Sunday, January 21, 2007

Take Web 2.0, add a dash of mobile and mix well

That seems to be the recipe followed by many Indian Web 2.0 start-ups. There is a good overview article in the Telegraph, a newspaper in Kolkata.

Looking at the current crop of Web 2.0 startups in India, I see the following general pattern.
  1. Pick an existing product category in the US, whether social networking, local content aggregation or peer to peer file sharing.
  2. Add an India "lens". The India lens can be in the form of context (pick generalized functionality and adapt to Indian context) or content (generalized functionality but locally generated content).
Examples of the various ways in which Indian start-ups have applied the India "lens" include:
  • Local Context:, the Indian search engine. General-purpose search engine with an India filter built in.
  • Local Content:, the Indian Flickr and, an Indian classified ad site. Nothing is particular to India in the platform, but the content is local.
It seems to be that the vast majority of Indian web 2.0 start-ups are applying the content lens, with no real innovation in the context yet. However, that's precisely where the opportunity for product innovation lies - in adapting to the Indian context. I look forward to seeing more of that coming from the bright and driven entrpreneurs profiled in the Telepgraph article. What's the biggest opportunity in the Indian context? Clearly, mobile. There is already a ton of innovation in mobile, on the technology front (e.g. BubbleMotion, which allows voice SMS). Cloning Flickr, Orkut et al is not a sustainable strategy. Innovative mobile functionality added to existing Web 2.0 businesses is where the real opportunity lies for Indian consumer internet companies.