Airtel has launched Airtel Photos, a photo printing and personalized products service, in partnership with Zoomin, a photo printing and merchandise site backed by Sherpalo Ventures and First Round Capital. What’s interesting about this deployment is that this is the first time Airtel is offering a Value Added Services (VAS) product that involves physical delivery of goods; Airtel has integrated broadband billing for the service – cost of photo prints or personalized goods online will be included in the customers monthly Airtel broadband bills.

What’s On Offer

– Airtel broadband subscribers get unlimited space on a server top store photos.
– They can upload photos or import them from their Facebook photo albums.
– Users can organise and perform basic editing on photos through the service.
– Users can order photo prints or choose and personalize gifts such as calendars, t-shirts, mugs, photobooks and others, through the service and place online orders. The cost for these is included in the customer’s broadband bill on a pay per instance basis.

The tie-up with Airtel and specially operator integrated billing will help Zoomin to reach out to more buyers, since it eliminates the use of Credit and Debit Cards or even COD. Plus Airtel is pitching it as one of its own service, so that boosts consumer confidence. However, a question that comes to our mind is, will Airtel be responsible for product delivery issues?

Comparing Pricing

We found only minor differences in the pricing of goods on Airtel Photos and ZoomIn: For example, a Magic Mug costs Rs 495 inclusive of taxes and shipping on Airtel Photos. The same mug costs Rs 485 on Zoomin after including shipping charges. We don’t know if Zoomin includes taxes at the time of checkout. The reverse was seen when comparing Calendars. While, Airtel Photos offers a wallmount calendar at Rs 595, Zoomin sells it for Rs 620. An 8X10 photo print costs Rs 65 at both the sites.

Zoomin Eyeing More Customers

Zoomin.com has already gone hybrid by opening 15 ZoomIn studios across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai, in partnership with Croma, Crossword and its own franchisees. It also has an online partnership with Futurebazaar, an entity also funded by Sherpalo Ventures.

Other companies in the online photo and personalised products space include Printo (funding from Sequoia Capital and Seed Fund), iTasveer (has a deal with Windows Vista), KPCB and Sherpalo fundedZoomInCanvera (funding from Footprint Ventures, Mumbai Angels and DFJ), Myntra ($5 Million from NEA-Indo US Ventures, IDG Ventures and Accel India) , eYantra ($3.1 million from VentureEast and Argonaut) and others like eYaadein and PhotoMasti.

Other Airtel Broadband VAS Offerings

Airtel had recently partnered Apalya to launch Broadband TV to deliver TV & VOD content streams to its broadband customers. It has a partnership with LearnNext to launch an e-learning service. It also has a tie-ups with Britannica online to offer content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, and with Ozone for WiFi hotspot access.

Cloud Storage?

Again, instead of just offering photo storage, which users can get free of charge through sites like Flickr and Picasa, Airtel could have provided a full fledged cloud locker, for all kinds of content for its subscribers. For all you know, such a service might already be in the works…

Related:
Airtel Launches Broadband TV At Rs 99/Month; Not A Neutral Pipe
LearnNext Launches E-Learning On Airtel Broadband At Rs. 99 Per Month
Airtel Broadband Doesn’t Want To Be A Dumb Pipe