Interview: 'We aim to bring value to all the micro segments'

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

In which regions do you plan to expand your services other than Singapore

and Australia?

Outside India, we have already launched our services in Indonesia. It will

be followed by the launch in Pakistan. We are also in discussion with four other

countries including those in the Middle East, Europe and the US, which will be

initiated when deals would be signed for the same. But our focus is to grow

internationally. Secondly, in India we have signed up with every operator except



What services do you plan to provide?

We had started voice services that involve voice portal and ring back tones

as our main product line. We would now be expanding into WAP. Then we have a

long line of products including m-advertising, direct marketing. We will also

launch voice chat. Voice SMS has been launched recently in India, so we are

expanding our bouquet of services.

Having received funding of $30 mn, what are your plans now?

We would continue with the expansion. Importantly, we invest in research and

development, more than any other company in our space. So we invest very heavily

because we are not looking at it as a one year thing, but we look at it as

growth in the next three to four years.

Onmobile is a value added

services company that spun out of Infosys Technologies in 2000. OnMobile

offers MMP2500 multimodal platform that provides an integrated mobile

applications environment integrating SMS, WAP and voice interactivity. In

an interview with VOICE&DATA, Arvind Rao, CEO and co-founder of the

company, talks about his expansion plans and the services on offer

You have ventured in the field of m-commerce. How do you see this service

fairing in the regions you operate in, including India?

I feel that m-commerce in the coming five years will be a big market but not

now. It is one of those services, which you need to plant and develop into a

market, just the same way we launched voice portal in 2000-01, and till 2004-05

it was a negligible component. Whereas today, most of the large operators are

making around Rs 15-20 crore a month from it. We need to educate the market

about m-commerce, as it has huge potential. For this we will go in a phased

manner. Initially, we have launched some basic services like ticketing or gifts

on the phone. Later, we can launch complicated transactions and use mobile as a

direct marketing channel. To provide the best price to our consumers, we will

introduce sophisticated payment models based on reverse auction, demand


Why do you focus more on voice, rather than other methods such as SMS?

Couple of reasons! One, the Indian market will touch a figure of 250-300 mn

subscribers in the next two-three years. We are looking for mass-market

services. We are not interested in high-end services that cater to 5-10 mn

people. We want service, which go right down to an auto rickshaw driver or a

farmer. So for these people, talking into the phone is the easiest. Secondly,

around 200 companies in India are playing in the SMS space. It is a pure

commodity. Compared to SMS, voice requires sophisticated technology and a large

amount of capex.

You have a number of multi-modal services. How will multi-modality cater

to the 3G environment?

Multi-modal services will always be a superset of our voice services. We

will open up our services and give the user a choice of medium, be it voice, SMS

or WAP. All our new services are being launched in multi-modal format. 3G is

just going to upgrade these services.


How is mobile content shaping up in India? Do you see it as a channel for

dissemination of information and revenue generation?

Mobile content is a very large segment, the biggest one being music. Music

alone forms 75-80% of the mobile content market. The rest of it is like news,

jokes, horoscope, but these are not very big. In the content space, we are

launching services based on user, generated content etc. Revenues are generally

higher in this area.

What is OnMobile's vision for the future?

We have a vision for India and the rest of the world. As far as India goes,

we want to provide value to as many people as possible through mobile. Our aim

is to bring value to all the micro segments in the country and be a leading

company. We are not here to be number two or number three; we aim to be the

number one VAS company in India.

Sonia Sharma