Sunday, January 30, 2011

People's Revolution: Why Iran failed and Why Egypt is Succeeding

Hearing dramatic events happening in Egypt, I couldn’t help but wonder why certain “people revolutions” go further than others. I was reminded of a similar revolution in Iran recently which even though seemed to be gaining momentum by the day quickly fell apart. However, protests in Egypt seem to be taking a different turn and Husni Mubarak’s position seems to be increasingly marginalized.

To come to streets despite the threat of being shot down by government-backed armed personnel takes a lot of courage... a lot. But let’s not kid ourselves. A bullet is a bullet. Initially, when people turn to streets, local law enforcement is used to contain the crowd. Now, it is reasonable to assume that the local law enforcement has strong ties with the community they operate in and as such turning guns on them is not a choice many would like to make. As such, almost in all cases military is eventually called to contain the situation – army has no local ties and all armies are trained to strictly follow orders of their superiors (As a side note, I’ve heard that in Uttar Pradesh (a State in India), if protesters belong to largely one religion (Hindus or Muslims), the policemen sent to contain them are chosen from the other religion). This is where a make or break can occur for any people’s revolution and it resides mostly on a single person – Chief of Army. If the Army Chief chooses to side with the public, then the dictator can for all practical purposes pack the bags.

A couple of years back in Iran, where protestors lay siege of Tehran disputing the election results in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won, army chose to side with the government. The threat of the bullet in that case becomes very real and sure enough the protest quickly got dismantled. Similar situation unfolded in Myanmar in 2007 when army quelled the protest by Buddhist monks (Myanmar is ruled by the army). China’s Tiananmen Square revolution was similarly silenced two decades back.

However, a different situation emerged in Thailand few years back when protestors took siege of Bangkok International Airport against the policies of ruling government. The protest apparently had the blessings of the King of Thailand, most revered person in Thailand. As such, the army didn’t use a heavy hand in stopping the protest and eventually the Prime Minister of Thailand had to resign. I am seeing a similar situation unfold in Egypt where army seems to be taking more of an observer role rather than dealing with protestors heavily. So ultimately it boils to down one person or a group of individuals who control the army. If the generals decide that Mubarak is more of a liability then Mubarak is gone. I am sure Mubarak is anxiously waiting to know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to play "Are you smarter than a 5th Grader"

I have been watching this program for quite some time now and besides learning some cool basic stuff (e.g., How many states are in Mexico? I had guessed 6... but the answer is 31!!!!) I found that none of the participants played the game "strategically". My guess is if they had, their winnings would have been higher.

Let me first explain how the game show works: There are 8 questions in total, each belonging to a different subject and there are 2 questions for each grade.. see above image.

Payout is proportional to the grade level i.e.,

Each 1st grade question gives $500
Each 2nd grade question gives $1000
Each 3rd grade question gives $3500
Each 4th grade question gives $7500

Since there are 2 questions for each grade, possible winnings are $25,000 (2*(500+1000+3500+7500)).

A contestant has to answer all the questions; he/she can only choose the order of answering questions. If a contestant fails to answer any question correctly then all amount earned till that point is forfeited. And here's where a contestant needs to be smart in choosing the "right" order for picking questions.

Most of the contestants start with 1st grade questions (most easy ones) possibly to experience a good start. But strategically speaking, they should start with the hardest question (i.e. 4th grade question) FIRST so that even if they miss it, they do not lose any money they may have earned till that point had they picked the 4th grade question later. Also, since there are 2 questions for each grade, within a grade, the contestant is better off choosing the hardest subject first. With this order, I think a candidate will end up earning more (of course above logic assumes that the candidate is more likely to correctly answer lower grade questions correctly than

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

PottyMouth! update

PottyMouth! is a funny app that translates cuss words (including audio translations) in 8 languages (Spanish, Italian, German, French, Chinese, Russian and Hindi). We launched the paid version of the app on July 31 2010 and lite (free) version around Nov 15 2010. Here's a quick update on the app...
  • Downloaded in 60+ countries. Our top downloading countries are USA, UK, Canada and Australia in that order. 
  • Rated as top NFL App on Appolicious
  • Highest Rated App on Appsafari
  • Downloaded by Timothy Jay, a renowned expert on swearing and a professor of psychology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. 
We will be shortly launching an NFL football sweepstakes (gift cards valued at $100 each) in order to celebrate colorful cussing by Rex Ryan and Anthony Cromartie! :-)

--- PottyMouth! supports healthy and playful cussing ---- 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cross-selling iPhone Apps

As some of you may know, I created an iPhone app last year, PottyMouth! The app translates popular cuss words in different languages along with the audio rendition. The app has been downloaded in 60+ countries and continues to grow. Now, the only way to buy the app is through app store run by Apple Inc. 

While thinking about marketing strategy for PottyMouth!, I got an idea: Wouldn't it be good to package this app along with a similar product and sell it as a "bundle" e.g., there are several books on cussing on Amazon e.g., Creative Cussing and many others. It is very likely that the person buying this book could also be interested in buying PottyMouth! app. This would benefit all stakeholders: Apple (additional channel coverage), Amazon (more sales plus increasing stickiness with every increasing mobile apps users) and App developers (more sales). 

How can this scheme be implemented?

For paid apps, upon app launch in the app store, Apple currently provides a certain number of download coders to app developer so that the developer can distribute these codes to people who may be interested in reviewing the app and who don't want to pay for the app. 

There are 2 ways these codes can be used for cross-selling apps on a different website:

1. Apple has a tie-up with these online retailers and provides them with its database of apps. Online retailers can use "match-making" technology to find out which of their existing products match-up with the apps (e.g., most online retailers suggest similar products on a product webpage... Amazon recommends buying a group of books together at a discount). If the online customer is interested, he/she buys the app as well and gets a download code which can then be used to download the app. Today, revenue sharing model between Apple and Developer is 30% and 70% respectively. With introduction of another channel member, I'd recommend following share: 25% (apple), 15% (online retailer), 60% (app developer).

 . Doesn't require intervention of app owner. 
 . Allows simultaneous release of an app on Apple's app store and multiple online retailers. 

 . Search & Mgmt. Overhead: Apple needs to have tie-ups with these vendors.
2. Developer buys the codes from Apple (at a discount) and then partners with online retailers to sell them to end customers e.g., app developer pays apple 25% of selling price of the app and then later shares the remaining with the online retailer: 15% (online retailer) and 60% (app developer); revenue sharing is essentially same as in previous case.

 . App owners are not restricted by Apple's online partners.

 . App developer needs to spend capital in buying the app codes and there is no guarantee that all these codes will ultimately be sold. To mitigate this, Apple can choose to forego revenue until the app is purchased by end customer although this could be difficult to implement.

 . Managing several online retailers could be challenging for the app developer... in this case, I suppose a new syndicating entity may come which creates syndicating infrastructure; in this case it increases channel members by 1 i.e., App Developer, Apple, Syndicate Agency, Online Retailer, Customer.