With the rise of Social Networks (mainly in USA) everybody is trying their to harness the community power on the web in one way or another. How about a Social Network dedicated to Indians? India has a huge population and one of the highest growing internet users in the world. Shouldn’t this help Indian Social Networks to gain an easy momentum? I don’t think so. While talking about the BPO and the outsourcing generally the English speaking/writing skills of Indians are appreciated and are considered as a plus point, but in case of social networks it can be a hinderance.
It is easier to start a social network for Chinese, French and a few other countries in their own languages as those languages are widely spoken/written in their respective countries. Most urban Indian (or perhaps the web users) prefer to write Hindi in English (including me). If an Indian can find all his firends on Orkut and communicate in English, why does he need to visit any Indian clone of Orkut?
As far as I know there are a couple of Indian Social Networks – minglebox.com (which is in alpha and taking signups) and yaari.com ( which is in beta and giving away some ipods ). It is good to see them coming up, but they do have challenges like Orkut which has integrated Gtalk and are adding some cool features.
I think Indian Social Networks face challenges like making themselves more Indianized – mobile integration is perhaps one of the key features. Yaari claims to have SMS inegration, while minglebox is working on it.
Revenue generation – Indian web market hasn’t reached to a point where they can easily sell their brand name/web space for money. The trends are good and advertisers are understanding the value of web presence, but it will take sometime for the advertisers to believe in the web. The early social Networks will have to create the non-exisiting market of web advertising.
I read about meravideo on mashable and newdelhitimes. It is really strange that they got $1.5M funding for an off the shelf script. I understand that the founder(s) have partnerships with Sahara or other brand names, but I don’t think India is at a stage where people can (or want to) watch Kyunki Saas Bh Kabhi Bahu Thi on meravideo or a similar web site. It is highly unlikely that someone in India would want to watch Dhoom 2’s 50 sec. promo on meravideo, while almost every other channel on TV is bleeding with its promos every hour. It is intersting to note that meravideo is hosted in Houston, TX. This would delay video loads for viewers in India. If this service is aimed at NRIs why do they have a contest Make a video and win Rs 10,000*? Once again, I think if meravideo integrates mobile, they can be Indianized. They can offer services like uploading videos using MMS (no pun intended) or WAP, subscribing to videos on Mobile, SMS alerts, etc.
It will be interesting to watch these ventures and see if they change the market or the market changes them. Good Luck!