Continuing
my series on international Web apps, today I’ll be covering the top products in the
United Kingdom market. In case you missed it, over the past week or so I’ve reviewed Germany, Holland, Poland and Korea. This week
I’ve got more great non-Silicon Valley startups for you!

The information for today’s post about the UK market is courtesy of Colin Donald of
new media consultancy Futurescape. They run a
wiki called JigsawUK, which tracks and supports
UK-based startups.

Overview of the UK market

I asked Colin to tell me about the UK market. He said firstly that the UK has a
“unique Internet environment” and that cloning Silicon Valley apps is more difficult in
the UK:

“It’s more challenging to start up a pure Web 2.0 application in the face of
direct US competition, without the language barrier that enables someone in Poland to
clone US apps and sites.”

Colin reckons this makes UK entrepreneurs look for radical and disruptive solutions.
He said that sites/apps that are heavily localised or aim for a niche demographic, are
more defensible against US incomers (applies to both B2C and B2B).

He noted that talent is hard to come by for UK 2.0 startups – with competition from
“well-paid IT jobs in The City”, online marketing, Yahoo and Google UK, and even working
for Silicon Valley.

The BBC
is also a looming presence in the British market, with its large public funding and even bigger plans (n.b.
some prominent ex-BBC techies have been sniping
about
this recently). On the other hand, a lot of Web action has been by major media
companies – especially newspapers pre-empting 2.0 threats to their online readership
(e.g. Guardian).

In terms of startup activity, Colin said that British entrepreneurs with experience
from the last bubble “have only got involved in 2.0 start-ups in the last 12 months” –
and many of those are just about to launch. As for young British 2.0 entrepreneurs, Peter Cooper and Peter Nixey are good examples
(click the links for their stories).

Also there are interesting crossovers in the UK between Internet and mobile. To track
this trend, check out Londoner Ajit
Jaokar’s blog
on mobile 2.0.

The top UK web apps are after the jump…

Top UK Web apps

Comments by Colin Donald of JigsawUK.

Major Media

The Telegraph (major conservative newspaper) – RSS everywhere, journalists podcasting
and blogging with comments, tag clouds and post to del.icio.us – see examples from fashion
and society blogs (esp the fashion
tag cloud). 

The Guardian (major left/liberal newspaper) – Comment Is Free moved all columnists over
to having comments made on their articles (more than a little culture shock involved as
columnists were confronted by hostile readers!)

The Sun – Colin calls it “a typically Murdochian response to a commercial rival –
check out their Craigslist
killer
er… Craigslist scraper”.

Pure-play 2.0 successes

Last.fm – widely adopted outside the UK, attracted Joi
Ito and others, founders slept in tent on roof of the office thanks to the expense of
accommodation in London

Yellowikis – has global presence but is now being sued by the
UK’s Yellow Pages

Chinwag jobs Good 2.0 jobs site built on
success of mailing lists that are about 10 years old

Carson Systems, Bath-based 2.0 workshop
organisers, which runs:

  • DropSend – I know people who are using it for
    data backup
  • Vitamin – “a resource for web designers,
    developers and entrepreneurs”

Potentially disruptive – could break out of UK

TIOTI – Web2.0 social media hub for TV fans

Trexy – New Search Trails Technology

Majestic-12 – distributed search engine

Localised and defensible

Mobile blogging – I think much of this is still in walled garden mode with individual
network operators. For an open version, see MoblogUK

Some social networking services have strong followings in particular demographics,
such as Don’t Stay In for clubbing.

Property (ie real estate) services

OnOneMap – Google mashup based

Nestoria – a pure property search engine

Defensible B2B

Omniscope – very good data
visualisation tools, London Stock Exchange and Sky Sports are clients (n.b.: see R/WW profile here)

Reevoo – seems to be gaining traction in consumer
review space (b2b because funded by retailers)

Second-time around entrepreneurs

Crowdstorm – social shopping, experienced
execs

FriendsAbroad – claims to be largest
community of language learners

garlik – already got VC funding and run by former
execs from the online bank, Egg

Snipperoo – widget management tool from the
founders of UK’s first Web design and domain registration companies

Zopa – P2P lending