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ValueFirst Enters Direct To Consumer Business Via SpotOn Media; What Of MocoLife Keywords?

Enterprise Mobility company ValueFirst (VFirst), a part of Rajesh Jain‘s Emergic Ecosystem, has entered into the direct-to-consumer business via its subsidiary SpotOn Media, with a service called SMSMEON (i.e. SMS-me-on)

Free Keyword On Short Code
SMSMEON gives consumers their own keyword on ValueFirsts short code – 56070. Users can set their status message, and their friends can pull the same information by SMSing the keyword to 56070. Users can also set up sub-keywords like Location, Plans etc, which they can update to provide their “followers” with requisite information. While the prospect of having their own keyword on the mobile might excite some, I do believe this particular pull based service has its limitations because of two reasons:

User Behaviour: A pull based service required users to take an initiative to actively seek out information. This is often on an impulse, and this works better as a push based service. Take the example of Twitter – if you had to individually check for status updates from each person whom you were following, you would probably not check often, and follow very few people.
Cost: to check for updates on a short code, a user would have to pay Rs. 3 to the operator. This will inhibit usage. Compare this to SMS GupShup, which enables you to push updates to users for free, though it uses a long code.
Duplication: What prevents other service providers from setting up the same service on a long code? That’s a Rs. 1 SMS, instead of a Rs. 3 SMS

Monetization: VFirst will take a cut from the mobile operators, from the Rs. 3 that users pay for sending a premium SMS.

Implications
Enterprise SMS: First and foremost, this might actually take business away from enterprise SMS solutions – if a company can get a keyword for free, why would they subscribe to the enterprise business?
Database:
Secondly, VFirst entering the direct to consumer business means they’re competing with some of their clients, like MyToday. While at present VFirst/SpotOn is in the pull SMS business, they’re actively collecting data on users, which can subsequently be used to launch Push SMS services. Even when they’re pushing SMS, their burn rate will be substantially lower than those for their clients.
MocoLife Keywords: Thirdly, what now happens to MocoLife Keywords? They’d launched a paid keyword service last month, and with this launch, that model has gone out the window.

We’ve heard of SpotOn Media before, and it’s interesting that it’s now being mentioned as a ValueFirst subsidiary. SpotOn Media was started by Priyaa Gupta, the wife of ValueFirst COO Apurva Kumar, who joined ValueFirst last month. SpotOn, though, has been around since last year. Also note that Manish Tyagi, who was earlier also with Info Edge, has joined SpotOn as COO.

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