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.