Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HP's TouchPad - a bomb

Business Insider is officially calling HP's TouchPad a bomb. I am surprised that it took them 6+ weeks to call it! The TouchPad opened to weak reviews. HP tried desperately to compete on price. None of it worked. RIP TouchPad.

HP has tried its hand in consumer electronics multiple times and failed. Who remembers HP foray into handhelds with Jornada and iPAQ? HP even tried their hand in HP TV and HP Camera.

Most markets have three dominant players:
  • Hertz, Avis, National
  • American, United, Delta
  • Nike, Adidas, Reebok
  • etc.
There are other players in each market, but usually three of them dominate and control 80-90% of the market.

Only Google seems to have cracked the nut when it comes to competing with Apple. They have taken a different approach - by licensing Android (although, it will be interesting to see how this plays out following Google's acquisition of Motorola). WebOS, RIM and Microsoft attempted to become the third player in the mobile race. With WebOS dying and RIM losing ground, Microsoft (and its Nokia alliance) has a great opportunity to become the third player here.

Winning this is significant because there is a lot at stake. It is expected that the number of connected mobile devices will exceed 15 billion by 2015! Come on, Ballmer, time to break out of your stupor and bring your passion to the mobile market.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Steps to Getting an OCI Card

We recently got our OCI Cards and the whole process was smooth and painless. I sent the application on July 7th. They processed my application and asked me to send original passports on July 28th. I received the stamped passport and OCI card on August 10th. So, the end-to-end processing time was just over one month.

I must say that when I first started looking at the requirements and procedures, it seemed quite daunting. Especially when I saw notes like, "Please note that no person is rejecting the same, it is the machine which is rejecting. Do not argue on this issue ...". After sifting through several links and comments, I arrived at the following steps:
  1. Gather the following documents (as you are preparing this, make two copies of everything - preferably in color):
    • Copy of US Naturalization Certificate
    • Copy of the Indian Citizenship Surrender Certificate (if you don't already have this, Travisa provides a procedure for processing this in parallel)
    • Scanned and printed pages of your US passport
    • Scanned and printed pages of your Indian passport
    • Scanned and printed copy of your Indian birth certificate
    • Scanned and printed copy of your Drivers License
    • Copies of PG&E (Utility) bill
    • "Passport" photo (see #5 below for more on this)
    • Cashier's check payable to "Travisa Outsourcing"
  2. Although this link is titled, "How to Apply for OCI Card", DO NOT start the process here
  3. Start here, instead. Kudos to Travisa Outsourcing for streamlining the process
  4. Only use Internet Explorer when submitting the online forms
  5. The photo you need to send for the OCI card is non-standard. They require that the background should not be white. I used the following procedure:
    • Take a close up picture of your face with a digital camera against a (blue or green) colored wall at home and upload the picture at Note: You can print the photo yourself.
    • The step-by-step instructions are provided here
  6. Note: [Update on March 19, 2012] The photo requirement has changed. Here is a link to the requirements for the photo that you need to send them.
  7. Set up a personal FedEx account here. This is important because that is the only way Travisa will return the passport (you cannot give them a credit card number to be charged)
  8. Submit all your documents by FedEx.
  9. When you submit your forms online, you are given a tracking number by Travisa. Use this number everywhere (even on the FedEx Airbill)
Good luck. If your experience is different or if you can think of any further optimization, please post them as comments.