Dec 122010
 

I have been using the Kindle for around 3 weeks now and can say with considerable confidence that its one of the best e-Readers ever made. Though, not a fan of standalone devices suited only for a single function, I was bowled over by the Kindle’s immersive reading experience and the eInk display which looks amazingly similar to real paper.

The only real disappointment with the Kindle is the cost of the content in India. A typical NYT best seller costs $9.99 usually half the cost of the print edition in the USA. But in India the same Kindle ebook costs $11.99 compared to the print edition cost of $5 (250-300). Now, the Kindle edition has no printing, warehousing or shipping costs unlike the print version. The two major costs are the author royalties and the network charges paid to AT & T for their international roaming service on the Kindle. Given the fact that I download books on the wifi instead of 3G, what is the justification of imposing this additional cost on me? The increased price isn’t confined to ebooks alone. A one month subscription to Hindustan Times costs $9.99 in India, which is 400% more than the print version.

In my opinion the cost of the commodity should be based on the purchasing power of the local currency. In the United states, an ordinary meal would cost around $10 and a movie ticket around $8-10. In India these figures are only about $3-4 (Rs 150-200). In a price conscious market like India, expecting someone to pay twice the cost for digital content doesn’t make a lot of sense. If Amazon wants to take advantage of the huge volumes here, it will have to make content affordable so more people are willing to pay for it.

Given the fact that Kindle is essentially useless without content, lower ebook prices give a huge boost to the device sales. Doing otherwise encourages piracy already rampant in the print edition books (You can get a bootlegged copy of any popular novel for $2 in most Indian markets). I am subscribed to the only available Indian magazine on Kindle – India Today, but I never changed my region to India and am wary of doing it because the prices immediately go up.

The Kindle is a great device, but it will only be able to sustain its top position if Amazon brings more local content to the device and takes care of the pricing concerns outside the USA.

Oct 222009
 
Windows 7

Windows 7

Microsoft has finally announed the pricing of retail versions of its newest operating system Windows 7 in India. The software giant has kept the price 20% lower than other regions in an attempt to tackle piracy.

There is bad news though, because Microsoft has a tax dispute with Indian customs over the new tax rules for imported Software, the release of Windows 7 is delayed till this dispute is resolved.

A basic home version of Windows 7, available only in emerging countries such as India, is priced at Rs 5,899, excluding taxes, while the high-end version, Windows 7  Ultimate, will cost Rs11,799. In the US, the high-end version costs $320 (Rs 15,000).

But this announcement is not that significant since more than 90% of the Windows software sold in India is bundled with PCs and laptops. These versions are what are called as OEM (Original Equipment manufacturers) version. Microsoft is yet to announce its pricing for this segment.

Since my laptop is made by an OEM, I am one of those in the limbo without any news about the upgrade. Though the retail version is an option, its cost is highly unattractive. OEM versions of Windows are many times cheaper than retail versions, since these are not supported by Microsoft rather its the OEM’s responsibility to do.

As always, will post in case of any updates.

Oct 222009
 

After a long wait twitter has finally announed that it will start supporting sending of updates to mobiles phones on the Airtel network. Read their blog entry here.

twitter-pic

 

Twitter did provide support for mobile phones in India in the past but for some reason had discontinued it. Maybe it was the cost.

New twitter users can message SIGNUP to 53000 to recieve instructions on how to setup their devices on airtel. If you are an existing user, message START to 53000 to start the service. Please note that you would have to send a verification code provided by twitter to 53000 to get your device verified. Once this is done, any messages sent to 53000 would appear on your twitter page instantly!!

Each message to 53000 costs Re 1 as of now. Though I am not getting updates from twitter, but the updates I send are being reflected. If you are not an Airtel customer, don’t worry, there is already talk going on of getting the other operators on the bandwagon in another 2-3 weeks.