Posts Tagged 'Telecom'

Free Minutes and Public Spaces

One of the best things about cheap minutes and better connectivity is that people can talk to their near and dear ones anytime, anywhere. It is the unwarranted side effect too – especially when it comes to commonly shared cramped public spaces like a train compartment or a bus seat!

I was recently travelling in a train. We had a very early time of arrival (2am) at our destination, so we decided to retire around 9pm itself. Unfortunately for us two people (looked like local businessmen) boarded the train at about the same time and apparently had a lot of business to attend to. They sat there all night making loud calls and all kinds of noises – negotiating deals, getting someone’s kid an engineering seat in management quota, reeling out data of who clears which quota for how much money and more…

We tried requesting them to be a little quieter, to no avail. By the time we got down, he was sound asleep and snoring but I had learned a lot about negotiation and management quotas, not had a wink of sleep and was in a very sour mood. Left me wondering, shouldn’t there be an etiquette around using your “free/cheap” minutes in public spaces, if not, what is our alternative? Can there be an interesting business around charging more for minutes depending on “noise levels” around you – so that fellow travelers, movie goers etc. are spared the torture of being privy to the most personal and intricate details of someone else’s lives? What say?

India Telecom Wars Roundup

I have not been writing about the ongoing telecom wars because I was kind of waiting to see how actions-reactions play out and what track all the new and existing players take….

Today, this article is prompted by something that I saw while I was driving back home. Inoticed a large hoardng that announced “MTS launches 0.5p/sec for entire Karnataka on all networks” and I almost let out a, that is cheap and it takes the telecom wars to a new circle. Is this a desperate attempt of a new entrant with a large wherewithal in the global market, willing to rough it out for the sake of long term.

Tata Docomo focusses on “full value recharge” and Tata Indicom showcases its “digital clarity” in prime time advertisements, but both skirt the main issue in the air – lack of good network reach!

Airtel, in the meanwhile, launched its one second pulse and matched the competitors, after waiting for two months and losing its #1 status on per month new user additions. Vodafone, Idea and Reliance followed suit. I have to say this though, Reliance needs to stop blatant copying of ads and get creative. Their per second ads look exactly like Docomo’s minus the jazz. Tata Docomo as well as Tata Indicom, I must say, hats off to the creative team at Ulka and Lodestar Universal. But the networks need to execute on the hype – FAST. (Aside: Tata Docomo’s  friendship train ad by Ulka has no relevance. The tune is catchy and the picturization is good, but I fail to get the point…and I love the “digital clarity” ad campaign by Tata Indicom showcasing how the advanced network clarity conveys not only voice but the emotions behind it also…great work Lodestar)

BSNL was surprisingly proactive, launching the per second pulse offer just following the Tata Docomo splash! Not sure, how many takers it got. Somehow, their branding effort with insipid advertising and mishandling of the “first mover advantage of the 3G” has made them the laughing stock of the town, so not sure how many people jump at their offers anymore!

Well, to begin with, I need to admire the power of free markets. Without regulation the entire ecosystem has jumped on a bandwagon rolled by one player, that can be “visibly” beneficial to the customer. What’s next, then? Call for free and we will play ads every 30 secs while you speak? Any takers?

Airtel Special 5 Launches…

Teaser ads from Airtel that were launched as a repartee to Tata Docomo that promised an offer of 50p/min have been revealed in full – with the launch of Airtel Special 5.

A set of promising ads based on mobile usage analytics which apparently showed that most people call a close circle of about 5 people, the most. A very clever tactic to throw the attention away from the second pulse rate campaign that Tata Docomo has launched. So, without hitting them head on and pitching in with a similar offering, Airtel is attempting to woo its existing base to remain with it, by showing them – they care…good move!

However, two things don’t sort themselves out in the “special” scheme of things for me and they are:

1. Why is Airtel using children in its ads? – Have they realized that the Maddy-Vidya magic is not working anymore? Are they running out of real, adult-life ideas, thanks to “Idea”? Or are they hoping to emulate the fan following the vodafone, the pug with a girl – there for you always, ad has generated? Either way, the move from the market leader proves that when a new player enters the market,  they have to keep running, to stay in the same place.

2. If the above said publicized market research, which says that people call five people closest to them most, is actually true – then that means ARPU’s (average revenue per user) will drop even further, right? If the market research data quoted in the PR is true, that is, then what the market leader is doing is axing its golden goose, in return for Re.1/person/day that they would collect from you – you get to speak to any five people you chose in the country for just 50p/minute (local calls at 20p/min), well – probably not! But here is my logic, people who speak to their “special” people for a long time, figure out attractive plans on the best possible network, anytime and the others who are casual callers, might sign up for this plan but may or may not speak longer – so the hope that you can make up in volume what you lost in price, may not be valid. The only glimmer of hope is if they convert the heavy users…that is!

What do you think? Would love to hear from you…

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