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A first: RCom to deliver books via SMS

By Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai
July 13, 2009 09:14 IST
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Reliance Communications will next month launch a mobile phone-based novel, Deaf Heaven, authored by award-winning writer Pinki Virani. The book will be packed in a set of 90 SMS messages priced at Rs 30 and made available through an specially-created SMS subscription pack.

"Subscribers will receive the entire novel over a series of SMSes spaced over a period of 30 days. Every day, the subscriber will get to read the novel through three SMSes," said Krishna Durbha, head, Reliance Communications.

Reliance also plans to convert the book into an adult audio mobile book. The audio book would be available on a multimodal number which was under development, said Durbha. "The adult audio mobile book will be offered at a flat subscription price of Rs 30. Users will be charged Re 1 per minute to hear the audio book."

The audio book, which will be made available in English, constitutes almost 60 minutes of audio content. The digital rights of the literary content will be owned by the author. RCom refused to share the details of the revenue-share arrangement.

Value-added services, or VAS, which on an average comprise up to 7 per cent of the total telecom revenue for Indian operators, is a growing segment. Operators dominate the revenue sharing arrangement in India. Of the amount paid by the users, 70 per cent is kept by the operator, the aggregator gets 25 per cent while the content owner gets the rest.

The handset-based novel is part of RCom's strategy to further drive its VAS revenues in the metros and Section A and B cities. It says it is targetting 20 per cent revenue from VAS and data services. The company is gearing to launch F1 Racing live on its portal, R-World, and is reportedly in talks with publishers and authors to further VAS based on literary content.

"We want to grow the VAS market beyond Bollywood and are looking to launch poetic works like shayari through audio books," said Durbha.

RCom had earlier announced its intention to overhaul its pricing model to offer services such as caller tunes, news alerts and internet surfing for as low as Re 1 a day.

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Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai
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