When India was going ga-ga over the next leap in the Internet domain with the advent of Web 2.0, several Net experts were skeptical about the viability of an Indian Web 2.0 business model. ‘Will there be an Indian Orkut or a YouTube?’ was a question asked by several online business players in India. Now, with the entry of several Indian websites in the Web 2.0 space, exchange4media does a reality check on the country’s standing in the world, and finds that it hasn’t fared all that poorly.
India has come a long way since the early days of the Internet revolution in the Nineties. With a user base of 38 million, that according to experts is set to reach 100 million in less than 3-4 years’ time, India has embraced the Web 2.0 platform quite well indeed.
Sridhar Ranganathan, Senior Product Manager, Yahoo! India, believes that Indian Internet entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the Web 2.0 paradigm. “A number of Web 2.0 Internet products have been launched, and on an overall basis, I would say that India is about six months to two years behind other major markets such as the US, Japan and Korea. But, this gap will vanish soon with India now taking bigger developmental strides than ever before,” he noted.
Dinesh Wadhawan, MD and CEO, Times Internet Ltd, had a mixed reaction. “On India’s global standing part, I think a lot of start-ups are doing exciting stuff. However, we still don’t have the ecosystem that the developed markets provide in terms of companies opening up to third party content,” he said.
Manish Agarwal, Vice-President, Marketing, Rediff.com, said that Indian companies were realising the virtues of Web 2.0, and were all set to further increase their businesses. “It is a good sign that Indian companies are taking advantage of the fact that today there is great speed of product proliferation, less product gestation time and higher adoption without having to spend hefty amounts on marketing activities,” he noted.
According to CVS Sharma, Senior Vice President & Director, Arc Worldwide, ‘imagination’ was something that was lacking among Indian players. He said, “Users need to be given the power today, and this should be done creatively. The traditional models are fast disappearing, and what we are experiencing is, what can be called, the ‘Communication 2.0’ rather that ‘Web 2.0’. India is making rapid progress in this new medium and I am sure it will soon catch up with the likes of the US and other market leaders.”
On the technology front, the general perspective of the industry is that Web 2.0 is about sharing information and driving greater user participation, and hence, there isn’t much required once the core application is designed. Sudipto Majumdar, Chief Technical Officer, Zapak.com, said, “India needs Web 2.0 applications a lot more that any other market given its poor infrastructure. I am saying this because high quality Web 2.0 applications perform better than 1.0 on poor infrastructure like we have in India. It is because of this phenomena that services like Yahoo! and Google work better in India as compared to Indian websites.” Majumdar further said that high quality Web 2.0 websites were very complex to create and required engineers of high skill sets.
Chaya Brian Carvalho, CEO and MD, bcwebwise, also agreed that infrastructure had nothing to do with the development of the Web 2.0 concept in India. “Infrastructure is not a problem. What we need to have is some specific laws in place, and this will happen as user generated content starts dominating the communication scene,” Carvalho maintained.
Siddhartha Roy, Chief Operating Officer, BigAdda, said, “About 54 per cent of Indians are below 25 years of age and this TG constitutes the user base of most of the players in the industry. At BigAdda, we plan to incorporate more features using Web 2.0 making the site further interactive and exciting for our users the moment they log onto it.”
The voice of the industry is that India is nicely poised in the Web 2.0 domain. It is just a matter of time when India would be at par with the likes of the US, Japan, Korea and other leaders in the online space.
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