Why RJio And Other Telcos Are Focusing On Apps…No, Its Not Just About Customer Acquisition!

By August 10th, 2016 AT 10:20 AM

The launch of RJio’s 4G services seems to be much closer to reality now ever. The company hopes to differentiate on the basis of quality of services and content. While the incumbents have been working towards upgrading and modernizing their networks to face the RJio challenge, the same cannot be said about their content strategy.

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In anticipation of RJio’s 4G launch the incumbents have been modernizing and upgrading their networks. Bharti Airtel, India’s largest service provider has already announced plans to spend $9billion over the next two-three years to upgrade its network. Similarly, Vodafone has been investing on IPfication of its network as part of its Project Spring. Idea Cellular is also investing to modernize its network to meet the RJio challenge.

There is little doubt that networks and consequently the quality of networks is going to be important for incumbents to prevent their customers from moving away from their network. However, the other battle is going to be fought on the content front. It is imperative for the telcos to offer a portfolio of innovative content offerings to increase data consumption of their subscribers.

It is important for service providers that consumers use their platforms and content offerings so they are able to capture valuable subscriber data, which is going to be critical for them to retain their relevance in the 4G ecosystem. This subscriber data will enable them to offer contextual and targeted mobile and digital advertisement, which is only going to increase in relevance going forward. The recent acquisition of Yahoo by Verizon is a case a point. Increasingly the telcos would need to reinvent themselves. They would need to go beyond the networks.

It is here that the bouquet of apps, launched by Reliance Jio, assumes huge significance. The company has taken a lead by offering an array of apps. MyJio, Jio Join, Jio Security, Jio beats, Jio On Demand, Jio Play, Jio Express News and Jio Mags, Jio Money, Jio Chat, Jio Drive are some of the applications already launched by the operator.

Besides these there are other applications such as Net Velocity, Jio Now, Jio Broadcast, Jio Switch, Jio Speed and JioNet. Launch of wide range of applications even before the commercial launch of its services suggest RJio’s intention to dominate application space and subsequently mobile advertisement space. RJio has also acquired Network18 to offer unique content to its subscribers.

On the other hand, the incumbents are at best playing the catch up game. Bharti Airtel has created a suite of apps that offer voice and music content. Idea Cellular has also recently launched seven applications and is working to introduce more apps. Vodafone India, on the other hand, has launched Vodafone Play. The service provider has inked an agreement with Hungama and has also set up a new vertical to offer innovative apps and content to its subscribers.

Apps are going to be important to not just drive data consumption and to retain customers but to also use the insights from subscriber data to offer contextual and targeted advertisements. It is going to be extremely important for telcos to go beyond their present positioning as just connectivity providers.

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