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Onmobile CEO Mouli Raman: No Plans To Go Direct To Consumer; Piloting Brand Supported mRadio

OnMobile Global reported revenues of Rs 725.4 Crore for the financial year ended 31st March 2013. The company focused largely on its growing International business (Which now accounts for 61% of its total business on its earnings conference call, we thought we’d get a sense of what is going on in Mobile VAS in the Indian market, and OnMobile’s approach to it from its CEO Mouli Raman, in a brief Q&A (on the concall):

MediaNama: On the last conference call, you had mentioned that the TRAI is planning to relax the VAS regulation and allow routing of payments through telco gateways. Is there any update, because there is no official statement from the TRAI on this?

Raman: On the deactivation side, the operators have already implemented what the TRAI had asked. On the activation side, there has been no formal directive, but many initiatives the operators have taken on the ground. There are delays because they (Ed: TRAI, we assume) have other things they are looking at right now.

MediaNama: So, what is the state of your Ringback Tone business in India?
Raman: Overall, we’ve been proactive in implementing these initiatives, and we’ve seen stability in revenues.

MediaNama: Is it growing or still declining?
Raman: We have a decline, but that has stabilized.

MediaNama: So what then is the state of VAS? Telecom operators appear to be shifting focus towards data services.
Raman: Today, the normalcy is returning. It hasn’t returned fully, but from here on, we expect consumers to start experimenting with the services much more. Operators are looking at how to increase the pie beyond operator branded services. They’re looking to engage the off deck model but they don’t do the promotion. We’re starting to see the signs of that. The third thing is that we are engaging beyond operators through government and social sector.

We are also seeing opportunities for taking some of our existing services and going to market. For example, we are running a trial with a large company for mobile radio, (in a way) which until has not been done by an operator. Our approach is free of cost to the consumer, and they will be marketing their products as their services, through non-operator means.

The fifth thing is that on data, our existing services, we’re making them all data. We’ve launched music downloads with one of the large operators.

MediaNama: Are you ruling out launching your own independent products or also placing bets on OTT (Over the Top)? The world over, operators appear to be focusing more on OTT.
Raman: We’re looking at two things – while there is a good shift to the OTT players, we are seeing very good traction for operator branded data services, particularly in emerging markets. The second thing is that we do not have a plan to go directly to consumers.

We are looking at how it is possible for us to market services beyond operators. Tying up with a handset manufactures and embedding clients, and we’re looking at alternative ways of marketing. It is unlikely that we will have a brand of our own, but it will be a co-branded services. We dont have a plan to launch our own brands.

More in our OnMobile FY13 results coverage:
Analysis of OnMobile FY13 results. Lots of charts.
Onmobile’s earnings conference call

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