[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Brothers enjoy Scrabulous success
Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla
The brothers are scrabble buffs
Two brothers from the Indian city of Calcutta say that they have brought new life to Scrabble, the traditional English spelling game.

They say that their internet version of the game has been an overnight success.

Scrabulous, as the game is called, has attracted 300,000 players every day since its launch on the social networking site Facebook, they say.

They say another 40,000 play it daily on the stand-alone Scrabulous site. The game is free to play.

It's estimated that the board game - first developed in 1938 - is sold in 121 countries in 29 different languages. Around 100m have been sold worldwide, and sets are found in one out of every three American homes.

The launch of a successful online version in many ways typifies the technological and entrepreneurial skills for which India is fast getting a worldwide reputation.

Scrabulous is one of thousands of games - of varying popularity - that are available at Facebook.


More than 40 million people use the site to set up personal web pages and communicate with each other.

The brothers say that Scrabulous has 18,000 registered users on the site. It can also be played over e-mails and on a separate site run by them.

Scrabulous page on Facebook
The scrabble game is one of Facebook's many applications

The Agarwalla brothers run Scrabulous from the offices of their home-grown software company in an office in Calcutta.

Of the 30 software developers the company employs, a few work on the online game, "fixing bugs and improving the systems," as the brothers describe it.

The Calcutta-born brothers are scrabble buffs in a city which is Scrabble-crazy.

Rajat Agarwalla, 26, holds a degree in business administration and launched the software company in Calcutta seven years ago.

Jayant, 21, an under-graduate, has won numerous Scrabble tournaments in the city.

The brothers say they hit upon the idea of launching a free online Scrabble game when a site where they used to play the word game decided to charge its users in 2004.

"Next year, we decided to launch our own free scrabble site. It was to help the gaming community," says Jayant.

The brothers launched the Facebook version in June last year and since then, they say, have never looked back.

'Well received'

What makes Scrabulous tick?

The brothers say that though there are "five to six" sites that offer online Scrabble, "they have not upgraded their systems for years and have failed to provide customer support to users".

Created in US in 1938, by architect Alfred Mosher Butts
Initially called Lexiko, the name changed to Scrabble in 1948
Scrabble means to "grope frantically"
Game first sold in UK and Australia in 1955

"Scrabulous, on the other hand, is very passionate about using latest technologies to power its applications and give customers support systems," says Jayant.

The brothers say they make "a little bit of money" through advertising on the Scrabulous page on Facebook, which is enough to cover server costs.

Jayant says a couple of companies have approached them to invest in Scrabulous, but nothing has been decided.

"The game has been very well received at Facebook. A Facebook team member said it is a favourite at their office. We are humbled by this recognition," he said.

Facebook began life as a way of keeping US college students in touch with each other. Devised by Harvard drop-out Mark Zuckerberg, the site now accounts for 1% of all net traffic and is the sixth most visited in the US.

The social networking site is thought to have about 39 million members. Numbers have jumped since the firm removed the need to have an academic e-mail address in September 2006.

Cash reward for Facebook programs
18 Sep 07 |  Technology
Facebook dismisses privacy fears
12 Sep 07 |  Technology
Facebook 'costs businesses dear'
11 Sep 07 |  Technology
Facebook opens profiles to public
06 Sep 07 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific