Visualizing 2010 Top Tech Trends – India Vs US

I love Techmeme and of course Webmeme.In.  Yesterday, I put together this word cloud to visualize what was buzzing on each of them during 2010.

Webmeme.In – Indian Tech Blogs Aggregator

Webmeme.In - Top 2010 Buzz Words Visualization
Webmeme.In - Top 2010 Buzz Words Visualization

Techmeme – US Tech Blogs Aggregator

Techmeme - Top 2010 Buzz Words Visualization
Techmeme - Top 2010 Buzz Words Visualization

The data comes from stories posted on Webmeme.In and Techmeme in 2010. I pulled the words from the title of each post — a fairly reliable representation of what was trending. And used Wordle for the cloud visualization.

Google, Facebook and Twitter dominated the trends in both the markets. Key difference was in the mobile industry. In US 2010 mobile buzz was all around Apple, Android, iPhone and iPad; while in India 3G, Android and Nokia dominated.

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Webaroo raises $10 million in another round of funding

Webaroo has raised $10 million in a recent round of funding for its product SMSGupshup. Webaroo was founded by IIT Bombay alumnus and serial entrepreneurs Rakesh Mathur (founder of Armedia, Junglee, Stratify) and Beerud Sheth (founder of Elance) in 2004. Webaroo is one of the incubatees of SINE, IIT Bombay.

I was an intern at Webaroo, contributed to the personalization logic of its products, when they were under development.

SMS GupShup is mobile group SMS service that allows users to create mobile communities and broadcast messages to them, similar to twitter, but more like yahoo/google groups for mobile. Currently, GupShup sends SMS messages only to Indian mobile phone numbers. It is being used by over 300,000 publishers sending around 10M messages per day. SMS to mobile devices is one of the major costs for Webaroo.

Webaroo started with their product for offline browsing, which didn’t strike the market well, even after a couple of years of the launch. With Google gears competition, its life ahead, is even tougher. I think one of the reasons why webaroo couldn’t pick up is due to the focus on caching static content, while google gears, powered easy caching and sync of dynamic content. Remember The Milk and Google reader are my favorite apps which I use over google gears.

Earlier, Rakesh Mathur with other founders, sold Junglee to Amazon in 1998 for about $250 million. Junglee had Stanford professor Jeff Ullman on their board, who was also advising Google folks that time. Interestingly, after making a good money, Rakesh Mathur & team approached their friends Larry Page and Sergey Brin to acquire Google. But the deal could not happen as Sergey was looking for a ten digit price.

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The new search era, where are we?

I have been damn lazy to write this post, but recently after reading a RWW post, 11 Search Trends That May Disrupt Google, I decided to gather my thoughts here.

Adding to the RWW post, let me try to bring up some minus and plus of todays search era ruled by Google & partly Yahoo/MS.

Things which are still not touched efficiently by the popular search engines:

  • Natural language Processing:
    • We would like all questions like “Which is the world’s tallest mountain peak?” to be answered on search: Google/Yahoo could not answer it, but to my surprise did it! Still, we have to wait for a breakthrough.
    • Ignoring stop words, doing word stemming, etc. can really change the meaning significantly. For eg, searching Apples on google, returns results mainly for Apple Inc.
  • Multi-lingual search: Web being driven with focus on US market, problems of the rest of the world (especially eastern world) do not really get sufficient attention. Today’s web search experience does not have multi-lingual features!
    I spent couple of years during my masters at Media Lab Asia, IIT Bombay, under Prof. Krithi, with people working on Multi-lingual search for project Multi-lingual search works pretty good here. Try searching “onion” or “कांदा“, you get identical results :) . Such a search experience on the whole web, will be awesome!
  • Treatment of Symantec data: Lot of standard formats have emerged like RDFs, microformat, RSS, etc, but still they are treated in almost same way as other web pages.
  • Personalization & Data mining: There are a few signs of google personalizing the results. But, nothing significant yet!
  • Multimedia search: None of the search engines is doing a great job here, which is attributed to complex and computationally expensive image processing. But, pretty significant research is up for the same in Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. A recent publication in WWW08 from googlers suggested a concept ImageRank, similar to PageRank which can actually work well.

Some of the cool innovations in todays search:

  • Improved UI/visualizations: UI innovations are the most prominent amongst all. Here are a few set of examples:

  • Openness/APIs: Google/Yahoo have been pretty open in terms of providing search APIs, applications, etc. Want to experience google search in a terminal: Try out
  • Specialized searches like: local/maps: Local/maps and other focussed searches like publication search, patent search, etc. are doing pretty good. Directions are now available in India also with Yahoo Maps the only provider :)

What else can be tried on search?

There are couple of things things which I think can work for search, but we need to overcome spam problems for these:

  • WikiSearch: Allow users to tag/rank search results. Something like digg/delicious for keywords…
  • Push based update notification model: Search results are not uptodate. Even for popular pages they lag by few days. Introduce a push based model, something like, it can help?

Update: Nov 20: Google has released SearchWiki, my first suggestion/prediction comes true :)

Disclaimer: All opinions are solely mine and and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.

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