Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mobile Marketing Empowering End Users

Picture this, you are out somewhere with friends and while walking past a classy store display you see some tech gadget that catches your eye. Though you would like to stop your gang of buddies has only one thing on their mind – food! While you queue up for a quick bite at a fast food joint your mind is still ticking away about what you’ve just seen. What do you do? Pull out your mobile phone and log onto supposedly India’s first product and price search engine for mobile users.

The site, an initiative of AXAAN Systems Pvt Ltd covers a wide range of gadgets from laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones, pen drives and many more. The site is a boon for customers who want to know a little bit more information at the time of purchase and who don’t want to engage that pesky salesman. However, their internet site does not exactly stand out of the crowd and seems similar to other run of the mill shopping sites one comes across.

To use this site a person merely needs to send an SMS to 53030 typing ‘CG’ to get price quotes for any product. Company officials are yet to declare whether this search facility is provided free of charge or whether there is a cost attached. For now, the site highlights the potential of synergising an interactive strategy with a mobile one.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Software Piracy

Just consider this: you are a programmer or developer, and after spending almost 16 hours a day for months or may be years, you’ve launched your software package in the market. But before the sale of the product actually starts you find that the market is flooded with illegal/pirated copies of the product. Imagine how it would feel? For many of us Indians, it really doesn’t matter at all. Purchasing pirated software is almost a birth right. We are habituated to purchasing our pirated copies. After all who’ll pay 1000 or more bucks when the pirated version is available only for 40-200 bucks? And sometimes, for free also!

Let’s take an example of one of the very popular action games; MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE. When the product was launched in Indian market the price of the original version was Rs. 2199. As a gamer looking for the game in the market, I was surprised when I saw that the Game was selling in the grey market for only Rs 100. Like me there are thousands of gamers all over India who bought the game for Rs 100 saving Rs 2099 in the process. The extra money they saved was probably used to purchase another 20 odd games.

Now we all know that this is an unethical practice but what else does a gamer do in this kind of situation? As long as the prices of games/software are that high average gamer can’t afford to buy original ones. On the other hand, from the business point of view companies make tremendous losses. This issue has lead to many great software companies actually shutting shop or falling prey to big companies that acquire them (Game loft’s Mobile gaming division at PUNE for example was acquired by UBISOFT recently).

One possible solution to this dilemma is to have the Indian government reduce the various tax levels being levied on imported software, so that everyone can buy the original version. However, it is not only the responsibility for the Government alone, the Developer and Publishers also must consider the problem of piracy due to the high rice and distribution. Many a time, the original softwares are unavailable in Indian market. So, to satisfy the need, users turn to the grey market. With a proper price point, strict IT rules and policy about software piracy, supported by a proper distribution channel, the piracy scenario can be reduced. According to Mr. Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder of India Games, if the piracy can be stopped, then the profit margin from selling softwares will increase up to 70%. Today, the total game market in India, is around $ 500 mn, but if the piracy can be reduced up to 20% of the current level, then it could be somewhere around $ 1.7 Bn Market.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Using Social Networking Sites for Marketing

Social marketing sites are the current craze. Everywhere you turn everybody seems to be on one network or the other. It’s being covered in every media – the cartoonists are making fun of it, the social gurus are harking about the ramifications it has on the society at large and each and every teen that’s has access to a computer seems to be hooked. With all these people plugged in social networking sites provide immense potential to marketers across the world.

The number of interest groups that blossom on these social networking sites makes it easy for any marketer to deliver focussed communication to their target audience. One such innovative example has been developed by Toyota. The company teamed up with Juxt Interactive to develop an application that Facebook users could integrate into their profiles. Known as Keep Rollin’ the application highlights the new Toyota Corolla 2009.

The application is a game that blends decision making with a number of arcade mini games. While weaving a captivating story the application carefully introduces the reader to various features of the new 2009 Corolla. The game offers every player two paths putting the player in various seemingly real life situations, some of which involve the featured product. With the ability to play against friends online and to share the application this is an excellent example of how to tap social networking to meet marketing needs. If you have, a Facebook profile and wish to experience this application click here.