Archive for Indian startup

Kwippy quips

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , on July 1, 2008 by manuscrypts

Move over microblogging, here comes nano blogging. Have been exploring a new service the last couple of days. Most of you would have heard about it by now, it goes by the name of Kwippy. This gives a great intro to the service. (a Kwiki, if you will)  While it is definitely related to the Twitter / Plurk clan, its distantly related, at least a cousin, and definitely not a clone. And its desi manufactured 🙂

I got hold of an invite by just asking for one, the response was prompt. And that, from my interactions so far, has been the hallmark of the Kwippy team – timely and efficient response.

Kwippy can be made to work in sync with your GTalk or Y! Messenger, or like me, if you easily get sick of the GTalk alerts (i have disabled twitter because I couldn’t take the constant blinking) you could use the web interface. And using that, you can Kwip your status messages, share bookmarks and more or less do most of the things that you would do on IM with your friends. Ah, friends, thats another key thing, because unlike say twitter, where we add a lot of people who are not known to us, the IMs usually have friends we really know. While this may become very twitterlike when the crowd pours in, for now its friends and friends of friends, more so because its on ‘invite’ mode.

So you might ask, THAT’s the differentiator from twitter? No, the difference maker for me, is the threading. Unlike Twitter, but like Friendfeed, you can comment on my Kwip on Kwippy, which means we can keep having conversations on a post, but open up other threads simultaneously, and most importantly, easily keep track of all this.

So I’ve been reasonably impressed with the service so far, despite a few 500 errors. Dammit, twitter got funded, and still has problems,  and we still grin and bear, so its okay!!

But my common grouse with all the new services that keep getting launched applies to this one too. Most new services, with perhaps a small and partial exception – Friendfeed, take me out of the carefully created environs of the existing service, be it facebook, twitter, my blog and so on. To recreate the world, I have to wait till all my friends get there. So my immediate but (possibly) very ambitious wishlist from Kwippy or any service/ on the lines of ‘conversation enabling’ would be, for starters

  • making it easy to import friends from other ecosystems (kwippy from twitter? 😉 )
  • evolving a mechanism to have a Disqus kind of widget (thanks to wordpress’ anti javascript stance, disqus won’t work here), that would allow me to connect my blog with a kwippy site (I agree that its a nano blogging platform, but in essence, comments are nanoblogging too) That would allow me to link my blog crowd (don’t snigger, my other blog gets decent comments) with the Kwippy crowd.
  • a browser (ff) add on, to some its more convenient than IM

Meanwhile I’m awaiting an invite from LiL, it seems to be on a ‘sharing moments’ path. In case you need Kwippy invites, all you have to do is ask. 🙂

until next time, try kwipping

PS Speaking of Indian startups, this is an awesome compilation. Hats off!!

The Middle Path

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , on June 24, 2008 by manuscrypts

Lamenting about the state of the internet in india is second and sometimes even first nature for this blog. This was the last major rant. It usually surprises me that even with India’s growth story and the obvious uses of the internet, our internet penetration is languishing in single digits. Yes, we have infrastructural issues, and relatively high broadband costs, but is that the only reason? I had started this thread in the post linked above, and I have a little more now to say on it.

There are a large set of users who are still happy with the basic uses of the net (mail, a bit of chat, news etc), a subset who use it for jobs and other classifieds. There’s another bunch who are constantly experimenting with blogging, microblogging, and keeping up with a Flock or FF3 browser. There’s a third set that is above the first, but their interests end with orkut and Facebook. I think there is a huge divide between sets 1 and 2. Does that mean that the number of people who are working on the next set of useful products/services for India might be a minority, or worse still, not exist at all? Dangerous!

So it was refreshing to come across two websites yesterday – the first through a mail inviting me to the premiere of Meri Dhun.  The second one, from here, to a site called Yo Macha. Completely unrelated, because Meri Dhun allows you to personalise songs by changing the lyrics. Their studio will then compose, record it and send it to you in a ringtone/MP3 format. And Yo Macha which claims to be, rather pretentiously, India’s top destination, allows users to rate photos, blogs, and an assortment of things from colleges to social networking sites and anything and everything in between. As an aside, while their revenue model is now restricted to SMS revenue sharing, banner ads and generating traffic for CPC?CPM ads, maybe, when they get enough registered users, they could provide corporate services like dipsticks for brand communication within the desired TG?

I digress!! While they are completely unrelated, but for one small connection – they are not based out of the uber cool Tier 1 cities. The first is from Indore, the second from Jaipur, and both are based on little everyday things that people do in India. I am not even getting into evaluating business models, scope etc, but a thought crossed my mind. Perhaps there is no big killer application that’ll kickstart the net revolution in India, perhaps there are only these smaller drops which will make a bigger drop and perhaps something even bigger in the large indian media ocean. Maybe thats the way the Internet is going to take off here.

The in between space in india, bridging the gap between the web 1.0 users and the people who are moving beyond web2.0, by building stuff that interests and/or provides value to the great Indian internet middle class.

until next time, net gains, thats all that matters

Freescale?

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2008 by manuscrypts

Yesterday’s post made me think about scale- Air Deccan certainly had that, but it did not help them much in the long run as far as profitability goes, as the UB group with its financial clout just gobbled it up.

I also read a post yesterday on the evolution of service, which talked about technology making mass distribution of services easier, and the importance of personalisation of services. There was another interesting post and a discussion here, which was triggered by the launch of Yulop’s WAP site.

Yulop is essentially a Bangalore service, and I was wondering how important scaling up (in terms of other cities) was to them, in the long term. if personalisation and attention to details is increasingly becoming an important trend in products and services, could it be that even with a limited geographical spread and a set of users who are extremely happy with what they’re getting, a product/service can manage to be financially viable? The answer would possibly be quite dependent on the critical mass that the product/service requires.

To put the question in a different way, is it possible for a brand to retain its personalisation/attention to detail capability as it scales up? What are the brands that come to your mind when it comes to attaining a perfect balance of customisation and scale?

Meanwhile, I saw a new service which apparently is being tested in San Fransisco –  City Sense. You really must have a look…. and come back 🙂 The potential of such a service is, as the cliche goes phenomenal. The service would, over a period of time, be able to suggest hangouts for you, basis your history. And quite obviously, this can be applied to activities other than nightlife. Imagine its mashup with say, a local social network (of course privacy issues will have to be worked out) and basis a segmentation of interests, using it to bring in more people interested in the same things, and it would just keep growing, quite like a twitter way of following and being followed. Only, in this case, because its segmented by interests, it would be a powerful tool for brand communication and timing and customisation of offerings.

until next, measuring with scales

India Still Shining

Posted in India, Social networking with tags , , , on May 28, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’d written a post earlier on local sites. Happened to come across another one yesterday. Its called indiashines.com.

To summarise what the PR note had to say about the site, the need gap identified is a social network plus site which understands the “diverse language, cultural and regional requirements” needs and one that’s therefore customised to Indian needs. Hmm, so what all does it offer? The typical social networking offering of connecting with friends and family and sharing photos, videos etc along with privacy tools, a classifieds (including jobs), options to customize home pages with regional weather, photos, jobs, maps and news. And of course, how can anyone not have blogs? 🙂 They’re saying exactly what you’re thinking – “YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Craigslist, Flickr, Monster.com combined with the Weather Channel on one website” and localised. And wait, recommend it to friends, and you’ll get a rupee per friend.

Few small things that I thought were well done –  it automatically took me to a Bangalore page, but with the option to change my city, and thats quite a lot of cities thats listed there. The weather, the map, the profiles are all bangalore. They have done a very decent job on the news, by taking feeds from sites as varied as Techtree, the Hindu, Exchange4Media, HospitalityBizIndia and all Bangalore specific news. All of these worked for Agartala too, so its a pretty good job.

The photos, music and videos are a bit dicey- though it changes with cities, the content somehow doesnt match. eg. Tamil movie trailers in Agartala. The classifieds and ‘deals’ haven’t been worked on yet because irrespective of city, apun sirf Mumbai dikhayega!! Thats on the homepage, though. Once inside, it shows local content.

The community part is very interesting. A small digression, I was able to navigate inside quite easily even without logging in, and that includes browsing profiles. Thankfully, I wasn’t allowed to judge whether they were hot or not (yup, its prominently displayed in the profile) without logging in. The layout and items inside (testimonials, upcoming birthdays etc) reminds me a lot of Orkut. But hey, they even have a ‘Poke me’ button. But wait, its not just all ‘Add to shopping cart’ from other sites eg. something very interesting i noticed – imagine your blogger account being connected to Orkut and posts coming in the newsfeed in your profile? Thats something these guys have done. Very interesting.

Now, while you have groups, the listings and ratings feature in Yahoo Local is not to be found here. But a mashup of this and Yahoo Local (hey, no harm in thinking of possibilities) would create that locality based social networking phenomenon that I’d want to see. Who do you think has better chances at getting there first (humour me, just assume they want to), the above mentioned entities or Tolmolbol?

until next time, tol mol aur bol 🙂

Don’t call us, we’ll call you…

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read a very good post here on how words lured a potential customer in, but actions spoke louder and managed to get him out safely.

I had a similar experience with an entity i wrote about (like a lot of other people did) a few days back – in.com. Like I’d mentioned, I skipped the mobile invite and was content with an email one. And as they’d promised on the site, it arrived within 5 days (4 days – customer delight?). And it wasn’t just one, i got 5 of them. I started out with the first one, didn’t work. I thought it was just me, and tried the second, that didn’t either. No, I wont bore you with single counts anymore, none of the 5 codes worked.

Since i love to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone but me, i started googling for similar experiences, and found out there was at least one more guy like me. But the number of positive entries there made me try again, still didn’t work, so I guess the cosmos’ message is pretty clear “Beta, it’s not for you’. Sigh. Fine, i get the message.

There’s another tangential set of experiences. I have always bemoaned the lack of a good ‘Amazon-like’ site here. So whenever i notice there’s a new player in the field, whether it be rediff’s feeble attempts, or newbies like gobookshopping or the flipkart guys (who i got to know of through a brilliant marketing exercise of giving away bookmarks outside the Strand Book Festival) I immediately sign up. The next thing I do is check out if they have stocks of a book that I’ve not been able to get offline.

The latest case is that of ‘Dublin’ by Edward Rutherford. I have asked all three entities for it, but have not got a response. Rediff actually billed me for it and then sent a mail a few days later stating they didnt have stocks.  And this is not the first experience of the kind.  However i keep getting ‘push’ messages from them about ‘latest releases’ and ‘mega discounts’. I wish they’d understand how much difference a conversation with the customer makes. Meanwhile, Strand would note it down in their book and give me a buzz as soon as they got the book.

until next time, action and satisfaction

Mark diya jayein?

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , , , on May 9, 2008 by manuscrypts

Like any normal working blog, this one too is affected by the general laziness that appears around this time of the week. So, this will post will be a potpourri of sorts.

First up, this site that i got to know about from here. (!)Yureekah, still in alpha stage, tells you where exactly brands are placing their ads online.  First request, if I have already given you my details once, please allow me to login and not repeat the process everytime i decide to visit. And no, I don’t want the computer to remember me. While it is most definitely not comprehensive, basis a couple of searches I did for Indiatimes Mail and a few other brands, I think the thought needs to be appreciated. It definitely has the potential to become a great tool, not just for knowing where brands place ads, but going a step further and analysing why they’ve done it, and perhaps in the process figuring out better places and ways to reach your own target audiences. Forget the media part, it even showed me a couple of creatives that I hadn’t seen earlier. Read more about them here.

Meanwhile, a quick query, am I the only moron to not figure out the feed for agencyfaqs digital (not the general site feed, the digital section feed)? I’ve been spoilt by feed readers and am regularly missing out good reads!!

The other site which i came across today is this. PracharThis, an Indian social bookmarking widget. Hmm, but first, ‘Roshini’, through ‘her’ (same) comment on almost all the sites i frequent, managed to get my attention. Whether zis (Nice Post !You should use an Indian social bookmarking widget like PrachaarThis to let your users easily bookmark your blog posts.) is a nice way of promoting the site is quite debatable. (What do ya mean I’m just peeved at being ignored by even spam? 😉 )

Meanwhile, what does it do? Like any other widget which you can add to your blog, it allows you to add the particular site to  humsurfer, Indianpad, Tagza, all desi versions of Digg and that is definitely not something I’ve seen any other widget do. This is in addition to the regular digg, facebook, stumbleupon, del.icio.us etc that one regularly sees in such widgets. So its definitely a value add for the regular users of the digg clones, and adds a desi touch to social bookmarking widgets, but how much really is that value? I think a better understanding of the unique extra sites is required to answer that question. Any volunteers?

Meanwhile, you can get the code for the widget (for blogger, typepad, wordpress and general websites) on the homepage itself. Good. Also, what i did find there were quite a few good links to some Indian blogs, so perhaps a nice add on would be to prompt me (when i use this widget to save a url) to visit similar urls (similar to a ‘people who added this also added..)?

until next time, well fed?

Going Glocal

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by manuscrypts

Heard here that Yahoo had launched its local search. I had been quite impressed by Yahoo Cities earlier, and had started referring to it more and more for events in the city. My only grumble was that i couldn’t get a feed for it. In addition to events, they also have news, answers, maps, travel, blogs, videos and podcasts, a forum among other things.

There were a lot of the usual suspects missing from the list above, so when i read the news, i assumed that this would be complementary, and to a certain extent, it is. I was kinda disappointed because i had thought that Cities would be scaled up to include the missing parts too.

Yahoo Local has listings of restaurants, pubs, fitness centres, and a host of other services that are a part of the regular city life. Some of the data is provided by Indiacom and users can also add businesses. The site also asks for reviews, which means Burrp, Needgrub etc will face heavy competition, especially if Yahoo promotes this through city targeted (say) email bursts. Don’t know about Burrp, but Needgrub has carrots for reviewers.

On other fronts, it also means competition for Ask Laila, Guruji, Sulekha, mycitybuddy, buzzintown, just dial, Yulop, KyaKare, and Onyomo, who at one point of time was way ahead. Also, the other name that springs immediately to mind is a certain company called Google, who had gone local sometime back. I also saw another step from them recently. But i think Yahoo has upstaged them in this case. Meanwhile, I don’t use Yahoo Maps and cannot therefore comment authoritatively on the same, but given the crowd above and the kind of services some of them offer, Yahoo’s integration of Yahoo Maps may not be a quantum leap. Also, I was quite disappointed with the directions within the city that Yahoo gave (although vernacular is a good start). At least in Bangalore, this one is much better, the only snag is that nobody updates one ways!!! And that, in Bangalore, is about as dynamic as the average Indian politician’s loyalties.

But like i said earlier, I wonder why they have developed Cities and Local as two separate entities. Wouldn’t a one-stop-shop be much more useful to the average user in this case? For example, given that most events happen at public spaces like auditoriums, malls, hotels etc, and these find a listing in Local, what additional value can Cities bring to the table? News can also be easily integrated into Local, especially if it can be made sub local.

If a combo happens, what I’d be really be happy to see would be a customised search toolbar and say, a widget, that gives me local news updates as well as updates on events happening around town. With messenger, Yahoo Groups etc the possibilities, as the cliche goes, are endless.

In fact, a local website could be the perfect platform to get into social networking with a twist. The site would already have the skeleton ready – think about it – you are interested in buying a book, there are listings of bookshops, the community gives you reviews and the shop that gives you the best discount, they can even recommend similar books…. similarly with plays, music, food, and all the other things that you entertain yourself with. Instead of a global scene like Facebook, you can actually start realising the virtual life… no, i didnt mean poke!! Hold Scrabulous tournaments, go trekking, organise Flixster quizzes, find people who enjoy similar movies and actually watch it with them…. Real Social Networks, get the drift?

until next time, no more locally challenged?