#housing.com has launched ‘Online Rental Agreement’ product for its Bangalore users. Housing’s ‘Rental Agreement’ product helps people create and customize an agreement from wherever they are.
All one needs is the internet. Users give inputs like rent, property area, security deposit, facilities available etc. and whenever required can also review the clauses in the background.
The unique feature of Housing Rental Agreement (link) is that Housing.com pays stamp duty on the behalf of tenants and landlords, and delivers the e-stamped rental agreement at their doorstep within just 48 hours! The platform also has an e-stamp calculator that ensures users pay the correct stamp-duty.
What next? Well, they should enable renting online.
With a view to include low income groups into the ecommerce ecosystem, Snapdeal has partnered with financial solutions and services company FINO PayTech to launch assisted eCommerce centers in semi urban, rural and low income residential areas across the country. Snapdeal aims at providing people access to an assortment of over 1000 products through the centers which would be operated by FINO Paytech.
The plan is to set up assisted outlets for people to shop online across 65 cities and over 70,000 rural areas by the end of this FY 14-15. Some of the locations that provide assisted ecommerce service include Dharavi (Asia’s Largest Slum), Varanasi, Valsad (Gujarat) Urban Villages of Noida, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Jaipur.
Through the assisted e-commerce model Snapdeal.com will be offering a special assortment of utility cum aspirational products for e.g. Speakers, Juicers, Solar Lanterns, Diner Sets, Camera and Mobile Phones. These products offer a high value proposition and have been curated on an exclusive page requiring login by FINO agent, who would place an order, collect payment, receive and deliver to people who have no permanent address.
“By leveraging Snapdeal’s nationwide distribution network and reach, we can now try and make a difference to our country, both on the demand and supply side. FINO will assist in sales, payments and delivery of ordered products to customers through its network” – Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO Snapdeal.
This year, the expectations are high and it’d be interesting to see if Google can pull manage the server load and importantly, beat Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon’s Diwali bonaza numbers.
Tip : If you are planning to buy anything, hold on till December 10th. But, ensure that you track the price rise/fall before and during GOSF. Etailers like Flipkart have been accused of increasing price during such discount bonanza.
According to the latest statistics released by Opera software,Norwegian developer of Web browsers, 50 million users in India now use Opera Mini browsers on their mobile phones making it the third largest mobile app used in India after Facebook and Whatsapp.
Opera Mini’s compression technology shrinks web pages by as much as 90% helping people to browse more for the same amount of data usage. It also renders web pages faster, making Opera Mini a preferred choice, especially in places with poor network conditions.
16 Indian handset manufacturers have already pre-installed Opera Mini on over 350 models of Android devices available in the market.
Opera also plans to bring on one million users online via its browsers through the pact it signed with Microsoft Corp. for use of its browser in handsets earlier manufactured by Nokia.
Aditya Agarwal, Vice President of Engineering at Dropbox, will join #flipkart’s Board of Directors as an independent board member.
Aditya came to Dropbox via the acquisition of Cove, a company he co-founded that was focused on improving group collaboration and communication.
Prior to Cove, Aditya was the Director of Product Engineering at Facebook where he oversaw the development of core products such as News Feed, Search, Photos, Profile and Applications. Aditya was one of the first engineers at Facebook and played an important role in helping to design and build core parts of the Facebook engineering infrastructure. Aditya holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Moneysights is an acqhire. The site shut down 2 years back, but personal finance is still a hot business and there isn’t a clear leader there. Given that the Moneysights team was talking to Times Internet (for a possible acquisition) before shutting down two years back, this acquisition is a logical step in collaborating.
Dineout was acquired to merge it with TimesCity (so that users of TimesCity can make online restaurant reservations). That is, product/tech + team acquisition.
In short, most deals are being done to boost an existing business and not just pure talent hires. This is not just cool, but sexy as well (other corporates need to learn from Times Internet).
What’s the NextBigWhat deal for Times Internet?
I’d like to believe Ecommerce. The freshly launched homepage of Indiatimes clearly tells this.
The link to Times’ ecommerce portal (i.e. shopping.indiatimes) is missing on the homepage (except for footer – which nobody cares about) .
When ecommerce is growing big and more customers are buying online, bailing out of ecommerce isn’t just cool. But Times Internet probably doesn’t have the DNA (?) to pull off an ecommerce business ( at a massive scale).
I am not sure how many of you noticed that around 6 months back, Shopping.Indiatimes also became price comparison engine, and an affiliate based model (even if you do not buy from Indiatimes, they will still make money if you buy from somebody else who is selling for cheap). But those are short-term arrangements/experiments.
Unlike Rediff, Times Internet is still hungry and the next big bet for them should be to grow the ecommerce portfolio (or just forget about this product line).
If not an ecommerce company, get hold of an enabler (hint : price comparison engines)?
Facebook has partnered with voice and missed call company VivaConnect to scale up its missed call ad unit business.
VivaConnect is a mobile media company that ideates, develops and delivers mobile initiatives and experiences for Brands, Television Networks and Enterprises to create an added business impact. The firm claims to manage a daily traffic of over 50 million outbound calls.
Facebook’s missed call ad was initiated to target the non-smartphone users in India. India has a 1.2-billion strong population, with only around 117 million smartphone users. About 66% people are carrying feature phones that lack touch screen capability, and hence they can’t interact much with the content on screen.
With the missed call ad feature, users can click on the ad and receive a call back with information that the user seeks for no charge at all. The information usually includes content like sports scores, news, or celebrity messages that people find valuable enough to take the time to listen to and interact with.
Facebook’s ad targeting system optimizes the content displayed on the user’s screen using their social data available on Facebook pages. Missed call ads and mobile access will allow for effective re-targeting of consumers.
Internet connectivity to rural India has always been an issue considering the vast geographical diversity of the country. Reaching to the rural most area of the country through laying fiber optics would take enormous amount of efforts and time. Innovative ideas like Google’s Project Loon, Facebook’s Internet.org and Microsoft’s White Spaces are looking to solve this issue on a global scale.
Here are some statistics:
According to an IAMAI report released in November of 2013, the number of internet users in India had reached 205 million in October 2013 of which 68 Million were rural Internet users. The report also mentions that rural India saw a 58% YOY growth in internet usage. 70% of the active rural internet users access internet using mobile phones, while 32% use internet only through mobile. The Community Service Centers and Cyber Cafes are the main point of access for 40% of them.
How India is looking to solve this issue
As of July 2014, Indian government has allocated Rs 500 Crore for its Digital India campaign that aims to set up broadband services in rural India. Earlier in November 2013, previous to the national elections, the government had also announced that it had cleared a proposal to provide three internet connections and one Wi-Fi hotspot in each of the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats spread across the country, under the Bharat Broadband scheme. The idea, raised by the Department of Telecom, planned to connect gram panchayats with National Optical Fiber Networks. This initiative did not meet its deadlines and only 40 development blocks covering 800 panchayats were laid with fiber optics.
BSNL is currently one among the preferred internet service provider in rural India as internet connections are provided through a fixed landline telephone connection and hence has larger coverage compared to other services currently available in India.
AirJaldi.net is a commercial network operator that aims at providing last mile connectivity in rural India at reduced and affordable costs. AirJaldi purchases huge bandwidth from ISPs like AirTel and distributes it to its clients, offering speeds ranging from 256 kbps to 6 mbps, though it is capable of offering speeds as high as 60-70 mbps. Also AirJaldi uses solar powered wireless relays that are mounted on small poles to create a connection network that has less down time. AirJaldi is currently available only in certain areas in rural India and is looking to expand its reach further.
Satellite Internet in India, termed as VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) includes wireless connectivity through satellites positioned in geosynchronous orbit. VSAT technology offers connectivity without geographical or location constraints and hence is an ideal option for rural areas in the country. VSAT services would not be as beneficial to the common man as they are to SMBs as they require indoor and outdoor units to be set up. The list of satellite based internet providers in India can be found here.
Innovative Global Ideas
Project Loon was named so by Google mainly due to enormity of the project and the seemingly outlandish mission goals. Project Loon developed by Google uses high altitude balloons floating in the stratosphere at approximately 20 kilometers about the surface to create an aerial wireless network that provides 3G like data transmission speeds.
Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. Wind layer, wind speed and directions are identified using data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Each balloon can provide internet connectivity to a ground area of about forty square kilometers in diameter using LTE. To use LTE, Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum so that people will be able to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. Balloons relay wireless traffic from cell phones and other devices back to the global Internet using high-speed links operating in the ISM 5.8 GHz band.
The balloons are made out of polythene and are durable enough to last about 100 days in the stratosphere.
The Loon Project was pilot tested in New Zealand with a small group of pilot testers. The service provided connectivity to a small area in New Zealand and has since evolved to include more geographies under its coverage. The Loon Project is considered to be very helpful when it comes to providing services in calamity struck areas.
Internet.org is an initiative by Facebook that aims at providing internet access to the two thirds of the world population who do not currently have any access to it. This venture is in partnership with six major mobile phone companies like Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera Software, and Qualcomm.
Internet.org aims at being the 911 for internet users, who are without a data connection, providing a social networking service like Facebook, a messaging service, maybe search and other things like weather, free of charge to act as a gateway for people to understand the importance of internet based services and to adopt internet and pay for further services in the near future.
Facebook was also using solar powered drones as one of its mediums to beam internet from the skies for providing internet services to rural areas, much like balloons in the Project loon by Google.
At the first ever Internet.org summit held at New Delhi, Zuckerberg had initiated the need to develop web services for people in languages other than English. He had also met with the Indian Prime Minister to talk about Facebook collaborating with the Indian government to improve services on Internet.org.
Microsoft White Spaces
White spaces are radio frequencies allocated to broadcasting services that usually go unused locally. With the Dynamic Spectrum Access technology developed by Microsoft, the unused spectrums are identified and used to transmit broadband access to wider areas as compared to Wi-Fi services. These services have excellent obstacle penetration capabilities and are hence termed as ‘Super Wi-Fi’.
Microsoft in collaboration with Kenyan telecom provider Indigo Telecom and the Kenyan Government have deployed Microsoft white Spaces to provide broadband connectivity up to 16Mbps to three rural communities in Kenya.
In collaboration with the Indian government, Microsoft is planning to provide White Spaces based free internet services through Doordarshan’s spectrum bands in two rural districts in India, on a pilot basis. The system has been developed by Microsoft engineers to adapt to the geographies of India.
Uber India has launched their vehicle financing scheme in India providing opportunities for individuals to buy cars.
India is the first country outside of USA where Uber has announced their financing schemes, explaining the country’s strategic importance in their global expansion plans.
Under this scheme, Uber has partnered with financial institutions like Shriram Finance, AU Financiers and Toyota Financial Services for deals exclusive only with Uber. Uber has also claims to have worked out exclusive discounts on vehicles with auto companies like Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, and Toyota.
Paytm is hitting through the roof – the Android app has crossed 12 million users and the company is now seeing more than 800K orders per day with 90% repeat users.
What’s also interesting is that 80% of new users are from mobile, which just reinforces the next wave in Indian consumer adoption, i.e. mobile (competition Freecharge recently crossed 5 million downloads in Android app store with 80% transactions now coming from apps).
According to Facebook report for the responses to data request made for valid criminal cases and other content deemed illegal , India has made around 4559 requests for 5958 users/accounts in the span of January to June 2014.
Facebook report also mentions that they have restricted access in India to 4960 pieces of content reported primarily by law enforcement officials and the India Computer Emergency Response Team under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state. Only half of the requests made had sufficient data produced along with it.
Every request that Facebook receives is checked for legal issues and in case of lack of information in the report, Facebook asks for greater specificity of information in the requests.
India is second in number of or requests made only to the USA which has 15433 requests made for 23667 users/accounts. Although 80% of these requests had some data produced along with them, no content were ever restricted by Facebook in the USA.
Facebook also mentions that most requests for user data by government officials come as a part of official investigations including kidnaps and murder. Such requests seek for basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. Other requests have asked for IP address logs or actual account content. In case of restricting content, most government requests are checked for legality pertaining to local laws. Non-government entities such as NGOs also request for restriction to access certain content that are identified as illegal.
Bharathi Airtel today has launched ‘One Touch Internet’ a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) portal that will allow first-time users to discover the internet easily and help them overcome common perception barriers around the mobile data experience.
The service, now available for prepaid mobile customers will work as a single point destination for uninitiated internet users to see-try-buy a host of popular services (including social networking, videos, online shopping and travel bookings) through free tutorial videos and trial packs.
“Our market research has shown that there are millions of customers across the country who own an internet-ready mobile device and are keen on getting online, but are apprehensive due to reasons like lack of know-how and fear of incurring heavy data charges. Airtel’s ‘One Touch Internet’ will address these very customer challenges and play the crucial role of hand-holding first-time mobile users as they discover the internet.” – Srinivasan Gopalan, Director – Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel.
To self-learn or have family and friends explain the internet to them easily, Airtel prepaid mobile customers can now call 111 or simply visit http://one.airtel.in on their mobile phones’ web browsers. Currently available in English and Hindi, ‘One Touch Internet’ will soon also be available in 8 Indian vernacular languages in weeks to come.
Map based online real estate portal #housing.com has introduced integrated home loan application category ‘Housing Home Loans’. Housing has partnered with various banks and financial institutions like CitiBank, L&T Finance, Axis Bank, DHFL, PNB Housing Finance and Bajaj Finserv for this initiative.
Housing.com claims that while most website advertise housing loans that require further additional calculations, ‘Housing Home Loan’ saves user’s time and effort by incorporating the banks’ policies and terms to give the user an accurate calculation of the Rate of Interest. The newly added feature gives users an option to compare an array of loan offers and also apply for the loan on the platform itself. By controlling the loan amount and tenure, users can compare the total cost of each loan offer and minimize it to find the most suitable offer.
The Housing Loans website also features a Home Loans Guide which consists of various articles to address home loan queries. The Guide takes the user through everything needed to know about the home loan cycle right from choosing the loan to its disbursement, servicing and pay back.
With an effort to improve the functioning of the eGovernance in India, the government of India has initiated the open API policy wherein the concept of single window clearance will be made possible through interoperable ecosystem of data, application and information processes.
The policy explains that it aims to make all the data and info provided by Government Organizations to be open and machine readable. All the relevant information and data of a Government Organization shall be made available through Open APIs to other e-governance applications and systems and the public. Information handling, authentication, authorization and auditing will be made through a process as defined by the API publishing organization.
The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) is responsible for setting up the API standards and designing a gateway for seamless transfer of information between the various government agencies. Government Organizations have to ensure compliance with notified XML standards for developing APIs
The guidelines for the effective adoption of the policy will be formulated by the Government of India. Government Organizations are instructed to publish the APIs for integrating with their e-Governance applications and systems and for the public to access relevant info from eGovernance apps and systems.
In an interesting turn of events, volunteer at ARPS have asked #flipkart to control piracy and block sellers selling copyrighted products.
ARPS (Artists Right Protection Society) was founded in 2010 to represent the voice of thousands of Visual Artists in protecting their Intellectual Property Rights and to prevent any infringement upon the same by merchandising industry online as well as offline. ARPS works with an aim to stimulate and support the visual artists and prevent their artwork from getting stolen in today’s digital world where it has been increasingly become a serious concern.
As many as 24 sellers on Flipkart have already been taken down for selling wallpapers copied from the internet on their products. These wallpapers includes logo of brands like Man U, Arsenal, KKR, Angry Birds and work of famous and upcoming designers.
ARPS has further again asked Flipkart to pull down another 15 sellers who have infringed on the same IP protection policies, but no action has been taken by Flipkart on it so far.
ARPS has also files a petition on online petition platform Change.org asking Flipkart to ban these sellers and distribute profits among the rightful owners of the design. ARPS believes that putting a ban on sellers who infringe policies will lead to Flipkart selling no pirated contents and that the artists involved could also receive their share from the sales of such products.