Dhingana

Music streaming site Dhingana has tied-up with General Mobile, a Cayman-based company which offers a proprietary mobile content management and application store hosting platform, to preload its music app on 1-million devices. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Dhingana Android app will be pre-installed on five OEMs in a two-month period, including Intex, Zen, Hitech, m-Tech and Maxx as part of this deal.

With this move, Dhingana hopes to acquire new users, however it is surprising it has not struck a deal yet with the bigger Indian brands such as Micromax, Karbonn and Xolo. The company had entered into a carrier billing tie-up with Idea to let its users download unlimited tracks from the service for free and without subscribing to a data plan.

Lot of companies are adopting the pre-install strategy to get the attention of smartphone users, most of whom are using a smartphone for the first time. Many of these users do not download apps as they might not have a data plan, but are tempted to try these out since they are already available on the device. However, Dev Khare of Lightspeed Venture Partners in India had written in a post on user acquisition hacks that most OEMs are now looking at apps/services as revenue streams, perhaps through a revenue share model. He also pointed out that pre-loading the apps alone does not drive activations. — it has to be on the homescreen and accompanied by an above-the-line marketing campaign (e.g. advertising or logo on device box) preferably paid for and driven by the operator/OEM. It is not clear if that is the case here. Khare had also said that OEMs charge from Rs 5 to Rs 10 per install.

That being the case, it is not clear what the returns on this investment is, so it would make more sense if they approached OEMs that have more devices connected to the Internet rather than trying to reach more smartphones in general.

Other companies that have followed the pre-loading approach

– Earlier this year Dhingana’s competitor Hungama had partnered with the Karbonn to pre-load its app on Karbonn’s ‘Smart’ range of Android smartphones. As part of the deal, Hungama app will be offering free unlimited access to content up to 30 days for Karbonn Smart users. The deal period or the terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

– Micromax has partnered with the online video streaming service Spuul.com and the Bharti Softbank-backed messaging app Hike to preload the respective apps to its recently launched Android smartphone Micromax Canvas 4.

– BlackBerry had partnered several Indian and International Android smartphone makers to preload its messaging appBlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on their respective smartphones.

– Line partnered with Sony India for pre-installing LINE on the Xperia Z1 and Xperia C, as well as launch a marketing campaign with co-branding

– Browser company Opera Software partnered with seven Indian mobile manufacturers — Celkon, Karbonn, Lava Mobiles, Intex, Fly Mobiles, Zen Mobiles and HCL ME tablets — to preload the Opera Mini mobile browser on their devices.

– Whatsapp signed a deal with Nokia to pre-install Whatsapp on Asha line of devices. It had also inked a tie-up with Hike to preload the app on Lumia 510, Lumia 720 and all its Nokia Asha Full Touch phones to be sold in India.

– Yahoo Inc had inked a global deal with chipset manufacturer MediaTek to embed Yahoo’s services into MediaTek’s mobile platform solutions in 2011. It is not clear what happened to this deal as most devices with MediaTek chipsets (like the XOLO Q800 I’m using) no longer come pre-loaded with Yahoo apps. It’s not clear how much Yahoo benefited from this deal and when it stopped either.