(By Apurva Chaudhary & Vikas SN)
airtel-xbox

Bharti Airtel has partnered with Microsoft to offer free Xbox games and Xbox LIVE gold memberships to new and existing Airtel Broadband customers in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai.

While the financial details of the partnership were not disclosed, Airtel informed that it will be offering 10 free Xbox games worth Rs 7,200 and a free 12 month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership worth Rs 3,499 to new consumers who buy an Xbox 360 4GB Kinect console along with an Airtel broadband connection and existing Airtel Broadband customers who purchase a Xbox 360 4GB Kinect console. It will also be offering discounts of Rs 4,888 on the broadband connection, however its not clear if the company is offering this discount on a monthly or a yearly basis or as a one-off discount.  Its also not clear which games will be made available through the offer. We have contacted Airtel and will update the post once we receive a response.

In addition to this, Airtel is also offering a free three month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership to existing Xbox 360 customers who purchase an Airtel connection and will be providing similar discounts of Rs 4,888 on the broadband connection.

Tariff Plans – When we checked, we noticed that Airtel is offering two broadband plans through this initiative – a Rs 8,500 for 2MBPS connection and Rs 9,500 for 4MBPS connection. These connections however come with a fair usage limit of 10GB, following which the speed drops to 256Kbps. We feel this limit is really low, especially considering that Airtel is probably trying to incentivize users to make use of significant amount of data through this partnership.

The Connected Device Strategy

Correct us if we are wrong but we believe this is Airtel’s first connected device partnership in the country. This partnership is particularly interesting because connected devices such as Smart TVs, gaming consoles and the more recently launched Apple TV have not yet picked up in the country due to poor broadband conditions.

However, if ISPs start offering customized Broadband plans with decent speeds and an acceptable fair usage policy (although we wish there are no such policies at all), we feel this can significantly boost the sales of these connected devices in the country, which could lead to newer opportunities for digital businesses in India.

For instance, Microsoft can potentially market Xbox 360 as an entertainment console in the country, thereby attracting the non-gaming or the casual gaming population. However, for this to happen, it needs to have a strong local content strategy in place, which it currently lacks in the country. Xbox currently offers only Internet Explorer and native apps for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube among others in India, while it offers native apps for third party content services like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and HBO in the United States. It even launched a Pizza Hut app last week, which allows users to order pizzas directly from the console.

Airtel’s other partnerships with Microsoft

In 2012, Airtel had partnered with Microsoft to offer Microsoft’s cloud based Office 365 business productivity solutions to Small and Medium Businesses through its cloud platform. In 2009, Airtel had partnered with Microsoft and Nivio to launch Windows based Online Desktop giving access to a personal virtual desktop from any computer connected to the internet for Airtel broadband customers.

In 2006, Airtel and Microsoft offered Indian SMBs with Microsoft Solutions for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration. It will also offer other hosted applications like CRM, Accounting, ERP, Unified Communications and select Microsoft ISV applications.

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