General Thinking

Why the Electric Future will not deliver

The future may well be electric, but it is not going to come be the way we may imagine it to be.

We are busy designing and building a future where Lithium Ion batteries will dominate almost everything. The truth of the matter is that, the chart above tells a different story. There is limited amount of Lithium and Cobalt on the planet. We will hit a wall in terms of supply sooner than later.

This dream will fall apart like a pack of cards. We need an alternate technology.

General Thinking

Apps will become the orifice for all payments

With the launch of Apple Pay, there is much excitement about mobile becoming the source of payment processing going forward.

The fact that Apple Pay has not come to India has not left Mobile payments too far behind in India. Several companies like OlaCabs and Taxiforsure have been creating mobile wallets of their own on their applications to make it possible for their users to be able to pay through the application for the services that they consume. Each of them currently offer a wallet, where one can store money and spend as the necessity arises. In my opinion, the wallet approach taken by each of the companies is not right This is primarily because people do not like managing too many wallets simultaneously. Its painful and tedious. Also, people love to have choice of service. Loading up cash on one wallet means I am tied to that service unless one is willing to manage multiple wallets.

What would be more interesting is to have ‘payment platforms’ which are integrated with many applications so that they become a way/protocol for cash transaction. Towards this end, companies like Paytm and Citrus Pay seem to be more interesting. A wallet which I can use for the purposes of paying multiple service providers. The only issue thus far has been the rate at which they have percolated through the system. If they can get multiple service providers like taxi services, e-commerce companies, etc. along with the existing utilities payment platform, it would make for a much more interesting play.


Paytm has taken a step in the right direction by tying up with Uber. They will be able to act as the wallet for any user who wishes to use Uber. In a similar manner, I would like to pay using such a service for many of the distinct online transactions which I carry out.

In the US companies like SpotHero and RadPad ( are making it possible to pay for parking and even rent using the Apple Pay integration within their apps. In essence Apple Pay is acting like a mobile wallet, which many apps are beginning to use for various types of payments.

Extrapolating, one can see, the day is not far when all of your payments would essentially be undertaken through applications. Any and every payment that one needs to make to anybody will eventually move to the mobile wallets and we would probably stop using physical currency altogether. Not to mention the tens of cards that we currently carry around are probably going to disappear as well.

Apps will become the orifices through which all payments flow. The consolidation of all payments flowing over the internet into wallets is the first step towards making this possible. Mobile wallets need to start integrating with as many services as possible to encourage more users to put their money on the wallets. (The RBI rules in India do not permit a more elegant solution) It remains to be seen which service moves the fastest to integrate with the largest number of services as possible to make itself indispensable.

Paytm is probably on the right route, but it remains to be seen if they follow through beyond the Uber integration. It remains to be seen if they can crack through more services such as e-commerce.

General Thinking

Is Google Doomed?

As much as market share loving analysts might want to make Google look like the star of the future, Google’s actual position for mobile is very poor. Market Share lovers would point to the prevalence of Android and the vast number of apps available on the platform and the number of manufacturers supporting Android.

The only reason manufacturers support Android is because it is free, and available to all. This also means that Google in all reality does not make any money through the prevalence of the platform alone. Yes they make money from the play store, cloud services and so on but as demonstrated by Amazon, its not the only way to go with Android. Unlike iOS, Android can be forked away from Google.

If market share is an important metric, that metric reflect very poorly on Google. The mobile revenue for Google is pegged between 15% and 20% (different sources give different figures) of their revenue. Given the massive market share, this only shows that Google has done a horrible job of monetising mobile.

So what is keeping so many manufacturers tied to Android apart from the fact that it is free? In my opinion there is only one killer app that is trapping the likes of Samsung, who would love to move the Android platform as far away from Google as possible; Google Maps. None of the manufacturers have a competing mapping solution that can be at par. In reality, none of the companies competing with Google have a mapping platform which is at par with Google Maps. Apple Maps is beginning to make its move up after a disastrous launch. ‘Nokia Here’ is there and it is quite good but lost in echo of the Microsoft-Nokia deal, nobody knows when they would get their heads together and start pushing the app in earnest. There are a bunch of other solutions, but none that I see being able to compete with Google in terms of depth of coverage, availability of platform and availability of financial resources.

Every time Samsung has tried to move the Android platform away from Google in terms of design and so on, Google has thrown the Maps License on the table and strong armed them back to falling in line with Google. This has caused Samsung to pursue Tizen, which is rearing its head now. Samsung recently launched Galaxy Gear 2 with Tizen. There should be a great deal of soul searching happening at Mountain View, Samsung is the ONLY mobile manufacturer that is making profits apart from Apple, if they move to Tizen, what does that mean for Android?

In reality if you think of it, in a mobile world, all of the search of the future would be channeled through apps. In such a scenario, if I was Google, I would want to own all of the top apps used for searching restaurants, travel, locations, books, movies etc. But in reality Maps is the only mobile app that they have which is a gold standard. In all other regards the company has failed to produce a top app.

People do not really care who provides them the information on mobile as long as they get it consistently and the delivery is done in the best possible manner (Optimised for the requirement, good design, etc.).

I care two hoots if the search that I run through Siri is giving information through Wolfram Alpha or Bing or Whoever. As long as I get the relevant result, I am happy.

With apps specialising in the search, be it Zomato, Yelp, Cleartrip, Wikipedia, Fandango, Bookmyshow, etc.; these are the sources that people trust to get their information. Fewer and fewer people turn to a one size fits all kind of a solution which is what search engines are.

In this paradigm Google is not in a position of strength, far from it, they are at a place where they are not even going to be able to derive great search traffic from even Android.

The analysts in the meantime are overly optimistic about market share. If the market does not see the real picture and put Google on a correction course, would Google end up the Yahoo way?