Category Archives: marketing


I always knew of David Byrne as the singer in The Talking Heads.  I never knew he also wrote so well.

Here, he writes an interesting piece on the color pink.  I never knew that

pink was actually considered a color best suited to boys until as late as the 1950s. Blue was the girlie color.

But I do disagree with Diana Vreeland’s assertion that pink is the navy blue of India.  By which she means that

just as navy blue in our culture tends to signify conservative respectability, pink exemplifies tradition and balance in India.

It is only in religious contexts in which I remember seeing significant quantities of pink in India and there too, the colour primarily appears on flowers.


Huawei in the US

The Chinese equipment manufacturer is doing its best to crack global markets.  They now have operations in the US, Europe, India, Vietnam, Mexico and a bunch of other countries.  As with any Chinese company, they carry a lot of baggage.  They face regular accusations of undermining national security and of being a Trojan horse for the Chinese government.

Economically, however, they have been successful, having built a brand with a reputation for cheap, but quality products.  Business Week has an interesting piece on how the company has grown its operations in the US, its missteps and its attempts to woo the US political machine.  One key element of their strategy is transparency: they allow regulators to study their products with a fine-toothed comb.  Another element is to hire an international workforce: to smoother fears about Chinese domination as well as to navigate tricky cultural straits.

Trash your smartphone

From David Sirota at Salon.  I concur with his assessment.  Most of us don’t need smartphones.  And for most people, smartphones tend to reduce rather than increase productivity.

Discount Smart Phones …

The market for smart phones is definitely in a transitional phase,” Lars-Christian Weisswange, a vice president at Huawei’s Western European division, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The company is betting that consumers will aim for affordable rather than luxury-brand smart phones.

I think Huawei may be onto something.  They’re staking money on the commodity life cycle.  According to this cycle the commodity moves from luxury good status to mass market to necessity through demand factors and scale effects on the supply side.  Other commodities that have succumbed to this cycle include PCs, air travel and (unsmart) mobile phones.

More from the original article, which focuses on cheap smart phones as game-changers in the African market.

Tablet computers: Reality dawns

The prediction at the Babbage blog at the Economist is that HP has made a great move in getting out of the tablet business.  They can now focus on core competencies, rather than waste resources trying to wrest market share from a dominant Apple.

Apple’s share of the tablet market is over 61% and growing, while all the Android tablets together make up barely 30% and are being squeezed … Windows tablets account for 4.6% and Research in Motion’s 3.3%.

Fighting Apple would always be a losing proposition since no competitor could hope to match the iPad in the quality of the consumer experience.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab is not bad, but even that feels derivative.  HP’s business plan was even more flawed in that they originally matched the iPad price-wise.

poor\; product + same\; price = no\; contest

Since the news caused HP shares to fall precipitously, naturally this presents a great buy opportunity.  HP is getting rid of a product line that is dragging it down.  It will emerge leaner.

The article also has a discussion of the relative merits of the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.  I did not know that the Nook has a 20% market share in the e-reader market.

The women’s track and field record book needs to be expunged

Edward McClelland argues in Slate that many women’s world records from the 1980s (and still standing) were set by women who doped.

They weren’t caught because anti-drug testing was not as prevalent.  Yet, because steroids enhance female performances more than male performances, records set then still stand.  This adversely affects the women’s sport today through less visibility, money and support.

Expunging those records would level the playing field, and would allow today’s runners to legitimately dream of reaching the pinnacle of the sport.

Arundhati Roy makes sense (for once)

For all her bleeding heart liberalism and idealism, one cannot doubt her intelligence.  She’s written a cogent and damning critique of Anna Hazare and his Lokpal movement.

First, the Lokpal sturm und drang is analogous to the Maoist insurgency, in that both seek the overthrow or severe curtailment of the Indian state. But,

One [is] working from the bottom up, by means of an armed struggle, waged by a largely adivasi army, made up of the poorest of the poor. The other [is working] from the top down, by means of a bloodless Gandhian coup, led by a freshly minted saint, and an army of largely urban, and certainly better off people.

Second, althought he professes himself to be Gandhian, there is nothing Gandhian about his demands.

Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy … with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister … down to the lowest government official.

Third, he does not really seem to be concerned about the travails and tribulations of the dispossessed masses he claims to champion.

Oddly enough we’ve heard him say nothing about … the farmer’s suicides in his neighbourhood, or about Operation Green Hunt further away. Nothing about Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, nothing about Posco, about farmer’s agitations or the blight of SEZs.

Fourth, we seem to have forgotten about his connection with and admiration for the Hindu right wing.

He does however support Raj Thackeray’s Marathi Manoos xenophobia and has praised the ‘development model’ of Gujarat’s Chief Minister who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims.

And finally, and perhaps most damning of all, where is all the money for his movement coming from?  It seems that Indian and foreign corporates have been very generous.

The campaign is being handled by people who run a clutch of generously funded NGOs whose donors include Coca-Cola and the Lehman Brothers. … Among contributors … there are Indian companies and foundations that own aluminum plants, build ports and SEZs, and run Real Estate businesses and are closely connected to politicians who run financial empires that run into thousands of crores of rupees.

But why?  To find out, you can read the original piece in The Hindu.  To give you an inkling, it has to do with the corporate takeover of the Indian state.