Music streaming platform Dhingana has signed a carrier billing deal with Idea Cellular to let its users download unlimited tracks from the service for free and without subscribing to a data plan. The carrier billing plan handles 1-click subscription with auto-renewals according to the company.
However, the feature is not available for iOS or Windows Phone users and is provided only to users with Android and WAP-based devices. The company did not reveal the financial terms of the deal. Dhingana had launched its paid subscription model offering ad-free service called Dhingana Gold for $1.99 (~ Rs 120) per month earlier this year for iOS devices.
Dhingana’s competitor Hungama had tied up with all operators for billing earlier this year. Hungama offers a monthly subscription service at Rs 99 (through operator billing) and Rs 110 (through Google Wallet), although that only allows unlimited ad-free streaming of full length songs and videos. It also offer various plans to purchase and download songs including a single download (Rs 10 per song), value pack (4 items for Rs 20) and value pack (10 items for Rs 50).
Another competitor, Saavn offers an ad-free experience to users and allows them to cache songs up to 3GB for offline listening. It also allows users to sync music across five devices and charges users Rs 220 per month (in India) or $3.99 per month (International users).
Gaana, the music streaming service by Times Internet also has a paid streaming service, but they don’t provide operator billing as of now.
Idea’s focus on data
Idea MD Himanshu Kampania had said on its earnings conference call that India is at the tip of the iceberg as far as data growth is concerned: in the past year 14.7 million Idea customers have started using mobile data, traffic for which has has also increased by 99.6% from Q2FY13, with 17.5 billion MB data transfer during the quarter.
In the earnings report Idea had revealed that it has 6.2 million 3G data subscribers currently; up from 5.5 million last quarter. 3G Data ARPU per data customer increased to Rs 116 from and 3G Data Usage has increased to 429 mb per connection. Idea currently has 16.75% of the total connections in India.
Idea is expecting 3G usage to escalate in the coming months due to the increasing sales of 3G smartphones. According to Kapania 1.5 million smartphones are being sold in India now with 5-inch being the most popular screen size among Idea users.
Update: Dhingana sent a press release to clarify that this is not a DRM free download service. Songs can only be cached on the phone and it won’t be possible to transfer them to a PC. It is similar to the approach taken by international players such as Spotify.