It is heartening to see the Indian language usage on the net picking up. It may be due this reason or the Web2.0 startups mushrooming around but there sure has been a sudden surge in the area of vernacular search engines showing around. Whether these Web2.0 offshoots hold any ground is being debated upon but I think its sunny days for people like me who wish Indic content usage on the net reached the glory of the firang bhasha.
Khoj was probably the pioneer but with Indic blogs giving Unicode a good push Google did pretty well in digging out vernacular content. Recently there has been buzz around companies like Raftaar, Guruji and now Bhramar (interesting name). When we did a Story on Webaroo for Nirantar, we certainly thought that an offline search was revolutionary but a solution whose hasn’t yet come in India; with the conventional ones, I do not see what is really different, though all claim to have a USP of their own and none claims to be taking on the big G.
Raftaar seems pretty elementary with ability to input Hindi characters, doesn’t work on Firefox though. Bhramar has the edge that it also launched a Kannada search. Both have facility for a categorized search. The results page has scope for improvement and Guruji seems to be better off here.
I think the Web2 element of User content is already creeping in with these sites relying a lot on Blog content. Engines such as Guruji are focusing on local content search as well and which may server as their revenue source. Early days, but promising enough for Indian language users. We will surely see many search clones propping up with a keypad to input Indic characters, I don’t remember but I saw one such site simply show the Google Blog search results in a frame page. Only time will tell what separates them from the ordinary.