Airtel Money is potentially revolutionary

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This post also appeared on the VCCircle blog here

Airtel Money is the first time in 5 years that I have truly become excited about a payment solution for the India market. I think this can be revolutionary. At Canvera we have evaluated each and every payment type available in India and have looked at the end to end cost, scalability and reliability. We concluded that managing cash (not COD) and encouraging online payments through debit and credit cards was most suited for our business. Building our own payment network was by no stretch in our business plan so it was disappointing and costly to have to do it. But in the process we got insights into the unique challenges of a payments company and that is why as soon as Airtel Money came about, we realized the potential for it to completely change the landscape. Let me explain why.

USE CASES

Broadly speaking there are two specific use cases:

  1. FOR POST-PAID ACCOUNTS: Statements can potentially become like credit card statements where the telecom companies may be able to assign certain credit limits based on payment history, guarantees etc.
  2. PRE-LOADED ACCOUNTS: both pre-paid and post-paid accounts charge a certain amount for payments (this is what is being offered today).

Consumers would use their mobile phone to make payments just as credit/debit cards are used today and merchants such as Canvera sign up to receive payments.

TELECOM COMPANIES ARE UNIQUELY POISED TO PULL THIS OFF

In evaluating the different payment solutions in India we understood some of their limitations. These included:

  1. Lack of consumer trust in the instrument: as a merchant we felt that we would have to support a number of payment options none of which had any significant traction. In fact in some cases we felt that we would need to build that trust in our customers and got in to talks with a few of the payment companies but eventually dropped the idea
  2. Lack of distribution capabilities: distribution at scale is possibly the minimum requirement to building trust. But more than that the payment method needs to be easily accessible and all use cases around the instrument need to be simple. A lot of the alternate payments services failed on this front.
  3. Convenience: A lot of the payment solutions had just too many steps for the consumer that there was no way that average consumer was going to use these solutions regularly. Some of the issues stemmed from regulation and were out of control of the payment company but the net result was that they asked too much of the consumer.

The telecom companies are uniquely poised to overcome these challenges. They already are known brands and have trust of the consumer; and they have significant distribution capabilities to provide physical touch points for payments, re-charges, customer queries, issue resolution etc.  No startup can quite compete with the investments that telecom companies have made in establishing their reach and brand.  And finally the convenience of paying with a mobile phone – who can top that!

HURDLES

They are of course many hurdles. The two key ones are:

  1. NEW PRODUCT & SERVICE DEVELOPMENT: Can the telecom companies truly create an internal environment where a brand new product and service offering can be developed, improved and deployed at scale? As a merchant I sure hope so, but it is a challenge nevertheless. This new product /service development will require a completely new mindset and skills while leveraging the power of the present infrastructure of the telecom company.
  2. REGULATORY: Will the telecom companies be allowed to essentially become banks providing credit to consumers? Again, my hope is that this will be allowed, with appropriate but minimal regulation to protect consumers. Given the clout telecom companies have within the government, no one else is better poised to lobby the forces-that-be to make this happen.  Certainly no startup can develop that level of clout and reach within the government.

While I don’t want to trivialize the above two challenges, I do feel that compared to the challenges in front of a payment startup these are surmountable in a “reasonable” time frame and if overcome can very quickly change the payments landscape in India.

In addition to allowing the new product and service to be developed fully I do also hope that telecom companies learn the lessons from the mVas debacles that by taking too much away from the innovators they actually kill the innovation. I hope that they will learn to play the role of a neutral and cost effective platform and not compete or interfere with the free market competition between the merchants.  Done correctly this can potentially even correct the ARPU issues that telecom companies face in India.

SERVING LONG TAIL NEEDS

India is a country of great diversity and yet, due to number of structural issues, it is virtually impossible for a single service provider to PROFITABLY service the very long tail of consumer preference. A key enabling piece (amongst many others) to serving the long-tail needs is an electronic payment network that allows merchants to profitably collect small amounts of money. The low penetration of credit cards and lack of growth, lack of trust in the infrastructure and law enforcement , the challenges to create a national credit rating system etc meant that solutions that have worked in developed markets will take decades to reach scale in India. A telecom company also becoming a payments company and being able to provide credit can dramatically shorten the timeframe to achieve the same result.  A unique solution to a unique operating environment that could potentially unleash long tail creativity.

I am rooting for this one!

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Distribution Is King. Much More So In India

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This post first appeared on the VCCircle blog here

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The easiest way to tell if a PE/VC investor has earned their chops in India or in the west is when within 15 mins of your conversation the former will ask you: “Now that you have created your distribution network in India (or plan to create it) what else beyond your present offering can you pump through it?” This test has never failed me! There is a lot of wisdom behind this bias because the toughest thing to do in India is to build out the distribution network. A US trained VC’s bias will be towards vertical growth within the same product suite, but an India trained VC will have a bias towards horizontal growth across multiple product suites. I would argue that the challenges of distribution are so huge in India that product innovation is secondary and it is more capital efficient to “import” products and figure out the distribution network rather than spend time and energy on innovation.

Today we are seeing an angel investing boom in the US. There is a lot of infrastructure in place that allows this to happen. Amazon Web Services and the ilk are often mentioned as the key enablers but what does not get mentioned as often are: variabalized sales/marketing costs through online marketing; reliable physical infrastructure; reliable courier services; an electronic payments network; trustworthy law enforcement; overall high level of trust in society etc. All these are different elements of distribution that have on a relative scale commoditized distribution for an entrepreneur so that she and her team can focus on the core product. In essence, it has freed up a lot of energy to focus on pure innovation.

In this post, through a comparison to the US market, I will simply highlight the unique distribution challenges of India. The key to success in India is to be aware of these challenges and develop plans to work within the constraints they force upon you. With present-day low levels of per-capita consumption, domestic consumption in India will continue to grow for decades and companies that address the India market at its own terms rather than following copy-cat business models are the ones that are going to capitalize on this growth.

Let me start with listing down the various elements of a successful distribution channel. I would say that the distribution channel for a brand has been setup if ALL of the following have been accomplished:

  1. TRUST: Consumers and channels have basic trust in the brand to try it out repeatedly and recommend it to others
  2. RELIABLE DELIVERY: The company has the ability to deliver the product/service reliably day in and day out
  3. ABILITY TO COLLECT: The company has the ability to collect money, which also includes ability to enforce a financial obligation (hopefully through legal means!)
  4. PROFITABILITY: At its simplest, this measures the firm’s ability to charge the right amount and the operational efficiency of the channels to keep costs down.
  5. SCALE: The business needs to have reasonable scale – exact revenue numbers will depend on the type of business, but north of $5-10M is a good first order estimate in the context of a VC- funded company

So let’s compare the challenges on all of these fronts between India and US.

TRUST

Any time a new company is formed there is resistance to accept the new product or service and overcoming this through great delivery, marketing, sales etc costs a lot of money in every country. But a major issue in India is the low level of trust that exists in businesses due to daily poor experiences. Think of your favourite home service (plumbing, electrician, car repair) or banking services (“I will call you back tomorrow” – yeah right!) or horror stories getting medical care – the default starting point for the consumer is to assume “it will not work” or “s/he is lying or stretching what’s actually possible”. A consumer starts with a position of mistrust and then trust has to be earned. It is the exact opposite of what happens in the US. If I wanted to buy an expensive camera in the US, I would do a Google search, quickly find the best price and place the order. There is a 99% guarantee that the product I ordered will get delivered in the time committed and that I will have full protection for the 1% of the time there is a problem. I’d walk in to brand new restaurant on day-1 without any fear of falling sick.

In India, overcoming the very high level of mistrust at scale is at best extremely expensive and at worst takes a lot of time and staying power. It requires delivery at scale (which is a chicken and egg problem), advertising, marketing & sales at scale, and good corporate behavior at all company touch points.

RELIABLE DELIVERY

The concept of “reliable” delivery means many different things in different businesses but let me take Canvera’s example of delivering photographic printed products to customers. We work closely with 15+ courier companies (not 2 or 3, but 15) that deliver mail-order product to 300+ cities. Over a 4 year period we have developed intricate processes to monitor each packet over and above the monitoring and tracking the courier company provides because in the end it is our responsibility to deliver the packet in a respectable timeframe and through experience we’ve learnt that we can’t rely on the courier companies. In a services business (think restaurants) in India scaling up is a huge challenge because of the quality of the available workforce and the training required (think hygiene in a restaurant). In the US, courier services are a given, no entrepreneur worries about them.  And while finding high quality workforce in a services business is always a challenge, the size of the US economy itself provides a reasonably large trained workforce. It may cost a pretty penny, but it is available. Think of how quickly Groupon scaled its team of Inside Sales to 1000s of people and how many different businesses were able to reliably provide the services to consumers through Groupon.

ABILITY TO COLLECT

I have written at length about COD in an earlier post – that was more in the context of a B2C business. But there are other forms of collections including B2B, retail etc. FMCG businesses in India manage consumer collections by offloading them to the kirana store and managing their own collections from the store owner by creating enough demand for the product and holding back supplies if payments are not received. B2B collections are a nightmare in India that create massive cash flow issues with providers being forced to get in to the credit business since there really isn’t a legally enforceable collections framework and companies rely on personal relationships and holding back future services to enforce payments. No entrepreneur I know of in the US worries about collections as a bottleneck to business growth. It is a plug and play solution and largely a variable cost with a legal framework to fall back on.

PROFITABILITY

Let’s examine the two aspects of profitability: Revenue and Cost. Take mail order businesses (or e-commerce);  consumers in the US are willing to pay a little extra for shipping solely for the convenience – as the economy has grown and time becomes a premium, there is an appreciation for opportunity cost and value based services that save time and headache. On the cost side – assuming healthy gross margins, given a reasonable cost of RELIABLE shipping and reasonable cost of collections, each transaction can be profitable in the US. In India however it is a very big assumption that consumers will pay for convenience (this is a separate blog post altogether) – real and perceived opportunity costs are low and even if they increase, it takes a lot of time for consumer behavior to change at scale. So far, especially in e-commerce, all we have seen is what we know sub-consciously: price is all that matters. I am willing to bet that volumes will drop dramatically if Indian e-commerce companies start charging nominal amounts for shipping or if prices are raised to even a few % points higher than offline retail. And then on the cost front, as I have mentioned before, cost of collections is high and logistics are very inefficient. The combination of not being able to charge for convenience/quality and a high friction operating environment results in highly unprofitable transactions.

SCALE

Finally, any company can overcome all of the above at a small size, the real challenge is being able to do this on a large scale: in multiple geographies, in multiple languages all over India.

ignore underlying infrastructure at your own risk

Telecom companies are the best example of the power of distribution networks in India. This blog post by Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan summarizes it best:

The speaker line-up at the opening keynote … is the best evidence possible of the peculiarity of the mobile phone industry. The operator – the guy who provides you an easily commoditized, utility like service – has the biggest clout in the industry. Imagine the premier global conference for …umm… ‘Home Appliances’ having the CEOs of the electricity companies as the big draws.

How true! And yet the power is with the phone company because they have the distribution network. They have the trust of the consumer; they provide mVas players with a reliable delivery and collections mechanism which can in turn be profitable. And they have significant scale. No telecom player wants to be seen just as the dumb pipe. After having put in the capital and time to build out this network, they want a share of every innovative product that is distributed through it. It is a separate matter that their behavior and expectations are preventing innovation but the bargaining power is clearly in their hands (Side note: telecom companies are behaving like an investor in a capital constrained market who wants to invest at $0M pre-money. I digress).

This discussion is by no means suggesting that it is easy to build a business in a developed market or impossible to do it in emerging markets like India. In fact, the barriers of distribution that have been lowered in developed markets are lowered for all the entrepreneurs and therefore competition can be much higher as well. Product innovation and speed then become key differentiators.  India is unique; India is not the US, nor is it China or Brazil. In India FMCG companies have shown how a leveraged offline model of using kirana stores to offload a lot of these distribution costs and last mile headaches can lead to big defensible, scalable and profitable businesses. There is much to learn from these success stories.

The one cautionary fact for all entrepreneurs and investors to note is that TIME is the biggest price to pay for the lack of infrastructure. It is extremely difficult to overcome the barriers through just capital. There are no shortcuts and setting up the foundation correctly is absolutely critical to building defensible scale. It has been done, it IS being done and my money is behind the people who are keeping their eyes open to these challenges.

Why I don’t believe in COD

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This post first appeared on the VCCircle blog here.

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Payment systems (or lack of them) are a very big problem for India e-commerce and as much as COD is being touted as the panacea to get over the hurdles of reach and consumer trust, I am just not able to buy the story. To me it seems like optimizations to COD are like trying to make the horse run faster while what we need is an automobile (sorry Henry Ford!). Stretching the analogy, we not only need the automobile, we also need the support infrastructure of petrol bunks, repair shops, credit agencies etc. The equivalent of the automobiles in payments are well penetrated and reliable electronic payment systems, which in turn require good credit rating agencies, trust worthy law enforcement etc. A very tall order to achieve in a few years when there is generally low trust, low penetration and insipid growth if any (credit card penetration is stuck at 20M for last few years) of electronic payment systems.

I am firmly in the camp of people who believe that the e-commerce bubble is going to burst soon and while I think there are many fundamental reasons why this will happen, if you forced me to pick only one I would pick lack of electronic payment systems in India.

Before I explain any further, let me state two key assumptions:

  1. I am primarily talking about COD in the context of high volume, low gross margin (<Rs1000) products
  2. I am assuming that mid-term profitability is important

If both these assumptions don’t apply to a business then you can ignore my analysis.

Sources of Fixed Cost in COD

I explained the LTV impact of COD in a previous post. Let me expand on this further and list down the sources of fixed cost per collection:

  1. Cost of physically traveling to collect money: Number of trips that need to be made to collect the money and the cost of these trips especially given high petrol prices
  2. Cost of consumer changing their mind: If the money is not charged immediately when the consumer is in the buying window, large % will change their mind when the order is delivered (anecdotally I have heard 30% “return” rates being quoted in the industry today)
  3. Cost of managing cash and reconciliation: This requires people based processes to count, store and deposit money in the bank in addition to manually reconciling the money with the right order
  4. Fraud: This has many sources, including the collections person running away with the money, fake currency notes, collusion between  the collections team, law enforcement issues with someone carrying significant cash etc.
  5. Hiring, re-hiring, training and management of the collections team. This will be a huge fixed cost borne by the company

All of these translate to a FIXED COST PER TRANACTION, regardless of the money being transacted. Just this fact can make the business unprofitable unless, and this is important, that the cost of collection can be completely “variabalized”. There is no other way to do this except to switch to a completely electronic payment system.

Scalability challenges

And finally, there is the scale challenge. If the GMV value (not revenues – and can we please stop calling GMV revenues, it discredits everyone in the startup eco-system!) of e-commerce transactions in India is to reach $1B annually (so ~$100M in revenues) and the average GMV value is $20 then we need 50M transactions – even if 60% of these are based on COD, it means 30M transactions of $20 at a time being handled and reconciled by people. Let me say it again, for $100M in revenues there will be 30M POPLE-BASED transactions to collect and reconcile the money. There will be management layers to manage the team, hiring and retention (and replacement will be an issue) as the company will require low-skilled workers to try and make the math work. A rudimentary calculation assuming 6 collections per person per day means that the front-end collections team will have to be of about 15,000 people and probably half the size of this team to do the backend operations. Most of the front end team will probably earn Rs5-7K/month. To keep a reliable force out in the field (not in a factory where it is easier to manage a team) there will be significant management overhead and constantly having a pipeline of 10-20X  the team strength (i.e. 150K-300K people) for replacements. Then there are the costs of career planning and growth for this work force.

It just is really hard to see how this will work when transactions gross margins are low and nothing that I have heard or seen in the last 9 months of this bubble is able to convince me otherwise. The COD payments business is a services business and in order for the math to work, it needs to quickly transform to a products business, i.e. be replaced by an electronic payments system. That will take a lot of time. A.Lot.Of.Time.

+1 for G+

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I finally got around to setting up my G+ account and I really like it. I have hardly used Facebook because of privacy concerns. My sense of  FB is that they view privacy more as a necessary evil they need to deal with rather than something that they fundamentally respect (hell, if the movie is to be believed, the eureka moment was understanding that everyone in college wanted to know “who is sleeping with who”!). History has shown time and time again that some of these early behaviors permeate the organization in a way that is impossible to change along the way. No matter how much “privacy control” FB tries to put in today, they don’t have my trust that they will respect it.

Which is why I was looking forward to G+ and I am glad to say that they have lived up to the promise. Google has a much better (but imperfect) record of trying to do the right thing for the user and I am willing to give them much more of a benefit of doubt.

Like LinkedIn in the early days

My first impression of G+ is that it is like LinkedIn in the early days; it is cumbersome to set up: build circles, send invites, wait for people to come around etc etc. LinkedIn for the longest time was an afterthought. But after having put in the effort over the years, today LinkedIn has become extremely useful. I see that happening over time with G+. I have created my private and public circles, I have for the first time posted pictures of my kids for friends and family to view, I have shared a few links with a professional circle, commented on a few posts etc. I can see this becoming a very important tool over the next 2-3 years. But it will be a slow ramp up and I am dismissive of any talks that point towards (lack of) present usage as an indication of its failure. It will take time and I am hoping that it will emerge as something very useful.

Having said all this, I do believe that for a lot of users FB will be the go-to social destination. Just as for search Google has become a verb, Facebook has become the verb for social. And it is not going to be easy to de-throne it.

But competition is good, choices are good and my vote is definitely for G+. Google: Please don’t let me down!

Accounting For Cost Of Collections In LTV

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This post first appeared on the VCCircle blog here. I have added some additional thoughts below based on some feedback and questions I got.

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In an earlier post I had talked about a key difference between developed and developing economies being that startups in developed economies can buy products and services on a purely variable cost basis. In this post I am going to focus this observation on cost of collections and how it impacts life-time-value (LTV) of a customer. LTV and corresponding customer acquisition costs are critical to determine long term financial viability and strength of the business. The general method to calculate LTV is to have a model for lifetime revenues and subtract from it cost-of-good-sold (COGS) to come up with the LTV number. In economies like the US it is typical to not include collections costs in these calculation because regardless of the type of business (B2B, B2SMB, B2C) or transaction amount ($0.99 song on iTunes to $100K B2B billing) the collections costs is purely variable and in steady state is about 1-2% of revenues so it doesn’t really materially affect the LTV calculation. This has been made possible by the omnipresence of electronic payment methods where the marginal cost of closing a transaction is minuscule; a reliable and enforceable credit rating system for consumers and business; and finally a law enforcement framework which provides the necessary the carrots and sticks to consumers and businesses to follow through on contractual obligations.

This framework does not necessarily apply to developing economies, certainly not to India. Vast majority of the transactions in India are in cash with very little penetration or growth of electronic payment systems. As a result most collections in the B2C space are done at retail locations or using COD etc which in turn require follow up reconciliation and management. But the key characteristic is that there is a FIXED minimum cost per transaction after which the cost becomes variable. In other words:

  • For electronic payment methods, cost of collections = 2% of transaction amount
  • For cash collection methods, cost of collections = MAX of (Rs100, 1% of transaction amount)

This has a very meaningful impact on LTV calculations especially when transaction amounts are reduced. Let me illustrate this with a comparison between three scenarios, one where collections is purely variable cost, one where there is a fixed minimum but low number of transactions and one where there are high transactions.

As can be seen from the table, the 3rd scenario dramatically changes the complexion of the business even though in all three businesses the revenues and COGS are the same.

Getting rid of that minimum amount per transaction in India is non-trivial. As I mentioned earlier this will require electronic (automated) payment methods, which in turn require robust credit rating institutions and which in turn require reliable law enforcement. All this is beyond the scope of the startup ecosystem. At Canvera we focus heavily on high transaction amounts for cash transactions, provide incentives to make electronic payments, only go after business that we see annuity value in so that over a period of time we can optimize the cost structure, and try to collect advance deposits where possible. This is work in progress and after 3 years of investments in technology, processes and infrastructure we unfortunately still don’t have the scale and cost structure that a purely electronic payment network can provide. But we are acutely aware of these costs and factor them in our calculations.

Additional comments

After the post first appeared on the VC Circle blog I got quite a few questions and I’d like to address one of them around the minimum cost per transaction I talked about earlier. I’ll consider two separate cases: COD and Retail payments.

Minimum cost per transaction in COD

There are many sources of this minimum cost and these include:

  1. Cost for a person to show up at a residence/office is fixed and not dependent on the amount being transacted.
  2. Customers refusing the product when the delivery/cash collection person shows up or simply having to make multiple attempts at delivery/collections
  3. Fraud: for the economics to work the person delivering cannot make a lot of money. At the same time increasing their “throughput” means allowing them to handle larger and larger sums of money which in turn creates perverse incentives. And adding more checks and balances adds more cost. There are other sources of fraud that are inherent with cash handling and reconciliation even after the money has been safely delivered to an office.
  4. Cost of reconciliation and properly matching with the right order. This is a fixed cost independent of the transaction amount
  5. Fake currency: as the business scales this issues shows up very quickly – in fact in all of Canvera’s regional offices have fake currency detectors since there was non-trivial fraud
Minimum cost per transaction in Retail environment
Retail environment is much cheaper on a per transaction basis but does require the fixed upfront cost of the setup of the retail location.  The retail location does of course serve many purposes  (marketing, product display, sitting area, warehousing, customer service etc) over and above collections so it is difficult to tease out the collections cost. But the per-transaction cost is much cheaper than that of COD. In the case where say an FMCG company supplies to a kirana store, the store owner absorbs the cost of collections and a portion of the equivalent rental costs of the location need to be used to calculate the cost of collections. Of course for family owned property all these costs are never considered. For a brand that sets up its own retail locations, the cost of the property is shared with many other functions outside just collections and it is well known that the real estate costs are key to determine overall profitability of each individual store.

Safety of air vs road travel

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I spend a lot of my time traveling so I am in a cab a lot and in many plane rides every month. In talking to people I always sense a greater worry about air travel than about road travel and I have never been able to understand this completely as the data just does not support it. As someone once said: “the most dangerous part of air travel is the ride to the airport”!

In India this is even more true. There are on average 300 deaths on the road everyday, yes EVERY day, and while I don’t have the exact stats my guess is that that is the total number annually for air travel. And then there is a straight line from fatalities to serious and non-serious injuries. On a recent plane ride I was flying in a small ATR and my carry-on bag did not fit in the overhead. I checked it in for pick up as soon as I got off. After getting off I veered too close to the fuselage to pick up my bag and immediately someone stopped me and brought the bag to me. This level of alertness about safety is a stark contrast to what happens on the road (see this video by the Bangalore traffic police) and yet most people don’t think that much about road safety as they do about safety of flying. Why is that? Why is that a single plane accident attracts a lot of media coverage but we are practically numb to the madness that happens on the roads everyday?

I don’t know if there has been any study done and I am no psychologist, but I think it has a lot to do with the feeling of being in direct control on the road. The thought could be that “I can drive carefully” or “I will be careful crossing the road” etc. But for air travel, one has to rely on the system to just work. From the pilot to the mechanic who inspected the plane to the manufacturer who puts in 6-7 layers of redundancy each one has to do their job well for every single flight to be safe. The industry has done fabulously well in achieving a high safety standard, but the complexity of pulling it off each and every time I think causes more worry in the mind of an average passenger.

Anyone here has a theory on why this is the case and/or can provide links to any research done behind this psychology?

Switching to an iPhone from a Blackberry

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A little more than a month ago I switched to an iPhone after being a long time user of  Blackberry. In the Blackberry I was missing out on a true mobile web experience (it just doen’t exist) and as 3G got rolled out and the iPhones became more and more powerful, I could not resist any more. My biggest hesitation came from the fact that I am on the road quite a bit and email on the phone is very important for me. I was very worried about giving up a physical keyboard. Now that I have made the switch here is the good, bad & ugly.

The Good

  1. There is no question that the mobile web experience is awesome. In fact I don’t open up my laptop that often now unless I need to work on some documents.
  2. iTunes is huge for me: I am a big iTunes user and now having all my music with me all the time is fantastic. I can buy music & TV Shows on the road and with iCloud all that is available on my computer automatically.
  3. The phone is simply sexy! The manufacturing finesse, the software finesse are just something to be admired. Dual 8MP cameras, video, retina display … I can go on.
  4. I really like the ScannerPro app ($6.99) that has essentially replaced an $80 flatbed scanner for scanning documents and made the workflow for scanning so simple
  5. I love using the map to find latitude/longitude information of places I visit and that makes finding the place again so much more simple (I am prototyping this on the phone)
  6. Time pass Angry Birds 🙂
The Bad
  1. Battery life is a major issue. Since the mobile web is such a key part of the experience I am constantly worried about running out of battery. I have somewhat fixed the problem by getting a Dexim power case, but now I have to carry this additional accessory around. I can live with that.
  2. Time waste Angry Birds 😐
The Ugly
  1. My worst fear about the switch came true. Typing has become a royal pain in the you-know-what and although I had assurances from other users,  I don’t think they are power email users on the phone like me. This is made worse as while traveling I am in the car a lot and uneven roads exacerbates the problem. Cut/paste, search/replace are painful. I have finally just resigned to living with typos and I no longer type long emails on the phone as I would do on my blackberry.
  2. Addictive Angry Birds 😦
I have not yet used an Android device (iTunes tipped the balance for me in favor of an iPhone) and I’d love someday to make a proper comparison with one. I’d welcome if someone who has used both can share their experience in the comments.