Marathi language daily Deshonnati has tied up with VAS co One97 Communications to offer daily alerts of local news, information and entertainment in Maharashtra. Among the services are local mandi and bullion rates for rural and semi-urban consumers. These are subscription based services, charged at Rs. 30 for 30 days. However, the content is only available in English, which is a bit of a dampener, given that it targets semi-urban and rural areas. In case of information from a language daily, the lack of indic language support will limit its usage. Reuters Market Light has content available in regional languages, wherever there is handset support.
One97 also plans to launch voice based alert services; perhaps the economics don’t quite work out for the rural population, but Voice Alerts, wherein a user receives an incoming call with the info, instead of an SMS are an interesting option for such a service. In the past One97 has powered Voice Alert services for other media companies like Zee News. In Bihar and Jharkhand, they’ve also tied up with media publication Prabhat Khabar for news and entertainment alerts.
Another interesting point to note is the focus on subscription based paid services. The trend through the last couple of years has been the launch of free SMS services like those from MyToday and SMS GupShup, and monetizing that with advertising. There is greater risk in the latter business model, and I wonder if the burn is worth it.