Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Singapore Grand Prix – A Race Review

As the five red lights illuminated, there was a gleaming smile across Bernie Eccelstone's face . With the stunning success of the Singapore Grand Prix, the whole world witnessed a spectacular event next only to the Beijing Olympics reassuring a secure future for Formula One, despite the threats of a rebel grand prix series . Fernando Alonso pulled off a surprise win and emerged as victor, from a 15th place start, despite cribbing about the circuit, and the difficulties in overtaking in the street circuit, during the post qualifying round of interviews.

(Pic taken by me in Dec 2006)


An extremely beautiful travel destination and a central hub for several connecting flights, Singapore is one of those rare cities, which mixes business and pleasure in a perfect blend and gives a memorable experience for anyone who goes there even for a day. Singapore has come a long way down, in making sure the race was conducted in the best possible way , with awesome lighting effects , excellent road conditions and wonderful organization creating several records in the process.

The Start

With a clean start by the top three of F1, it was bound to be a predictable race with the near impossibility of overtaking in the Anti-Clockwise Singapore street circuit. But with the retirement of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, the sport has become anything but predictable. Pole Positions in qualifying has literally become meaningless with almost every team (except Force India of course. lol..) having a fair chance to win the race or at least a podium finish despite their starting position.

With the crash of Nelson Piquet Junior, it was the turn of the inevitable safety car to lead the race, as the huge leads built up by the Ferraris and McLaren came crashing down.

Despite all the glitz and glamour, it was a bad day for Ferrari and its million fans across the world. Ferrari's chance of a championship victory, with Felipe Massa on the lead, was almost doomed, after a horrific pit stop incident, when one of the pit crew failed to take the fuel pump from Massa's car, meanwhile Felipe was given the green signal to go.

Adding fuel to the fire, the steward handed him a "Drive thru" penalty, further inhibiting his chances to finish in the top 8 .The problems didn't just stop there .Kimi Raikkonen driving a near perfect race , was forced to wait behind Massa in the Pit stop, while the safety car circled the circuit as the debris of Nelson Piquet Junior's Renault was picked up . It was further followed by a 150 mile crash by the Finn and his chances of qualifying to the top three were also over.

The woes for Ferrari continue for the nth time, with several pit stop problems, engine failures, signaling problem, mismatch in communication (as evident from the fact that Kimi and Massa came in the pits at the same time) and so on.

As far as Lewis Hamilton is concerned, yeah I do admit you're a rival to me and I must hate you, just as the way I hate Arsenal, while supporting Manchester United.But I have to give it to you.You're simply terrific, aggressive and determined to the max even in a car like McLaren!

Hope to see several F1 races there in the future , though with a modified circuit and track conditions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Make hay while sun shines but Make ur sale when it Rains

Make hay while sun shines but Make ur sale when it Rains

Have you ever wondered how to prevent a major dampening in sales especially when it pours heavily or during a rough weather climate ? Or given up , after being frustrated and attributed the problem to external factors - "The Nature"
It's just not you but it's the same across the world

People do tend to stay indoors in a bad weather and refuse to go out and shop

An insight already picked up by the "Restaurant and Pizza Chains" who suddenly came up with a free home delivery service , to cover up for those canceled lunch and dinner dates or meetings

So what do you do ,if you have a retail store.How do you make the guy sitting on the couch enjoying the weather, come out , travel in that rain ,snow or blizzard and walk into your store and buy something?

Simple. Offer a "Customized Day" sale !
To be more precise , introduce a "Rain Day Sale" - Offer a 25 % flat discount sale or a free gift ,on any rainy day ,applicable throughout the year . Be it the rare downpour in the hot summer or the monsoon rains in Winter ,the rule still applies .

The level of customization is endless in this. It can be anything from a "Snow Day sale" to a
"1st of the month day sale"
Apart from converting a major calamity into an opportunity , it also gives the store a distinguishable advantage from the others
The store thus gets a strong association with the word rain in the minds of the customer and hence increases the top of the mind recall

So remember , the next time it need not be only the umbrella guy who makes the most when it rains.It can be even you !

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Browser Wars : An Inside Look

The battle for the "browser" space has certainly heated up , with Software giants Google and Microsoft unleashing the "next generation" browsers with advanced features.

Here's a small comparison of the three top browsers :

                 Pic Source : firefoxfacts.com

  1. Mozilla Firefox

  • Close to a 20 % market share , Firefox has been touted as the best browser ever to be released.
  • Offers something for every kind of user , both for the geeky and the normal users
  • First browser to introduce tabbed browsing , which totally revolutionized the way one    surfed the internet
  • First Browser to incorporate a  separate download box to manage all the downloads
  • Anti Phishing features, advanced encryption and security features
  • A drag and drop feature for bookmarking websites
  • Comparitively faster browsing and download ,w.r. Internet Explorer
  • Providing access to several sites ,that was actually blocked due to java script errors in    Internet Explorer ( My blog didnt open in IE , for one week due to a coding/script error)
  • An addon website from Firefox , for users to add any number of desired addons to their browser according to their taste,preferences and surfing

Top Add On features of Firefox
  • A search box to search directly in Google, Yahoo,Wiki and more importantly IMDB
  • Interclue  : A great add on feature ,to have a snapshot of the link we are about to click
  • An  PDF reader addon to directly open Pdf links
  • Customizable themes for the browser display
  • Spell Checker (quite an useful tool while blogging and composing mails)
  • Provides support for a wide variety of file formats such as Flash, XML,DHTML,ASPX etc..
  • Foxy Tunes - Complete control of any media content playing in the system, without swithcing windows
  • Check4Change - Automatically checks for a periodic change in website links and alerts the user when there are any updates or changes (Checking option can vary from 5 seconds to more than several hours)

Disadvantages : 

  • It takes comparitively longer time to load
  • It occupies a huge amount of Memory Usage ( little difficult for old and slow systems to work on )
  • When the browser crashes sometimes , the entire list of bookmarks saved is deleted (Has happened more than five times , losing important set of website and download links)

2. Google Chrome 

  • A browser from the most reliable ,innovative and trusted company in the world,Google
  • Provides option to directly import bookmarks from Internet Explorer
  • Extremely fast to load
  • Also provides tabbed browsing
  • Option to browse anonymously , without leaving a trace and no recording of history  by the incognito option
  • Recently closed tabs viewing option
  • Displaying the most viewed links,recent bookmarks and searches in the homepage (Extremely useful)
  • A simple and uncomplicated interface to work on
  • Inspecting sites and analyzing their code ( kinda cool for all those geeks out there )
  • Direct search in google in the address bar

Disadvantages :

  • The first thing that strikes you is that , theres nothing new to this ,compared to Firefox
  • Still in the beta version (you might never know when it can crash)
  • Inability to add "Add Ons" ,Themes etc
  • Errors during download and download buttons being disabled sometimes
  • Lack of drag and drop bookmarks option 

3. Internet Explorer 8 

  • In - Private Browsing  - Browsign the web without saving your history (similar to the incognito option in Google Chrome. U can create a totally new session to browse anonymously)
  • Web Slice option - Alerting users for any updates in bookmarked and selected websites
  • Much enhanced tabbed browsing than all its previous version
  • Integrated  address bar to also search in bookmarks,history,Feeds and stored websites
  • A sleek design
  • A far sigh of relief and enhaned browsing for Internet Explorer Users( definitely not for a Firefox guy)


- Windows Genunine Check program before installation
( It allows you to install Internet Explorer only after confirming one is running a genuine copie of Windows in the system)
A major drawback , especially in a country like India ,where more than half the systems are running in a "Cracked" version of Windows XP , be it offices , schools, colleges or personal PC's
Thus it adds to the "Switching costs" and a complex Installation process

Disclaimer : This post is writtten based on my personal experience in using all three browsers since their release , and have evaluated the pro's and cons with the corresponding surfing experience

Like always , perceptions differ and one may have a completely different view and preference. The choice is yours :)

A fact to ponder about : Google has released a statement , that it will still continue to fund Mozilla for the development of Firefox .

Do check out my Surface Laptop review here , launched by Microsoft recently

Monday, September 01, 2008

Would anyone care if ur brand goes out of existence ?

A recent tragedy, just across my street ,makes me wonder what that actually meant to a lot of people.

Saravana Stores , a huge retailer in T.Nagar Chennai , caught a major fire early in the morning due to a short circuit . (One of the reasons I was perturbed was not because of the actual fire but due to the fact that , the whole area was kinda choked with police vehicles,fire engines ,road blocks and so on.)

It may not mean a lot to me , if Saravana Stores goes out of business the next day.
But it sure well raises quite an eyebrow and a concern to their target segment - The masses

It doesnt have any loyalty offers. They dont have frequent discount sales.They do not offer the best customer service or the "ultimate shopping experience" or the best quality products.
Despite all of that , they have managed to build a massive empire , as one of the biggest stores in Chennai offering everything from furnitures to clothes to jewelry
Not exactly defined as a hypermarket though , they have managed to create the impression of selling their products at the cheapest price ever possible.
Something what Wal-mart in the US has also achieved quite considerably

What these brands has successfully built upon over the past years , is a clearly defined target segment , a unique positioning and a hardcore loyal following and more importantly , an emotional bonding

One of the most definitive success factors for a brands to become sustainable over time is for people to have a emotional bonding and a unique position in their mind about the brand.

This is one of the same reasons which points out where Big Bazaar is failing.
Despite being a massive crowd puller , Big Bazaar has failed in creating a emotional bond over its customers.As long its the only hypermarket in town people would keep going to it. With the most horrible shopping experiences , poor services, and bad product qualities ,zero parking space Big Bazaar offers everything which you dont need in a hypermarket of that size

When Wal Mart ,Tesco or Spars comes in , I guess its jus a matter of time before people dump the Big B for the latter

And coming back to my main theme :

What brands would make me feel a lot if it goes out of business tom ?
1) Microsoft - I am totally addicted to its operating system and its Office Suite .
2) The Hindu - Not a day goes by without reading the Hindu
3) Google - A consistent solution provider for all my questions.
4) Philips - The best ever quality ,long lasting ,assured electronics company

None of the competing brands can ever replace these from my life.Cos they managed to create an emotional attachment , which possibly a Times of India ,or a Sony or as a matter of fact, Apple has completely failed to do so (Atleast for me !)