Google’s continuing SME agenda in India

As part of its continuing push to grab market share by growing the Indian online market, Google has released a new video. The video, termed ‘Tanjore – The web is what you make of it’, depicts the opportunities and potential of having a web presence.

Inspired by the real story of G. Rajendran, an artist from Tamil Nadu (Southern India) who used the web to bring the dying art of “Tanjore” paintings back to life and became a successful businessman in the process.

New India-focused Angels

With entrepreneurship becoming cool in India, a couple of India-focused Angel funds have been announced in the past few days. The India Internet Group and the Harvard Business School Angels of India are aiming to invest in India-based, early stage tech start-ups.

English: Diagram of venture capital fund struc...

Image via Wikipedia

A new startup accelerator called the India Internet Group (IIG) is debuting today as fund to invest in India-focused, early stage internet and mobile startups. The size of IIG is $2.5 million and with an average investment size of $50,000 to $250,000.

There are also several other Angel investors who are starting to have a good look at the emerging tech scene in India.

Harvard alumni Raj Chinai and Ramesh Shah, in collaboration with Harvard University, have recently co-founded and launched Harvard Business School Angels of India (HBSAI), an India-centric angel investing organisation. Incidentally, HBSAI happens to be the country’s first international angel network. It was first started with a Northern California chapter in 2007 and is currently present in nearly half a dozen countries across the globe.

While the group is sector-agnostic, it is likely to have a skew towards technology and technology-enabled start-ups, and will invest approximately $250-500K per deal.

Read more at Harvard Business School Angels To Invest 0-500K In Start-ups « Biz Tech « Techcircle.in – India Internet, mobile, consumer tech, business techEntrepreneurs Debut $2.5M Accelerator To Invest In India-Focused Startups | TechCrunch, and Early Investing In India Is A Nightmare — Now This Guy Wants To Fix It.

IBM finds support for migration from Africa to Eurasia, via South India

The Genographic Project, run by IBM Research and National Geographic, has collected 470,000 DNA samples from the public by employing a thorough ethics policy. The research has contributed towards the genomics and computational biology areas by finding support for a migration route from Africa to South India.

… our findings showed that Eurasian groups were more similar to populations from southern India, than they were to those in Africa. This supports a southern route of migration from Africa via the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in Arabia, before any movement heading north. It suggests a special role for South Asia in the “out of Africa” expansion of modern humans.

Image via IBM Research

Read more at IBM Research: Linking genes over generations.

India’s economic slowdown?

Several economic indicators are turning red for India. Instead of the predicted double digits, GDP growth is expected to languish in the 5-6% range in the present and coming years. The rupee is at a life time low and the stock market is the worst performing index among developing nations. Several factors are blame, including high interest rates (which are necessary to control runaway inflation of 9-10%) and a governance deficit (no major economic reforms have been passed in the past 6 years).

English: topographic map of India

Image via Wikipedia

Other underlying structural problems in the economy include a banking system crippled by bad debts, and stubborn current account, trade and fiscal deficits.

India’s economy can seem like a bicycle—it needs to keep moving fast to be stable. Once conviction in the destination falters, companies curb investment and hope turns to fear that the country’s problems may be intractable.

It seems that inflation is the root cause of several of these problems – much of food inflation is caused by the country’s creaking infrastructure that leads to severe waste and fluctuations in commodity and food prices. This puts the recent reversal of a decision to allow international organized retail players into India, into greater focus. Scholars have long argued that FDI in the retail sector will help develop the necessary supply chains and cold storage infrastructure that a 21st century economy needs. It will also help to drive down food prices, benefiting consumers and the country’s growth prospects in the long run.

Read more at India’s economy: Slip-sliding away | The Economist.

Entrepreneurship in India

This post at GigaOM states that it is now becoming socially acceptable to be an entrepreneur in India. Critical to these changing mindsets is the much publicized success of international and domestic tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Naukri).

seen from state highway

Image via Wikipedia

While there are several hurdles in the path to entrepreneurship, initiatives such as Nuture Talent are contributing towards building a supportive ecosystem in India.

But despite the wait and the hurdles, many are expecting that the opportunities in the web and mobile markets in India to take off dramatically several years down the road.

Read more at It’s finally cool to be an entrepreneur in India — Tech News and Analysis.

300,000 pre-orders for India’s $45 tablet

India’s $45 tablet, the Aakash, has reportedly received 300,000 pre-orders. This number is for the $60 retail version, and is larger than the size of India’s retail tablet market. The tablet accesses the internet on a $2 per month Edge connection.

Following the launch of the Aakash, telecom providers in India have responded with their own low-cost offerings, ranging from $120 to $200.

 

Tablets with Intel Atom Inside

Image by IntelFreePress via Flickr

 

Read more at Aakash gets 3 lakh pre-booking orders – The Times of India.

Another benefit of diasporas – home country web traffic

In a series of latest articles, The Economist lists the size, spread and economic benefits of diaspora.

There are now 215m first-generation migrants around the world: that’s 3% of the world’s population. If they were a nation, it would be a little larger than Brazil. There are more Chinese people living outside China than there are French people in France. Some 22m Indians are scattered all over the globe.

Beyond obvious benefits, such as remittances, diasporas also increase the flow of information and ideas, and enable ease of international business, thereby driving innovation and entrepreneurship in their home countries. (Read more at The world economy: The magic of diasporas | The Economist and Diasporas: Mapping migration | The Economist.)

Another benefit of diasporas, which has come to light in a report by comScore, is home country web traffic. Communication technologies and online news & entertainment channels play key roles in fostering the ties between diasporas and their home countries. This is reflected in the fact that 30 to 50% of traffic for most of the big Indian web properties originate from outside India. For example, 36% of Times of India’s 12.3 million visitors in September 2011, were from outside the country. 52% of ESPNCricInfo‘s nearly 8 million visitors and 57% of Bharatmovies 2.7 million visitors, did not live in India. These numbers have implications for content developers and online advertisers.

This map (from The Economist), which lists the world’s top 20 destinations for Chinese and Indian migrants, may help in identifying the major sources of web traffic for the top Indian websites.

Image via The Economist

Read more at India’s Local News Destinations See Visitors from Outside of the Country Account for a Significant Share of their Global Audience – comScore, Inc.

Top 4 PC vendors in India see growth

Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer, the top 4 PC vendors in India, have witnessed double-digit growth in Q3. Each of these vendors have between 15 to 10% market share.

The combined desk-based and mobile PC market in India totalled nearly 3.15 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 13 per cent increase over the third quarter of 2010, according to Gartner, Inc.

Read more at Gartner Says India PC Market Grew 13 Percent In The Third Quarter of 2011.

Computer Mess

Image by phil_g via Flickr

Google Translate iPhone app now supports 5 more Indic languages

Google just announced that its Translate iPhone app will support five additional Indic languagesBengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. While the Google’s quality of translation for all Indic languages is still quite poor, the support for an increasing number of languages must be lauded. These are sure steps towards the universal translator of lore!

Google Translate for iPhone now supports text translation among 63 languages, voice input in 17 of those languages, and text-to-speech in 24 of them.

Image via Google

Read more at Translate more Indic languages with the updated Google Translate for iPhone app – Official Google Mobile Blog.

Google offers free websites to Indian SMEs

Along with helping small medium businesses in the US to go mobile, Google is also helping small medium businesses in India to build an online presence. Google India’s ‘India Get Your Business Online’ program offers free tools, training, resources, and support in creating, hosting and managing websites. The website, indiagetonline.in, also offers free customized .in domain names, hosting services and personalized email ids for a period of one year. Google is targeting to enable half a million small medium businesses in India to build websites. Another move in Google’s ‘Grow the Market to Grow’ strategy that will have far-reaching impacts!

Read more at Google India Blog: Google offers free websites to Indian SMBs – Introduces ‘India Get Your Business Online’ program.