One of the biggest gaps in daily life in India is knowing about neighbourhood and city service providers. Yellow pages have not been ingrained into customer behaviour. Local maps have until now been almost non-existent. Mom-and-pop stores have not found it easy to reach out to their catchment area other than perhaps inserting flyers in newspapers. This is where things are going to start changing in 2007.
India-specific search engines like Guruji.com have been launched. They are collaborating with the yellow pages companies to create searchable local content. Google Maps has recently launched detailed street-level maps for many Indian cities. Expect mashups soon to overlay all kinds of physical world information on these maps. User-generated content is filling in for the lack of a Zagat-like equivalent in India. A number of sites are trying to marry peer production and recommendation engines in an effort to create a rich tapestry of whats happening. All of this is helping build the local reference web in India.
The next step is to make possible the local incremental web. This is where the combination of RSS and mobiles can play a role. Do-it-yourself publishing can create the content, while subscriptions can help deliver to the interested people in near real-time on their mobiles. In this world, events will start becoming the centrepiece of peoples lives. With mobiles, individuals can also report on what they are seeing and share it easily with others. This two-way interaction can help spur all kinds of new services from citizen journalism to Wikipedia-like search for something interesting to do on a Sunday evening.
Local content is important because local is where we spend much of our lives. A decade ago, options were limited. But that is no longer the case. There are lots of things happenings everyday and especially on weekends. Given the diversity of tastes that people have, they would like to know of the things of interest to them. Parents would like to know of fun activities for children, shoppers would like to know of deals, teenagers would like to know of the new cool thing around town. In India, we have a unique opportunity to bring all of this to life quickly building around the Internet and mobiles, and complemented by user inputs.
2007 will start seeing the launch and growth of these services creating for a richer and more varied lifestyle. The promise of the Internet and the other digital technologies will start being realised. A story which began a decade ago, at least for some, will see the next chapter written one which finally starts making a difference to our daily lives.
TECH TALK 2007 Tech Trends+T