Sometime back I reviewed Zook, a mobile search application BY Ziva software. Zoosk is a horizontal search application,which starts from generic web and filter out result which are optimized for Mobile phones. That's a huge market to address But there are many use case of mobile search where you don't need complete data of world wide web as a starting point.At times you want vertical search , you want to focus your search query oo a particular domain like Hotel,travel,food,stock quotes,news,dictionary,Wikipedia etc for such use cases You need a small,locally relevant data set which is domain specific. One such use case for mobile search is hotel and restaurant search. Anyone who has ever felt lost in a new city will testify for this need. Often time on weekends I feel like exploring some new stuff in my town but don't know where to look for such info. Similarly if you walk past a newly opened eating joint at your neighborhood shopping mall you feel like reading its review before trying it out . Google search looks too big for such needs . Its like searching for needle in haystack. India Rovers Mobile application is trying to address this latent need only . Need of a mobile friendly search interface on top of a highly targeted,locally relevant and regularly updated database of local businesses around you.
India Rover in its Internet avatar is a city search site . their mobile app serves the same function on cell phone . Its currently supported only for symbian phones .you can download it from Ovi store (link) . It took me 3 minute to download it on my Nokia E63 from Ovi Store . installation was a smooth process with no need of registration or providing personal details. you are ready to use it after that. Home page of application consist of a search box on the top where you can search by keywords. beneath the search box there is a category wise directory listing of database. These category include sections like Restaurant,Entertainment ,local service etc.each category is further segregated in to various sub section. like restaurant category offers classification around cuisine, shopping category offers section for various type of product like clothing , electronics ,jewelery etc. I liked the granularity of this classification . I checked the amount of data available under some section , there was sufficient business listed in most of them. In the bottom of home page ,there is a section for deal hunting where you can search for offers and discount in your neighborhood .
When you launch the application it determine your current location so that it optimize the result listing for you. for using the keyword search you need to type in the keyword and press right soft key. it doesn't shows the listing directly it ask you to select your current city from a list followed by a request to choose preferred neighbourhood after that you get to see a list of result. I searched for pubs in Noida (its Saturday after all :) ). it shows a list of local watering holes . you can expand every entry to get its detail. detail page of every joint is very detailed and UI is very clean. It offers address,contact number,timings,Map,pics and reviews of place.Review section was mostly empty but since they allow you to post review of your own so I hope this will change as more and more people start using it. Another nice feature of detail page is that on this screen left soft key is mapped to the phone number of restaurant listed here.You can call the restaurant by simply pressing the left soft key . I personally find it very convenient .In discount section the data is organized in similar fashion . from the first look it seems that all the discount listed here are not exclusive to India Rover community .these are walk-in discounts . But that doesn't negate the value of having them all at one place for quick and comparative decision making . As someone who spend a lot of money ( lot by my standard ) on suboptimal deals I intend to use THIS feature a lot in days to come.
Much of adaptation of such application depend upon two things (1) Richness and relevance of data (2) ease of use of interface. On first count IndiaRover score a home run .though its not obvious from their product info that whether they are creating their own data or buying syndicated data or betting on community to fill the data . Honestly it can be a mix of all three approach .I think it will be a good idea if they partner with review sites or discount coupon disbursement sites or aggregate review published on third party site . This will greatly enhance the value proposition for end user.On user interface front I find their UI and work flow to be light weight and intuitive . There won't be much of a learning curve for average user. only thing which I found a little out of place was their choice of Right soft key for triggering the keyword search .It might be a matter of personal preference but this key-to-functionality mapping was less than intuitive for me.I would love to know how rest of you feel about it .
I found India Rovers mobile app to be a decent attempt to solve a problem we all face.it will be interesting to see how the product evolve in future .I will keep you posted .Do check it out and let me know if you got a good deal via India Rover. Enjoy your weekend !