Monthly Archives

July 2015


Chromecast – Post Rationalising My Impulse Buy

July 20, 2015

By Sanjana Mathur

The latest toy in my life these days has been Google’s own Chromecast. I got to try it out for the first time at an Airbnb apartment that I stayed at in San Francisco. The Chromecast is a USB-Sized device which plugs into the HDMI port of a TV, essentially making it a smart TV. One can project onto it from mobile devices using apps, and the Chrome browser on computers. Youtube, Netflix, and Videostream are just few of many compatible apps. It works over your wifi network. Although suitably impressed with how well it worked, and the ‘coolness’ of projecting from my phone to my TV, at the time I did not really think of buying it for myself.


I don’t consider myself an impulse buyer, especially not of electronics. In fact, there is usually a couple of weeks of careful googling and comparison that goes on before I even set foot in a store. I stop just short of making an Excel spreadsheet of features.

Despite this, when I came across a Curry’s PC World store back in London, with a sign advertising the Chromecast inside, I found my feet leading me into the store. In that crucial moment of indecision, to buy or ‘come back later’ I felt that it was the price and design of the Chromecast which was the tipping factor.

I’ve found that whenever I have been unsure of purchasing something in-store, usually due to price, I think that “I’ll have a look around and come back”. 95% of the time, I don’t. Although this anecdote is based entirely on personal experience, my gut feeling is that many of you out there can empathise. This moment of decision making is crucial in the consumer purchasing journey. Especially so nowadays, when consumers are increasingly conducting in-depth research before making the buying decision in the electronics sector.

The barrier to entry for impulse-purchase was significantly lowered by pricing the Chromecast at £30. Also, due to the lower price, I had managed expectations of the pen-drive sized device. There were many features I was unsure of, but was willing to take a chance on since there wasn’t a huge amount of money at stake. In contrast, the £50 Apple TV in the same store was raised more doubts in my mind. Just £20 more than the Chromecast, it made me think much more, and also have higher expectations of its capabilities.

To understand this phenomenon a bit more, I did some reading into the Digital TV competition and Impulse Buying, particularly in the Consumer Electronics Sector. Link for study at the bottom of this blog post. Amongst those who had impulse bought electronic goods, many made their comparative choice due to low price. A correlated factor is that 22% of the purchases were accessories (such as batteries, camera optics, cables) followed by headphones, 15%. Apart from just price, I think that the accessory like shape and size of the Chromecast are what help place it as simply an ‘accessory’, and not set-top box in the customer’s mind.

In support of this fact, upon reflection, I realise that perhaps my purchase of the Chromecast was not entirely spontaneous. I had being planning on replacing my 4th broken HDMI cable (in 6 months), and the Chromecast was able to present itself as an alternative. I feel as though I have been ushered from the dark ages of wired connections to the kingdom of wireless.

This article delves deeper into a qualitative analysis of the factors influencing the successes and failures of various video streaming devices:


Since I paid so little for the Chromecast, every success with it, such as being able to cast downloaded videos to my TV, brings me immense joy. The joy of discovery is amplified, since I had done no prior research into it. It has replaced the HDMI cable in my little 1 bedroom household. The smartphone, tablet or laptop being used in conjunction with the Chromecast essentially acts as a remote, which is great as I’ve long since lost my actual television control.

Never has impulse buying been as rewarding an experience as this, and I think being able to inject some of this behaviour into the otherwise planned-purchase led consumer electronics sector has been a major contributing factor to the commercial success of the Chromecast. The official sales number as of May 2015 was 17 million Chromecasts sold. I know that personally I have embraced the Chromecast. All hail the age of wireless technology.

On a side note, I can already begin to see my television watching (or should I say content consumption?) habits changing as a result of the Chromecast. This has also led to me watching far more Youtube videos as actual ‘television’. It will be interesting to see the effect of video-on-demand upon television in the long run.

This blog was originally published on Sanjana Mathur’s personal blog (July 2015).

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Crowdsourcing Capital – Thoughts on Uber

July 18, 2015

By Sanjana Mathur

I have recently had the pleasure of experiencing Uber in multiple cities across the world. London, New York, San Francisco, and Mumbai. The service boasts presence in 57 countries. For those unfamiliar with Uber (although you’ve likely overheard a co-worker or friend extolling its virtues at the water cooler or bar counter) it is a smartphone app-based service which allows you to call a cab. It uses GPS to communicate your location and destination to the driver, and conversely shows you the location of your taxi, estimated arrival time, car make/number, driver’s name etc.
While there are many details in the app experience which surely are what make it so successful and user friendly (which would require a whole separate post), I found myself wondering about the supply side of things. What is it that makes this flourish in both London and Mumbai? Foreign companies have typically struggled to set up shop in India, particularly in sourcing of capital and hiring of staff.

1437193085090All Uber drivers own/bring their own vehicles, with which they then register to Uber. When my father asked an Uber driver in Mumbai if he owned the car he was driving, he said that he had pooled in money with a friend and bought the car. For a brief moment, it made no sense to me. How were they planning to split the revenue? But then it became clear; one person couldn’t be driving the car 24 hours a day. It made sense to drive the car in shifts. My boyfriend asked the same question to a driver in London, who professed that he had rented the car. Apart from showing me that the men in my life have an unhealthy interest in the lives of taxi drivers, it got me thinking about this interesting new model where the ’employees’ brought their own cars. Like one big BYOC party.

Capital is key, and capital is expense. Its also the biggest hurdle in setting up a new business. To illustrate the point, I would like to draw a comparison between Uber and ‘Meru Cabs’, which had been the main taxi-on-demand service In India during the pre-Uber days of yesteryear.


To book a Meru cab, there was a phone number to be called (advertised on the side of their vehicles), and the vehicles themselves were standard and easily recognisable. They quickly grew in popularity, the convenient way to get home after a party where you’ve had a few drinks. However, the demand grew beyond their ability to acquire cars and train drivers, resulting in many cancelled bookings and no-shows; the kind of unreliable experience that is fatal to such businesses. They have since gone digital, but the damage is done.

I saw a meme on 9gag the other day (a guilty pleasure), which said:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

After digging into it, I found out that this is a quote from Tom Goodwin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas Media. Yes, a much more legitimate source than 9gag, who has also hit the metaphorical nail on the head (note to self; find out where that saying came from, can’t be anywhere good).

Being able to crowdsource the capital has, I think, been a key part of the rapid, successful international expansion of Uber. Not having to figure out local sourcing (worse yet, importing) of the required product, not to mention not having to pay for it, means that Uber is able to let supply and demand self-regulate, while simply being the facilitator. The flexibility of being minimally invested.

Everything nowadays comes back to the internet. The internet reshaping the supply chain, and democratising the brand experience. Companies such as Uber and Airbnb are often described as being simply an interface. However, if one were to look at Uber and Meru cabs side by side, they are both services offering the same product, yet the outcomes have been hugely different because of this simple difference.

For startups to be able to compete with the giants, this may be the kind of ingenuity that allows them to achieve international scale without the massive amounts of funding and campaigning available to large Multinational Corporations.

In my humble, inexperienced opinion, while startups have already adopted crowdsourcing of funds, a business model which crowdsources the product capital as well may be the way forward. I am sure that countless companies are already looking to Uber as the shining example, and the contents of this post old news. I truly hope this is the case, so we have a new generation of top-notch service to look forward to.

In the meanwhile, I am happy to join the ranks of those ‘strongly’ recommending Uber to any and every person that I come across, like the dogged salesman I am. Seriously, I think I will have to write another blog post about the user interface.


This blog was originally published on Sanjana Mathur’s personal blog (July 2015).

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