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APRIL 8, 2007
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 BT Special
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Mobile Security
Today, it is all about information and how the right information is sent to the right people at the right time and right place. Uncertainty about how to secure mobile phones in the face of increasing threats is slowing individual adoption of mobile applications. There are many facets of mobile security, including network intrusion, mobile viruses, spam and mobile phishing. Analysts expect big telecom companies to develop security solutions on various security platforms.

Rough Ride
These are competitive times for the Indian aviation industry. As salaries zoom, players are scrambling to find profits. Even the state-owned Indian is now seeking young airhostesses to take on the competition. It is planning to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme for airhostesses above 40 years. On an average, they draw a salary of Rs 5 lakh a year. The salaries of pilots, too, are soaring. According to industry estimates, the country needs over 3,000 pilots over the next five years.
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Business Today,  March 25, 2007

Showcase Hypermarket
Although barely 10 months old, K. Raheja Group's hypermarket HyperCITY has been voted as one of the must-see shops in the world. BT's
4:30-9:00 P.M., MARCH 10, 2007
HyperCITY, Malad, Mumbai

A one-stop shop: Kids can play cricket while their parents mull which fish to buy or what crockery to pick

I have a simple policy about weekends: I do no office work. But when a killjoy editor calls you and tells you that he's got plans for your weekend, there's little you can do, except say yes and try to keep the expletives you are muttering at him real soft. There's a silver lining to this assignment, though: I'll be shopping-well, actually, window-shopping-at Mumbai's, nay India's, showcase hypermarket, the K. Raheja Group-promoted Hypercity. The brief is to find out for myself why this 10-month-old retail destination has already won international awards for design, and voted one of the "100 Shops You Must Visit" across the world.

So, here I am at Hypercity's Malad store on a late Saturday afternoon, clutching not a shopping bag, but a notebook. First things first: It's a beautiful store even from the outside, but even that hardly prepares you for what lies inside. As I get past the smartly dressed security guard (who, I discover later, also keeps a count of visitors), I step into what is easily the best-looking retail store in India. Laid out before me is 124,000 sq. ft of state-of-the-art retail science (there's more to store design and layout than what mere art can deliver). The brightly lit store and all the tidily stacked products on its shelves seem to be radiating a simple message at shoppers like myself: come, shop till you drop.

I see a staircase leading to the mezzanine floor that even from my disadvantaged vantage point seems interesting. As I walk up, I see a huge stock of electronic goods, ranging from television sets to music systems to DVD players, besides an entertainment section that has music and movies in abundance. Hey, there's even an LG home theatre demo room, where people can check out stuff without disturbing the other shoppers. I am tempted to pick up a few movie DVDs, but remind myself that I am here to window-shop and observe, not buy.

OK, where should we head first? And, of course, try out some free samples

I move on to the next section, only to discover a cricket 'pitch' with a net around it. The penny dropped late, but I figured that this is sports 'department', where you can practice a few strokes before deciding on a bat. Apparently, not only has the game become richer over the years, but its gear has become expensive too. Some of the better bats had price tags upwards of Rs 4,000. A couple of metres away, I see fancy bicycles with gears. "We had (movie star) Hrithik Roshan come in with Kunal Kapoor (also an actor) to buy one of these", says Kumar, a rather enthusiastic salesman. There are bikes here priced at as much as Rs 99,000 (MRP is higher at Rs 1.25 lakh), but the one Roshan bought cost less than Rs 10,000. Most products at Hypercity, I discover, are priced well below the suggested MRP. As I walk away from the section, I see a teenager badgering his father for a bike, and smile thinking of the clever retailer strategy.

A serendipitous journey through the rest of the store impresses me even more. Specially, the food section. The thing about Hypercity, where both the CEO and COO are Brits (Andrew Levermore and John Wilcox, respectively), is that there is no paucity of food or beverages. There are a lot of things that can be sampled, and an Espresso Roast seems like a good idea. The lady at the counter smiles at me as she asks, "Do you like it, Sir, or would you want some sugar to go with it?" She then tells me that a lot of people who like the sample get back for more. I look around and spot some chocolates. I ask to taste Trufle Cognac and it feels very good. The counter next to chocolates is sampling cheese and the Taleggio (an Italian tangy cheese) looks very good. I pop in a piece of it and decide to get back to work before my girth widens.

Earlier, I have been in touch with Raj Wilkinson, Joint Managing Director of JHP, a London-based commercial design consultancy that worked on the Hypercity store design, and he tells me that the brief was to do "an international store that would allow (the customers) to engage with brands on an international scale". Ergo, the uncluttered layout of the store, clear and precise signages, emphasis on product first, and 32 check-out counters. Apparently, the Hypercity team travelled 284,600 miles around the world, engaged 1,027 different suppliers, and sourced 48,206 product lines to get the store going. The result: more than one million customers flocked to the store in the first three months of its opening.

No doubt, Hypercity will have competition and imitators as well. But as I wrapped up my four-and-a- half hour of window-shopping at the store, I was pretty sure that Hypercity had set the bar high.