Ibibo has an iFreshFace: the social media portal owned by MIH (Naspers) and TenCent, has undergone a complete overhaul, and now features a more integrated look. Importantly, the company has also launched their mail service, which we had taken a sneak peek at, here, while it was still being developed.
Over the past couple of years, Ibibo has, bit by bit, introduced several features – Q&A (Sawaal), Reviews (Sawaal), Photos, Blogs, Vertical search, a WAP site and Mobile features like call for free…and much more. To me, they seemed rather disparate and moving from one segment to another was a bit of a pain. All of this, and (apparently) new additions like Saral Search (segmented web search), Videos have all been integrated together.
I’ve been very critical of ibibo in the past, but I think this integration allows for easier navigation, and content and segment discovery. The only problem is that the site and the pages look so full and busy now, that it can be overwhelming to an new user; remember that ibibo had initially targeted new users with simple, minimal features. The site is also taking quite a while to load now.
On the advertising front, there are clearly defined, standardised ad spaces. Going by the content, ibibo also appears to be segmenting users according to cities – on my profile page, there were news and reviews updates related to Delhi; I wonder if localised advertising will follow. Two new promos on offer – one with Idea Cellular with the standard Web 2.0 offering as prizes – iPods. The other is the monthly iFreshFace contest, in collaboration with modelling agency Elite, and model Neha Kapur and photographer Dabboo Ratnani as judges.
Ibibo also appears to have improved their games offering, some of which – like the Instant Messenger and Mail – have probably been licensed from TenCent. They’ve now got 22 multiplayer games like Chess, Tic Tac Toe, Connect4. There’s a tie-up with Come2Play, which has also licensed their social gaming platform to Zapak. ibibo also has mobile games, but they’re charging Rs. 50 for downloads. So it appears that operator relationships for content downloads are in place (since billing will be via operator). Another addition that I’ve only just noticed – a Pro version of Sawaal (Q&A), with multiple experts on Astrology, Friendship and Health.
So with all the promos they’ve done, money they have spent, and all the features they’ve added – will they be able to take on the dominant players in the India market – Orkut, Facebook and Hi5? What do you think?