Facebook has a problem. No, not Snapchat. Snapchat is competition.
Facebook’s problem is SnapCreep. After failing to buy out their competition, Facebook has steadily been trying to steal the best (or worst, depending on who you ask) parts of Snapchat and integrate them into their own apps.
This invasion has been reflected on Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and now the main Facebook app as well. But for all that work they’re putting into copying for their competitor, they’re rather unsuccessful in making it obsolete.
This is because Facebook doesn’t seem to understand that the markets they’re looking at are different. People who want the notorious features of Snapchat doesn’t want it in the same apps as they use to keep in touch with their high school frenemies. They want to keep those worlds separate. Similarly, people who want to use WhatsApp to communicate with family and close friends don’t want to post silly photo updates. They already use the camera functions rather well.
Facebook seems to think that it can meld certain features into existing apps and wish away Snapchat. But that’ll not happen because of the way these apps are setup and used. That’s Facebook making a big bet and trying to change the rules on the racetrack after the race has begun. WhatsApp is a cure for traditional SMS. Facebook is the social network of default. Instagram is photo-sharing on drugs (which is why people certainly seem to be taken by the daily stories features, but they’re loathe to use things like disappearing pics or face filters). All of these have set functions, set features and that’s why they sort-of go together. That’s also why Facebook has been able to integrate the users in all these apps together, though I do have a complaint about pushing the same users over to WhatsApp and Instagram as I already have in my Facebook lists.
Snapchat is a slightly different beast. It has a precedence, no doubt. Yahoo Chat, melded with Omegle. But neither the use case, nor the customer base lends itself to a traditional keep-up-with-your-friends social network. Which is why Facebook will not beat Snapchat by pushing similar changes to their current customers through these apps. They’ll only end up alienating smart users who have looked at Snapchat and notice the pattern.
Instead, Facebook needs to do something they’ve not done in a long time – start from scratch. Take a page out of Meerkat’s book (no Facebook, this does not mean go and buy that company) and build something from the ground up, the app and it’s user base. Let your experiments go under the radar, and fail often. But please, keep these out of the glaring view of the media and your own idiosyncrasies until it’s actually a product and not just patchwork.
Your problem with Snapchat isn’t that Snapchat exists, it’s that you’re trying to replicate it, without actually making the effort of building something new. The solution is clear to your users – go and build it. They might come.
Big Brother is watching. This is the ominous note that strikes me whenever I think about George Orwell’s amazing book. It makes sense in a senseless world. We are aware of our governments watching us. But I’m not going to talk about intrusive governments. I’m going to talk about something else. Ever since I joined ADN, I’ve been part of a growing debate over privacy concerns regarding Facebook and developer concerns over a now well-locked down Twitter API. I’ve read about Facebook’s new Graph Search, I’ve read about Twitter’s fight with Instagram and I’ve read about Dunbar’s number. But today, when I saw a link about Twitter being the fastest growing global social platform, is when I realized where all of this is going.
Many months ago, I read an interesting article on Quartz about how Facebook is looking to Africa for its next Billion users. The method is simple – provide Facebook access for free via SMS. In this classic move, people get addicted to the free social network and Facebook gets marketable user data on a Billion more. This despite the fact that we’ve well established that Facebook isn’t what it’s all pegged to be – a way to connect with people. Then I saw this new post about Twitter today and I realized where this is all going. Those of you who’ve read 1984 will know that in the book there are three main countries, each too large to be defeated by the other two, even if they try to combine forces, which never really happens because of ever-changing alliances. All this while, the common people of each State are fed misinformation and trained to accept it as fact. This is an Oligarchical system that cannot be broken. There is a perpetual war and all available resources are concentrated towards it, sacrificed from availability to common man with the hope that it’ll help in the war effort. But the most important facet? Everyone is watched. Continue reading →
What was it that the erstwhile Hutch (now Vodafone) did as it’s first move into the Indian Mobile service provider scene? They gave us 1000 free SMSs at an obnoxiusly low price of Rupees 6/- a joke so laughable that we used to message just to get our mobile batteries low, a feat now affordable to people with BSNL Student SIM Cards… And all this was to ensure that the market share was OWNed by Hutch within a few months, riding on the Youth’s need for a cheap communication medium which was hip and happening too…
Now, after the dreaded change called Vodafone, the prices of an SMS have shot up from less than a Paisa to 10 paise per SMS and yet Vodafone leads with the share, partly because people would rather stick to the number they’ve been using for quite some time.
But this post is not about Vodafone, it’s about market share and pricing of goods.
Today, roaming around in the market in the evening, my curiousity led me to a general store to ask the price of the new energy drink named Cloud 9 (or 9 Cloud, whatever it is…) which is being pegged as India’s First Natural Energy Drink which is produced locally. The branding, shape and graphics of the can and the contents point out to only one thing- They’re trying to compete with Red Bull.
Here’s where the brand is going to fail-
a) The price of the drink is put at Rupees 75/- Ring any bells? The Price of a Red Bull, which is imported from outside is also set at Rupees 75/- So if I’m going to pay the same price, why not buy the branded goods which have worldwide acceptance and have proven market value? (I’ve had Red Bull, it’s good, Full Stop)
b) The Ad agency hired by the company for Cloud 9 made it good to rope in players of the Chennai Super Kings, most noticably Mahender Singh Dhoni and also, Shilpa Shetty for the launch and RP Singh as the Brand Ambassador, and then wasting away these big faces in a string of downright Stupid Advertisements that in no way make the Indian Consumer want to go out and buy the drink.
c) The drink is being pegged as India’s First Natural Energy drink. As though the average consumer cares. Haven’t we been having Coke and Pepsi and Vodafone long enough NOT to care if the brand is Indian or Global?? Haven’t we become used to all sorts of Unnatural foods and drinks to not care if the drink is Natural at all? What’s so natural about Coca Cola by the way??
Small Note to Cloud 9: Don’t even think that a person who’s just come from the gym will go buy your drink for 75 rupees, they’ll buy milk. And even if they do spend money on an energy drink, it’ll be Red Bull. Here’s Why-
What’s Cloud 9 offering that’s different from Red Bull?
ans) Nothing, the price is the same. I have no reason to buy a brand that’s just entered the market instead of a worldwide accepted brand.
Why can Cloud 9 never beat Red Bull in marketing?
ans) Cloud 9 has the worst possible marketing agency, useless. Red Bull has been making innovative ads since they were born. And they have a lot of money which they can squander on popular actors and cricketers.
Now, What’s the solution? Here’s what Cloud 9 must do in order to beat Red Bull for the market share…
a) We all know the drink doesn’t cost more than 25 rupees. Bring down the price to something near that.
b) Fire your marketing agency. No, am not telling you to throw him off the job, drink a case of Cloud 9, load up your gun and fire AT them. They’re useless and they’re wasting your money. Get someone else to make your ads and make sure that they are very very cool.
c) On the Cloud 9 website there’s a video in which the Director of Cloud 9, Priyesh Ganatra accepts very un-suavely that they copied the USPs of all major energy drinks from all over the world in order to create their own. That video is very very UNCOOL. Remove it. Also remove every trace of CORPORATE nonsense from that webiste. Reason- If I visit the website of a Youth Oriented product, I want to see downloads, product Videos and features like games and more sales pitch, not your God Damn Company’s Address. You want a Hint? Go to the Fuel Deo website here.
In the end I just want to say that Indian Brands have yet to realise the importance of market share and how to capture it.
p.s. To my readers- I have cc’ed this post to the Cloud( manufacturers. Lets see if they have the brains to read it and change a LOT about their brand.
This is the post all you bloggers have been waiting for! Specially my dear friend Arpit Rastogi.. Hope you find this useful…
Ok, so Last time we discussed how to Make a Google SMS Channel which gives people updates about your Blog… But what good is it if people don’t know how to access your Channel and subscribe to it??
One way is to simply send email invites to everybody in your list but that’s the most un-cool thing you could ever do to yourself (of course, it’s very very effective, but we’re trying to be cool here people! :D).
The better way is to add this function as a Widget to your blog and put it right next to the email invites so that people notice it. Now, since there was no direct way or a pre-made widget to do this thing for me, I mixed and mashed a few widgets and came up with the following code to Make me a widget!
Without any more festivities, here’s the code:
<a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> <img src=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/inc/SMSChannelsLabsLogo.gif” alt=”” height=”50″ width=”150″> </a> <br> Have GMail? Now get my posts via sms! <b> <br> Just <a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> Click HERE </a> </b> <br><br>
Now, here’s an explanation of the code, the first href link within the double quotes is the link for your SMS Channel, this is the one which will be embedded within the cute little picture of Google SMS Channels which will be part of the widget… Oh and also, the second href link is your sms channel too!!!
So, all you have to do is this: Change the two href double quoted links from My SMS Channel (NitinsBlog) to the Subscribe link for your SMS Channel and post it in the Widget for your Blog and you’re done…
Oh wait! How to make your own widget?? If you are on WordPress, simply go to the Widgets page in your Admin and add the Text Widget to your Widget list and add the Code there…
One last note, make sure you change the href link and make sure you put the subscribe link for your sms channel in double quotes for it to work properly.. and if yuo don’t change it, you’ll be making sure that people join my blog instead of yours! 😀
And a p.s. No common user uses Google SMS Channels right now so they’re going to have to register themselves to it first and that’s a slightly confusing process. I have already added the whole procedure to my earlier post, here and I seriously suggest that you read it and write your own blog post about how to join the sms channels for the benefit of your readers… Feel free to copy from my post…
Finally, if you want to get a feel about how Google SMS channels treat a new user, register yourself from my blog’s channel using the widget given at the top right side of my blog 😀
Google Labs India has introduced a feature (it’s no longer new, a LOT of people are using it!) called Google SMS Channels for Indian Users.
The Basic concept behind this service is that people can get access to updates from websites which offer RSS feeds directly to their Mobiles instead of having to go Online to Check for them in services such as Google Reader, via Internet Explorer/Mozilla or via RSS software such as Great News… Websites which provide RSS feeds include News websites like The Hindu and The Times of India, Sports Websites (particularly cricket websites, so the whole of India should be headed to Google now!) and interestingly, personal and professional blogs have RSS feeds too, which means that when You Update your Blog next time, People can get an update about it on their mobile phones! Talk about Popularity!
Now here’s the deal- I’ll tell you how to make an SMS Channel in Google Labs and you’ll tell me what it is and I’ll join it! Sounds good??
At this point, If you have not yet logged into your Google Account (basically your Gmail Account, but now it’s a universal login which you can use for all your Google Services…), then you will be asked to do so.
Since this is the first time you are logging into Google SMS Channels, you will be asked to fill up a Nickname and your Mobile Number for verification. IMP- Keep Your Cell Phone Handy for this step!
Step 2. Fill up a nice NickName for yourself and before you enter your mobile number, click on the button besides the name and verify that you have it!
Next, fill up your mobile phone number and click on the Verify Button… Within a few seconds, you will recieve a verification code on your mobile as an sms and the page on your screen will change to allow you Accept the Terms & Conditions of use and fill up the verification code from your mobile…
Once you’ve done that, Congratulations! You are ready to use Google SMS Channels!
Step 3. I highly recommend that you play around with the SMS channels for a while before making your own but for those in a hurry, skip to Step 4.
Ok, now your phone is ready to recieve messages from Google, but what SMSs do you want?? The First page displays the Editor’s Picks and are a large number of very popular Channels which people access, the top-most being, No prizes for the Correct Guess, Cricket!
So what’re you waiting for? Click on the Subscribe button right now and start getting sms updates from this Channel!
User Note: It is important to understand that most of the Channels you use will be made by either websitespromoting themselves or some product, thus it is advisable that before subscribing, you Click on the Channel’s name and see it’s details, as you scroll down, you will see the POSTS being made by the Channel in recent times, thus giving you an idea about how good the Channel is…
Now, another interesting feature of SMS Channels is the search option given at the top right of the pages, simply type what you need and you’ll see a great list of Channels which provide the same!
Step 4- Till now you’ve seen how we can join Channels made by others, but what you really want to see is How to make Channels for yourself!
So here goes…
On the Right side, just below the Search option, we have the Create Your Own Channel option…
Simply Click on Try Now to get Started on making your channel…
First, you have to Give your Channel a NAME.. Remember that Spaces and Apostrophes ( ‘ ) are now allowed, so make sure you give a short and sweet name to your Channel.
Then do the Check Availability Test to see if you’re there first… In case this is a Channel for your blog, you needn’t worry much, it’ll most probably be available…
Next, put a description about your Channel… If you want more members to access your Channel, better have a good description!
After this, please Select A category and your location. For Blogs, I suggest that you put the category as Other and in case you don’t want to fill up a location, choose None…
I would, however, suggest that you select a location, because some times people want to search for Channels from a specific location and they’ll sure like to join a local Channel!
Now here come’s the most important part… Selecting the SOURCE:
The source of the Channel is where you’ll be getting the updates from.
As the options Suggest, You can either select a BlogSpot Blog, A Google Group, A Google News Feed and even some other Blog or website which has RSS or Atom Feeds…
Here’s a Small explanation…
If there is a Blogspot blog you want to follow or have one of your own, Select the Blogger Option and put the name of the BlogSpot Blog, Google will automatically pick up the Updates from the Blog and serve them to you on a Platter!
An example of a BlogSpot Blog being accessed this way is given below:
and join up any group of their interest, from knitting to UNIX and even horse riding! Alternatively, you can simply follow groups via SMS Channels…
The third option and frankly the least used is Google News. This option is such that if you want Google to give you an update whenever something related is in the News, just fill in the Keywords You want.
I filled up “Nitin Khanna Chandigarh” without the double quotes as keywords iin one of the Channels I made and whenever some businessman in or near Chandigarh by the name of Nitin Khanna dies in a road accident, I get an SMS from Google! 😀
Finally, my favorite, the RSS/Atom Feed Option. This option is a little tricky to use but also the best if you have a Blog on non–Blogger sites or want to follow websites like The Hindu, Hindustan Times and The Times of India which publish their own RSS feeds…
This just shows you how to select the source for your Channel…
Ok, now that you have selected the source, you need to make sure that your Settings are right.
The Delivery Schedule is best kept at Throughtout the day and if you are making a public Channel, specially for your blog, the Allow Publishing by option should be at Only Me.
A Public Channel must be set to Any User can Subscribe and if you want only Selected few to use this Channel, you can Select the “By Invitation Only” option…
Final Step! Just Click on the Create Channel Button and Voila! Your Channel has been created… You can at any time come back to Google SMS Channels to change any of the settings of Your Channels, which will be available in a list Called My Channels when you login next time…
In case you are thinking why you don’t get more than 10 SMSs from Google in a day, Click the Settings Link at the top right of the page and hewre you may change your nickname and mobile number (You are limited to having only 1 mobile number registered at a time) and even the number of SMS you may recieve during the day and the Timings when you may recieve SMSs!
Be Warned: I once set my sms limit to 99 and Start Time to 4 AM and End Time to 3:30 AM.
That Day I recieved every News from the TimesOfindia Channel and had more GK about that day than Competition Success Review!
You have just now been informed about the Awesomeness of Google SMS Channels…
India is always fast in picking up various trends from the International markets. Whether it be clothing, fashion or foreign policy. Thus how is it possible that India not pick up international faults and repeat them in its own style? Well, I’m not just talking about the cost fluctuations due to Oil Prices and the whims of the Oil Sheikhs and those of the Federal Bank of the US. I’m talking about taking the biggest blunder of the century being adapted to the Indian scenario. We all know what the sub prime crisis has done to the United States, the world’s biggest economy is now at the brink of a recession best remembered way back between the World Wars… And its not even War right now, it least not for a majority of the world (I hate to say this, but I’m wrong, it IS war for most part of the world). But India is Unique in that unknowingly it is having a sub prime crisis too. No, not food grains, Cellular connections. India is currently one of the largest growing cellular markets and in order to woo the populace, the many cell operators in India Introduced very early various schemes for which the ICM (Indian Common Man) fell hook, line and sinker. But these amazing schemes have a draw back. Lifetime prepaid is a dream well dreamt, but most people are not staying with it at all. Thousands of free smses per month are a boon for the college student, but the companies providing these facilities are now facing the heat of not just TRAI but also the fact that they have to earn money in order to buy more spectrum in the coming years. So companies like Hutch (now Vadophone) and Spice have done a volte-face and upped their prices. MTNL and BSNL still hang on to the Great Dream but they too will soon realise that the government is not interesting in funding their whims and fancies.
Worse of all is the fact that the govt will be introducing Number Portability as early as 2009 in many circles. This will give undue power to the consumer in threatening the Cellular Operator into giving away freebies or loosing vital subscriber database which already has their favourite phone number. This will lead the companies to join hands under the Aegis of TRAI and set the minimum standards for call and sms rates. This will also lead to a uniformity not achievable as yet as each operator tries to use some loophole to their benefit.
For Example- TRAI told all operators to start charging rupee 1 per sms on goverment denoted holidays or festivals. This was a bane for prepaid consumers who had to develop strange habits of being overpunctual in wishing their relatives a day before the festival in order to save precious talktime. But odd it is when you still recieve many smses on the good day too! These are from PostPaid consumers who, amazingly have been granted the boon of being exempted of such silly reforms.
May God only Intervene in the Crisis now ravaging the minds of the mobile happy ICM.