Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nippon Car Security System for Maruti Cars - what to do in an emergency

Three years ago, I posted about an embarrassing incident when the central locking/ security alarm system of my car went kaput and the alarm went off continuously. When I look back, this has happened to me three times in three years. If you have a car security system installed, then it's useful to know what to do in case of emergency. Because the emergency involves a loudly wailing siren that goes off unpredictably every hour, neighbours whose sleep is disturbed and general stress for you. My advice in this post pertains only to Nippon, which is a Maruti Genuine Accessory installed by all Maruti dealers. 

1. Ask your dealer for the Nippon Service Center number for your city and enter it in your phone, you are going to need it one day. The Maruti helpline does not give the number for third party accessory providers, only the dealer will.
2. The number of 'beeps' of the car alarm will alert you to a problem
When all is well, one beep = lock and two beeps = unlock
Any other sound indicates a problem, and indicates that the alarm system needs to be re-set. 
3. If your car alarm goes off repeatedly, at random time intervals, then you can try any of the following steps
  • Unlock and then lock the car using only the key.
  • With the door of the car open, press the 'alarm' button inside the car constantly till it lights up red. Then shut the door, lock and unlock using the remote. Now the alarm should go into 'mute' mode.
  • Switch on the ignition, press  the alarm button inside the car, then switch off the ignition. Repeat this cycle seven times to re-set  the alarm.

After each of these steps, check if you are getting the beep sounds described in Point 2
4. If you are comfortable with tinkering around inside the bonnet, identify the wire that connects to the siren (it's behind the battery) and pull it out. This will make your siren go mute, but the lights will still continue to flash, draining the battery. So it's not a permanent solution, and you will need to call Nippon Service.
5. If all else fails, disconnect your battery. The siren will not function without power supply.

For an immediate emergency, and for performing step 4, you can call Maruti On-road Service at 1800-4200. They will send someone within a few hours to troubleshoot your problem, at a basic service charge of Rs. 450. This may be waived off if you are still under warranty. Nippon Service center is harder to reach, but in my experience, they always respond within 12 hours. You are covered by warranty for three years, after that the service charge is Rs.225 per visit.

For me, each of the following situations has triggered the alarm system to misbehave, so watch out carefully for problems if you have had similar experiences:

1. The car was locked with the remote, but unlocked with the key or vice versa. The lock and unlock mode MUST be the same, or the alarm gets activated.
2. Misbehaviour of the remote due to low battery, damage etc. This may lead you to do what is described in Point 1. Carry the spare remote with you on long distance journeys!
3.Damage to the bonnet, or boot. Both bonnet and boot are equipped with sensors that get activated if they do not shut properly. This may happen out of carelessness or because of a dent. 
4. There are different  grades of sensitivity in alarm settings. At the extreme setting, the alarm will go off if a hand touches the car (or a crow sits on it!). Make sure that you test the car after you first fit the security alarm system. Hit all surfaces a few times with your hands and check if it triggers an alarm. Insist on a full demo from the dealer. Especially a demo on disarming the system. This may save you heartache later.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Don't just think digital strategy, think mobile strategy

The writing is on the wall - as a marketer, it's time to ask what is your mobile strategy, and more specifically, what is your smartphone strategy. India recently became the world's third largest smartphone market and simultaneously, in Europe and USA, there are strong trends that the high-end smartphone market is maturing, with flat or even declining sales.

The future lies in the emerging digital markets of Asia and Africa, and in the fast growing budget phone/ tablet category which is driving adoption in these markets. The power centre is shifting to our markets, with more developers, marketers, manufacturers and service providers turning their attention here. 

Just a few years ago, a brand's digital strategy required a website, a social media presence, and of course, online advertising. Only a few brands felt a need for mobile presence, let alone a strategy. Some categories, notably news channels, e-commerce sites and financial brands moved early to set up mobile apps. Others adapted their WAP sites to different mobile browsers and languages. 

In the space of just a couple of years, things have changed. Last year, when smartphones crossed 10% in market penetration, marketers started paying attention to the need to have mobile apps. However, the market is largely at exactly that stage - that brands are developing apps. Not too many companies have started to define a dedicated mobile strategy which starts with examining the needs of their mobile audience and then chalks out the plan. And few companies have started to even think beyond phones to the next screen - which is tablets. Depending on the category, tablet strategy can be completely different from mobile strategy - think of Flipboard which for a long time stayed tablet specific. 

We believe that it is time for change. There will be a wave of first generation smartphone users across demographics and chances are, many of them will be your users. Further, many of them may have maximum, or even solus, net access on their smartphones. How will you connect with them? Here are some possibilities that you need to consider when you develop a smartphone strategy:

1. App discovery strategy : 
It is no longer enough to only have an app. How will you ensure that it is discovered by your user? And when you consider that first time users are still learning how to use their devices, this becomes a challenge. It may seem funny, but to an extent, mass media will still be required to promote app awareness, especially for mass target audiences. Targetting influencers also becomes important. 

2. Alliances with handset manufacturers and operators :
SMS and other value-added services of the feature phone era will gradually get replaced by newer, innovative alliances with manufacturers and operators. Smartphones are optimised for every type of rich content, so marketers need to figure out how they want to reach it out to consumers. Alliances can help discovery, and cross-subsidise your promotional costs

3. Being a second screen
Literally, the mobile and tablet have become the second screen, which is surfed while watching television. TV is by nature a passive medium, and mobile is active - however, TV viewing is not going away any time soon in India. One can see how synergies can be brought between the two screens. Of course, this is easier to do if you are a media channel with a presence on both, but there is no reason that brands cannot create a bridge between both mediums

4. What are the other mobile applications that you can capitalise on?
Through an understanding of mobile usage behaviour of your target audience, you can identify the mobile applications that you need to capitalise on (and your target may demonstrate a different behaviour on mobile vs. PC). Should you integrate Instagram or Vine into your strategy? Should you empower your mobile user to create content?  Is your audience engaged strongly with some other mobile app or platform (WhatsApp, BBM etc.) And if that is the case, how can you as a brand engage with them there?

Lots of questions, and the answers will emerge only when we start understanding our mobile users.