In another twist in the Indian mobile market, Bharti Airtel has launched a Airtel Zero a new platform for app developers and service providers to build in sponsored data within their apps. While this is not a global first (AT&T has been offering this for more than a year – see here) it is sure to further muddy the water in the Indian market just as the local regulator is taking a closer look at OTT and Net Neutrality.
Some pundits have said this is a reaction to the Internet.org relationship forged between Reliance and Facebook (see Internet.Org – Good, Bad or Ugly?), but I would suggest that goes much further than that.
While I recently commented that I don’t see much value (Sponsored Data is OK under FCC Title II but does anyone care) in the US, however, Airtel Zero may have quite an impact in the Indian market. Price sensitivity is high and the regulators have been relatively pro-operator (at least so far). AT&T has been working with sometime with several partners on its sponsored data. One partner in particular, Syntonic, does exactly this for some of its clients. According to the Syntonic website
Provide your customers mobile connectivity for any application, on any device, with any operating system, connected to any 3G/4G network. Differentiate your offer, and strengthen your market position with Syntonic. The Syntonic Freeway Development Toolkit provides application developers new consumer value by enabling native application support for sponsored data.
- Airtel is calling Airtel Zero a marketing platform for big marketers as well as small time app developers to “make parts or their entire mobile app free for customers – thus reviving interest of dormant customers, attracting new potential users and increasing retention”.
- According to Srini Gopalan, director of consumer business at Bharti Airtel, Airtel Zero contributes to the government’s ‘Make In India’ vision by providing a platform for a lot of small businesses to reach out to their end consumers. Of course, these app devs will have to pay for your data charges incurred while using their app.
- “The results of our pilot program indicate that Airtel Zero can deliver the same results as traditional digital marketing channels at 1/3rd the cost – thus underscoring the immense value it can deliver for developers across,” said Gopalan.
More Here [Tech2]