Tag Archive: India


bmw--621x414Luxury car maker BMW India has started assembling its mini models of luxury cars in its Chennai unit in order to meet the progressively rising demand in the Indian market at a competitive price scale.

Considering the import/export duties in mind, BMW (And Audi as well) has now planned to indulge themselves in the local assembly which leads them to save on custom duties. It is quite predictable that very soon their demand on Indian shores will go up because they will be drastically bringing down their manufacturing costs with local assembling.

The local assembly of Countryman Mini will be cheaper by INR 10lakh. Earlier it was sold at INR 34.20-37.50 Lakhs which is now priced at INR 23.50-37.50 Lakhs.

In a conference on Wednesday BMW Group India President Philipp Von Sahr said –

“It would help us to increase the value for our customers and keep our prices competitive. The vehicles manufactured at BMW Chennai will fulfill the same quality standards that apply to production of BMW Group models worldwide”.

BMW has already assembled the 3 Series, 5 Series, X1 and X3 in its Chennai unit and has plans to start making 7 series too in the near future. The industry officials are expecting to see rapid growth which speculatively equates to almost double in sales volume for these luxury models i.e. 50k by 2015 from 25k in 2012.

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It was a routine Saturday evening when me with some of my colleagues were wandering inside Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. The creative media head of our team had the concern of upgrading his old and continuously wearing out handset with a top of the line Smartphone inside his head. So off we went scouring all the present showrooms for the latest expensive offering one can get his hands on.

A couple of hours later with no visible inroad I knew that the evening is bordering on being wasteful when suddenly some loud music echoed from the endmost part of the mall near the fountain area. A few minutes later we were all there and in front of our very own eyes a surprise unfolded. The empty space scouring with mall-goers made way for a few people who started dancing in the middle of the area. And very soon, more souls joined in and I came to realize it was another Flash Mob! But since most of the flash mobs in India these days are corporate affairs, it was a bit of surprise that there were no branding banners or displays around. As the performers grooved and thumped to the music in a coordinated display the crowd surrounded the mob with constant claps and whistles and a few of them even let themselves loose along with the group 😀

At first, it seemed like a routine flash mob which might end in a few minutes when other layer of the whole plot unfolded.. In came a chap to join the group and started dancing along. Moments later, his girlfriend was present in front of him to whom he proposed in a proper dramatic filmy style! The girl accepted and the revelry continued. It took some time but I eventually got my head around the fact that it was in fact the first Flash Mob Proposal ever to happen in India! It reminded me of the flash mob at Grand Central Station in “Friends with Benefits”, albeit a bit more Bollywood-ish..

But that was it and I never got to hear anything about it in papers or tabloids. It might be strange coming from a journalist who generally vies for stories like this, but I have never been the sensationalist kind and somehow I understood the low-key component of the whole act.  But that was until yesterday when I realized that it was a flash mob organized by LG. The making of the proposal video showed how a simple Facebook conversation and the LG WR Forum transformed into an event of such a magnitude. And the main schemer of this romantic gala was LG’s own WRMan Sherlock. I had seen those web cartoons at random once but this lovey-dovey idea on Sherlock’s part must have him floating in seventh heaven at this time!

And the actual flash mob was even better. The video length seems a bit short as compared to the live time duration but it is still immensely enjoyable to watch. As modern as we might have gotten with our progressive mindsets, it’s moments like this which would make any girl feel special. I am not ashamed to admit I would love such a stereotypically romantic proposal myself!

What’s even more heartening about the whole affair is that this LG World Record Team had the guts to think of such a unique and out of the box concept and have the brains and audacity to execute it in grand fashion. Yes it is a way of brand promotion and marketing but the main agenda was giving a loving couple the surprise of their life! Isn’t that what a flash mob is all about; bringing smile to people’s faces! 🙂

The year 2011 marked an important step in India’s recognition as an upcoming hub for major sports. We saw a new kind of euphoria descend on the Indian continent with the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix event taking place in the lush greens of Greater Noida that is still fresh in our memories. The event was significant both from a historic as well as developmental aspect as it meant India as a nation is ready to organize top tier sporting events whilst leaving a positive impression on leading sport’s governing bodies.

It is not necessary to be a racing fan to enjoy the glorious duels that you encounter on a Formula 1 GP track whether it’s on a TV or in person. The humming of the F1 engines is capable of getting anyone’s pulse racing. Even as a common person, you gawk at the admirable technology which makes these cars a cloud apart. And a car’s construction fact-file is a fascinatingly bewildering aspect of the whole process. It might just seem a lot of fun to watch, but even something as adrenaline-filled as an F1 race is no less than a game of chess. And it’s not just about the driver, but also the likes of design and construction of the car, the speedy work of pit crews as well as the varying tactics employed during the course of the race. An F1 race is dependent on understanding the small margins teams operate under and favors the one who have the ability of split second adaptability. It’s just a moment of madness or genius which can decide a race.

The 2011 feature kicked off with much fanfare at the Buddh International Circuit on October 30th with drivers enthralling the audiences in the stand with a blistering showcase of speed, maneuverability and finesse. And since it was the first F1 race on this course, the preferential and favoring talk went out the window as no one could even remotely speculate what the outcome might be. And even though there wasn’t much of the little battles one might have expected, the inevitable conclusion didn’t disappoint one bit. Sebastian Vettel led the proceedings all afternoon and put on a driving master class to pip all the competition to the chequered flag. The German would have expected a bit of a tough run with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher in the fray, but it was Mclaren’s Jenson Button who came the closest finishing 8 seconds behind the Red Bull driver.

The 2012 event which kicks off tomorrow is expected to draw audiences on a much larger scale with the weather conditions looking much more favorable than last year. One more praiseworthy aspect of the race is the work behind the Buddh International Circuit which hasn’t gone unappraised. The circuit has been showered with many accolades of being the “Best Motorsport Facility of 2011” by various media outlets. I might be going a bit political here, but it was the much-publicized ill reign of Mayawati’s BSP government that oversaw the development of the Buddh International Circuit by the Jaypee Sports Group in Greater Noida and for that we should be thankful. Unfortunately for the new rule is finding it hard to live up to the achievements of their predecessor at the moment.

Another important benefactor of the F1 coverage is the HD TV broadcast it will receive. Audiences in UK might be in for a bigger treat if networks like BBC and ITV decide to showcase the event in 3D. I am still trying to procure an upper tier ticket in the Main Grand Stand but the cost is proving to be a thorn, hopefully it will work out in the coming day or two. If not, I always have the option of watching it on ESPN HD here and convert to see how F1 in 3D would look on my LM6700 Cinema 3D TV!

Despite my critical ascertainment with Apple’s persuasive legal course as a hindrance to innovation in the Smartphone arena, there’s no denying the fact that the latest avatar of the iPhone has been a runaway success. With Apple alongside its various carriers receiving close to 2 million pre-orders within the opening 24 hours and analysts expecting the sales to reach the 10 million mark within the week, the hype and curiosity surrounding the iPhone 5 is greater than ever.

And the way Smartphone markets work in US is what makes for an interesting reading for an average Indian mobile user. All the major mobile carriers namely AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have collaborated with Apple to sell their newest offering on no-commitment as well as 2-year contract plans. A no-commitment plan is similar to purchasing a new iPhone without any network services for 649$ (34,663 INR) while a 2-year contract means that the customer ends up paying just close to 200$ (10,682 INR) with a monthly data and call usage plans of between 85$-100$ (4540-5340 INR). Yes, the first part of a contract agreement is enticing enough to get your budget restraints wagging but it’s the premium monthly charge which translates to the analyzed fact that every iPhone 5 user will be able to actually take full benefit of his device after a good 9 months after purchase without burning a hole in his pocket.

From a consumer’s perspective, it is a good enough deal as they are getting the latest gadget for a knockdown price and willing to part with a substantial monthly amount for it. And you can’t blame them considering the phenomena an iPhone is considered in US. Some experts have even quoted iPhone 5 as the “new cash milking cow for the mobile carriers”. The contract system is a camouflaged and nifty business practice which allows mobile carriers to give products like the iPhone at subsidized prices and recover the costs and make handsome profits via the contracts. And with most of the phones in these contracts not being unlocked, change of carriers becomes increasingly hassle some once the contract period expires. But hey, Apple might just launch a new iPhone till then to keep the cycle running!

What I have always wondered is why mobile carriers have not been able to tap in on and successfully replicate this business model in India. And the latest advancements in the local Smartphone arena showed me exactly why. One, we are spoilt for choices both expensive and cheap when it comes to selecting a handset so this ideally leaves the companies at risk when it comes to subsidizing the handset costs due to numerous handset launches and upgrades. Secondly, Indians are not the splurging kind and are very particular about their cell phone plans; be it Prepaid or Postpaid. “Call per second” is a good example of that. And most importantly, the shelf life of a Smartphone being used by an average mobile user is 12 months at maximum which leaves the contracts proposition less profitable. Reliance and Tata Indicom have already tried this with low-end CDMA offerings which ultimately failed to excite. And even though Nokia is providing a few handsets with such contracts, it is not preferable for majority of the mobile users.

The first thing almost every working individual does after sitting on his desk is to open up his mail account to check mail. But instead of the essential ones, we end up visiting commercial links from various online retailers to check the best products they have on offer. From electronic gadgets, appliances, apparel, footwear, gifts to even availing discounts on services available in and around your place, online shopping is the way to go these days.

But it wasn’t the case a good few years ago. Even with the advanced outlook in place, Indian consumers ended up reverting to good old ways of investing time and energy before every purchase big or small. Marketplaces were overflowing with true shoppers with a variety of options at hand. But the honchos with a vision were not afraid to think out of the box and were eagerly looking at the opportunity of an online business portal to connect to customers for whom the physical distances made it inaccessible to have an in-person experience. But even before the concept picked up, it was blotched by the shady Baazee.com issue. It was a downward spiral for the company until EBay decided to acquire it. With a brand name acknowledged worldwide stepping onto Indian shores, e-commerce got a new lease of life and gave fresh hope to entrepreneurs who envisioned virtual establishments.

The murky was replaced with the innovative and there was a distinct influx of penetration in an otherwise dormant domain. Before even starting to list out the websites we have today, it is absolutely essential to acknowledge that venture capital investments for these ideas have a big role to play for the growth and mass expansion of the major players in the virtual market today as well as their ability to cater to the large consumer base. Another factor which has substantially helped the e-commerce business to flourish is well…our hectic lives. The vast majority of professionals at this time work in privatized companies and MNC’s with long working hours and less number of holidays dictating the demanding nature of work. And the last thing one would want to do in such an unrelenting schedule is to actually go out for shopping. One would rather just prefer if all the options were available at the disposal of their personal space without much effort which made it a win-win scenario for E-commerce.

And you have got to be thankful to these risky yet feasible initiatives which have made shopping a hell lot easier. Now you can purchase movie tickets (BookMyShow, TicketPlease) to travel tickets (MakeMyTrip, Yatra, and GoIbibo), purchase electronics (Flipkart) to apparel (Fashion n You, Myntra and Jabong) to even avail the best daily deals in your region (Snap Deal, Deals and You). And the amount of e-commerce websites that have mushroomed during these past 2-3 years has made it a virtual consumer battlefield. Even government organizations have been influenced with the advantages of internet based businesses and they have also integrated booking and registration processes for their online portals.

Call it variety or saturation, but the number of options available to us as potential consumers makes e-commerce the preferred mode of shopping. And with companies backing their services up with in-house logistics and after sales support team along with easy user interface and payment options, the dominant emergence of e-commerce as a medium is justified.

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