24 April 2007

Web 2.0 is not for India

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Avnish Bajaj
Avnish Bajaj, co-founder and Managing Director of Matrix India (the $150-million India fund of Matrix Partners, a global venture capital company) thinks Web 2.0 is not for India:

“I think people are wasting their time on Web 2.0 in India.”

“People talk about the Internet being convenient, but it is not so in India. You need to go to a cyber café or you have to dial up a telephone line or use a slow broadband connection. Whereas in the US, 150 million households have broadband access all around the clock, sitting at home. When you have such a situation you can do social networking, but where is that happening in India? Do you think a person will go to a cyber café or any public environment to discuss everything about their life?”

“There is a cultural barrier, as not many individuals will express themselves as in Myspace.com. Also, there are infrastructural barriers. Fundamentally it is not about social networking but about community building. In India one needs to first create a product according to people’s needs and subsequently a community will form around it. An example would be Seventymm, which solves a need. We are building a community product around it.”

Though dismissive of Web 2.0 in India, Bajaj thinks that Mobile 2.0 will happen, but it will take time.

“Of the 150 million mobile phone users, only two million are GPRS-enabled. The urban penetration is 52 per cent, while in rural areas it is 7-8 per cent. In reality there will be mobile Internet applications but the market size will not be 500 million but 25-30 million. Sometimes I meet individuals who talk about a 500-million mobile Internet market, which will not exist even when I retire! Overall you have to deliver alternatives not only via mobile Internet but through other mediums because India is at a nascent stage of growth.”

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