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Tesla Model 3 in India: Observations and Analysis

Disclaimer: I’m in no way an auto expert, neither do I know a lot about Indian import system. Over the last couple of days I managed to read some stuff about Tesla’s plans for India and had some meaningful conversations about the same on Twitter. This is just a summary of things as I understand.

tesla-model-3-india

Elon Musk and Tesla unveiled the Model 3 – the “revolutionary” and “affordable” electric car which promises to deliver at least 215 miles of range beginning at “just” $35,000. If you were living in a cave and don’t know much about the Tesla Model 3, you can read more about that here. The point of article is not to discuss how good the car is, or why people are queuing up (quite literally) to place a pre-order for something whose production is expected to start late-2017, but to talk about something which has dominated my Twitter timeline for the past two days.

In a surprising move, Elon Musk announced that Indians can pre-order the Tesla Model 3 by paying $1000 as advance (just like other people around the world). Many people have went ahead and ‘booked’ the Model 3 without really knowing how much it’d end up costing in India. Few points to ponder:

1. Someone on Reddit estimated it to cost over Rs 70 lakh. Below is his calculation.

tesla-model-3-price-india

2. Many media publications and Twitter celebrities are taking this at face value and crying out loud against “foolish rich” Indians who have booked the Model 3 assuming it’d cost $35000 (~Rs 23 lakh) or a little above that considering the taxes.

3. But the calculation is assuming that Tesla Model 3 will be CBU (Completely Built Unit) import. But it might well be CKD (Completely Knocked Down) import which will drastically reduce the import costs.

Of course, going CKD route is not at all easy. But then, Tesla cars usually have extremely few components to break down, thanks to their intrinsic design. Kuldeep makes a solid point again.

4. That’s logical. But is Tesla serious enough about India and their opportunity here? Yes, I think so. One, Elon Musk had mentioned his desire to set up Gigafactory (battery plant) in India late last year. Two, Indian PM, Narendra Modi met with Elon Musk around same time and invited Tesla to be part of India’s mega plan to be a hub for renewable energy. Three, although Tesla added several new countries in its pre-order page, Elon Musk specifically mentioned India. More than anything else, he promised nation wide Supercharger network. They wouldn’t be spending heavily on infrastructure setup unless they have big plans for India.

5. Now, here is why CBU import doesn’t make sense. Unless they have plans to sell Model 3 in good numbers, there’s no incentive for Tesla to invest heavily on Supercharger network. If they plan to sell in good numbers, they should logically be taking the CKD route just like BMW, Mercedes, Audi and other luxury car companies.

6. Indian government is seriously pushing for e-vehicles in the country. Piyush Goyal, the Power Minister has recently said that India will aim to become a 100% e-vehicle nation by 2030. The expectation for some government subsidy isn’t far fetched.

7. Considering these points, the Tesla Model 3 might cost anywhere between 25 Lakh and 35 Lakh in India. Of course, many of these are based on assumptions, but I believe they are reasoned enough based on how the high end car business work in India.

But then, there are more variables than constants here.

  • We don’t know if rupee stays as strong (or weak) as it is now against USD when the actual delivery begins.
  • Political scenario in India can be really volatile. How’ll be the environment at that time, no one knows.
  • Tesla hasn’t clarified if they will be modifying the Model 3 for Indian road conditions which are unique in their own ways.

8. The prebook confirmation email from Tesla states that “North American deliveries will be first, followed by Europe, Asia and Pacific countries then countries with right-hand drive configurations.” This puts India in virtually the last set of countries getting the Model 3. Looking at the number of pre-orders elsewhere and past track record of Tesla, I won’t be surprised if the deliveries start beyond 2019 and in 2020 for India.

9. If any of the above assumption turns out to be false and/or things turn for worse, people pre-booking Tesla Model 3 might still not regret their decision for one simple reason.

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XIM Card: Global SIM Card Provider [Review]

xim-card-review

Back in January this year, someone from XIM card got in touch with me to try out their international roaming solution, and provide them with my feedback. When I had to leave for MWC last month, I told them I can try out their service in Barcelona, and they promptly sent out a SIM card with pre-filled amount of Rs.1000. I’m making it amply clear upfront that the SIM card and service were sponsored, but has absolutely zero bearing on the content/views expressed below.

XIM sent across an envelope containing the SIM card, along with some information on how to get the service activated for the first time. As you can see below, the SIM card had perforations to ensure various card sizes – mini, micro & nano. That was a big win to start with. Considering so many non-standardised SIM card sizes in smartphones these days, it’s very important for a global SIM provider to provide an easy way to choose the SIM card size.

xim-card

Activation

The Quick user guide which accompanied the SIM card seemed clear enough on how to get the activation done. When I landed in Barcelona, I flipped out the SIM card to my Android phone, and followed the steps detailed on the user guide. The activation was quick (took less than 5 seconds), and I got a couple of welcome messages from Vodafone Spain (XIM’s service partner in Spain). I’d have loved some basic info on call/data charges, but I suppose they rightfully expect the user to have gone through them before purchasing the XIM card.

There were 6 quick access codes mentioned in the user guide, which included customer service (154) and Balance check (187). The first thing I did was to check my prepaid balance, and it promptly showed it in INR, so far so good. The real trouble started when I tried reaching out for Customer service. After dialing the quick access code, nothing really happened, as the call kept getting disconnected. Till date, I’m unaware of the reason as to why it happened.

Making calls

I always had plans to get a local SIM in Barcelona, as the XIM card came with a UK number, so expecting team members and friends to make an international call to reach me wouldn’t have been wise. But that’d take me a day or so, as I had to physically visit the store. XIM came to the rescue when I had to call my Airbnb host right after landing, and it worked flawlessly. The SIM worked like a local SIM for all practical purposes without having to dial in any extra code like those cheap calling cards we get in Asia. Call quality was great both for local and international calls. But I’d have loved a local (Spanish) SIM number instead of UK number.

3G Data

The trouble with customer service I mentioned earlier came to the fore when I discovered that the XIM card didn’t come with data enabled. I kept calling the customer service number, which just didn’t get through. Since I knew the XIM guy back in India, I emailed him directly to get the data activated. He did some changes in the backend and 3G was up and running immediately. What if I didn’t knew anyone from the company? How I could’ve reached for help in case of emergency? Yes, they have listed their numbers on the website, but not many would be keeping the numbers handy assuming the customer service number might not work.

There was another shock which followed. During MWC, I was extremely happy to get the 3G data activated on phone, which worked great for few hours before stopping for good. I tried changing the settings, rebooting the phone and every other thing, until I realised that the real reason for data to stop working was that I had ran out of balance. Yes, Rs.900+ balance had turned ZERO within a couple of hours. It was my mistake not to check with XIM about the data costs, but I was clearly not expecting it to cost so much.

Call & Data charges

Call charges vary from country to country. For popular destinations like UK, it costs as low as Rs.8 per minute with free incoming calls in over 50 countries. For other European destinations, call charges range from Rs.15 to Rs.30. For popular Asian destinations like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, it’d cost Rs.35 per minute, which is definitely pricey, but on par with other similar products available in India. You can check the tariff details here.

Data charges are exorbitant. When I checked the tariffs for 3G usage in Spain, I was bummed to see Rs.35 per MB of data usage. No wonder my prepaid balance got vanished in couple of hours. But they have special XIM Global Data package which you can avail for decent rates.

Conclusion

In my limited research, I found the call rates to be on par (and at times even better) than competition. Data charges though can be much better. It’s no brainer that International SIM cards always work out to be pricier than local SIMs, but if you’re someone who don’t want to take that extra work of finding the buying a local SIM, global SIMs like XIM are tailor-made for you. My personal experience with XIM has been a hit and a miss. It’s true that people usually expect the international SIM cards to work well to make and receive calls from the word go, and XIM does that pretty well. But their inability to connect me to the customer service leaves a bad taste, and can only hope that they fix it ASAP.

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Blogger Meetups, Twitter Hashtags and Contests

This is a long pending post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now and it’ll be a rant. You have been warned.

Being from Bangalore, we bloggers don’t get to attend as many press conferences and product launches as our friends from Delhi (and to a certain extent, Mumbai) do. So the companies and their PR agencies usually decide to have ‘blogger meetups’ to ‘engage’ with the city based bloggers. Usually, these meetups are nothing but pitches and promotions of the brand or the products, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What’s bad, or I must say, what bothers me is what happens during these events.

Twitter Hashtags & Contests

Over the past couple of years, blogger engagement has become synonymous with social media engagement. Rather than pitching the products or the brand to the bloggers, the PR agencies aim to get trending on twitter. Being a compulsive tweeter, I do tweet about the happenings and the product in focus most of the times, usually appended with a hashtag. The whole purpose of using hashtags on twitter is to provide quick access to all tweets from tweeple attending an event to those who missed out, but interested in knowing what’s happening.

Problem arises when these agencies announce a contest associated with twitter & hashtags. More often than not, the contest is to tweet as much as possible by including the official hashtag. As you’d expect, it ends up being spammed left and right, without adding any value whatsoever. Below is a snapshot of one such contest. I’ve deliberately removed the hashtag, twitter handles and display pics, as my issue is not against a particular brand or a PR agency or a person.

hashtags

The hashtag might end up trending for a short while, but I don’t think it will ever help the company in a positive way. Anyone and anything getting associated with spamming cannot help a brand in the long run.

Blogger meetups vs Tweetups

From what I’ve seen, at least in Bangalore, there is no clear cut distinction between bloggers and social media enthusiasts. Yes, there are cases where the two overlap, but as a host, you should clearly know whom you are inviting. I’ve been to many ‘blogger meetups’ over the past 5 years, but sadly (and I’m sorry to say this), most of them are dominated by those who aren’t active in the blogosphere, but only turn up for those stupid twitter spamming contests, free food, free booze and free gifts.

Yes, some of them, in PR terms, are ‘influential’, but in what way? Why not simply call it a tweetup? At least it will help someone like me to decide if I should bother to attend the event or not.

Last evening, I attended a couple of these events. One was called a bloggers meet and another claimed to be an interaction event in the backdrop of a launch which happened earlier this week. The bloggers meet was the usual twitter spamming contest driven event, while the other one was truly an interaction event devoid of hashtags and contests. No need to say which one I enjoyed to be part with. Though both the events had the same set of attendees, the same people were so much more fun, engaging and knowledgable in the latter event.

The brand and products in both these events were truly worth talking about, but sadly one ended up being associated with spam.

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Apple’s Realizations in 2012

2012 has been an year where we continued to see plethora of Android devices getting launched every other day. But it has also been an year where we saw an unprecedented five major events hosted by Apple in a single year! Two of those were non-product launch events (iBooks event & WWDC 2012). And the other three were events to launch the mighty iPad 3 (I mean third generation iPad with retina display), the bigger iPhone 5 and finally the iPad mini along with the iPad 4 (or fourth gen iPad with lightning connector).

Along the way, we got to see a considerable shift in Apple’s policies.

  • The first one, as I mentioned above, Apple found it apt to have three launch events in an year. Never has this happened before. That’s possibly because, Apple now considers iPad mini to be a brand new segment in their portable device arsenal and important enough to have its own introductory launch event.
  • They have considerably shortened the iPad release cycle. The 3rd gen iPad was released barely 6 months back and we now have the 4th gen iPad. Though the changes are minimal, it still marks a change in Apple’s policy. I strongly believe Apple updated the bigger iPad only to ensure that they don’t have to have two separate launches for iPad and iPad mini from next year. So expect a holiday launch for upgrades of both the products from 2013.
  • Apple finally conceded that iPhone’s screen size of 3.5 inches is probably small enough for most people. Funny thing is, it took them five long years and five iPhone iterations to realize that.
  • This is the year, when Apple realized there is enough demand in the market for a smaller iPad. Almost 3 years (21 months to be exact) after the original iPad was released, Apple saw enough people who thought the iPad is big enough to hold in one hand and wanted a smaller version. Let’s conveniently forget for now that the first Android 7″ tablet was announced two years back (in Sep 2010) at IFA.

iphone-ipad

Awesome right? 2012 is that special year when Apple realized that people need a bigger iPhone and a smaller iPad [Mind you, smaller, not cheaper iPad].

“iPad Mini is a Concentration Not a Reduction.” – Jony Ive

Yeah right.

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Acer CEO warns Microsoft to ‘think twice’ about Surface

surface

In an interview to FT, JT Wang, the CEO of Acer, has revealed that he has warned told Microsoft to think twice about what it’s doing. This is in reference to the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 tablet, which was announced back in June this year.

I believe there is a 50-50 chance of Microsoft having a low-key launch, if not backing out completely. You ask me the reasons?

1. Surely, none of the OEMs is comfortable with Microsoft competing with them directly. It’s true that OEM’s have to take the blame themselves for being lethargic and not innovating enough to let Apple run away with tablet iPad market. But then, competing head-on with Microsoft will dilute their stake in tablet market (which is already negligible). Will they all get together and convince Microsoft to stay away? Mind you, Microsoft too cannot afford to pi$$ off the OEMs, no matter how unhappy it is with them.

2. Surface is still a mystery. Though Microsoft demoed some cool things about Windows 8 and Surface tablet at Los Angeles, they never allowed anyone from the media to even get close to either the tablet or the accessories. We still don’t know who’s actually building Surface for Microsoft. Is Surface just a vaporware as some people think? Chances are bleak, but history says Microsoft is capable of that.

3. Even if it’s not a vaporware, Microsoft has made it clear that they will not sell the Surface tablets in retail stores, but only on their own online stores. So, will Surface be just a benchmark device for Windows 8? The sort of a product which excites many but don’t really have a future?

As much as I love to see and buy Microsoft Surface, I cannot rule-out any possibilities at this point.

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Apple’s new Mac ads are embarrassing

So these were the three super special Apple Mac TV ads released for a super special event: London Olympics 2012. The Verge’s Sean Hollister has some nice words to say about the ads-

They all star a single actor who portrays an Apple Genius Bar employee, and stupidity appears to be the other unifying theme.

Bullseye, Sean. The ads are plain stupid, and nothing Apple like. Looks like someone at the top woke up a week before Olympics and decided to promote the software part of the Mac, rather than those amazingly crafted hardware. Should we blame the Ultrabooks which have slightly taken away the sheen from the exclusive looks of Macbooks?

No.

Expect some heads to roll in the marketing team at Cupertino.

Update: Some arguments on twitter points to Apple aiming the ads towards common people. No company has ever won by showing common people as stupid fools.

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Google Handwrite: A Cool New Feature Which You’ll Never Use

Google has just announced Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search. If you have watched the video above, I’m sure you’d said “Wow”. Yes, it’s an exciting and cool feature to have.

Handwriting recognition is not something new. But Google’s implementation is near flawless. In my 10 minutes of extensive testing (on my iPhone), it was fun and easy to get it to work. Apps like Writepad have managed to do this for a long time. But as always, Google brings in the cool feature for free.

handwrite

But how often will I use it? Probably never after today. I can’t think of a handful real-world use-cases where I’d need to use this. Few I could think of:

1. Probably when I’m in middle of a bumpy ride on the outskirts of Bangalore? Even then I can use the Voice search feature (which works rather well with most accents).

2. While in a hospital or a meeting where I can’t talk aloud? Well, can’t understand what stops me from typing (or swyping) 😐

3. When I’m searching some non-English word like Mandarin or Hebrew or Korean? Well, definitely useful in this case. I’ve seen so many people in Hong Kong using handwriting recognition app like Writepad for simple things like Messaging & Facebook updates.

But for others? Useless.

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WhatsApp Messenger for iPhone is Free for a Limited Time

whatsapp

Here is a quick heads-up on WhatsApp messenger app for iOS. The popular messaging app has gone free. I’m not sure for how long, but I don’t expect it to be longer than a day or two. There is no official announcement made by WhatsApp (yet).

If you are one of those handful few who is yet to jump on the WhatsApp bandwagon, this is a great chance to go and grab the app for free.

WhatsApp Messenger [iTunes]

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Who Says Steve Ballmer is Funny?

Who Says Steve Ballmer is Funny? Everyone! Here is a collection of some of Steve Ballmer’s best photos available on the interwebs.

Naughty Steve

Naughty Steve

Spooky Steve

Spooky Steve

seductive-steve

Seductive Steve

Haunted Steve

Haunted Steve

Yo Yo Steve

Yo Yo Steve

Scary Steve

Scary Steve

90's Steve

90’s Steve

Superman Steve

Superman Steve

Hell Yeah! Steve

Hell Yeah! Steve

Hug Me Steve

Hug Me Steve

Sweaty Steve

Sweaty Steve

Happy Steve

Happy Steve

Super Happy Steve

Super Happy Steve

Happy Feet Steve

Happy Feet Steve

Damn You Steve

Damn You Steve

Oh no! I'm not that Steve

Oh no! I’m not that Steve

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Microsoft is repeatedly called Old-school for a variety of reasons. But their brand new ad for Microsoft Dynamics is anything, but old-school.

Keep kicking a$$ M$.