Some of the issues that I’d raised when (Nasper owned) MIH’s ibibo was first launched still remain unanswered and recent developments have since have raised more questions…
– Why buy out Bixee and Pixrat? Can’t the same be created by developers for MIH? If they’re paying for traction, did Bixee and Pixrat have any at all? Pixrat has a lot of ‘Not Safe For Work’ content, so what are they doing about it?
– They’re looking for more acquisitions – aren’t web startups in India overvalued?
– What’s so different about ibibo that users would like to shift to it?
– How do they plan to promote their casual gaming sites motafish and chotafish?
– What kind of traction have they got at their portals so far?
We’ve sent interview requests to MIH India a few times now, and hope to speak to the execs there on the record soon…Hopefully that will bring clarity on these issues and more.
Meanwhile, Ibibo has launched the ‘Great Indian Blogger Hunt‘, and is offering Rs.1.5 crore in total prize money to the top 100 bloggers, staggered over a full year. The question is – once the contest is over and the money has been distributed, how many will remain? Handing out prizes for signups and traction is the quintessential ‘startup thing to do’ – trying to buy users…startups in India have been offering iPod shuffles as freebies to those who can get maximum friends to signup etc etc. I just signed up and got a rank of 73 to begin with – so there just isn’t enough traction yet.
Word on the street is that one of the ways that MIH tried to promote ibibo bombed – they apparently hired a popular Indian blogger to recommend ibibo to her (blogspot) blog readers, and crosspost entries at ibibo. She has since quit, and her ibibo blog hasn’t been updated in around a month.
The real issue with ibibo, in my opinion, is that it just isn’t “my” space – there’s a BIG ibibo logo on top, the template cannot be customized, and there just isn’t enough there to make someone switch. The social media phenomenon is as much about giving users freedom as it is about collaboration. What can/should MIH do with ibibo? Probably target the less tech savvy, or give kids a space of their own online. Doling out Rs.1.5 crore wont buy you loyalty.