Zook Aims to be the Google in Mobile Space

by Manu Sharma    Jun 24, 2009

Ziva Software is eyeing 10 million hits by 2010 with Zook, its mobile search engine. The company has also partnered with operators like Virgin, Idea Cellular, Spice, Aircel, and Airtel (Sri Lanka), etc.

Talking to CXOtoday Ajay Sethi, COO of Ziva Software said, "As a startup we are using our business intelligence in mobile space. Zook provides exact answers to every user query. Zook fetches answers (and not links/URLs of the matching web-pages) from the across the web."

Zook also utilizes community participation and an active feedback loop to constantly improve the quality of results. Even more importantly, answers sent as response to SMS-based searches are reviewed by us. This helps Zook to ensure that every user query is provided with an exact and relevant answer immediately, said Sethi.

Zook has been promoted to the Aircel subscribers via the on-deck portal presence since January 2009. As per the partnership, Zook will use fetch engine paradigm to provide off-deck search experience to Aircel users and in the process.

Zook powers the SMS-based local search service for Virgin Mobile (on 58686 with Ask prefix) and with Idea Cellular, Zook provides local search and community-assisted search solutions for IdeaFresh portal.

Besides Zook will power the specialized portal for Idea’s roaming users, personalized and custom alerts service (such as stock subscriptions) provided to SMS users and has been available to the Idea Cellular subscribers since September 2007.

A recent report indicates that India has a mobile subscriber base of 400 million of which 30-40 million have GPRS enabled phones. However, since only about 50% of these actually use these facilities, the actual user base would be 20-23 million in India, said Sethi.

"We are working with mobile operators and also manufacturers. So shortly Nokia and Samsung will have Zook as their default browser at the back end," he said.

Sethi said that unlike Google, Microsoft and Yahoo who are presently more in the online space, Zook is exclusive in the mobile Internet space. Zook combines innovative algorithms with human intelligence to improve the quality of the search results. Zook makes the entire universe of information from the web, partners and community as needed by users on mobile phones available as exact answers.

"Our team of 15 techies use the fetch engine to search from Yahoo and Microsoft engines, but since Google does not have a open free API, we don’t search on Google," he said.

Zook services are presently available only in India. Most of the hits come from the three metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai and an equally warm response has been from smaller tier II cities in Western UP, Tamilnadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The company was initially funded by Ojas Partners to a tune of Rs 7.5 crore and may go in for the second round of funding in July 2009. Revenues are going in and the traffic is also growing so will decide if we need funding next month, said Sethi.