Category Archives: CE

Consumer Electronics.

Bharti Airtel introduces SMS 2.0 in India

SMS 2.0 in India by Airtel and AffleIndia’s Number One, Mobile service provider, Bharti Airtel in association with Affle has introduced SMS 2.0 in India. Currently the service is available only in Airtel’s Delhi circle.

What is SMS 2.0 ? SMS 2.0 is an enhancment to existing SMS features directly borrowing ideas from PC based Instant messaging platforms. SMS 2.0 messaging application converges messaging, content and advertising. Features such as,

  • Colored text for messaging
  • Emotions and Smiley/ Icons support
  • Free content from Bollywood to Cricket. Free means its absolutely Free because it has an embedded advertising platform from which the operators make money.
  • Advertising is really cool because it has Click-To-Call feature embedded in it. How about embedding Click-To-SMS keeping the cost lower for consumers 😉
  • ICICI, Levis, Makemytrip, Perfetti Van Melle, Indiatimes, HPCL are some of the advertisers on SMS 2.0 platform in India
  • Cost of SMS 2.0: They say its FREE [Content Access] without any hidden charges. Regular SMS charges on your subscription plan apply for messages sent through SMS 2.0.

Mr. P.S. Parasuram, Head – Content and New Product Development, Cellular Services, Bharti Airtel Ltd said,

Airtel has continuously aimed to provide a superior user experience across all its services. We selected SMS 2.0 as we feel it enriches our users’ experience with SMSing, while at the same time creating a viable and extremely exciting revenue model.

To download the SMS 2.0 application, you need to be a subscriber of Airtel in Delhi/NCR and send an SMS – sms2 to 121[Toll free]. Delhiites can try this service and let us know your XPerience 🙂 Refer for more details on SMS 2.0

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Web 2.0 India: Panama – Yahoo’s answer to AdSense ?

In the recently concluded Web 2.0 conference in India, Yahoo! Research Engineer, T. Mahesh unveiled some interesting facts about Yahoo’s Sponsored Search initiative, codenamed – Panama. Some interesting facts about Panama,

  • Deliver the right ad to the right person on any device [Cool. They have it ready for any device – PlayStation, iPod, IPTV and Mobile ?]
  • Enhanced Features for Advertisers – Simple Campaign Management interface, Magnified level of detailing through which they can manage their search campaign, Effective end user targeting and Objectives based optimization.
  • Quality index to indicate how advertisers ad is performing relative to competitors
  • Better geographic targeting
  • Improved forecasting services to reduce transaction costs by allowing the advertiser to more effectively allocate marketing resources, weigh opportunity costs and set campaign expectations.
  • Fast Ad activations.

I hope this is really a bold answer to “How Yahoo! Blew It“. By the way anybody from Redmond reading this ? Google now has enviable cash reserves of whopping $11 Billion – Courtsey AdSense.

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iPod and Zune battle for Wi-Fi. Indians hunt for Triple function Mobiles

Apple and Motorola thought of launching the iPod phone, but from this BusinessWeek article, it looks like the Cellular network lobby was against it. Clever strategists at Microsoft took a different route to connect Zune owners to Market Place, the Internet, which prompted Apple to retailite with a wi-fi enabled iPod. Microsoft’s roll out plan for Zune could be the same as that of Xbox360 with Japan being an exception. Zune is expected to be sold in Canada, Latin America and Australia in Spring 2007 and in EU and Japan for the Holiday of 2007, hopefully an upgraded version.

However, in India, the teenagers and the gizmo savvy folks are not looking for a separate entertainment device. They want a Triple Function Mobile – Phone, Music (FM, MP3, MMS, etc) and Digital Camera. It does make sense to have a Triple function Mobile rather than 3 separate devices. IMHO, no phone company understands the Indian consumer better than Nokia. You ask for it, and they launch in no time – Nokia N series Music edition. No doubt, this response has earned them a place in the Guiness Book of Records for selling the highest number of Mobile Handsets on any given day, 400,000 pre-diwali.

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Dish TV or Triple Play ?

I read a review of Tata Sky TV which prompted me to peek at Zee’s Dish TV offering. I must admit that I have been lagging behind in using or atleast testing these two services. I was kind of lost thinking that IPTV is the way to go. But lets have a closer look. Dish TV services, both by Tata and Zee are not bad at all. Their picture quality is better than our local cable provider but not the DVD quality which they claim. Sound is as good as played on an original track CD. The choice of channels is directly proportional to the depth of your pocket 🙂 On an average the service costs Rs300/month

I am beginning to doubt about how IPTV can be offered at a price of just Rs300/Month. Airtel-Broadband’s DSL in Karantaka costs Rs250 for downloading 400MB of data. If you want the same quality of Audio and Video as that of Dish TV, I atleast want a speed of 512KBPs(with all complex compression techniques), 1MBPS recommended. Current bandwidth costs for 1MBPs line are way too high. Also, you cannot force a customer to opt for high speed expensive broadband and then push him into the bouqet of IPTV. I had requested the results of Bharti-Airtel’s pilot project on IPTV in Delhi and the request just got passed from one to another without reciving any response. This makes me wonder if the results were awful to be published ?

Traditional and Dish TV is very popular amongst Indians while IPTV may not see the same demand. Dish TV with a DVR will also let you view movies on demand, play games, record a TV serial in background while your kid watches a cricket match and will definitely be cheaper than IPTV. Maybe this is the reason why Reliance is silent on its Dish or IPTV plans and in the next few months we will know if Mittal has his midas touch on Airtel’s Triple Play 😉

Mobile retailing gets hotter in India

The concept of branding and retailing has caught every faction of the Indian consumer market. After Bangalore based Mobile NXT, Pantaloon quietly ventured setting up ConvergeM mobile retail chain under the brand name M Bazaar, M Port and Gen M. It is now Essar groups turn to enter cell retailing.

Esaar Telecom has done due dilligence in association with KSA technopark and is willing to invest upto Rs3000 crores in 3 years. The company is planning to setup 1,000-2,000 sq ft stores, which will be one-stop shops for customers’ mobile needs. They will offer telecom handsets, connections, recharge vouchers, mobile accessories, after sales services, facilities for bill payment, gaming, mobile entertainment options, repairs and refurbishment.

All these stores means an end to your local mobile retailer 🙁 After adding currency to my mobile, if I want the latest Halo-2 game do I need to look for the game retailer ? Doesn’t make sense. Companies such as Essar with deep pockets should have plans to scale up their operation to the size of BestBuy or CircuitCity which is so essential for the Indian consumer.