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Truth be told, India is a minnow for Twitter

Last Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 10:37

An S-1 filing by Twitter makes depressing reading for any Indian.

In the 234 pages of text that the company has filed, India doesn’t seem to exist as a market place of ideas or even revenue streams. Our celebrities don’t seem to have tweeted anything worth a single screen shot. And for all our hype about innovation, not one of our new media companies is smart enough to be mentioned as potential spoiler in where Twitter, Inc. wishes to be.

“We face competition from well established competitors in certain international markets, including Kakao in South Korea and LINE in Japan ,” Twitter states. Ditto from Sina Weibo, which like the South Korean and Japanese new media services, is repeatedly mentioned as a threat “in local markets, mobile applications and services which have expanded and may continue to expand in their geographic context.”

Facebook, for its launch of features similar to Twitter, and Apple and Google as they employ more muscle at the Apple Store and search engine optimisation rankings via Google+, are hawks the little bird expects to encounter at various steps.

But as a mirror to how two million of us mistake tweeting to new-media innovation, not a single Indian company is expected to rise to that altitude.

Our depressing exclusion continues on who Twitter’s owners see as validators. So, Barack Obama has pride of place in screenshots in the filing, hugging Michelle and announcing their second term in the White House. Can’t complain on that as is by far the most popular tweet ever.

But thereafter, Clarence House is cited announcing the royal baby. A Japanese mountaineer is taken note of tweeting his way to the Everest. The fact that NASA announced ice on Mars via Twitter is celebrated (the spokesperson has reciprocated stating that the space agency is flattered by the mention:). And, of course, J Krums and Sohaib Athar earn their place under the arc lights for reporting the landings in Hudson Bay and Abbottabad respectively.

But not one Indian tweet considered worth taking note of. Sorry, Shashi Tharoor or Amitabh Bachchan. The folks at Twitter don’t know you yet!

The Hall of Shame (just kidding!) is upon us as India Inc. too. So, advertising revenue, 65 per cent of it already going Twitter’s way via the mobile, isn’t seem coming from India either. Readers of the filing are promised enhanced sales and marketing efforts in Australia, Britain, Ireland and The Netherlands. And bets on “user growth rate” speeding past what’s going on in the United States (which is Twitter’s prime market at present) are taken on Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and…hold your breath…even Saudi Arabia! Sorry, there’s no India here either.

By now this may appear like a set up for self flagellation. It is. Not one among 1.2 billion of us promoted a product or service worth a mention or screenshot. The folks at Wheat Thins did. There’s #MustHaveWheatThins. So is Oreo with ‘You can still dunk in the dark’

Even someone called Bonobos gets boasting rights for selling $-49 Chinos. So does chef Marco Batali for engaging. Our creative marketers appear hung up in the Old World!

Finally, if you thought we tweeps have been consigned to trees in the Sub-Sahara, not quite. Two smart people of India descent seem to have done important things for the entire filing. One Mike Gupta did the entire Math as CFO. And Vijaya Gadde a 38-year-old attorney will defend Twitter, Inc. from the scary list of risks listed variously under IPR, outages, raids, and rivals. Gupta and Gadde and a passing mention of The Times of India,(tucked in with CNN and the BBC as the three media brands that use Twitter) is all that the little bird is willing to see.

This compilation isn’t meant to cause despair. Instead, I hope it gets some proud nationalist Indian really angry.

Aren’t we too smart to be minnows in the social and political media landscape of the New World?

DNA/Rohit Bansal

First Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 10:37

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