Local search market is on the boil, and so is the local content creation.
The Indian search space is coming a full circle. First we witnessed a deluge of local search engines; and now, the local content players.
Here is a quick roundup of current players in the local content market:
- Y! ourCity
An automated product, Y! OurCity is more of a feed grabber (of ONLY Yahoo! properties feeds like Flickr, Upcoming, Y! video, travel, del.ico.us etc) and frankly speaking, doesn’t have any significant content to talk about.
What’er is available in OurCity can be easily built using Y! pipes (know more). More of a PoC, less of a product.
Intimidating UI (atleast the landing page), too many cities, almost no data and *dating desperate* users!
And the end result? Wasted time.
Unlike other local/city specific site, Burrp has smartly positioned itself as a socio-listing service (listen to my podcast with Deap here).
Started as restaurant review site, these guys have diversified into other services (gyms/spas/cinemas/theatre reviews, TV listing etc), which, I believe is a damn good strategy play.
Why do I think so? Because you need to engage the end user and you can’t present a menu of 100 items and say – “choose and write what’er you want to“.
Burrp! started with one product, gradually built the user base and then introduced other products.
An established player, Sulekha has the right muscle power, brand identity and the ecosystem to rule this space. But not too sure whether this is their topmost priotrity. In any case, this space can easily accomodate 2-3 players and I do see Sulekha playing a big role here.
tolmolbol also faces pretty much the same challenges as iLaaka – but they have a very friendly UI and a few nifty features too. I liked the way UI has been split in different sections. Neat and intuitive.Apart from the catchy (and unforgettable) name, tolmobol’s killer feature (according to me) is allowing the end users to ask city specific unstructured questions (“where can I find a doctor who can cure my blogging fever?“) and that itself, has a strong potential to attract user base.
IMHO, if they concentrate on this feature alone, they have a winner.If you ask me, why unstructured questions are important? Well, here is a sample question @ tolmolbol site:
“Can anyone tell me of some place that offers spanish courses in the summer months?”
Tell me how can you structure 1000 variations of such questions?
Point that I am driving at is that as an end user, my questions aren’t structured all the time (e.g of structured qn: “find me a ‘2BHK’ house in ‘Koramangala, Bangalore”), but are way too unstructured and cannot fit into dropdown options most of the classified sites have.
Though there are other QnA services launched (ibibo, Rediff), none of them are city specific and I do see a BIG opportunity here.At the same time, my biggest concern with tolmolbol is that they are spreading themselves too thin. Out of the no. of cities listed so far, very few are active.
Most of the other cities don’t even have any relevant seed data and cities, in general aren’t too well localized.