Vodafone India has partnered with Twitter to offer free access to the service for 90 days. Vodafone’s prepaid and postpaid subscribers will be able to access Twitter through Android app or through mobile.twitter.com without any data charges. It’s not clear why the deal is only limited to Android app and not to other smartphone Twitter apps as well.
Interestingly, the offer comes with way too many caveats. The offer is not valid for subscribers who have portalnmms as their APN, using browser other than native Android browser, and to Vodafone BlackBerry subscribers. External links, pictures, videos and other media will also be charged according to the subscriber’s data tariff. (pdf)
However, since Vodafone charges to display media on external sites, displaying media from Twitter cards has become tricky. Twitter cards provides content preview of the link in the tweet and since Vodafone charges for this content, it blocks external media by default. What’s more annoying is that Vodafone has gone one step ahead and is displaying ads in tweets with external media. Ads also pops up every time one tries to compose a tweet. (Hat tip @BeingPractical)
Typically such partnerships are inked in order to drive more data usage and to be able to monetize these users after the deal period ends. By inserting ads while utilizing a basic feature such as composing a tweet, it’s only spoiling the Twitter experience for the user.
While Vodafone did not disclose the split between voice and data revenues, for the quarter ending June 30, 2013, Vodafone India reported 41.2 million total data customers and 3.7 million 3G customers, up 12.1% from 3.3 million 3G customers last quarter. Data revenue seems to be pretty important for telcos as more and more consumers are shifting to smartphone. It also reported that the browsing revenues in India is up 70% year-on-year, 3G revenue was up 190% and 2G revenue was up60%. 3G now represents 30% of the browsing revenues. Interestingly, while Reliance Communication and Airtel reduced its 3G data tariff, Vodafone has not slashed its 3G rates, it however did slash its 2G data tariff.
This is not the first time that any telco has partnered with web services to offer free access to the service. In December 2011, Airtel had partnered Twitter to provide free access to the service for its subscribers.
In April 2013, RCOM inked a deal with Twitter to launch a new plan – ‘Reliance Twitter Access Pack’ which offered free Twitter access across Twitter.com, Mobile.twitter.com and Twitter’s official mobile apps, to its GSM subscribers for 90 days. In June 2013, RCOM had partnered STAR Sports to offer unlimited live streaming of the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2013 tournament on STAR Sports mobile site to its subscribers.
In June 2013, Bharti Airtel had partnered with Google to launch Free Zone service that will offer Airtel subscribers with free access to Google services such as Google Search, feature phone friendly version of Gmail and Google Plus. Earlier this month, Aircel had partnered with Wikipedia to offer free access to zero.wikipedia.com (text only) and m.wikipedia.com (mobile version).