In what could change the way radio is perceived – from a mere audio medium to the next generation radio which allows access to images and texts on a GPRS enabled mobile screen – Visual Radio has arrived in India within months of its global launch.
Developed by Nokia and offered by HP, Radio Mirchi has become the first FM station to launch the service in New Delhi in partnership with service provider Hutch. It also plans to launch the service in Mumbai within two weeks.
Visual Radio adds a new dimension to FM radio with interactive content and services for mobile radio listeners. It allows listeners to tune in to local FM radio via the analog receiver on their Nokia devices while simultaneously receiving interactive information and graphics that are synchronised with the radio broadcast via the cellular data network onto the screen of the mobile device.
With Visual Radio, listeners can enjoy engaging and exciting content: visuals, information and entertainment of what’s playing over the air, purchase ringtones and other mobile content of the artiste, participate in radio station promotions, polls, contests and interact with RJs and special guests.
Sharing his thoughts on the initiative, A P Parigi, MD and CEO, ENIL (Radio Mirchi), said, “The mobile platform has caught the imagination of a generation with more dreams than memories. Visual Radio provides us an exciting opportunity to involve, engage and entertain this demanding generation.”
He further said, “Visual Radio not only enhances the listener’s interaction with the station, it also provides advertisers a more dynamic platform to communicate their messages. Technically, this is the clear manifestation of convergence.”
Parigi added, “We have identified four key markets, including Mumbai, for launching visual radio. Though it is too early to exploit strong revenues from this medium, it will give us a presence in emerging platforms like mobile phones.” Airtel is ready to launch this service by the end of the month.
Subscribers do not have to pay any subscription fee for the service for now, but once the introductory offer period is over the operators may fix a monthly fee. However, users will have to pay in case they download the song or participate in the interactive services.
Naveen Chopra, Chief Marketing Officer, Hutch, said, “Through the Visual Radio, Hutch customers can see information about and interact with what’s playing on the radio. This launch reinforces our commitment to be at the forefront of innovation in music related services. It demonstrates a revolution in interactive mobile communication and redefines the experience of traditional FM radio not only for users but also for broadcasters, advertisers and mobile operators. It creates new business models that offer access to interactive music discovery services and ability to purchase merchandise directly from a mobile phone.”
Speaking on the occasion Vineet Taneja, Director- National Operator and Retail Accounts, Nokia India, said, “Visual Radio will make listening to the radio via your mobile phone a truly multi-dimensional experience. We are completely committed to making it easy for people to enjoy the music they want on a single device that is always with them. As part of this commitment, we have already launched more than 20 Nokias devices in India that are compatible with Visual Radio with still more to come in the future.”
Visual Radio is currently available on the Nokia NSeries devices (Nokia N70, Nokia N71, Nokia N72 Nokia N80, Nokia N91) and select Nokia phones (Nokia 3230, Nokia 3250, Nokia 6125, Nokia 6131, Nokia 6280 and Nokia 7370).
Stations already supporting Visual Radio globally include the UK’s Virgin Radio, Kiss FM in Helsinki, Mediacorp stations in Singapore and Loz 40 Principales in Spain.