State of the Internet in India

A week or so ago, I met a couple of VC friends and we got talking about the Internet business in India. My contention was that this is perhaps a great time to build a hybrid net-mobile consumer media business — if one is willing to invest $5+ million over the next 2-3 years, and think out-of-the-box about what needs to be done.

The current crop of portals (horizontals and verticals) are too few and for the most part, unexciting. They haven’t yet become “utilities” (daily must-visits) in our lives. The content is quite insipid, and there seems to be little innovation happening on the Internet front from the larger players. For the smaller ones, it has become almost impossible to raise any kind of capital from angels or VCs, thus leading to an almost complete stagnation of the Internet base and usage in India. This has been compounded by a fall in ad revenue for many of the companies as the economy has slowed.

What can get us out of this and where are the next set of opportunities? More on this tomorrow.

230 thoughts on “State of the Internet in India

  1. That is correct Rajesh. What is needed is a set of portals, mobile solutions which touch our lives daily. They also need to be different from entertainment space.

    Vishal

  2. Voice based mobile-net combo can do some good to Indian population… due to lack of English lang.

  3. Interestingly enough, our company is currently looking to raise money in that range. We have a rather unique mobile broadband solution that can increase the bandwidth available to a end user by a factor of 5 to 10 times, without altering the existing network infrastructure. Please drop me an e-mail if you would like to chat. – Raj

  4. I believe there are tremendous problems to be solved in india and hence there is no dearth of applications that can be built.

    However, if it was me, then the first problem I would work on solving is that of payment framework. Not every indian has a credit card and not every credit card holder wants to use it online in india. Some kind of prepaid card, just like calling card, that public can buy anywhere and that could be used for internet commerce across Indian web portals. The company issuing this card can have pure B2B tieups with the online portals that will accept it.

    Once it happens, it would increase the “peace quotient” of indian public and they may not mind paying 100 or 200 bucks every month for something that serves a need over the internet and will certainly pave the way for more commerce and more ideas.

    Thanks
    Rohitaash

  5. Hi Rajesh
    Your post is so apt to our thinking and we are in the process of developing a (Web + Wap + Mobile App) product which is going to address most of the questions which you have raised.
    The initial dip stick which we have done shows that our product has the potential of touching almost 10 Mn uniques within 6 months of its launch. We are desperate for partners who can help us with funds so that we can launch with the objective of scaling up.
    I will drop you a short mail on this and will look forward to your guidance and help
    Cheers
    Santosh

  6. Hi Rajesh
    We have already started work on a luxury website and mobile portal.We are starting with luxury and then moving on to other portals .We are backed by Ethos Swiss watch studios and the funding is coming from them Ethos has a chain of 25 luxury stores across india.
    Pls feel free to contact me at 9914099958 if you would like to be a part of our project
    warm regards
    Pranav

  7. I am watching this space closely; very apt timing of a serious issue. I am particularly impressed by Novatium PC’s. If I am not mistaken, they are bing sold by BSNL, right?

  8. you raise a valid, good point.

    However, the Indian online audience seems to be fascinated by a handful of topics only – sex, porn, bollywood and cricket.

    Forget technical innovation, even in terms of content, all the portals seem to rely on the same old formula – slideshows of skimply clad women or bikini babes etc – be it aol.in, rediff, ht or indiatimes for that matter – I guess its a ‘good way’ to entice & engage the Indian user ?

    There really needs to be an Onion or Slate for India. I really see the need for some good, quality content sites for the Indian market — how large is that market ? Now thats something that I’m skeptical about.

    I’m glad you started this topic — will wait to see what additional follow up posts you do on the topic.

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