Innovative distribution models for mobile content emerging in India

Some time back I had posted a blog on the importance of alternative (non GPRS) distribution channels to drive mobile content sales in markets like India with extremely low GPRS penetration and highly price sensitive customers. Pantaloon, though its Big Bazaar retail outlet has done just that (See article from Contentsutra pasted below). My big issue though is I’m not clear from the article whether the content is still delivered over the operator’s network. If this is the case, users without GPRS can only download mono ringtones and the solution only helps Pantaloon and the content owner make more money by doing away with the operator’s cut for PSMS billing. I don’t see any real value propostions for the end consumer. On the other hand, if the content is delivered using bluetooth or some other point of sale chanell, then a much wider consumer base can be covered and offered a greater variety of content.

Airtel had already started the trend with their Airtel Easy Music outlets, which allowed subscribers to purchase songs and ringtones for their phone from their retailo outlets. I think this is an interesting experiment from Pantaloon and something that can become a major distribution channel for emerging markets, at least in the short run. Regional language voice portals and IVR based browsing in regional languages is another trend I’m keeping my eyes open for.

One97 And Pantaloon Launch Universal Ring Tone Card
By Nikhil on Wed 06 Sep 2006 09:02 AM IST

First Airtel went the retail way with Hello Tunes and MP3 songs from Soundbuzz being made available at Airtel Easy Music outlets; now One97 has launched an all operator, all mobile ring tone card which is being retailed at Pantaloon’s Big Bazaar stores.The ring tones are availabe in single tone (Rs.6) and three tone(Rs.18) packs at Big Bazaar stores. Users have to send a unique 10 digit PIN alongwith their preferred ring tone(s) code via SMS to 9871330303, and avoid the premium SMS and call charges. The card has a 6 month validity. One97 also has plans for more ring tone cards, Astro cards and regional ring tones.On the face of it, it looks quite convenient and cost-effective, but that’s because premium SMS and call charges are are high with the operators cut being a major component. I wonder how many people actually will be picking up ring tone cards alongwith their tomatoes and onions. My guess is that the cards will be placed near the checkout counters, as impulse purchases, next to other impulse-purchase favourites like razors, chocolates and chewing gum.

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About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

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