In June, I traveled to India for about 3 weeks. These are some observations I made during the trip.

1.) Smartphones are everywhere. Now data is a lot cheaper.

No matter where you go, you see smartphone shops. Sometimes you see the same company stores across from each other on the street. India is still experiencing double digit growth in terms of smartphone adoption.

The main difference you see from past years is how cheap data has become. With the introduction of Jio, prices for data have really gone down — now you can get 1GB of data per day for around 2 dollars a month. …


How mobile phones, personal data, and the cloud are creating a new way to interact with computing devices.

The idea of having an intelligent digital assistant isn’t new. Hollywood has already introduced us to what a digital assistant could look like in the future — see Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jarvis from Iron Man, and Samantha from Her. But we’re still a ways off from Hollywood’s representation.

Clippy helped you with common tasks that you would do in Microsoft Office — like writing a letter.

Our practical history with digital assistants starts off much more modestly with the venerable Clippy, an interactive animated character that helped users navigate Microsoft Office.

Our next encounter came from Microsoft Bob. The simplified operating system contained a series of “personal guides” that included a friendly dog, a french…


A deep-dive into the art of leveraging contact information to drive quality invitations for your app.

Most messaging apps utilize the phone’s local address book to jump start a user’s network. Typically, these apps connect you with other people who are already on the network by comparing phone numbers. They then prompt you to invite the remaining contacts in your address book to try the app — typically via SMS or email.

Ideally, when suggesting individuals to invite, you want to highlight people that lie in the cross section of “likely to be invited” and “likely to install/use your app”. But how do you identify these people when you can access only the limited information in…


How consumer mobile startups build “word of mouth” into their product.

There are only a handful of channels that mobile/web products can use to grow their user base. Andrew Chen recently categorized the main ones as being: paid acquisition, virality, SEO, sales, and partnerships. This article is about virality — specifically “word of mouth” which is often considered the most effective way to acquire users.

Wharton professor Jonah Berger lays out a great framework to think about virality which he terms “STEPPS” — social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories. …


The 7 Steps to Follow When Iterating Your Product for Growth

In a recent talk at Airbnb, Ivan Kirigin observed that while he worked at Facebook, almost all growth initiatives followed a similar pattern. The idea that growth can be broken down into a framework is absolutely on point.

Below, I have listed a 7 step framework to follow when considering product changes in regards to growth. They are inspired by some of the processes Ivan mentioned in his presentation and by my experiences in designing and growing Shout Photo Messenger.

1.) Pick a Goal

This seems like it should be an easy task, but it’s actually one of the most…


To be successful in emerging markets you need to adapt to local customs, habits, and beliefs.

There are many challenges in building businesses in emerging markets. One technique corporations use to succeed is to localize their products.

But localizing means more than just supporting regional languages. It’s about adapting business practices and products to the nuances associated with a particular region. Here are three companies in India that illustrate how localization can be used to gain a competitive market advantage.

Amazon

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing segments in India. Amazon entered into this market in 2013 and faces stiff competition from local incumbents such as Flipkart and Snapdeal.

A typical kirana shop found in many parts of India.

One of the…


How emerging business models are changing the way that phones are marketed and sold.

It’s incredible how things are evolving in India in terms of the mobile phone device business. Samsung is the leader but Indian brands are making great progress. New upstarts like Xiaomi are entering the market as well. In this article, I examine the different approaches that Samsung, Micromax, and Xiaomi are taking. Each has a unique approach to developing, marketing, and selling their phones.

Samsung: Brand Awareness and Retail Distribution

The traditional way that Samsung has done business is to create products in a wide variety of segments with focus on brand and differentiated features. This approach is no different in India.


Why no single app will ever be king.

The messaging space is turning out to be quite different from social networking. Instead of one dominant service taking over, people are using several apps for their communication needs. But why is this?

Messaging apps are easy to get started with and use simultaneously.

People are always looking for better ways to communicate.

  • App stores provide an easy way to find new apps to try out — especially through category guides and search.
  • Referrals can happen easily through existing social apps, SMS, and even other messaging apps.
  • Real world “word of mouth” plays an important role — when you meet friends, you often tell them about interesting…


On-the-go observations based on travels in mid 2014.

In June, I traveled to India for about 2 weeks. My time was split between Delhi and Bangalore. These are some observations I made while on the trip in terms of mobile phone usage.

1.) Smartphones are hot. But features phones still prevail.

There is no doubt that smartphone adoption is growing in India in a massive way. A recent report by IDC suggests that the growth of smartphones YOY in 2013 was over 200% while feature phone growth is stagnate. But its important to remember that feature phones still rule here — roughly representing 550 million handsets.

Phones like the Nokia 225 with Dual Sim are popular but fading out.

Feature phones are still the majority here…


How smartphones changed photography and where photo services are headed next.

What happens when everyone has a camera in their pocket all the time? Photography changes forever. The smartphone (or the “smartcamera”) has disrupted photography and expanded the addressable market for photos.

So how is the smartphone different from a digital camera?

  • It’s with you all the time.
    You can take photos whenever you want.
  • It’s a connected device.
    You can share your photos instantly to the cloud or to social networks.
  • It has processing capabilities.
    You can touch up photos immediately as opposed to going to a desktop.
  • It has many sensors.

Sasank Reddy

Builder, Entrepreneur, Thinker. Oh, I love Kullect.

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