Update: Hungama appears to have closed the site after we wrote about it. Why the stage fright? In our defense, if we can access the site, we can write about it.

Earlier (March 5th): Hungama Digital Entertainment is trialling a service for mobile users called Hungama Labs (Hungamalabs.com). “It is still in the concept stage,” said the company spokesperson. When asked when it might be launched, she drew a comparison with Internet giant Google which has a similarly named product Google Labs, saying, “Google Labs never had a launch as such, so we might not.”

Currently Hungama Labs features just five apps, but since they are around the most popular social networking sites, it makes for a good start: Facebook On SMS, Twitter On SMS, Orkut On SMS, Phone Backup and Group SMS. As an example, Cricket writer Ayaz Memon used Twitter On SMS to tweet (which, incidentally, is how we discovered Hungama Labs)

Registration Issues

To use them you need to first register with Hungama Labs: unfortunately this is not integrated with the company’s music store Hungama.com login so there are no shortcuts. Our attempt to register at Hungama Labs took a total of 50 hours. Yes, 50. The registration form was simple enough, but the one-time four digit code to be sent to the mobile to complete the process arrived after 2 days. Shortly followed by two more pass codes! This happened to two of us, so it’s something for Hungama to look into.

Usability; Unsubscribe

Once you enter the pass code, you are taken to the My Account page and can subscribe to a service, we chose Twitter by SMS. Once you give permission to the application to access your Twitter account, you can choose whether you want to just receive tweets or post them or both using SMS. To access Twitter on SMS just send tweet followed by your message to the Hungama shortcode 54646.

Pretty simple and Hungama even sends you a confirmation message “Your message has been successfully posted. Keep Tweeting.” The tweet appears just a minute after you have sent the SMS, which we think is fabulous. Everything was going great until the unsubscribe button did not work! A critical piece of the service that will need to be fixed.

Readers should remember that Airtel’s exclusivity over Twitter updates via SMS from India expired a long time ago. Why hasn’t anyone else signed up?

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