Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making Sense of Mobile Tariffs in Bangalore.

Mobile phones are a bare necessity these days, no matter where you go. If you have access to a smartphone, it is even better.

However, if you are used to 'all-you-can-eat' mobile plans as in the US, for example, it will take some sorting out to make the best out of the mobile plans in Bangalore, and perhaps in India.

A year ago, in June 2013, I got a SIM card for my then phone, an iPhone 4. Since I spent only a few days during that visit, I didn't pay attention to how the mobile tariffs worked, even though I was somewhat aware of the myriads of options, and settled for the Full Talktime options my bank provided.

It turns out that the options can be indeed mind-boggling. Just take a look at this Airtel example for Easy Recharge options for prepaid phones online in the Karnataka region. Yes — that's right — there are upwards of 60 Easy Recharge options from which to choose.

Primarily, if you determine the duration of your stay, you can maximize the mobile value by choosing additional options for Calls — Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD) with or without roaming, International Subscriber Dialing (ISD), etc. — SMS, Internet access.

Airtel calls these options as packs.

So, you have to buy the packs in addition to the Full Talktimes, if you want to play the mobile usage optimization game.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My First Uber Ride in Bangalore.

Uber ride in Bangalore?

I have experienced Uber ride in the US, and it has been quite pleasant.

My enthusiasm for experiencing an Uber ride in Bangalore, was boundless, as I landed last Tuesday. I had specially bought an Android smartphone as I landed in India so that I could use Uber App during my stay. (Use of an unlocked iPhone with a North America number, while possible, can add up to quite a sum while roaming internationally).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Uber in Bangalore, and the Impact of Social Networking.

Uber, the Silicon Valley startup transportation company that recently raised a capital of $1.2B at a "post-money" valuation of $18.2B, has transportation services that serves the city of Bangalore, along with other prominent Indian cities.

What is interesting about this startup company? According to CEO Travis Kalanick:
"So what is that vision?… It’s a reflection of our mission to turn ground transportation into a seamless service. Basically make car ownership a thing of the past…"
Make car ownership a thing of the past. Wow! With cloud computing, we have made, for most enterprises (and people), "big" computer ownership a thing of the past. With streaming music and video, we have CD and DVD ownership a thing of the past. Now, entrepreneurs are working to make car ownership a thing of the past. Nice. What is next? I digressed.

Having experienced the Uber service in the United States, and as a frequent visitor to Bangalore, it was necessary for me to conduct an exercise of comparison between Uber, and a particular taxi service I have used in Bangalore, Meru Cabs.

From the screenshot you see at left, of a page from Meru Cabs' web site, you can see the following:

Rate for first 4 km = ₹80
Rate after 4 km = ₹19.50/km

So, for a 40 km ride, say from the airport, you would incur a fare of ₹80 + (40-4)*₹19.50 = ₹782.

The UberBLACK service, which is somewhat similar and whose screenshot you see on the right, has the following tariffs in Bangalore:

Base fare = ₹80 (irrespective of total distance)
Time component = ₹2/minute
Distance component = ₹18/km

So, for a 40 km ride, involving 1 hour, then, you would have a total fare of ₹80 + 2*60 + 40*₹18 = ₹920.

If you are able to avail of the service when certain discounts are offered — say of 49% between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm as seen by the tweet on the Uber screenshot — you could incur only 51%*₹920 = ₹470. And, Meru charges a slightly higher rate, between midnight and 6:00 am.

Thus, the power of social networking may provide Uber a slight advantage of being able to attract a larger number of customers provided, of course, you can make use of social networking as you land in Bangalore.

Of course, the comparison may not be perfect; but, nevertheless, it is useful to have this comparison in mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Google's 'Know Your Candidates Tool' for India's Lok Sabha 2014 Elections.

Bangalore South Constituency Contestants, Lok Sabha 2014 
Google's engineers have created an interesting interactive web site of India's 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In the Bangalore South constituency, where Nandan Nilekani, former chief of the Unique Identification Authority of India, is one of the contestants, there are 21 others. 22 people in all for 1 single Lok Sabha seat. (In other words, the 'best' of these 22 contents will get elected to the lower house of the parliament.