Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mobile Search Revolution in India

While working recently on a project for the Singapore government on mobile speech and search technologies, I happened to do an intensive research on the what it takes for mobile search to be successful. The questions that I was seeking answers to were
  1. Can current internet search behemoths like Google, Yahoo and MSN just port their search engines onto the mobile platform and be assured that mobile phone users will embrace it just as well as they did over the computer?
  2. What is that key difference that one has to grapple with when they offer search facilities over the mobile phone?
Well, answers I did find. Some after brainstorming with people around me and some after scouring the internet for articles. It happens that the first thing that disappears in a person who is performing a search over his mobile phone is patience. This happens because mobile searches are charge money. And nobody wants to spend money on getting results that are irrelevant when using a mobile phone. The same results might have been tolerated on the computer but not so on a mobile phone by the discerning user. This I call the Golden Rule for mobile searches

Intrigued, by this single finding, I decided to test out for myself some of the offerings by small startups in India. Quite interesting. How did they adhere to the Golden rule. All of them limited the scope of their searches. Their reasoning went something like this
  1. The mobile user wants something of use to him when he is on the move. The rest can wait.
  2. What the mobile user typically wants on the move is what an yellow pages offers
  3. Provide the most relevant search for the user keyword by further localising the searches as per city/locality
Chennai-based Onyomo’s www.owap.in offers localized searches for 10 Indian cities currently. I searched for Queens in Bangalore. It suggested 3 beauty saloons and also prompted me with 3 results for restaurants.

When I clicked on Restaurants, it immediately showed me the restaurant that was on my mind as the firstAsk Laila is another search engine that produces equally good results
Mumbai based JustDial too offers similar services that is accessible via mobile phone and SMS too. I was however disappointed with the results that came out of the servive when I searched for the Queens restaurant. The search just suggested 50 more categories for me to browse through. What do they expect me to do while on the move in the middle of a busy junction?...Browse through their categories ?
TeliBrahma is yet another service called Genie that offers a small java based download onto your mobile phone that assists in searches.

Mobile searches are surely the next big thing and it will be interesting to see who emerges the winner.

Monday, November 26, 2007

India Infotech Titbits - 1

Due to repeated requests by the readers of this blog to restart the news updates that I stopped last year, I have decided to reintroduce the feature albeit a slightly different manner. Instead of just supplying the top news items in the IT sector, I will be analyzing them in current backdrop of happenings in the IT world and try to put them in perspective

  • Vavasi Telegence, an Indian company claims to have developed a wireless technology on the lines of the recent Chinese technology. It is based on Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) which will offer high speed mobile wireless connectivity. This technology will be in use as newer bands are opened by the government to support the burgeoning growth in mobile market in India. Termed NG-1 by the company to denote Next Generation-1, the innovation might lie in how the technology is handled and deployed in India to squeeze the last drop of juice it could offer with minimum infrastructure roll out.
  • Hyderabad-based MetroMela Internet Services has launched MetroMela.com. Covering the cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Cochin and Mysore for now, the website claims to highlight everything that these metros offer. Be it the best place to buy electronics or the best place to savor the top cuisines of the city, this site offers it all. The better part of the site is that in addition to information avilable, users can themselves add information too for the benefit of other users. So here we are seeing another of the crowdsourcing efforts in vogue. I personally tried the Chennai microsite and found it quite good. It mentioned that Ritchie street is the place for electonics and Murugan Idly shop to be the best for idlis anytime of the day. Hope to savor it all when I will be there sometime next month :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Outsider perspective into Indian IT

A foreigner's perspective that chronicles the radical changes sweeping across the Indian IT landscape is invaluable. For a moment, it lets us put aside the thousands of inefficiencies we see in the working of the Indian IT tech startups and focus on what is being done right that is allowing the likes of Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Satyam, HCL, Patni, Mindtree, Aztec, etc to compete effectively with the turf protectors like IBM, Accenture, Cap Gemini, etc

One such view is provided by Business Week journalist, Steve Hamm, who has kept tabs on the IT growth in India since 1989. One of his books, Bangalore Tiger, tells the story of Wipro Technologies. Though I am yet to read the book, I stumbled upon an excerpt of the book on Rediff.

Titled 'How Wipro turned defeat to victory', it tells the story of what the top management at Wipro did in 2003 after losing a deal from a big European travel agency. It details the policy change, the radical new steps and the eventual win back of the deal from the same customer. The quote that captures the essence of the article is the one from Vivek Sharma, a senior business development manager, "If you bring in value, you may have a short-term [negative] impact [on your billings]. But in the long view, you'll get benefits from that."

Read it here

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cool Hotmail for Indians

Heard of CoolHotmail? MSN India has come out with a brand new strategy to push its Live.com services in India. That is through CoolHotmail. What's different in it you may ask. The difference is that you get a email that suits your intersts, passion, your geography, your group or something that screams out your favorite star. Thrown in with the unique email id are the 5GB free storage that comes with the Live service. Sample domains include


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