‘ Technology ’ category archive

How you can control the internet? – An Amazing Story!

April 14, 08 by Bharani

I came across the story of Kevin Ham, while I was researching some facts. Kevin Ham, is the most powerful domainer in the world with over 300,000 domains under his belt!

* He is earning around $70 million in revenue from the domains that he owns (primarily through ads served on the domains that he has parked)! A small example: He owns a domain name called “weddingshoes.com” and he earns around $9,100 per year through that domain. He incurred $8 to register the domain and spends $7 per year to maintain it!

* He is the man behind a very smart domain scheme – Many people mistakenly type “.cm” instead of “.com” in the browser URL bar. “.cm” is TLD for the country Cameroon. He stuck a deal with the prime-minister of Cameroon, wherein, he received rights to redirect all “.cm” domains to a website called Agoga.com. The site is filled with ads from Yahoo!

* His team installed a line of code called “wildcard” to redirect all unregistered “.cm” domains to “agoga.com”. The code is installed in the servers owned by Camtel, Cameroon’s domain registry. Revenue generated from “agoga.com” is shared with Cameroor government!

* He is in the process of extending the same scheme to countries like Columbia (.co), oman (.om), Niger (.ne) and Ethiopia (.et). These TLDs have spelling variation of “.com” and “.net” respectively! He is fighting out the legal suits relating to the idea..nevertheless, he exploited the loophole very well!

* Agoga.com receives 8 million unique visitors every month!

* He exploited the concept called “Domain tasting”. Most domain booking sites offer a free trial period (to protect the customers who mistakenly purchase a wrong domain name). He used this mechanism to book more domains and to see which ones are bringing traffic and which one’s aren’t!

* Ham, figured out that revenue based on CPC model may not be sustainable in the long run. So, he is converting some of his best “domain names” to mini-media companies. He is hiring more than 150 designers, engineers, salespeople and editorial folks!

Other learnings:

* Verisign publishes a “root zone” file, a file containing a list of millions of registered domain names.

* Typo-squatting: A term referring to the act of grabbing domain names with typographical variations of established trademarks

* Lots of people type keywords that they are looking for in the URL Bar of the browser and combine them with “.com” or “.net”. This is called as “Direction Navigation”. There are other lots of people, who prefer typing the actual url/website address in google search box/bar and navigate to the actual website from there on. Those are called as “Navigational Searches”!

* Some browsers are capable of fixing url typos! (Curious how this is done?)

* Internet explorer catches unregistered domains and redirects to a microsoft page

Read the actual story here:

Domain Parking Industry: Some facts!

April 14, 08 by Bharani

How many times you typed a query in google and landed up in Parked domain/site (a site filled with text-ads with words related to your keyword)? I am sure many of you are annoyed by such domains…But such domains are slowly becoming a force to reckon with! There are so many millions of people on the planet who are not immune to text-ads yet and they do click on the ads invariably….

Some Facts!

Domaining industry is at estimated $2 billion, as people buy and sell domain names similar to stocks and property.

Domain industry to reach $4 billion by 2010, as people and businesses continue to purchase about 90,000 domain names every day.

As of April 2007, more than 128 million domain names registered worldwide!

Total Ad revenues from Parked domains was $800 million in 2006.

Combined Ad-revenue for Google and Yahoo in 2006 is $7.88 billion.

Combining the above two facts, and assuming that most of the parked domains are filled with text-ads from google and yahoo, Parked domains are contributing almost 10% of ad-revenues to google and yahoo!

Verisign has indicated that 23% of all registered domains are parked!

We can split ad channels into content channel (contextual ads on content pages) and domain channels (contextual ads on parked domains!). The domain channel has been growing at 37.5% and is fast cannibalizing the content channel.

Combining the above two facts, it’s evident that domain channel is gaining bargaining power and domain channel is something that google and yahoo needs to careful with. As of now the domain channel is largely fragmented, but just a question of time before it gets organized and proves to be a significant chunk of page views

CommonCraft – Explanation in Plain English!

March 31, 08 by Bharani

We produce short videos that make complex subjects easier to understand.

Commonworks.com does live up to its claim! The Paperwork-based product/concept demonstrations is one of the creative works I have ever seen. Instead of relying on cool flash-based animations or multimedia stuff, these professionals rely on simple paper-drawing based demonstrations. Take a look at the demo created for Twitter.

Internet Connectivity affected!

January 31, 08 by Bharani

Due to the damage to the two undersea cables, internet connectivy is affected in India. News reports claims that 60% bandwidth is unavailable across India. The internet traffic between India and America, Europe is impacted. This damage would impact the revenue-stream of internet-based businesses…

Since Antya is hosted in United states, the site might be slower than normal until the cables are restored. I guess now I will have to include ‘internet-connectivity risk’ as a key risk in the business plan 🙂

Paypal allows withdrawal from Indian Banks!

November 01, 07 by Bharani

PayPal announces a great facility for Indian subscribers. Now one can link Paypal account with an Indian Bank. This provides an easy way to withdraw money from Paypal through Indian Banks. As of now major banks like SBI, HDFC, ICICI, UTI, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Citibank and few minor banks allow this possibility. There are no charges for withdrawal of amount greater than Rs.7,000. For amount less than 7000, a fee of Rs.50 is charged! Read more about this here

MIH India Launches OneFamily

October 29, 07 by Bharani


MIH India has launched a Family networking product called OneFamily, aiming to provide an online colloboration and socialization platform to family members and close friends. One can add his/her Family tree, add anecdotes about family members, share photos and messages with family members, make announcements about events/important occasions etc.,

Enabling users to handle their family tree easily and intuitively is not an easy job. Onefamily has managed to do it as simple as possible. I really liked the “Take a Tour” section and it essentially summarizes what the Product is all about.

Prominence of APIs == death of “Web Scraping”?

October 11, 07 by Bharani

I did a brief research on the sites that are exposing the information to the world (other websites that is). Leading websites like Yahoo, Google, Technorati, Amazon, CNET, eBay to name a few are in the forefront when it comes to exposing the information through APIs.

What is the rationale to expose the information, that is supposed to be an asset or “Competitive Advantage”?. The rationale is pretty evident when you observe the way the information is exposed and the way the exposure drives traffic back to the originating site!

This article in read/write web summarizes the thought and concept beautifully. The internet is transforming to one giant structured database…

ProgrammableWeb neatly summarizes the APIs from various websites. As of today, there are 523 APIs available.

In Indian Context, the APIs haven’t caught up in a big scale. So the practice of “Web Scraping” looms large. Huge number of Yellow page companies boasting lakhs of business-details illustrates the effect of “Web scraping”. Same set of data problems can be seen with each Yellow page company for the simple reason that everyone copies the same set of data and repackages it. No one gives credit back to the other site.

When Bixee.com offered a one-stop search for all Jobs in India, by crawling and extracting information from all leading Job portals including Naukri, Naukri reacted negatively by filing a law-suit against Bixee. Later Naukri realized the complimentary nature of Bixee in generating traffic back to them and decided to expose the data in legal channels. If the information is scraped for the purpose of “Search and Redirection” to the original site, “Scraping” has a positive effect.

I cannot remember a single service that is successful through “Web Scraping” without redirecting back to the original site.

Better way to search Trains!

October 10, 07 by Bharani

One of my colleague remarked about a mash-up called eRail.in, a service to search trains in a better way. The site simply abstracts the difficulties or unpleasant user experience that one faces in the official website of Indian Railways.

The way eRail.in accomplishes that is simple. Most of the information about Indian trains are static such as Train numbers, Station codes, Timings, Route, Price, Class etc., So they have scraped the data and made the search experience faster. The “availability” et al comes in to picture only after narrowing down the afore-mentioned parameters. At that point of time, the site simply connects you to the Indian Railways website.

Unlike the fares of Airlines, the fares of Railways remain fairly static. So there is no overhead for real-time fare extraction from different airlines(like ixigo does!).

I couldn’t figure out the person (or people) behind it. My guess is a techie, who did this to exhibit his Mash-up skills! Nevertheless, a good utility (in the context of relatively bad experience in Indian railways websites Train Enquiry & IRCTC).

UPDATE: 5Map is the company behind this initiative

People Search!

September 29, 07 by Bharani

I realized that Linkedin.com, a leading professional networking platform and Orkut.com, leading social networking site are working towards exposing their respective data through APIs. This is great news to “People Search Engines” like Pipl.com and Spock.com. Till now these engines have been crawling all public urls of Social networking sites, name databases and blogs (technorati does host the details of people behind the registered blogs). Even with the limited information extraction, the quality of search has been good. With the exposure of the data from the social networking sites, the quality of search would improve highly because of rich and structured information available.

Try a search against your name in Pipl.com or Spock.com.

Human-powered Search!

July 25, 07 by Bharani

Killerstartups.com, a user-driven internet start-up community, profiles a whopping 249 search-related products! There are various flavours of Search engines originating from different parts of the globe.

Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia, lists down around 100 odd search engines. It’s interesting to see the way they have classified these search engines in to 29 categories.

Off late, I am fascinated by the concept of human-powered search engines like www.Mahalo.com & www.chacha.com. They focus on serving high-quality relevant results using the human intelligence. This is accomplished through the people-centric approach, whereby experts hand-pick best sites and difficult-to-find sites under each category and add them to the search engine. This approach clearly overcomes the problem that the mega search engines like Google, Yahoo et al poses. For example, the PageRank algorithm of Google prevents new, niche, less SEO’ed sites and not-so-often-quoted sites to figure on top results. Many a times, such sites turn out to be the most relevant ones.

Until the “artificial intelligence”, “machine-learning”, “natural-language processing”, “neural-networks” and other esoteric concepts gather some traction and shape, the human-powered approach is a dependable way of solving the problem. But there will be questions raised like “How to do you scale it up?”, “How many years, people you need to accomplish this?”, “How will you eliminate the subjectivity and bias of the experts?”. This is where I think Mahalo and Chacha are doing a good job. They invite users/volunteers to hand-pick the results. They also have a good reputation system which enforces sanctity and validity on the user-contributions. The focus is on top search terms and to add the long-tail terms as and when a demand is seen. The approach eliminates spam-sites, copy-paste sites, SEO-oriented blogs et al., The game of “online advertising and marketing” has clearly spoilt the quality of search results on major search engine. It is refreshing to see search engines that are powered by humans and that are clean from advertising gamers.

Mahalo.com: Mahalo is the world’s first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides.

Chacha.com: The first search engine that uses the brainpower of really smart people to find anything you want on the Internet.