The Elephant Gets Its Due

By no means is this a measure! But I find this pattern emerging. After all one of the largest population in the state of California is Indians, and we seem to be pushing them hard! Not just that! Despite poor connectivity, sad (well, almost sad!) state of telecom infrastructure, corrupt polity delaying opening up of 3G and everything else, the average Indian Internet User is powering his way ahead (in internet parlance ‘pwning’) and is screaming at the top of his/her lungs. And guess what? It’s being heard.

A few weeks back, we had LinkedIn opening an office in India. And close on its heels, we find Facebook opening its Hyderabad center. And by trending topics like #awesomeindianthings, #nithyananda etc, we are making @twitter hear us too. I won’t be surprised if they open shop here soon!

China Vs India

India may not have as many internet users. China surely beats us on this statistic. India doesn’t match up to the telecom infrastructure of China either. Certainly not. But what was always touted to be out weakness, could well turn out to be our strength. The slow but open environment for business. The battle between India and China (literally and metaphorically) is just hotting up. And news like this at the wake of internet giants like Google looking to divorcing the dragon should hopefully put India higher up on the investment map.

It has been a while since the Indian internet user has loitered around waiting to be recognized. We have had way too many stalwarts in the internet space, who have done some pathbreaking work whether it is on the technical side or on the user experience space. But the elephant was always ignored owing to the Government apathy to promote business in this space and provide a conducive environment for foreign investments. Notwithstanding all this, India’s internet population has been ever growing, ever hungry and has provided a platform / rationale for larger organisations to start operations in India.

What’s in it for us users?

Awesomeness! We will have local presence of LinkedIn, Facebook and hopefully Twitter reducing the gap between our needs (which are very different from the average American) and the offerings by the site.

  • I won’t be surprised if a would provide India specific networking opportunities, jobs etc
  • There is a huge scope for offline events (at least from LinkedIn) to promote job searches, corporate networking etc.
  • I also see an opportunity for Naukri / Monster India / Shine and other job search brands to tie-up with LinkedIn
  • Facebook applications will be Indianised. Think Farmville with ‘verkadalai’ and Mafia Wars with ‘Varadaraja Mudaliar’.
  • Local companies will tie up with FB to peddle their wares / services through facebook (FB can see revenues from India sooner)
  • You won’t be served with “Anglicised looking Lose 15 pounds in 4 weeks ads. They would now read Lose 30 kilos in 3 weeks instead. This would mean a huge opportunity for Indian SEM, third party market and will be available at Indian rates.
  • Offline advertising by these organisations would further propel the burgeoning OOH media apart from the traditional media spaces.
  • And many more!

Having said that, a lot more can be done to promote business entities in the Internet space in India. The government should take these cues to help (if not overtly, at least by providing a conducive business atmosphere) such organisations to start shop in India. This should help open up more business verticals, employment and in a small but significant way the economy.

What should the Government do?

  • Not to belittle what has already been done, telecom infrastructure (thanks to Rajeev Gandhi & Sam Pitroda) has grown leaps and bounds. But there is still a lot more ground to be covered. And with technology know-how in access, leap frogging should not be a problem
  • Simplify the process of setting up a business. I know of a brilliant entrepreuner, who is yet to get his company’s bank account opened because the Registrar of Companies (ROC) is delaying the registration of his internet based education company Without a bank account, the company’s time to market will get extended and business plans go awry. Finding an angel investor or a PE fund to grow the business will become that much a bigger challenge.
  • And for heaven’s sake (and for the sake of business), get the 3G auction off the ground

There could probably be a lot more, but I think that addressing some of these fundamental issues would go a long way in making the elephant tackle the dragon by its tail. Do you agree? Drop in a comment and we can discuss it!

2 Responses to “The Elephant Gets Its Due”

  1. Good post…the fact is something’s happening. What shall be the outcome, not sure.Google has an ad support team based out of India, however, we know that online advertising in India’s still in the margins.

  2. Thanks Rajesh. Happy to find that you read my blog 🙂
    Agree that the outcome is not predictable, but we still have a growing market and the number of internet users are only going up. I read an article recently where the author had mentioned about his mom getting onto Facebook. While on the funny side, it might sound scary, we have the senior strata of the population also getting online. And the fact remains that they are willing to explore. It just opens the market that much more. And at the end of all this, we still will have to live on ‘hope’. 🙂

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