While the whole world has shifted to other social networking sites, India and Brazil are the only two countries where Orkut still holds a majority stake. Nevertheless, the scene is changing rapidly, at least for India as Facebook is gaining market share day by day
Orkut, the social networking site from Internet search giant Google is continuously losing its market share across the world. Even in countries like Brazil and India where it has a huge following, Orkut is losing to other popular social networking sites like Facebook. Even micro-blogging sites like Twitter are giving Orkut's dominance in India a tough time.
According to Google Trends, a site that compares daily traffic between different websites, the number of visitors to Facebook has gone up since June while the same for Orkut is falling. The rise of Facebook in India is mainly attributed to users from Maharashtra and Delhi. People from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat are using Facebook more than Orkut. Madhya Pradesh is the only place out of the top ten states ranked by Google Trends, where there is a neck-to-neck fight between the two social networking sites.
Research firm Nielsen, in a report about social media patterns across the Asia-Pacific region, said, "Although 70% of social media users in India identify Orkut as their preferred social media site, Facebook is gaining market share with 50% of social media users claiming to use Facebook more often, compared to 38% for Orkut, with the most common reasons for switching include friends moving sites, the look and feel of the site and features."
Micro-blogging site Twitter has enjoyed exponential growth in popularity in India, with more than half of Twitter users (about 57%) having signed up in the past year. Close to one-third of India's social media users (32%) use micro-blogging sites such as Twitter at least once a day, Nielsen said.
Although Orkut is losing its market share to Facebook, the same is not true for its parent as Google continues to dominate cyberspace in India. According to comScore, Google sites led as the most-visited properties in India with a unique visitor reach of 94.3%. In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnam led with 95.3% visits to Google's property sites. In May 2010, Facebook attracted 18 million unique visitors in India, compared to Orkut's 19.7 million, the Web analytics company said.
In a May 2010 report, comScore said that Google sites ranked as the most-visited properties in the Asia-Pacific region, reaching 270 million unique visitors during the month, followed by Microsoft sites with 218.5 million visitors and Yahoo sites with 205 million visitors.
"In terms of engagement among the top 20 most-visited properties, Tencent ranked as the most-engaging property with visitors averaging 6.5 hours on the site during the month, consuming 716 pages of content and visiting the property an average of 39 times. Facebook.com also witnessed strong engagement, with visitors spending 3.5 hours on the social networking site and visiting more than 21 times throughout the month," comScore added.
In India, Facebook has recently been adding a lot of resources in the country. Last month, the Andhra Pradesh government approved Facebook's proposal to set up a unit at Raheja Mindspace SEZ in Hyderabad. The social networking major is likely to hire about 500 people for its first office in the Asian region.
Orkut can still pin its hopes on Brazil, though. During May, about 29 million people from Brazil visited Orkut compared with 8 million visits for Facebook.
Google is obviously worried by these developments. Despite every other thing - including mobile handsets - going in its favour, the Internet search giant has miserably failed in social networking sites like Orkut, Wave and Buzz. According to some blogs and tweets, Google is developing another social networking site 'Google Me', touted to be a Facebook-killer.
Not just big hospitals, but smaller medical consultants and nursing homes are also facing trouble from TPAs. Is it time to cut out the middleman?
Even as top hospitals in the cities have been facing several issues with third-party administrators (TPAs), it now appears that the problem extends to smaller medical consultants and nursing homes in the metros. They are so disheartened by TPAs that they would like to see the end of cashless settlements. A number of them say that TPAs have been playing around with the insurer's money, which has resulted in delayed payments.
TPAs have been receiving money from insurance companies to settle claims; however, insurers have complained that diversion of float funds provided to TPAs is going on. The complaint is that these funds are not being used for settling patients' claims. This has resulted in doctors getting their payments after six to eight months. "They (TPAs) are hand-in-glove with a lot of people and are floating insurer funds," said an official from the Bombay Nursing Homes Association, who preferred anonymity.
"Many medical consultants are of the opinion that they don't want to be a part of these cashless schemes as the present working module is defunct," Rajeev Walwakar, president, Association of Medical Consultants (AMC), told Moneylife.
Medical consultants complain that the current implementation module is not feasible. The payments which doctors have to receive are always delayed. Again, the complete payment is not given. "The working modules have been very disappointing and we haven't received proper payments from TPAs," Mr Walwakar added. This has resulted in many medical practitioners feeling that cashless settlements should be done away with. Also, hospitals and doctors complain that TPAs never answer any queries from doctors on payments.
Medical consultants are also arguing that TPAs have been misinforming their customers. Currently, TPAs have contracts with hospitals, which are added to the preferred provider network (PPN) by insurance companies. "We are not dealing with insurance companies. We are dealing with TPAs, so the issues are with TPAs," added Mr Walwakar.
However, a few insurers whom we spoke to said that TPAs can't be wholly blamed for the current imbroglio, as payments to hospitals depend on the insurance company. These insurers also feel that hospitals were
In March, about 1,500 nursing homes and various doctors under the AMC banner had decided to boycott TPAs completely after they had asked hospitals and doctors to work on lower rates.
At the same time, there were unpaid dues from TPAs. Ergo, patients in hospitals covered by these TPAs could not avail of cashless facilities. However, negotiations were on between TPAs and hospitals. But then came the surprising move by public sector insurance companies to scrap cashless facilities at certain hospitals. Insurers have claimed that certain hospitals were inflating bills exorbitantly, leading to significant losses in their business.
Yesterday, a discussion was conducted by members of the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) National Committee on Healthcare. Stakeholders including AMC met four public sector insurance companies (including New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance, United India Insurance and National Insurance Company). Out of the four hospitals that were present, three of them - Fortis Hospitals, Max Healthcare and Apollo Hospitals -have their own health-based insurance companies.
Many insurance companies are trying to manage the cost of claims, putting in place better customer service and opting for in-house TPAs. Private insurance companies like ICICI Lombard and Bajaj Allianz have done away with TPAs. By the end of this year, Future Generali will have its own in-house team to service health policies, instead of making customers deal with TPAs for facilitating medical insurance payouts.
The three retailers will once in a month "coordinate" on pricing of petrol based on international price trend of crude oil (the raw material used to make petrol) and gasoline
State-owned oil companies Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) today decided to have a uniform petrol price despite government giving them freedom to price the fuel and said they will revise prices once a month based on input cost, reports PTI.
The three retailers will once in a month "coordinate" on pricing of petrol based on international price trend of crude oil (the raw material used to make petrol) and gasoline, Indian Oil Corporation director (finance) S V Narasimhan said.
"All the three oil marketing companies will have uniform price," he said.
The decision to allow IOC, BPCL, and HPCL to function as 'informal' cartel was taken at a meeting called by oil secretary S Sundareshan. The meeting was called to decide on the modalities of how petrol will be priced after it was freed from the government control.
"Petrol price on 25th June were raised by Rs3.50 per litre following price decontrol instead of Rs3.73 a litre required to align them with cost," Mr Narasimhan said.
Subsequently, international oil prices declined, wiping away most of losses. "We have reviewed the situation and as of now there is no need for revise petrol prices," he said.
On 25th June, an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had also decided to free diesel prices from government control but raised rates only by Rs2 per litre instead of Rs3.80 per litre required to align them with international cost.
The gap between retail selling price and international cost widened subsequently to Rs3.14 per litre from Rs1.80 a litre at the time of price hike. This has subsequently come down to Rs1.70-Rs1.80 per litre now.
"There is no decision or move to revise prices of diesel at this juncture," Mr Sundareshan said.
Mr Narasimhan said the oil companies do not feel the need for revising rates of petrol now and will review the situation possibly by the month end.
From now only, pump rates will be revised once a month.
The three companies will have a uniform rate for petrol in particular cities or locations, and it would change on the same dates.
"We will not announce dates of revision in advance to avoid hoarding of the fuel. We will revise prices on any day of the month," an official said.
Three PSUs have already held discussions with private retailers - Reliance Industries (RIL), Essar Oil and Royal Dutch/Shell - on modalities such as frequency and intervals at which prices would be revised.
Mr Sundareshan said he hoped the private sector rates would not be very different from PSU fixed prices.