Wednesday, January 30, 2013

After footwear, Flipkart planning to power up with health supplements


After footwear, Flipkart planning to power up with health supplements

India’s e-commerce major Flipkart.com is planning to expand its product portfolio further and may soon add a health supplements category, sources close to the development told Techcircle.in. The new category may come up by July this year, but the company has not decided yet whether it will hold an inventory for the same or source the products according to market demand.
Flipkart had earlier registered two new entities in India, one of them being Flipkart Marketplace Pvt Ltd. Following the move, rumours were rife that the company would be shifting its inventory-led business to that of a marketplace model.
We got in touch with Flipkart for confirmation regarding the upcoming category, but the company declined to comment and stated, “We do not comment on speculations. As a fast-growing company, we are constantly evaluating opportunities and working on a number of initiatives simultaneously.”
Key players who are already offering health supplements include Healthkart.com, Mynutramart.com, Madeinhealth.com, Mynutrishop.co.in and Nutrishopindia.com, among others.
When Flipkart added several product categories including pens and stationery, home appliances and perfumes in April last year, we asked Ravi Vora (VP, marketing, at Flipkart) about the company’s expansion plans. At that time, he said, “Currently, we offer products across 12 categories. Going forward, we will continue to expand the range of products available on Flipkart. Everything except groceries and automobiles are fair game for us.”
And that is exactly what it has been doing for some time now. Take a look at how it added new product verticals/categories throughout 2012.
Feb: Flipkart launches its online digital music store called Flyte (one of the first e-com players to do so) and claims it is India’s largest legal online music store.
April: Expands into pens and stationery, home appliances and perfumes.
May: Expands its lifestyle-related product verticals by introducing health and beauty, watches, belts, bags and luggage categories.
June: Adds a toy section to its product portfolio.
July 19: Starts offering baby care products.
July 25: Forays into private label for digital accessories such as laptop bags and camera pouches, under the brand Digiflip.
October 4: Enters apparels segment.
October 20: Adds sports & fitness products.
October 29: Adds a section for footwear.
Flipkart had completed its fourth round of funding in August last year, raising an undisclosed amount from two new investors, MIH (part of the Naspers Group) and ICONIQ Capital, besides participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Accel Partners.
So what could be the next product/category on the cards? Also, will Flipkart pivot completely to a marketplace model or is it likely to integrate the marketplace with the existing site? Share your comments below.

9: Flipkart: Virtual Cart


9: Flipkart: Virtual Cart

At No 9 in our “10 Brands that got marketing right in 2012″ list is Flipkart.com
Although the internet has become a household buzzword, online shopping is still looked upon with distrust. But, Flipkart turned this around with just a couple of ads. The first edition of the ‘No Kidding, No Worries’ campaign managed to entrench Flipkart in the traditional shopper’s psyche as reliable by addressing the 3 basic apprehensions of online shoppers – return and replacement of goods, product warranty, and convenient payment options, while adding free home delivery to the irresistible package. Using kids in the commercials effectively managed to convey the message of implicit trust and belief that the brand inspired along with the ease of shopping online.
For close to 4 years after they began operations, the e-commerce player mainly depended on SEO, viral marketing, and Google’s AdWords. The brand has also successfully leveraged social media to connect as well as actively engage with potential and existing customers since 2009.
flipkart
In March 2011, Flipkart came out with their first TV commercial ‘The Fairytale’ where they highlighted their offering of 10 million titles. The aim was to showcase the breadth of choice available as well as the convenience of online shopping. However, it was the second campaign – ‘No Kidding, No Worries’ – that catapulted them into the limelight. It showcased them as the ‘Online Megastore’, with a rapidly expanding product offering, rather than merely an online book retailer. The third campaign came out in August this year with three films (Mr Forgetful, Mr Impatient, and Mr Twitterati) drawn from real life experiences of Flipkart’s customers. The tagline read ‘Don’t shop, Flipkart it’, positioning the site as the one-stop destination for quick and convenient shopping. Six other commercials showcasing new categories on the site were also released around the same time. They have also just come out with a Twitter handle – @flipkartsupport – that will exclusively provide customer care on a real-time basis. They also have regular contests such as the ‘Six Degrees of Connection’ and announce offers and new arrivals first on social media.
Earlier this year, Flipkart made its foray into the digital content space with music store Flyte. In November, Flyte began offering e-books for mobile devices. The Flyte e-book app is presently available for Android devices with another for Windows to follow soon.
Kartik Iyer, CEO, Happy Creative Services
Kartik Iyer, CEO, Happy Creative Services
“The core of Flipkart’s success came from the need to create service benefits to appease the untrusting Indian psyche against e-commerce. The fact that it was needed itself was a marketing discovery. Then of course, the understanding committed effort to communicate the same creatively and charmingly was icing on the cake.”

Shopping: Sony top search; Flipkart rising


Shopping: Sony top search; Flipkart rising

google-trendsSony may not have had great product launches in the last 12 months, yet on Google trends in India, the brand features as a top search brand for ‘shopping’ on Google Trends. Meanwhile, Flipkart is the brand to look forward to, which is rising on Google Search as a ‘shopping’ category and has seen a 250 per cent rise over the previous period.
If 100 is considered as the peak search volume, and Sony comes at 100, Sony is followed by two other consumer electronics brands – Nokia and Samsung at 90 and 85 respectively. ‘Online shopping’ as a search term comes close behind Samsung at 70 and is a notification of a trend that more and more people are getting comfortable shopping online. And Flipkart, the pioneer in e-commerce in India, which tops the ‘rising list’ with 250 per cent increase, just reiterates the point. Online shopping, and Online shopping sites, as search terms have seen a 150 per cent and 130 per cent rise respectively. Meanwhile, homeshop18 has seen a 90 per cent rise. Samsung Galaxy is another brand that has seen a 50 per cent rise.
So what is India searching for? Shoes and cameras, which are at 60 and 50 respectively on a peak volume base and behind ‘online shopping’ as a search term.
SHOPPING TRENDS
trends-shopping
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS TRENDS
trends-consumer-electronics
Sony also tops the list, if filtered down to ‘consumer electronics’ with 100 as a peak search volume. Samsung, Nikon, and Canon are far behind at 55, 40 and 30. In between, are non-branded search terms like camera and mp4. In the rising list in the ‘consumer electronics’ category, if Asha 305 is a breakout, Lumia 710 has seen an increase of 850 per cent. Meanwhile, there is a rising interest in Samsung LED TVs too, which has seen a rise of 70 per cent.

What BlackBerry 10 must do to succeed


What BlackBerry 10 must do to succeed

BlackBerry 10 is coming later today. If RIM's new operating system succeeds, it'll be the biggest comeback story mobile tech has ever seen. BlackBerry was once a mighty name, but it has crumbled in the US and elsewhere. RIM’s OS has slumped to just a 6.4 per cent market share in the UK (according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech), and a pitiful 1.1 per cent in the States.
No other first-generation smartphone leader has been able to pull off this kind of rebirth. Palm and Symbian are dead and Microsoft is struggling. But RIM has a chance to carve out its own market with the launch of BlackBerry 10. In descending order of importance, here are the six things I think RIM needs to pull off a successful comeback.

1. Why?

BlackBerry 10 can't just be good: It needs to explain why people should buy it rather than the safer, more dominant Android and Apple operating systems. What's so different and compelling about BlackBerry 10 that you're willing to give up having the same phone as your family and friends? If the OS is too strange, it'll scare people, but if it isn't different enough, buyers may decide that they can get a similar experience from bigger players.

2. The top 100 iOS apps, every month

RIM has been doing a good job of nurturing small developers with its BlackBerry Jam events, but small, exclusive apps aren't why people buy a new platform. BlackBerry OS needs to have the top iOS apps that are most talked about, and it needs to have them every month. That means securing the full cooperation of a limited group of big-time developers.
As Windows Phone has found, people don't want "Where's My Hydrogen Oxide," even if the gameplay is the same as "Where's My Water." They want the brand-name app their friends have, and they don't want to feel like they're giving anything up.

3. Nearly immediate availability

RIM will have a lot of buzz in the next few weeks. It needs to capitalise on that with phones in the stores, immediately, on as many carriers as possible. The company has waited a very long time to introduce BlackBerry 10, and hopefully it waited until the right carrier deals are in place. RIM doesn't want to be HP/Palm or Motorola, both of which bled away a lot of goodwill with very long delays between device announcements and availability.

4. A wicked portrait QWERTY

The number one thing existing BlackBerry owners ask me about the new phones is: "How's the keyboard?" When they hear that the Z10 is supposed to have no hardware keyboard, they're baffled. RIM needs to make sure that a physical keyboard toting device – the X10 model we’ve been hearing about – is out there right away alongside the Z10. While hardware keyboard lovers are a niche market, they're very over-represented among the kinds of messaging-focused multi-taskers that RIM is targeting. The most beloved BlackBerry hasn't been the Storm; it's the Bolds and Curves that people are still hanging on to.

5. On-going carrier promotion

Windows Phone 7 suffered from a burst of promotion at launch time, followed by steadily flagging carrier and developer interest. RIM needs to get all the major networks on board, and it must ensure all of those carriers maintain their focus beyond the first few months. RIM needs the carriers to still be promoting BlackBerry 10 when the iPhone 6 comes out. The first year of a new OS is like pushing a heavy rock up a hill: If you stop pushing at any point, it'll start rolling back down.

6. CEO-friendliness

Give free BlackBerry X10s (or whatever the QWERTY model will be called) to the CEOs of major enterprises, with VIP tech support. BlackBerry has been losing ground in the enterprise to phones seen as sexier, more fun, and easier to use. RIM needs to reclaim business not just by selling BlackBerrys on their manageability, but making it clear that this is the phone you use to get things done. The BlackBerry Bold hit its height in 2009 because it made the iPhone look like a toy. The next BlackBerry should do the same. For more on BlackBerry regaining its standing with the enterprise world.

RIM: BlackBerry 10 Launch to Be 'Most Comprehensive in Mobile History'


RIM: BlackBerry 10 Launch to Be 'Most Comprehensive in Mobile History'

PHOTO: RIM's forthcoming BlackBerry 10 software will include a new homescreen and notifications.

New BlackBerrys Are Ready, But RIM Seeks Carriers, Apps


New BlackBerrys Are Ready, But RIM Seeks Carriers, Apps

Research In Motion Ltd. RIM.T -3.44% has finally produced the phones. Now, the BlackBerry maker is relying in large part on outsiders to get them into the hands of consumers.
After several delays and 18 months without a new smartphone, RIM plans to unveil two new BlackBerrys on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to regain ground lost toApple Inc. AAPL +1.88% and Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +1.42% The support it gets from wireless carriers and software developers will help determine whether they catch on.
The problem for RIM is that its much-diminished market share has eroded its leverage with both of those groups. Carriers looking for a counterweight to the iPhone and devices running Google Inc.'s GOOG +0.39% Android system have lined up to distribute the new BlackBerrys. But they are also locked in negotiations to lower the fees they pay RIM to use its software and computer network.
And while RIM has convinced developers to adapt some 70,000 apps for its new models, it has had to fill some big gaps—like an app for Facebook FB -5.17% —by building its own versions.
The result is RIM faces some deep disadvantages as it goes up against the market's leaders.
Rameet Chawla, founder of Fueled, a New York company that develops apps for companies such as Hallmark and Porsche, said that around six to nine months ago it stopped getting requests from clients to develop apps for the BlackBerry platform.
The strengthening duopoly of Apple and Android, he said, "is further crowding out all of the other options."
RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins is to take the stage in New York on Wednesday to launch the phones and show off features the company hopes will resonate with consumers. The company is staging simultaneous events in Toronto, London, Dubai and Johannesburg, among other cities.
RIM's market share has eroded substantially since it last released a new phone in August 2011. Apple and Android accounted for an estimated 87.1% of global smartphone shipments in 2012, up from about 68.1% in 2011, according to research firm IDC. RIM's share, meanwhile, fell to 4.7% last year from 10.3% in 2011, according to IDC.
Carriers don't like the idea of a duopoly and are hoping that RIM or another operating system can mount a strong challenge. In an interview last week, AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said the BlackBerry "has had a good tradition to it, and we're hoping it will be successful."
RIM wants carriers to order as many phones as possible and heavily promote them in stores. But carriers want to cut back the service fees they pay RIM and are using the BlackBerry launch as leverage, people familiar with the matter said.
Wireless carriers pass through about $7 to $10 a month per corporate customer to RIM for use of its software and computer network that securely transmits email,Macquarie Capital MQG.AU +0.71% analyst Kevin Smithen estimates. For retail BlackBerry customers, carriers pay about $2 a month, Mr. Smithen estimates.
"Carriers are saying if you want us to order more devices, you have to give us a break on these service fees," said Mr. Smithen. "There is some horse trading going on."
RIM wouldn't comment on the discussions, but said in its most recent filing that it "anticipates further declines in its service revenue in the coming quarters, which could be significant."
The service fees will account for about 37% of RIM's estimated $11.3 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ending in February, according to Macquarie.
Macquarie estimates that RIM service and software revenues will fall about 14% in the next fiscal year to about $3.6 billion. The uncertainty around service fee revenue, which has provided a stable source of cash flow, could also complicate RIM's ability to sell some or all itself, analysts said.
Applications are also another area of uncertainty. Because the new BlackBerrys run on a new operating system, the applications that worked on older BlackBerrys won't work. RIM executives acknowledge the company can't afford to fall behind on apps and have been crisscrossing the globe over the past several months trying to convince application developers to support the new operating system, called BlackBerry 10.
They've also been helping developers modify apps built for the Android operating system so they can be used on BlackBerrys.
Last September, RIM said top applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare will be available for its new phones. But it is unclear whether other popular offerings such as Netflix, Instagram and Skype will be available among the 70,000 apps it has lined up.
That's a lot of apps, but it is well behind the 800,000 available in Apple's App Store. And for many companies, there is little incentive to spend the money or manpower building and maintaining apps for an as-yet unproven platform.
Facebook Inc. opted not to build its own app for BlackBerry, so RIM is handling it itself with help from the social networking giant. "We worked closely with RIM so that Facebook BlackBerry 10 users will have a good Facebook experience," Facebook spokesman Jonny Thaw said.

T20: India maintains No. 3 spot in ICC rankings


T20: India maintains No. 3 spot in ICC rankings

No. 3: Indian cricketers celebrate their win over Pakistan in the second India Pakistan T20 in Ahmedabad in this Dec. 28, 2012 picture
No. 3: Indian cricketers celebrate their win over Pakistan in the second India Pakistan T20 in Ahmedabad in this Dec. 28, 2012 picture
Virat Kohli has slipped to sixth position. Ashwin is ranked 16.
India managed to retains its number three position among T20 teams, while Virat Kohli has slipped a position to sixth in the ICC rankings for Twenty20 batsmen issued on Tuesday.
India is placed at third with 119 points in the team rankings, which was being led by reigning T20 champions Sri Lanka followed by the West Indies.
Sri Lanka, with 131 points, has further consolidated its number one position following its 2-0 series win over hosts Australia, which is placed seventh in the chart.
Meanwhile, star India batsman Kohli has dropped a rung to the sixth spot in the T20 batsmen list with 731 points. Suresh Raina also slipped a position to the ninth place.
Other Indians in the top-20 list includes Yuvraj Singh (13) and opener Gautam Gambhir at the 17 position.
New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum leads the T20 batting chart with 794 points, followed by destructive West Indian opener Chris Gayle (792), Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene (768) and Australia’s Shane Watson (767).
In the T20 bowlers category, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashiwin, ranked 16, is the only Indian to have found out a place in the top-20 list.
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal leads the bowlers’ table with 756 points followed by Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka (731) and England’s Graeme Swann (720).

BlackBerry 10 gets Indian touch

BlackBerry 10 gets Indian touch
BlackBerry 10 gets Indian touch
BlackBerry is adding a dash of spice to attract younger users.
KOCHI: BlackBerry, whose smartphones have for long been used by the professional class, is adding a dash of spice to attract younger users. Its latest phones will feature applications developed by 57 companies housed within Kochi's Startup Village, an incubation centre backed by the Kerala government. 

Students employed by these companies have developed nearly 150 apps on the BlackBerry platform, ranging from algorithms for guessing your mood to those that help start and accelerate a car. 

These apps reflect an image makeover for the device maker, Research in Motion (RIM) - the maker of BlackBerry phones - which is trying to eat into the market share of larger rivals Apple and Samsung. BlackBerry was until recently offering users about 1,05,000 apps, compared with 7,00,000 for Android phones and 7,75,000 for Apple. 

To bridge this gap, RIM turned to sourcing innovation from new locations and chose Kerala as its first destination in Asia-Pacific last year. 

"We found the Kerala Start-up Village to be excellent in garnering college support, and providing land, legal and financial assistance to student entrepreneurs," said Annie Mathew, director alliances and business development at RIM India

RIM provides free toolkits, BB 10 devices and developer support to students developing apps. Nearly a tenth of the 4,00,000 developers working on the BlackBerry platform now are from India. 

Industry experts believe that by creating a robust app ecosystem RIM expects to shore up its declining share in the global smartphone market which fell to 5% last year from 10% in 2010. 

"The reason RIM lost the race to Apple and Samsung was because it had no exciting hardware or platform for developers," said Kunal Bajaj, director at mobile venture One97 Communications and a BlackBerry user. "With BB 10, RIM aims to get some of that buzz back." 

RIM will also pay developers $10,000 (Rs 5.4 lakh) for every app successfully ported on the BB 10 platform. The company expects to have 70,000 apps globally with its new BB 10 devices being launched this week. 

Arjun R Pillai, 24, who quit Infosys last year to team up with his college mates and launch Profoundis, has developed about 12 apps for the BlackBerry platform. 

His company's apps 'Sense' and 'Emotion' use search algorithms to analyse the mood of a blog or predict whether a movie can be a hit or flop. His other apps 'Yoga' and 'Cook Book' are also being ported to the new platform. 

"The only challenge behind developing an app for BlackBerry was that the exposure was low compared to an Android. Hopefully, it will get resolved now," says Pillai. Mathew of RIM believes having fewer apps on BlackBerry World in contrast to rival platforms, is not a disadvantage. "We just focus on the quality of apps, never the quantity. After all, how many poker games do you need?" 

BlackBerry 10 launch: Research In Motion's day of reckoning

BlackBerry 10 launch: Research In Motion's day of reckoning

New York: The innovative line of BlackBerry smartphones that Research In Motion Ltd will formally unveil on Wednesday has already succeeded on one crucial count - getting RIM back in the conversation.
The new BlackBerry 10 has created a buzz among technology watchers and financial analysts, thanks to nifty features that may set it apart in an overcrowded smartphone market. RIM stock has almost tripled over the past four months on hopes the devices can restore RIM to sustained prosperity.
Reviewers like the browser speed and the intuitive keyboard on RIM's new touchscreen. A feature called BlackBerry Balance, which keeps corporate and personal data separate, could help RIM rebuild its traditional base of big business customers.BlackBerry 10 launch: Research In Motion's day of reckoning
It's a welcome start for RIM, the smartphone pioneer that has teetered on the brink of irrelevance. But success will come only if consumer and business customers embrace the new technology in the weeks and months after CEO Thorsten Heins takes the wraps off the phone at a glitzy New York launch.
RIM is gambling its survival on the much-delayed BlackBerry 10, hoping to claw its way back into an industry now dominated by Apple's iPhone and Samsung Electronics's Galaxy.
The timing may be just right. The new phone hits the market just as the iPhone's remarkable run is showing some signs of slowing.
"I really do believe that the consumer market as a whole is ready for something new," said Kevin Burden, head of mobility at Strategy Analytics, an industry consulting firm.
"I have to believe that there is some level of user fatigue that plays into the longevity of some of these platforms," he added, referring to Google Inc's Android and Apple's iOS, which are both more than five years old. "RIM is probably timing it right."
US battleground
To be sure, RIM shares are about 90 per cent below a 2008 peak near $150 a share and the company still has a tough fight ahead. It may take investors some time to determine whether RIM's big gamble on an untested technology has paid off.
RIM's market share collapsed in the three years ahead of the launch. Strategy Analytics data shows RIM's global share of the smartphone market was about 3.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, down from around 20 per cent just three years ago.
While RIM has done well in developing markets, it has hemorrhaged customers in the United States, a market that sets technology trends. RIM's fourth-quarter North American market share fell to 2 per cent from more than 40 per cent three years ago.
Acknowledging that it is crucial to win back US customers, RIM will hold its main BlackBerry 10 launch in New York, although there are simultaneous events in six cities across the globe.
Underscoring the point, RIM is splurging on a costly Super Bowl ad to tout its new devices and attempt to brighten its faded image in the US market.
Big questions
Over 150 carriers already have tested the new devices and RIM has said the launch will be the largest ever global rollout of a new platform.
The two big questions the market expects RIM to answer on Wednesday are when the phones - a full touch-screen device and one with a traditional physical keyboard - will hit store shelves, and how much they will cost.
The company is expected to unveil specifics on pricing and availability in different regions at the launch.
"The Street is expecting mid-February for a launch. Anything earlier than that is a positive, anything later will be viewed as negative," said RBC Dominion Securities analyst Paul Treiber.
That said, there are few mysteries to be cleared up on Wednesday. Leaked photos and specifications of the devices have been splashed across the tech world.
"We've had the beta devices for a few weeks and in terms of the devices, they are right up there with the competition," said Andy Ambrozic, head of IT Infrastructure at Ricoh Canada. "The Balance feature is crucial for corporations that are becoming increasingly concerned about data security."
Scotiabank analyst Gus Papageorgiou feels RIM has a good chance of a comeback. He says the new BB10 operating system outpaces Apple's iOS platform and Google's market-leading Android system in every category except app selection and content.
"There is, we believe, huge potential for the platform and devices to bring people back to BlackBerry or draw entirely new users into the platform," said Papageorgiou, who has a "sector outperform" rating on the stock.
BlackBerry 10 will not be able to compete on the number of apps, but RIM says its operating system will have the largest application library for any new platform at launch, with more than 70,000 apps available.
It has already gathered big-name music and video partners for its BlackBerry 10 storefront, including Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, Universal Music and Warner Music Group.
Wireless carriers already report strong demand for the new devices. Rogers Communications, Canada's top wireless carrier and the first globally to take pre-orders for the new devices, said orders are already in the thousands.
"Our customers are excited," said John Boynton, Rogers' head of marketing, adding that some users are holding off on upgrades in anticipation of the BB10 launch.