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Tata Neu has a Nano hangover
Also in today’s edition: Apple, the ad company; Will love & joy keep Archies going?; Indian baubles for Stateside X’mas; Recession took my singing voice
Good morning! Climate change is coming for namma ooru. Bengaluru had one thing going for itself: round-the-year good weather. Well, that's out of the list. Rains continue to wreak havoc. The misery, however, is entirely manmade. As we’ve said before, the city is unlivable. Half our team is eking out dying laptop batteries to bring you this edition. Stat. One small joy here: nobody's raising a toast to the spirit of Bengaluru. As yet.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: The FT reports that an unwinding of Spacs, which have to return investors’ money if they do not make an acquisition in a stipulated time, will bring $75 billion to equities over the next few months. Some could reach Indian shores too where foreign investors have pumped in $6.4 billion in August, the most since December 2020.
In other news, Warren Buffet began cutting his holding in Chinese automaker BYD. This, soon after the company took the second spot in EV-battery maker rankings, according to Bloomberg.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty perched 0.23% higher than its previous close at 7.30 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (0.11%) and Nikkei 225 (0.31%) also inched upwards.
Apple Is Making An Ad Machine
The iPhone maker is seemingly doubling down on its advertising business. Citing hiring data, FT revealed that the company is looking to strengthen a vertical it expects to add more than $30 billion to its topline over the next four years.
Apple and ads?: Apple’s ad business has a kickstart. How? Fire up your iPhone or iPad and you'll likely see display ads inside the App Store (and News and Stocks if you are in the US). Not just these; it could leverage search ads across its suite of services such as music, books, podcasts, and maps. Apple+ could also join the streaming field with an ad-supported tier.
To this effect, Apple is quietly developing a demand-side platform.
The clincher: Apple has over 1.8 billion active devices globally, as of January. That's a captive market that should worry the likes of Meta, even in Apple’s early advertising days.
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A Brief Worth Your Time
You would have read about the devastation caused by floods in Pakistan. But do you know how deep the water in Whitefield is? Or what that new restaurant on Mount Road is serving up?
The Local Brief… is your eyes and ears in the city. We tell you what the corporation is up to, what match is on at the nearby stadium, and introduce you to the interesting people who make your city life rich. BTW, just call us TLB.
We also don’t like to waste time. That is why you can read TLB as quickly as you can finish a masala omelette or a crispy dosa. It will feel that good too.
Give us a try if you live in Chennai or Bengaluru or even if you’re passing through.
Get Well Soon, Archies
Gifting company Archies is trying to make a comeback by opening new stores, revitalising merchandising and going online. Once the go-to place for gifts and greeting cards, the company had slumped under the onslaught of e-cards and the ease of buying and sending gifts online.
Survival skills: Archies shut down numerous stores and took a hard hit on revenues during the pandemic. It jumped on to the beauty and personal care bandwagon mid-pandemic, but the company believes greeting and gifting will remain its core offering.
The brand had established itself as the lead merchandiser of emotional expression, be it love, despair or even anger. But in a world where emojis do the job instantaneously, would Archies remain an anachronistic footnote of nineties’ mush? The promoter is hoping not.
🎧 After saying it with cards, Archies Gallery is undergoing a makeover of sorts. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
It’s Not Better To Be Late
Tata Neu is getting a second lease of life. The super app, which went live only in April this year, is looking to reset after repeated user complaints, difficulties in redeeming points, and payment issues. A 2.0 version will now be up for release by October after “mid-term and long-term course corrections”.
Also in the works is a stockbroking service and a co-branded credit card. It has onboarded Bigbasket, 1mg, and Curefit, and plans to add Vistara, Air India and Titan to the platform. But users aren’t impressed.
It’s become somewhat customary for the Tatas. Products are announced with much fanfare but are late to the market. The Tata Nano was in the making for years and capped with a blockbuster reveal in early 2008. But at the end of that year, dealers were still waiting for its arrival. By the time it actually rolled out, the response was lukewarm and glitches were glaring. Safety issues and a “cheap” tag meant the “people’s car” was locked in the garage forever.
Neu is following a similar trajectory in early days. It was “coming soon” for a long time. It even won the title sponsorship for this year. Its CTO Sauvik Banerjjee quit in August, just four months after its launch.
Even as Neu aspires to become a one-stop shop, getting users to change habits is tough. The big guys at TCS are stepping in.
Company sources told The Signal* on a condition of strict anonymity that the updated Neu had smoothened out the initial glitches reported by users. "The proof of the pudding was the recently concluded sales that met all targets," the source added.
With just four months into the launch, however, it‘s too early to place any bets.
Christmas Comes Early For Indian Exporters
This Christmas, many American homes will be putting up baubles and trinkets made in India rather than China. Industrial reverses in China have given Indian manufacturers a leg-up as importers in the US and Europe look for cost-effective alternatives.
Next China? India is now among the top five exporters to the US, with Christmas decorations shipments tripling since last year. Festive decoration exports jumped more than 54% compared to 2020 and handicrafts exports rose by 32%. According to a Kearney and WEF report, India’s low-cost manufacturing export can expand to $500 billion annually by 2030. Big Tech is also looking for alternatives. Apple, Google and Microsoft are diversifying production to Vietnam and India.
Why? The Chinese yuan has fallen to a two-year low due to a troubled property sector, factory shutdowns driven by a drought in Sichuan and long Covid-19 lockdowns in certain parts of the country such as Chengdu.
2022 Cuts Short Live Music Encore
Well that was quick. US concerts are fizzling out, less than a year after the pent-up demand for live events manifested into record ticket sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that show cancellations for the first half of 2022 were over 2x the cancellations in 2019.
Per-event audience numbers dropped despite an uptick in overall ticket volumes. Just ask DaBaby, whose show was scrapped after the controversial rapper sold a few hundred tickets in a venue that can accommodate 14,000 people.
The usual: The first crop of festivals that emerged post-pandemic, such as BottleRock and the now India-bound Lollapalooza, did well. But 2022 threw wrecking balls in the form of inflation and labour shortages. As a result, the glut of pending shows are operating on 2020 budgets even as fuel prices skyrocketed and events became <40% more expensive to organise.
India’s Shein? Former Myntra CEO Amar Nagaram’s Gen Z-focused fashion platform is likely to add Prosus to its cap table at a valuation of $150 million-160 million.
Answers, please: India’s IT Ministry has summoned Wikipedia after Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh’s page on the site was edited to show a Khalistan connection.
No jabs: China has approved the world’s first needle-free, inhalable Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine, made by CanSino Biologics, is called Ad5-CoV.
She's done it: Liz Truss will be Britain’s next Prime Minister after she pipped Rishi Sunak to the Conservative Party’s leadership post.
Green signal: A year after PayU announced its acquisition of BillDesk for $4.7 billion, the Competition Commission of India cleared the deal.
Fined: The Irish Data Protection Commission has fined Instagram €405 million for violating the privacy rights of children.
No-go: Mykonos is doing a Kyoto. By that we mean it is done with tourists, albeit famous ones. With glamour and glitz came organised crime, racketeering, and money laundering. We hope Elon Musk and Mo Salah are taking note.
Filter out: Amazon is done with trolls. User reviews on its newly-released The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will be delayed on the platform by three days. The users will also be scrutinised.
* - The copy has been updated to reflect changes to the story since it was published.
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