E-Commerce – going Mobile-Only?

The past few years has been all about companies adopting a mobile-first strategy which meant everything the organisation is doing on e-Commerce has to be done with mobility being at the forefront of decision-making.

I was reading an article this week about Myntra.com, one of the leading e-tailers in India go a step further and offer a mobile-only strategy. Sounds crazy? Not really – if what they claim is true – 95% of visits to their sites are from mobile devices which also makes up 70% of their sales.

I guess the top guys at Myntra must have considered the pros-and-cons pretty thoroughly before making this strategic move. Obviously they will take a hit on sales which thus far is an approx. drop of 10% (read more here).

Initial thoughts on what benefits could be realised with such a move:

1) Simplified operations/development – If you had to build for 2 formats (mobile, desktop) you will probably need to spend twice as much effort. Everything – design, catalogue, icons, graphics, ordering systems, process, etc needed to be done twice.

With a ‘mobile-only’ move, you just do it once – and hopefully excel at that.

2) Simplified decision-making – What if the fancy new feature your app team is developing and you want to implement it on the desktop? The guys at the desktop team says it’s going to take another 6 months. Do you launch on the mobile format first before launching on desktop later (alienating desktop users in the process) or do you hold off till both parties are ready (losing the ability to excite your mobile users immediately in the process)?

This is interesting as I do a lot of online shopping via desktop (read – nice large screens, opening multiple tabs to research, calculator in hand, etc). If all my favourite eCommerce sites start to go mobile-only I may need to upgrade to a larger mobile device…

Read more about the article here

Internet Backbone Maxing out?

As part of my usual Sunday routine, I took some time to catch-up with news over a freshly brewed coffee at home. Today the usual news came up, some articles over Amos Yee (whom I think has had too much media exposure lately), news regarding a Singapore-flagged oil tanker getting shot at by Iranian military vessels and also Forbes 2015 listing of the world’s most valuable brands (yay Apple!)

One thing disturbed me a little – it was this Gizmodo article about the fibre optic cables that transmit everything from our Facebook photos to Skpe video maxing out capacity. Link to Gizmodo article here

What happened to all those dark fibre lying around!?

This is not good… With all the commotion about net neutrality this would mean that’s it’s just another piece of ammunition that could be used by ISPs and carriers to justify for differentiated pricing based on the type of service and/or content provider. Having been an employee of a telco and having also previous run my own cloud hosting business, this makes sense. You should charge for consumption and the higher the usage, the pricing should change. Hence you see why taxes are increasing changed from direct taxes to consumption based taxes (eg. Malaysia recently introduced GST)

However as a consumer, I dislike it. I cannot imagine a world where viewing my emails are blazingly fast but YouTube and Deezer crawls and stutters because Google doesn’t want to pay my ISP extra money…

A funny incident happened the last time the CEO of Singtel brought this topic up. During then I was still with Singtel and was undergoing an in-camp training (read – conscription, military training) and we were going around introducing ourselves as there were new soldiers being added to our unit. At the earlier lunch break, this potential charging was the hottest lunch topic and everyone was cursing and swearing at Singtel. So much so that when it was time for me to introduce myself, I just mumbled that I worked in IT and was in-between jobs. Self-preservation was paramount and I have no wish to get the evil-eye from everyone and be assigned extra guard-duties for something like this…

I sure hope those scientists figure a way to push more data through those fibre optic cables soon…


Outlook.com Plugins

Those of us who have been on the internet long enough would remember the 1990’s when free internet email accounts from providers such as AOL, Mail.com, RocketMail (acquired by Yahoo) and of course Hotmail (acquired by Hotmail) were all the rage. There were others such as from Excite and Lycos but I didn’t really think those were that commonly used, at least not here in Singapore.

I registered a Hotmail account way back in 1990’s when I think the mailbox limit is 4MB. It has since been rebranded by Microsoft countless times, MSN, Windows Live Mail, Live and now Outlook.com.

Despite the confusion each rebranding has caused, I still love Outlook.com and use it as my personal email address. The latest iteration is intuitive, modern (I love the ‘Flat’ interface), and minimalist (it’s ooh so clean).

Another very cool feature is the tight integration with the other Microsoft properties and products such as OneDrive (previously Skydive), Skype (they used to have Windows Messenger too but they then killed it) and my favourite – the web-based Office suite of productivity tools.

Last week, they announced that soon there will be 3rd-party Outlook.com add-ins via APIs. This is interesting for a number of reasons:

1) Typically add-ins are client-based (think Chrome, Firefox plugins). This is on the cloud.
2) Add-ins by Microsoft have typically gotten a bit messy, probably due to their huge size and developer base. Just recall Internet Explorer (if you’re old enough) and you can imagine how the once-dominant browser is now passé due to the bloat. There is even a Microsoft project to kill it! Read on Project Spartan here
) Add-ins/Plug-ins typically slow down the service and lead to a bloated piece of software over time if not managed well.

I hope Microsoft manages the the 3rd party add-ins a lot better this time round because I have grown to love Outlook.com and would hate to change my de-facto mail service anytime soon.

Read more from TechCrunch here

How old are you?

How old do I look? 

Typically a question asked during social gatherings and one that has gotten a lot of guys with little EQ into hot soup with their dates.

Seems to be also the latest craze on Facebook. My news feed is swarmed with everyone trying out this new site from Microsoft –  http://how-old.net 

An attempt by the guys at Microsoft to showcase how rapid application development (RAD) can be achieved with Microsoft’s impressive Azure platform. (Blog post)

I did a test with a photo I took with my elder son just to see how old Microsoft thought I was. Here’s what Microsoft thought of me and my son (Javian). Looks like with 75% of my face visible and with Instagram filters applied (Rise filter if you are curious), I look 19 years old. Flattering definitely. Not too happy about being thought of as a member of the fairer sex though…

Javian was 2 years old when this photo was taken so he’s not too stoked about being thought of as 250% of his age. He’s literally pouting now as I type.

From Microsoft’s post, it apparently took 2 developers 1 day to code this, so it’s really impressive. I have worked in a few companies in my career thus far – some large MNCs and also in government organisations and to get anything done in a day is amazing. For almost all my projects, 1 day is about enough time for me to schedule a meeting with my IT developers to run through my requirements documentation. Then I need to wait 1 month for them to come back to me with a quotation of man-effort, etc etc… Heck, I have even met vendors who quoted me 2 man-days to change some static text on a simple website (with existing CMS provided)…

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