Aroon Purie promoted India Today group last week launched India Today Mobile News (ITMN) making it the first ever-interactive services for a print publication in India. This service will enable readers of India Today to express their opinion on issues and get breaking news on their mobile phones.
India Today Mobile News was announced on Saturday 20th April through the current issue of India Today, which has the cover story on Narendra Modi titled "Hero of Hatred". The content pages provide a guide to India Today readers on how to access India Today Mobile News. The readers can access this by dialing one common number 2424, across India. The first instant poll on ITMN is about "Should Narendra Modi be removed as the CM?”
Recently, Indiatimes.com had also launched its interactive services initiative billed as 8888, which provides instant access to news and subjects like astrology, cricket, restaurants, TV etc. The wireless partner for these interactive services to India Today is UK based Active Media Technology, which has created products and services to harness the wireless channel to enhance the experience of consumers and provide technology tools for marketers.
Kalli Purie of India Today Group Online (ITGO) who has spearheaded this initiative is very upbeat about the potential of this interactive service and believes that this initiative will further involve the India Today readers and enhance their experience. Speaking to exchange4media Kalli comments "The response to this service in the four days since it has been launched has been tremendous and now the readers of India Today do not have to wait for the magazine’s next issue to know the news, they can get the headlines as it happens."
Raj Singh of Active Media Technology who have partnered ITGO on this initiative evangelizes this further and shares "With India’s current 6 million mobile phone users and future projections of 50 million by 2005, no business can ignore the wireless channel". Singh further adds “Most of the readers will continue to read the India Today for detailed analysis and perspective and this initiative will bond them further with India Today and also develop an independent wireless channel by leveraging on content and technology and provide a new channel to marketers for research.”
India Today Mobile News is available on most of the major cellular networks and will continue to add on new features. Kalli Purie also adds that this is the only "Pull" based service available and is not based on a "Push" model. "A mobile phone user will get the news only when he or she asks for it rather than the SMS inbox getting spammed by messages"
When quizzed about the investment into this technology both Kalli and Raj seem reluctant to give a figure as they say that a lot of infrastructure has not been accounted for. " We had an online infrastructure because of other interests like TheNewspaper Today.com and though we have set up a dedicated Messaging center, it is very difficult to put a figure as a lot of resources including hardware are common" insists Purie.
Raj of Active Media Technology puts a 3 million rupees as the cost of putting such an interactive service though he is quick to add that this also depends on the scope of the service and their involvement. It has taken India Today almost four months to get this service in place once this idea became a part of the vision within the group.
Kalli also expects other divisions and businesses in India Today Group to embrace this technology based service and believes Business Today could follow soon apart from other media properties in Television, Print, Radio and Internet. With this interesting initiative India Today has opened the door for marketers and brand mangers to utilize this wireless channel to seek "M opinion" and generate revenues for itself and to take news instantaneously to readers pockets and hands. With growing mobile users and popularity of SMS, this offering from India Today could become an instant hit. Looks like the cocktail of content and SMS has lots of people already high on IT.