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Mktg – Telcos take a comic turn to woo users

Prasad Sangameshwaran

MUMBAI: After trying out almost every possible tariff plan including per-second billing to woo new users, mobile operators are now busy providing
consumers with some comic relief.

Probably taking a leaf out of Kindle (Amazon’s wireless e-book reading device) book, mobile operators such as Airtel, Idea Cellular, Tata DoCoMo, Aircel and Vodafone are taking their value-added services to the next level, with the launch of mobile comics, or ‘momics’.

A mobile comic is an abridged and digitised version of a comic book created exclusively for cell phone subscribers. A 40-page comic book is usually reduced to about 15 slides to create a mobile comic. It is delivered to customers as multimedia message (MMS) at Rs 8-10 per download. Mobile users can also opt for monthly subscription at Rs 30 for about ten comics.

Pradeep Srivastava, chief marketing officer of Idea Cellular, says mobile comics will help “unlock the true potential of the mobile phone to take the medium truly beyond voice and SMS”.

While Idea has already launched a series of mobile comics a few days ago, Aircel, a new entrant in the Indian mobile industry, will join the mobile comic race within a couple of days. Idea Cellular has tied up with ACK Media, the owners of popular comic book series Amar Chitra Katha, and digital content provider Mogae Digital, which claims to be the single largest owner of intellectual property for mobile comics in the country.

Aircel, which has also roped in Mogae for momic glory, too is upbeat about the prospect of the latest mobile value-added service. “Mobile is going to become even a more significant portion of people’s lives and entertainment will become a central theme on the mobile,” says Gurdeep Singh, chief operating officer of Aircel.

Mobile operators say they are prepared to walk that extra mile to get creative and innovative in the mobile entertainment space.

For example, says one mobile operator, your mobile phone would vibrate every time one of the characters in the comic strip socks his/her foe on the face.

Tata DoCoMo, which introduced the per-second billing plan in the country, launched its ‘comix-on-the-go’ service last month. It offers full comics books to its subscribers along with special effects like character vibration, sounds and zooming text bubbles at Rs 20 per comic.

In October, market leader Bharti Airtel had launched the country’s first live mobile comic portal on Airtel Live. Airtel charges its customers Rs 10 every week for 10 comic strips.

According to industry insiders, Vodafone too is working on mobile comics although all that a company official would offer is “wait and watch”.

The immediate target of the operators is an audience of 100 million subscribers in the country who are already GPRS or MMS enabled and another potential base of 90 million subscribers who are holding GPRS and MMS capable phones. And the biggest bet is the youth in the 16-30-year bracket who form 66 per cent of the mobile subscriber base in the country.

Content providers, who are going for special effects and characters created exclusively to suit multiple mobile screen sizes, are aware of the huge potential of this service that has become big hit in several global markets including Japan, Dubai and Singapore.

Already the players are showing signs of cornering the best of content for themselves in this space. While Idea boasts of a range that’s wide and superior, Aircel’s looking at exclusive momic content for its subscriber base.

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December 9, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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