Tech blog

Tech blog

Mobile, social, local

»Three technologies hold key to the future of the web: mobile, social, local. Mobile internet offers several unbeatable advantages. You are not tethered to your system, can carry internet in your pocket.  It also lowers the cost of getting connected. For companies impacted by digital media, having a mobile strategy would soon be a survival issue. If you are a service provider, say Indian Railways, you would need to figure out the best way to extend to the mobile.  You would need to enable mobile reservations and accept mobile payments, besides pushing other required information such as train schedules to these devices.
Companies, which develop mobile applications, are facing a rapidly commoditising business. Rates for plain vanilla applications are falling. Offering transformative solutions, would require good consultancy capability, which is not there in the market at least among smaller companies. Mobile apps, still an expensive affair in USA and Europe, offer an outsourcing opportunity. But it will take innovative companies, who can go beyond building basic apps, to fully tap this.

Two years ago businesses did not know what to do with social networking. Since then many of them, especially those targeting the young customers, have built large social media presence, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But they are also realising that large chunks of fans acquired through aggressive advertising lie dormant. Many fans lured in through advertisements may not have the right profile; they may just click ‘Like’ and then forget about it. The next shift is underway, how do you turn your fans into an active community, receiving and responding to your marketing messages. 

Going local has been trickier. People use internet to manage their life better. You would rather check your mobile for directions than stop and ask. Small local businesses need to find a way to reach out to customers on the web. Traditional yellow pages compilers, who aggregate local businesses through classifieds and listings, have migrated to web, besides offering telephone support. The ‘local search’ segment, despite seeing intensifying competition, has not grown as expected.

Yahoo exited local search business in India a few months ago. As a blogger Avlesh Singh has pointed, Google is a formidable competition here. It is hard for local search companies to offer anything better than Google results. A few companies are providing more detailed results - reviews, photos etc. - across key categories such as restaurants and movies. But there is no sign of any company becoming the Google of local search.

But the potential continues to draw new players. Hudku offers better technology, a single user interface for search. While other companies force you to structure your search according to preset filters, with Hudku the initial experience is similar to searching for something on Google. But the start-up is yet to find adequate listings to keep the users coming back.