India Business Buzz: MySpace’s India plans, Network18 launches Josh18, OLPC in India, Mobile firms go rural..and more

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Mid-week India Business Buzz

Seventymm adds community, looks at online movies
Apart from the change in design, the site has added networking and profiling features. Each Seventymm member now has a My Hangout page where a profile, friends, movie reviews and quizzes can be displayed. In true networking style, members can upload pictures and videos, rate and review movies, and have conversations with each other.

My take: Well thought feature (better late than never!). By the way, what’s happening to the Reliance acquisition rumor?

MySpace Eyes India
MySpace, one of the fastest-growing Web properties, which News Corp. bought for $580 million last year, plans to offer MySpace in France and Germany and also is looking into China and India over the long term.

My take: They will have a tough time. The number of MySpacers from India is very less – and that’s more of a fundamental challenge for MySpace (unlike Orkut/FB).

Timesjobs to hand your boss a report card
Timesjobs.com is attempting to reverse the boss-bashing trend on World Boss Day. The jobs portal owned by Times Business Solutions has put up a site, www.bossmeter.net, where employees satisfied (or not) with their boss can put them up for a nomination. Then, a few other colleagues can vote for or against the boss. Depending on the overall response, the boss is then sent a report card with a total score on the Boss Meter.

My take: Hope the report card reaches Naukri’s Hari Sadu 🙂 !! On a serious note, these are good viral campaigns – but Naukri is still leading the pack.

MSN gears up for mobile content, multimedia advertising
After rolling out a new version of Windows Live Hotmail with 5GB free storage space, the company has followed up with a complete suite of services, including SkyDrive, Live Messenger and Live Spaces.
My take: I hope they go beyond the “coolhotmail” sort of stupid things.

Network18 goes Hindi with Josh18.com
Network18 targets the hindi crowd with launch of Josh18. The portal will provide news,information and a blog feature dubbed ‘Garam Chai’ (uses Quillpad for hindi support). Josh18.com claims to have the largest library of videos produced by its television arms CNBC Awaaz and IBN7. The news content on the site will be powered not only by Network18’s in-house content but also through news agencies. (source)

My take: Network18 is to be admired for their structured approach towards the content business in India. But I hope they don’t end up messing with too much of same content (does 18 mean 18 properties?) rehashed across different properties.

OLPC in India
The much-awaited One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project will get its Internet connectivity in India from the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG). OLPC XO laptop will be available for $220, which comes to around Rs. 8,800. The group hopes to have it priced at as low as $115 in a few years time.

Delhi to go WiFi through public-private partnership
New Delhi will be soon joining Bangalore and Pune on the WiFi meshed network, with the government of Delhi planning to install Wifi zones in the capital city.

The WiFi zones are to be established through private-public partnership (PPP) model.
My take: Hope this is not part of 5-year plan. This was supposed to be over by Jan ’07!, but they are starting in Oct!

Mobile firms all excited about village talk
Now that India has more than 200 million mobile subscribers, the next mobile revolution is going to come from smaller towns and villages. Currently, industry estimates show that 35-40 per cent of mobile customers are from rural areas.
Here is what Mobile operators,content players and tech players are doing:

  • Reliance Communications launched Live Mandi in collaboration with commoditiescontrol.com, a mobile service through which farmers can get real-time prices of commodities on their mobiles. The service is available on Reliance’s GPRS portal, Reliance Mobile World, accessible in 10,000 towns and 300,000 villages.
  • Bharti Airtel, which recently reached the 50-million subscriber mark, is also setting its sight on rural customers to continue the momentum. Though the company has not specified its plans, it will focus on local content and services for these customers. It is also planning a WiMax service to provide wireless Internet connectivity in rural areas.
  • Reuters, which recently launched its news portal in India, has come out with a mobile information service, called Reuters Market Light (RML). RML has been tested since April 2007 among 7,500 farmers in Maharashtra;
  • Yahoo! is believed to be working on an information system for rural areas. It has already tied up with mobile operators for services like e-mail and instant messaging.
  • Ericsson inaugurated its Gramjyoti Rural Broadband Project in September. The project is now in place in 18 villages and 15 towns in Tamil Nadu. The project is utilising the WCDMA or HSPA technology – an evolved version of the commonly used GSM technology used by mobile operators – to provide internet connectivity. (The project) involves creation of a self-sustaining rural communication ecosystem that provides benefits from applications like e-governance, telemedicine, e-learning, entertainment, video conferencing and surveillance to rural communities.Gramjyoti includes a mobile TV service through which farmers can get the latest news on demand. Apart from commodity pricing, the other information which could be of use to the rural community is advice on soil types and fertilisers. We could develop micro communities that could be updated on important information in a particular area, like power cuts
  • Reliance Money is also setting up 10,000 kiosks in the country to provide financial information.

My take: Real work. Real impact.

Mobile handset user satisfaction drops: IDC
Barring the top three vendors (Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia) all other brands fared below the industry average. At an overall level users feel that mobile phones have become easier to use, have better voice clarity and longer battery life and thus the satisfaction on these three parameters has increased as compared to the 2006 and 2005 scores.
However, internal memory and entertainment features are the two parameters on which satisfaction has come down significantly, the report said.

My take: Ever heard of demanding customers?

WatchIndia Announces Partnership With Yash Raj Films (for pay per view streaming movies from YRF production house)
WatchIndia today announced a strategic partnership with Yash Raj Films (YRF), India’s leading entertainment conglomerate. Starting this month, WatchIndia will offer Bollywood films produced by Yash Raj Films via Pay-Per-View. WatchIndia offers the 4 million Indian expatriates living in the U.S. and Canada live Indian TV, top-rated channels and free video-on-demand — all with only an Internet connection.
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