I have been a member of MyHeritage portal for more than two years now and have been observing it very keenly. They started with a small family tree application with limited functionality, but have added many features since then. It now lets you update photographs, reminder for birthdays and anniversaries send gifts on special occasions and join the dots with other family trees in the system. It even gives you the statistics of the family like gender ratio, relationship status, distribution by places, age, Zodiac signs etc. It even allows you to integrate your DNA tests.
Basic functionality is that it lets you create an extended family tree, a job that the Pandas in Haridwar used to do when they maintained the family logs. I think an online version will do wonders as our families get spread across the globe. All said and done there are lot of things that we still restrict to the family like small rituals and functions, sometimes even bigger ones like marriages. Sometimes we need to announce changes in the family like deaths or new additions without really making an explicit statement. All our family members may not be connected to us on our social networking co-ordinates.
Customization for India would involve:
- Ability to identify relationship by Indian names. We do have a defined name for most relationships.
- Now each region in India has different names for relationship like a Sister is called Didi, JiJi, Akka, Khala, Bahanji depending on various factors like age, religion, region – so you can provide the choice to choose the name used.
- We have many relationships that are recognized by age – e.g. siblings or parents siblings
- Lot of our festivals are relationships based like Rakhi and Karva Chauth, so identify those relationships and create an event that can do reminding or enhancing the experience like gifting or suggesting ways to engage.
- Advertising can be a source but you can never rely on it
- Tie up with gifting companies, medical insurance companies
- Matrimonial verification services – yes, they are very valued and people would be willing to pay for it. In fact Matrimonial websites may ask for the family tree id to verify the details
- A sub category could be finding matches as well in the intended families
- Printing of yearly family pictures in form of calendars / picture books / travelogues
- Customized merchandize for the family
- Customized gifts for occasions like weddings and birthdays
- Preventive measures based on family medical history ( Ok, this is far stretched…)
- Of course there can be free / paid & premium accounts
I am sure this idea can be developed further. I think it has a huge market potential because of the importance that we still attach to the families.
Would be happy to hear from anyone who is willing to explore this idea.