Tale from a Sunday morning

For PGP09/10/11:

You can see the machine in the CC through a glass door. But you can’t touch it. It’s sadistically, tantalizingly out of reach. You look, pray, beseech it to restart, but it won’t. It stares at you, dour, grim-faced, unmoved, unblinking. You wish hard, oh so hard, that you could press that little white button.

Despondent yet desperate, you pick up the phone and dial The Number. You know what’s going to follow. After several rings, the same unpleasant sequence of events from the past repeats. The voice barks. You swallow hard, and explain the proxy is down. The voice grumbles. You beg. It refuses. You sacrifice every bit of your self esteem to get the voice to acquiesce.

Hours later, a car winds its way uphill. Slowly, leisurely, mocking you as you egg it on. The door opens. He steps out. Sizes you up and down, disgust writ large on his visage. He marches into the CC, you in tow. Reaches into his pocket. Fishes out the Key. It glimmers in the diffused glow of the CC lights. You lick your lips. If only, if only you could have the Key.

He slips the key into the lock on the glass door. Walks in. Stops at the rack. The machine and he regard each other for a moment. Each aware of its power over the other. And their collective power over you. His finger moves towards the white button. It pauses. He looks at you, with a hint of a smirk, knowing that he could simply walk away right then. Involuntarily, wordlessly, your face pleads. The look of disgust returns. The finger moves towards the white button. Closer. Closer. Closer. Finally, contact. The machine whooshes, squeals, then settles into a reassuring whirr. It is done.

You mop the sweat from your brow. He walks towards his car. Slips in without as much as glancing at you. The tinted windows roll up. You watch the car as it winds downhill, and finally disappears behind the thicket of palm trees. You sigh. You trudge back towards the CC, inside. And freeze. And slump.

It stares at you, dour, grim-faced, unmoved, unblinking.

Nokia: "India isn’t an entry-level market"

BusinessWeek interviews Nokia’s CEO on his India strategy:

How important are the emerging markets for Nokia’s growth today?

They are very important. But it’s key to understand here that India is quite a versatile market when it comes to a mobile device. The Nokia N-series and E-series generate 25% of our sales in India, and those are the mid-tier and high-end devices. So you can’t say that it’s an entry market where just low-end phones are sold.

Penetration is important in India, where you get the first-time mobile-phone user. But at the same time, there’s a big replacement and upgrading market moving toward more sophisticated phones. When it comes to software, it depends on what kind of phones are sold here. It’s a different entry market where software is important—for example, Internet browsing through mobile phones. India is an advanced market in many ways, and I can’t classify it as an entry market or an emerging market.

What B-schools don’t seem to be teaching

Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO of Rediff.com but more importantly for this post, the Chairman of IIM Calcutta’s Board of Governors, tries to figure out what ails business schools of today:

(Quoting Jeffrey Pfeffer) …much of what business schools teach—analytical tools like statistics and basic disciplines like economics and sociology—are readily learned and imitated by any intelligent person. On the other hand, things like communication ability, inter-personal skills, leadership and, most importantly, “wisdom”, the ability to weave together and make use of different kinds of knowledge, are less easily taught. Paradoxically, these are the very skills that lie at the heart of a leadership role in management.

(Quoting Warren Bennis and James O’Toole) …business schools (are) attempting to adopt a “scientific model”. This model at attempts to treat management education as if it was something like physics or chemistry or biology whereas it is, in their view, more a “profession” like medicine or law. They see this distinction between an academic discipline and a profession as the central issue.

I’ve been thinking lately about why I seem to be dissatisfied with some excellent courses I’ve taken this term. They’re (on the surface) well-designed courses, and are taught by very committed, talented faculty. This article’s been more food for thought. Perhaps in the next couple of weeks I’ll analyse why I feel this way.

Where Google plays second fiddle

Time Magazine ponders “Can Google Get Any Bigger“? Looks like it can:

However, for all of its success, Google’s online dominance has been limited to search. In web-based e-mail, for example, Google’s service, Gmail, is in a distant fifth place to leader Yahoo! Mail, which is over 12 times the size of Gmail in terms of visits. Google has barely made a peep in social networking; MySpace, the #1 social networking site, is over 300 times the size of Google’s Orkut service. Even mainstream information such as Google Finance is an order of magnitude smaller in visits than the industry leader in financial information Yahoo! Finance.

Avnish Bajaj on why the Web 2.0 paradigm won’t work in India

Avnish Bajaj of Matrix Partners on why he thinks the “Web 2.0” paradigm won’t work in India:

“People talk about the Internet being convenient, but it is not so in India. You need to go to a cyber café or you have to dial up a telephone line or use a slow broadband connection. Whereas in the US, 150 million households have broadband access all around the clock, sitting at home. When you have such a situation you can do social networking, but where is that happening in India? Do you think a person will go to a cyber café or any public environment to discuss everything about their life?”

“…there is a cultural barrier, as not many individuals will express themselves as in Myspace.com. Also, there are infrastructural barriers. Fundamentally it is not about social networking but about community building. In India one needs to first create a product according to people’s needs and subsequently a community will form around it.”

While I’m glad Bajaj has debunked the Web 2.0 craze, I’m not so sure about the cultural part. While MySpace is a little extreme, Orkut is very popular among young adults (between 15 and 22) in urban India (and no, “urban” now includes Tier-2 and 3 cities from the Hindi heartland too). 75% of India’s Internet users surf from a public location (cyber cafes). I don’t see a reason why either culture or lack of a personal, home computer ought to dissuade users from socializing on the Internet.

After all, it’s happening. Right before us. See what your kid brother/sister/nephew/niece means when he/she wants to “check mail”. They mean they want to check their scrapbook!