Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Budget KL-Singapore Flights, Anyone?

Budget carriers AirAsia and Tiger Airways have been given green light to ply the lucrative Kuala LumpurSingapore route, plus a few other routes between Malaysia and the island republic. (Read the news here and here.)

What will be the impact to the incumbents, Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and Singapore Airlines (SIA)? I am no expert in aviation, but I think they still have certain advantages.

Business travelers may still prefer the incumbents. They often travel in short notice, and therefore unable to get the lowest possible fare from a budget airline by booking well in advance. If they do book weeks before the scheduled departure, they would be penalized for any changes in plan. Furthermore, many companies already save on airfare by getting discounts from their travel agencies. Finally, large corporations may be concerned that their image would be affected should their staff travel with low-cost airlines.

A study carried out by American Express in 2004 revealed that "business travelers who use no-frills carriers and don't book in advance may be paying comparable fares to traditional airline."

The same study, however, showed that economy class short-haul fares had fallen by 4.54% in the U.S. and as much as 17% in Europe. As such, I expect MAS and SIA to respond to the new challenges by cutting cost aggressively.

Leisure travelers who can book the flights weeks or even months prior to departure will find the offerings of budget carriers appealing. However, one must remember the 80/20 Rule – 80% of the sales come from 20% of customers. Here, the passengers who spend the most are the business travelers.

If I were the boss of KL International Airport, I would invite car rental companies to operate in the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). That way, visitors from Singapore can leave their cars at home and pick up one upon arrival. That was exactly what I did when I worked in the U.S. a few years ago.

American Express Study Reveals Improved Prospects for Business Travel Industry in 2004

Related post:
AirAsia X, the Long-haul Budget Airline

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dream Machines

Superbikes ...

Is this a motorcycle or bicycle ...

And this is the event...

Biker with tattoos ...

And dream girls too ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Exam Nightmare

After I completed my first degree, it was a while before I return to school. During this interval, I had dreamt of having to sit for examination several times. The most intriguing part was: in my dream, I was always unprepared, and therefore full of fear and anxiety. When I finally woke up, I would breathe a sigh of relief, “Phew, it’s just a dream…”

And I wasn’t alone.

Once, I took part in a meditation class. Another participant revealed her experience which was similar to mine. She, too, had dreamt of going to exam hall. It turned out that the instructor wasn’t surprised at all. He had already heard of this kind of stories from other people.

It looks like we have been ‘tortured’ by our education system for too long. Even after we left school, it continues to haunt us…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nintendo Wii and the 80/20 Rule

It’s hard not to notice that Nintendo is targeting the mainstream. The company had made that message the focus of its annual game showcase last year, and this year’s event, on Oct. 10, was no different. Alongside its grey-on-white logo, Nintendo displayed towering ads showing trim, smiling kids and adults in different action poses while playing with the Wii video game console’s latest accessory, the Wii Fit board…

But this year [CEO] Iwata also took aim at a sector that Nintendo hasn’t had much success with lately: hard-core gamers.

- Kenji Hall: Nintendo: Calling All Players (BusinessWeek)

Since its launch, Nintendo has targeted the hugely popular Wii game console on casual gamers. This seems like a good idea: Nintendo can avoid direct competition with Sony and Microsoft, which sell PlayStation and Xbox, respectively, to hard-core gamers.

But I also remember the 80/20 Rule, which says that 80% of the sales come from 20% of the customers. In the game console market, these 20% customers are the hard-core gamers. Wii may be more popular among the rest of us than PlayStation than Xbox, but will it generate more revenue?

Perhaps this explains why Nintendo is changing its strategy. It is wooing hard-core gamers now, while at the same time trying to maintain the existing customer base, which consists of mainstream consumers.

P/S I personally am too lazy to play the “strategy games” enjoyed by hard-core games. I want to save my brain power for other purposes. Perhaps Wii’s motion-based games suit me better.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Who Inspired Me

[This post is a response to PeterAtLarge’s question: Who inspired you?]

I live in Malaysia, a conservative country with limited freedom of speech. Throughout my schooling years, I learned that conforming is virtuous. Today, I consider myself a person who likes to think out of the box, and is occasionally outspoken. In my MBA class, I am the student who keeps asking questions. In one subject, we learned Blue Ocean Strategy. Soon I wrote two posts (here and here) to critique the best-selling book.

How did the change come along? I gather that this has to do with the year I spent in the U.S.

I remember, when I was in the States, a guy told me that “Americans like to challenge the authorities.” (I met this guy in a temple, and no longer remember his name.) He was right in saying so. Americans often poke fun at their presidents. I also learned, in one of the MBA subjects, that Americans are creative and the nation has one of the highest levels of entrepreneurial activities. I believe Americans’ dominance of science and business has to do with their altitude of constantly questioning and challenging the existing knowledge and systems.

Back to Peter’s question: Who inspired you. I find it difficult to pin-point specific people. Perhaps I will simply say:

American culture has inspired me - in this context.

P/S American values are not without flaws, and I am not accepting them blindly. In particular, I find Americans' penchant for guns illogical.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why would a man love another man

A few weeks ago, when I was having dinner with my MBA course mates, we touched on the topic of homosexuality. One of them asked, “Why would a man love another man?”

Not so long ago, a self-professed gay pastor, Ow Yang Wen Feng, caused uproar among the Christian community in this country when he expressed his wish to set up a church here.

In the U.S., Senator Larry Craig, who was known for his conservativeness, was recently arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s bathroom, suggesting that he might have been engaging in gay sex.

So now I am pondering on this question: Why would a man love another man? Or, for that matter, why would a woman love another woman?

Some say a person’s sexual orientation is determined at birth, or perhaps during conception. Majority of Christian churches, of course, insist that homosexuality is a learned behavior and call on all gays and lesbians to repent. They tell us many stories of ex-gays/lesbians who renounced the ‘sinful act’ and married people of opposite sex.

However, I am skeptical of these stories. Even if a gay man marries a woman, that doesn’t mean he has already become heterosexual. It is possible that he does so out of social or religious pressure. Rev. Ow Yang, mentioned earlier, had a wife too, but their marriage ended in divorce. Senator Craig, on the other hand, is still married to a woman.

The next question is: How many Malaysians are homosexuals?

I am reading a book, Microtrends, written by Mark Penn, a polling analyst. According to the author, about 5 percent of U.S. adults are homosexuals, two thirds of whom are men. That is, about 1 in every 15 men is gay, and 1 in every 30 women is lesbian. (That's a lot! )

If we assume, for the moment, that homosexuality is indeed a born trait, I expect same percentage of Malaysians are non-straight too. However, I don’t notice many gay men or lesbians around. Perhaps they are less willing to disclose their sexual preference compared to their counterparts in the West. After all, we live in a conservative society.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wordy Women

Mark J. Penn is an American polling analyst, and has been an adviser for companies from Microsoft to BP and heads of state from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair. He wrote a book Microtrends, which I am reading now.

According to Penn, American women were “on the verge of taking over word-based professions, like journalism, law, marketing, and communications." Here are the excerpts from the book:


Take journalism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2005, 57 percent of news analysts, reporters, and correspondents were women. Even 57 percent of TV news anchors – that authoritative role once reserved for the likes of Walter Cronkite – are women…

In public relations – the art of helping people express themselves in just the right way – women make up something like 70 percent of the field, up from 30 percent in the 1970s…

Or look at law, the great province of written and spoken argument. Since 1970, the number of women lawyers in America has grown 2,900 percent

Compare all these majority and supermajority numbers to women in the sciences and in business. Women are just 14 percent of architects and engineers. They are about 15 percent of professors in the major technical universities like Caltech and Georgia Tech. They hold only 16 percent of the top officer jobs in Fortune 500 companies. They are a mere 3 percent of technology companies’ highest-paid executives.


Now back to blogosphere. Do you notice that majority of the bloggers are females?

But why are most bloggers female? One possible explanation is that women like to talk, and blogging is an extension of talking. *cover my head with both hands and quickly slip away*

(No offense to women )

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Management Lite & Ezy 46 – Economics 104

Supply, like demand, is also affected by many factors.

Factors affecting supply:

Input prices For example, when the price of memory chip goes up, supply of computer drop. (In practice, however, computer manufactures can transfer the cost to customers.)

Technology New technology often reduces operating cost and/or increases efficiency, which in turn increase supply.

Number of competitors The more competitors, the less a firm will supply.

Substitutes in production For example, Dell introduced AMD-based PC not too long ago. Supply for Intel-based PC is likely to drop.

Taxes Excise duty, service tax etc. reduces supply. (In practice, again the cost can be transferred to customers.)

Expectation of (future) changes in price If the producer expects the price to go up, it will boost production.

Related posts:

Economics 101

Economics 102

Economics 103

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gold Coast

My parents, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews went to Gold Coast, Australia recently. I wasn’t able to join them. Anyway, I will post some photos of them here.

[Apparently I didn’t take the photos, but I spent hours post-processing them in PC.]

My parents, sister, and nephews...

My brother-in-law, Sebastian and Jovann...

The beach...

Strawberry plantation...

Monday, October 08, 2007

May the Force be with you

People who often watch Chinese martial art movies (武侠片) must be familiar with this story line:

A person is seriously injured and dying. A Kungfu master, the hero and lead character of the movie, transmits chi, or vital energy, into his body. Within the period of burning one joss stick – that’s how Chinese measured time – the injured person completely recovers.

Sounds impossible? OK, I know Christians will tell you that Jesus did that. But what if I tell you we ordinary human being can do this too?

Enter Reiki.

Reiki is a healing technique developed by Dr Mikao Usui of Japan. (Ki is the Japanese word for chi.) In order to practice Reiki, we must receive attunement from an initiated master. After attunement, we can immediately transmit healing energy to others or to ourselves. Heck, we don’t even need to spend years learning qigong like the heroes in martial art movies do.

Reiki is soothing and can be effective for chronic diseases. Just don’t expect miracles.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Making Cheap Calls with Expensive Phone

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is known as a technology that allows us to make long distance calls at affordable cost. It converts voice into “data packets” and transports them over the Internet or dedicated IP network. Since resources are ‘pooled’, the cost is lower compared to conventional technologies.

Nokia E65 is a phone that supports VoIP, in addition to GSM and 3G. When the phone ‘logs on’ to a WiFi network, e.g. inside Starbucks café, we can make cheap VoIP calls. When the phone is outside of WiFi network, calls are made over GSM or 3G network.

So the phone is versatile, isn’t it? However, Nokia E65, which features a 2 megapixel camera, MP3 player, MP4 player, Bluetooth, HTML browser, MicroSD slot among others, is probably not cheap. I mean, do you make cheap calls using an expensive mobile phone?

Bear in mind that VoIP on Nokia E65 does not work outside WiFi network. Also, some networks may require user to ‘sign in’ and/or enter encryption key. The procedure could be too complicated for non-techies.

In the end, I suspect that majority of the E65 owners will not bother to make VoIP calls, despite its lower rate.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Creative Marketing Ideas

Got these interesting images from a forwarded mail. Source unknown.

(Click to enlarge the images.)