2008 predictions for India Biz: Business networking will rise, SaaS will see an uptake

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Leaving all the jargons and obvious stuff, here is our prediction for 2008. Please let know whether you agree/disagree to this.

Social Networks

Indian social networks will face stiff competition from Orkut and FaceBook – most of them will crumble (I know of one which is heading towards slow death, and will announce their burial in another few months).

Vertical networks will rise. Mobile communities will see a strong surge. Business Networking will go for a kill – don’t be surprised if TimesJobs or Monster launches it’s own business networking service (modeled on the lines of LinkedIn)

Telecom

  • Rural VAS is the next big opportunity – Voice is still the most important player. With better infra (hopefully), data will see a rise in usage.
  • Voice SMS and more innovation will happen in SMS (sms 2.0?)
  • Rise in Mobile ad networks, which will drive the innovation among VAS players (vas is currently limited to bollywood and cricket) . Currently, vas players are dependent on operators for revenue sharing.
  • Ultra cheap phones from Reliance and Nokia combined with deep pockets of Vodafone will heat the competition and hopefully that will result in increased value for money as far as consumer is concerned.
  • Nokia’s ovi service will change the market dynamics and the balance of power will shift away from operator.
  • 3G ?
  • We hope to see more mobisodes (i.e. mobile episodes), mobile music, rise in mcommerce, better mobile games, UGC in 2008 (as long as bandwidth issue is addressed)

Local search

Small Businesses will get ‘Googled’ (i.e. indexed) and that will result in a cut throat competition in local search market. The Indian search players will need to expand beyond the web to other devices (and services) and also to tier-II and tier III cities.
But the basic question is – except for Google/Yahoo and local players like Sulekha, nobody has a SEM offering – monetization is going to be the key and hopefully startups will work on that.

Travel Industry

Consolidation is the name of OTA game and while OTAs expand into other areas related to travel (like bus booking etc), M&As will drive the growth of this industry.

Gaming Industry

Casual gamers will rise and Reliance’s Zapak will play a vital role in building the entire industry. Kreeda and several others will benefit from Zapak’s efforts to “build” casual gamers. Most importantly, content development which was mainly done for US clients (i.e. outsourced development) will see the rise in local market – and that means real cool games (maybe virtual lives too) will emerge.

Miscelleneous/Rising stars

  • Publishing/Printing – this is one area still dominated by established players with “very oldish” business models. Be prepared for some innovation – right from startups reaching out to casual authors to increased print-on-demand offerings!
  • Bluetooth advertising is in (and is being tested in several cities) – this medium will see a rise and more takers.
  • Online office apps – Most of the startups that I talk to have shifted to Google apps. Zoho, with it’s launch of Zoho Mail and business solution will surely grab a decent share from Google. Overall, the industry will see a strong usage in India Inc and the bull run will continue.
  • Software as a service” model will start penetrating into the Indian enterprise world – sforce is targeting Indian SMBs, telcos are “blackberry enabled” and rise of local domain names.

Overall, I believe 2008 will be the testing ground for many of the concept arbitrage ideas, year of trials for many of these product ideas and, hopefully supported by VCs (who still are clueless about this “crazy little thing called web 2.0”)!

What do you think?

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