The Blogging Scene In Pakistan


Ten years ago a set of 95 theses were organized and put forward as a manifesto, for all businesses operating within what was then suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. Titled ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, it put forward an idea that the Internet was unlike the ordinary media used in mass marketing as it enables people to have “human to human” conversations, which have the potential to transform traditional business practices radically. The authors asserted that a shift would occur through substantial and pervasive changes in current company-to-consumer interaction. Communication would shift from mission statements and marketing media aimed at consumer segments to open dialogues or conversations between businesses and consumers, whilst online marketing would be more about holding conversations with people rather than broadcasting half-truths about products and services. Turns out that tens years on that now everything is a conversation.

The fastest growing alternative media to the traditional channels (3.7 million results on Google Pages from Pakistan and 367,000 blogs found), blogs in Pakistan are now being credited from everything from bringing a giant corporate to its knees over its negligence during a reality show, greater consumer awareness, putting pressure on governments and politicians for greater transparency, showcasing the new and the trendy to the point where all gadgets now MUST have a blogger’s meetup at launch followed up by reviews, media practices, latest fashions, marketing and even general venting of frustration at All Things Pakistan.

The ability for anyone to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see for free has been equated with bringing in the same revolution as the printing press did 400 years ago. So much so that every traditional broadcast media & newspaper worth their salt has started their own blogging channels to avoid missing out on this cluetrain. Just on Dawn.com alone, one is treated to a myriad of subjects ranging from Politics, Satire, Sports, Technology, Business, Culture, Food to much much more. Politics of course is the favorite subject and one is treated to the widest range of topics from ‘Couldn’t She Find A Nice Indian Boy’ to deep philosophically inclined discussions on women’s rights and the burka. One is also treated to all the content that one would never be privy too in our traditional channels especially regarding our political leaders.  Sports too especially Cricket are the passion of the nation and nowhere is it more apparent than on the net with the keywords ‘Cricket Blog Pakistan’ resulting in 446,000 results from Pakistan alone.

The biggest benefactor of the blogging scene however has been the Citizen Journalism scene, everything from taking on the big bad corporate and their policies to exploit low waged workers and risk their lives in factories without proper precautions or rights, or to prison seriously injured workers in a hospital room to block them from the media and labor movements, action against exploitative advertising of baby milk or more minor issues like delays in payments has been documented and archived for generations to come. The citizen of Pakistan’s voice is finally being heard and it is loud and demanding remedial for the generations of anger, exploitation and squelching of our voices.

One of the management gurus Tom Peters said, “One of my grand theories is that, fundamentally, there’s only one source of innovation, and that’s pissed off people. I think anger is the essential motivator.” If this is the case than this is our time to change the Pakistani world the way we want it to be with the power of the word. It has been known for eons to be mightier than the sword and with digital distribution it’s a tsunami now which will shatter all that that comes in its path.

 

Intel Core i5 750 – First Look


Intel Core i5 LogoIntel took a big leap forward in the design department when it launched Core i7 900-series processors last year. Just a few of these improvements included a new triple-channel memory controller integrated into the chip, a new QuickPath Interconnect system to replace (and improve upon) the front-side bus architecture of old and the return of hyperthreading that split the chip’s four physical cores into eight virtual cores for increased system performance.

The Core i7 900-series chips were based on a new Intel X58 chipset and LGA1366 socket, therefore aspiring enthusiasts had to invest in new motherboards to reap the benefits of the Core i7 900-series platform. This rig was also expensive, so Intel recently launched a more mainstream processor – the Core i5.

The Core i5

The new Intel Core i5 750 is the first release in a series of processors based on a mainstream version of the Core i7 platform. It is a quad-core part based on the “Lynnfield” architecture, fabricated using a 45nm process ( Intel’s newest processor architecture known as Nehalem) and utilizes the new LGA1156 platform (note: Different from the Core i7’s LGA 1366). The Core i5 750 CPU is set to cost around the Rs. 16,000 mark and will operate at a 2.66GHz speed. It will feature a whopping 8MB L3 cache, but no Hyper-Threading support will be present.

Like the i7, the Core i5 CPU also run on Intel’s latest P55 chipset, which necessitates a new motherboard purchase for use. What’s changed, however, is that the Core i5 CPUs has adopted a different permutations of the fanciest of the Core i7 900-series’ features.

Core i5

What has been dropped

To make it more economical Intel has removed the QuickPath Interconnect and triple-channel memory controller and replaced it with a Direct Media Interface (DMI) and dual-channel memory controller. The difference is that QPI is like hyper transport with bandwidth of 25.6GB/s. It is the new “front side bus” being a direct link from the CPU(s) to the north bridge. DMI on the other hand is a connection between the north bridge and the south bridge with bandwidth of 2-4 GB/s. Does it matter? Not much. Most software don’t require such heavy power just yet offered by QPI and given the minute performance differences between current dual- and triple-channel memory configurations this is not much of a loss. This is however bad for future proofing. If you were to go out, and buy an Core i5 rig right now, a year down the road, when prices drop and you’d like to purchase the i7, you’ll have to buy another motherboard and new ram from scratch. It is not designed with the upgrade consumer in mind. But even remaining on the same platform means plenty of options such as future offerings including the 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 processors that will have a thermal design power of just 73 watts, 23% less than that of the 45nm Lynnfield architecture. Also meant to use the same platform are the Core i3 series and let’s not forget the Core i7 800 series.

Secondly, an integrated PCI Express graphics controller on this Lynnfield CPUs can either deliver 16 lanes of bandwidth to a single PCI Express 2.0 videocard or split this connection into two x8 lanes for an SLI or CrossFire setup. Although it’s a cut from the full 32 lanes (for a dual 16x or quad-8x configuration) provided by Core i7’s X58 chipset, the bandwidth reduction should only affect those who SLI or CrossFire dual-GPU videocards.

Third, like we mentioned earlier, the core i5 has no hyper-threading. While Core i7 is a quad-core, it appears in Windows as having eight cores. This further improves performance when using programs that make good use of multi-threading. Core i5 products, however, will not have this feature, which means operating systems will recognize the processors as having four core and no more. This will have no affect on the performance of most applications, like web browsers and even games, but it will be a blow to those who use 3D rendering software and other such programs that excel with multi-threading.
Performance

For the most part, the Core i5’s internal workings are identical to existing Core i7 processor and offsetting the superficially dumbed down feature set is a more aggressive implementation of Intel’s auto-overclocking feature known as Turbo Boost. Whilst the Core i7 900-series CPUs will only increase their multipliers to a maximum of two additional steps according to system demands (effectively taking a 3.33-GHz processor to 3.6-GHz depending on how many cores are in use), the new Lynnfield Core i5 750 processors are able to jump up four multiplier steps (2.66-GHz to a maximum 3.2-GHz) with Turbo Boost enabled. With over-clocking you can easily expect to hit the 3.6 GHz mark and even up to 4.3 GHz if you know how to. This chip has a lot of room to spare.

Our Test

Instead of using a high-end system, we decided to put the Intel Core i5 750 to the test using a real-world system that mostly anyone can afford and running just a gaming test for lack of other options.

System Configuration:

Manufacturer: Intel
Family: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU 750 @ 2.67GHz
Architecture: 64-bit
MultiCore: 4 Processor Cores
Capabilities: MMX, CMov, RDTSC, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, PAE, NX, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2
Cache
Level 3, 8 MB
Level 2, 256 KB
Level 1, 32 KB

Graphics Card: 1GB PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT (Microsoft Corporation – WDDM v1.1)
DirectX Info: Version 10.1
RAM: 2 GB DDR2

Test Results

Core i5 Specs

Benchmark Results

3D Mark Advantage Specs Core i5

Checking the scores online shows that the Core i5 750’s score of 12624 falls right around the scores set by competing PCs that use Core i7 920 processors and is better than the scores set by the Core 2 Duos and most of the Core 2 Quads of the world.

CPU Test 1 Score: 1794.93 Plans / sec

AI: The AI test features a high-intensity workload of co-operative maneuvering and path-finding artificial intelligence calculations. The test setting is an airplane race course crowded with planes, all attempting to navigate through a series of gates while avoiding collisions with each other and the ground. The test load consists of the movement planning for each airplane. The workload is entirely parallelized, and can utilize multi-core CPUs to the fullest. Faster CPUs will be able to compute more frequent and timely movement plans for the airplanes, resulting in smarter flight routes.

The CPU tests run at a fixed resolution of 1280×1024, and most of the graphics options are drastically reduced. There are almost no post-processing effects, no complex shaders, no shadows, and none of the world outside what you see on screen is modeled. The idea is to limit the impact of the GPU so much that even budget, entry-level cards can display the tests so easily that they’re entirely CPU-limited.

The i5 blew past this test with flying colors better than a 3.0GHz Core 2 Extreme 9650 quad-core CPU would perform (score: 1678).

CPU Test 2 Score: 15.52 Steps /s

Physics: The Physics Test features a heavy workload of future generation game physics computations. The scene is set at an air race, but with an unfortunately dangerous configuration of gates. Planes trailing smoke collide with various cloth and soft-body obstacles, each other, and the ground. The smoke spreads, and reacts to the planes passing through it.

The test spawns one pair of gates for each CPU core. So, four gates in a quad-core CPU. If there’s a hardware physics card in the system, subtract one from that number and then add four (seven gates in a quad-core system). Each pair of gates is its own independent physically simulated “world” and does not interact with the other pairs of gates.

Since we didn’t have a PhysX card, the system performed at normal levels expected for the configuration.

Our Evaluation

Gaming

The tests of Core i5 indicate that its gaming performance will match or is better than that of the Core i7 920. This, more than anything, is likely due to the Lynnfields’  improving on the Turbo Boost feature. However, if you already own a high-end Core 2 Duo or Quad, upgrading only on the basis of gaming performance isn’t the best idea. If you are in the market for a new one, definitely buy the Core i5.

Power

We couldn’t test this feature ourselves, so we’ll take Intel’s word for it. Intel has been going to great lengths to ensure their processors use as little power as possible. Core i5 is no exception. The new power management feature throttles down the cores automatically when they aren’t being used. This, along with a general refinement of the manufacturing process has resulted in a processor that just sips at power. It is our guess that a Core i5 system, even when paired with a high-end graphics card, will idle at under 100 watts – for the entire system. This is an impressive achievement.

Overall:
The Core i5 750 looks to be a solid winner. Its true strength lies in the Turbo Boost Technology. With it, the processor can automatically overclock all four of its cores independently to match the workload at hand. Down-clocking works equally as well thanks to new power saving features. The only thing it is lacking compared to the other Lynnfield processors is hyper-threading.

This system is highly recommended for those looking to dip their toes into the Nehalem platform without breaking the bank. The Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad parts will eventually die out, putting an end to the LGA775 platform, so it only makes sense now to buy  this far superior system than invest a new in an old one.

Cheat Sheet:

If you’re as confused as a whole lot of us with all this information over-load, here’s a cheat sheet for use to compare different Intel’s offerings. (source: PC World)
Intel Lynnfield Chips

A Quick Review Of Telenor’s Internet Data Connectivity on Persona Package


Telenor PersonaI recently shifted my phone connection to Telenor’s Post-paid Persona Package with Unlimited Data Connectivity. The reason for choosing Telenor was that it offers the widest EDGE connectivity when compared to other operators in Pakistan, supposedly in more than 2000 cities & towns of Pakistan, which is very useful for someone like me who travels a lot.

Secondly, being a heavy user of the prepay version, paying @Rs. 15 per MB was burning a hole in my pocket, the size of  a small Earth.

Here’s a quick recap for those who don’t know about the features of the Persona’s Unlimited Connectivity Package.

  • You Get 2GB of data bandwith (which is calculated as Upload + Download) for only Rs. 500 + tax per month.
  • Additional data usage will be charged at Rs. 5 per MB w/0 tax = Rs. 6 with Tax.
  • Refundable Security is Rs. 1,000.

I have been a very satisfied user of Pre-Paid internet and have always encountered fast speeds, thus I expected the same on the post-paid package, so after buying it, i put it to the test.

My Testing Equipment:

1. Nokia 5730 Phone Connected To My Core 2 Duo Laptop via Nokia Ovi Suite 2.0.

2. Multiple Online Tests Such As http://www.speedtest.net and download from http://www.download.com.

3. Areas Tested: Korangi, Clifton, PECHS.

Testing Telenor Persona Connectivity

Results:

On the Post-paid package the average speed i’ve encountered is 56 kbps (7 KB per second) to a maximum of 104 kbps (12 KB per second) during bursts.

telenor persona connectivity test
Maximum Burst Copyright@iStrategem

Most of the time however the speed stays within the 6 KB – 8KB per second limit.

Telenor Persona Connectivity
Average Rate Copyright@iStrategem

The Ping & Latency rate on the connection is very high and most times the packets time out. As you can see below, testing with the Sprint servers, the average speed (up and down) is 82 kbps/84 kbps (9.5 KB per second) with a latency of 462 ms. In the real world, this means that services such as streaming music (internet radio) don’t work at all on the connection, whilst watching YouTube videos through the connection  will ensure that the video will constantly buffer.

Mobile Broadband On Telenor Persona

Conclusion

Coverage:

Generally coverage is quite reasonable. The network offers above average reliability (it always connected fast) and as far as EDGE coverage in Karachi is concerned, it was very good.

General Usability:

Telenor is offering a GPRS level of service at most places. It’s good enough for email or basic surfing but don’t expect to open content rich pages or watch videos on your phone anytime soon.

Conclusion: At most places you will only be able to get a GPRS level of service (48 Kbps) and not the speeds promised by EDGE (384 kbps) and in that manner you are paying a very high price.

Due the comparatively slow and unstable speeds, it is recommended only if you only intend to use it for general/basic Internet activity.

On the whole it certainly makes for an effective remote working or land-line backup connection. which still makes it a useful, if not quite yet a true mass market land-line broadband alternative.

Update: 1st December, 2009

Since the publication of this post, Telenor seems to have updated its service levels. The average speed now regularly hits 18-20 KB per second.

Telenor Persona Speed Check

Updated: 22nd December, 2009

It was too much to expect for the service levels to continue. The speeds didn’t last. Whatever it was, it was fun whilst it lasted. Speeds are back to the pre-updated levels hovering between 5-6 KB per second.

Is Nokia The Next Motorola?


Nokia LogoNokia recently posted its Q3 2009 results and to say they’re disturbing would be a gross understatement. While net sales and operating profit didn’t fare well being down 1% and 4.4% from the previous quarter, the real startling figure is how Nokia is doing now compared to the same time last year. With a net loss of some 559€mm ($833.9mm USD) and sales tallying 9.8€bb ($14.62bb USD), YoY net sales were down 19.8% while operating profit plummeted a jaw dropping 57.8%.

Last year too in the smartphone category,in Q4 2008, Nokia’s smartphone sales had dipped a whopping 17 percent to 15.6 million units. As always, one company’s loss is another’s gain and no two companies highlighted this fact more than more than RIM and Apple. Both more or less doubled their smartphone market share, which than stood at 19.5 percent and 10.7 percent respectively. Apart from the big three, sales of HTC devices were then up 20 percent while Samsung saw its sales increase by an amazing 138 percent to 1.6 million units. Still, they each only commanded modest stake in the smartphone market at 4.3 percent and 1.8 percent respectively at the time.

This year, In terms of market share, Nokia neither lost nor gained ground having managed to hang on to its estimated 38% market share despite pushing approximately 108.5 million devices. Still, this does not change the fact that Nokia’s handset sales are down 8% as the world’s consumers focused their attention on devices made by other manufacturers.

The biggest gainer overall this year…Apple. Its financial results for the fourth quarter 2009, have beat out the predictions. This quarter has seen Apple hit its best results in the history of the company, boasting a rather hefty $1.67 billion profit. The results, found here, show that Apple managed just short of $10 billion in revenue, at a total of $9.87 billion. Apple sold 3.05 million computers during the quarter, giving it a 17 percent unit increase over the previous Q4 results. Additionally, the company sold 10.2 million iPods and 7.4 million iPhones, representing an eight percent unit decline and a seven percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter, respectively. Even LG’s managed better. Now with Palm’s amazing Pre and Android taking over almost all manufacturers, will Nokia will go the same way as Motorola especially since their initiative to make Symbian OpenSource has thus far proven ineffective?

This was the reverie I was in whilst at the launch of the new Nokia E72 Handset at Karachi, Sheraton today. Anyway, first the formalities:

nokia e72

Summary

Built on S60 3rd Edition FP2, the Nokia E72 is optimized for messaging and e-mail with a full messaging keyboard and support for EGPRS, WCDMA, HSDPA/HSUPA (3.5G) and WLAN. The device features two customizable Home Screen modes, active noice cancellation and a 5 Mpix autofocus camera. You can write messages with intelligent text input, enjoy videos, music, and graphics on the 2.36” QVGA display. Additional features include GPS and Nokia Maps 3.0, UPnP, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, and USB 2.0 High-Speed.

About Nokia E72
The E72 builds on the formula from the hugely successful Nokia E71, Nokia’s best selling QWERTY device to date. This latest arrival in Nokia’s Eseries family maintains essential elements of its predecessor, whilst still improving its capabilities in a number of areas.
“Despite the outstanding market performance of the Nokia E71, we still continually look for ways to enhance the device,” said Trude Gajland, Category Head Nokia Eseries, MEA. “So we included the desktop like email experience from the Nokia E75 and gave it a new optical navigation key for more intuitive scrolling through menus, emails and fast panning of images. We also upgraded the camera to 5 megapixels and added a standard 3.5 mm audio jack.”
On top of these developments, for the first time, owners will be able to set up instant messaging (IM) accounts provided by Nokia Messaging direct from the homescreen. In just a few steps, device owners will be able to connect to their favorite IM accounts such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Ovi, amongst many others.
These new IM features are complimented by Nokia’s range of email solutions with a lifetime license for Nokia’s mobile email and IM service, Nokia Messaging, as well as onboard clients for Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. Accessing popular accounts such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Ovi Mail and thousands of other email service providers is simple through improved on-device email setup, with the same easy to use UI integrating all of the owner’s corporate email accounts as well.

Other notable features which have been included in the Nokia E72  include A-GPS and compass with integrated Maps, including lifetime walk and 10 days of turn-by-turn navigation if activated within the first three months. Conversations are also clearer with active noise cancellation, and a torch can be activated with a single press of the spacebar key. The office capabilities have been updated with a new version of Quickoffice, which delivers Microsoft Office 2007 compatibility as well as free version upgrades when new features become available.

For further information, the RAM is 256 MB and the processor is clocked up to 600mhz but it is still an arm 11. Finally Nokia arrives to the 600 Mhz category and even then half-heartedly. Whew! Now let’s review what I think of the launch.

According to the Imran Khaild, GM Nokia, Nokia is not trying to displace the 25000 or so Blackberry users in Pakistan. Instead Nokia wants to use a 40,000 PKR phone to cater to the ‘Consumer Market’ as well as the ‘Corporate’……

Correct me if i’m wrong here. It’s one thing that Nokia’s having trouble penetrating the Pakistani corporate market (and even international i’m supposing) due to international policies, IT Policies and the first mover advantage by BB with the Pakistani telecoms. However, the belief that the E-series can cater to a  consumer market requires serious re-thinking. In a world dominated by affluent teens and young adults who thrive on IMs, SMS and increasingly social networks on their phone (incidentally Facebook App on Nokia is the worst i’ve used) are being targetted via a 30 year old technology whose behavior requires that a person think

Copyright @ SenseApplied 2009
10 Points For Guessing Right. Which Is The New Phone? Copyright@SenseApplied 2009

and reply in a more fuller answer than 160 characters. Not the behavior observed in our youth.There’s also a reason why though 300 million people have tried mobile email, only 10% have retained their accounts there (source: Gartner). Mobile behavior is just not conducive towards email messaging beyond short messages and reading. Yet Nokia believes it can cater to the 80% of the people who still don’t have email accounts when they (the people) have already jumped to technologies like SNN and SMS for most of their needs. Anyways, let’s see if this strategy would work.

The other thing observed at the launch was regarding the nature of the questions and general discussion over lunch. The most popular questions asked at the launch were direct comparisons to the iPhone or its features especially touch (to which Imran replied they want to produce touch for the mass market than an elite market…..). This reminded me about Apple’s recent stunt. In a question as to how Apple viewed its increased competition for the iPhone, Apple COO Tim Cook said “they’re still catching up with the first iPhone”. Nokia… you just cannot do Touch. Touch is a nightmare on Symbian, no matter how cheap it is. I’ve used both the 5800 XM and a 5530 XM in my lifetime and neither gets marks for ease of use or accessibility. Both still require a stylus to use properly.

One of the FAQs often thrown at Nokia’s events is regarding number of iPhone Apps vs. number of Nokia’s Apps. Nokia’s answer usually is that we have countless apps and thus more than Apple. However, that is side stepping the issue very neatly. Apple just crossed the 100,000 Apps for ONE PHONE only. Nokia’s apps are spread over so many series and models, that none of the phones probably has more than 10,000 at best. I counted around 4000 for my Nokia 5730 on http://www.getjar.com.

Also If i were the brand manager at Nokia, i’d be getting serious nightmares. Instead of one of my phones being the benchmark / standard in the industry (e.g. N72 vs. Nokia 97) or even the current E72 phone being launched thought cool enough to define a new standard, i’m nowhere in the tech leader’s category. Instead for free my main competitor is gaining publicity at my expense. Though the questions were handled very deftly (full marks to Imran), it just shows that people belief that Nokia’s losing its technology lead to its competitors. Even during lunch the general conversation centered around a lot of topics but what was launched.

The problem is being multiplied moreso. The upcoming phones by Nokia are just more of the same. These include the Nokia N97 mini, Nokia X6 and Nokia 5230.

Now I agree completely that most of the sales for Nokia comes from mid-low end phones especially in the sub-continental and Chinese markets. Unlike the west also, we simply can’t afford iPhones or most smart-phones. We pay full price for ‘Unlocked’ phones rather than having them subsidized through telecom packages, thus Nokia’s offerings really makes sense in our price conscious markets. However, does the strategy of keep pumping out so called “new models” with minor differences (e.g. 6303, N95, N86, 7310, 7510 etc…) really work? Do potential customers of these phones really care if the cam has been “upgraded” or not? If sales are increasing whilst profit is shrinking, so does it still make sense to keep pumping out so called “new models” constantly? More importantly when YOY the sales results are showing that the strategy is not working, why is the strategy not being changed.

In marketing, we have a saying that ‘Less Is More’. Yet Nokia is increasingly trying to ‘cater to all markets’ and segments, not noticing that these are not the markets of a decade ago. GM had the same problem with low end Japanese imports (Chinese mobiles anyone) and premium brands and tried to get out of the situation then by launching Saturn.

Fundamentally, there are two ways to increase sales: (1) Expand the brand, or (2) Expand the brand’s market share.

Most companies focus on the first way, expanding the brand. While this might seem to work in the short term, expanding the brand will eventually weaken the brand and leave it in worse shape than before the process began. While it’s more difficult to expand a brand’s market share, this is the better way to go. The larger the market share, the more powerful a brand becomes. When a brand reaches 50 percent or more market share, it becomes so dominant that it is almost impossible for a competitor to overtake.

Perception dictates reality. Does Starbucks coffee tastes better because the consumer thinks it tastes better or is it really better?

The larger the market share, the more dominant the brand, the greater effect the brand has on the consumer’s perception of reality. All candy bars are pretty much alike, because no one brand dominates the category. Every one percent increase in a brand’s market share does two things, both favorable. One, it increases the power of the brand in the mind of the consumer and two, it decreases the power of competitive brands.

The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign should be to dominate the brand’s category so the brand itself becomes a generic name for the category.

Which brings up the sad saga of Saturn.

Here is a brand introduced by GM less than 20 years ago in a highly competitive category. In 1994, just four years after its introduction, Saturn hit its high-water mark, selling 286,003 cars. That year, the average Saturn dealer sold more vehicles than the average of any other brand. That was the year the Saturn spirit was in full bloom. That was the year 44,000 owners and families attended a ‘homecoming’ at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. So what did Saturn do next? Did it try to expand its market share? Or did it try to expand the Saturn brand into larger and more expensive vehicles? You’re right. Expand the brand.

A typical quote from that year: ‘Many analysts feel that Saturn will eventually need a bigger model to retain customers as they older and more affluent’, reported The Wall Street Journal in its June 17, 1994 issue. In the February 9, 1998 issue of Automotive News, Ron Zarella, then vice president of GM’s North American sales, service and marketing, was quoted as saying, We’re doing everything we can to get them a wider product range. In the March 9, 1998 issue of AutomotiveSaturn goodbye News, Charles Child, news editor, said: GM has to bite the bullet and let Saturn spread its wings. That is, give Saturn a full line of cars and light trucks as soon as practical. In January 1999, Cynthia Trudell took over as head of Saturn and as you might expect, one of the first things she said was that Saturn is definitely looking for ways to expand the portfolio. (Ms. Trudell was the first woman to head a car division at any domestic or foreign auto maker.) Two years later, Ms. Trudell was gone and Annette Clayton took over. The strategy didn’t change, however. My focus for the immediate future, said Ms. Clayton, is to prepare us for the SUV launch and to position us to grow the portfolio. The larger Saturn (the S series) was introduced in 1999. The sport-utility vehicle (the Vue) in 2002 and a replacement for the original Saturn (the Ion), also in 2002. When Bob Lutz arrived at GM as vice chairman responsible for product development, he sounded the same tune. In the December 13, 2004 issue of Fortune, he was quoted as saying: We’re investing in Saturn’s future because the inherent health of the brand is quite good. It just needs a bigger, more exciting product portfolio. Nothing helped. Saturn sales fluctuated over the years, but never reached the high-water mark of 1994. Then in 2004, in spite of the fact that Saturn dealers had three models to sell, as opposed to the original one, sales were only 212,017 units, down 26 percent from 1994. Average sales per dealer were only 483 units, half the level of a decade earlier.

The E-series is starting to sound like GM’s Saturn. In catering to the Corporate Category, Nokia’s losing its focus on the consumer markets (My Nokia 5730 does not sync with OVI Store and doesn’t work with OVI Suite 1.4 out of the box). Worse, it’s not even doing corporate well. There’s virtually no distinction between the different phones in the E-series. The hyped up Nokia-Seimens venture NSN is going the Nortel way. (Do read up on http://www.cn-c114.net/577/a452043.html). The technologies being deployed are starting to sound old. On the consumer smartphone front, Samsung Star has swept the market in our part of the world because of which Nokia’s launched a mega-campaign promoting the 5530 to contest it. Nokia Pakistan is also not bracing for the fact that operators are starting to bundle phones with their packages and whilst it’s going to be impossible to route Nokia from the low-end phones market in the immediate future (they make up over 80% of Nokia Pakistan’s Revenues), over time the sexier technologies being bundled with Chinese (TV anyone?????) and other OEMs manufacturer will create a dent in the market share as the category shifts from voice to other forms.

Granted there’s a huge difference between cars & phones and markets and times… however in my opinion Nokia is starting to sound the same tune. They’ve lost what made them Nokia in the first place ‘Connecting People’ and are trying to expand the brand into areas where it doesn’t belong using the same technologies over and over, pushing them to death in all their series until there’s virtually no differentiation – a death knell for the brand. Here’s an excerpt from their press release ‘… we make a wide range of devices for all major consumer segments and offer internet services that enable people to experience music, maps, media, messaging and games….’. Sounds like a serious lack of strategy. For what customers really think about their Flagship N97 check out http://www.intomobile.com/2009/10/27/video-dear-nokia-the-nokia-n97-blows-and-you-know-it.html. Toshiba’s recently announced that they’ll be mass producing a 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor for fones in Q3 2010. Compare that to the highest Nokia 8 megs.

With the new enterprise / corporate trends like cloud computing devices, Enterprise 2.0, android, Winmo 7 (i’m really excited about this one), mobility computing, social applications, HD on phones and so much more, where do we place Nokia’s products in the upcoming smarter world especially its E-series?

Social Media In Pakistan


I had the opportunity to attend the Young Social Reformers ‘Tipping Point, 2009 – New Age Media Strategies For The Next Frontier’ held at Mariott Hotel on Sat. 6th June, 2009.

The objective of this event was to uncover the core principles of New Age Media Strategies and was attended by some big-wigs such as the provincial Information Minister Shazia Marri. Ms. Nasreen Jalil was the chief guest at the closing ceremony.The focus of the conference was on how the organization can leverage social media to achieve their business goals through blogs, micro-blogging, wikis, podcasts, video, forums, social networks, online communities, and social book marking sites which are increasingly being levered by the companies to build brand visibility and equity, promote products and services, influence communities, increase website traffic and leads.

The speakers list was impressive comprising of Mr. Masood Hashmi, CEO Orient Mcann, Raza Haroon, Minister Information Technology, Badar Khushnood country head Google, Dr Abrar Ali Baig, SEVP National Bank Of Pakistan, Naheed Memon, Director Medcom, Fahim Siddiqui, anchor Geo Tv, Qashif Effendi, CEO 180 Degrees, Khurram Rahat, Country Director Teradata, Shoaib Shamsi, Assistant Prof Greenwhich University, Faisal Qureshi, anchor Samaa TV, Dr Auzar Wajidi Dean Management Sciences KU, Anila Weldon, CEO Weldon BBS, Tabish Sabah Microsoft, Attah Shabbir.

However except for the presentation by Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant Google in which he talked about the blogging scene in Pakistan and how the young are opting it as a ‘lifestyle’, the other speakers had no idea of what they were talking about. I especially enjoyed talking to him about ‘Dr. Alvi’ (whose blog has been awarded in the whole of South Asia for its political analysis and coverage) and about ‘Sizzled Core’, young Harris who is at the forefront of technology. We also discussed ‘Sense Applied’ and how Farhan’s coverage of the N97 led to Pakistan being featured as one of the two countries who ‘Unboxed’ the N97 before it was even launched. This is what makes social media great in Pakistan.

For the rest, in the 9 hour session, we were treated to marketing 101 style presentations, self-promotion, lots of hot air, spiel and a general non-idea about the subject matter at hand. I guess it was to be expected since sans three speakers (Badar, Tabish and Qashif), none of the people were marketers in general and none had worked in social media before. With both the other good speakers, mismanagement occurred with Tabish Sabah, Microsoft and Qashif Effendi, 180 Degrees (who had a 80 slide presentation specially prepared for the event) both not being able to speak – Tabish because the time-management at the conference was below par and he had meeting elsewhere and Qashif because one of the management forgot he was sitting on stage and closed the session. These were the only two speakers other speakers who would have had something worthwhile to talk, probably.

Perhaps the only thing good i can say about the initiative is that the govt. officials had to say the word ‘Blog’. Though probably they didn’t understand a word about it. At least now they know that there is something happening in our part of the world.

I don’t know what’s all the fuss about these technologies, unless it’s just to be thought of as cool. With all the talk surrounding ‘Social Media’, people keep forgetting that it’s nothing new. Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

Perhaps the hype is because of the social networks such as Facebook and Orkut which have taken our world by storm. Marketers want to tap into these networks and thus are trying to leverage the technologies to their advantage without understanding the rules of the game. Marketers listen up, social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for companies and brands. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place. YSR people, take note for your next initiative.

If you want to read more about the conference, Saqib at Brandasy has done a wonderful job of it.