Hike Messenger launches crowd-sourced ‘Great Indian Sticker Challenge’

Hike Messenger, India’s only home-grown chat application, announced the launch of the “Great Indian Sticker Challenge” [GISC]; inviting designers from all over the country to participate in creating stickers for the app. In August last year, Hike announced that its users were sending over 3 Billion stickers a month. Of the 10 Billion+ messaging volumes per month, stickers contribute to over 30% of the traffic. In its quest to scale up the choice of stickers & yet have the best content, hike launches a unique crowd-sourcing model that calls Indian designers to build for India.

Hike-Logo

The design challenge offers a set-up similar to a design studio virtually, wherein illustrators, graphic designers, animators, caricaturist, cartoonist can come together to showcase their talent to over 35 Million+ users and also win cash prizes of up to Rs. 20 Lakhs.

In addition, every short-listed entry will be rewarded Rs. 10,000 and will be given artist credit on hike messenger for their respective sticker pack. Furthermore, they will be empanelled for future work of Hike Limited. India’s top design colleges and institutes such as NIFT, PEARL Academy, Arena Multimedia and MAAC amongst many others have encouraged their students to participate in this contest.

Commenting on the design challenge, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder & CEO, Hike Messenger said

Stickers have played a significant role in transforming the messaging experience. Today we see 3 Billion stickers exchange on hike. We believe that the ‘Great Indian Sticker Challenge’ will not just bring together the crème la crème from the design industry for the contest but will also give a chance to thousands of talented designers to find a new way of earning recognition for their creative talent.

The Great Indian Sticker Challenge is a platform open to everyone who can design graphic illustrations, irrespective of their age or academic and professional credentials. The registration and submission is open until March 31, 2015 at http://gisc.hike.in. The winners can grab prizes up to Rs. 20 Lacs and the results will be announced on April 15, 2015.

Additional information

Participate in the GISC - http://gisc.hike.in
Download the app at - http://get.hike.in/
Hike Blog for more details on the new features - http://hike.in/blog

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MWC 2015 : Broadcom Smartwatch Platform Improves Battery Life for Android Wear Devices

Broadcom Corporation introduced a new smartwatch platform  at the MWC 2015 that reduces power consumption for Android Wear devices. The platform offers Original Equipment Manufacturer’s [OEM’s] more features including GPS with sensor hub processing & wireless charging support.

Broadcom’s new smartwatch platform reduces power usage by up to 40 percent over the previous generation, driving further improvement on the core challenge of battery drain in wearables. The platform improves function and performance by offering a smaller form factor, enabling OEM’s to add more features or include a larger battery inside their wearable to allow for even longer time between charges.

BROADCOM LOGO

In addition to an advanced Application Processor [AP] & Broadcom’s leading Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo chip in the new platform, OEM’s can choose to integrate GPS with sensor hub processing, Near Field Communication [NFC], Wireless charging support & camera support based on their product needs. With smartwatches expected to account for more than half of wearable shipments in 2015, there is a significant opportunity for companies to integrate a variety of features and quickly bring products to market.

Speaking at the occasion, Larry Olivas, Broadcom Senior Director, Business Development, Wireless Connectivity Combos said:

Smart-watches represent a big piece of the wearable pie & Broadcom’s new platform expands opportunities for Android Wear developers designing both high-end and affordable devices. As a company that is in a majority of the top smart-watches for 2015, we have the expertise and long-standing connectivity leadership to power the next wave of wearables.

By providing a complete smartwatch reference design including hardware, Android Wear-enabled software, an optimized Bill Of Materials [BOM] & a rich set of features, Broadcom empowers OEM’s to quickly develop robust consumer products to capture the growing market.

Broadcom’s Smart-watch Platform includes:

  • Broadcom wearable system-on-a-chip [SoC] including 4 A7 Application Processor & 2G/3G modem support
  • BCM4343 – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2/Bluetooth Smart combo chip
  • BCM4773 – GPS SoC with integrated sensor hub
  • BCM20795 – NFC and secure element support
  • BCM59350 – Wireless charging support
  • Camera support
  • Support for Android Wear OS

Availability

Broadcom’s new smartwatch platform is now sampling.

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MWC 2015: Ford Smart Mobility launches App that enables drivers to Charge Electric Vehicles from their Smartphone

Announced at the MWC 2015, Ford launched a new app named MyFord Mobile that enables electric vehicle drivers to remotely connect their smartphone with the car to manage charging & even set a chosen cabin temperature before their journey.

Ford-Motor-Company-Logo

Drivers will be able to use the app and associated website to remotely manage the status of their car, check the range, and plan journeys to include charging.

Taking inspiration from gaming and personal fitness apps, MyFord Mobile shows CO2 savings as exercise balls, or hot-air balloons; reflects the energy efficiency of different driving styles through “Zen” and “Zippy” ratings; and offers tips on how efficiency might be improved.

Among the first vehicles to offer MyFord Mobile in Europe will be the zero emission new Focus Electric that will now feature SYNC 2 voice-activated connectivity, which Ford announced would be available in spring 2015. MyFord Mobile also is available for the C-MAX Energy plug-in electric hybrid vehicle.

Speaking about the app, Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford Motor Company said

MyFord Mobile makes owning an electric vehicle even more convenient. It displays CO2 savings in terms of objects everyone is familiar with, and shows how further energy efficiencies can be achieved in a way that is easily understood. Electric car drivers want to understand the environmental benefits their vehicle brings, and also to know how they could improve their contribution to help make a better future. MyFord Mobile helps them to do this.

MyFord Mobile

Supported by a dedicated website and available for iOS and Android, the MyFord Mobile app connects to the car via an on-board modem that sends data directly to a remote server.

2015 FORD MYFORD MOBILEAs well as informing drivers when they have made CO2 savings equivalent to that required to fill an exercise ball or a hot-air balloon, badges, pop-ups, and alerts also let drivers know when they have reached certain zero-emission distance benchmarks, such as covering a distance equivalent to one round-the-world trip. Personalized feedback advises how range might be improved, for example, by optimising regenerative braking. Drivers also can track driving habits over time, and monitor how changes in behavior affect energy consumption.

The Go Times feature enables drivers to prepare the car so that it is charged and ready to go with a pre-set cabin temperature, at a specific time and date. Plugged in, it will use energy from the grid, rather than the battery to heat or cool the car.

The app uses integrated HERE maps that can help drivers locate their car as well as plan journeys and locate charge stations. Drivers can personalize the app with car name & color, charge profiles and charge scheduling.

Available in English, Dutch, French, German and Spanish, MyFord Mobile is free for the first five years of vehicle ownership.

Download Links

Androidhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ford.mfm&hl=en

iOShttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myford-mobile/id599142823?mt=8

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Be Smart, Shop Smart with deals & coupons

With World-Cup & IPL fever hotting up, more & more consumers are glued on to television. It is interesting deal for companies who advertise during that time slot since the ROI would be much greater as compared to advertising during prime-time.

coupon_logoMany e-commerce companies have also joined the band-wagon of advertising on TV in order to grab more eye-balls which further helps in customer-acquisition !!! However, if you are an online shopper, just shopping from these e-commerce websites would only fetch discounts which are offered by them. But as we have mentioned in one of the earlier articles, rise of e-commerce has opened up opportunities for Last Mile logistics, Automation, Analytics, Online Coupon & Deal websites. Along with Coupon & Deal websites, massive growth has been observed in the “Price Comparison” space. Now consumers are not only interested in deals but before they purchase a product, they want to “compare prices” across different e-commerce websites. This is also gives a Human Feel to shopping :)

Lately, there has been an explosion of Coupon websites & as per recent analysis, it is observed that consumers mostly search for Amazon & Flipkart coupons !!! While looking out for discount for a tablet on Amazon.in, we came across some interesting Amazon India Coupons & we could buy that tablet at a much better price !!! If as a consumer, you are looking out for Vouchers which offer deals on specific categories; you can have a look at some interesting line-up of Amazon India Vouchers

As consumers, it becomes important that we shop from known e-commerce websites & at the same time, get a pie of extra discount through these deals & coupons :)

Image CourtesyThe Maven Of Social Media

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Buy a Smart Mobile-Phone, the Smarter Way

With the growth of online-commerce in India, there are many businesses that have been built to cater to that explosive growth. With growing demand, there have been more startups emerging in the space of Customer Support, Last Mile Delivery/Logistics, Automation [e.gGrey Orange Robotics]. This article in Economic Times points out that e-commerce firms are the new drivers for the BPO industry & with more startups emerging in that space, this number would surely see an upward-trend !!!

Along with Coupon & Deal websites, massive growth has been observed in the “Price Comparison” space. Now consumers are not only interested in deals but before they purchase a product, they want to “compare prices” across different e-commerce websites. This is also gives a Human Feel to shopping :)

Traditionally, comparing prices of any commodity would take many hours. A person would need to either call several retailers or drive from one retail store to another; however those days are gone. In simple terms, all the user has to do is choose the best “Aggregator Site” which would compare prices for multiple product categories & aggregating best e-commerce websites like Flikpart, Jabong, FirstCry etc.

Benefits of using Price Comparison Engine

Save extra money

Some studies have concluded that online-shopper can save thousands of rupees a year by using price comparison site. Just like in retail stores, higher the price of any commodity; greater is the discount. Same principle also applies to the online-world considering that there is now cut-throat competition in the e-commerce segment.

Simple to use

When using price comparison engine, a person has to enter either the name of the product or the brand, (s)he is looking out for & within few seconds, the engine would give the price comparison results.

Online-Offline comparison

As there are many price-comparison websites, it becomes essentially important to choose the right one. Each price-comparison engine depending on their revenue & operating model, would either focus on “Online” or “Offline” stores. However, if there is a price comparison engine which combines the beauty of both the world’s, it would be a boon to the customers !!!

One of the categories that has gained significant traction is “buying of mobile phones” online. As more & more companies are giving preference to “online-only” model for saving costs, buying mobile-phone online would definitely result in good savings :)

While scouting for price-comparison websites, we came across a site YouTellMe & we were very impressed by the search results, ease of use, breezy & simple UI etc. One of the categories which is on the rise is “Mobile Phones” and as an end-consumer you can get the best deal as we get the Mobile Phones price list in India

YouTellMe

If you are looking for some great deals & want to save some extra bucks [for buying at the right price :)], do give YouTellMe a shot !!!

With the increase of online frauds in India, it becomes necessary that “Shopper becomes Smart” & along with discounts also checks the authenticity of the e-commerce website. Some of the smart shopping tips are:

  1. Shop from “known” websites e.g. Flipkart, Jabong, Shopclues, High5Store etc.
  2. Ensure that “Digital Payment” happens over secure [SSL] channel
  3. Ensure “not to save” the Credit Card is not saved. Since, no matter how renowned, the website is; better to keep CC information to yourself !!!
  4. Compare prices of “existing products” on price-comparison engines
  5. Get additional discounts on products by grabbing coupons from coupon/deal websites
  6. Untrusted app stores will continue to be a major source of mobile malware. Traffic to these stores will be driven by “malvertising,” which has grown quickly on mobile platforms [Source – McAfee]

With more & more online startups [specifically e-commerce, deals etc.] focusing on “mobile-first approach”, it becomes very essential for the consumers to identify the “potentially harmful” apps.

Some highlights of the “McAfee Labs Threats report” are below:

Mobile Malware

McAfee Labs reported that mobile malware samples grew 14 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014, with Asia and Africa registering the highest infection rates. Much of the activity being attributed to the AirPush ad network.

Potentially Unwanted Programs

In Q4, McAfee Labs detected PUPs on 91 million systems each day. McAfee Labs sees PUPs becoming more and more aggressive, posing as legitimate apps while performing unauthorized actions such as displaying un-intended ads, modifying browser settings, or collecting user and system data.

Total Malware

McAfee Labs now detects 387 new samples of malware every minute, or more than six every second.

The full McAfee Labs Threats Report: February 2015 can be downloaded from here

We hope that these tips would help make our reader’s online “shopping experience” more joyful & also ensure that they stay away from “vulnerable mobile apps”.

If you want to share any tips, please leave them in the comments section !!!

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Give Wings to your career, top aviation colleges in India

As per one of the recent aviation report, the aviation sector contributes INR 330 billion [0.5%] to Indian GDP.

This total comprises:

  • INR 147 billion directly contributed through the output of the aviation sector [airlines, airports and ground services, aerospace]
  • INR 107 billion indirectly contributed through the aviation sector’s supply chain
  • INR 77 billion contributed through the spending by the employees of the aviation sector and its supply chain.
  • In addition there are INR 582 billion in ‘catalytic’ benefits through tourism, which raises the overall contribution to INR 912 billion or 1.5% of GDP.

More details in the report below:

In terms of employment, aviation sector would support total 1.7 million jobs across different sectors & there would be a growing demand for engineers as well in the aviation sector. One of the issues that students normally face is shortlisting of the right colleges. Well, for a student CollegeDunia might come to your rescue !!! CollegeDunia has a wide list of colleges across different sectors & acts as a Helpful Guide for students.

If you are an aspiring engineer in the aviation space, you can have a look at top aviation colleges in India. Colleges are listed as per the rankings & reviews and for a student, this acts as a boon !!! You can use filters like “Full-Time/Part-Time Courses”, Course Duration, Degree etc.

If you are aspiring engineer in aviation space, do give CollegeDunia a spin & give Wings to your dreams !!!

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Guest Article : Optimizing your Email Campaign Frequency

How many times, have we as consumers un-subscribed from emailer’s sent by e-commerce companies, Banks etc. since it clogs the mail-box & “un-subscription” was the only option left for the consumer :) Today we have a guest-article by Varun John of iCubes, a firm specializing in Email-Marketing where he gives insights into “Email-Marketing”.

email-marketingBanner

For the email marketer, the top priority would be to get as many promotional emails into the inbox as possible. But have you ever considered that you might be over-doing it? Shooting campaigns by the dozens can be a huge turn off for your clients. Continue the practice & they will soon vanish from your mailing list. Don’t want such a scenario? It’s time to adopt an optimum frequency for your mailing.

If someone opts to receive your campaigns, newsletters and offer mails your first priority must be to make them appreciate and antedate your campaigns. This isn’t as simple a task as it looks. You need regular analysis, constant innovation in content and smart segmentation to ensure email fatigue does not happen.

Obviously, you want to engage customers as much as possible but you risk running into email fatigue. So you need to weigh in the pros and cons and make an intelligent move from therein.

What is the optimum frequency for my campaigns ?

Sorry to break the bad news, but there is no optimum frequency to send your mails. You can only optimize the frequency with which you target inboxes separately but as a collective there is no frequency that could please everyone. Some might want more mails from your side while othere may require only a few. Irrespective of how often your mails reach your audience, engagment solely relies on how relevant and engaging the content within your mails are.

A thorough understanding of your audience using demo-graphical and behavioral data can get you better insights on customer profiles. This will make your frequency customized and intelligent. You end sending fewer mails than before but the engagment and ROI you gather off doesn’t nosedive. In fact, with a custom frequency you are more likely to get an increased ROI & better customer engagement and loyalty.

Determining the ideal frequency

Before you fiddle about getting the optimal frequency another question needs to be answered. Are you mails reaching inbox? Email fatigue is usually understood when you see a decline in open and click rates. But beware, this might be solely because your deliverability has been affected severely.

As ISPs restlessly and relentlessly change their algorithms to improve customer experience, they take into account a whole lot of factors to determine whom to block. One of the latest additions is checking into average read time that a mail gets. If your emails remain stale, then your mails would soon be making trips to the Junk folder. Keep shooting campaigns on an aggressive pace, your domain reputation will soon get trashed !!!

If deliverability is not the concern, your content most definitely is. Would you like to see the same movie over and over again in just a few days ? Not likely. Your mails are just the same. If your content isn’t fresh and trendy, plus your mails bombard people’s inbox getting blocked is inevitable. Regular monitoring of data can help you resolve many doubts about what your clients are looking for.

Have you ever shared a profile update mailer ?

No, send one right away so you give the control back to the customer. When someone joins your subscriber list, always send a profile update mailer which askes the following questions:

  1. What sort of content would they like?
  2. How often they would like to connect?

In fact, you could have a “Click Option” to update preferences of content and frequency in every campaign. The more control that goes to the customer, the faster & smarter you can implement suitable strategies.

Let them go

One of the major disappointments that email marketers face is when someone unsubscribes from the list. However, there is a silver lining. Inactive users distort your performance metrics so it’s good to have only those people who love your mails.

Your mailing frequency should change according to the season because expectations vary around the year. In the wake of the holiday season, it is advisable to back down on your offer mailers. Give your subscribers time to detox and rejuvenate.

To continue engagement over this period, set up an automated series of campaigns. The content for each segment you create can vary according to preferences and tastes. A capability one must nurture here is the ability to predict email fatigue across the different demographics. A little bit of experimentation and a whole lot of analysis can help you achieve smart and intuitive prediction models.

About the author

Varun John is a content and social media marketer for iCubes, an ESP provider dedicated towards creating an Email marketing India ecosystem. He is always hunting for new ways for companies to engage with people using innovative technology, insightful data & intelligent marketing.  He loves to spend time on his guitar and is an avid reader of advertising techniques, human psychology & history.

iCubes on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/iCubes.in
iCubes on Twitter – http://twitter.com/icubesindia
iCubes on Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+IcubesIn/posts
iCubes on LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/company/icubes
iCubes on Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/icubes

Image Source* – SoftTrinity

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McAfee Labs Threats Report : February 2015

Intel Security released its McAfee Labs Threats Report: February 2015, including assessments of the mobile threat landscape and the failure of mobile app developers to patch critical Secure Sockets Layer [SSL] vulnerabilities, potentially impacting millions of mobile phone users.  McAfee Labs also revealed details on the increasingly popular Angler exploit kit, and warned of increasingly aggressive Potentially Unwanted Programs [PUP’s] that change system settings & gather personal information without the knowledge of users.

McAfee Labs researchers found that mobile app providers have been slow to address the most basic SSL vulnerabilities: Improper digital certificate chain validation. In September 2014, the Computer Emergency Response Team [CERT] at Carnegie Mellon University released a list of mobile apps possessing this weakness, including apps with millions of downloads to their credit.

mfe_primary_logo_rgb

In January, McAfee Labs tested the 25 most popular apps on CERT’s list of vulnerable mobile apps that send login credentials through insecure connections and found that 18 still have not been patched despite public disclosure, vendor notification, and, in some cases, multiple version updates addressing concerns other than security. McAfee Labs researchers simulated man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks that successfully intercepted information shared during supposedly secure SSL sessions. The vulnerable data included usernames and passwords and in some instances, login credentials from social networks and other third party services.

Although there is no evidence that these mobile apps have been exploited, the cumulative number of downloads for these apps ranges into the hundreds of millions. Given these numbers, McAfee Labs’ findings suggest that the choice by mobile app developers to not patch the SSL vulnerabilities has potentially put millions of users at risk of becoming targets of MITM attacks.

This crimeware package contains easy-to-use attack features and new capabilities such as file-less infection, virtual machine and security product evasion, and the ability to deliver a wide range of payloads including banking Trojans, rootkits, ransomware, CryptoLocker & backdoor Trojans.

Some of the highlights of the report are below:

Mobile Malware

McAfee Labs reported that mobile malware samples grew 14 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014, with Asia and Africa registering the highest infection rates. At least 8 percent of all McAfee-monitored mobile systems reported an infection in Q4 2014, with much of the activity being attributed to the AirPush ad network.

Potentially Unwanted Programs

In Q4, McAfee Labs detected PUPs on 91 million systems each day. McAfee Labs sees PUPs becoming more and more aggressive, posing as legitimate apps while performing unauthorized actions such as displaying unintended ads, modifying browser settings, or collecting user and system data.

Ransomware

Beginning in Q3, the number of new ransomware samples began to grow again after a four-quarter decline. In Q4, the number of new samples grew 155 percent.

Signed Malware

After a brief drop in new malicious signed binaries, the pace of growth resumed in Q4 with a 17 percent increase in total signed binaries.

Total Malware

McAfee Labs now detects 387 new samples of malware every minute, or more than six every second.

The full McAfee Labs Threats Report: February 2015 can be downloaded from here

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About the author

Hey, Welcome to Himanshu's blog. Himanshu is a engineer, blogger, startupper & an aspiring entrepreneur from Bangalore, India. To know more about him, please visit this page.

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