To tap cell phone value-added services

Swetha Kannan

Although SMS still dominates the value-added services, its market is slowly saturating.

BangaloreFeb. 9Cricinfo, part of the Wisden group, hopes to ride on the 2007 cricket World Cup to push its mobile phone value-added services. It also plans to foray into the US with some of its mobile offerings.

Cricinfo Mobile provides games, scores, alerts, ring tones and audio match analysis through various distribution channels the Internet, wap site and SMS.

It also offers an application called `Cricinfo Genie', which allows consumers to watch cricket live on their phones in an animated format.

According to industry estimates, the mobile value-added services industry is worth Rs 28.5 billion; it could be Rs 45.6 billion by end-2007. Cricket is a key revenue driver of these services.

Cricinfo Mobile plans to tap into this "greenfield territory" during the World Cup, says Mr Anil Nair, Creative Head, Wireless Media, Cricinfo.

It plans to launch more applications during the tournament. These include a new version of Genie and World Cup related games and trivia. "Cricinfo is looking at a 25 per cent increase in uptake of all our mobile services during the World Cup. For example, our Genie application gets about 10,000-15,000 downloads a month. So far we have had about 3 lakh downloads of this application."

It also expects a 10-15 per cent conversion (of audience) from Cricinfo's hugely popular portal Cricinfo.com to its mobile platform, as he believes the mobile phone will be the preferred medium of the future. (There are 3-4 million unique visitors to Cricinfo.com a month.)

"Cricket is ideally placed for the mobile phone.

Although SMS still dominates the value-added services, its market is slowly saturating. But there is lot of potential for sophisticated applications. About 15 per cent of the mobile phone subscriber base in India (140 million users) is on the GPRS platform that enables such applications," says Mr Nair. He also hopes that those hooked onto games will look at the mobile phone for active gaming.

Cricinfo Mobile is also looking to woo the expatriate population in the US by "going live" with its services for scores and cricket alerts. Says Mr Nair: "The US is a key market for Cricinfo as watching cricket on the TV there is expensive. The second highest traffic on Cricinfo.com comes from the US. With the World Cup to be played in the West Indies, the US is also in the right time zone."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 10, 2007)
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