Airtel Txtweb

Airtel has partnered with Intuit’s txtWeb to offer text-based apps for its subscribers, reports PTI.

The company says this store will allow Airtel subscribers to access information on various topics ranging from academic content, sports, breaking news, financial tools and games among others via SMS. The service will be available in three different packs – Re 1 for 2 days, Rs 7 for 15 days and Rs 15 per month. Alternatively, its available at 50 paise per SMS.

To start using the service, users can either send a text message ‘HELLO’ to 51115 to receive the list of SMS keywords or directly send a text with any specific keyword like @wiki, @email, @cri, @movies to get related information. The company claims to have more than 3,500 active ‘apps’ built by developers and businesses across India.

Its worth noting that txtWeb had earlier launched a developer marketplace in March 2012 through which it had essentially crowd-sourced building these SMS apps to developers in return for compensation. Besides this, it also offers a platform for developers to build and deploy their own apps.

Medianama Take: With the entire VAS ecosystem collapsing in the country due to clamping down on “false billing”, and involuntary subscription and a significant growth in mobile Internet usage in the country, we are a bit curious on how long will an SMS-based service be relevant to consumers and whether Intuit will eventually shift the focus of txtWeb from SMS to mobile Internet.

It already has an Android app in place for this, although monetization will be tougher on the Internet than SMS, due to the free availability of better information. That being said, there’s now an effort to create walled gardens on the Internet as well.

Earlier in the year, co-founders of Innoz which offers somewhat a similar service to consumers, had also launched a Jelly-like Android app Quest in a bid to transition from SMS to Internet.

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In unrelated news, Airtel has inked a network infrastructure deal with Etisalat, to setup a multi-service regional network infrastructure node in Etisalat’s SmartHub facility in Abu Dhabi.

Airtel says this deal will allow them to improve its region connectivity through Etisalat’s network and provide advanced data & wholesale services to its customers in Middle East and Africa. In return, this will enable Etisalat to reach out to business hubs in Africa and India. The deal period or the terms of the partnership were not disclosed.