With more and more value-added services coming up on mobile phones, it is fast emerging as a convergence platform. One would obviously wonder what goes on behind the scene so that the mobile user can interact through his device to download ringtones, jokes, catch synopsis of favourite telly shows, listen to radio feeds, avail tickets for air, railways and even movies, catch the latest updates on cricket, stock and of course, the news?
Rajesh MV, Marketing Manager, OnMobile, one of the companies that work on such behind-the-scene technology, explains, “Applications like these and newer ones in the pipeline, are based on Concurrent Modality. It is still not in the market as it can run only on EDGE phones. Concurrent Modality is about getting data through text, audio, images while you are still on the call. I'll leave it to your imagination to come up with the kind of service that one can offer with this technology. We are about removing the technology out of the media experience.
To the user it should be a seamless and natural consumption of various formats on his mobile phone. OnMobile aims to simplify user experience. In a few years the mobile user base will equal the base of even Individual C&S viewers. This is the reality we are talking about. The opportunities are endless.”
On reaching a target of 12 million users, Rajesh said, “The reason for our success with consumers is the simplicity, and the richness of the experience. We have something for everyone.”
The most popular mode of access to many of the popular services is currently the ‘call in’ route. Users dial a number and navigate using voice instructions. The voice recognition system in use can also handle Indian languages - this expands the reach of services over SMS.
Some of the services include fun elements like downloadable ringtones, logos, ring back tones, movie dialogues and listen to jokes. On a more serious tone, quiz and singing contests and more interactive services like sending greeting cards, recording a greeting and dialling songs also exist.
Other popular services include dating services where profiles of prospective dates are recorded in their own voice, auctions, deals on meals, news, cricket, radio and television programme numbering in total about 30 different user applications.
In effect, OnMobile is a kind of ‘outsourced model’, where cellular operators provide an enriched portfolio of services using OnMobile’s technology, based on MMP2500 multi-modal platform. Says Rajesh, “We are not just geeks who deliver technology solutions; we make a set of about 100 entrepreneurs, delivering concrete business solutions to our clients. In this regard, we can also be regarded as a media house. We create and aggregate content and offer it to our partners through our services.”
The MMP2500 platform allows users to interact with mobile services through multiple ways (voice, WAP/GRPS, SMS) and can choose to get a response through any format the user desires (audio, video, mobile downloads, coupons, emails, SMS). The Voice Recognition engine currently handles 10 local languages, and this has been the most popular draw for the gamut of services.
“The focus so far has been on cellular operators. In this regard we are the single largest source of value-added services' revenue to each of our clients, and enjoy a mutually beneficial and close relationship with them. We are now looking forward to take such services to marketers who are looking to tap the mobile space to create a new space of ‘branded mobile services’ that brands can offer to their customers either as brand experiences or as additional services.”
Some of OnMobile clients include Airtel, Hutch, Idea, Tata and BSNL and media houses like Channel [V], ESPN-Star, NDTV, Sony TV. A full-fledged voice portal for Singtel in Singapore has also been recently launched. Individual applications have also been developed for IBM, Levi’s, and Citibank.
While Onmobile claims to be the technology leader in this space, few more players have made an entry into the space. The new entrants include the likes of Esstel and BTSL. OnMobile was incubated by Infosys and subsequently became an independent company, with aids from venture capitalists.