Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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We Versus Vodafone, Day 3

February 19th, 2009 · 5 Comments

We had a meeting with members of Vodafone’s Value-Added Services team yesterday. The meeting turned out to be inconclusive, with both sides re-stating and clarifying known positions.

Vodafone’s key issue: their (perceived) loss of business – past, present and future – if their subscribers switch to our free services. Besides, they don’t make any money from our free services.

Our contention: paid services are being only used by a fraction of their subscriber base (perhaps under 10%), and the ones we attract with our free services are in the other 90% who would have not paid Rs 30 anyways. Also, the quality of service Vodafone can offer is far superior than what we do. (For example, Vodafone’s cricket updates provide updates every few overs. We provide 2-4 updates over a full day’s play.) In addition, our services actually allow Vodafone to monetise that other 90% subscriber base (via pull services, GPRS data traffic, P2P sms revenue since people tend to forward MyToday SMSes to their friends and family.) We also offered Vodafone the option of promoting their VAS services to our Vodafone subscriber base.

Vodafone’s comment: “we understand your position but do not sympathise with you.”

We are also told that our mobile Internet portal has been blocked for the past 18-odd months since it offered a way to subscribe to our free SMS services.

They agreed to revert within two days with a final decision on whether they will unblock the shortcode for MyToday subscriptions and open access to the portal.

So, that then is the story so far. Will it be a win-win settlement or an all-out war? We will know very soon. The implications are large either way – for mobile operators and VAS companies with alternate and innovative business models.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Siddharth Chawla // Feb 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I think this is should do it for them.

    “In addition, our services actually allow Vodafone to monetise that other 90% subscriber base (via pull services, GPRS data traffic, P2P sms revenue since people tend to forward MyToday SMSes to their friends and family.) We also offered Vodafone the option of promoting their VAS services to our Vodafone subscriber base.”

    Your proposition leads to good symbiotic relationship.

    Siddharth

  • 2 Pankaj // Feb 20, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Vodafone sounds like : Don’t distribute free food, who will come to hotels ?
    All of us know we as indians will take an avg free service then take an amazing paid service.
    Good to hear that it is killing them ( i mean they are taking notice of smaller fishes around them) and their potential revenue, leading to a loss in business – past, present and future (did they say Aapne hamare pet pe laat maari thi, maar rahe ho aur maarte rahoge )

    you are very right on the implications, a win for you would be a win for all the companies trying to break free of the operator shackles. hope and pray you are on the winning side.

  • 3 Tushar Burman // Feb 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks for posting this Rajesh. However it turns out, this will be significant.

    Realistically, however, did you not expect this when MyToday started?

  • 4 Girish // Feb 22, 2009 at 5:44 am

    This is going to be very interesting. I would like to believe that Vodafone is the most ‘sensible’ operator in India (as they have worked in multiple markets, would tend to be more practical), and whatever they decide for themselves, would be well considered.

    This also leads us to believe that SMS alerts is a very big potential market (if not already), to monetise. But, I can’t think of any win-win solution, but yes both services can coexist & there is place for many more.

    Though I am quite sure that if they have to change (or are forced to) their stand, they are going to innovate & improvise very quickly, and they will eventually move to that mode (its just that the blocking is a shot term & easy measure), start smaller packs, different pricing for different markets, launch more niches, etc. And marketing overdrive to drive numbers.

    I was under the impression that short codes can’t be blocked (and that this was only happening to long codes), guess that is not the case.

  • 5 Puneet Jain // Mar 9, 2009 at 9:57 am

    What was the conclusion of Friday meeting with Vodafone people?
    Do infrom me if its possbile to disclose the details

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