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Bharti Airtel recently introduced the Android powered HTC Magic in India, with a few India-specific applications, including Hello Tune Manager, Portfolio Manager, Mobshare, In-mobile search and City Search. The handset is priced at Rs. 29,900 – quite steep – but in order to encourage usage of data, Airtel is offering its customers 100 MB of free data download per month, for 6 months. Both Airtel and HTC will retail the handset, covering 17 cities, including: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Cochin, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Patna.

Indian Applications On The HTC Magic

The Airtel applications available with HTC Magic have been provided by CanvasM, a joint venture between Motorola and Tech Mahindra. There are no charges for downloading the applications, but there are charges that will be applicable in some cases after a trial period. The HTC Magic also allows Microsoft Exchange server synchronisation for email, calendar and contacts. Some of the applications that have been launched with the handset:
— Portfolio Manager: is an application for providing information related to the Indian share market. HTC users are being offered a trial period of 3 months, worth Rs. 297. The portfolio manager is powered by MaxMobility.

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— Hello Tunes Manager: Hello Tunes manager is something of a marketplace for Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBTs), which allows subscribers to search, buy, rate and share hello tunes. HTC Magic users get free Hello Tune downloads for one month. The Hello Tunes manager is powered by Envio.

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— MobShare: is a free photo-sharing application available on the mobile phone, which allows both sharing and browsing of shared photos. Mobshare is from MobMe Wireless.

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— City Search: Is a free service powered by AskLaila, a service from Four Interactive. This incorporates the users location and retrieves appropriate city-related placed to visit, as well as information. Users can call or SMS the info using the application.

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— In-Mobile Search: a much needed feature, which allows users to seach for contacts, image, audio and video files from a single interface – something like Google Desktop for the Mobile. While we haven’t received a response about who is powering this service, it does appear similar to the T9 Nav application from Nuance Communications.

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— Weather Channel: This application provides detailed weather forecasts for the current day and next 6 days. Users can save favourite locations for regular inputs.

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We find it strange that all the applications on the handset appear to have an Airtel branding, alongwith that of CanvasM. Airtel and HTC would do well to eventually step aside and allow Android applications to be retailed at the Android store, and encourage participation of third party application providers. Otherwise, if you leave it to handset manufacturers and operators, you’ll have a tightly controlled ecosystem that just wont encourage innovation.

Do take a look at our coveage of Indian applications for the Ovi Store, to be launched with the N97 in India:

Indian Nokia N97 Apps: Search, Games, Blogging, Fitness, Movies
N97 Apps By Indian Media Co’s: India Today, NDTV, Rediff, CNBC-TV18; Eterno & Galatta

Related:

— A Column on Application Stores in The Financial Express by Nikhil Pahwa, Editor, MediaNama