Monday, November 13, 2006

Google vs. - A Desi Perspective on Search Engines

India has today earned a name for itself in the IT services domain globally. Kudos to firms such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS and many more for making this happen but it is delusory to stereotype India as a outsourcing sector in the IT industry. Desis can also be product makers. Most of the creations by Indians, which have, have caused significant changes in the market, have later on been taken over by the IT giants. Everyone is aware of how Sabeer Bhatia’s "Hotmail", the first web-based e-mail service was sold to Microsoft for $400 million. But that was 1997 and this is 2006 and Desis are here to make a change…India’s progress in the product development arena might bring up some enthusiasm amongst Indian technicians who flock abroad for search of such opportunities. (no further comments as there are other factors behind this too.) , a new search engine from India, is attempting to bring much better and relevant search results than popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo for local search. This is a great business plan considering burgeoning economic landscape of India today. Airlines, retail and manufacturing industries in India are on an exponential ramp up mode and so I guess this local search engine will serve the Indians better than a Google can. For instance, a common businessman in Jaipur who wants to sell his products to retailers throughout India can do a better search using this local search than by using Google. So is attempting to fill that Indian content gap.

Guruji is a crawler based local search engine that focuses on Indian content. It has been co-founded by two ex-IIT Delhi guys who have a strong professional background. The team is supported and backed by Sequoia Capital for venture funding and Suvir Sujan (who co-founded Bazzee) as an angel investor .

On the first look, the home page is very much similar to the search engine of global giant Google.The home page is simple and elegant, and the speed of search is quite satisfactory. One may wonder how these guys can call them as first Indian based search engine, as sites like Khoj,123India and IndianSearchEngine are already exists. The latter sites are almost a web-based directory, Yellow pages, while, is using its own crawling mechanism with its proprietary algorithm to search Indian contents in an effective way.

To understand better how a search engine works, lets consider Google’s algorithm, the industry benchmark at a higher level. Google uses a webcrawler googlebot which crawls the entire web and then categorizes the content and creates indexes. It retains all the content both relevant (Indian) and irrelevant (non-Indian), in its database. What Guruji does is in sharp contrast to Google’s approach. It discovers the content while crawling, stores only the India related content and throws out the irrelevant (non-Indian) data. This technique allows Guruji to crawl more, go deeper and hence index more India related data. Straight and simple.

Even though it’s still in beta stage,the homepage says it, but I like the speed with which it serves the result. I think it has capability to do for India,what Baidu ,the local search engine for China did for its people. To learn about the success story,check Economic Times and here.

About the search I tried this.

I searched for "Café Coffee Day" in Bangalore. Have a look at the snapshot. There are two key differences. Check the results here.

1.The top portion of the results page, 'City Results from Guruji' is actually pulling out results like a Yellow book offering address and phone numbers but note that the list is not exhaustive and with time and fine-tuning the algorithm the team would do this, I guess.

2.The later portion of the results is generic web search for the keywords. Again in the web search, it seems the search engine is getting results from domains, which are primarily Indian. That means, better, and intuitive local results than popular search engines such as Google.

The localized search is quite evident if we search for a generic keyword. So I tried Café Coffee Day. And here is the result. The result was impressive with the Café Coffee Day’s India website at the top, followed by results from web pages by Indians.

Check the results here.

If you want results like in a Yellow Page format, try this. Click on the City on the above the search box and then enter the keywords and wait for the results. It would amazingly fast for my keyword "Café Coffee Day Bangalore".

Check the results here.

I think Guruji is a very promising prospect. It has the right people backing it (i.e. founders, investors). And it is not trying to benchmark itself to what the Goliath in this field (Google) does. This is important, for one would need to think out of the box, in order to break Google’s stranglehold on Indian search.

With the increasing usage of Internet among the rural and urban population in India, the localised search has a very good market. But Google is a bigger Brand name today so why use For searching the English keywords, people would prefer Google or Yahoo and so Guruji has to improve its searching mechanism and make it far superior than Google or Yahoo to pull the normal users. As far as the regional languages are concerned there is wide scope but at the same time with more languages and the absence of uniform character encoding adopted for a particular language it is going to be a big task for team. "Phir bhi try karo, you can do it". The site is quite catchy and I want Guruji to be synonymous with search, like Google for India related searches. On the funnier side, can I use it as a verb like say I "guruji it", just like "google it".

There are few more search engines from the desis stable such as is the world's first visual search engine. It focuses visual search on items that are hard to describe linguistically.All you have to do is a "Likeness search" on a photo and Like will show you items that look similar.The brainchild for this is Munjal Shah who in his initial stage was funded by Peter Rip of Crosslink Capital . Read more here .

Similarly there is another search engine by the name Kosmix and one of my school-mates,Gaurav Bhalotia is working for this team as a technical solution architect.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, be alert the Desis are coming soon....

Keep reading and remainconnected..


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Rekha said...

Quite informative!!
Good marketing strategy might bring them closer to all of us...Hope the day is not far away :)

At 12:43 PM, Blogger blogiast said...

india search option

Here's some useful info on india search option
which you might be looking for. The url is:

At 1:20 PM, Blogger sunil das said...

Does “” hold the key to KBC?
Yes, indeed. “Guruji” aka could be your ticket to becoming a crorepati. But how? When you search for a particular word in Guruji, you would get the possible question related to it that King Khan would ask on KBC. For example, when you type and search for KBC on, you would find a potential question and the answer to it.
The questions that appear in the search could/ would be the questions that King Khan will ask you for sure in KBC. If you or any of your friends are preparing for the show or have already got a chance to be on KBC, I suggest you search “”. This could be your one and only “key” to fame.And you can also help a friend who already selected for KBC. Like if a “phone a friend “happens he or she can get the answer in seconds searching it in for “1” search for “as” search “Nandalala”. Don’t miss out on this chance. I bet you. I have already started my preparation, have you?

At 12:12 PM, Blogger telugumovie updates said...

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