This is a guest post by Vikrama Dhiman. He is an accidental software product manager who has worked with teams across India’s IT centers – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh as an Agile Software Development Coach and a Product Manager with Internet companies.
iPhone has been a massive failure in India. Yes, there are two hundred and seventy people [I made up that number] worrying about iPhone 4.0 not releasing in India but most just do not care. And, this in a country that is obsessed with everything fashionable in Umrika [that's desi for America]. So, what went missing in India?
Well, post-facto analysis can be misleading, but here is what most analysts thought the consumers said before they decided not to give into the iPhone mania:
- What were Apple and Airtel smoking when they priced the iPhone at INR 31,ooo [700 dollars]? How can something cost USD 200 in US and USD 700 in India?
- So, what you are saying is that even after paying this much, you will give me a locked phone whose provider I can’t change?
- What is the use of 3G when there is no 3G bandwidth in the country?
- What kind of a phone does not have SMS forwarding [esp when 70% of mobile users forward at least one message a day in India]?
- I am sorry, but what is it that iPhone is good at?
- Did Apple think that they will compete with a Prada and win?
- Is it even half as robust as Nokia? We know what happened to that delicate thing called Matiz [just not suited for Indian market].
- Where will I get this thing repaired?
So, there were failures in terms of feature-market & price-market & sentiment-market mapping. I think one of my friend summed it up well: Basically, neither did the iPhone fall in “Value for Money” segment, nor the “Status/ cult” segment for majority of people. One can also generalize and say that most products fail to take off because the mapping with the market fails in terms of features, price or sentiment. If we closely analyze then we in the online education start-up community seem to be failing there too. Either the customers do not perceive any value in them [key operative -> customers do not perceive and not products are not able to articulate] or they are not status/ cult symbol [like say LinkedIn Premium Account] for majority of people. Majority is a number and is obviously a function of your business model. Right now, most online education business models seem to be focused on get free users->convert some to paid users. This model has two challenges-> getting free users and then getting them to pay. Other than LiveMocha, none of them are more than a million plus users right now. And from whatever little I know, not many of these users are paying. Hence, this does not seem to be working as expected. Is there a mapping issue with the market? Let’s review the questions we highlighted above, again from a customers/ users perspective with regards to <insert the product here>:
- Why should I pay for this thing?
- So, learning online seems to have its own baggage/ inconveniences and you still say that nothing beats face-to-face. Humn!
- What is the use of those extra features you packed in, when I don’t need them?
- What is the use of this bandwidth intensive feature when I don’t have the bandwidth?
- I am sorry, but what exactly are you good at?
- Do you think you will compete with neighborhood teachers and win?
- Is it even half as robust as enrolling in an evening class?
- Where is the money back guarantee?
What do you think which educational web startup answers these questions well? Is it also successful?