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Consumer-focused firms license tech to corporate clients

Consumer-focused firms license tech to corporate clients

Bangalore: In the middle of last year, Yulop WebSense Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a location-based search firm that helped cellphone users find coffee shops and toy stores, changed its business focus. The firm is now seeking to license the content and technology it built for sites such as, moving away from its earlier model of offering business listings directly to consumers.

The trend of consumer-focused firms offering technology and solutions to corporate customers for a steady income is growing.

Ninety Degree Internet Software Pvt. Ltd, which runs the ticketing and travel search engine 90di, is in talks to allow its service to be used by a tourism site, says co-founder Khushnood Naqvi.

Naqvi expects to sign a deal in one month’s time.

“The usage will be doubled and that would be without any marketing costs,’’ said Naqvi, who declined to name the travel site.

According to analysts, the increasing costs of developing such consumer-focused services and operating them are persuading companies to consider licensing their technology or services to business customers, earning them a steady income.

“They can’t have the marketing strength to get the eyeballs while they face competition," said Diptarup Chakraborti, principal research analyst at technology researcher Gartner Inc.

“For India, the problem is also of creating a business model. There are around 85 million net users, (but) most of them are not paying customers," said Chakraborti.

Yulop’s co-founder and chief executive M. Kodanda Raman agrees.

“There are several LBS (location-based services) companies and nobody is making money," he said. “We decided instead of competing, we will be a backbone for sites that offer LBS services."

Yulop has business listings for eight cities, including Bangalore, with each address “geo-tagged" to mark the exact location.

The solution is based on triangulation, which determines the cellphone’s location on the basis of the signal strength to the three nearest cellphone towers, and relating that with an existing database.

Ubona Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which has voice-search technology that allows users to phone in their queries, is now offering it to companies such as direct-to-home television service provider Tata Sky Ltd and a unit of Bharti Airtel Ltd, said Jyotirmoy Chakravorty, co-founder and chief executive of Ubona Technologies.

The move doesn’t make sense for everyone. Some firms such as TringMe, a telecom product firm that allows people to make phone calls using Internet telephony, built consumer-focused services to attract enterprise customers such as Infosys Technologies Ltd and IBM Corp.

“At the moment, we handle 22 million calls every month. For a small company, nobody would have trusted us if we went with the technology to large companies. The consumer platform was the best test bed," said Yusuf Motiwala, TringMe’s founder.

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