Innovation in mobile services


Demand is growing for mobile phones and carriers are adding more and more content to their catalogue. But each title added is compounding users’ frustration of having to scroll through endless lists.

With the number of cell phone users in India already touching the 100 million mark, cell phones have become so common that they are found everywhere.

With ubiquity comes versatility, where they have suddenly become many things people, cameras, jukeboxes, gaming machines, all bundled in one and searching for ring tones, movie screening, cricket scores and even random information happens to be one of the fastest moving areas in the cell phone world.

What one needs then, is a simple way of searching through the sea of data. Of course, you could Google it on a GPRS-enabled cell phone that connects to the internet. But given the small screens, the endless links and the patchy network services, this is not a viable option. What one needs is something simpler that can work just like how SMS or calls work. This is exactly where companies like OnMobile and Mobile2Win come in.

They plan on capitalizing on their strengths—text messaging and voice services—and give users a new viable alternative for mobile search.

OnMobile is planning to roll out one such text search service for songs, ring tones and caller tunes in a few months’ time. All you’d need to do is type the name, such as “Fanaa� or “Coldplay�, on your phone and you can download the songs instantly. In case they don’t have your choice of songs, you can leave a request and they would have the download ready, says the CEO of OnMobile. They even plan to have a Google like look and feel with advanced search options.

In addition to entertainment options, these mobile-based service companies also plan to give you other useful information. For instance, Mobile2Win in talks with database services such as Yellow pages to strengthen their search results. The system they plan its simple: all one would need to do is send a text message to Mobile2Win’s short code—the request that is sent to a designated short phone number such as 8588—and receive information just like you find on the yellow pages. So all your information regarding hardware stores, discount stores, cinema halls and even local plumbers should be available in a jiffy.

Mobile2Win is talking to various carriers, such as Airtel and Hutch, regarding turning these services into subscription based services. These services should be available with various subscribes within three months.

These companies also plan to launch voice-based services. Most people would rather have answers than links and that’s exactly what OnMobile is trying to give them, which is currently on processing stage. OnMobile is also planning to launch an ‘Ask me’ service for mobile phones, which will make finding content as easy as asking for it.

But even as mobile service companies attract attention of carriers, search giants like Google and Yahoo are already coming out with alternatives. Will these startups manage to challenge the web giants? Either way, it’s a win-win situation for the consumer.