On Thursday, Silicon Valley-based mobile startup Mavin, Inc. launched Gigato – a new data-sponsoring app that reimburses users for data spent. Initially available only for India, Gigato reimburses users for data used on partner apps and offers some data for free. Companies can reward users with free data packs for using their apps and earn downloads, similar to cash-back programs. For example, furniture e-retailer Pepperfy offers “use 10MB, earn 12MB.” There is music streaming app Saavn with “use 30MB, earn 40MB,” and so on.
Once you pick an offer, Gigato will track your data usage on that app. As soon as you hit the mark set in the offer, you will get a message from your operator saying however-much reward data has been credited to your account. The data reimbursed via Gigato is unrestricted and can be used on any app or website. Launch partners include OLX, Saavn, Jabong, TrulyMadly, Dainik Jagran, Voxer, Navbharat Times, and Babajob. Gigato is available for prepaid customers on Android devices via the Google Play Store and open to all app publishers in India.
Mavin, the startup behind Gigato, is made up of former Google and Microsoft “engineers, creative systems thinkers, obsessed designers and product ninjas who believe that the mobile internet is not just a great business platform, but a force for change in society.” According to Mavin co-founder Raina Kumra, the team decided to target prepaid customers in India “because they have to pay high prices for mobile data… Our aim is to create a mobile Internet for these users where they no longer have to ration data.” Mavin’s other co-founder Shailesh Nalawadi added, “Gigato is focused on bringing down the cost of data in emerging markets such as India by allowing app developers to sponsor the data for their end users.” If the app is successful in India, Mavin plans to roll out the data-back app to other emerging markets.
On taking a closer look at the app and how it functions, we did not find it very different from Airtel Zero platform which had the entire online tech community up in arms against it on the grounds of preferential treatment towards certain apps that partnered on the platform on the grounds of breaching of ‘Net neutrality’. What Gigato does is reimbursal of the data you use on a partner app so basically you use ‘x’ amount of mobile data on a partner app, Gigato replaces that much data or sometimes slightly more into your prepaid account, while what Airtel zero did was to not charge the user at all for that ‘x’ amount of data that they used on a partner app. So in essence both of these are different approaches towards the same goal. How the Indian market accepts this strategy, only time will tell.
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