Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Virgin Mobile runs 24x7 Rockathon in Bangalore

Virgin Mobile, in collaboration with Planet M, has kickstarted the first ever attempt at continuous 100 hours of live music performance at Planet M’s flagship store on Brigade Road, Bangalore. Music enthusiasts from the city can be witness this unique festival from 25 to 29 May 2009.

The event titled ‘The 24x7 Rockathon’, will witness a massive congregation of approximately 50 music bands from all across the country performing live spread across 5 days. This first of its kind music fest will attempt to enter the Limca Book of Records for the longest ever continuous musical concert.

Virgin Mobile India CEO M A Madhusudan says, “This 100 hours continuous musical concert is an extension of the concept of our recently launched phone vJazz which allows Virgin Mobile users to access and download unlimited full-track songs from an array of up to 100,000 Bollywood, Regional and International chartbusters for free for one whole year. We want the youth to enjoy music non-stop without any limitations with Virgin Mobile. Also, with this initiative we want to help the cause of the hearing impaired and jointly with Planet M we have pledged to donate Rs. 5/- for every customer who walks into Planet M during the days of the Rockathon."

Planet M CEO Subir Ghosh says, “We take great pride in associating with Virgin Mobile India in launching the ‘24x7 Rockathon’ (100 Hours Continuous Music Concert) to encourage musical talent in India. The convergence of mobiles and music is certainly the way ahead in the field of music and mobile retail. Through our committed service & constant product & service innovations, we are missioned towards making affordable feel-good indulgence available to more & more youth in the country.

Besides, the entire 100 hours live performance will also be webcast live on www.rockathon.in – Powered by Yahoo! India - setting another record, as the current longest live streaming record is at a bit over 50 hours. Virgin Mobile users will be able to hear this performance live on their phones by calling in the Voice Portal on 5868656 – the third record and the first unique initiative in VAS services by a Mobile Provider.

A Time Capsule is also being created in which the audience can put in their photographs, messages or anything else that they choose, to be sealed for the next ten years. Gibson has also participated in this unique initiative by giving a Les Paul Guitar to be featured on the Time Capsule along with the names of the bands that participated and other memorabilia from this event will also be preserved inside the time capsule to commemorate the completion of this unique music fest.

The guests of honour at the kickoff of the Virgin Mobile ‘24x7 Rockathon’ concert were the children from the Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing. Visual DJ Archana Prasad added a special dimension through her translation of the music being played through image and light for the hearing impaired children. Additionally, for every customer who walks into the venue, Planet M and Virgin Mobile India will donate Rs. 5 to support the hearing impaired kids of Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing, Bangalore.

During the course of the concert, the audience can win Virgin Mobile’s vJazz phones and other cool merchandise for being the best air-guitarist or the coolest head-banger. Besides, all the attendees at the music fest get a chance to vote for their favourite band and out of those one lucky rock enthusiast along with a companion gets to travel to the VFestival organized annually in London (UK) by the Virgin Group. The best performing band will be adjudged by an audience (both at venue and through www.rockathon.in) poll at the end of the 100 hours of continuous performance and the winner will get to travel to the VFestival in UK.

The event is being organized by Virgin Mobile to promote their latest offering vJazz which lets you download music absolutely free, without any charge, for one year. Virgin Mobile users do not have to pay any charges to access and download music from a library of over 1,00,000 compositions featuring a wide variety of genres. vJazz priced at Rs. 4250/- can be purchased from Planet M and during this festival customers can take advantage of the fabulous offers being given by Virgin Mobile.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

QuickPlay Media Powers Virgin Mobile India’s First Unlimited Music Download Service

QuickPlay Media, the premier provider of solutions that manage the business of mobile video, today announced that the company is powering Virgin Mobile India’s first unlimited full-track music download service, at no charge to subscribers. Christened “Vmusic,” the service offers a range of Western and Indian content from leading artists across brands & music labels, such as Sony BMG and Hungama.

“As India’s leading youth-focused mobile service, Virgin Mobile India has consistently set itself apart by providing an attractive range of phones to the world’s fastest growing mobile market,” said Wayne Purboo, president and CEO, QuickPlay Media. “Now, through this collaboration with QuickPlay, VMI will transform their customers’ mobile experience by providing them with access to music from some of the world’s most popular artists. By working with QuickPlay, VMI also ensures seamless expansion of its multimedia services to meet evolving customer preferences.”

Subscribers can download an unlimited amount of full music tracks and play them on the Vmusic application of their vJazz phone. As a bonus, during the first 12 months, customers will receive unlimited music downloads at no charge – absolutely FREE. This service will not attract any subscription, preview or content download charge. Each track will have digital rights management (DRM), managed by QuickPlay’s solution. Consumers will also have access to a catalog of all available music, which enables them to browse for songs and preview selections for up to 20 seconds before downloading.

Deval Parikh, Chief Officer, Handset, VAS & Procurement, Virgin Mobile India comments, “Vmusic is a first in the Indian Telecom industry where it was a challenge to create an integrated and compelling music offering along with pricing innovation. Putting together the Unlimited Full-Music download service at no extra charge to the subscriber for a whole year was a tall order that Virgin Mobile India has achieved. Not only that, we have built-in simplicity & ease of access to the service by adding a one-touch access mechanism on the vJazz phone as well as designed a customized user interface targeted at the Indian youth.”

Complimenting QuickPlay, Deval Parikh, Chief Officer, Handset, VAS & Procurement, Virgin Mobile India added, “We selected QuickPlay because of the company’s proven ability to provide high-quality and customer-friendly mobile media solutions. Always ahead of the curve, our growing customer base wants anytime, anywhere access to the latest music. QuickPlay has delivered an innovative and flexible solution that enables us to satisfy the current demands of our customers.”

The “Vmusic” service is exclusively available on the “vJazz” phone, which has been specially designed by Huawei to provide an optimal music experience. With Vmusic, Virgin Mobile users can now choose from a wide array of up to 100,000 Bollywood, Regional and International chartbusters and download full songs at no charge to the subscriber for one whole year. The Virgin Mobile user can go musical & open up to this latest musical revolution. Whether it is the chance to pump it up with the latest Bollywood hit, go multi-lingual with their pick of regional collections, go spiritual with some music for the soul or shake a leg to some retro tracks. The vJazz user will have it all with vMusic that comes packed with music from all genres.

About QuickPlay Media

QuickPlay Media Inc. is the premier provider of solutions to manage the business of mobile video. Successfully used by the World’s leading communications providers including RIM, Bell and AT&T, QuickPlay provides the fastest and most flexible way for companies to deliver mobile video worth watching. QuickPlay is headquartered in Toronto, with sales offices in London and throughout the US. For more information, please visit www.quickplay.com.

About Virgin Mobile India

Virgin Mobile brand is India’s first national youth-focused mobile service. Virgin Mobile branded services are being offered to the Indian consumers by Tata Teleservices through a brand franchise with Virgin group. Virgin Mobile India facilitates Tata Teleservices with experience and expertise in designing, marketing and servicing of Virgin Mobile branded products for the youth segment. Virgin Mobile services are being supported from 14 offices across India and the current employee strength is more than 500 personnel. While Virgin Mobile branded service can be enjoyed by customers in over 3,20,000 cities, towns and villages across India, the focus on subscriber acquisition so far has been across top 240 cities and is set to extend to more cities by year end. Virgin Mobile branded handsets are available across 45,000 outlets and its top up cards across 75,000 outlets nationally.

In the recently released SAARC Countries Mobile User Survey 2008, Virgin Mobile India has been ranked as No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction. On the overall satisfaction parameters Virgin Mobile scored over 95%. Taking the recent Goa Fest 2009 by storm, Virgin Mobile India bagged 7 Abby awards at India’s most prestigious National Advertising Awards festival! This included 4 silver and 3 bronze Abbys for innovative and distinctive campaigns across Print, Radio, Outdoor and Event. Virgin Mobile India earlier bagged the Silver ‘Effies’ for its creative ideas and market effectiveness of its clutter-breaking campaigns. It has also been rated 15th in the Buzziest Brands of the year Poll 2009 conducted by afaqs.com. For more information, please visit http://www.virginmobile.in.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Virgin Mobile looks to tie up with Tata Teleservices for GSM

Just about a year after its ingress into the CDMA (code division multiple access) mobile arena, Virgin Mobile is looking to tie up with Tata Teleservices to enter into the GSM (global system for mobile communications) network in India.

The tie up between Virgin Mobile and Tata Teleservices will give Virgin Mobile leverage of Tata Teleservices’ GSM licence for 19 circles and GSM spectrum for 13 circles. What is more, Tata is also planning to launch its GSM services in 16 circles.

In an interview, the Deputy CEO Virgin Mobile India, Jamie Heywood has stated that the company (Virgin Mobile) has a commercial agreement with Tata to offer its service on the GSM network, and the agreement is technology-agnostic.

According to Heywood, the tie up will also help Virgin Mobile expand its subscriber base, because around 70 per cent of India's mobile subscribers use GSM network. The company will use the franchisee model rather than the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model for its offerings in GSM. The company has used both these models in its global operations.

Virgin Mobile is mobile phone service provider based in the United Kingdom. It also operates in India, France, Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United States and France; the brand survived only briefly in Singapore. It provides GSM services in the UK, France, South Africa and Australia, while CDMA services in the United States and Canada.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

We have economies of scale a new entrant cannot achieve | Q&A: M A Madhusudan

A year ago, Virgin Mobile, the Indian arm of UK-based industrialist Richard Branson’s aviation and communication group, entered India as a franchisee of Tata Teleservices. In a first, Virgin designs, markets and services Tata’s offerings for the youth. Hit by the recent regulatory changes in telecommunications, M A Madhusudan, India head, talks to Ishita Russell about the reduction in termination charges and the road ahead for the company, now that it has completed a year in the country. Edited excerpts:

How was the first year?

We don’t reveal our subscriber base because there will be double counting of figures since they’re already included in Tata Teleservices’ numbers; every customer we bring in is counted as a Tata customer. However, our subscriber base is definitely more than a million.

What is the addressable market for you?
Of the total telecom market of approximately 300 million, 45 per cent is the existing youth segment or existing user base, plus there are 50 million more that are expected to join this segment in the next three years including this year. However, we are focused only on the urban youth. So, effectively it is 17-18 per cent of the entire market. At present, 70 per cent of our subscribers are existing users of mobiles.

You came with the offer of paying 10 paise a minute for incoming calls. Now that the regulator has reduced termination charges, how will you cope?
It has definitely affected our margins. However, the effect is not much, since our outgoing and incoming is almost equal. So if my 30 paise have gone down, my outflow has increased by the same amount. Our overall calls were initially more towards incoming tariff offering, since typically we have kids and college goers on our profile, people who give missed calls for other people to call back. But now it is neutralised.

Everyone is focusing on the youth.
We won’t diversify and dilute the property of the brand. Even after a lot of brands floating in the market, we have 87 per cent recall in a span of one year, and some of the brands don’t even figure in the youth segment. So despite all other operators in the market we are being seen as a youth brand. We don’t have any ambitions of dominating the market, we started this venture only to address a particular segment, which is not being addressed by one of the stakeholders.

Now that MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are allowed, would you consider a plunge?
We are not tempted, given the way MVNOs are being implemented in India. With three more operators coming in, there will not be enough space for an MVNO to try for an urban market.

How much competition do you foresee in the urban markets?
Any new entrant will have to make a lot of investments in infrastructure. We are working on an existing infrastructure, only adding to it. We have already found economies of scale that normally a new entrant would find hard to achieve. We will be able to compete with any new brand that comes into the market.

Tata is entering GSM. Will you come along? What about 3G?
Our partnership with TTSL is not technology-dependent, it is only a brand. So we have the opportunity to go for GSM. They will take time to establish their GSM network so we have time to take decisions. It definitely opens up much larger options. We would definitely be excited about 3G. Whenever it comes, we would be ready with our offering. We will not bid individually for 3G.

Do you have plans of getting into other forms of data connection?
We’ve just made an entry into the data space with USB dongles and data cards. We will not make much hype about this. We will go through our normal channel; it’s an add-on product. We want to provide a complete package to the consumers to cater to all their needs, this is not specific to the youth market.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Virgin Mobile aims to get 10 percent market share by 2011

Virgin Mobile and Tata Teleservices joint venture is eyeing to get 10 percent of that market by year 2011.

Virgin Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer M A Madhusudan told reporters here that the company aims to acquire five million mobile users in the Indian market by 2011.

Though, Mr. Madhusudan was reluctant to release the details of his company’s present market share.

Virgin Mobile has come up with six handsets and launched a music edition handset in India. It’s offered to the consumers by Tata Teleservices through a brand franchise with Virgin.

The company has recently said that the latest mobile handset would be priced at Rs 4,250.

This handset comes with music player, music keys, FM radio, video playback, 1.3 MP camera, 1000 SMS and phone book storage space each and bluetooth.