India sure has become the cynosure of global online giants. Close on the heels of MIH’s foray into India with the launch of its user generated content portal Ibibo.com, Time Warner owned AOL.com will soon be launching its online operations in the country through AOL.in.
“Our focus will be on broadband content. Apart from our mail, messenger and blogging services, we will be launching rich media content, online radio and online television services, etc,” said an AOL official on condition of anonymity.
Queried about the launch date of its online services in India, the official said, “We are aiming a beta launch within 45 days’ time, but it could take a couple of months’ time.”
Asked whether AOL would work as a content generator like the Indian online players or merely a content aggregator like Yahoo! and MSN, the official replied, “Our strength has always been our content. However, we will work both ways. We will experiment and see what works best for us in India.”
Questioned about the late foray and whether AOL would be able to compete with the domestic and global players who had been here for many years, the official said, “The Indian Internet market is opening up right now, so this is the best opportune time. Then we believe there is enough room for everybody in a country like India. We will be doing certain things that nobody has done here.”
“AOL is aiming to foray into 30 countries worldwide and India will be its first big international launch. In a way, India will be the pilot project for AOL’s international foray,” the official added.
When asked whether AOL was also looking at acquisitions in India, the official said, “That will be one of the ways we will expand in India, but we don’t have immediate plans as of now.”
AOL also has plans to enter the mobile content business. “We have very big plans on the mobile front as well with our own short code,” the official said.
AOL’s India operation is headed by Manish Dhir, who is the Senior VP and Country Head of all AOL business units in India. The company has recently roped in Content Head of Yahoo! India, Deepak Karambelkar. It has also hired Aditya Kuber, another Yahoo! hand who was instrumental in relaunching Yahoo! India’s Cricket portal. Tarun Shovani of Rediff has also joined the Ad Sales department at AOL India.