity cost of delaying the project also needs to be adjusted in the calculations.

---
Tailpiece - Nortel has now put on block the Carrier Division - Software minus the patents. More info on All About Nortel.

Some pics from Mussourie trip


Thank You Venkat for the camera. I was having my old film walla camera and so am waiting for the pics to get developed. Till then, some of the pics I clicked using Venkat's camera.







Sep 22, 2009

Mighty Mountains and Merciless Man

I visited Mussourie this weekend with my friends.

As we started climbing, the views were breathtaking and we were actually in clouds. In the town, it was the typical British ambience with the mandatory Library in the main square and the Mall Road. The rickshaws, friendly people, food and the fact that you can stand anywhere in the town and admire the view made the perfect mix. Gun hill point is another lovely place to be in.

The town is like a balcony that nature has built for you. Just stand anywhere, take a deep breath and lose yourself in the beauty of the mountains.

Some credit also goes to the miserable weather of Delhi that made the contrast all the more sharp!

The best part was the trek to Shri Jwala Devi Mandir. It was about 2 kms one way. We had Santramji from Dudhli village to guide us. For me, who has been in cities most of my life, talking to Santramji made me feel what life in hills is. He has a small farm that gives potatoes, green peas and other vegetables. The village does not get regular potable water supply, so the villagers have made alternative arrangements from nearby natural sources. There is a dispensary and a school. But the school is only till 7th standard. He was sure he wanted his children to go to Mussourie after 7th...that was very heartening to know. The provisions are sent by jeep but more often it is the mules and horses who do the task. Electricity is ok but as I mentioned water is difficult. The man was so quiet and smiled so often, it is difficult not to respect someone like that.

The views while walking to the temple were awesome. Every 10 steps, there was a view to appreciate. There were flowers that nature had planted. It was amazing. Mussourie lives to its reputation of being the Queen of mountains.

Santram also spoke about the stone quarrying that used to happen in the hills and was banned by Government later. He mentioned that climate and life have improved after the ban. But is a Government ban enough? On top of the hill, by the temple was an empty water tank. There were some 20 plastic bottles thrown in by visitors.

Really, I could not see the logic in that. Elsewhere too, near the Kempty falls, so much of plastic was thrown that at times people felt distracted by the plastic. And no, the administration is not to be blamed. In Mussourie, there are good roads, facilities, proper traffic control, toilets, trash cans, directions and appeals to not litter. The trash was getting cleaned every day. It is indeed our own duty to just control ourselves till we see the next trash can. Really, it does not take much. Our actions should not work against the pure air and bliss of the nature that places like Mussourie offer.

Perhaps as the Cadbury's ad says, ask yourself - "Have you earned the pure air?"

Sep 16, 2009

Valuing LTE Patents of Nortel - An approach

Now that Nortel's Wireless and Enterprise businesses have been auctioned, Nortel still has LTE Patents with it. LTE is a considered to be a successful technology for the 4G wireless business and is expected to take the world to seamless broadband wireless paradigm. Nortel is said to have 600 patents in this area. Now let’s try to assess how this asset can be valued.

Following is with the assumption that the potential buyer is going to know everything about the patents.

1. A Patent is an asset that will be used directly or indirectly through applications based on the patent.

2. First step would be to find the directly assessable market based on history. That market is of those products this patent and its extensions can directly substitute.
That is the possible market potential.

The subjective part here is how much one can be sure on this market potential.

3. Next is finding the potential of those products that are not conceivable as of now. This is the tricky one.

(i) One way to approach this is on the basis of historical statistics of patents from the same industry. For example, in this case of 4G, we can take a random sample of 600 patents (or possibly more) from the period when 3G (or any other technology) was a new area of research.

(ii) Now analyze how many of these samples proved to be huge successes, moderate successes and damp squibs. With this as the basis, we can use the same probability on this set of LTE patents (this is a huge assumption). Obviously this is not something that will always work yet if we are going to use history as any indicator then this is one way to follow.

(iii) The next 2 things we can draw from the above sample would be the standard deviation and volatility.

4. Now if we look at this set of patents as an asset, then the value of buying an asset with unknown potential is nothing but buying an option on the asset.

5. So now the value can be assessed as the value of a real option with a possible market value that was calculated in points 2 AND 3.
a. We have - Possible Value of the asset and the volatility.
b. We also have the risk free interest rate.

c. Now the tricky ones, the strike price of this option and the expiry time.
(i) The PV of the investment in productizing these products is the strike price. Why? Compare this to a stock call option - What you earn in a call is the difference between the stock price and the strike. Similarly, here the gain of the patent owner is the difference between the revenues and capital cost.

(ii) Now the expiry time is how long these patents are useful. We cannot sit on 4G patents when the market is already preparing for 5G technology. Beyond a certain time, any technology simply loses relevance.

6. At this point we can insert the values in any Black Scholes Calculator.

Alternative
An alternative to this step is to break the 600 patents in several sets of like patents and then assess each set individually. The next step can be to sum them all and use these steps for overall value or consider each set as a separate option and value them one set at a time.

Major assumptions of the above approach -
1. This set of LTE patents will have a market performance similar to historical set of randomly chosen 3G patents from a similar period in 3G's lifecycle.
2. Cost of productizing and other capital costs.

I have applied theory of real options in this case and will try to find out of there are other better methods already used elsewhere. That would form some other post

- Siddharth Garud

Reference:
http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/07/29/f-lte-long-term-evolution-wireless.html

Sep 14, 2009

Nortel - History of a Giant - Part 2

So Avaya has picked up Nortel's enterprise business at $900M all cash deal. That is quite high than the earlier said $400+M.

A string of interesting articles on this business consolidation, especially in North America on All About Nortel.

Actually, I was surprised that only 2 bids were made for this huge section of Nortel.
Now lets see how LTE Patents are put on sale.

Sep 12, 2009

Collective maturity of Indian cricketers

After yesterday's win against New Zealand, as expected, the Indian media went ga-ga over how this team is the mightiest team after that of General Eisenhower. Media simply chose to skip the part where our batting was showing signs of collapse until Raina and Dhoni saved the day.

Anyway, the win apart...following reactions from various players, on being the number 1 team, convinced me that someone in the management or team leadership is also thinking on managing media:

Dhoni's reaction - We want to play well. Good ranking follows good performance.
Yuvraj - We need to maintain it.
Nehra - South Africa is not playing now. That is why we are there. Once they play it will become competitive.

Very very well thought out. Various voices, same message. That is how organizations should operate, especially in PR matters. It was impressive media handling.

On the field, the team looked rusty to me. We won sure, but fielding was a problem. Bowlers were the saving grace. Dravid needs to get back to ODI mode quickly.

Sep 10, 2009

Miscellaneous and interesting

Interesting news clips I found today -

1) First news from USA where AT&T gets rid of a part of its message when routing call to the Voicemail. Now this is interesting because it reduces close to 5 seconds of call time for every call forwarded to voicemail. Towards customer delight...

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/att-relents-drops-paging-instructions-from-voicemail/


2) Next refer to Strategist section of this week's Business Standard on State Bank of India. The article tells a lot about how the current SBI chief, Mr. O P Bhatt, is strategizing the turnaround of SBI and within SBI.

I had written my experience some days ago. After reading the article, I wonder if SBI employees aligned to its goals? It does not seem so.

I agree the load in branches is massive but there has to be some operations strategy. For example, one thing to adopt is give the customer everything that is needed to keep him/her out of the branch like passbook, ATM card, online access, IVRS number etc. I can tell every customer has to visit at least 3-4 times to just get all this.

The article also has an interesting discussion on SBI Home Loan rates and possibility of a smaller version of subprime crisis.

Check out the article, very interesting read (a little long though).
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/are-you-being-served/369333/


3) Next - Nortel's fire sale - Nortel's Enterprise business goes under the hammer tomorrow.

http://www.allaboutnortel.com/2009/09/08/details-about-fridays-enterprise-auction/

4) Sports - Hurray to Vijender for ensuring that medal for India. And another hurray to Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi who have both reached finals of US Open. Whoever wins, we will be proud of both of them. Hurray to Pankaj Advani as well. It is heartening to see India perform well in such competitions.

Sep 8, 2009

True Story of the Jet-i !

Question - What's the difference between Delhi Autowalla and Jet Pilots?
Answer - Delhi Autowallas are healthier than Jet Pilots!

--

Unconfirmed sources predict "Jet Airways' pilots may be awarded the preventive healthcare award for protecting passengers from possible contagious infections on 130+ flights in September 2009. Selfless pilots give up a day's work to ensure the passengers do not get sick or unwell because of pilots' state of health."

--

More unconfirmed sources analyse today's strike as Jet Airway's effort to help Air India's revival by diverting passengers to AI.

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Reports - Economic times report

NDTV Article

Sep 6, 2009

Heroes and Hope of my India

Human society gives (or is meant to give) us dignity and self-respect. We understand hunger, thirst, love, smell just like other species on this planet do. But feeling inspired, national pride, dignity and other such evolved senses / feelings are more related to humans.

In my memory, the first time I felt inspired was probably when I read the history of our independence in 3rd standard. 20 years later, I relived the same feeling.

One of my very close friends, Aniket Mahulikar and his colleague Madhavi were with me at Delhi for the last 3 days. Aniket is 26. He is one of the best cricket players and certainly the best chess player our building has produced (the team has about 16 players :D). He figured in Bombay division merit list in 10th board exams and did his engineering from VJTI - one of the top Engg colleges in Bombay. He joined Infosys thereafter. He loves seeing TV and cricket. Everything usual so far.

In May 2008, Aniket left Infosys to work as a school principal in Pune. Yes, Aniket and Madhavi are both school principals from Pune.


Aniket runs a school called "Savitribai Phule English School" which has children in Junior KG, Senior KG and first standard. Madhavi runs another school in Pune. Now children to their schools come from nearby slum areas. These schools are a part of schools run by Akanksha, a NGO working in area of education. Aniket's school is funded by the Thermax Foundation.

I asked Aniket what drove him to take up this assignment. What was it that he felt? When did he decide he wanted to be a social worker?

He said he felt it everytime something happened...since he was 12-13 years old. He said an earthquake many miles away would make him worry about the people there. Everytime he walked around slums, he felt "Destiny has given me so much more - I need to share". And he felt the sharing should sustainable.

When he finished his engineering, he and his friends wanted to start a school in 20 years time or so. Wow! Now that is long term vision. To gain hands on experience, he volunteered to work in slums and, he says, he found his calling in education. Whenever he sees children in slums, he is motivated to get them in schools. What amazed me was his clarity of thinking. He understands that he will have to wait for 10-15 years before his efforts show results.

Children are the easiest part of work; it is the parents who need constant motivation and counselling. And I heard both Aniket and Madhavi speak to a couple of parents about children. Their profound understanding of their students' backgrounds is incredible considering they both come from reasonably well off backgrounds. Their work also spans in bringing the community together, instilling confidence in children and their parents, re-igniting the need of dignity and self-respect in the parents' hearts and motivating their colleagues - the school teachers.

It was a heart warming experience for me to see these heroes of my nation. Everyday, when they came back from their training, they would email and SMS their teachers about their day - and, sure enough, they would receive many responses in a few hours time. Their commitment to the cause, maturity of thoughts, clarity of reasoning and unlimited idealism was both inspiring and overwhelming.

Their future plans include taking their respective schools to tenth standard thus ensuring all children come out with an ambition and starting more schools in rural India.

I hope their plans come true and they succeed in whatever they decide. It is these heroes that make me again believe in the future of our nation. Real stars of our times who have committed themselves to the cause of underprivileged.

Vision, leadership, strategy, unlimited energy, patience, faith, humility, pride about work & colleagues, and a disarming smile is how I describe these 2 stars.

It was an honour to interact with them.

Links to
Aakanksha's site - http://www.akanksha.org/
Aniket's blog - http://aniketmahulikar.blogspot.com/

Note - Aniket and Madhavi both mentioned many more people who have helped them in their efforts. Because it was not possible for me to include all the names, so I focused on the 2 of them in this article.

Sep 4, 2009

3 Mistakes of My Life - Book Review

Just finished reading "3 Mistakes of my life" by Chetan Bhagat.

It was a very good book. A change from reading heavy stuff, technical stuff and other such subjects.

The story is about Govind Patel, a young businessman from Ahmedabad. In fact it is a perfect story for a Hindi movie with a engaging mix of friendship, politics, difficulty of situations and yes, a love story.

It gives a lovely insight in the mind of the protagonist and his friends - Ish and Omi. While the book keeps giving hints on how the characters will pan out and mostly there are no surprises, the story is engrossing and makes you wonder what is coming on the next page.

I liked the book for its easy reading style, fast paced and humourous writing. Yet in some places the book is abrupt. Some sections like the Australian part seemed out of place.

But all in all, the book is well written. Do read it when you can.

Aug 31, 2009

Ganpati - Social Networking before Internet Age

Effects of what we do today are seen long after we are gone.

We so often talk of how social networking or professional networking sites have brought about a change in society. We talk more today using profiles, blogs, message updates, chats etc. But think of how important internet is in there as the underlying platform for this networking.

Seeing Ganpati today, one is compelled to admire the vision of Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started it about 100 years ago in Maharashtra. If we think about it, the occasion of Sarvajanik(Community wide) Ganpati is a form of social networking. In fact, the original form of Social Networking. Even the Ganpati celebration at our homes creates social networking.

Tilak's greatness was in understanding the potential of Ganpati's powers in bringing people together. By placing Ganpati (who has such great public following) at the centre of it all, Tilak ensured that his technique would certainly succeed.

Till date, so many people come together, meet...so many young people start arranging Ganpati Pooja at home. And the best part is, this occasion cuts across generations. Old, young, children all come together in these 10 days.

And yes, congratulations to Police in Mumbai as well who manage it more or less in a disciplined manner. The traffic jams due to processions have come down and most of this is managed by the volunteers of the Ganpati Mandal groups. That is public involvement in preventing domestic issues. I remember the horrendous jams when we were in school...that has changed drastically over last 1 and a half decade.

The only one thing I would like to change about the way this festival is celebrated is the use of noisy musical instruments and those eardrum blowing loudspeakers during the processions. They are unnecessary irritants in this festival.

Disclaimer

All the opinions expressed are of the author only. Any action taken by readers on the basis of this blog is entirely at the readers' risk and they are solely responsible for the same.