Sunday, February 17, 2008

Random thoughts on a weekend...

Too many random thoughts? I don't know!

The cellular industry in India is booming. Typically, when I travel in a bus or a train, upon casual observation, I notice everyone has a cell phone. It created a paradigm shift, so much so that watching someone listen to music on his/her phone or fiddling with an SMS message is normal now (a few years back, it would have enlisted curious onlookers). But sadly, user control of cell services is still primitive. When compared to the US, or probably other countries, what the individual user can control in aspects of service are still not available here. I think it is time for cellular service companies in India to take this to the next level. Some examples of what can be done:

1) Revamp websites and offer complete service control to users. This includes changing plans, adding add-ons to existing plans, bill payment (yeah, they have covered this one aspect!). Current websites of most service providers is very primitive and poorly designed

2) Voice Mail - there is literally no concept of this here and would be a great value add. The way I see it, the company in India that is going to first come up with this option to the users is either going to make a killing or is going to cause others to do the same (think Google's 1GB email inbox - it caused Yahoo and Microsoft to introduce the same - in a fashion insisting they were thinking about it all along!) A couple of service providers offer voice mailboxes, but the service plan is a joke. You will need to pay them every time you check your mail box! Only corporates can afford this. Consider T Mobile in the US as an example. Their voice mailbox limit is 500 hours (no kidding) and you can completely customize it's usage.

3) Relating to (2), phone manufacturers in India can come up with a voice messaging system built into the phone (again the first company will make a killing)!

4) Group messaging

5) I think this is a TRAI action item. Allow people to change providers without changing their number

6) Powerful email to SMS (and vice-versa) capabilities

I am currently reading a book by MSFT Press. Surprisingly, this is a non-technical book. The only thread that links the concepts of this book to MSFT is the usage of Outlook. "Take back your Life" is a good surprise and is definitely a worthy read.

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