ideafreshNetwork18 and mobile operator Idea Cellular have partnered to offer co-branded WAP sites on finance, news and technology on IdeaFresh.com. They will be crisper versions of Moneycontrol.com, IBN Live and Tech2 respectively. Cricketnext is glaringly missing from this list, but that is to be expected as cricket score updates are already mainstream VAS.

Mobile18 is the fairly new Network18 arm responsible for these new WAP sites. It has previously undertaken video streaming of the network’s channels for mobiles and recently introduced the short code 51818 (representing the Network18 Group), replacing 52622 (i.e. 5CNBC). The only link we found for Mobile18 was a contest it launched for mobile users. They will offer information and updates with text, video and pictures, Pradeep Shrivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular has said.

WAP Billing: A Pricey Convenience

The daily, weekly and monthly subscription for News and Tech 2 content is priced at Rs 3, Rs 10 and Rs 30 respectively. So to read premium news reports or technology reviews, users will have to pay Rs 3 for a day-to-day usage, or Rs 30 per month. This would be over and above the data usage rates charged by Idea for using GPRS.

The subscription price for finance content is higher at Rs 5 per day, Rs 15 per week and Rs 50 per month.

Are content owners anywhere charging users for accessing WAP sites? Only downloads are charged, as far as we know. So how then did Idea and Mobile18 arrive at this pricing model when all they are offering is the same dish on a different platter (a more convenient and an user-friendly interface)?

Lets not forget that the same content is available on Wap.MoneyControl.com, Wap.Tech2.com and Wap.Ibnlive.com launched by Web18 recently. Also, ideaFresh.com, the WAP homepage for Idea users, currently offers news for free. What would make a user pay for IBNLive news specifically? Is this the price to pay for going to the Idea homepage? Unless they waive this fee, they may not be able to clock the subscriptions they expect. Why not go with an advertising revenue share model instead?