I have been actively following tech press since 2012. Noticeably every time there was a new announcement from Apple, some video or a blog would pop-up that purportedly unearthed shortcomings of that product. Latest has been about the issue of iPhone 6+ bending after applying concentrated pressure. I think this is one of the stupidest controversy, largely popularised by sites such as MacRumors, CNET, the great Boy Genius Report, YouTube, etc. News aggregator Apple Spotlight did a great job of putting together a brief history and called it iPhonegate, specifically talking about iPhone issues. But I totally fail to understand why CNET or BGR could not make a featured story out of the following articles and keep that on for a week at the top of the webpage!
- Consumer Reports test results find iPhone 6 and 6 Plus not as bendy as believed
- New iPhones Come Up Big in SquareTrade Breakability Tests
- Apple set gold standard for smartphone image quality
- iPhone 6 plus camera review: Iceland
- Comparing the InvenSense and Bosch Accelerometers Found in the iPhone 6
Of course I would not bother to question their journalism but clearly I can see it is so easy to attract more viewers with a negative propaganda. It was not long ago that CNET found itself in a bit of a mess, and later on renowned Apple follower Daniel Eran Dilger put together an extensive story about how Apple gets bad press so often. Why would not CNET or BGR publish a featured story on Surface Pro 3 issues, the MacBook Air killer (in its previous role it was an iPad killer)?
In 2013, Apple came up with a unique polycarbonate material for iPhone 5c and a few people called that a cheap plastic. Later on, Apple was bold enough to come up with a public document for environment report of iPhone 5c. Every year Apple sells 100s of millions of iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apparently others do so as well! How about a report on environment footprint white paper like this from Samsung, LG, HTC, BlackBerry, Sony, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Microsoft and Huawei? As much as I would like all Apple products to be durable, I would also like them to recyclable and cause lesser harm to environment. Apple bothers to spend time and resources for device recyclability as we know e-waste is a huge issue.
In 2014, consumers want a thinner and lighter smartphone which is also a bit larger. Should Apple have come up with a 12mm thick smartphone, which weighs 250grams? How many of the tech press guys would want to use that? Or for that matter, which company wants to produce a brick like smartphone? Apple is a market leader in polished, high value products and those products are expected to be used in a certain way. Why would someone want to use a 6.22″ smartphone just the exact same way he/she used Sony Ericsson W700i? This year’s iPhones are bigger than ever before, and they are expected to be used differently than, say an iPhone 4s. Apple does carryout robust testing for their products and they were bold enough to show those secretive test labs. I would like to know how many of the Android OEMs can afford custom built test labs for each of their devices.
"At 275,000 employees, Samsung (just Samsung Electronics) is the size of five Googles! This explains Samsung's machine-gun-style device output; the company has released around 46 smartphones and 27 tablets just in 2014" via Arstechnica
Samsung for its part at least has a muscle power to take a jibe at Apple. But HTC and BlackBerry? They should get their Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss account in right order so that stakeholders (share holders, consumers and employees) get rewarded well enough; and then try to teach people how bad are Apple products. I feel sorry for the whole saga but these two statements sum up the story:
People really love to hate Apple. It should be considered a disorder at this point. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert) About one-fifth of the people are against everything all the time. ~ Robert F. Kennedy
iPhone 6 Plus vs. BMW Car – Durability Test
Ever since the leaks and rumours started coming in from various sources for this year’s iPhone, it was clear that Apple will not hold on to 4″ display devices. Last year Apple trashed the tradition of announcing only one device per year, in the form of iPhone 5s and 5c (albeit internals were same as previous year’s iPhone 5). Lots of questions asked were over the last 12 months about the saturation of top-end smartphone market. This year Apple did something new – in line with rumours and leaks – two new sizes of iPhone with identical internals. The two models are only differentiated by pixel density, battery life and optical image stabilisation in camera. Instead going downhill with pricing Apple launched larger version with a highest ever starting price for an iPhone, appropriately called it iPhone 6 Plus. There was an Average Selling Price obsessed decision too. 16GB version lived on and for every $100 increment, 64GB and 128GB variants were available. No one hates top two variants but 16GB is too suffocating for 2014-15 usage.
Let us face it, world has evolved in seven years since the first iPhone introduction. Lots of smartphone manufacturers have come in at various price points and configurations in the market. Even though Apple launched devices at two sizes in first six years – people have gotten use to larger sizes and they learnt how to operate. Last year, in iOS design overhaul Jony Ive said, people have gotten used to touch glass and interact, hence skeuomorphism was no longer needed. Similarly, larger screens offer new possibilities in user experience and hence Apple has decided to barge in at the right time. Should we call Apple playing catch-up with device screen size? Say yes and no depending on your emotions. I would thank all those large size Android/Windows phones for helping Apple to decide the design – and as customer I am even more happy to better iPhone.
Even though we are still awaiting AnandTech review for hardware specific understanding, the new iPhones appear to be the best smartphones in the market today. People who know about Apple products usually have an opinion that, Apple does not care for specs but it only cares for user experience. But I feel they do care for both and call it a product that is greater than sum of its parts. iPhone 5s running iOS8 is still better than many other smartphones in the market, including Samsung Galaxy S5. How are they achieving this? They take time to craft the product. How many iPhones in the works right now? There could be 100s but how many final models are going to pushed to the market in a year? Earlier it was only one, and now two. If we look at this year’s iPhone models, we realise that it is only one new product packaged in different screen sizes. Tim Cook said a few times a in last couple of years that, Apple wanted to do the best product that can deliver highest user experience satisfaction and display size or price was not the starting point. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus deliver distinctive user experience for the different sizes they come in. iPhone 6 Plus is a 1920*1080 device packing 401 ppi density, while the higher contrast ratio (1400:1) on iPhone 6 makes up for lower 326 ppi density. What more? iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilisation which looks nearly impossible on a 4.7″ model which happens to be 6.9 millimetre thin.
Regarding protruding camera lens:
Apple had three choices.
- Use a camera with worse optics that would not do the job
- Make the entire device thicker in accordance with the camera lens
- Allow the camera lens to protrude from the back of the camera
and they made the last one, cannot complain until we see engineering advancement to make thinner 5 lens element camera. Surely nothing to complain as long as the device works as well as this. iPhone camera is no longer the hobbyists’ camera, it has become a pro tool!
Apple Pay and NFC
Apple tries to solve the problem, and hence they innovate. But we need to remind ourselves with a few definitions here.
- Novelty: Something new
- Creation: Something new and valuable
- Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
- Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful
NFC has been around for a decade solving no one’s problems. Apple introduced NFC Chip in iPhone 6 and for now will only work for Pay. It is not a brand new technology but Apple made the best use of it, just as they did with Bluetooth LE based iBeacons last year. Any successful business is about partnerships and that helps technology to reach the right end-user. Pay is expected to start in the United States by October 2014 with Apple website reading, “Apple Pay lets you use iPhone 6 to pay at over 220,000 locations accepting contactless payments and within participating apps. And there are even more stores and apps to come.” Pay helps to avoid credit card fraud, makes the device even more personal and valuable, and guess what – banks are busy marketing for Apple! Last year, after iPhone 5s release, tech press said, Touch ID is gimmicky and 64Bit Hardware and iOS were useless with 1GB RAM on board. This year, by the time Pay was getting introduced, Touch ID and 64Bit technology on iPhones were second generation and people loved the new secured way of unlocking the iPhone. 64Bit OS and Hardware sync well, Apple is 12 months into the whole new way encryption and decryption technology! Again, making hardware and software work well is not an easy job, any doubts ask Microsoft. Apple Pay easily qualifies for an innovation.
OpenGL has been a standard for a long time in computer graphics, but Apple decided to design its own language for that though Metal. For starters, Apps developed by using Metal are getting a banner in iOS8, and along with Swift, Apple scores one more point in vertical integration! Motion coprocessor was introduced last year and this year chip is even better with its capability to measure distance and elevation. Of course, new generation sensors are likely to make user experience even better. A few of the lesser spoken-out but very important ones get the nod in this year’s iPhones – FaceTime video call technology enhancements, Voice over LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi, etc.
Before iPhone introduction in 2007, Apple was an underdog and they took time out for ‘I am a Mac vs I am a PC’. These days, they do not get into negative marketing simply because they know it takes hard work to reach leadership level in consumer technology business, and it takes even harder to retain that position. I am wrote this during the first weekend sales, and hence no data for the launch weekend, while people seem to be really happy to get their hands on the new iPhones. Let us wait till the high-end smartphone market saturates!
Apple Pay Makes a lot of sense, especially in scenarios like this:
Compare the above with Pay
Samsung unveiled a series of devices over the past few weeks, from Samsung Galaxy Alpha to Galaxy Gear S to VR Headset. Even though they took a really long time to launch a really premium looking smartphone, at last they did with Galaxy Alpha. I have been following tech press very actively for last couple of years. Most often Samsung got a widely positive publicity and Apple had to face the negative music. iPhone 5 camera issues, the infamous iOS Mapsgate, 64-bit OS and hardware dubbed marketing gimmick, insecure/inconsistent Touch ID and so on. However, suddenly I see the trend changing a bit. Huge buzz on internet about upcoming Apple special event on 9 September 2014 and tech press almost forgot that Samsung launched a few of the most advanced devices in their offering. In addition, Sony unveiled a few very good smartphones as well, but I do not see too many hands on reviews and first impression reports in the wild. I mean, by now, as per last year standards quite a few would have claimed Apple would be doomed with their next-gen iPhone.
Nope not this time! I speak to lots of people around and they seek my opinion on which smartphone to buy. Most often people say, iPhone is great but too expensive while they hate Samsung! Why? Just like Tim Cook said at WWDC, they bought a Samsung phone by mistake and now do not want to buy again! Motorola and Xiaomi are creating lots of hype and selling well too.It is all hatred against Samsung and Sony. Samsung’s business relied on marketing budget instead of putting together a really stable OS. Android was technically less matured until Jelly Bean version and it was prone to device lags and OS hangs. Now that KitKat is around and TouchWiz got a bit of clean up – Samsung devices getting a bit better. Instead they made a couple of ordinary choices – competing on low price segment with which small problems triggered brand loyalty issues; and instead of understanding the issues with Android and putting lesser gimmicks they chose to include features that too many people did not use/like. Even though I personally never liked Samsung, they offer a better touch experience than many competing brands.
Press loves negative and that is what sells in their business. Galaxy Note Edge is definitely a great thing to take technology to next level. But it is a limited edition device and press coverage should be higher for Samsung to gain innovator’s tag. Samsung did not help itself when they launched sixth smart watch in 12 months, so what about customers who bought other smartwatches? Who cares, let them spend and forget – Samsung will be squeezed from everywhere – Xiaomi, Lenovo, Motorola and LG in Android space itself. Apple’s special event is getting a lot of press attention, if they live up anyway close to the buzz (which they have done so, historically), Samsung may have another couple of rough quarterly figures to report. Remember those recent wall huggers ad? Hatred based loyalty may not last long! Cannot wait to see 09.09.2014 Apple special event live stream from Flint Centre.
Often I find it difficult to explain why reading should be done through e-books and PDFs are not supposed to be considered as books. However, when I tried to explain, people showed no patience to understand. There is an old saying, ‘while in conversation, most people are way too keen to hear the other person only to react and not to comprehend”. Therefore I will try to explain why PDF is not a recommended choice for avid reading. Before I start, here is the declaration: I still like physical, hard copy books and hence in digital world I need those functionalities and any additions for better.
What is PDF (Portable Document Format)? A simple Google search gives this answer “a file format for capturing and sending electronic documents in exactly the intended format”. One more definition, from derived straight from Wikipedia, “Portable Document Format is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, graphics, and other information needed to display it.” Both definitions give similar functionality assessment – the format is expected to behave constantly irrespective of hardware and software. So the very objective of PDF is to retain its original format, and make sure only that is retained as far as possible, independent of devices. We have numerous screen sizes and various applications that can support PDF view. All the time it shows up the same way, except for zoom in and out, while accommodating a bit of annotation. Is that sufficient for reading? Probably yes for a few but never for me!
Let us look at couple of prominent e-book formats that are freely available on the market. One is Amzon’s Kindle which supports proprietary .mobi format, while other readers, including Apple’s iBooks application, support .epub format. Because hardcopy books preceded digital books in terms of human invention – we tend to compare everything with what we previously experienced. So we need to make short notes, highlight, underline, bookmark and so on. If we want to migrate away from hardcopy to soft copy, we should be able to retain such features and should be able add a few more. Therefore, any software (or combination of applications) that lacks such functionalities should not be called ‘book’ (rather e-book). I consider the software that can support .mobi and .epub formats – Kindle and iBooks (there are other apps which can support e-books too). File organisation has not been a problem either on PDFs or e-books. However once we open an e-book, we can browse through index pages and based on selection of the topic. The reader can reach to desired page, and topic in a single click using index page. This very function is not possible in most PDFs. Even if the index pages have links to topic title page, coming back is not one click. And this navigation becomes painful in touch devices, because of unavailability of mouse cursor/pointer based navigation.
We would like to make short notes while we read, and it often happens on hardbound books. Same can be done on PDFs through annotation capabilities of various apps. However, e-books can show all the notes in one place, and a single tap/click can take the user right on to the page where notes were written. Highlights, bookmarks and underlines are quite obvious options available on e-books and they also can show up in a summary! These are the functionalities from real world, while e-books made the navigation really convenient. iBooks can change the page orientation to two pagers, single page and even the continuous run down or scrolling view. Imagine you would like to read while lying on the bed and your spouse wants to sleep and hence switch off the light. It is the best experience to read with night mode on – and I really want to know how many apps can switch amongst multiple PDF themes (of course night mode is available in Adobe Reader). Then comes change of fonts both family and size – which is at least not a designated property of PDFs. Paragraph styles, margins and line-spacing can also be adjusted for e-books but I need to know how many apps can do these functions on PDFs. Moreover, Kindle and iBooks can offer adding dictionaries, sharing right from the app, showing remaining number of pages in the chapter, going back to previous location in the book over and over, etc. Most important of all – the skeumorphic feel of page navigation, I need to see how many apps can do that on PDFs.
Is there anything that PDF handling apps do that can not be done on e-books? That could be about saving those annotations or highlight related edits and send to someone else. This also can be done on .epub or .mobi but requires a bit of advanced skills. Next option was – OK, let us convert the PDF to either of the e-book formats. Obviously, file conversions never help and the whole (converted) e-book gets messed up with pages, index all over. You may recall the definition of PDF on second paragraph of this article. If you want to read digital format – buy original e-book and select the format based on the app available on your device. PDF is not e-book.
Lots of news from technology world over the past weeks and biggest of them was about Apple and IBMpartnership, exclusively for iOS devices.It is surprising and exciting to think how this could unfold opportunities for Apple and IBM. Let us be honest, Apple has services that could compete with Citrix, then the server business, business purchase programme, and so on. But as a company, Apple has a very minimal presence in enterprise market. Steve Jobs in one of the AllThingsD conferences said, “(In the consumer market) every person votes for themselves”. “If enough of them say yes, we get to come to work in the morning.” In the enterprise, he said, not so much. The people that use the products aren’t the ones that choose which products are used, and the people that make those decisions, Jobs said, “are sometimes confused.” Apple is all about simplicity, elegance, user experience, which are all very vital for consumer market success. The famous WinTel era helped Microsoft the push Apple out of the big enterprise business. However, ever since iPad launch, Apple has dedicated fair bit of resources that can help iOS device deployment in business organisations.
iOS and Android devices have redefined the word productivity. The person who is a data driven decision maker need not deal with large chunk of data anymore. Analytics is taken care by data experts, they put that in cloud and decision are taken using interpretation that can happen on four-inch handheld device. This made PC usage for back end big data analytics and devices like iPad for front-end decision-making. Steve Jobs’ another famous quote about PCis worth mentioinig here, “…PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.” If I am a fund manager looking to analyse, I need not sit in front of a PC, put 100s of thousands of data into spreadsheet, create my own charts, make complicated pivot tables to arrive at a dashboard. Rather these all can be done over the cloud and an iOS app like IBM Cognos Mobileor Numericscan handle my meetings with external clients as well as my internal analysts. I have written about how Microsoft Excel is no longer the only way out for productivity. Everyone exulted for Microsoft Office suite on iPad but I was not. Every software has been written for solving a problem, Apple had sold 200+ millions of iPads without an option for Microsoft office.
Apple has been emphasising on productivity through iOS devices for a couple years already, and touted 98% usage of iOS devices in Fortune 500 companies. However, big enterprise businesses had already invested in technology and processes already. Apple definitely enjoys fan following in consumer market but enterprise IT wouldn’t bother for one. The deployment of iOS devices calls for change in process of workflow as well as investment of financial and human resources. Most important of all, enterprises need support from other channel partners too, and this is exactly where IBMcan come into picture. They have an established presence in large enterprise business in various segments such as big data analytics and software services. Looking at the IBM Annual Report 2013, couple of things caught my attention:
"Thanks to a proliferation of devices and the infusion of technology into all things and processes, the world is generating more than 2.5 billion gigabytes of data every day, and 80 percent of it is “unstructured”—everything from images, video and audio to social media and a blizzard of impulses from embedded sensors and distributed devices.
This is the driver of IBM’s first strategic imperative: To make markets by transforming industries and professions with data. The market for data and analytics is estimated at $187 billion by 2015. To capture this growth potential, we have built the world’s broadest and deepest capabilities in Big Data and analytics—both technology and expertise. We have invested more than $24 billion; including $17 billion of gross spend on more than 30 acquisitions. We have 15,000 consultants and 400 mathematicians. Two- thirds of IBM Research’s work is now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing. IBM has earned 4,000 analytics patents. We have an ecosystem of 6,000 industry partners and 1,000 university partnerships around the world developing new, analytics-related curricula.
An IT industry remade by cloud: At the same time that industries and professions are being remade by data, the information technology infrastructure of the world is being transformed by the emergence of cloud computing—that is, the delivery of IT and business processes as digital services. It is estimated that by 2016, more than one-fourth of the world’s applications will be available in the cloud, and 85 percent of new software is now being built for cloud.
Engagement in a world of empowered individuals: The phenomena of data and cloud are changing the arena of global business and society. At the same time, proliferating mobile technology and the spread of social business are empowering people with knowledge, enriching them through networks and changing their expectations. This leads to IBM’s third strategic imperative: To enable “systems of engagement” for enterprises…"
IBM has been touting EPS of $20 by end of 2015, and they are facing tough competition by many large (SAP, Intuit) and many small companies engaged in big data and SaaSbusiness. They need someone not only who has presence in the market but also very efficient at executing a plan. Apple has been the best vertically integrated companyby way of its product offerings. With iOS 8 they have done several things that could help deploying iPhones and iPads in enterprises. There are a few key points IT teams look at, while deploying new technology or devices: Security, OS Support, Collaboration and management.
Apple does take security very very seriously. In February this year, they showcased their commitment to security with a white paper,and for me the architecture looked awesome. On the contrary, Android continues to be targeted by sophisticated malwareattacks. Later on, in iOS 8 they doubled down on the security and I am fortunate to come across a fantastic researchby Luis Abreu, a UK based UX and UI designer. There is plenty of stuff and I felt this is what worth mentioning from his report:
"Account Privacy CloudKit does not give Apps access to the real user’s Apple ID or data from other apps, instead, CloudKit creates a Random User ID on a Per-App basis, and there’s no access to private data outside of your app’s CloudKit Drive Container.”
Then comes OS support, and Apple has done a tremendous job by accounting for future software updates. Generally a new generation device gets three further software updates, and that software up-gradation is provided without additional charges to the user. But Apple needs to invest resources for development, deployment and maintenance, which is an outlay for the company. So Apple accounting system is quite fascinating and forward thinking, they announced subscription method of accounting way back in April 2007 Q2 earning call. iOSusers have always enjoyed the latest possible OS updates,thereby latest apps when compared to any other operating systems. In comparison, Android, the major player in consumer market still suffers from fragmentation and enterprise IT may not be interested-intaking such risks.
Even though most analysts, and tech press ignored 64-bitarchitecture as a marketing gimmick, biggest advantagecame in the form of encryptionand decryption efficiencyin iOS devices (iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display). Even though Apple has not been best known for helping enterprise ITadoption, they did a remarkable yet an unnoticed job.
- Active Directory support
- Distributed File System support
- Full Disk Encryption
- Mobile Device Management
- Streamlined Enrollment
- Support for security certifications such as Common Criteria and FIPS
- Volume Purchase Program
- VPN technologies
iOS 8 and IBM partnership really showcases the workthat went on behind the scenes. Features like Find my iPhone are really understated ones, but Apple continues to advance the feature with some of the unique mechanisms.Even with so much of excitement there is a bit of scepticism from a few corners. Apple and IBM had a few less successful partnerships previously, recent one was Power PC.Unlike this time, all the time, they were competing in the market for some other businesses. IBM now needs someone with whom they can assure their clients about the quality of devices, software updates, etc. For Apple, it is a market in which company lacksdepth. Apple’s iPad business showed no positive growth for two successive quarters. Apple did not announce new product categories as of this writing but there seems to be lots of new strategic partnerships being worked out. Am I predicting the success of this partnership? No, time will tell. But ever since Tim Cook took over as CEO, the company is not a ‘rebellion, take on the world’ types. Instead they behave more matured, they open up to the public wherever possible, and Tim Cook is the guy showcasing the company values.
I have been in Bangalore for the past nine years and I wanted to revisit my life prior to that. So, that’s what this article all about. My parents left their home – a joint family of four brothers – in early 1980s in a year after I was born, to a different village, of course with same occupation – farming/agriculture. The new village we moved had no electricity, vehicle connectivity, telephones, school or any other infrastructure. The farm land was good but any crop would attract nearby wild animals, and hence life was tough. My parents did not get through primary schooling, but my dad fought hard to get a primary school in our village, while the village didn’t even have one. I never went to Kindergarten while my first three years of schooling had only three days a week since the school teacher came only during Tuesday to Friday in a week. I still remember clearly – the school teacher gifted me my first pen and notebook, when I started third standard. Until then I wrote on a small chalk-slate. I went out of my home to my parents ancestral home (the one mentioned previously) to continue my studies. That meant I was just eight years old and wasn’t staying with my parents.
There were other students who stayed in that home for schooling and we had to walk 1.5 miles to reach the school. My dad’s brothers were farmers as well, and I should say, it was a nice time of my childhood. Many kids and lots of fun. I would come back to my parents home only during vacations – for a month in October and during April-May summer. I was the topper in every class which had less than fifteen students each year. I recall the teacher there, one day, wrote my name Basker and I went to ask him to rectify the spelling to Bhaskar! This sparked a debate/gossip for a few months in the village (50 odd houses) that, ‘a student rectified a teacher’s mistake’.
I completed my primary schooling as a very good student but again, my parents had to figure out a home who’d accept my stay for going to high-school. Our village would never get anything beyond Lower Primary School because of the lack of facilities and lack of numbers. The whole village had no person who studied beyond primary school and nearly half the people did not even have any kind of formal education. During those days, many families who had better education in their villages let the nearby village students to stay at their home to go school, for, in most cases, free. By mid 1990s our village got a road that could be useful during summer and of course no other facility. If there was a medical emergency, people would carry the patient on their shoulders for five miles in hilly dense forest area to reach to the nearest state transport bus facility, and there were buses only for four times a day (to this writing the village has same infrastructure). And the bus would take 2hours to reach the town. By the time academic year was starting, my dad found a joint family of 20 families who accepted me to stay there for schooling, of course for free. In fact it was so weird as neither of the us knew each other before (introduced by a common acquaintance). The school was good, and I am in touch with a few of my friends from there even to this date. But stay was difficult for me, and I got humiliated by that family members, quite often all twenty members sitting together. I was no longer the class topper but I managed distinction in year-end exams. I asked my dad to change my staying house, and he managed to get a house of an elderly couple in a different locality and school altogether.
In the second year of my high school, I felt even more terrible with the way things went at home I stayed at and hence my dad found yet another home for my 10th class stay. With all these, I finished my high school with a distinction grade, staying at unknown places, punching above my weight all the time. Then came decision point in our family – should I continue my studies? Parents finally decided to send me to college with a condition that ‘I would come back and continue farming after college’. After all, I had already ‘studied’ and was more educated than my parents! During my college, I managed to stay in top league of students, was good at presentations and got recognised for sports commentary. Well disciplined student with distinction grade who had no intentions to get into white collar job! I stayed with my sister during college in a rented room, with just two pairs of clothes and some uniform which was compulsory. Even I recall a situation where we had no money to pay for my college in fifth semester having stood first in the class in previous semesters. I did not even have a bicycle, and whatever little I earned – like organising trade show and scholarship – used it up for the home not spending personally. I had a habit of keeping account of every penny I spent during those days – I even counted small money that was given out to beggars or coins put into temple donation boxes.
During last year of my graduation, just after sister’s marriage – my dad was diagnosed with cancerous brain tumour. I completed my graduation in 2003 and went straight back home to make a living out of farming or rather to make my dad undergo surgery. Family was in debt and the village had just got electricity but no other facility. I started leading the family – as my dad who was under constant medication suffered short term memory loss. He would simply forget anything and everything – and the family was more dependent on labourers than ever before for getting the work done. We grew various crops like Arecanut, cardamom, black pepper, paddy, sugarcane etc. along with a hobby apiculture. I learnt a lot – working in the farm land by myself, managing 15+ labourers and so on. In January 2005 my dad had a surgery for his brain tumour and to our dismay he was not getting cured.
After two full years in agriculture and managing the family – I picked up the books for MBA entrance exams and managed to score 38th rank in state level exam! So, since 2005 July, I have been in Bangalore. Life has taken lots and lots of turns! I always admire people who could change their careers and be successful… After all, I believe you have only one life, move on!
Quite often, people get appreciation for adopting latest technology and hence they’re typically called ‘early adopters’. Technological world changes rapidly and in recent years pace has been higher than ever before. Typically the products outside FMCG, attract the attention for analysis. Automobile industry does not have a luxury of consumers changing their vehicles to embrace new technology. People buy when they feel the need, not because a new vehicle has come to the market that can increase fuel efficiency by, let us say, 3%. Slight improvement in gear shifting mechanism may not attract existing car owners to upgrade. Overall, it’s the disposable income of an individual that determines desire to buy a product. On the other hand, consumer electronics, specifically the devices that are portable, have higher product turnover. People buy new mobile phones every 18-24 months, and they buy new electronics items because of the trend, perceived utility of new use cases, brand loyalty, etc.
I have said this before, ‘a person’s financial success/failure is directly proportional to the ability/inability to prioritise short term as well as long term expenditure’. I see often people who complain about their poor financial fortunes. And more often than not, they may have spent on things that weren’t necessary or shouldn’t have been the priority to spend. I never bought a cassette player or a DVD player, and they’re dead now. I do not feel having missed a bandwagon. Eating out in a restaurant once/twice per week is not advisable if your disposable income does not support purchasing an apartment. Just because Samsung has launched a new version of Galaxy smartphone does not mean that you have to buy that right away. If a perceived utility is superfluous and does not really translate to real world lifestyle enhancement, then avoid buying such products. In 2007, iPhone was launched and 1000s of other smartphone brands have come since. But do you need a smartphone? That depends on your requirement to improve your lifestyle. Unless infrastructure is right and the lifestyle needs a realistic improvement buying gadgets is not worthy.
I have been in a job since mid 2007, but never had a camera as I don’t travel to tourist places that often. If you feel the need for camera, buy a high quality smartphone. We bought a DSLR this month and that based specific pro plan and not based on a (expensive) hobby. Just because a few of your Facebook friends/acquaintances post DSLR pictures should not be a reason to buy one for yourself. I never had a washing machine and nor a maid for household work. We did our household work by ourselves and that helped us to save money. Now that I have a baby to take care, washing machine became inevitable and hence we bought the best possible IFB front loading fully automatic machine. It consumes less water than typical hand wash of six KGs of clothes, and consumes less power than most low cost as well as competing machines. Before purchasing a washing machine, there were countless suggestions for not buy a fully automatic front load model. They said, fully automatic models consume more water, more power, more detergent, no option for manual intervention and so on. But after buying the machine, I realise an individual’s world is as big as he can imagine because my machine did not give any one of the problems listed so above. Most people who suggested, did not realise technology improves over time while they might not even have bought the best!
I have always advocated for experiencing a few best in class products over buying countless mediocre products. If you cannot restrain, quite often you end up mediocre product experience. Think about right priorities, do not spend based on windfall income (such as bonus in your salaried jobs), do some homework before buying any consumer durable product. Early adoption in itself does not mean anything. Waiting for the right product and the right time is not bad!