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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, June 16, 2006

This is the last in the series of Cultural Insights for doing business in India. Just wanted to say these observations are based on learnings over 18 years of doing qualitative research in India. It's interesting to see how some things have changed, while others remain constant, over generations.

Part 4. Technology Perspectives

  • Technology adoption doesn't always follow trends in the West
    • India is leapfrogging the PC stage - cell phones are becoming our gateway to the internet
    • From no cameras to cam phones - digital cameras are being squeezed out
  • 4.5 million cell phones are added every month, 95 million subscribers in March 2006, 200 million projected in 2010; landlines a little over 50 million
  • Most turn off power to hardware when not in use to save electricity, and avoid power surges due to fluctuations. Less of an 'always on' perspective in India.
  • Belief that cost of technology is dropping - so no point planning purchase in advance.
  • Little DIY - cheap service is available
  • Assembled goods and second hand goods are freely available from the grey market
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  • Upgrading is not a natural habit - the average consumer is not tech savvy, and technology products are usually used until they break. (Exception being cell phones, esp.among youngsters as they can be a status symbol).
  • Upgrading often needs to be driven by buy-back/replacement schemes offered by
  • Choice of brand and model often made by price/discounts/deals
  • Celebrity endorsements rampant for tech products - playing on image and low role of product or features
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  • Trend towards 'all-in-one' gadgets - e.g. cell phone + camera + mp3 player. PCs play multiple roles, for instance as the household DVD player, communication medium, gaming system, etc.
  • Trend towards laptops which is the fastest growing segment - costs dropping, mobility, status associations are key drivers.

The complete series:

Part 1. Culture of Business, Service and Consumption
Part 2. Attitude towards Rules and Regulations
Part 3. Value for Money Equations
Part 4. Technology Perspectives

Many thanks - to all those who have commented and linked to this series of posts - I love the conversations around these issues - keep them coming - and I will add my two-cents shortly!

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5:37:35 PM    comment []  trackback []

Here's one lady's fight against clout and corruption ... she's 64 years old and lives alone with her mother who is 92 ... and has been fighting her influential neighbour for 15 years to get justice. She's a friend of mine, and I'm reproducing a letter she wrote here, with her permission.

"I have the misfortune of having one Mr Siddharth Bhandari whose father is well-known Romesh Bhandari who was India's Defence secretary, Governer of Goa, Tripura and U.P. He has enlarged his bathrooms which are over our bedrooms. Made a staircase over our kitchen, from 8th to the 9th floor cutting through the slab, even though the flats are in different names and a drainpipe which is bringing torrents of water into our house but is right next to our open balcony. Not only has it opened up a couple of times but is tempting for any one to climb through. I am 64yrs. old and my mother is 92 yrs old.We two senior citizens are living alone. After 15 yrs of trying to get the Municipal corp to do something, I had to file a writpetion in the High Court Even this was blocked from coming on board till I wrote a letter to the then Chief Justice. Then directions were issued to the BMC that "directed to depute an officer to visit the site and thereafter if necessary to give appropriate directions"

The inspection was made and bathroom extentions and staircase declared illegal. Mr. Bhandari then made an application for regularisation of the irregularities.This was also rejected. Then I was informed that he has reapplied for regularisation. I have the correspondence with me. It is a clear cut case of illegality. How can there be reapplication? They havn't reduced the bathroom size or broken the staircase. Even then, after the letter informing me of re application, dtd. 7th Jan 2006, 5 months have gone by. There is no action whatsoever by BMC. Now the BMC wants that i should again get a court order for demolition - then they are in the clear.

The society had taken a view that this matter was between the two of us and yet as told to me by the treasurer, permission has been given to him post facto. Flats in the building belong to the Shipping Corp. Letters to various officials there have had no effect. Their representative is the Secretary."      Aparna Chawalla

Read an interview with her in the Mumbai Mirror here.

Update: Angelo has a follow-up post on this, with some terrific action points. Do go there and take his suggestions. Its wonderful to see someone who doesn't know the lady fighting for justice, and isn't an Indian himself, take the trouble to research and list out names of concerned officials and possible action plans. Thanks Angel-o!

4:10:17 PM    comment []  trackback []