India, is not that far from China and it’s part of Asia as well, but we heard almost zero information about what’s happening there in its web space. How’s the Internet industry there in general, how’s the mobile industry? How’s the startups environment there, do they copy western models as well? Is the social network popular? We know little about it.

Sitting down with Gaurav Mishra, Director of Digital and Social Media, Asia of MSLGROUP, I had the pleasure of learning some knowledge about India web.

(Small) Internet vs. (Big) Mobile

Gaurav said India web is far behind from China which is growing so fast. The internet population in India is only about 50-60 millions which is obviously quite small. However, the number of mobile subscribers is about 560 millions, and 10% of them are using smart phones. Blackberry is quite popular and Android is catching up very quickly. I then asked about iPhone4/iPad, Gaurav said they are not hot at all, iPhone 4 is not officially available in India, and iPad is just on the market last market.

Startups with local value

When we talked about the international service and local startups, Gaurav emphasized that the key to success in India (and maybe in all Asia markets) is it must generate local value to end users.

Since mobile market is relatively large in India, I asked Gaurav if there is any Location-based service existing in India. Gaurav said is probably one of the best. Revu is a mobile service and social platform helping you discover the best places (restaurants, pub etc) around you. “However, unlike Foursquare which is sort of mobile loyalty program, Revu focus on the reviews of restaurants/food/books etc which bring more local value to the users.” Gaurav said. “Think about GetGlue which instead of check-in for location, it encourage its users to check-in for TV shows, movies, music and books, it’s the Foursquare for entertainment which creates more value.”

Another example of good startups which has the value, in Gaurav’s opinion is NextLeap which builds an advanced recommendation engine to help students and young professionals map their “career graph” and make optimal academic and career decisions. “It’s like a Linkedin for India/Asia students who have their college and professional life in west.”

Social Networks

Orkut was the No.1 social network in India, but this has changed. Gaurav said, “Facebook is now the leading social network in Asia with about 20milions users; Orkut stepped down to the second with 15millions.”

And the 3rd popular social platform which I really want to spend more words here is iBibo. It founded in 2006-2007, now has around 5millions users and was named as world’s top 50 technology start ups by BusinessWeek in 2009. The most interesting part for Chinese is that iBibo is jointly owned by South Africa’s Naspers and China’s leading Internet company, Tencent. It now focus on Social gaming and e-commerce platforms. When I look into its About page, I also found two iBibo social games which sounds familiar, “Great Indian Parking Wars” and “ibibo Farms“.

At last, Gaurav also introduced me his Moments to Movements concept. As an marketer, you now need think about creating marketing Movements instead of Moments. As Gaurav wrote on his blog,

The economics of entertainment have changed in a way that TV shows, video games and film franchises make most of their money not from opening weekends, but from repeat viewings. So, they have incorporated multi-layered intertwining narratives, complex social networks of characters, subtle humor and insider jokes, and storylines that unfold over hundreds of hours to engage fans over five or six repeat viewings.

Gang Lu

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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  1. Hi Dr. Lu! Thanks a lot for mentioning us … 🙂 I loved your post on Papaya Mobile….

    nextLeap in my opinion is more than Linkedin which is inherently a social network. We are a recommendation engine to help students and young professionals map their career graph e.g. students can fill in their undergrad profile like GRE score, %age etc. and our algorithms and math models go over historic admission test patterns to churn out results as to where a student can go for higher studies and what would be best career choices.

    All our features currently try to solve various pain points that students from India face while going to US for higher studies .. we have plans to expand to new areas in Asia and also vertically integrate to reach out to pre-college / high school users

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    I am surprised to see Tencent from China holding equity in IbiBo .. What is the usual perception of Indian internet / tech products in Chinese consumers / professionals?

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