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Introducing Kingsley

Many of you would’ve seen the news about the last multiplication to our team, Koushik. Those who haven’t, start following us on Facebook immediately. ;)  Here comes the exponent to our team now.

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Meet Kingsley. He has 14 years of experience leading significant product efforts at salesforce.com, Digital Chocolate, and Bank of New York Mellon (bio). More importantly, he’s been a friend of Ideophone, early backer, and an investor for a long time now. We realised that his skills and experience would help us move to the next big orbit and cajoled him to be our Chief Marketing Officer. He’ll drive our product positioning, marketing, and business development. In short, as the talker, he puts the phone in Ideophone.
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Wanna go Kopa?

Our motto is to help people travel cheaper, safer, together, and better informed. The together piece was missing for a while. Not any more. The latest cookie from our bakery, Kopa, is a ride sharing app for people going to events. Isn’t it fun to have interesting companions to ride together to and from events? Just go get Kopa!

Anenth and Sandeep built the alpha version of Kopa during Yahoo! Open Hack Day. Thanks to Amarinder of Mobility Ninja, we launched the beta for the NASSCOM Product Conclave attendees. Today, we launch an improved version of Kopa for Droidcon and Wiki Conference attendees. We’ll keep adding interesting events to Kopa, so stay tuned.

Also, a hat tip to Indus and Rasmus for the inspiration behind Kopa. :)

Now coming to the obligatory naming story.

So, what’s this word Kopa? It’s Latvian for ‘together’. Is that an ideophone? Not sure. But, there’s a hack to make it one. We make this word acquire the idea of sharing rides. ;) Try saying the following aloud, please.

Wanna kopa with me?
Shall we do a kopa on the way back?
Kopas in rickshaws make rides fun.

By the way, Kopa can be a contrived contraction of co-passengers as well. :)

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Where do our Nokia downloads come from?

After launching Suruk on Android, we had a look into our download stats on Ovi to understand the geographic spread of our Suruk users and compare against that of SOS.

Following is the distribution of Suruk (click to see full size):*

Suruk Distribution

Suruk Distribution



Following is the distribution of SOS (includes India downloads on Aircel PocketApps):

SOS Distribution

SOS Distribution


* colour intensity corresponds to number of downloads, grey regions do not have downloads

We noticed a couple of interesting things. While there are no downloads for our free app from China, the country is among the top downloaders of our paid app. Perhaps it’s among the ‘unresolved’ countries in the former list. Also, Germany and Switzerland top both downloads and revenue for SOS, but not as much for Suruk. Is this because of SOS is also available in Deutsch? Or is it because they’re relatively likely to buy paid apps than other developed nations? Please share with us in the comments, if you know why.

Maps courtesy Gunn Map (political boundaries are indicative, not accurate). During our chat with Albert Ching, he suggested doing a density map of routes searched for in Suruk. Anybody know of a tool which helps plot routes?

Update: While digging up our route finder request logs, we found that there are indeed requests from China. So, it appears that, for some reason, Nokia Ovi store counts the downloads under ‘unresolved’ country. Either that or they’re not counted.

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What’s in a name?

A lot of people, well, at least, a few asked about our product names. So, here’s the story.

When we did our digital metering app, we focussed on Bangalore. So, naming the app in Kannada felt right. But, Bangalore has large populations of speakers of other languages too. While scouting for options, I happened to read about ideophones, words that “sound like what they mean” or, as Wikipedia says “words used by speakers to evoke a vivid impression of certain sensation or sensory perceptions, e.g. smell, color, shape, sound, action, or movement.” It sounded like a neat idea to name the app with an ideophone. It’ll evoke the same impression in people speaking different languages, right?

Given that the bulk of the Bangalore population speaks some Dravidian language or other, the choice fell on Suruk, which connoted diligence, speed, sharpness etc. signifying what Suruk does. And, it helped that www.suruk.com was available. It was nice also because, between us, we spoke Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada (apart from English and Hindi). We picked Ideophone as the name of the company and thought that we’ll name each of our apps and services with an ideophone.

As for SOS app, it was difficult to call it anything other than SOS itself. We excused ourselves saying that, if Morse code was a language, SOS would be an ideophone in that language. So much of retrofitting. ;)

Pika

Pika (Photo by Alastair Rae)

Then came our railway wakeup alarm service. We were looking at numerous ideophones and chanced upon Pika, a Belarusian and Himalayan rodent that alerts other animals with a characteristic sound ‘pika’ (audio). What a linguistically and ecologically fitting find! :D But, we realised that most people pronounce pika as peeka as well as that the rodent is everywhere in search results. So, we called it Pyka. Don’t know from where we’ll pick the name for our future products, but http://ideophone.org/ would be one place where we’ll look at.

I’m sure there would be several interesting stories behind naming products. If you know of any, please share it in the comments.

Update: Mark Dingemanse (http://www.mpi.nl/people/dingemanse-mark), a linguist from Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and expert on Ideophones, likes our naming and has written a blog post at http://ideophone.org/ideophones-around-the-web-ideophones-and-product-naming/. Thanks Mark.

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tung tung tung … yatriyon krupaya dhyan dhijiye …

We’re pleased to present to you, Pyka, your very own wake up caller. Are you supposed to get down in an ungodly (or unevolutionary or unutilitarian or whatever) hour at a railway station? You don’t want to wake up hours before the train chugs to your destination and sit in the lower berth with your neck against the middle berth laden with a happily-snoring uncle, no? Then, do the smart thing.
Pyka Message SyntaxAnd, SleepWell™. :)
For more details and the obligatory disclaimer that we’re in beta mode and are not responsible for acts or otherwise of god, network, cloud, or Python, please visit www.pyka.in. You can watch a cool video too there. Thanks to all the friends, Ammas, Appas, thammudus, Achans, machans, and chechis who tested Pyka and helped us fix a number of usability issues.

Brought to you on the rails from the clouds, quite literally.

Sundar and Sandeep onboard JetLite S2 blah and Anenth on the ground. :)

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The SOS Story

When we started with Suruk, we ran an email survey with the help of some Christ College students and found that the top 3 problems faced by auto commuters were meter-tampering, rude drivers, and personal safety issues. So, we built a digital meter, a provision to share drivers’ conduct (good as well as bad), and to press an emergency button in case of risk. A senior person in Nokia saw our app and observed that the last option can be a standalone application because it won’t be buried in the menu when someone needs it as well as because it’s applicable in more scenarios. That’s how our One Touch SOS was seeded!

It was also our first paid app on Ovi store and our first foray into Android. Most recently, we’ve also launched it for Windows Phone 7 users. SOS also became a premium app on Aircel PocketApps as well. Here are some usage stats below to compare our reach in Ovi (paid) and Android (free).

SOS Ovi Pie

SOS Ovi Pie

SOS Android Version Breakdown

SOS Android Version Breakdown

SOS Android Country Pie

SOS Android Country Pie

SOS Device Pie

SOS Device Pie

Thanks to the prod by Movilzona about not releasing a Spanish version, we tried to localise our SOS app in Spanish. While looking at professional translation for Spanish, I asked my friend Chander if he could help with the German translation. He went beyond that, and got his translation brushed up by his friend, Johannes. As a bonus, he also got a Spanish translation from his friend, Barbara. Thanks to all of them, we released SOS in 3 languages on Ovi. We’re crowdsourcing French translations at Get Localization. Please lend a word or two if you know French. :)

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Journey so far and looking ahead

Bangalore Mirror storyWe’ve not written much since our first launch of Suruk, an attempt to counter the meter-tampering menace. Honestly, we didn’t take ourselves seriously until Bangalore Mirror covered us on its front-page (thanks Renuka). We suddenly got a lot of regular users. A lot has happened since then. Suruk has got over 25,000 users from 138 countries! Though we only targeted what we identified as ‘Bajaj countries’, we were surprised by its reach.

Following are the top 25 countries downloading Suruk on Ovi:

India Indonesia Malaysia
Turkey Pakistan Greece
Saudi Arabia Morocco Czech Republic
Italy United Kingdom Australia
Brazil Egypt Netherlands
Russian Federation United Arab Emirates  
Thailand Vietnam  
Spain Poland  
Mexico United States of America  
Germany Bangladesh  

 

A Spanish blog reviewed Suruk and demanded to know why we didn’t have a Spanish version of it! We released our next app, SOS, in 3 languages Deutsch, English, and Español. More on that later. Alongside, we graduated to multiple platforms Android, Symbian, Windows Phone 7, and just plain SMS, on several stores and markets.

Thanks to mentors and supporters in the startup ecosystem, we are carving our niche – location, motion, and journey aware mobile apps and services for people on the go. Going forward, we’ll talk more about how we proceed with our mission of helping people travel safer, cheaper, together, and better informed.

We’ll also be posting from Twitter and FaceBook.

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