E-commerce in the Middle East

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Survey: E-commerce in the Middle East conducted by Gonabit and YouGovSiraj

 

A recent survey carried out by Gonabit and YouGovSiraj was released during the ArabNet 2011 Forum and it gives a good insight on e-commerce in the Middle East and the role that group buying sites are playing on the region.

The survey was conducted by independent research firm YouGovSiraj using the GoNabit customer database between 10th and 13th March 2011, where:

  • The total sample size of 2,196 respondents
  • Roughly even split of males (47%) and females (53%)
  • Respondents were primarily from the UAE but also from Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt
  • Spread of ages, but skewed towards the younger  demographic (63% under 35; 37% 35 years or older)
  • Skewed towards higher incomes (38% with monthly salary of $5,333 or more)
  • Over half (53%) spend more than 3 hours online every day

The findings of the survey were generally positive and it states that the two main reasons users would buy online are:

  1. Price: In fact two thirds of consumers (66%) claim that if it is cheaper to buy online they would buy more often.
  2. Convenience: (56%) would buy more often if it was more convenient to purchase online.

The factors above are quite obvious, price will always be a very important factor. Convenience, however, is quite a tricky term here because sometimes people pay more to get convenience and to achieve that in e-commerce can be difficult. For example purchasing an airline ticket online always beats going to the travel agent and wasting an hour of your time and then ending up with a ticket for the same price as an online travel website if not cheaper. But for other e-commerce websites such as clothing or other specific products where you actually need to physically touch it or try it on I’m not sure whether convenience is a correct factor especially in the region, lets face it most of the brands are not from the region and any purchases from a global e-commerce shop could turn up to be a nightmare and in some cases more “convenient” to go to the retail outlet and just purchase the good from there. This is where customer care would be more important and that is why some online shops such as zappos have made it and others have simply failed. But in the case of group buying sites the convenience comes in the form of deals and discounts on products rather than the actual product itself, so users have the convenience of trying something new at a discounted rate.

The survey also provides some information on the role of social media:

  • Almost half (47%) of all respondents have used social networking sites to share a deal online.
  • Where (60%) among the 18-24 age group have used social networking sites to share a deal online.
  • (26%) of all respondents have actually made a purchase after seeing something shared through social networking sites.
  • (32%) among the 18-24 age group have actually made a purchase after seeing something shared through social networking sites.

No surprise that the younger age groups will be more active on social networks in the region especially if the deals are appealing to them as well. But it is important to note the sample taken here is from the gonabit database of users which indicates that they are aware of what is going on online and would not necessarily be indicative of the whole online users in the MENA region. Word of mouth also remains a powerful influencer of online purchases with (77%) having bought online after a recommendation from a friend. Meanwhile, 89% of respondents have recommended an online deal to friends and family through word of mouth.

(94%) from the people who participated in the survey conducted research before buying a product online, the most popular sources were:

  • Review websites (73%)
  • Friends and family ‘in the know’ (64%).
  • Deal websites (54%).
  • Consumer forum websites (49%)
  • Manufacturers’ websites which are used by (56%) of males.

Finally and most importantly the survey sheds some light on the purchasing power of the online users:

  • (53%) have spent more than $500 on a purchase online.
  • (60%) would be prepared to spend $500 or more on a purchase online in the future.
  • (52%) of those on the highest incomes have spent more than $1,000 online.
  • (57%) are prepared to spend more than $1,000 online in the future.
  • With 21% of respondents having made their first online purchase within the last month.

These are pretty promising numbers and are definitely going to increase in the future and we should hopefully see more e-commerce shops from the region.

Have any thoughts and comments, let us know in the comment box below.

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Reset your time to a new era with I’m Watch

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Check out the cool new gadget – I’m Watch

I’m Watch works on Android Platform and is compatible with leading smartphones including

  • Android (HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, etc)
  • RIM (Blackberry)
  • iOS (Apple iPhone)
  • Bada (Samsung)
  • Symbian (Nokia)
  • Windows® Phone

The watch comes in variety of colors and materials starting with rubber to titanium and gold ( all thanks to its Italian heritage)

This device is a mp3, phone, with all social network features and above all it is first touch screen smart device with curved surface

So if you would like to be the next James Bond or Tom Cruise you must own one of these

For more details visit http://www.imwatch.it/en/

Encounter with Dr Nassim ‘Black Swan’ Talib

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Dr Talib – Engineer, MBA, PHD and a scholar

It was pleasure to hear Mr. Talib at a recent conference. His simplicity and honesty is noteworthy. The analogy he draws from everyday life to explain some of the markets events is noteworthy. Critic of Obama administration and MBA he also hates economists. Claims that he can mock MBA since he is one of them ! Few points from his book are mentioned below :

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks – and hence the most fragile – become the biggest.
2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains. Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and riskbearing.  We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism. In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.
3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus. The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central  bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.
4. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks. Odds are he would cut every corner on safety to show “profits” while claiming to be “conservative”. Bonuses do not accommodate the hidden risks of blow-ups. It is the asymmetry of the bonus system that got us here. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards.
5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity. Complexity from globalisation and highly networked economic life needs to be countered by simplicity in financial products. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency. Such systems survive thanks to slack and redundancy; adding debt produces wild and dangerous gyrations and leaves no room for error. Capitalism cannot avoid fads and bubbles: equity bubbles (as in 2000) have
proved to be mild; debt bubbles are vicious.
6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning . Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them “hedging” products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.
7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.
8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains. Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. The debt crisis is not a temporary problem, it is a structural one. We need rehab.
9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement. Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as storehouses of value: they do not harbour the certainties that normal citizens require. Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control).
10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs. Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad-hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching
people to navigate a world with fewer certainties. Then we will see an economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies,
richer ecology, no leverage. A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news.
In other words, a place more resistant to black swans.

apple ipad

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8 things that sucks about ipad

Big, Ugly Bezel
Have you seen the bezel on this thing?! It’s huge! I know you don’t want to accidentally input a command when your thumb is holding it, but come on.

No Multitasking
This is a backbreaker. If this is supposed to be a replacement for netbooks, how can it possibly not have multitasking? Are you saying I can’t listen to Pandora while writing a document? I can’t have my Twitter app open at the same time as my browser? I can’t have AIM open at the same time as my email? Are you kidding me? This alone guarantees that I will not buy this product.

No Cameras
No front facing camera is one thing. But no back facing camera either? Why the hell not? I can’t imagine what the downside was for including at least one camera. Could this thing not handle video iChat?

Touch Keyboard
So much for Apple revolutionizing tablet inputs; this is the same big, ugly touchscreen keyboard we’ve seen on other tablets, and unless you’re lying on the couch with your knees propping it up, it’ll be awkward to use.

No HDMI Out
Want to watch those nice HD videos you downloaded from iTunes on your TV? Too damned bad! If you were truly loyal, you’d just buy an AppleTV already.

The Name iPad
Get ready for Maxi pad jokes, and lots of ’em!

No Flash
No Flash is annoying but not a dealbreaker on the iPhone and iPod Touch. On something that’s supposed to be closer to a netbook or laptop? It will leave huge, gaping holes in websites. I hope you don’t care about streaming video! God knows not many casual internet users do. Oh wait, nevermind, they all do.

Adapters, Adapters, Adapters
So much for those smooth lines. If you want to plug anything into this, such as a digital camera, you need all sorts of ugly adapters. You need an adapter for USB for god’s sake.

Update: Why stop at 8? Here are more things we are discovering that suck about the iPad.

It’s Not Widescreen
Widescreen movies look lousy on this thing thanks to its 4:3 screen, according to Blam, who checked out some of Star Trek on one. It’s like owning a 4:3 TV all over again!

Doesn’t Support T-Mobile 3G
Sure, it’s “unlocked.” But it won’t work on T-Mobile, and it uses microSIMs that literally no one else uses.

A Closed App Ecosystem
The iPad only runs apps from the App Store. The same App Store that is notorious for banning apps for no real reason, such as Google Voice. Sure, netbooks might not have touchscreens, but you can install whatever software you’d like on them. Want to run a different browser on your iPad? Too bad!

courtesy GIZMDO

AND THE GOOD PART
iPad initial surprises

In person, the first and biggest surprise of the slim new tablet-sized device is that it works vertically. Most fan art conceptualized the device to be used in landscape mode. While it works in both, most of the time (some apps favor one or the other; Keynote is landscape-only, for example), the vertical orientation is what you use in the dock. It’s also the primary way Apple pictures it on its site, just like the iPhone and iPod touch.

This begins to make sense only when you use it. Suddenly, the preconceived idea of a tablet being a laptop without a keyboard evaporates and you find yourself looking at iPad as if it is a digital pad of paper. We don’t typically use spiral-bound notebooks sideways.

The next surprise is that this isn’t just an iPod touch with a big screen. The apps Apple bundles, as well as some early third party apps that a select few developers produced over the last couple weeks, are all redesigned to take full advantage of the screen in new ways and with increased sophistication and depth; they don’t just spread out to consume more space.

Calendar, Notes, Mail, Photos, and other apps are all enhanced with what feels like an injection of elements of the desktop Mac experience into the familiar iPhone interface (below). Rather than the iPhone’s menu-per-page convention, apps like Settings present multiple tiers of menu levels at once. Mail shows you both your inbox in an iPhone-like view as well as a message preview, all on the same screen.

Things that aren’t practical on the iPhone due to its small size are natural and almost magical on the iPad. The Photos app incorporates elements of iPhoto, adding finger-based navigation through albums, as well as Faces and Places organization. Apple’s iWork suite is now three cheap $10 apps that each provide most — if not all — of the features of their desktop counterparts, but are fully controlled via intuitive multitouch gestures.

Make a mistake and you can use the Undo button. Toolbars and search features are reminiscent of Mac apps, while popup menus look like iPhone screens. If you’re familiar with either, you also know how to work the iPad.

At the same time, the iPad also runs pretty much all of the 140,000 iPhone apps available. It can run them natively at the same size they’d be on the iPhone, or double them to present the same app across most of the screen. Some apps, such as Facebook, look a little pixelated and stretched on the iPad’s big new 1024×768 screen, but existing games looked awesome. In fact, I had to ask several reps if the iPad was doing any re-rendering; even with pixel doubling, iPhone games looked great and played smoothly.

Developers will be able to create customized versions of their existing apps to work with the iPad, and Apple demonstrated what some of these might look like. With more screen real estate, the things developers can do with games and other apps is simply mind blowing.

There are a few things some observers expected that didn’t turn up in the final design. The most obvious is a lack of support for any providers other than AT&T in the US or GSM/UMTS providers overseas. There’s no CDMA version for Verizon Wireless, and it doesn’t support T-Mobile’s 3G frequencies (although it apparently could be activated on T-Mobile’s slow GSM network, but that might not be cost effective).

The new machine uses microSIM cards and is only sold completely unlocked, with no contact subsidies and complete home activation. There’s also a WiFi-only version that starts the price at just $499, much less than anyone imagined.

There are no cameras, killing any hopes that it would be used as a video conferencing device. However, most people don’t like to be on camera, which is why we never had a clamoring market for videophones despite having had the technology for decades. And while its very handy to snap pics with your smartphone, it makes less sense to expect to take pictures with a tablet-sized device.

There’s no provision for running multiple third party apps at once, outside of the bundled Apple apps that can work in the background, such as iPod. That, some have speculated, may be a feature of iPhone 4.0 this summer. The iPad was shown running iPhone 3.2 software.

There’s currently no demonstrated way to attach the iPad to a Mac to use it as a multitouch input device, although this may be possible with third party software; if nothing else, developers could use network commands to relay touch gestures to a desktop app.

More hardware surprises

There are two docks designed for the iPad: one is a simple stand to allow recharging while playing videos or touching the screen at a near vertical position for $29, and a second dock option offers an integrated physical keyboard for $69.

The keys are nearly identical to Apple’s other keyboards, although it adds a home button, a search button, a lock button, and a key to bring up the virtual keyboard on screen so you can type any foreign or special characters (or say, bring up a number pad or the Chinese touch input) without hitting some special chord sequence of keys. It will also be possible to use the iPad with an external Bluetooth keyboard, according to Apple reps in the hands-on area. Hopefully that feature will also make it into the iPhone and iPod touch.

With its HD-resolution display and Keynote, the iPad begs for video output. You can use the existing iPhone video output cables to deliver component or composite video, but you can also now use an iPad-specific cable to attach it to a VGA projector (or other display) at its native 1024×768 resolution. And while your presentation progresses, you can not only control it, but also highlight using a virtual laser pointer you move with your finger. You can also paint on the screen John Madden style to emphasize things as you speak. This will sell iPads to every conference room in America.

In addition to the VGA dongle (sold separately), there’s also a USB and SD card reader adapter package for $29 that makes it easy to upload photos from your digital camera, although there wasn’t any demonstration of the devices in use.

A special neoprene-like case protects the iPad like a standard book cover, but also reverses into a triangle to convert the tablet into either a freestanding TV orientation, or lays down to become a full screen mini-laptop. The case is soft but makes the device seem ruggedized, although you probably still won’t want to drop it.

There’s a mic and a headphone jack (it’s not clear if it also supports mic-integrated headphones), so there’s at least the potential for VoIP applications over WiFi. There wasn’t a bundled version of the Voice Memos app on the prototype models, nor a version of the iPhone’s Voice Command, but there’s no reason either couldn’t be added by Apple by the time it ships.

The iPad is even designed to do something when it’s doing nothing. With the device at its unlock screen, there’s a button to start a slideshow configured to your preferences within Settings (below). This turns the thing into a nice animated slideshow picture frame of your selected photo album as it recharges.

Revolutionary evolution

The iPad seems like a gigantic leap and a small step at once. It isn’t a ballsy leap of faith by Apply by any means; it is an enhancement to its existing blockbuster SDK and App Store, not an entirely new platform like the Newton Message Pad once attempted to be.

It already runs all manner of iPhone apps, while also creating a vacuum that developers will rush to fill with new custom apps. It also syncs with Mac files for iWork, iTunes, and anything in Mail.

It isn’t a single purpose device like the Amazon Kindle or Android Nook; while it serves as a capable e-reader, it is far more functional even at that, supporting embedded color graphics and video within book titles, something e-ink displays simply can’t manage.

Despite that, it still has a tremendous battery life and looks great, leaving users no reason to buy a dedicated e-reader instead. It also offers fast, flicker-free page turning (or animatedly slow, if you like it that way), immediate navigation, and a choice of font styles and sizes.

Unlike stylus-based tablets like Microsoft’s Pocket PC or Tablet PC devices, the iPad is fully hands-on with no pen to lose. There’s no incorporation of handwritten recognition anywhere visible, just a dynamic keyboard that changes to suit the task at hand (something that is particularly prominent in Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet app, where you might bring up a number pad or a full keyboard or some other specialized input system).

It’s also unbelievably fast and smooth, making even the iPhone 3GS look a little slow. I witnessed the iPad cold boot within about fifteen seconds. However, you don’t need to wait for it to boot because it remains on in standby for days (Jobs said a month on a single charge).

Apple has no reason to advertise its internal specs (since it isn’t currently trying to market its processor to other makers), but the fact that the company is building its own custom System on a Chip called the “A4″ suggests a similar fate for this year’s iPhone and iPod touch (will they use the A2?). Apple’s custom new ARM CPU core and I/O and video chip appears to be extremely fast and highly customized for the needs of the iPad in terms of efficiency.

A tough act to follow

Apple isn’t hiding the fact that there are advantages in developing your own battery technology and processor savvy and touchscreen expertise. The unstated fact is that no other company has the resources to match what Apple created. As Jobs pointed out, his company is now the largest mobile device maker in the world in terms of revenues. But the iPad isn’t just about hardware. Even if somebody duplicated it, they’s still need a software ecosystem.

Apple has not only demonstrated that it can think up and create phenomenal apps of its own, but has also demonstrated impressive stuff from a few iPhone developers who only had a few weeks to whip something up. Once Apple’s army of iPhone developers hit their stride, the array of apps available for the iPhone will look rudimentary in comparison. The iPad truly supports real desktop style apps with even more sophisticated multitouch input that the iPhone.

Even with all their hardware partners, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile haven’t been able to attract the same kind of attention from developers or software buying users. Apple’s new iPad is unique on many levels, and demonstrates a formidable new challenger in a the formerly lackluster tablet computer market. For competitors to match it, they’ll need to catch up not just in hardware but also in media distribution, in developer tools, in customer base, and in raw component technology, and all at a tremendously aggressive price.

It appears iPad launches Apple as far ahead of its peers as the iPhone did at its unveiling. It remains to be seen if the market will respond and buy up this $500 tablet revolution as quickly as it snapped up the similarly priced iPhone and iPod touch.

courtesy iphoneappsreview

Be your own boss

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Many of us want to be boss of ourselves – we want to be entrepreneur..why not by all means. I have met  many entrepreneurs as well as worked with few. Some made me feel that I could do better and some made me feel that entrepreneur is a great person. I often think whether they were born great /smart or it was one move that made them better. My research is still on but being on both sides ie being an entrepreneur and an employee , I have realised the following

  • We become slaves of our ambitions – we like the fixed money that comes every month. We all like luxury and we raise the level of lifestyle in line with our incomes..after all many of us worked hard in schools and colleges to enjoy the same. We get into what we call in hindi  – ninainweh ka pher ( meaning the circle of 99). First you reach the first 99 and when you are first 99 you want to reach the next 99 and so on……reasons greed and in sophisticated terms ambition
  • We do not want to take risk – the diff between entrepreneur and employee is that he took that first risk and people like us join his gang in supporting him in making and building the dream. We like the security whether or not it is there..we like to belive that we have a secure job !
  • Education and business has no relation – in fact sometime I feel that education comes in between the way of starting a business. We want to start big and achieve big…no harm in idea it should be that way…but many of the successful business started small. Everything grows overtime when nurtured properly. I have learned that all ideas can be made big if one has a vision
  • It is never late – it is never late in life to follow your heart and start a business on your own. if you are not afraid of failure – GO FOR IT. Success will come

So what is needed

  • Courage and belief in oneself – one definitely needs courage and confidence that yes I can do it.
  • Reconciling with uncertainty – this is one of the most important part of an business…one need to fall in love with uncertainty. We all are afraid of darkness but try acting blind for a while you will start using all your senses more efficiently and effectively the moment you are able to overcome the fear of darkness. The same is with uncertaintly..if you are able to overcome the same you will be able to think more clearly in terms of how to run and grow your business
  • Think nothing is small  – no business is small ..many business have modest beginning it depends on what you are doing and your ability to make it big
  • Do it again and again – it may not be the first idea which makes it big…but keep trying all your ideas and one will click which will make it big

Recently I was in India and I was amazed to see some of the smaller ideas which were catching on – a simple idea of providing shoe cleaning service  concept was running successfully.  Young Kid who started it realised that there are no shoe cleaning services when his shoes were dirty so he decided to start this service where by he will collect your shoes from your home clean them, repair them, change shoe laces etc for a small fee of rs 150 less than 3usd and deliver them back shining. This boy had courage to follow his heart and if I am rt he runs more than 10 locations and is expanding…he is an entrepreneur. I am sure that one day he will make it big with this or some other idea

Luck favors who belive in themselves and are ready to take risks. This is probably many a times you come across business man who would leave you thinking that I could do better…

I remembered a joke which is probably apt to end this article for now

Once upon a time there was man who was very religious and believed in god. He would offer prayers and visit all religious places without fail. He used to ask only one thing to god – god please help me winning a lottery

Many years passed and this person kept his faith in god and offered daily prayers asking only one thing. After many many years god gets pleased with him and decides to bless him with his wish.

Still many years pass and same routine goes on…he keep praying. Now god gets frustrated with him and comes down and tell him Son you are asking me only one wish for so many years and I also want to grant you but there is one problem. So the person asks god – please tell me my dear god.

You knw what god says – at least go and buy a lottery ticket !!

More to follow…happy reading. Comments are welcome

Open your heart n khul ke bol

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