Tuesday, December 8

OnePlus X marvels

When OneplusOne came and after using for about 6 months, I used to wonder whether it will be only a one time story.

Over hype along with rather bland Oneplus 2 ending up in sloppy sales was disappointing I almost concluded that Oneplus indeed was Onetime wonder

While this episode was unraveling, there came a 5inch (these days mini) rumour. Poor show of 2, backlash of earlier hype wave etc made it a strong case for a stillborn mini Oneplus.

As predicted, it came with average specs, similar to 2 years old OneplusOne with a better screen, slightly better camera in a 5 inch form factor.



But it wasn't a game of specs sheet this time



#neversettle, OnePlus, chose to unsettle a different aspect and a major selling point of premium phones. Design aesthetics n quality.



Named X, it turned out to be a phone crafted out of sheer aesthetic abundance. Such level of intricate attention, seen and sold only by Apple.


X is for the segment whose need is moderate but goes for flagships because of high priority given to design aesthetics and finish. Where high processing power or endless features of Samsung note5 isn't needed but brought as it looks great. X is no snail either and performs as good as any early 2015 flagships.

OneX is sheer beauty and easily the best looking phone in market. From choice of material to details on the metal sides, everything is well thought and comes together to one slick phone that you can flaunt.

The only thing that goes against OneX is itself. It costs a mere 16k INR to get something that rivals even iPhone in aesthetic appeal.



A white X. Only China says CEO

X is truly another game changer from OnePlus. Over the next year, we can expect a sea change in built quality n material choices as a phone that costs mere 1/4th of a flagship has challenged them even on appeal.

Monday, November 16

Blocks Modular wristwatch where smartness lies in the wristband - Gamechanger

BLOCKS The Game-changer. 





A Watch you will need. Not just wish or want. And its Smart!



The idea behind swappable modules in wrist band, makes this smart watch the real first concept that makes sense for the general market.



While smartwatches, even from Apple didn't seriously make sense other than fashion statement, 

BLOCKS opens a wide and endless set of possibilities

Now, you can have a car that really doesn't need a key, just a module from manufacturer. 

Now you can leave your smartphone in car, while you park by a road side cafe or even totally leave it home on weekends. 

It lets you eliminate carrying even more stuff. 




Now I see Internet of things falling into place. 

Just a watch!!!!!!.



Saturday, November 14

OnePlus heading the Apple way. Will they make it


Oneplus from beginning have been keen at remaining delinked from the rest of the Android OEMs, both the numerous cheap Chinese brands and even the major brands.

They did it by a much disliked invite system, which actually served their strategic purpose of remaining beyond the mediocre android market even while selling at a very cheap price tag. A class orchestra of creating Oneplus fans, brilliant stealth marketing all combined with a refined Oneplus One which even had a shipping box that exuded the Apple feel. 

It worked. However, OnePlus2 wasn't enough of a product for all the hype to work and it backfired.

Oneplus, yet, made a quick comeback with a sleek Oneplus X which by far seem to be the best by OnePlus and among the finest built phones ever seen. Concentrating on appeal and usability, Oneplus is trying to create an experience. 

Every aspect of their moves points towards becoming an Apple. 


Website content is one way we can see how companies wish to present their devices. As full packed feature lists or the vast emptiness of white and grey that talks more than the feature set. 

below are some screen shots of Apple and OnePlus and its apparent how close Oneplus is when it comes to Apple like aesthetics. Meanwhile The stunner smartphone of the year sony z5 website looks like its behind by 2 years. 

With OSX El captain, it was rather easy to compare but rendering was an issue


Both have a floating lavish representation, creating a feel of abundance, naturally tuning our mindsets to perceive the brands accordingly 



In contrast, the 4k super phone from Sony has a rather stiff look. Infact the screenshot above shows the better part of the website which otherwise is cluttered. When compared to the below opening page of iPhone page or even the cheap Oneplus X, the state of the art Sony z5 looks ancient. 

We are actually perceiving the otherwise elegant z5 as an old model purely on representation, including the image used inside the phone too. 

If the Sony market strategy team cant even get the website to communicate the right message, what can they do with commercials and other channels do to build excitement. 


Its pretty much clear that only OnePlus is trying the grounds' up model of building a brand that could one day be iconic.

Apple Experience : why others need to learn

Logic behind Apple . Its Simple



Take the case of smartphones, 
We don't know what, how or but, yet
  1. All of us know, a lot of unknown stuff goes behind the screen when our smart phones do their job
  2. Maybe 50% of us know, a lot of unknown much deeper in things called processors and then these things called wifi, LTE and etc. 
  3. Many of us know, wifi LTE etc connect to something called internet and cloud and a lot goes behind as we waste time on FB or enjoy crisp streaming HD.
  4. Some of us know further, or at-least have thought further. Its an even bigger hell, rather Hades itself, for those youtube servers are giant data centers 
  5. A very few of us know or even thought of the complexity, its a great indian rope trick, to deliver the smooth experience that we expect each time we hit the youtube or Apple music Play.

We don't know what, and yes, we leave it there. All that matters is what happens in front of us!

We don't think about what happens behind the works? Do we?
While watching a movie, a grand dinner, or even sports. We just note the experience. 

Consumer technology space is ruled by exactly the same experience factor.

No Wonder, why only Apple can entice people to spend like choosing a exotic private island, while the rest of the lot feel like cheap twin sharing vacations no matter how good the deal is.


Simple from start to end, it begins from the website itself


Saturday, November 7

cracking the used cars market: The online space

The near virgin e-comm whitespace of used vehicles



There have been many attempts to take the offline auto park/sale model online. With attempts like "certified" or "verified seller" not gaining traction, used car market remains among the few markets where online have made a didn't dent the existing players.

Every player have seen varied level of success, some shut down long forgotten, some pivot, while others still selling hard with investor backing.

An Online/Offline parallel presence like  www.cartrade.com (love their branding) or Mahindra first-choice is promising. kind of a symbiotic deal, branding and credibility of online players matched to larger online offering + space for physical view, it seem to be working but not exactly an answer to real offline park and sale.

While there appears no success formula, I do come across new and new e-com ventures around used cars. Certainly is fast and responsive on the UI front, savvy, etc, but, I don't see any distinct mantra as far as the process is concerned.
The only pitch for funds seems to be if real estate can work online, why not used cars?
Both seller and buyer remain in spread out, that a fulfillments center model wont work out. You wont travel 100km to just check a product nor would the seller. Either some means of point to point pickup and delivery should evolve or some major investment aiming to consolidate the wide spread chain should emerge which can somehow replicate the fulfillments center model and hence remain viable.

Yet, the question of checking out the product remains. While new cars could be sold, each and every used car is unique and unless someone with serious reputation and money comes into business, it wont take off.
It needs to be hyperlocal


www.DROOM.com

I recently came across a used car market called www.droom.com offering a plethora of services.

Coined from Dream + Vroom, what makes me write about them is what they associate with them as their belief. The timing, economic landscape, technology, everything infact have come together to create that sweet-spot that earlier players missed. Droom has a chance if they do the right as the critical mass and support elements could be ready soon.


Currently, it seems like an attempt to answer all issues in one shot.
Such a huge webpage

But with some time spend, it feel like it could address at-least a few of the issues. They certainly will need a good customer service team with the kinda options, but Droom does have a chance. If they can answer the hyperlocal element of this market, everything will fall in place. Drag in some preferred partnerships with automakers and www.droom.com can address the credibility question. Wish them best of luck!



Meanwhile, OLX and Quikr seem to be the only working solution for hunting used cars. 



Friday, November 6

Nexa Baleno : A Beauty that Suzuki took time to built

Maruti Suzuki Baleno - Beauty and Mettle




 Or Should I call it NEXA Baleno or Suzuki Baleno NEXA?

Baleno-suzuki-2015-protlh.com
Whatever be on its tail badge, Its a beauty.
Suzuki's first Indian offering that deserves a relook ever since Swift took India by storm last decade. After a long time of errors, Suzuki made something that finally feels complete.

baleno-suzuki-inside-apple-air-playEven more glad, Maruti Suzuki decided to keep it as a Hatchback itself, the way it was designed for International market and naturally a NEXA Exclusive. Baleno indeed has that seductive lure. Its devoid of the overworked gimmicks of Korean i20 or the rather strange Fiat Punto. Baleno returns with simple elegance that compliments its purpose.

Its a premium hatchback (for India) and does share both the mettle and technology and can boast about being a worthy Champion. While power figures given in @kw are rather confusing these days, rest assured, Baleno is a perfect balance of surety, safety and style. Add to that, the trusted DDIS engines and the new CVT Automatic transmission, the Baleno is relaxed. Along with Apple play and a neat equipment list, this one seem to turn the heavy traffic of Mumbai into a 2 hour Spa session.



Not to say S-Cross is bad, yet, Baleno was the perfect match to the uber luxury NEXA Experience. I didn't see any NEXA badging on the car, wonder whether there will be a NEXA badging or was the press documents made for international market.


It is quite interesting scenario though: "my town has around 5 Maruti dealers yet I cant get to see the Baleno"! Thats quite a bit enticing too.

More on the car itself,


  • Love the soft yet strong looks
  • Apple play already have brought me a Baleno
  • The Cockpit is real fun
  • The revised platform and components means a safer Suzuki
  • The very trusted Engines
  • While high on quality, it seems too low on quantity of equipment level
  • Meant for few customers, limited access, you wont see much on roads

Overall I would give it a 3.5, but then Apple play + stay hatchback makes it a 4.

Looking forward to real cars from NEXA range, hopefully a real evolved Gypsy/Jimmy to start with, a smaller pocket rocket and then a real sedan.




Suzuki Nexa Baleno - by

4/ 5stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Baleno
Suzuki Nexa

Monday, November 2

The Nexa Experience by Suzuki : Its worth the effort


"Maruti Suzuki is like Parle. Its good old Parle G can never move beyond INR 5 a pack, but they finally got over the crisis by building brands like Hide-n-seek Milano sold at INR30 or 50 successfully."


Is it worth the effort?


Why Maruti failed in premium cars?



Perception

Maruti Suzuki's attempts on premium cars have all been a failure or just flash in pan success. While Swift/dezire brought in volumes, Suzuki couldn't even cash in on the premium hatchback segment lead by Hyundai and VW. Suzuki's attempts with SX4 and recent Ciaz lost track after the initial buzz. Great SUV the Grand Vitara failed so did a awesome Kizashi.

The is clear, the product isn't really the issue. Much more of a brand image. Even with master pieces like Swift (once premium), Suzuki got associated with the value for money, cheap to maintain car. I believe, the main contributor to this public mindset was the M800. They ran it too long and is still running under the guise of Alto and A-Star. 

Too many cheap cars on road, you wont wish to have your 20 Lakh INR machine share the same badge. Rebranding as pure Suzuki didn't do well either.There should be many (like me) who carry a soft corner for an indian brand. It would have been better to create or buy a new badge, just like all other manufacturers do when they faced the same situation. 

Last chance solution?

Experiment NEXA is brave. Nearest comparable strategy in India is VW + Skoda. Yet even those too are sold under the guise of separate companies, like GM does. (other than KTM/Kawasaki having sales chain unlinked from Bajaj). 

However, The "NEXA experience" offering is unique. Apart from separate premium lineup and delivery points, Suzuki is attempting a Lure + Pride pull with super luxury experience. 

Something expected from Luxury car makers.





I Appreciate the Risk taken by Suzuki, Its relentless attempts to be a worthy contender in the 10 to 25 Lac category. 



Suzuki has the cars and the tech, needs a shift in consumer perception  before the next premium sedan/SUV market gains traction.


The Launch vehicle


I did wish that NEXA would begin with Baleno. SX crossover is a great car, yet, for the general pubic, it relates to SX 4. Even the slightest feel, Similar underpinning or even relativity is a nightmare Brand managers. I feel, it was a bad choice to start with such a bold rebranding endeavour.

Redline it, NEXA



Sunday, November 1

Renault KWID : Gamechanger - spot on time and future cars



Renault KWID - by ,

4/ 5stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Renault kWID Renault KWID
5 gears forward Manual only
Petrol, 3 cylinder Petrol, 800cc.
Renault Global small car platform
₹2,98k to ₹4, 04k top model option pack on road in Kerala. Gamechanger?

Renault had a tough time in India. Multiple attempts and misses, they almost packed up and like some implausible scenario, its cushy small SUV worked. Duster via Dacia clicked. An unlikely candidate for an Indian hit. Indian consumers are always associated with value conscious, traditional outlook and rather poor when its about embracing change.

Duster, yet, with its eye catchy (eye sore for some) design and lavish 5 seater profile (instead of a tight 8 seater) was an instant hit. It was like all the Scorpio buyers and Verna buyers at both ends of the market were till then forced to remain there due to the lack of a good 5 seater SUV.

True and the Golden Age of Compact SUV started, Renault, with minimal presence in India , just created a market segment that soon became the most important. Challenged by many, Duster still commands the best.


  1. previous post when Duster was announced and I so missed a minimum all wheel drive
  2. previous post on Ecosport and how such a fantastic performer missed the bus sightly in India
  3. Previous posts on why Duster get AWD and  will rule, Lucky they did turn true!!!

The BIG BET

its the time for the super frugal micro car market. Renault choose this fight with much thought. Long neglected under the belief that nothing more can be done and that people are aspirational enough to avoid the entry segment and directly enter the small car segment at Ritz or i10 price factor. Few years back, Chevy Beat rewrote the norms for that segment with radical design and loads of tech unheard off even in sedan segment. 

Renault's KWID has the same approach for the lean low end. Managing near Nano pricing while not loosing out on any of the aspirational value or quality, nearly 5 years after first Nano was introduced. It's indeed an achievement as a World Car, not just for India where safety standards are non existent.

Lot changed between the first Nano and today. Current low design costs and frugal manufacturing when combined with deeper reliability or reliance on electronics = KWID, infact exiting car at great pricing.

KWID designed with near 100% localisation, leveraging high on material choice, latest structural design tech and mechanics, have managed to keep its weight at size 0. Add to that a pure electronics based engine and info management system, you have enough power to shave off one cylinder and make it a 3 cylinder engine, mated well enough to stand guard.


Kwid entry segment model price at TVM - thanks -carandbike.com ndtv.com

Kwid mid segment model price at TVM - thanks -carandbike.com ndtv.com
Kwid top model price at TVM - thanks -carandbike.com ndtv.com
Top Model price inroad TVM


logistics lets cash in on Accessories
The level of customised offering and ability to choose and have delivered products online, thanks to the maturity of e-commerce logistics also sees its presence in KWID. While Auto makers have long been offering customisation online, KWID takes it to the next level with more than 60 types to choose from and the list looks promising. carWale



As we See




I would say, Nano was just was ahead of times. With some learning from Renault, even Nano can have a second chance.

The real impact of advances in computing power or electronics are yet to come to the auto world. with capability of our cell phone processors to do billions of math a second, real world inputs changing engine and even mechanical performance will be revolution. 

The days of efficient cylinders management currently seen in super cars will be on our small commute cars that will seamlessly switch between fuels and even pure momentum based on traffic signal input. The same commute car stiffening up its suspension and revs changing at the exact moment while you are in a spirited mode and safety condition are clear, 

What a world to come by



Maruti Suzuki spending  billions on NEXA range of premium offerings while Renault themselves dives into poor market, instead of using Dacia or Datsun




Who will Triumph?

Wednesday, October 14

Nexus 6p: indeed lucky not to use Oneplus2 invites

What a disaster Oneplus2 ended up as!

The hyped flagship killer managed to kill one flagship phone, Itself, The Oneplus 2. I wonder how Oneplus will recover from this flop as its fanbase invite propelled sales wont work the next time.

Skipped all OnePlus2 invites after the rumours of a Nexus launch with hopes for 2013 Nexus 5 update. It turned true with a neat piece of hardware named 5x and packed with all the new features in a handy form factor and decent price tag.

Along came an updated 6 (6 felt like made and priced for none buys it. Heading to Sammy warning with Tizen). The 6p (p for premium) is a real powerhouse (p for performance) and priced sensible (sammy has lost its might and bite)

Both 5x and 6p launch brought a smile on my face, for, I had skipped those Oneplus2 invites when it was still going strong. But now, the wait for Nexus 6p starts!












pro TLH: OnePlus 2 : Lucky, I didn't get a launch week invi...: OnePlus 2 : Lucky, I didn't get a launch week invite  When regular invite queue for Oneplus 2 opened, I was late by a few hour...

Monday, October 12

A relook at MotoG first Gen


Motorola G (first gen) emerged winner among phones in my household in getting the Android 6 Marshmallow update, even before Nexus 5! While My Sammy A7 still living in a kitkat world and Oneplus One bricked

Never expected the first gen MotoG to get a Marshmallow treatment. MotoG doesn't even have a gyroscope, forget the newer ones. Even Google camera doesn't provide a photosphere mode in MotoG 1. Having bare minimal hardware, behind the curve with 2 subsequent releases and no longer on sale, I wonder why Motorola worked on an update for its old phone while nearly all manufacturers place all emphasis on updating current and future launches. My samsung A7 still haven't received a lollipop update yet.



This Marshmallow update made me look back at how our phones are performing. Comparing relative performance across android devices including ones used by friends n colleagues, adjusted to age and price factors, MotoG surprisingly emerged the best, while being the cheapest. Till then, what remained as a dual sim basic smartphone for home, turned out to be a Gem of a phone. 

Acquired in 2013, on jelly bean, updated to Kitkat versions, Lollipop versions and now Marshmallow. What more can one ask for from a device brought at around INR12k.

Kudos Motorola, for sharing the same love to older models too. Motorola is worthy of an "awesome work guys", Just for making those greyscale notifications work without all the sensors that Android 6 depends on for inputs. 


Apart from having a nearly vanilla UI, Motorola has got something right and perfect, that lets it provide updates quick and across multiple generations of the same device. Faster than Nexus itself. Thats something Sammy and others should learn or work out. 

While this old MotoG can switch in between users with no lag or drain on battery, the super sexy Galaxy A7 brought just a few months ago has slowed down to snail pace even while running on single sim, minimal data and no apps that can eat up all the memory and processing limits.

The MotoG has shown no signs of ageing even compared to my Nexus 5 (little older though), with perfect call clarity and battery life. 



Motorola and this MotoG has changed my whole perception of performance vs money. While Nexus 5 showed the way and Oneplus One proving that good phones can be cheap, Motorola had taken it to a new level being priced at 1/3rd the cost of a Nexus during launch time. 

MotoG proves that real life performance is much more than packing ram, just like Apple. Again, it also proves that Android as such can perform on minimal hardware when executed well. 

Moto, now with Lenovo, seem to be making a real good comeback with all its recent launches doing good at price vs expectations in each segment. For India, all that Motorola now need is a larger repair and service network.







But, Not all cheap phones are like motoG.









Saturday, October 3

Inbox by Gmail - It makes sense



At first, Inbox by Gmail remained a question mark. Why a new one? Months into intro, now open to all, Inbox by Gmail now looks like the next phase of e-mail. 




Gmail itself was a revolution. At a time when free cloud or social networks was still a pipe dream, Gmail enabled us to share and store memories and remain social. But, it took just 10 years for e-mail as such to become irrelevant. Role of our gmail mailbox has reduced into a rarely opened box of our bills, confirmations and password resets (and spam). 


Inbox-by-gmail

Inbox by Gmail is about accepting this change




screenshot - 6 emails clubbed and displayed as a simple infographic
Inbox by Gmail is an attempt to extract useful data from the multitude of emails we receive each day and display it in a easy to understand visual representation.




Call it machine learning, deep learning, neural networks or whatever, 2 flight itineraries and a simple email from hotel manager was enough for Inbox to display it as below. 



screenshot - 6 emails clubbed and displayed as a simple infographic






Soon, a click on the finance icon might reveal our spending pattern, debt and investments in a visual easy to understand way, rather than a list of emails from credit cards, banks and mutual funds. 

With tighter integration with Google services, Inbox by Gmail along with Google Now could throw up all sorts of data in a visual format and some of it may revolutionise the way we live. Just like Gmail 10years back.

Wednesday, August 26

OnePlus 2 : Lucky, I didn't get a launch week invite

OnePlus 2 : Lucky, I didn't get a launch week invite 


When regular invite queue for Oneplus 2 opened, I was late by a few hours ending up behind 21k request. 

But, as the invite queue crossed 3 million, I saw myself down the queue at 50k+. Considering the demand vs supply and factoring in some 300k special invites, I expected an invite possibly by the 3rd week of August. 


By the third week, I found myself still at 50k+. After doing some #hype work, my position move up to 28k. Over the same time, better device reviews came in concluding OnePlus 2 is just average. The much trumpeted camera features turned out to be dud, I thanked God, for not giving me an invite at the launch week. 



While I dropped my plan, I was looking at the numbers and its interesting. 

The request sign ups which moved exponentially in first week and at a stable avg. rate 100k/day over second week started to fall over the 3rd week to an avg. of 10k/day. While first week was frenzy by early adopters including me, the second and third week figures directly reflected the average review ratings.

At the same time, there is barely any movement on top of the queue. It took one week to move up 500.

With the average reviews, nothing much to offer, Oneplus attempting the shortage #hype with Oneplus 2 wont be a happy ending for sure. 

UPDATE
Did get an invite recently but then, there no longer exists any compelling reason to buy the #oneplus2. I happily let it expire. 


The Oneplus invite for 1+ came in too late.
the invite email
Good bye OnePlus, It was too late too little