Analysis of Local Search Market in India : Google vs. the rest

We started a poll sometime back asking our readers to vote for their preference of local search engine.

local search

Out of 120 votes, Google clearly leads the pack with 58 votes (~50%). OnYoMo follows closely and Dwaar/askLaila share the last position (with 3% vote each)

Well, of course the sample size isn’t big enough to say “Google is the king”, but this is surely a representative sample (most of the readers of this site are fairly techie in nature and early adopters to any new Internet/Mobile product in the market).

Has local search market game now shifted from X vs. Y to Google vs. X, Y, and Z? Before jumping to any conclusion, lets try to analyze the strategy of different players:

Guruji

Funding: $7mn investment by Sequoia Capita (Series A), and rumor mill says Series B funding of $10mn from Sandstone Capital.

Strategy: Guruji is into local content search as well as local business search. Guriji is betting big on the rise of local content adoption and have rolled out search in regional languages as well (Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Hindi). Expansion plans include travel/flight, movie searches.

Analysis: Guruji’s execution so far has been less than average. The strategy seems to be too confused to be true. Are they India content search engine? Or a local business search engine? Or everything related to Indian content? I am not too sure (these are my perception as an end user)

Well, they had the best brand appeal (their IIT degree+MS/Silicon Valley experience resulted in good traction) and a cool brand identity. But the ground reality is that they have a bad product execution (so far) and an un-differentiated service.

With Google’s entry into the Indian market, Guruji will have to prove it’s mettle and probably define an area of focus.

OnYoMo:

Funding: Info not available.

Strategy: Instead of positioning itself as a pure play search player, OnYoMo is building smart utilitarian services around search. For e.g. they tied up with iXIGo for lowest airfare search and also launched movie info search service.

Analysis: Surprisingly, they are the most preferred local search player (after Google) and that could be because of the services they are building. Their service offerings does results in good brand traction and their partnerships also enables them to distribute their app easily. But going forward, they need to think about strong brand positioning (is OnYoMo a local search player or a mashup service provider?). In my opinion, they have skimmed the surface pretty neatly, but need to go a lot deeper (and pretty quick!).

askLaila:

Funding: $10mn from LightSpeed ventures

Strategy: City/Local Business search player, askLaila’s service is currently available only in Bangalore and will very soon expand into 6 other major cities

Analysis: askLaila has a strong management and technology team. And that shows up in the product. They have one of the best local search product, but the basic question is – Where is the differentiation? What is it that Laila can offer and the poor girl Google can’t? They have launched couple of cool stuff (like proximity based search), but the end result remains the same, i.e. they are a search engine without any niche.

JustDial:

Funding: raised $12mn from SAIF Partners in 2006.

Strategy: Their offline presence has created a strong brand value and that’s why there is a huge amount of “trust” factor with the brand.

Analysis: They have a trusted brand name, have got a great product (powered by Ziva), but that’s not enough. It’s time to change gears. The SERP is a sucker (search for Citibank ATM, MG Road, Bangalore and all you get in SERP is a page with all possible ATMs and weird resultset). In general, JustDial is clearly ahead of other local competitors, but they probably need to fine tune it’s search.

Dwaar:

Funding: Dwaar (along with Bixee, the meta job search engine) is now part of MIH India

Strategy: Pretty much same as asklaila or Guruji, i.e. they intend to be the preferred gateway for local business search across Indian cities. More than the product, MIH wants to use Dwaar as a search platform and get into different verticals (they already have job search, Bixee and have rolled out the Matrimony search).

Analysis: Only if MIH executes everything as planned. And so far, their flagship product, ibibo (read our review of ibibo) hasn’t done any wonders. So, essentially Dwaar has to succeed as a platform, or a product? I don’t know.

And the result?

All of the above mentioned players, in my opinion seems to be just scratching the surface (everybody has indexed lifestyle++ services, like restaurant etc). If you want to fight Google and steal away a significant market share, you need to do what Google can’t.

Be it the deep India search (i.e. index businesses which don’t even make it to the yellow pages, like plumbers), or maybe building relevant services around search (say, voice search like Ubona?)?

Google is Google not just because of it’s search algo, but because of the trust, it has built over the last few years. It’s not easy to break on through the other side, but I don’t see any of the desi search engines even reaching there.

Two years down the line, who do you think will survive the G-effect? Share your opinion.

Read our earlier coverage of local search market and content market.

We haven’t included players like Burrp, Zook and Yulop  for the simple reason that

  • Burrp isn’t a true local player
  • Zook and Yulop are still trotting

tags: google local, guruji, dwaar, asklaila, onyomo

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