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New Launches: Ibibo iScream; ChalBabaChal Ad Chakra; Vishal Retail E-mall; Cricinfo Redesign

iScream from Ibibo
A novel attempt at monetization from MIH and Ten Cent owned ibibo.com: the community which, since the beginning of 2008, has focused on building up user participation via contests, has now launched iScream.

iScream allows registered users to splash their message across ibibo, via a premium SMS sent to 5676746, with MA as a prefix. The SMS is charged at Rs. 3 (a part of which is kept by the telecom operator and service enabler), and there’s an additional charge is users go above the limit. Take a look at some of the iScreams sent out so far, here. (Update: you need to be signed into Ibibo to view the iScream)

Now there is the opportunity for misuse here, so ibibo does allow users to flag iScreams as offensive, and not display any offensive SMS’. A majority of the iScreams appear to be from users asking for votes in some contest or the other (another example) – many of them appear to have pushed multiple messages. There are, however, some instances that may be tricky.

What works for ibibo is the low barrier to entry (in terms of cost/advertisement), and the propensity of users to spend on promoting themselves.

chalbabachalChalBabaChal By Percept Knorigin – This new kid on the online travel block is a venture by media firm Percept Holdings‘ digital arm. It offers flight, hotels and train search – in a very similar format that others in the arena have. ChalBabaChal is not an online travel agency per se – it belongs to the list of properties that call themselves online travel ‘search’ sites. These include IxigoSprice, Kayak and Zoomtra. They crawl websites of online travel agents, airline carriers and hotels such as Travelocity, Expedia and TravelGuru to source deals and packages. It shows you results when you search for a flight but will redirect you to the airline’s website if you choose to book the ticket. Not very smooth. It has access to 900,000 hotel deals across 20,000 destinations in 118 countries. So it is more of a distributor than a competitor to Makemytrip and Yatra, whose ads you will find on ChalBabaChal – but that is the purpose behind its launch. Viraj Malik, Managing Director, Percept Knorigin has told Afaqs that “Although the revenue will not be significant from our own online properties for the next two years, but the sites created by us will help the company to feed the ad inventory we will get for AdChakra.” Ad Chakra is Percept’s advertising network and flagship product.

Percept is also planning to launch an auto search engine soon, as well as an education related site and will also enter the mobile VAS arena.

vishalmegamartlogoVishal Tests The Online Waters – Retail chain company Vishal Retail has launched an online shopping portal called VishalMegamart.com. The site does not seem to be completely up yet – all categories excluding mobiles and laptops – such as apparel and accessories, home appliances, camcorders and cameras, flowers and gifts and jewellery returned zero results. It does seem that Vishal Retail is adopting a wary online stance and testing its e-commerce model with electronics. Tata too is readying an online shopping store for all its products and Videocon has also taken to the Web with eDigiworld. More on e-malls on Business Standard.

Cricinfo Get A New Look

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espncricinfoESPN really does want you to know that they own Cricinfo: the redesign of what is probably the most popular Cricket website in the world, now sports an “ESPN Cricinfo” logo. It is more ‘contemporary’ a design than earlier, but to be honest, as a regular, I was used to a particular navigation format and design, and finding content on the new Cricinfo isn’t as easy. They’ve put up a walkthrough for the site, here, in order to explain the new format, which is much cleaner, but has less of a news site feel to it, and more like a blog. The extensive usage of tabs for navigation is evident.x

The commentary page, which is key for repeat usage since users keep track of ball by ball commentary and the scorecard appears to now show commentary in a chronological format, instead of a reverse chronological format – which means users will have to scroll to the bottom of the page for updates. Update: The commentary is in reverse chronological order while the game is in progress, but is shown in chronological order once it finishes.

Thankfully, the content is still as good as one has come to associate with Cricinfo. This is the first redesign for Cricinfo in quite some time; competitor CricketNext.com has undergone some 53279 three to four redesigns in the last year and a half. It remains to be seen if ESPN will go in for another change.

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