Their flagship India.com site still is mostly a placeholder, but the Mail.com-Zee Group joint venture has rolled out two new properties over the last week: today BGR.in, the Indian version of gadget site BGR (Boy Genius Report) has gone live, albeit with content that appears to have been added and compiled over a period of time. The site features content from the parent site, has opinions, predictions and reviews from its authors, including Executive Editor Rajat Agarwal, who was previously with Cellpassion, and writer Nimish Dubey.

Launching a gadget site makes sense for India.com; indeed, we had considered launching one ourselves. Handsets and devices, given that this is one of the most populous countries in the world in terms of mobile users, brings in significant traffic from search but the problem with the space is that it is much too commoditized in India, with little content differentiation between sites*, and to the extent that gadget reviews and news are sometimes written just to bring in the pageviews via search. Try searching for “iphone 4 price in india” and check the number of sites that have written about it. However, judging by the content currently at BGR.in, we doubt that they’ll take a traffic specific approach, but they will invariably have to compete for views with sites that do. Handset manufacturers also spend significantly on advertising, so synergy with the BGR brand could help the site.

In terms of content, the key segment to watch at BGR.in is undoubtedly going to be “exclusives” – while most of the exclusives on the site are currently from BRG.com, the India specific exclusives pertain primarily to India launches for handsets. It will be interesting to see if BGR.in can upstage BGR.com when it comes to breaking international news.

IndiaWrites

IndiaWrites.com is a site which appears to be an opinion based site featuring multiple writers, many of them from across blogs. Unlike many news sites, it appears to be an aggregator of ‘views’ (an in actual opinions, not pageviews), and while the opportunity to do something like a Huffington Post or a DailyBeast in India still exists, IndiaWrites could do – even at launch – with a design overhaul that makes it more like BGR.in.

Content at IndiaWrites appears to be multilingual, and there is an acknowledgement from the editor that some of the content has been published much after it was intended to, but these are early days still for the site. Ramananda Sengupta is the Editor-in-Chief of India.com, while Milind Kokje is the Executive Editor, (Languages) for India.com.

I haven’t updated my personal blog with non-tech views ever since MediaNama was launched, but IndiaWrites does remind me of a site I wrote a few reviews at many years ago, called DesiCritics. DesiCritics, it appears, hasn’t been updated in a while. A few things about the approach to IndiaWrites:

– I’m not sure if tags are the best way of providing access to topical events – and content increases at IndiaWrites, discovery of archival content will go down. In that context (and this is something we’ve been looking to do a MediaNama), providing a timeline or another mode of discovery of specific topics or issues would be needed. Tags tend to be all over the place.
– If you want to designate a section as ‘celebrity writings’, have celebrities writing there. In any case, the word ‘celebrity’ has a negative connotation at times, so perhaps the nomenclature needs to be changed.
– There’s Indic language content, but not enough of it, and there’s no means of reading content only in a particular language

The most interesting section of the site is ‘blogosphere’, because there is editorial curation of external content. It clearly shows that IndiaWrites, unlike many Indian publications and sites, isn’t afraid to link out, and curating external content is an integral to their site.

An opportunity: I believe there is an opportunity in editorial curation of views, and categorizing and tagging them in order to help discovery of content – news aggregators fail at this, and not everything needs to be about news. DesiPundit.com shut down last year, but it primarily looked at interest blogs. I think I guess content discovery, for me, has moved entirely to Twitter and Facebook, but I do believe there is a space for an aggregator of editorially curated views – something like TechMeme, but for views and discussions.

*Disclosure: in terms of content, there may be areas of overlap (and hence competition) between BGR and MediaNama