Yang’s Yahoo! inspired by Shammi?

Shammi Kapoor in Teesri Manzil

Haii! Could it be true – a secret close to every desis heart? The BBC’s Hindi service reports in an interview with Shammi.

When Yahoo opened its office in Mumbai (Bombay) several years ago he was invited by Jerry Yang.

As the launch festivities started building towards a climax, Kapoor was pleasantly surprised to hear the band playing his Yahoo song from the film Junglee [or Wild], made famous years before the internet existed, and so called for his famous cry of ‘yahoo’.

Later, Yang told him how inspired he was by the Yahoo song and the way the actor had used the word in his inimitable style in so many of his films.

“It was all very flattering. Many of my relatives still call up and ask whether I own Yahoo,” he says.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Shammi Shaking it

Who needs 3G? Lets just go Wifi!

Netgear SPH101I finally tried out a Skype-Wifi phone this weekend. The Netgear Skype Wifi phone SPH101 was on display at a local IT-exhibition here in Pune. The phone was already preconfigured to pick up on the Wifi network at the Netgear stall. I picked up the phone, signed into my skype account and made a local call. The call clarity and quality were average and I enjoyed the feel of the keys and the overall skype experience. The keys were configured similar to any other standard phone with 3 alphabets to a key. The phone retails for approximately Rs. 15,500.00 in India, not a small order by any measure.

The Wifi phone itself not really a revolutionary breakthrough. Skype has been bundled with other data-enabled phones in the past – specifically, Pocket PC and Windows mobile. Also, at that price-point, the Wifi phone does not exactly make sense as a replacement for a fixed line telephone. But what makes Skype exciting to me is the idea of a global identity. With Skype you no longer need to know my locally relevent contact number, area code and country code. I can also purchase local numbers in different countries using SkypeIn and have those identities map to my single Skype identity. The global traveler (ahem ;)) could stay connected wherever there is a civilized airport with Wifi.

As long as I am signed into Skype that is. Mobile data connectivity here in India is a story by itself. I am currently signed into GPRS with AirTel. Depending on the day, month, time, latitude, longitude, environment, and of course – depending on how the god of the air feels (Vayu), I could get average connectivity or no connectivity at all.

Could Skype on 3G change all that? Skype is still exploring VoIP on the Hutchison 3G networks in Europe starting way back in Febuary.

In an effort to scope user demand, 3 Sweden is offering a Skype bundle with a 3G flat-rate subscription and 3G data card. With a mobile flat-rate data plan from Hutchison 3, users can make unlimited Skype calls. Christian Salbaing, MD of Europe Telecommunications at Hutchison 3, downplayed concerns that Skype traffic would cannibalise voice revenues. He described it as an attractive value added service that would help tempt more customers onto its network.

The pleasures of flat-rate dialing were too tempting to resist. As I placed the SPH101 down and turned around to leave the Netgear stall – my thoughts were all about the current 3G bids taking place in India. Is there a solution on the cards?

Just then, my eyes landed on the stalls of a popular VoIP provider in India – Phonewala. Phonewala were offering Broadband+VoIP-enabled PCO’s (for those interested, PCO is short for Public Call Office). With a simple Linksys phone adapter (approximately Rs. 4200), Broadband connection (Rs. 900 p.m for 256kbps) and a handset – PCO’s could offer “dial the world at Rs. 2.99/-“. Great, the local tea-stall owner can now call his cousin in Atlanta at rock-bottom rates.

Brilliant! What if PCO’s began offering Wifi? The entire city of Pune would be connected within a few days. We could give some of the big wireless guys a run for their money. Of course, there remains the question of how would the poor PCO operator get paid? But then with our history of socialism – I am sure the city municipal can work something out 🙂 (for those not laughing yet, please don’t mind my rambling).

At the end of the day, the Indian private wireless providers just don’t want to have to do anything that might disturb their revenues. I wish they would stop haggling and seed a long-delayed wireless data revolution in India. Sure voice revenues would start to whittle down – try focusing on areas where there is real value.

Oh and just so that you should know, using Skype in India is not politically correct according to the Economic Times – “Illegal web calls by BPO face axe“.

Indiagames sells 51% for over $14mn

UTV Software communications ltd made a huge purchase – 51% stake in Indiagames, a mobile gaming company and also a 70% stake in UK’s Ignition entertainment, an online gaming company. More details on Indiagames financial past on Contentsutra.

Writing and exporting games from India still seems to be a very serious proposition.

What does the UTV acquisition mean?
It’s a large deal. What we are trying to do is to create a large gaming entity out of India. The acquisition of Ignition brings in the console gaming capability. We bring in the online and mobile gaming capability. It’s also a sign that how serious gaming business is becoming. UTV is launching a channel for youth, and from that perspective their investment in Indiagames is very strategic. UTV is also very strong in bollywood space, and they are going to help us a lot on creating great content. They understand the broadcast technology and the youth market. So there is a lot of synergy.

UTV also has a very large animation business. Adding Indiagames and Ignition to this portfolio, it gives a complete picture of growing a very large company in gaming. And UTV is known for delivering shareholder value.

Airline Travel in India hits a wall

… the wall is aptly named infrastructure, or the lack of it. Guess who has to pay for it? You and I do!

Now Congestion Tax” – Shrikant’s Blog.

They (bureaucrats) will always want to pass each individual project rather than define a framework. India a global super power ? my foot. Every foreign company wants access to the billion Indian consumer and participate in infrastructure that is lagging. So they all shower hollow praise and we believe it.

Even Air Deccan – who’s CEO, Capt. G R Gopinath, who dreams of every middle-class Indian to flying 4 times a year – has acknowledged that charging air travelers a congestion tax is necessary alongside Jet, Kingfisher.