Knock-offs.in

The folks at the young but fastest growing Indian online destination (in.com) have now floated Blish, a knock-off of Tumblr.  Tumblr was a major innovation in the world of personal publishing – it sits between blogs and Twitter defining the space where most substantive thoughts lie.  Some of its coolest features are easy media support, post by email, and Twitter integration.

[This mini-blog is used to be run off Tumblr, for example.  Admittedly, some of my raves and rants run a little longer than the typical Tumblr post but that is besides the point.]

Let us put aside the blatant copying of site functionality and user interface for a minute.  I am surprised at the effort the In.Com team is putting into creating a me-too publishing site.  India claims nearly 70M internet users but most of them have used the net at SOME point in their lives or sporadically at best.   The country has fewer than 6M active users of the internet according to my estimates and most of these folks spend 90%+ of their time on entertainment sites (Bollywood and cricket dominate their addictions).   There are even fewer folks generating their own content (beyond banalities on Facebook usually typed in SMS-speak).

India has a few illustrious bloggers but, do we really need our own blogging platform?   A knock-off at that? And what is the revenue model here?  They could of course wait for Tumblr to figure it out, but then the larger ecosystems of ad-networks at scale, auditable click-streams, etc. does not exist here.

I was talking to Uday Sodhi (who recently moved on from Rediff) and I like the point he made: the online services sector in India is ripe for truly Indian innovation. Alibaba has flourished because it is a Chinese company and not despite it.  We still have to see a thriving, compelling Indian online property.

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