Friday, June 29, 2012

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Google just launched its own Tablet. Microsoft did the same couple of weeks ago. That triggered a thought on how things have changed over the last 3 decades.

In the Seventies and Eighties, Apple had a closed ecosystem and Microsoft had an Open System. Look at these as battle of Ideologies. And we know who won the first round. Microsoft made money selling OS and allowing developers to write and sell applications for the OS. Those were the PC days.

Fast forward to 2008. Apple launched iPhone. Google launched Android. MSFT was a late starter and I think they really kicked it off with Mango.

Apple continued with its philosophy of a closed ecosystem. Just that it made its ecosystem self sustaining. With iTunes, AppStore and its array of products, iPhone, MacBook, iPods, iPad and other products it seamlessly integrated the ecosystem.

Google gave away its OS for free. That led to rapid absorption of the OS but very little revenue for google and fragmentation of the OS and offerings. The OS on the phones can't be upgraded like iPhone. There is no unified / well managed market place which validates the application up for sale. In a nutshell Android ecosystem is a mess and Google is not making any money or atleast not as much as it could.

MSFT, the less said the better. No takers, No Revenue, little prospect.

Form 1980s to date Apple has stuck to its ideology. It didn't click then, but today its made Apple the most valued company in the world, a title MSFT held in the 90s.

No one can stop an idea whose time has come. Thank You Steve Jobs for sticking with what you believed in. This world is a better place because of you.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

IRCTC Then and Now

I read an article on the bottlenecks IRCTC faces during peak time, 8:00 am everyday, on ET. They have always struggled to keep up with the demand. They have always played catch up. Today they are struggling to meet 13,000 requests per minute. But if you look back, they have come a really long way.

I was hooked on to IRCTC early. I became a member in 2002. During the lat 10 years I have struggled with reservations countless times and have cursed them over and over. I believe when you are constantly playing catch-up you never get any recognition. That's the curse you must live with till you break free and get ahead. Only someone who has an old reference point and is tracking the trajectory can appreciate the challenges.

Here is a mail I got from irctc way back in 2004.

So from 100,000 bookings a month to 350,000 a day. Its almost a 100 times gain over 7.5 years.  Not that bad Hmm!

Subject:Update for IRCTC Customers (
Date:Friday, December 17, 2004 5:33 PM

Dear Registered User, 

I bring you warm greetings and best wishes for the New Year 2005

During the past year your website has crossed many exciting milestones like the One Million Registered Users mark, one lakh tickets per month (several times), and recorded some of the biggest ever turnovers in the history of e-commerce in India. We also received recognitions for our efforts from a number of organisactions including the PC Quest user's Choice Award for IT Application with Maxium social impact and Dataquest Award for the Pathbreaking IT Application of 2003-2004.

Also during the year we have launched Mobile Reservation Services and Mobile PNR alert services with major cellular operators. These include M/s Airtel , Hutch and Reliance while others like MTNL, IDEA, Tata Indicom and BSNL are in the process of making applications for these services including Speech recognition (Voice), GPRS & CDMA. We are shortly launching an SMS based booking application on our very own short code 7245.

We have integrated with American Express Credit Card payment gateway and Syndicate Bank, Union Bank of India, ABN Amro, Federal Bank etc. for payment options, so that now you have all the 3 credit card payment gateways and 14 banks for Internet Banking direct debit option. We have also integrated with ITZ Cash for a cash card option for those Customers who prefer cash cards.

We have been continuously trying to improve the user experience on our site. Over the year we have more than doubled our Internet bandwidth, streamlined and uncluttered the "Plan my travel", process, added useful options like 100 most popular stations, 100 most popular trains, preferred passenger lists etc. We have enhanced Customer support staff strength and telephone / e-mail handling processes to stick to our basic moto of answering every mail within 6 hours and every phone call query to the complete satisfaction of the Customer.
And now to take your convenience of booking to a new unprecedented level, from Jan 1st 2005, bookings will be available on the Internet from 4 AM to 11:30 PM on all days including Sundays.

As usual we have been continuously running a number of special promotions - our own, as well as with other major corporates. Currently these include :
1. IRCTC's weekly 'fare back' scheme
2. Special gifts / lucky draws from Baazee.comSBI Internet Banking
3. Discounted hotel rooms all over the country from and Kuoni group's Resnet
4. Special promos from ICICI PrudentialICICI Cards , Citibank Cards, SBI Cardsand
5. Easy monthly installments option from Citibank Payment Gateway.

As you know offers unmatched opportunities for promotions / advertising which are currently extremely popular with several categories of products and services.
IRCTC is also lining up a number of new products and services for you in the new Year. As we go into Jan 2005 which promises to be even more exciting and fulfilling for you and therefore for us, we wish to reaffirm our total commitment to you and your satisfaction in the days to come.

With warm regards
J.Vinayan, Jt.GM(Opns)

PS : Please note that has no agents, franchises or distributors anywhere. Our services are solely meant for personal use of individual customers and not for resale/agency work or commercial exploitiation in any manner.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Note from the past

About 4 years ago, as I was wondering over the recovery, I had concluded that the world will be a poorer place. Today I read an article in Economictimes that brought back the memories....