OnMobile Global Limited, with a new logo, and apparently with the vision to be the largest ringback-tone player in the world, has announced a deal to power ringback tones for South African telecom major MTN: As part of this engagement, OnMobile will start deploying RBT services for MTN subscribers over the next quarter and will replace the entire service over the next 24 – 30 months in 22 countries.

The deal is also significant from the perspective that it gives OnMobile an entry into 14 new countries. Data, it appears isn’t much of a focus for the company yet, but there is another way of looking at OnMobile’s RBT push – using RBT, easily its most successful product, it is gaining entry into operator relationships. Once these relationships are established, OnMobile can pitch other products to these telecom operators. It’s moves over the last few months, especially with the acquisition of LiveWire Mobile, indicate this. Maybe OnMobile has realized that it can’t compete in an open web environment, which is why it is sticking to its managed services approach, while others, like One97, have managed to build a consumer facing web/mobile-web brand like Paytm.

Hence the acquisition of Livewire Mobile, which gave Onmobile a portfolio of mobile music, RBT and gaming solutions, as well as a client base including Sprint, metroPCS, US Cellular and Cricket, to add to it’s client base of AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers in North America, and Vodafone, Telefonica and Indian telcos.

A quote from David Fondots, VP, Head of North and Latin America, for OnMobile stood out for us in the Livewire mobile acquisition press release: “As operators invest in LTE migrations to address the exponential growth of mobile data consumption, it is critical to offer solutions that not only acquire, but retain high value subscribers. With embedded device solutions conveniently tied to Operators’ billing services, OnMobile will now be able to provide consumers with personalized value added service bundles and pricing that cannot be matched by OTT players and other siloed services.”

We’ll see how it plays out, but from a revenue perspective – which is something that OnMobile needs to (or is forced to) focus on quarter on quarter, being a listed company, the managed services play does appear to be a surer bet than OTT, which makes OnMobile’s decision to focus on RBT understandable.