Aiming to tap business opportunities in local search in India, internet giant Yahoo Inc. has launched ‘OurCity’, a service that aggregates information by users such as events, photos, blogs and news on a city.
OurCity, still on beta or test mode and built by the Yahoo India team to tap the local market, covers 16 cities including New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Yahoo is positioning the service as a one-stop information portal for a city, combining its services for podcasts, video, maps, local events and content generated by users in Indian languages such as Kannada and Hindi.
“It pulls out content relevant to your city from across the Internet. This is a product that has come out of India and is looked at with interest (by other country-specific Yahoo sites) across the world,” said Rishi Behal, director of search, Yahoo Web Services India Ltd.
Internet companies are increasingly planning to go local in Asia, an analyst said. “It is a good business opportunity not only in the business-to-consumer market, but also the business-to-business market,” said Madan Mohan Rao, editor of The Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, which tracks internet trends in the region.
But the bigger challenge for companies such as Yahoo will be to build a network of advertizers from which to make revenues on city-specific portals, he predicted. Rao is on the board of Indya.com, a portal for Star TV, the satellite television network owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch.
As India’s Internet penetration grows, local enterprises are beginning to promote businesses online, using it as a cheaper advertising medium to reach out to specific target audiences, prompting Internet companies to eye this as a revenue opportunity. Guruji.com, an Indian search engine headquartered in Bangalore, has a city-specific search that throws up results on restaurants and small businesses. Nearly 30% of the seven million searches on Guruji, launched six months ago, has been for local information.
“Yahoo is positioning itself as a one-stop information provider, more as a content portal for a city. Ours is more search driven,” said Gaurav Mishra, chief operating officer of Guruji, which has been funded by Sequoia Capital India, the local unit of a Silicon Valley private equity and venture capital firm that made investments in Yahoo and rival Google.
Even as they battle to increase market share in search and other products, Yahoo and rivals Google and MSN, owned by Microsoft Corp., are betting on India and China as growth markets.
“We are focused on enriched Indian language content. For our business, it is a fantastic market opportunity,” said Pranesh Anthapur, chief operating officer of Yahoo Software Development India Ltd, which is based in Bangalore.