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Bharti Softbank Forms Mobile Internet JV With Yahoo! Japan; Differentiation?

Bharti Softbank (BSB), a 50:50 Joint Venture between Bharti Enterprises and SOFTBANK CORP., has announced a partnership with Yahoo Japan Corporation, which is also a consolidated SOFTBANK group company,  for developing a mobile internet portal for the Indian mobile market. The Companies have formed a JV company, BSY Pte. Ltd. for this purpose.

Why not partner with an Indian company? BSB says that it will try and leverage Yahoo Japan’s understanding of content and analytics. But we don’t see how this is particularly relevant in the Indian context, because India and Japan are two different markets and a partnership with Yahoo India or any other Indian content player would have made more sense. There are differences in content consumption patterns, cultural differences, and India is a multi-lingual market, unlike Japan.

Even though, Softbank claims that it has been able to clock data ARPU ratio of over 60% through Yahoo’s mobile internet portal in Japan, India is a different market. We feel that Yahoo Japan will most likely be involved at the technology end and BSB will manage content.

Differentiation & Monetization? Also, we wonder what sort of differentiation will it offer compared to operator portals and other mobile portals that offer content. The statement from the company signals that it will partner telecom operators for pushing the service. But the question remains: What will BSY do differently? Mobile portals are not able to easily monetise their products since mobile advertising is much smaller compared to web advertising, and people are unlikely to pay for content unless defrauded by telcos. These questions remain unanswered.

BSB’s Other venture: This is BSB’s second venture in the Indian market after Y2CF, in which BSB has taken a 49.7% stake. Y2CF had launched ‘hoppr’ , a mobile device-agnostic location based service, across 6 telcos (Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Reliance, Tata Docomo, and Vodafone). The focus for Hoppr is on engagement and gamification of check-ins, and deals and commerce as a means of monetization, and it covers 3000 retail outlets/locations in top 4 cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru.

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