Mobile operators and independent ringtone providers may have had the grip on mobile portals, but retailer Carphone Warehouse is launching its own portal in competition with its operator suppliers such as Vodafone and O2.
The portal has been launched in co-operation with Ringtones.co.uk and with Bango.net, which has provided the technical backing to the browse and buy experience on the portal.
Anil Malhotra, chief alliances officer at Bango.net, said, “So far the market has been owned by two sectors. One is the operators, who have been spending time and effort to brand services through their own portals. The other is startup upstarts like MonsterMob and Phunkyphones. Carphone Warehouse have seen a profitable after-market on mobile phones — and what’s happened is phones are bought more and more on what data services they can support. Carphone Warehouse’s cost of customer acquisition is actually quite high, so all that lucrative after market is going to the the networks and the independents and they are not getting much of it.”
But Backholm did not think that a retailer putting up a rival portal to the O2 Active and Vodafone Live! brands doesn’t mean that anyone is losing business.
“Take a customer who has O2 Active pre-programmed into his handset. He’s going to go to their portal but he will also have Carphone Warehouse’s buyer’s guide in his plastic bag, and he can browse that as well. Generally it will be down to which the customer likes best.
But no-one is losing business. It generates traffic and billing events on he operator’s network.”
Figures show that customers spend 40-60% more if you offer them the browse and buy experience against a model where a user is simply offered a ringtone by text, Backholm said.
“So Carphone Warehouse said how can we build a system that gives us that?They used ours and plus it also allows any customer on any network to shop. Bango.net is enabling the connection from the phone to the content and the billing.”
Bango also provides third party content partner services for Vodafone Live!, carrying out content partner relationship management and technical implementation for the operator.
It also has an agreement with O2 for its Revolution third party development programme, so that those who have signed up with O2 Revolution can then cross-affiliate with Bango.
“The interesting thing this year is that the industry is moving to an off-net content business. It has has concentrated on operator-branded portals, and that has a role to play but there is going to be a hell of a lot of content which is a specialised niche. You can never have them all on a portal so you need a healthy off-net business. It’s like premium SMS, when that was opened up. We have been a ley player in that effort and been working at that for five years.”