Mobile VAS company OnMobile has plans to launch a mobile radio service called M-Radio Gold reports Telecom Yatra. OnMobile has informed MediaNama that M-Radio Gold is a new version of the voice portal based Mobile Radio service already in operation. According to the company, Mobile Radio is the second most successful VAS product, second only to Ring Back Tones. Spice Digital is the other key player in the Mobile Radio space.

Anecdotal evidence from VAS companies suggests that Mobile Radio has largely been a small town phenomenon, particularly where FM radio hasn’t yet spread its wings; this was one of the driving forces behind the tie-up between OnMobile and BIG FM, and if rumors are true, Spice Digital and Radio Mirchi; we’re yet to receive a confirmation from Spice Digital on the Mirchi tie-up.

Playlists & Content Discovery

The key upgrade in M-Radio plus, appears to be the addition of playlists to the service, allowing users to favorite songs by pressing * while listening to a song, and access their playlist by pressing 8, instead of a pre-determined list of songs being streamed to a specific number. The addition of playlists may just help expand Mobile Radio’s usage to main cities, though I doubt that anyone with access to FM would be interested in paying per minute for music on mobile.

M-Radio Gold incorporates the following methods to improve discovery of content:

— A recommended playlist, based on a users music consumption patterns. Perhaps more important, is the fact that the recommendation engine sends out automated personalized content refresh alerts to the users. While I would consider this spam and unsubscribe from the service, it could help improve usage of voice services. How many users even remember the short code of a service, even after they subscribed to it? Alerts have their own issues, though: I had to look up my own post to figure out how to unsubscribe from BBC’s Airtel Blog, because the alerts kept filling up my message inbox, and I couldn’t remember how to unsubscribe.

— An attempt has also been made to enhance discovery by enabling sharing of playlists in a rather simple manner: users receive an SMS with an access code, which they can forward to their friends. This would help the company increase sign-ups.

— Playlist Search allows users to discover content by Genre, according to Artist (Actors, Actresses, Music Directors etc.) & Movies, in addition to the plain Song Search. Remember that much of Indian music is Movie (Bollywood) based.

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