Twitter on Airtel

airtel_twitterYesterday, Twitter announced they had struck a deal with the largest mobile phone provider in India – Airtel. It will allow users to send a status update to Twitter for only Re. 1 and receive tweets by SMS for free. It’s apparently only a 4 week exclusive deal after which I’m assuming all mobile carriers will offer the service.

I tried the service for about 5 minutes and soon realized how much it sucks…for me. I really don’t want to get over 100 SMS tweets via my phone.  I was thinking WTF, what was Twitter and Airtel thinking when they struck this partnership, but then it dawned on me that this is India.  And when something is free, Indian’s will figure out a way to use it or monetize it.

The first use of this service would be around stock picks. Since people sign-up for a stock picking service to receive updates this would be an ideal use and free for the person receiving the pick. This is one instance and I’m sure we’ll see many more in the coming months.

The official Twitter @ Airtel site. Doesn’t have much info, which is par for the course for most product launches involving an Indian company.

The Refreshing Story of Mint.com

mint_logoWhen I first heard about Mint.com back in November 2007, I thought it was a great idea but wondered if people would be willing to part with their financial data via an online platform. The market has spoken, Mint was acquired in Sept. 2009 for USD 170 million by personal finance software market leader Intuit.

So what is Mint?  Mint takes your personal financial data and makes recommendations on your spending habits, investments, insurance, etc… Mint makes money via the service providers who want to sell products to the Mint audience. Simple and Sweet.

To get access to all that financial data they went to a single provider – Yodlee.com  and then enticed users by slapping an amazingly simple user interface on the data.

It’s a remarkable story and exit for CEO Aaron Patzer. He recently talked about the journey, the video is below and I would highly recommend viewing the whole thing.  I love his quote (about 5 minutes into the clip) about outsourcing the development to oDesk or India…”dead wrong.” The last 3 1/2 minutes are also really good.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6960507&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

Half-Marathon Training Starts Now

2010_mumbai_marathon_200It’s that time of year where I start to train for the Bombay half-marathon.  I’m going to start training this week but with the Indian holidays the real training will start from the first week of November.

In the past I’ve run for fun, but this time I wanted to work towards a certain time.  So I’m going on record with my goals and looking to achieve them.

My Goals:

  1. Finish the half in under 2 hours.  My previous times for the Bombay half-marathon were 2:15 (2006), 2:15 (2008) and 2:07 (2009). In order to achieve my goal I need to run 9:10 min/mile (5:41 min/km).
  2. 100 push-ups in one stretch by January 17
  3. Drop to 176 lbs. (80 kg)

Currently:

  1. My pace is around 9:41 min/mile (6:01 min/km)
  2. 64 push-ups
  3. 187 lbs. (85 kg). This time a year ago, I was around 200 lbs. Due to yoga, diet and nutritional changes I was able to shed the pounds.  I’ve been able to maintain it for a year and reached a plateau at 184 lbs. and need to break through it.

Greedy, Greedy, Greedy (3G)

3g_logo_150

Its been a busy week in Indian telecommunications and my frustration with the government grows. After the Indian general elections in May, the press had a love fest with the new government saying everything would change and the economy would be back on track.  And one of the first things to get fast tracked would be the 3G auction. News trickled in this week that the much awaited 3G auction for high speed mobile data services would be delayed yet again.

For me the 3G auction should be one of the easiest policies to implement and to show the Congress Government has indeed arrived and changing the way business is done.  There are no slums to move nor environmental impact surveys to conduct.  The government is acting like most stock markets investors, they want to see those previous all-time highs and then auction off the spectrum. In the meantime, companies are losing revenue and the government is losing out on taxes. It all comes down to money, who gets what and how much – hence the title of the post.

All is not lost for the consumer, this week the government said they wanted to look at implementing per second billing for all carriers as opposed to the current per minute billing.  This all came about when Tata DOCOMO launched their service with per second billing. I have a feeling it will happen because Reliance Mobile launched their “Simply Reliance” plan which offers 50 paise (USD 1 penny) per minute for local, long distance and SMS’s.  Since Reliance is pretty well connected to the government, they probably have better insight to what policies will get implemented and threw down the pricing gauntlet.  The “Simply Reliance” plans reminds me of the AT&T Digital One Rate launched in 1998, that really was the game changer for the US mobile market by eliminating “roaming” charges.