Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dark cloudy day!

Its one of those days you want to stay at home, kick your slippers off, watch a movie and have hot Khichudi, Bong-style with some bhaja-bhuji. Ah!
Anyway, we don't live in an utopian world, instead I have to deal with idiotic three-wheelers on the roads and today also an uniquely disturbed woman driving a red Santro. I know that all drivers in Delhi by definition must weave through traffic, with stupid three-wheelers on the fast lane, there is not much you can do, but this woman managed to cut me off three times in the space of two minutes, despite me using my lights (dark, cloudy weather, drive with your lights on, its safer). I rarely make sexist comments at women drivers, this despite some of the least politically incorrect men I know, including usually female friendly homosexual men make fun about the way women drive. I prefer making crude jokes. Its more fun. And in a country where the men can't particularly drive brilliantly, its not fair to call women incompetent. After all, for the benefit of those people from foerign lands who chance upon these pages and have neolithic concepts of sexuality, in India there are no cows behind the wheel. The cows are on the road. Real cows. Cows who manage to kill lots of people every year, and cows that atheletes to the Commonwealth Games of 2010 in Delhi will see on the roads, because despite the occasional goring or two, and the annual prod from the Supreme Court, the Municipality will do nothing, instead they'll just try and make some money from the dairy owners on the side.
On a business note, Videocon's Venugopal Dhoot is making all the news, buying up Colour Picture Tube (CPT) plants by the dozen and buying out other companies like Electrolux to boot. Given that owning a Videocon product despite having Shah Rukh Khan pimping them, is as cool as owning an Indica, Dhoot sells via a phethora of brands. He plans to be a global leader in electronics, mainly TV's. Now, when I occasionally put on my technology evangelising hat, I don't think people will be buying Tube-TV's for much longer. With each successive generation the price of new Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) units is coming down. And in the last two years over $100 billion has been invested in new LCD fabs in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. So just like the East Asian Semiconductor business went into freefall in the mid-90's, expect the same to happen in LCD's. Which means that you, Joe Consumer should benefit. These plants start kicking into production by mid-2006. In two years time, the price of a 21-inch LCD TV should have declined from the rather steep Rs 35k today to under Rs 15k. I know that it has taken years for consumers to switch to flat-TV's from regular curved ones, but then again as consumers mature, technology switchovers become more rapid.
The switch from B&W to Colour TV's took eons in India (I remember that in Calcutta there was a B&W TV till a few years ago), the switch from curved to flat has taken a few years (three-four), similarly the switch from VCR's to VCD's took something like a decade. Today everybody owns a DVD player, urged on by ridiculously low prices (Overcapacity in China, anyone?). Every consumer durables beat reporter thinks I'm nuts when I talk like this. Sadly, I know I'm right. OK, so the changeover to LCD's may not start for another year or so, maybe not before mid-2007. But, the LCD TV (and not Plasma, lets not get into the technology aspect of it) will replace that huge box in your house before you know it. Someone once said that mobile telephony would never pick up in India, "too high-tech" they said. Well, LCD will redefine the way you watch television. I think Dhoot is nuts to pitch his tent with obscure and rapidly obsolete technology. But then again, we aren't driving flying cars, but I don't think I'm as wildly off the mark as those sci-fi writers of the 60's.

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