Rediff has launched a micro-blogging site, ZaraBol(hat tip: Arjun Ram), which seems heavily inspired from Twitter, complete with the 140 character message limit except for posts from Rediff , Sab Ko Bol: similar to retweets, the concept of follows, hashtags and @replies. The site encourages users to use hashtags with the topic they’re discussing and lists #buzzing(novel indeed!) topics.
– A Twitter clone?: There are some additions, such as the ability to follow a buzzing topic. Also, conversations are displayed like threads together. The streams are divided into ‘All’ and ‘Me+I Follow’, displaying messages posted by everyone and messages posted by the user and the people or buzzing topics that he follows. ZaraBol also truncates links to a rediff.ly URL, when a link is posted, however, when we tried to post a link, it did not work, and resulted in a ‘forbidden’ landing page. We were also not able to post messages at certain times, though we did not receive any error.
– Vakow Acquisition & Write-Off: Rediff had also acquired a Twitter-like SMS based social site Vakow.com in 2008, investing $125,000. However, it had written down that investment fully, and had said that the founders of Vakow had decided to move on. At that time, Rediff had said that it liked the idea, but the founders expected it to grow faster than the market would allow it to. So why the U-Turn?
– Innovation Vs Formula: We know that Rediff has been struggling to get a hit social and e-commerce product, and Rediff’s jumping into the daily deals bandwagon was a part of this effort, although despite two months into its launch, Rediff had not included revenue from the product. On the social end, Rediff has been expanding its MyPage service to allow users to include slide-shows and share music. We’re not sure why users who’re already active on other social networks such as Twitter or Google+ will head to ZaraBol, when it offers nothing new or compelling. Maybe it aims to target a different audience altogether, but it still does not look very promising. Untill Rediff decides to innovate rather than follow a formula based approach in new product development, it will struggle to get a flagship product.
– Driving traffic through risqué content: Of course, Rediff is betting big on user generated content, specially titillating videos and slideshows, which have of late been used as a tool for driving traffic, thanks to their strategic placement on the home page. In related news, Google has finally decided to shut down its Buzz, its failed social offering which focused on micro-blogging.
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