As the web is increasingly becoming participative, more and more websites are being developed on the Web 2.0 platform and the existing ones are transtioning themselves to include the Web 2.0 features. One of the domains where the Web 2.0 features have been successfully leveraged is that of City Guides.
When someone wants to have some information about a particular city or a particular product/place in a particular city, he can ask his friends, read books/yellow pages on the particular city or he can browse the net for the information. The Web 2.0 platform gives him the benefits of a place/product being reviewed by a large number of users so that he can take an informed decision. This sector was pioneered by two gentleman from US namely Craig Newmark and Bill Gross in the year 1995.
The three top players in this sector are craigslist.org, citysearch.com and yelp.com. Both craislist.org and citysearch.com started as Web 1.0 sites and gradually trasitioned to Web 2.0, while yelp.com started in 2004 completely as a Web 2.0 initiative. All the three sites are US based and include mostly the cities of US. The users of these sites also show a similar demographic profile but the differtiating factor with Craigslist which enjoys the maximum traffic among the three lies in the fact that it provides a platform for dating and job-search which is unique to Craigslist. Citysearch and Yelp have a similar revenue model comprising banner ads and classified ads while the sole revenue for Craigslist is the paid job-ads in select cities.
As the internet penetration has incresed in India over the years, so has the use of local city guides. Some of the prevelant players in the Indian market include sulekha.com, justdial.com and whereincity.com. Among these, Sulekha has the highest ranking. Sulekha also started as a Web 1.0 site and currently it has almost all the features of Web 2.0. Its revenue model is similar to Citysearch and Yelp.
As the online ad-industry is growing very rapidly, the revenue model of these sites is pretty sustainable. The future trends in this industry include virtual tours, the use of 3G and GPS on mobile for directions and the increasing use of video ads. Also in the developing countries like India where we have city guides for particular cities and not a single point, the industry may see a consolidation where the small players from each cities would integrate their databases.
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