Voice messaging company Bubble Motion has announced the launch of its Bubbly social messaging service on Vodafone India. The service lets subscribers record voice messages by dialing a number from their mobile phones. Similar to other social networking platforms, the user’s followers get updates whenever he uploads a new voice message and can listen to them.
The service has already been deployed on Airtel and Reliance in India, and has many celebrity bloggers on board, including Amitabh Bachchan, Lara Dutta, Sonu Nigam among others. Individuals can dial *7* to record their voice messages, and for following celebrities they need to dial a short code number to subscribe, after which they receive SMS alerts. While recording messages and following individuals is free, following celebrities is a paid feature.
The company claims to have a subscriber base of 10 million across four countries(India, Indonesia, Japan and Philippines), out of which 8 million users are from India. It also claims to have delivered more than 300 million messages in the last year alone.
Bubble Motion had recently raised $10 million in a funding round led by SingTel’s VC arm SingTel Innov8, with participation from Singapore’s Infocomm Investments and existing investors Sequoia Capital, Palomar Ventures, and NGC. The company had said that it intended to launch the service in new markets, and expand Bubbly to additional mobile platforms including new operator networks, the mobile Web and smartphone applications, following the funding.
It had earlier received $6 million in series-C funding from Palomar Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Comcast Interactive Capital, in 2009.
Vodafone’s Kirusa Deployment
MediaNama readers would recall that Vodafone had collaborated with voice SMS company Kirusa to launch a Voice SMS service in 2008. Since then, other mobile operators including Aircel, Loop Mobile, MTNL and Tata Teleservices have added the service. Airtel has also deployed Kirusa’s service in Ghana, Africa. It is indeed interesting that at the time of the Kirusa launch, we had said that Vodafone might bring Kirusa to its Egypt operations, where Bubble Motion was deployed, and we are now witnessing the exact opposite, with this deployment. Also, as of yet, we don’t know if both these services will co-exist or Kirusa be given the boot from Vodafone’s voice messaging platform.
Paid Celeb Broadcasts Anyone?
The press statement from the company mentions that the service will be free of charge, except for celebrity status updates. So the monetization is mainly through Bollywood content. Also according to a according to a recent report, Amitabh Bachchan had more followers on Bubbly than he has on Twitter. However, we wonder if people would actually pay to follow celebrities on voice, when they can get updates through a large number of communication channels, including Twitter, which is increasingly becoming a source for film and non-film journalists, to get news and quotes from Bollywood celebrities. Not to forget that it’s two way (At least for some!).
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