Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Google launches Map Maker in India

If you have been wanting to know details about your neighborhood, locality or district using a detailed map, you do not have to wait for Geographical Survey of India to update and publish them which I do not even know will ever happen. This is because Google has launched its Google Map Maker utility in India. Google Map Maker is a service which allows you to add or edit features, such as roads, offices, buildings, shops etc., at anyplace on the published map. For example, you can add the name of shop, building, college, school in your neighborhood within the map and publish it to the larger audience. The map allows you to add all the details like address, draw a road, river, mark a playground, park etc. something which can definitely benefit the masses. However, the biggest challenge that I can think of is the accuracy of the details. Nevertheless, I think it is still a novel idea coming out of its idea repository!

Do try google map maker at http://mapmaker.google.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Momail - World's smallest mobile e-mail now in India

Momail, a Stockholm based company has launched its popular mobile product in India today. It provides a complete email solution to consumer on his mobile phone but with a difference. It offers a unified email inbox for all your different email accounts from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail etc. You can send or receive emails from your mobile using momail. Currently, Momail has opened its Indian site http://www.momail.in/ for around 100,000 beta users. You can be a part by signing it online with a password momailrox on its web site. The company claims to support over 1100 different mobile models. The service is free during the beta period but will eventually be launched as a paid service. I tried the service today. Though the registration was straigthforward - register on website, provide your Mobile number, the site sends all the settings as a message to your mobile. You need to open the message and save it which results in default configuration of Momail on your mobile phone. That's really a cool feature especially for consumer market ! However, I was unable to access the emails using my phone due to connectivity issues which I reported to its customer support which was gracious enough to respond within 2 hours :) ! Do give it a try and let me know what you feel about the product.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Economic Times Business Spaces Conference BEC Mumbai 29-30-31 Aug 2008










If you are looking out for a commercial space in India don't miss the Economics Time Business Spaces exhibition to be held on Aug 29-30-31 2008 in Mumbai, India. It will have real estate projects from all over Indian with a focus on malls, IT parks, SEZs available for lease or outright purchase. In addition the event will also host a 3-day conference with eminent speakers from government and private sector sharing their perspectives on the current and future prospects of real estate industry in India. For details check out:
http://www.99acres.com/mailers/templates/business-space-conference.htm

Bausch&Lomb - Eye care online !!


Bausch&Lomb does not need an introduction in the consumer eye health care market. It's products are used in more than 100 countries and has world's most oldest brands to its name in this space. In the Indian marketplace too it is the market leader but what caught my attention was it's e-initiative to reach out to wider Indian audience. Recently, I got a promotional e-mailer inviting me to get a trial pack at my doorstep:


This led me to its Indian web site which provides host of information about its Indian products. The web site allows you to drop in your queries regarding purchasing contact lenses with its team of Optometrists. In addition you get tips on Lens Wearing and Eye Care. You can directly get in touch with the team for all your queries by dialing in a toll free number +91-9910339830 or SMS Lens to 56161. It is interesting to see how corporate houses are leveraging the power of internet to reach out to Indian consumers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

99acres.com - buy, sell Indian residential properties online

It is probably too late to write a review for Indian real estate portals like 99acres.com but looking at the emerging potential in this space, I decided to spend some time on this vertical. 99acres.com is another successful portal from promoters of naukri.com, i.e. Info Edge India Ltd. It provides a perfect platform for various stakeholders like buyers, sellers, brokers, builders etc. in the real estate market to do business online. At a high level here are some of the key features that this web site offers to different stakeholders in this value chain:
A. Consumers: You can search to buy, sell, or rent out a property based on your budget, housing requirement, location. You can also look out for a PG accommodation.
B. Builders: You can publish your properties under various listing schemes depending on your budget on the web site. The web site offers different kind of promotional tools and packages to advertise your property on its web sites
C. Property Dealers: You can separately register yourself as a property dealer under this category on the web site giving you instant visibility
In addition you can also use its home financing services. You can apply for an online home loan, use various calculators for determining EMI or Amortization, home insurance, and various other informative content. Site also offers specific services for NRIs to make the real estate investment a smooth process. On the whole its a pretty comprehensive web site which aims at bridging up the home buying and selling a smooth affair. Interesting thing would be to tie up with government agencies to allow online property registration !!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meridhun.com launches Meridhun Musical Widget

Last month I had reported about meridhun.com, an online hindi songs gift shoppee! While the concept is definitely unique but I had some doubts on their marketing strategy and expansion plans. Recently, it has launched its partnership/affiliate program by establishing a Partner Club program. As part of this program you can sign up to become a partner of meridhun.com and generate a cool widget which you can place on your blog or web site. For each successful registration you can earn 10 Meridhun points which is equivalent to Rs 1 INR. However, the reward points can only be reedemed against the products sold on meridhun and cannot be encashed. This sounds like a good strategy but I think using widgets as part of partnership program is bit cumbersome process. I would rather allow people to generate widgets directly from the web site rather than following a tedious partner registration process and confirmation from support team. Further for some reason I do not find this option advertised on meridhun home page. I guess the company should closely evaluate the strategy adopted by dhingana.com !!
BTW here is the widget in case you want to play around and help me earn some reward points :)(The widget still needs some usability enhancements)


Saturday, August 9, 2008

rediff bus fare search - another marketing innovation !!

With rediff Bus FareSearch, rediff.com has entered into rapidly growing Bus reservation services market. This is truly a big bonanza for Indian consumer market which has been deprived of basic services for the most common transit system in India.
The unique thing about rediff bus fare search is it gives comparative details of trains for the same destination. For example if you are searching for bus from Mumbai to Pune, the search result will give you list of all the trains for that route with fares as well as the list of travel agents which provide buses on the route. The online bus reservation is done by redirecting the user to redbus.in while for railway reservation you are redirected to Indian railways web site. I must say with more and more companies eyeing for this space, it is fascinating to see how companies are changing strategies to acquire customers. For redbus.in, this is definitely a smart move to acquire customers without spending huge money on direct to consumer marketing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

MakeMyTrip.com : A new entrant in online bus reservation market

While I have been writing about the online bus reservation portals which have entered in the Indian e-space, the entry of makemytrip.com definitely signifies the big potential this space has got. It has taken up an aggressive approach to make an entry into the market place with a coverage of around 4000 routes, attractive bus deals, Holiday vouchers. The web site offers all the usual features like online search, seat selection, pick up point, online cancellation etc. A first look tells that it has a good coverage in northern, western and southern parts of India. The site however right now offers only one way reservation but I am sure it will be on its way to overcome this limitation. It would really interesting to see how the other players will react to a big market player like makemytrip.com. Check out the screenshot of a sales promo from makemytrip.com:

Monday, August 4, 2008

snapfish - HP's Online photo printing portal in India



HP promoted snapfish.com is a known name in the online photo printing Global market. Its entry in Indian space definitely validated the business potential that Indian market holds in this space. As expected the site is one amongst the best in terms of ease of use, usability and overall functionality. The focus is clearly on promoting only prints and photo products. while most of the features are quite similar to other indian sites like picsquare or itasveer, it essentially has an edge in the photo products categories. The photo upload can be done through web or even through email or mobile phones which is quite useful. It just widens the reach and encourages mobile users to send photos on the fly without getting into the hassel of downloading photos first on the computer. Also, the site offers a number of tools to edit your uploaded photos to make them more presentable and printable. Slide show is another cool feature for you to quickly see your photos. However, some of the basic things are missing here like integration with Flickr or Picassa, flexibility in payment options (only allows payment through credit cards) etc. which I was expecting to be present due to its rich experience in this field and presence in India.

Overall the site is pretty cool but from the marketing perspective I still feel that there is a lot of room for it to promote itself which surprisingly I am finding missing given the big name behind it. I find its Indian counterparts to be much more aggressive and innovative in that respect. One reason could be that this may just cannibalize its growing printer business in Indian Consumer market :) Despite that I would definitely recommend trying this web site at least once !

Sunday, August 3, 2008

photohugs.com - a simple online photo printing site






photohugs.com is a very simple, intuitive and straightforward online photo printing web site. It is currently focussed exclusively on photo print business and has so far not launched the photo product services. The web site indicates that it will be launched soon. The best thing that i liked about this web site was the simplicity with which the basic photo print process is described. The home page tells me everything about what is existing and what is expected in few words and pictures. Some of the unique features related to products that I found in this web site include:
- Ability to order a custom CD with your photos
- Access to high-resolution photos for download (the photos are edited and improved i guess)
- Send a VCD (Not yet launched but definitely a new feature, not sure if they are asking customers to upload or send unedited VCDs to them)
If you are only looking at uploading photos and sending the prints, I would strongly recommend this web site based on its ease of use though I have no idea about its delivery capabilities. Overall, I find it a good, simple-to-use web site.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

snapgalaxy - online photo printing web site






snapgalaxy is an online photo printing service catering to the customers from India and USA. Similar to other web sites that I had looked at in past, this web site provides you with the facility to upload photos and order prints and photo based products for delivering in India and USA. While from the features perspective it does not differ too much from its competitors but the marketing strategy is little different. It gives the users to earn revenue by making its photographs available on sale, in addition to making its personalized photo page Google ad sense enabled. This will probably give consumers some more incentive to stay on with snapgalaxy. It also organizes photo contests which is a novel way to engage customer in addition to giving him photo printing features. The site announces a theme for a contest and keeps it time limited. The winners are decided by user voting. Overall I find the web site average from usability perspective. The look and feel is not too great but serves the purpose. There is definitely some good thinking gone beyond just the print business model which is worth appreciating. You need to think about different marketing strategies to increase your revenue streams which I believe snapgalaxy is able to do. However, I still do not find its name in the top 10 search items on google search - something that the company should make a note to keep its presence felt on the national and international forum.

zoomin - Online photo products printing site




This is a pretty good web site from usability perspective providing online photo printing services in India and USA. First of all the registration offer is very attractive - 25 free prints just on registration! The moment you register, it automatically prompts you to create your first album with a default album name. This is the most common thing that I would like to do first. Once you upload a photo it asks you to add additional information like photo name, description, tag, place etc. You can then select the photos that you wish to print and order them through a very usable interface all through a single page. It allows you to crop you photos before you send it for printing. The overall process is very simple and intuitive. However, from the marketing perspective I think it can still do a lot of things to make it little sticky for its visitors. Running photo competitions, publishing best photos, building up a user community are some of the additional things which such web sites can adopt to grow and engage its customers. Overall, I think it is still a cool site.

Friday, August 1, 2008

printcamp.com - another online photo printing service



printcamp.com is another online photo printing Indian web site in the "Me Too" category. The service provides standard features for allowing its users to upload photos and place orders for prints and photo based products like calendars, T-Shirts and Mugs. The process is similar to picsquare and itasveer but it falls too short in terms of usability, functionality and ease of use. The site has some basic issues like session management in addition to the overall usability problem. I found myself kicked out of the site by clicking on certain links. Even after logging it again, I was unable to get back inside the site. Clicking on printcamp.com suddenly restored my session :) !! The site does not give you too many options in terms of photo products. Even the print options are restricted to certain fixed sizes unlike its competitors which allow collages, posters etc. It is so far the most expensive site I have come across (Rs5 per print unlike others which charge 2.99 with tons of features!!). Further, the payment can be done only through credit card unlike other sites where you get multiple options. Overall, I was quite disappointed with this site. In a fiercely competitive market, it is important for printcamp.com to innovate itself else it would be difficult for it to survive in long run. The search engine optimization may help you bring you web site up on the Google ranking but if you have a weak product, it would not help you retain your customers !!
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